The fru-gal

The Fru-Gal: Are DIY projects really worth it? Here's how to find out

Contributing columnistMay 24, 2014 

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House of Tools

PHILIP GANGLER — Getty Images/iStockphoto

Are do-it-yourself projects worth the time?

I thought about this while I was painting my bedroom until nearly midnight. My husband told me I should have hired someone to do it.

What he doesn't realize is that when I am done with a project it is rewarding to say I did it myself. I have changed light switches, installed faucets, fixed leaking pipes and planted my own garden.

Nowadays you can outsource just about anything from shopping to home repairs to house cleaning, but how do you calculate when it is worthwhile to hire someone?

Financial planning site LearnVest suggests you calculate your hourly after tax income and adjust it up or down based on three things: How much extra income you have, how much free time you have, and whether your priority is cutting costs or saving time.

If you lean toward saving time and don't have a lot of free time, your hourly worth goes up. If you lean more toward saving money, then your hourly worth goes down. Plug in your numbers in LearnVest's calculator to estimate how much your hour is worth.

Now that you know how to calculate the dollar figure of a project, think about your life balance. If you do not feel comfortable or basically don't like doing the task needed, then your displeasure is also a factor in whether or not to hire someone.

I don't think you should take time away from watching your child's baseball game, but spending time with your child who can help you with a task is also a bonding time. Having two children, I would never hire someone to do my lawn. My kids were expected to help around the house. It let them learn life skills, plus they got fresh air and exercise.

I don't mean to discourage you from tackling a project, especially because there are many sources of information for learning how to do different projects. Television is full of programs that show homeowners trying to renovate their house. Show like Renovations Realities, Renovations Rebab and Kitchen Crashers give the DIYers tips for projects. Home improvement stores cater to the DIYs with workshops on tiling, landscaping, hanging ceiling fans, changing faucets and lots more. Check out HomeDepot.com for times. Sign up for Lowe's free magazine Creative Ideas at lowes.com/creative-ideas.

DIY can apply to everyday situations, too, like how to properly core a pineapple. At the grocery store you can buy cored pineapples, but also whole pineapples that need to be cored. Some products let you skip the step of cutting, preparing and even cooking your meals. Growing up I remember my grandmother spending Sundays preparing red sauce, soups, pastas, breads and vegetables for the week. You could go over to her house at any time and she could prepare you a meal in an instant.

Now, some vegetables are packaged precut and all a cook has to do is drop them in boiling water or put them in the oven.

Does this save you money or just time?

I checked out the prices at Kroger and was surprised at the difference for convenience. A package of carrots was 89 cents. A package of peeled and cut carrots was $3.29. Pineapple cored was $4.20 but a whole was $2.99. Cut celery was $2.99 or an uncut bunch was $1.89.

The prices are significantly different, but even the prepared price can be a money saver if the alternative is spending money at a restaurant.

Different factors come in to play when deciding whether to outsource a service or buy prepared products. Analyze the situation and whatever you decide, enjoy what you are doing and be safe while doing it.

Money saving ideas

Free side of bacon at Waffle House. Coupon expires May 30.

■ Free 5x7 flat, 5x7 folded or 5x5 flat card at Shutterfly.com. Enter promotional code CARD4U. Offer expires July 17. Shipping is 99 cents.

■ If your family likes Disney, build a stick figure family car sticker from Disney while supplies last. One per family.

Join the Nick Jr. Birthday Club and your child can receive a personalized birthday phone call from Dora the Explorer.

Free sample of Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Food.

Free Sun-Maid 100th anniversary cookbooklet.

■ Bike Lexington is sponsoring an event that starts at 8 a.m. May 31 at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza downtown. Bike stunt shows take place throughout the morning, free bike helmets with safety checks are available while supplies last and the Family Fun Ride takes off at 10 a.m. Stay after the ride for a chance to win a free bicycle. Bikelexington.com

Deborah Morris' weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get through these economic hard times a little more easily. If you know of a way to save some money, feel free to share it on The Fru-Gal blog on BluegrassMoms.com and visit her Web site, Fru-gal-friends.com.

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