DIY or call in the experts? Sometimes there’s a cost to being cheap
Saving money and cutting corners is a thoroughly enjoyable way to pass the time, not only for the cash you get to keep but for the smug feeling of satisfaction at having outfoxed the system.
Unfortunately sometimes corner cutting backfires. Our Scrooge-like urge to save a buck by doing something ourselves, instead of paying an expert to do it properly, actually costs us more – not necessarily just in money, but in time and effort.
This makes me feel most foolish. I don’t particularly enjoy this and I imagine you don’t enjoy it either, so today, gentle reader, we’re going to take a look at some the things we should consider paying someone else to do.
The idea of paying someone to move the contents of your house when you’re young, fit and all your possessions cost less than your laptop is laughable. However, when you own heavy, expensive or irreplaceable items (eg a piano, priceless Matchbox car collection, many urns containing family ashes) and your friends and family don’t have the time or the inclination to devote an entire Saturday to being at your beck and call, possibly enduring your rage as they drop things, break things, don’t understand your directions – well, it’s worth paying for a mover.
Movers are quick and efficient, they know how to back a truck and they’ll take half the time. It might look more expensive up front, but include the cost of the truck and petrol, plus your time, your friends’ time, the cost of the breakages and friendships, not to mention general peace of mind – and it’s worth it.
If you’re not a numbers person, if you don’t have confidence when talking to the bank about interest rates, if you’re not prepared to talk to several banks and play them off against each other – then a mortgage broker will save you time and angst – and probably money as well. Comes with added bonus of sticking it to the bank. Metaphorical pulling of a finger is worth quite a bit, actually.
The cost of a lawn mower, and the regularity with which we move these days, means it’s not necessarily worth purchasing one given you can’t guarantee you’ll always have a patch of grass to mow, or somewhere to store the mower. Paying someone else to mow it means you also steal back time and have one less thing on the weekend to-do list, which leaves room for the important stuff – like eating cake.
Cleaning isn’t necessarily hard to do, it’s just unpleasant and time consuming and often this leads to a half-hearted effort and drinking of gin. So if you have the money and you hate vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing and so on, then paying someone to clean your home is going to save you time and gin and probably make you deliriously happy, which in itself is priceless.
Putting your best foot forward
By this I mean the hair cutting, back waxing, bouffant tinting we all indulge in to titivate ourselves. If you’re skilled enough to do this yourself then, pray, please continue – but for everyone else, it only takes one terrible, humiliating home haircut or wax to remember why we pay others to do it for us.
Online supermarket shopping
Are you a very busy person who is easily seduced by bright colours and marketing? Then online supermarket shopping is for you. Buy only what you need in the comfort of your own home. Do not be sucked in by the attractive person hawking delicious wine, or by the deal on something you usually never buy but you saw it and it looked interesting and you were starving so …
Also, avoid the rage brought on by checkout queues and supermarket parking areas, where apparently madness and competition for parks replaces good manners and common sense. Shop online and save time, money and sanity.
Anything requiring a skill you don’t have – and probably won’t get
From building to sewing to gardening to car repairs and chimney sweeping – it’s worth paying someone who knows what they’re doing to do it right first time. Of course, if you have a lot of time on your hands and you genuinely want to know how to do something, then, sure, start watching YouTube tutorials and go for it. But if you need something fixed, your knowledge is marginal and you know you’re inclined to cut corners, meaning your fix may be a short-term one, then it’s time to pay the expert.
You may still be thinking, but, Penelope, I could do most of these things myself. So ask yourself the following questions.
- Will you do it poorly?
- Will the money you initially save be outweighed by the cost of fixing up your mistakes?
- Will you resent the time you spend doing said task?
- And, most importantly, will all of the above make you furious?
If the answer to those is yes, then perhaps it’s time to spend in order to save.
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Penelope Whitson is a freelance writer and comms professional who likes custard squares, so long as they are not frozen. In her spare time Penelope enjoys reading, slothing and overreacting to apostrophe crimes.All stories by: Penelope Whitson