DIY – when it makes sense

DIY – when it makes sense {and when it doesn’t}

We’re big fans of DIY here at Hoboken411. Why? Because most of the time doing things yourself not only saves money but also can be fun, educational, and useful for future circumstances. A good skill learned stays with you.

But there are certain times that DIY’ing things in order to “save money” – often doesn’t – and can be a waste of time as well.

Good DIY suggestions

  • Cooking – Hands down, the number one thing you should always do yourself. 97% of the meals we eat are created by us. The exceptions are rare. Like when we visit the Amish Market or crave some sweet slow-cooked BBQ on a rough night. Cooking for yourself is the best. You choose the ingredients and quality. You prepare it (and hopefully don’t spit or sweat in your own food). One key point is to not try and be “fancy” or copy others, but to just make delicious, wholesome food. NO NEED TO INSTAGRAM everything you do. The effort is worth it 99% of the time (with a few exceptions – see the next section.)
  • Shelving and functional furniture – Buying IKEA shelving or furniture might be “cheap,” all things considered, but in the long term doesn’t usually pay off. Plus when you’re out shopping for furniture or other apparatus – you’re typically left with picking from what is readily available, and it is often hard to find a perfect piece to fit your living arrangements. Which is why we have been BUILDING almost everything we need. From office shelving, custom closets, BBQ carts and so on. You build it yourself, to your specs – and they’re done right.
  • DIY

  • Foaming hand soap. I love my foaming hand soap. They range from $3 to $6 per 10-ounce bottle. The low-end is the Method brand – and we prefer the scents of Mrs. Meyers (higher end brand). But can you make this stuff cheaper? Yes. Here’s how you do it:
    • First, save one of your empty foaming dispensers (or you can buy new ones online).
    • Buy: A gallon of distilled water, some Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap for babies, unflavored coconut oil, and the essential oils of your choice (we like lemongrass and tea tree oil).
    • Mix: 4/5ths of the gallon of distilled water with 20oz of Castille soap (5 to 1 is the suggested ratio – adjust to your own preference). Add just a few (five or six) drops of each essential oil, then a “splash” of coconut oil to the gallon container. Swish back and forth – and you have almost 13 10-ounce containers of foaming hand soap ready to go.
    • Cost?: You’ll have to shell out about $40 for the supplies, but the essential oils will last for years, and you’ll have a lot of the extras left over. Net cost is around $13 for the gallon or just around $1 per 10-ounce bottle. Plus you can choose your scents! Experimentation is key! And you’ll never run out if you keep your inventory levels good.
  • Car Repair – sometimes. If you have some time to spare – certain car repairs make sense to do yourself. Simple shit like wiper blades to even complicated things like changing a headlight will save you money. You just have to be able to have enough space – and time to do it. On the other hand (like in our car) oil changes do not make sense to do ourselves. What a pain. But some models are easier than others.

Bad DYI ideas

  • hazardous-diyAnything that requires high expertise or has inherent dangers. While we are very capable at doing everything (including electrical, plumbing, and woodwork), most people should not attempt to “DIY” things like electrical outlets or other dangerous jobs. Saving a few bucks is not worth getting maimed or dying over. There are times real experts must be called in. No matter what you saw on Wikipedia or YouTube.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid. If you’re used to buying your refills for empty windshield washer fluid for your car at gas stations or other convenient spots (often upwards of $5 per gallon), there might be an urge to find cheaper ways.

    And just like my DIY foaming hand-soap I mentioned above, I thought I can DIY my own windshield washer fluid. But after number-crunching…

    Yes, you can buy distilled water and throw a cup of Windex in it to make the equivalent for about $1.50. This becomes more complicated if you need the “anti-freezing” aspect of windshield washer fluid in the winter. A cup of ammonia or 90% rubbing alcohol can do the trick, but your cost then goes up closer to $2 per gallon.

    Wally-World sells the blue stuff for $1.50 (with antifreeze) and even the “RainX style” aqua-phobic stuff (green) for under $2. Better off buying a supply of this and moving on. Not worth the effort for a few pennies of savings.

  • Guacamole – We love guacamole. Healthy food. Tasty food. And we do love making it ourselves many times (especially at peak season when they are cheapest). However, in the long-run, we’ve decided to go “store made” from now on. Why? Because when you buy a handful of avocados (even if still ripening), the “loss” that comes with avocados is terrible. I’m guessing at least 25% have to be tossed. Sometimes we lose 50% or more (especially if you don’t consume them exactly at the right time.) And not everyone is “in the mood” at all times. Better off just buying store-made (lime juice already inside to prevent browning). Just consume in a day or so – and you’re okay.

What DIY do you love – or DIY do you hate?

In the end – it’s not always about saving money, although that is the major driving force to “DIY” things. But many people (like us) also enjoy doing things for ourselves. Keeps our skills sharp, and we rely less on others to provide for us – which is a healthy mindset.

There are also many people out there that don’t know how to do jack shit. Even change a light bulb. Completely inept. A frightening amount out there actually. That is why the “handyman” industry thrives – especially in big liberal cities. People oddly get more satisfaction telling their friends “I used an app to fix something (for money)” rather than “Hey I fixed this myself, you fuckers!”

Then there are those like us – who strive to learn and become better people. Like I said earlier – the skills physically learned are the ones that stay with you. Going online to SOLVE your problems is bad. Going online to expand your knowledge is not so bad. But relying on the interwebs to educate you and guide you step by step – is a terrible approach. Always try on your own (and fail) before seeking help. It’s an important step in human development that many younger people will be lost without.

DIY Do it yourself

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