One misconception about frugality that I am guilty of is the thought that you can save more money if you do everything yourself. I used to believe that it was more economical to make my own clothes, do my own yard work, and even can my own food for example.
However, I have learned that in some cases the time (or financial commitment) is actually more when you do certain things yourself. For instance, to can foods you need to purchase jars, lids, seals, and canning equipment. This can become quite expensive. If one has a large family to feed the expense may be justified but for my small family it cost more in labor and equipment than we gained. In fact, for the two years I did it I calculated a sizable loss.
The same goes for clothing. When you factor in the cost of the material and the time spent creating fashionable clothing, you can save a lot more money by simply shopping yard sales and thrift stores.
As a result I’ve learned to consider several factors before going the DIY route. With my yard, I realized that I could not justify the cost of a mower nor the time spent caring for it when it only cost a few dollars a month to keep it reasonably trimmed.
Of course, some things are still more frugal to do yourself than to have done. A manicure can be done at home with a little time and a bottle of cheap polish. Hair coloring can be done with an inexpensive box of dye rather than a visit to a professional. A steak dinner prepared at home is much more frugal than a trip to a restaurant.
Of course, these decisions depend upon everyone’s individual situation. Some may inherit canning jars and equipment, making it more affordable to preserve food at home. Others may already own a lawnmower, making mowing your own lawn a sensible decision. Still others may have health issues that justify the expense of hiring someone to clean their home.
The moral of the story is to factor in all aspects before making a decision. Time is money and lack of supplies means that they will have to be purchased before you can do a task yourself.
This is why I share the tasks I do myself (like the time I repaired my own washer) and the times when for me it isn’t worth it. I do this in hopes of demonstrating that there are times when doing things yourself can save money, and times when it will not.
What are the things you do to save money, and what things do you have hired out because it is not worth the savings to do them yourself? Pleas share your thoughts in the comments below.
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