DIY Project Debate

Throwdown Thursday: DIY Projects or Call a Professional?

Paul and I try our hardest to be frugal. We do everything we can to save money on groceries, we bought a smaller car to save on gas, and we even created our dream wedding on a tight budget. One area in which we have some difficulty, however, is agreeing whether to take on DIY projects around the home or to call in an expert. Paul always votes for DIY. Whether it’s fixing the toilet or trying to replace the alternator on his car. He wants to do it himself. I am a bit more cautious. I remember the time he tried to glue his car mirror back on the car after it got knocked off. And the time when we tried to replace a light socket and ended up calling the electrician anyway. Paul remembers only the wins. He has blissful amnesia about the DIY project fails.

Paul: What’s the opposite of “blissful amnesia”? Because you’ve got it in spades. Not every fix is going to work, sure. But there have been plenty of successful shower and toilet repairs, and some car tweaks that have worked out just fine.  Each DIY project success leads to money saved. As long as we do no harm, we’ve lost nothing but time. Ok, maybe an occasional part or two. But the professionals can always come in and mop up the fails.

DIY Project Debate

Heather: I just think we aren’t very handy people. Sure, I can DIY Ikea furniture with the best of them. In fact, someday I have to take a shot at the “Divorcemaker” just to be able to say I’ve beaten it. But anything that doesn’t have step by step instructions (and lots of pictures!) seems to be a challenge for us.

Paul: But that’s where adventure is. What’s the fun in doing things you know you can pull off? Give the uncharted territory a spin once in a while. Personal growth never happens without stepping out on the ledge a bit. And oh, the rush when you pull it off!

Anything that doesn't have step by step instructions (and lots of pictures!) seems to be a challenge for us.Click To Tweet

Heather: I have one word for you: alternator.

Paul: OK, I may have mis-estimated how hard it would be to get an alternator out of an old Honda.  But again, no harm done. The mechanic just did his thing after our failed attempt. And I got a lovely “effort” trophy from your daughter for the attempt!

Heather: I think that your DIY car repair projects are the ones that frighten me most of all. One day I expect to find you lying prone in the driveway with no obvious reason what did you in. Of course, it will be that you watched some YouTube video and decided you could re-wire the car’s electrical system with a nail file.

Paul: I admit that I should retire my DIY project dreams. The electronic passenger rear view mirror that now requires rolling down the window to manually adjust sealed my fate. Although I blame a poor part description from the online vendor for that! But hey, we learn our limits – no cars, no electricity – but minor plumbing, furniture repairs, etc still up for grabs.

Heather: Well… minor plumbing DIY projects haven’t been going so well these days either. Exhibit: the downstairs toilet.

Paul: Eh, perfection should never be the goal!

How has our use of professionals gone for us lately? How about that accountant who seems to have a shaky memory for our tax return and never returns our emails? Or the lawyer who has spent 3 weeks drafting a two paragraph document and never returns our emails? We could have done some google how-to searches and saved about $4,000 this year doing these things ourselves and actually got these tasks done.

Heather: Ok, you have me there. After a lifetime of filing my own taxes with TurboTax, I don’t know what came over me. The accountant is definitely a one and done. I’m definitely DIYing my taxes again next year. And unless something changes, DIYing those until I die.

I gotta admit. This may be a second Throwdown victory for you in a row.

Paul: Conceding victory to me?  Who are you and what have you done with my wife?

Heather: You, and my frugality have convinced me. From here on out, I’m all for DIY project planning before we call in the professionals. Except maybe not the car…

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