Thrift Week — Do it Yourself, Plus a TurboTax Giveaway!

by Katy on January 20, 2010 · 87 comments

Note: This giveaway had ended. Thank you to everyone who shared their DIY tips. Congratulations to “Buster” and “Shannon” whose names were randomly picked as winners.

As we move through the week looking at how thrift fits into our lives, I want to focus on how we pay others to perform what we don’t like or know how to do. This can range from tax preparation and hair cuts, to restaurant meals and cleaning services.

I certainly see the appeal in outsourcing the unpleasantries in life. But when the expense of hiring out what should be do-able tasks means hanging onto consumer debt or being unable to put savings aside, it’s no longer balanced.

Here is a short list of tasks my husband and I do for ourselves instead of hiring out:

  • Oil changes.
  • Hair cuts.
  • Meal preparation.
  • Clothing repair.
  • Computer/ iPod repair.
  • Home improvement tasks.
  • Tax preparation.
  • House cleaning, (not that my home is comparable to a professionally cleaned house.)

Some of the things from this list we’ve been doing for years, (home haircuts) others are things we’ve recently been teaching ourselves. For example, my husband got tired of paying our local Macintosh store for repairs on our mistreated 2005 iBook, so he found a website that had complete instructions and videos on how to do computer maintenance. This alone has saved us hundreds of dollars in repairs, and thousands in buying a new Macintosh iBook.

Another skill my husband acquired was tax preparation. We were employing an accountant for our taxes due to issues related to a business my husband used to own. I begged him to try and use an online tax prep service such as TurboTax, and he finally relented last year. My husband was very skeptical about whether doing our own taxes was the right thing to do, but he was able to whiz through the online edition in an afternoon and feel confident that he had done a good job.

As a special treat, the fine folks at TurboTax have sent me two gift cards for the Premier level Federal and State tax returns, (which include the info for “investments and rental property” and are a $89.90 value apiece) to give away to two lucky Non-Consumer Advocate readers.

The cards read:

“This code is redeemable at and good for one free federal + state preparation and e-file with TurboTax Premier Online 2009.”

To enter to win one of the TurboTax gift cards, please write in the comments section one skill you do that others hire out. This contest is open to U.S. residents only, one entry per person. I will randomly choose a winner Thursday, January 21st at midnight, Pacific time zone. Good luck!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

TurboTax is an advertiser on The Non-Consumer Advocate and provided an additional online tax preparation gift card  to me for review purposes.

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine January 20, 2010 at 2:24 am

One thing that many people hire out is yard work. I love working in my yard. When the weather was nice every Saturday morning I could be found out in the yard weeding and generally tidying up and my husband mowed all 1/3 of an acre sometimes twice a week in the summer.


Ben January 20, 2010 at 2:59 am

I perform nearly every house repair we need. Last summer I installed a water heater (purchased on clearance) total cost of installation was less than just the water heater from a plumber. In the fall I installed a furnace saving between $500 and $3500 off of what contractors had quoted me.


MB January 20, 2010 at 3:23 am

I do all of my own money management and investing. No financial adviser/live broker for me – I want to know where my money is.

My goal this year is to do my own taxes. It’s really embarrassing that I haven’t done this yet because I work for an accounting firm (though I’m not actually an accountant).


Mary Kate January 20, 2010 at 4:27 am

Baking is something I do much more of than other people. Homemade cookies, cakes, breads, etc. Cheaper, healthier, and better tasting than mixes or bakeries


Linda January 20, 2010 at 4:34 am

My husband and I built our own house. It took us two years of hard work every evening and weekend. We are not builders! My husband is a machinist by day and I was a proposal writer. We were just married and we had no kids.

It was a huge amount of work but we saved an unbelievable amount of money. The only jobs we did not do were: the roof (I needed my husband alive!), electrical, plumbing and hanging the sheetrock. I think we did everything else. When I look at my house, I know we (along with help from some family and friends) nailed everything down, painted and stained everything.

We have been in our house for 19 years and we do all the maintenance: exterior and interior painting, all yard work, etc. We learned that we could do just about anything!


Gerard Kiernan January 20, 2010 at 5:09 am

We walk most everywhere for work, school , errands rather than paying someone to carry us in a sedan chair or pay our cars to cart us around.
Of course we do the taxes ourselves …. with the turbotax that I need to purchase or get from Katy.
I run the buzzer over my fashionably sleek noggin rather than pay a barber to pretend that he is styling what remains.
We make cards rather than buy em.


Carla January 20, 2010 at 5:11 am

We do pretty much all those things you listed, Katy. We also do our own yardwork; our own painting (inside); our own oil changes (most of the time); make a number of our own clothes including some knitted or crocheted items; make most of our bread; cut our own hair; perform various small odd jobs and repairs around the house — I could go on. And yes, my husband does our taxes but I don’t need to be in your drawing. He used a (different) tax program a couple of years ago and decided that since I assemble all the information for him and have it ready, it’s just as easy and fast for him to do it with a pencil and calculator. Thanks anyway!


Bellen January 20, 2010 at 5:15 am

While we used to do everything ourselves except body work on the car, now in our 60s we pay to have yard done and oil changes. The rest we do ourselves and we are seriously considering canceling the yard work except for the months of June-Sept (we live in FL and those months the grass grows and grows).

We realize that we are depriving some people part of their livelihood, but we prefer to spend our money on second-hand items like furniture we can redo, some travel and simply providing for our future – by family standards we will live to be 86-90 and we really aren’t sure about SS and medical care.


Linda January 20, 2010 at 5:17 am

We do our own taxes, clean our house, exercise without a gym membership and I buzz my husband’s hair.


Kristin January 20, 2010 at 5:26 am

Thanks to Kristen at, I make my own yogurt. I also clean my own house (not as well as a cleaning lady might), bake, do my own laundry,wash our own cars and take care of my own kids. Next up is repainting two rooms– something we would have paid someone to do in our former lives of “people who spent money on stupid stuff they could do themselves.”


Shannon January 20, 2010 at 5:38 am

We do our own computer repairs thanks to husband being in that field. We also bake our own bread, do our own painting and landscaping, and grow our own berries and veggies during the summer.


Erin January 20, 2010 at 5:46 am

We had a baby in September 2009, and so far, have resisted hiring outside help for child care (getting a nanny seems to be an automatic response among our friends) despite both of us working (my partner works at home full time and I am going back to the office next week full time, but hopefully will work at home some of the time). For the occasional night out (maybe 1x month) we’ve been lucky to have eager friends volunteer to babysit, and we also are lucky to have an even-tempered baby who sleeps. We’ll see how it goes, we could be crazy! When he is a little bigger, we want him to go to day care at least part of the time for socialization, etc., but for now, we want to try to take care of him ourselves. We also walk our own dog, do our own cooking and taxes.


Wanda January 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

We do a lot of our own car repairs…we can’t handle it all on our own but we’ve replace the brain in one car, the windshield wiper motor in another, and recently when my daughter’s headlights weren’t working, we saved $600 by just opening it up and cleaning some burnt wiring. It may not last forever but heck, did I mention we saved $600!? On the other hand, we think oil changes are easier to have done elsewhere – just always use coupons to keep the prices really low. Then we also don’t have to worry about disposing of the used oil.


Shymom January 20, 2010 at 6:15 am

We were quoted over 1,000 dollars to remove a section of concrete that had been installed years ago for the base of a chain link fence. Instead, we left the concrete where it was and added a wooden fence in front of it. View of concrete neutralized and a nice picket fence added. It took us 2 weeks since we were only putting in hours after work but only cost us $150. The best part was the neighbors’ reaction telling us it looks like it had been there all along.


Bob Meighan January 20, 2010 at 6:27 am

Last year, over 40 million Americans used tax software like TurboTax or went online to prepare and file their returns. Our Online business grew by about 40%. These huge growth numbers clearly indicate that taxpayers recognize the benefits of doing their taxes “digitally.” It saves them time, frustration and most importantly, money. The reaction I consistently hear from first-time customer is “Wow, I never realized how easy it can be.”

With many free solutions and “try before you buy” offers, now is a great time to try tax preparation software. I encourage you to visit

Bob Meighan
VP, TurboTax


Katy January 20, 2010 at 11:26 am

If you are planning on filing your taxes through TurboTax, I’d love it if you clicked though from their ad on The Non-Consumer Advocate.


Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kim January 20, 2010 at 6:35 am

We’ve been tackling our on appliance repairs, with a little bit of online research and a few hours of work we we’re able to repair both our washer and our dryer with $0 cash out of pocket, using just what we had on hand.


lucy January 20, 2010 at 7:02 am

When we move houses, we do it ourselves, and we often help friends move. I doubt many people who read this hire professional organizers, but organizing my stuff is something I do myself rather than hiring out. I swear by Julie Morgenstern’s books for help, especially her newer one called “When Organizing Isn’t Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life.” (It works!) I’ve started to do my own baking, and am wanting to get into grinding my own wheat. Also, rather than relying on a “health food store” (overpriced!), I order bulk natural foods from a couple of buying clubs that two people in my town organize. Finally, we got married recently, and we did all of the wedding planning and crafty stuff ourselves rather than hiring someone to help. However, we’re big believers in supporting others who produce things we value. For us, our values center on art, nature and wholesome artisinal foods, so we like to “invest” in people who are creating things of value in those realms.


Rebecca January 20, 2010 at 7:18 am

A nice thing about TurboTax is that when you purchase it for $50, you can file up to 4 separate tax returns, both Fed and State. So my parents get Turbo and then my family, and both of my sibs can also file very inexpensively. Also, you get your tax returns back super fast if you Turbo and have an automatic deposit into a checking or even better, savings account. Last year it took 2 weeks. We had our money back by the third week of Feb.

I also cut my husband’s and both boys’ hair. I get mine cut at a local cheap place, with coupons I never pay more than 10$ a cut and try to stretch it at least 8 weeks in between cuts.

Another easy way to save is to drop your gym membership. Most people rarely use it enough to pay for itself. I found a one year old elliptical machine on Craig’s List for 40$, and now I work out at home for free. Do some light weights with some soup cans and your done!

Our Health insurance also just started a program to give incentives to members using healthy living items, like a CSA food share, gym membership, wellness classes, workout machine purchases, etc. I send in the receipts and can get up to 200$ a year refunded to me for healthy living.


kelley January 20, 2010 at 7:32 am

Rebecca: just wondering who your health insurance is through – im currently uninsured (the wonders of working for a non-profit organization) and im trying to find something affordable that would reward us for the healthy choices we make.


Rebecca January 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Kelly, we have Dean insurance, based in WI. We live near Madison, WI and the docs here are quite good.


kelley January 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

aside from doing all our own home repairs & renovations on the fixer-upper we bought this summer my fiance does all our computer & gadget repairs, oil changes & small car fixes. we’re even taking it upon ourselves to pull all the outdated wiring from our 1885 house. i do all our clothing repairs, cook every meal we eat from scratch, cut our hair, and grow a good portion of the food we eat. well even be raising out own chickens starting this spring so that we no longer need to buy eggs.


Carla January 20, 2010 at 7:35 am

I had part of my home remodeled a few years ago, but balked at the idea of hiring someone to do the interior painting. While I’m sure it took me a lot longer to complete than it would have taken a professional, I’m pleased with the results and my savings.


Kimberly January 20, 2010 at 7:39 am

We do almost all of the things you mentioned as well as anything else we try first to see if we can do it before calling in reinforcements. Not only does it save money but instills and sense of pride and self-sufficiency in both us and our children.


Cheryl January 20, 2010 at 7:41 am

I have been doing my own taxes and that of friends for *years*. One year a friend had me do it and then got nervous with my results and took them to a tax preparation firm. They came out with the *exact* same results to the dollar that I did for both Federal and two states (he had moved mid-year)! He wasted $240 double checking my work and has had me do it ever since…I have always used Turbo Tax since it first came out…


Eleanor January 20, 2010 at 7:46 am

Grooming our three dogs. My husband gives Wooly Booger, our fox terrier, regular hair cuts. We wash the dogs ourselves. We use the dremel tool to trim their nails. The nails alone save us $20 per dog, per month! One of our hounds periodically has impacted anal glands. One of the Vet techs at our Vet’s office taught me how to express her glands. Not pleasant, but saves us $22 each time. We save well over $1000 a year grooming the dogs ourselves.


Gwen J January 20, 2010 at 8:05 am

Dear Katy,

I/we do all the things you listed. My husband also has some unique training: years ago he was a manager at a Barnes & Noble that had a Starbucks in it. Even though he didn’t work for Starbucks, he still needed to go through their barista training so we bought a small espresso maker that we still have. So now, if either of us wants a special coffee drink my “barista” husband makes it!


Jeanine January 20, 2010 at 8:47 am


Can I have that website that you use to fix your Apple Products, please?



Jessica January 20, 2010 at 8:52 am

Moving! I’ve moved many times in my life, and never hired anyone to help. And, anytime anyone changes housing, we are all there to help move furniture, boxes, whatever. It gets done quicker (lots of strong men and women), and is lots more fun, with chatting, teasing, and all the wackiness that automatically comes with my family.


jayme January 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

Garbage. I live in a rural area where most folks hire a private garbage hauler to cart away their container of garbage for $30-40 a month. I tote my own garbage to county transfer stations and dispose of waste for $2 a bag. As a bonus, all the recyclables are collected free of charge at the same transfer station. So by recycling I save by reducing the number of stickers I need to dispose of my garbage. I spend $2-4 a month (1 or 2 bags) and divert quite a lot of my waste by recycling. Good for the wallet and the planet.


Kitty January 20, 2010 at 9:52 am

Gee, Kaity, it would be easier to say what I pay others to do for me. Ahhhh, other than the occassional meal out, nothing. I am very lucky to have children who learned at moms knee, so to speak who help with any major things. My son and a few friends installed my 6′ wood fence on one side of my yard to hide some uglyness. We did pay for the wood to be cut, I mean, we went to the lunber yard, not the forest. Plumbing, electrical, painting, repairs, taxes, gee, who has the money? Or wants to spend it where they don’t have to?


Melissa January 20, 2010 at 10:08 am

I just fixed my vacuum cleaner myself by looking at the plans on the parts-ordering website (correctly figuring if something wasn’t in the right place, then it was probably the broken part), saving myself either a costly vacuum repair or a costly new vacuum. I always try to fix something myself before I pay someone else to fix it, and I succeed more often than I fail. Yay me!


Donna January 20, 2010 at 10:13 am

We do all the things you mentioned plus our own yard maintenance. Also, we bought a new house so my husband went online and figured out how to install our own sprinkler system. We also recently needed to change all 3 of our home locks. In the past, we would have thought nothing of hiring a locksmith to do this. Again, my husband went online and bought a kit that allows you to rekey the lock yourself. You just replace the old pins with the new ones from the kit. Super easy and it only cost $20 total. We are all about DIY!


colleen January 20, 2010 at 10:13 am

My husband finished our basement by himself (with some help from friends) including installing a beautiful slate floor.


J Urton January 20, 2010 at 10:24 am

We do all the things that you listed (except for cutting our own hair.) I cut my daughter’s hair but my husband won’t let me near him for that nor can I trust myself to cut my own hair. That is something that I’m willing to pay someone else to do.

Since I am on a mission to declutter and simplify our lives. I would say that we’ve been very successful at decluttering our home ourselves. And since my husband has some electrical expertise, he does all our electrical repairs and lighting design in our home — he’s done an excellent job. Next is outdoor garden lighting which we will also tackle after we clean up the backyard ourselves. Cheers.


EL January 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

I do my own computer repair and housecleaning, like you mentioned, Katy. I am not skilled enough to do haircuts though! I did my taxes last year using the government’s fill-in forms and while it worked out fine, I wish I had spent the $ for a software program to help me through it. So I’m really hoping I win the TurboTax giveaway!


BRB January 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

I do all of my own furniture stripping and wall painting. I garden a lot and am soon getting chickens so we rely on the food chain less than the main stream consumer. I also make all of my own cleaning supplies and beauty items, ie lotion, toner, astringent.


Deb January 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

Snow removal! That’s a big deal in Maine, and many of my family, friends, and neighbors hire others to do it. In the more rural areas, people tend to do it themselves more. I’ll clear the driveway, stairs, porches, walkway to the power meter, and I also have to shovel the snow off a section of the roof (not steep enough for the snow to fall off on its own). Sometimes it’s a pain, like when it snows every day and I feel like I’m out there all the time, but otherwise I sort of enjoy it.
Do lots of other things myself too, most of which others have already mentioned. It’s satisfying to figure something out and know that you did it yourself.


Sandie January 20, 2010 at 11:42 am

Mending, altering and fixing of clothes. I am the family go-to person for any repair. In fact, I was in a quandry of should I charge family members for putting in a new zipper or heming pants. I came up with the solution of gift certificates for family members at christmas & birthdays. They each received a free alteration or a pre-determined amount of mending and anything after that I was paid a small fee to cover my time. My husband did the same thing with family and friends who wanted his handyman services. Everyone got free service with the gift certificate. After that, he got paid.

My favorite barter was with my friend who owned her own beauty salon. I got my hair cut every 5 weeks and I did all her mending.


Sarah January 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Growing up, my parents hired a cleaner every two weeks. Now that there’s a recession on, I think the house is professionally cleaned every month. While in the short term, it keeps the house looking nice, in long term, it allowed my parents to go thirty years without having to confront all their stuff. In the past few years, they have had to rent a dumpster–three times!–to throw out all the junk they’d accumulated over the years but had been able to ignore because it had always been cleaned up. Because they were doing this all at once instead of over time, there was no time for them to Goodwill or Freecycle things (although they did donate 30 boxes of books to a prison reading project). For this reason, I’ve always cleaned my own home. While that means not always as picture perfect as others might like, it means that I am responsible for my stuff, and that I’ll never have to rent a dumpster (or three!) to get rid of any of it.


Lisa January 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

We do all of our own yard work, pruning, etc. House painting, home repair, car repair and maintenance –this one has been huge. My husband is a very talented amateur mechanic, but was stumped by a problem with my car. He took it to the dealership, they hooked it up to a computer and told him what was wrong and that it would cost $1,200 to fix. He took the car home, bought the part for $35 and all was well.

We have also bartered things that people often hire out. My husband has traded car repair with an electrician who installed a new ventillation system in our bathroom and kitchen. I trade fresh baked bread for a haircut and on a complicated tax year we traded a friend who does book keeping for a table.


Queen Lucia January 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

We moved our daughter to college at the end of December without renting a truck – we used our own. In the long run, this may not have saved us money, as it is a 2 hour drive each way, and we drove 3 times over a couple of weeks, but it did mean that we could visit the college three times with our daughter and get her comfortable with the thought of being on her own in a town she’s not familiar with.

We also do many of the same things as others mentioned!


Marie January 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I do my own simple tailoring, boys haircuts, tax preparation, house cleaning


Lynnette January 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I have recently started bathing our dogs, rather than send them to the groomer- our cat is another matter- 25#, long haired ragdoll with a marked aversion to water- that’s for next year!! Lynnette


Laurie January 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Lately, it seems we do everything ourselves. Except for the occassional meal out, we make it, clean it, fix it, or do without it. Currently, we we’re in the midst of a mini kitchen remodel (all do-it-ourselves) and I am without a stove and microwave for the week.. I could take the easy way out and order out, but I’m saving my money by being creative. Last night, we had pizza from my counter top rotisserie and the night before, it was crockpot chicken and coffee pot rice.


Rachel January 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I wash my own car. I received a perfectly good steam clean machine from a friend when he upgraded and I use it to clean the carpets and seats in my car. Not only does this save me quite a bit from not being tempted to pay the wekly mobile car wash man, but it also increases the value of my car!


Jinger January 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I do most everything for myself except oil change, car maintenance, and haircuts. I used to cut my own hair, but find coupons for a place that does a terrific job for me and is very inexpensive.


Dynelle January 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I do haircuts, bake bread, garden/freeze/can, cook from scratch, mending, and my husband fixes darn near everything!


melinda January 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm

My husband does all our car repairs. He’s so talented…he does electrical work, plumbing…whatever we need he can do!


Amanda N January 20, 2010 at 3:53 pm

We clean our own house, do our own yard work and maintain and repair our own HVAC. Thankfully, my husband can do most anything, and I can serve as his right-hand (wo)man.


Bridget January 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I am 44 yrs old and have been doing my own taxes since my 1st job at McDonald’s @ age 17 (with the exception of 1 yr due to brief financial advice from a financial advisor & quickly realized I wasted my $$). I LOVE doing my own taxes, especially since the computer age. I have used TURBO TAX for quite a few years and find it is very user friendly, and gets better every year. A few years ago I discovered “ItsDeductible” by Turbo Tax which allows you to input charitable donations year round. When tax time comes, it is automatically imported. I also do my own investing. I have leraned so much taking on-line investment courses and reading, all for FREE. Katy, I have already purchased my Turbo Tax (with a $10 off coupon at Costco) so I will pass if I should be the lucky winner.


Annie B January 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm

My partner and I have not only done our own taxes, but we have built a shed from a kit, laid flooring, painted inside and out, done all yardwork, laid a patio, accomplished various appliance repairs, laid sod several times and groomed our dogs. However, we don’t change the oil in our cars (which get used very little) and we don’t give each other haircuts.


Wendy January 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

We all pitch-in. My husband services our furnace and air conditioning systems, our sons take care of car washing, and I bake all of our bread products and do the taxes. We all have our talents and never stop thinking about what else we can do for ourselves.


Emily January 20, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I am “fixin’ to” hem 7 pairs of trousers for my husband. With two very petite daughters I think there will be a lot of hemming in my future and I don’t want to pay $15 each time!


Rebekah January 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm

This is a trifle, but I maintain my own manicure/pedicure. It horrifies me how many otherwise intelligent women I know are willing to pay someone $15-30 to trim and paint their toenails. Are we THAT spoiled??


Renee January 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm

i cut my 2 year olds hair and bake my own bread.


Tina January 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Auto maintainence… oil changes, filter replacements, and even new brakes!


namastemama January 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

We care for our own lawn. Weeding, mowing, fertilizing and landscaping. My husband cheers when the grass turns brown. A rarity in our neighborhood. I also tell my kids to stay off all the lawns with those little flags, warning you of the chemicals someone just paid to have dumped on their precious grass.


Kimberly Caron-Lohman January 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

We used to pay for simple car repairs, such as brakes, tune-ups, and that sort of thing but no more…. my husband and son have both taught themselves to do these simple repairs themselves, saving us a nice wad of cash!


Megan January 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm

My husband and I trade shoveling services with our next door neighbors. One time, we shovel both houses sidewalks. The next time, our neighbors do it.


Alyssa January 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm

We wash/wax/detail our own cars. It actually makes for a really fun family activity on a Saturday afternoon. The kids help (for about 10 minutes) then ride their bikes around the street while we finish up.


Diane January 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm

As I see in so many posts, we pretty much do whatever we are capable of doing ourselves. I do the taxes, laundry, house chores, cook, bake bread, sew hems. My husband does computer troubleshooting, home and car maintenance. We both do yard work. Anything that we feel able to tackle, we do!


Jill January 20, 2010 at 6:57 pm

We have learned to fix our dryers ( we have 2) that get used regularly by our tenants and tend to break down almost as regularly. We only acquire free ones off Craigs List and often inherit other folks’ problems, so finding out how to repair them was a must!


Kristin Mayer January 20, 2010 at 7:16 pm

We do the following:

Hair cuts
Dog grooming
Dog anal gland cleaning (my poor dachsund-beagle mix needs this done every 4-6 weeks. We could have her glands removed for $2000, or go to the vet for $18 a pop, but we had the vet teach us how to do it ourselves)
Yard care
Tech support for our two home businesses


Elisa January 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I do all my own yard work–mowing, edging, pruning, etc. I even make my own compost!


sherri January 20, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I have always colored my own hair. This past weekend all the women in my family got together to “do hair”. My grandmother, mom, aunt, and me. We help each other out, but I am able to to do it myself. I also pay $5 per year to get a big discount on supplies at Sally’s, that sells to both professionals and us do it your-selfers. The will also give you advise if you need it.


Jenny January 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I’ve done my own house painting and outside fence painting. I swap for babysitting services, rarely paying.


wrymommy January 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I do my own bang trims. I asked my stylist to show me how, and she graciously gave me the secret: for side swept bangs, pull the hair to the opposite side and cut straight across. When you release them back to their proper side, they’re perfectly angled. Now I just trim my own bangs, and get my long hair cut only once every 4 – 6 months. I also avoid dry cleaning except every few months by employing Febreeze, my home steamer, and carefully hanging everything up after it’s worn.


Katherine January 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I like math, so I manage my own investments and have made learning about investing and the economy into a hobby. I find it interesting (to say the least!) and wouldn’t want to hand it over to someone else.


Amy January 21, 2010 at 4:15 am

My husband and our family and friends put a new roof on our house last summer, saving us many thousands of dollars. It is amazing what a few friends with skill (and many more with strength!) can accomplish in a weekend.


Sam Jones January 21, 2010 at 6:06 am

We cut and split our own firewood and grind the wheat for baking our own bread. With a chainsaw and electric grain mill these are both easy tasks!


Lanita January 21, 2010 at 7:08 am

My husband is a fix-it whiz, so he regularly tackles anything that’s broken or in need or regular maintenance in our home. I also help care for my husband’s hair (he has locs).


kc January 21, 2010 at 7:23 am

I give the dogs baths, or make my husband do it. They are inside dogs and need baths often (more often than we even manage) and I can’t imagine paying someone to shampoo them every time they need it!


Rhonda January 21, 2010 at 8:11 am

I cut my own hair. Back when I used to highlight I also did that myself with a home kit. I would usually share one kit with my sister or my daughter and we would take turns pulling each others hair through the cap (I saved the caps each time so I would have more than one), then split the bleach mixture between the two of us. I also saved the metal crochet hooks from the kits and have been using them lately to crochet re-usable string shopping bags. I recently found a deodorant recipe that works well for me that I make myself from household ingredients, and also make my own lavender water and lip balms. I do minor repairs on clothing myself and am trying to improve my sewing skills so that I could do more making and altering. It really makes life more fun and interesting, I think, when you learn the skills and do it yourself.


Amy Dunn January 21, 2010 at 9:24 am

LOVE this post. We, too, are DIYers whenever possible. We do our own taxes, cut our own lawn, wash our own cars, wash our own windows, pressure wash our own driveway, cook our own food and clean our own house. Quite a concept in our neck of the woods!


Amy H. January 21, 2010 at 9:46 am

I mend my own and my husband’s clothing — I was appalled the first time he mentioned he was going to take a particular shirt to the dry cleaner to have them SEW ON A BUTTON. Now he knows that I grew up sewing (my mom is a quilter and also made all our clothes until I was about 12) and can darn and re-weave small tears or holes as well. I also won’t pay for a gym, as I prefer running, walking and strength training outside and on my own. Still have to convince my spouse on this one, though!

I’ve done my own taxes since I have had to pay taxes — for decades used a pencil and paper, but just switched over to tax software two years ago, primarily so that I could file online rather than mailing in the forms.

Every little bit helps. I don’t change my own oil, but I change the car’s air filter, which is super easy, and so never have to pay extra to have that done. And when we once dropped the toilet tissue roll holder (the inner spring-loaded piece) in the toilet bowl, so that it wedged its way into the S-curve and blocked everything, we had a plumber come by and he told us we’d have to purchase and have him install a new toilet — at about $800! We said no way, and my husband drained the toilet tank, turned off the water, unbolted the toilet from the floor, and retrieved the holder. He put a new rubber flange around the base before bolting the toilet back town and turning back on the water, and everything worked fine. We were both completely thrilled with ourselves!


magdalena January 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

I do lots of maintenance around the house, sew, bake, and so on – but I just bought some handsewn dresses from someone else and I am very glad of it! They were cheaper than buying in a store (they are pre-owned, from eBay) but even having new ones made to this pattern would be cheaper than buying at a department store. Admittedly, not everyone would wear this kind of dress. But even if you don’t sew, having a special kind of dress made for you – prom, evening, or wedding – may be cheaper than buying it in a specialty store. The “you did it yourself” part is picking the fabric and pattern, and taking the time to find the seamstress or tailor.
Don’t enter me in the TurboTax contest, since I can’t use it here in Canada – and my taxes are ridiculously easy to prepare anyway. I used to be an accounting technician, so I have never paid a preparer.


Kristin January 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

We are the fix-it family. My husband left me a gift this morning before work: my repaired cell phone! Since my daughter (almost 2) loves to “talk” on my phone, it regularly gets a beating. It was so bad last night that it split into two parts. DH fixed it this morning – good as new!


Samantha January 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

lawn care and car maintenance


BarbS January 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hmm… I guess I fall somewhere in the middle here.

I like to do some of my own tasks:
— cook most meals from scratch
— fix the handle on the hatchback of the car
— recover the seat cushions on the kitchen chairs
— sew curtains for several rooms in the house, and lots of other sewing projects as well
— check the air in the tires and refill when necessary

But, especially lately (perhaps based on recent life events), I am starting to feel that life is too short to spend doing tasks I loathe. So, I have recently:
— hired a housecleaner to do the heavy cleaning
— paid a neighborhood kid to shovel the snow
— gone out to eat more frequently, to “celebrate” small life moments

So for me, finding a balance that works for me is what I’m working towards.

(Don’t enter me into the drawing. I hope whoever wins enjoys!)


stephanie January 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I am a hairstylist, so I do all my family’s hair care, including my own highlight and color. This saves us around $100 a month, and no tip required!


Ginger January 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm

we do most of the home tasks above. In addition I do our own taxes on Turbotax and also my Mom’s for her. I save her at least $200 per year by doing her taxes. So I really need this Turbotax giveaway. I haven’t bought ours yet this year!


Jean January 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I do my own Web site!


Tim January 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I repair my own computers.


Jeff January 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Great Post! I am all about do-it-yourself. Last week my car died, and the engine light went on. That’s big bucks to take it in to a garage. I changed the spark plugs but still no fix. I then went down to autozone and got a free read from my car why the light went on. This made me go change the ignition wires and what do you know, the car is running as good as gold and a few hundred cheaper than if I took it in.

Do-it-yourself! Don’t be afraid of failing.


cornford January 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I do most home and electronic repairs.


Buster January 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I cut my own hair with mirrors as well as my wifes hair (with layers) by just watching the hair dresses when I go.


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