Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DIY or Don't? Time is Everything

It's been far too long since I've posted - I bet some of you wondered if I'd given up! No, I'm still here, living in my car, showering at the office shower room, and pinching pennies because I can. Work has just been pretty crazy, and it's kept me from doing what I REALLY want to do: post a video walk through of my car. I'll make that happen soon, hopefully.

Where I live, it's started to get a bit warmer the past few weeks, and I've been able to do things my girlfriend nags me about work on a lot of projects that I've been putting off for awhile. While covered in grease and laying under a car, I started thinking: when is it worth doing things yourself versus paying someone to do it? I know a lot of people that will go to extremes to save pennies and do everything they can not to pay someone. For instance, my sister started making soap and "tooth powder" for her family. On the flip side, there are people that would rather pay someone to do even the smallest tasks just to free up their time and get it professionally done. One of my good friends who doesn't mow his lawn, refuses to work on his car, and would rather buy a bottle of water than wash and clean a water bottle fits firmly into this category. Each of them have their own valid logic, but really, when is it worth it? Is there a line?

Someone once said to me that the adage of "time is money" is dead wrong because you can always make more money; however, you cannot make more time. Time is EVERYTHING. This same person told me that when a job requires minimum wage labor, it's not worth doing it yourself. Pay someone to do it. However, I'm obviously no spendthrift, so that's where I draw my line. If it's a time-consuming task that will only save me a few dollars to do myself, it's simply not worth it. However, if it's a task that would cost me hundreds of dollars in labor to do, I'll generally do it myself (even if it is time-consuming). I have one caveat to this rule, however. If it's something that I'm not good at or it will take me more time to learn than it will to do it, it's worth paying someone.

A few examples. Car repair. I know, a bunch of females just stared reading ahead because they're not willing to do that or think they can't. To be quite honest, my father has no patience for working on cars, so I never learned how to do it growing up. What I did know was that the cost of a mechanic's labor is extreme and that I could learn how to do just about everything I needed to do from EricTheCarGuy's YouTube channel. I'm serious - need to know how to change struts and ball joints without a garage full of fancy tools? Eric will show you how. Seriously, it's not that hard, and you're saving hundreds of dollars in most cases, not just pennies.

What about my sister making her own soap and tooth powder? Okay, maybe this is too easy of an example, but seriously . . . soap? Soap is cheap. STOOPID cheap. She probably spends a few hours rendering the ingredients to make this stuff when she could be doing something else (like changing her brake fluid, something which is much needed on her car). Half the things you've pinned on Pintrest probably fit under this category if you really think about it. Is it worth building that shoe rack from spare bamboo when you could buy one for $5?

I'm guilty of doing things like this myself, though. I once spent hours taking the bumper off my car to try to patch a crack in my windshield wiper reservoir because I didn't want to spend $50. Several frustrated hours and wasted bottles of glue later, I spent the $50 and wanted to reclaim the time I wasted.

So, I guess those are my guiding rules. If it costs you more to do than minimum wage and you can easily figure out how to do something and do it reasonably well, then by all means, DIY. However, if you're going to end up spinning your wheels just to conserve a few precious pennies, either you have too much spare time and you should be out changing the world or you don't recognize how important time is.

Time is everything. You cannot make more time.