My friend had a leak under her sink. Big puddle of water. They called the plumber, who quoted her $800 to pull and remove the leaking faucet and replace it with a new one.
She related the story to me: “$800?! Are you kidding? That’s a lot of money! That’s almost a thousand dollars!”
“So you told the plumber ‘thanks, but no thanks?’” I asked.
“Yeah! Absolutely, I can walk into Home Desperate and pick up a new faucet for $200 and swap it out. That savings is enough for my Juvederm!”
For those of you who may not be familiar, Juvederm is a cosmetic gel that is injected into various facial creases, usually around the lip/cheek intersection area. It is a “filler” and “plumper” used by some people, like my friend, who prefer a minimum of facial texture. If your brain works like my husband’s, it may help to think of it as caulk for under your skin.
This, to me, is hilarious. My friend is willing to go total DIY, take household maintenance onto herself and step outside of “typical gender roles” in home improvement.
She’s walking around Home Depot with an old facet under her arm, hunting for silicone tape and new braided hose. Later she’s under the sink, a kid’s flashlight in her mouth and a wrench in her hand. She’s saving money, doing it herself and not outsourcing doable tasks.
And she’s doing this all for face caulk, perhaps the girliest, least “frugal” expenditure I can think of.
Which brings me to my point: the values that drive your spending decisions are probably not the same as mine, and mine are not the same as my friend’s. But all of us should have some basic skills around the home, so that, whatever our goals, we are able to avoid $800 charges for repairs and improvements that are within our skill set.
Mini Money Challenge
Your Mini Money Challenge for today is to play “Real Estate Agent” in your own home. Walk around, room by room, and write down anything about your house that would need to get spruced up, fixed or repaired if you were to list your home for sale.
Try to look at your home objectively. The stuff you don’t notice anymore, like that crack in the drywall that’s been there forever? Take the time to see it today. As part of the larger umbrella of “your home” think about your car or cars, too, because they need even more routine maintenance than homes.
If your home is larger, or has a lot of areas in need of maintenance, or if you just prefer to keep this challenge truly Mini, just do one room or one zone for now. You can come back for the rest later.
Once you have your Home Improvement List, honestly evaluate what projects or improvements you have the skills to do yourself that you might be tempted to outsource.
Here’s a few ideas:
- Routine Home-cleaning
- Routine Yard-maintenance
- Decluttering and Organization
- Interior Painting
- Exterior Painting
- Pressure Washing
- Flooring Installation and/or Refinishing
- Electrical Work
- Plumbing Work
- Automotive Maintenance or Repair
- Landscaping design
- Window Washing
Next to each “Real Estate Agent Task” write down what component of the task you can do.
Try to be as specific as you can:
“Tape off, sand and prime trim. Paint with 2 coats semi-gloss.”
“Remove panel from front of oven. Look for obvious signs of where that burning electrical smell is coming from. Evaluate.”
“Wash exterior windows using microfiber cloth on extension pole.”
“Paint asphalt driveway with 3 coats sealant.”
Not everyone, right off the bat, is going to have the skills or inclination to tackle every home improvement project that comes their way. Homebrew Husband and I are not what you’d call “Handy People.” No, instead we are people who have five linear feet of dictionary. We learned, upon attempting our first drywall project, that mudding and taping is a skill that takes some practice and, frankly, we sucked at it.
We hired a guy to build our chicken coop and it was painfully clear that he was way, way better at building stuff than we ever would have been. Sometimes, professional experience really counts.
On the other hand, we’ve successfully repaired washing machines and dishwashers and have built our edible garden and exterior irrigation system. We’ve re-caulked and re-grouted and stained and painted and more or less succeeded in not making a hash of our house in the process…yet.
Some of you are in flats or apartments or other living situations where you’re not in charge of the domicile’s maintenance. In this case, look to things like your car, if you have one, or your even your bike or your wardrobe – could you stop outsourcing the hemming of your pants?
My friend, the one with the Face Caulk, went on to tell me she also changes her car’s oil, among other things. She told me she likes to do what she can around the house because it teaches her about the systems of her home and helps her understand how everything works.
Those are the kind of values I can really get behind.
What home repair and improvement skills do you have? How much of your home maintenance do you DIY vs. outsource? Are you currently outsourcing anything you could do yourself without a whole lot of time or trouble?1