Day 13: Do it yourself

Do you like this series so far?

Usually when I ask a question I get this…


so feel free to leave a comment;)

We’ve talked a lot about vintage living, namely getting started and family.

Now I want to focus the next several posts on our homes, hence the title, “do it yourself”. This one really could’ve gone under the ‘getting started’ section because it applies to all aspects of life, but I feel like writing on the topic, so here goes(!)


Do it yourself. This approach saves us so much money.

For example, when our old washer stopped working, my husband got on the internet to find out what was wrong, bought the part and then proceeded to fix it. It worked like a charm for another year and a half and then finally it just died. I’m so thankful to have a husband that’s handy and willing to at least try to fix things.

Back in July, a storm came through and damaged a small section of our fence. I called and received a quote for nearly $700. Did I mention that all the materials could be salvaged with the exception of one cemented post? It took time, but my husband was able to do it (with the help of a couple of friends) for just under $100.

Here are some other small things you can do yourself (rather than pay someone else to do):

Around the house

  • fix a leaky faucet or a running toilet
  • mow your own lawn
  • tackle a landscape project (planting trees and shrubs, mulching)
  • grow some veggies, herbs and flowers
  • paint (a piece of furniture, your front door if it’s looking shabby or an entire room)
  • change the oil in your cars
  • wash and wax (or even detail) your car
  • install a new light fixture
  • clean your own house
  • make your own household cleaners
  • steam clean your carpets and furniture (we bought a steam cleaner on sale at Amazon and with two kids and a cat it has paid for itself several times over)
  • if you have to buy a new appliance (we’ve had to purchase several!) take a look to see if you can install it yourself
Your clothes
  • dry clean them yourself (we really like Dryel)
  • make your own stain remover
  • shine your shoes
  • recondition a leather belt, wallet, purse or a pair of gloves
  • mend a piece of clothing or teach yourself how to do some simple alterations
Your person
  • learn how to cut hair (it takes practice, but I’ve been giving my sons and husband haircuts for the last three years)
  • color your hair (I just gave away a secret, LOL!)
  • give yourself a facial, manicure or a pedicure
  • forego the gym membership and either go for a walk, follow along on an exercise DVD or both
Your food
  • freezer meals – make extra of whatever you cook for dinner, freeze the rest to throw in the microwave on a busy night
  • breads (sandwich bread, quick bread, pizza with homemade crust)
  • fancy coffee drinks
  • special occasion desserts and cupcakes
  • sauces (pasta sauce, chocolate sauce or even mayonnaise)
  • gifts for baby showers or hostesses
  • clean up your computer to make it run faster (uninstall programs you no longer use, delete temporary files, defrag)
  • file your own taxes (TurboTax rocks)

We have done or regularly do every single one of these and it really saves us a lot of money. In fact, one of the only things we pay someone else to do is fertilize our lawn and we’ve talked about doing that ourselves as well next year (six applications at $40 a pop is hard to swallow these days).

When you do something yourself, you not only save money, you learn something new, get the satisfaction of a job well done and can do it when it is convenient for you.

Now that I’ve maybe inspired you to do some things yourself, let me try to give you some wise advice:

  • Know your limits. There are many, many things that we wouldn’t even consider doing ourselves. Finishing a basement, completely gutting a bathroom or a kitchen or doing a major car repair come to mind. Doing it yourself doesn’t always save money. One small mistake can cost you big time so think it all through before you attempt something you’ve never done before.
  • Start small. If you’ve never even opened up the hood of your car before, please don’t wake up one day and decide that you are going to install a new transmission.
  • Use common sense. The internet is a wonderful tool that puts tons of information at our fingertips. However, not all the information out there is good or accurate. Stick with a trusted, reputable source.
  • Be thankful and encouraging. If your spouse finishes a job, don’t be critical. Sincerely thank him for working so hard. Look for the good.  Remember, you are on the same team.
  • Ask for help. Most people are glad to show you how they do something. Learn from others, then pass that knowledge along to someone else.
Miss a post? You can find more tips on vintage living in a modern world here.
Published in: on October 13, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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