Hubby and I have led a life so far together that is decidedly below the norm – in terms of spending and usage. That is like 95% due to hubby. He grew up in a home where he learned to do things like home repairs and car repairs and other such things at a very young age. Even at Christmas I was being told stories of him at 10 years old taping the drywall in one of the bedrooms so that his sister’s room got finished sooner. Too bad the girl still doesn’t appreciate a damned thing anyone does for her. He learned about stripping paint, refinishing floors, hanging drywall, and numerous other home repairs from growing up in a fixer-upper. And he learned about car repairs from his dad – who owned older BMWs and did his own maintenance on them and thus taught hubby. From changing oil to spark plugs to parting out cars once they die.
I would venture to guess that hubby has saved us over $100K and it is yet to be determined how much he’s made us in the course of our 10 years together just by knowing how to do things himself. He hasn’t had to call a contractor when he wanted floors refinished or installed in our previous two homes. He stripped paint himself in our last home. He remodeled our living room in our last home. And now he’s done EVERYTHING on our current home. From electrical to paint. Some stuff he didn’t know how to do before he came across it but he figured it out. Where he comes from, that is just how you do it. You don’t call someone else and pay them $200/hr to piddle around and give you a maybe and then dance around for months of unfinished projects. You don’t take your car somewhere and pay $30 for an oil change.
I drive a 1992 and he drives a 1991 BMW. Don’t ask me models, I’m not a BMW buff. I do know mines a 5 series. Maybe a 535 if you asked with a gun to my head and I had to guess. His is maybe a 7 series something. Anyway, he does all the maintenance on them, which has been anywhere from oil changes to whatever else little things come up in 15 year old cars. I did have to have the tranny replaced in mine last year. So sad. And we paid someone else to do it.
But mostly, I can’t even begin to explain how my do it yourself hubby saves us money. I know a lot of people that argue time is money. All the time he spends on this stuff is better spent other ways while paying someone else to do the house and car and other such work for us. Well, I guess that isn’t so true if you’re making little enough money. There was a time last year when we were racing to finish some house stuff and Bug had been born and we wanted to move home so we paid a guy twice what hubby even makes per hour just to finish some drywall and do some painting. I guess at the time it was worth it. Now, we’d never dream of it since we have the time to do it ourselves.
So, that is the longwinded version of why I think it’s important to teach our children how to do things for themselves. Whether it’s teaching Bug how to change a tire so she never has to sit at the side of the road waiting for someone else to help her and be vulnerable to teaching both Bug and Monkey the value of getting your hands dirty. DIY is not all that bad. It’s still somewhat surprising to me when I hear someone say they need to hire someone to hang a few pieces of drywall for them. I just think of how much we as parents, not just in teaching our children sound financial ideas through investing and saving and staying out of debt, that we can also teach them how to do things so they don’t have to pay someone else to do it for them.
It does come down to the value of time vs money for many but for so many situations, what is a few hours of hanging drywall to save hundreds of dollars and improve your home? What is spending an hour on Saturday changing your car’s oil to not have to pay someone else $30 to do it while you sit idly by in the lobby of a car dealership waiting for them to tell you your car is ready? That happened to a friend last week. TWO hours in a car dealership lobby while they changed her oil. Ugh. What a pain. Not to mention that being able to buy an older less expensive but really reliable car is pretty valuable too.
Just some thoughts swirling in my mind about stuff I want to be sure to teach our kids as they get older. But somehow, I think that growing up in fixer-upperville will be just what they need to learn that value.