Okay, this may be the wishy-washiest rule ever. But I guess I think of my rules more as philosophical cattle-prods than actual strict instructions.
- Don't pay someone else to do what you can easily do yourself
Here's a few other things where this part of the rule applies:
Do my own nails vs. going to a salon
Walk or take the subway instead of taking a taxi
Clean my own home instead of hiring someone else
Paint my own walls instead of hiring a professional
Buy unfinished furniture and stain & varnish it myself
All of these are things I don't mind doing and can do well.
But that brings up the flip side to this issue:
- Pay others to do anything that you might really f**k up!
Obviously, different people have different skills. If you are good at household renovations, of course you'll save lots of money doing them yourself. But if you're not so good, you may end up incurring extra costs, not to mention the potential for personal injury!
This relates to a recent post at The Happy Capitalist about garage doors and financial planning as do-it-yourself endeavors. He makes the great point that money management is an area where many people don't seek out professional help but probably should. I am an example of this, I think. I (hopefully) have enough basic financial knowledge not to do anything rampagingly stupid with my money, but I could probably get higher returns from my investments. Years ago I told myself I should see a financial planner, but the one whose name was given to me apparently worked on commissions rather than a fee, and the friend who used her felt like she'd been steered towards particular funds for biased reasons. I do pay an accountant to do my taxes--I started doing it when I owned a co-op and my deductions were more complicated. Now that I am renting, I could manage to do them myself, but I trust my accountant to do them better. I'm sure she's found me enough extra deductions over the years to more than repay her fees.
One other factor comes into this rule: time.
- If you can really make better use of the time, pay someone to do things that take up time
When do you DIY instead of PAY? Let's hear it, readers...