As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m tighter than a skeeter’s ass in a nose dive. If something needs to be fixed or maintained, I’m always looking for ways to save money. Of course, that means I take on a lot of DIY projects. When we first got married, I was basically clueless when it came to repairs. Slowly, I’ve learned my way around everything from basic electrical to minor plumbing and it has paid off for us.

Owning large, expensive things means you are going to have to make the occasional repair. Most of the time, being able to do fix things on your own can save you money. But, doing it yourself doesn’t always provide the most value. Here are 5 DIY projects you should attempt yourself…and some you shouldn’t.


Last weekend, Holly and I painted the bloody deck. It’s not as if painting a deck takes a lot of skill, but the 2×2 railing spindles made it take forEVAH. Although painting can be tedious, anybody should be able to do it. We’ve painted every house we’ve ever lived in…and it is a serious PITA, but the savings is totally worth it.

When to hire a painter – When it comes to painting, just grab a roller and get to it. Painters charge an incredible amount of money to save you the hassle of doing it yourself. The only painting I’d consider hiring out is exterior painting…and that is mainly due to heights.


Taking care of basic plumbing needs is a piece of cake. Installing a sink or fixing the guts to your toilet is something that everybody can learn quickly. I’ve even learned how to snake out some small clogs in our drains. Save yourself hundreds of dollars and do these projects yourself.

When to call a plumber – Last week our water heater bit the dust. Sure, I could have installed the new heater myself…but it probably would have taken me 4 tries and 8 hours to do it. Knowing that my knowledge was limited, I ponied up the $250 for installation and haul-away. It was well worth my time (and my money).


I’m not going to stand here and say that I’ve never had anybody else mow my lawn. I have. (It’s a long story.) But, if you have the time, mowing your own lawn should be a given. For the most part, we take care of all of our landscaping ourselves. From pruning the bushes to cleaning out flower beds, we do every last sweaty bit of it. It is called sweat equity for a reason.

When to hire a landscaper – If you don’t have the skills or the knowledge to complete some landscaping projects, doing it yourself can cost you dearly. For instance, I’ve cut down a few small trees in our yard. However, cutting down our ginormous black locust tree required a wee bit more skill so that I didn’t end up with a skylight in my upstairs bedroom. I also hire somebody to treat my lawn because…well…I suck at it.


Completing minor electrical repairs on your own can save you quite a bit of dough. Learning how to change a light switch or put in a ceiling fan is pretty simple stuff. Just make sure to turn the power off before you attempt any electrical repairs. #unintentionalafro

When to hire an electrician – Let’s make this simple: hire an electrician any time you don’t feel comfortable with electricity. Frankly, I’d rather not fry myself to a crisp…and I’d rather you didn’t either. For anything more than a simple light switch repair, I’m calling a professional.


If you know your way around cars, you can save yourself a ton of cash by taking on DIY projects. My brother-in-law changes his own brakes. My dad likes to change his own oil. Hell, I know lots of people who can even do their own engine repairs.

When to hire a mechanic – Anytime you are like me. I hire a mechanic for almost everything. I’d rather not get crushed, so I don’t change my own oil. I can jump-start a car, but I have no idea how to fix the engine. Cars are expensive pieces of equipment, and I’d rather not jack mine up worse.

Overall, choosing whether to hire it out or do-it-yourself depends on the individual. If you have the knowledge and the time, DIY projects can save you a lot of money. On the flip side, you also need to know what your time is worth. Sometimes it is worth hiring a pro just to avoid the headache. If you choose to hire somebody, remember that the first quote you receive is often high. Shop around and find a good deal. Know what you are getting into so you don’t get ripped off.

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