If you're looking to save money, a quick DIY fix-it may seem like the right answer. Doing something yourself rather than paying someone to do it — how hard can it be? Plus, time and time again we hear about the benefits of cutting back and saving — if only a little bit. And sure, making a cup of coffee at home is easy. But not all DIY is so simple — and we shouldn't act like reclaiming something you find at a thrift shop is going to save you an easy 100 bucks, leaving you with paint on your overalls and a smile. DIY can be the worst.
If your relationship has ever teetered on the brink of trying to put together a sofa, you'll know what I'm talking about. My girlfriend and I painted our flat together and I have never seen disappointment like the look in her eye when she saw how messy my edges were. Sometimes, DIY is just not worth it.
But how much can you actually save trying to DIY? It really depends. Some fixes are easy but may only save you a few bucks — like making your own cleaning solutions. But stick-on wallpaper can save you a bomb on professional painting costs. It all comes down to the costs and whether or not it's worth the hassle. Here are the DIY pros and cons to consider.
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Pro: DIY Can Mean A Range Of Things
One of the great things about DIY is that it can mean anything. Frankie Corrado, CFP and financial life guide with Blue Blaze Financial Advisors, is a fan of DIY, but in a really approachable way. "When I go out to a restaurant and find a dish that I love, I make it a point to go home and learn how to make it myself," he tells Bustle. "That way, I get to build my culinary skills, eat delicious food, and save money. And the range is pretty wide. Super simple and delicious foods like avocado toast and chia seed pudding fetch high prices at restaurants, but are super easy to make and pretty cheap if you DIY. And once I learned how to properly grill salmon — forget about it!"
If properly grilling salmon was as difficult as DIY got, everyone would be on board. But the point holds: You can save money here and there on totally doable tasks like cooking, painting, and learning how to mend a hole in your jeans. DIY doesn't have to involve stripping paint and tears.
Con: You Can Lose A Lot Of Valuable Time
That being said, one of the lures of DIY is how easy it all looks. You watch a YouTube video, you see it on Pinterest — and you get ridiculously carried away. So you take on a project bigger than you can chew. Soon, you're trying to turn a sofa into a mirrored bunk bed and you've lost your entire Saturday but nothing is good and EVERYTHING HURTS. Be realistic or it could be a big loss.
Pro: You Learn A New Skill
If you start small and build up, one of the big pros is that you can learn a new skill that will serve you well in the future. I started knitting when I was younger and all these years later it's still really handy — and let's me give someone a lovely scarf or blanket that doesn't break the bank and has a lot more sentimental value than something I picked up at the store.
Con: You May End Up With Something You Don't Even Want
We've all seen Pinterest fails. Sometimes, DIY goes so wrong you've gotten something at the end that you can't even salvage. Remember that if you go too big or invest too much in supplies, you can actually end up losing money, giving up, and paying someone else to do it. And that's how my bathroom finally got tiled.
Pro: Money In Your Pocket (Maybe)
Obviously, this is the dream. There are some cases where a bit of DIY can save you a lot — with something like DIYing your carpet underlay, which won't even be seen because your carpet is over it. And if you find something cheap at a thrift store that just needs a little cleaning or coat of paint, that should be a quick and easy way to save. Learning how to fix things instead of just replacing them is a safe bet.
Con: Fighting With The People Close To You
Trying to build a couch with your significant other and your sibling will make you wonder if you would really save either of them from a burning building — just saying.
Pro: You May Just Love It
Some people get a huge amount of joy out of DIY. I am not those people. I don't know those people. But those people exist. If you're someone who gets a buzz out of saving a little money and figuring out how to do stuff, then you should totally go for it! It's a hobby as well as a money-saving tool.
DIY is supposed to be this quick and easy fix that anybody can do — and, if we're talking about sewing on a button, that's true. But be realistic about what the project entails, because there's a lot to consider.