The most fundamental concept of living a frugal life is to avoid spending money. That's kind of what it's all about. But without some guidance, some people let frugality make them penny wise and pound foolish. In other words, they are spending the least they can spend right now at the expense of avoiding bigger costs down the road.
Home maintenance is one of those areas where lots of people make this mistake. Don't get the wrong idea; there are still plenty of ways that DIY can put some extra money in your pocket on things at home. But there are also some ways you can really mess up your financial plans with a reckless attempt to save a couple of bucks.
There are three main ways that you can make a bad financial move by doing certain work yourself around the house.
It is very important not to outrun your qualifications when you do work around the house. You can get by on some painting even if you're not a great painter, and you can do some basic carpentry even if you hammer your thumb as much as the nail. But many home maintenance tasks go far beyond that.
Heating and cooling is a big one. Sure, change your own filters, but when it comes to actual repairs and even in-depth servicing, you're better off to hire a contractor. As one example, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning offers a $69 clean and tune-up for your furnace. Avoiding even just one blown capacitor makes that investment pay for itself, so think about home repairs in that framework.
That piece of aluminum fascia that blew loose during the storm last night is going to have to be fixed. It's just a matter of a few nails pounded in from the top of a ladder. You have a hammer. You have a ladder. Why not fix it?
One really good reason would be when the fascia is flapping 20 feet off the ground. Your ladder may not quite reach it, or you may not be sure-footed enough to do the work. It's a recipe for an injury that leads to big medical bills and maybe even time off work--and the fascia is still loose. You might also break a window with the ladder or drop the hammer on your car and end up wishing you'd paid a contractor.
Time really is money. There may be jobs you can do yourself but they'll take days or weeks because you have to chip away on them in the evenings and on the weekends. Car repairs are a good example. Replacing a water pump does not require a lot of skills, but it does require a lot of time crawling under the vehicle trying to line things up. If you can't be without the car for days and days, pay a mechanic.
That's just the cost of the inconvenience. There is also the opportunity cost to think of, which is the money you might have been able to make or save during the time you were under the car or on the roof. Always think of opportunity cost!
We all love to save money, and DIY at home can be a great way to do it. Sure, there's no need to call an electrician to change a light bulb, but many jobs are cheaper in the long run if you just hire a professional.