“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” –Napoleon Bonaparte
The art of DIY is a personal passion shared by both me and my wife. As we’ve struggled to pay off student loans, build up a disaster fund, and start investing, the “do it yourself” mentality has helped us achieve each goal more quickly, while also providing many auxiliary benefits.
In this post you will learn how the DIY mentality helps us financially while increasing our quality of life, and why you should consider adopting this mindset in your push towards financial independence (FI).
The Lost Tinkerer
Until as recently as the 1960s, almost every guy (and many gals) had a garage workshop where he or she could tinker and fix things. Many grandparents today belong to this generation and are the last vestige of this DIY mentality.
This generation grew up during the great depression, or at least had parents who were very familiar with this challenging time in human history. As a necessity, they often had to depend on their own ingenuity to furnish homes, maintain vehicles, and even make clothes to wear.
If you have the good fortune to interact with those who belong to this generation, take some time to look around their house and see if you can spot these DIY habits in their native environment.
For example, I remember while growing up my Grandpa had a toilet seat that broke. Instead of running over to his local store and buying a new one, he used a salvaged piece of metal and some screws to fix the seat. While this probably only saved him $20, this DIY lifestyle has likely saved him tons of money over the years.
My Grandma is another great example. She often reminisces of the “old days” when she had to make her own dresses out of livestock feed sacks.
While this older generation is sadly fading into antiquity, it’s encouraging to watch this DIY movement return, especially by the Financially Independent crowd. New platforms and tools like Pinterest and YouTube are restoring this desire to build things and shun the consumeristic reliance of our society.
Here are the 5 benefits we’ve gained from the DIY mentality, and why you should consider learning how to “swing a hammer!”
The 5 Benefits of DIY:
As I mentioned above, my Grandpa saved 20 bucks on a toilet seat. This may seem like a petty exchange of time for money, but these small cost savings really add up over a long period of time.
One way I reduced expenses during college was to change the oil on my old Honda Civic myself. I found a YouTube video that explained the process in great detail, and was able to change my oil for under $10. After completion of the task, I was only out about half an hour of time when I got the hang of it. An average oil change probably would have been $30-50 at the local Speed Lube, saving me hundreds of dollars throughout my 6 year college career.
Currently, my wife and I are attempting to build much of our own furniture for our new house. From coffee tables, to bookshelves, we have been able to create polished furniture pieces from reclaimed lumber while saving thousands in the process.
This has allowed us to increase the amount of money we invest every month, and will allow us to reach financial independence that much quicker. Additionally, once we hit financial independence, we will have the capacity to reduce our expenses through this DIY mentality which should lower the amount necessary to declare FI.
- Increased Skillset
When I started out doing DIY stuff, I was pretty inept at making things. The lack of money during college sort of forced me into the DIY lifestyle, but after learning skills such as woodworking and vehicle maintenance, I seemed to gain an appreciation for DIY-type work.
While our Grandparents were young, they relied on parents, grandparents or apprenticeships to learn skills. Even though many in the Millennial generation lack these learning venues, we have something that’s rapidly making this learning accessible: YouTube. You can literally learn any skill you could ever dream of after a simple search on YouTube. Want to learn how to change a tire? YouTube. Fix your roof? YouTube. Build a headboard for your bedroom? YouTube. Seriously, you have no excuse.
This increase in skillset can also dovetail with the financial benefits afforded with DIY. If I were ever to be laid off, I’m sure I could offer my skillset to local builders, or even build things and sell them on Craigslist. This could provide a nice cushion between jobs, and allow me to avoid touching the disaster fund.
3 & 4. Quality Family Time, and/or Personal Time
One awesome benefit that we’ve gained through this DIY mindset has been the great quality time spent with my wife. Rachel is the visionary and can create an idea for some awesome new addition to our home. I’m great with bringing those visions to reality, and together we have a blast building and fixing things.
If you have kids, building things might also be an awesome opportunity for shared goals, and provide a quality bonding experience not found in front of a TV.
Sometimes, the simple act of building or fixing something can provide an emotional release when I’m stressed out. This personal time also provides a great benefit!
Consumerism, especially of the American flavor, tends to destroy art or the innate human bent towards creativity. When something breaks and you continuously repurchase the same crap from Walmart over and over you miss out on a huge opportunity to expand your own unique creative vision.
Think of the people from the older generation again. Can you remember all of the creative hobbies they diligently worked on in their garage maker space? My grandparent’s neighbor needed decorations for her house, so she learned how to carve awe-inspiring wood figures. My wife’s great uncle has a house full of amazing paintings. My grandfather-in-law literally makes planes in his garage!
The bent towards DIY seems to always increase one’s artistic expression, which is heavily undervalued in today’s consumer-centric society. These are some of the many reasons I’m glad to watch DIY rise again!
Are you a DIY’er? Do you think you’ll start after reading? Share in the comments below!
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