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Tip #26: Gardener? Cleaning lady? DIY instead

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This is Tip #26 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. (See past tips.)

Today’s tip is to get rid of one service provider you’re currently using (a housecleaner, dog groomer, etc.) and learn to do it yourself instead. This is a small step to take that can amount to huge savings over the long run. And yes, it’s targeted at people who may be using a cleaning lady, gardener, etc. If you’re not, there are plenty of other tips for you.

dog-walker.jpg

This tip was submitted by Kris from Franklin Park, NJ who writes:

Stop using one service vendor, and come up with a plan to do it yourself. We fired the cleaning lady, and made it a family project to get the job done ourselves. It takes the family only 2 hours collectively. Even though the kids do very little, we got them involved and and we make it a contest with the kids to see who can vacuum faster. This same trick might work with the dry cleaner, dog groomer and probably many more.

The average American household spends $10,000 on local services like home improvement, entertainment and personal care.

To apply this tip, think about all of the things you’re paying someone else to do that you might be able to do on your own. For example, instead of paying to get your oil changed, learn some auto maintenance and do it yourself. Or:

  • Cut your own hair or do your own nails.
  • Cook your own meals.
  • Get rid of your personal trainer or gym membership altogether – run or bike instead.

By the way, as a trick to make this actually work, I’d suggest just picking one provider and cutting costs deeply, rather than cutting costs 10% across a few different providers. This can be either quitting cold-turkey, or extending the time between visits.

Total Saved: $20-$100 / month.

* * *

Last thing to do
1. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.
2. Want to submit your own savings tip? Submit a money tip here. If I use your tip, I’ll send you something cool.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

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[…] #24: Cut your commute expenses by 40% Tip #25: Earn more money using your God-given skills Tip #26: Gardender? Cleaning lady? DIY instead Tip #27: Use barriers to prevent yourself from spending money (52 votes, average: 3.23 out of 5) […]

Freddy
Freddy
7 years 7 months ago

“Cut your own hair”: is anyone successfully doing that? (and I’m not talking about buzzed hair)

Pritesh
Pritesh
7 years 7 months ago
Good tip, Ramit. But I would not go for cut my own hair or will let someone else (friends/family) to cut my hair. I did it when I was in grad school to save money but my friend did it so bad that I would not do that again! We specifically talked about this few days ago at work and all females said that they could definitely cut back spending on other things (cloths, transportation, food etc) but would not mind to visit a salon for a good hair style! Having said that, I agree with Ramit. The point of… Read more »
Beth
Beth
7 years 7 months ago
There’s no way I’m cutting my own hair… and I don’t really have the facilities to work on my car. However, I save big time by being able to sew and cook for myself. If you don’t have sometime to teach you, taking a class in sewing or cooking is worth the investment because the skills are so versatile. (I’ve spent a fraction of the cost on home decor items like curtains and throw cushions because I can make them myself). I find that doing my own spa treatments at home works really well — There are a lot of… Read more »
Veronica
Veronica
7 years 7 months ago

Recently my father has been complaining about the cost of living in this tough economy. As he is currently paying for maintenance on 4 cars, the relatively inexpensive cost of oil changes adds up when one car is at the garage every other week it seems like. I’ve suggested that someone in the family learn how to change oil but it hasn’t been listened to. I was really excited to see this tip, so maybe when I forward it to him, he’ll actually listen!

Maria | Never the Same River Twice

Alright, I will confess right away that I have a cleaning and I’m NOT getting rid of her.

However, I do change my own oil. I have a finicky car and it costs about $75 to get an oil change at the dealership or about $50 to let the knuckleheads at the Quick Lube do it (and it makes me nervous!).

I can do it myself in about 30 minutes and it costs me about $25 for supplies per change.

Total savings: $150 per year.

Steph
Steph
7 years 7 months ago

Single mom, I make $50/hr. I pay my cleaning/handyman guy $25/hr.
My son is special needs, and I am also finishing my masters while working full-time.

There are times when it pays to have help. I would not be able to complete my master’s, or even have a clean home, I’d have increased stress, and my son would not have the consistency he needs. I have help about 4 hours a week.

Sometimes DIY means give yourself headaches. (I know it doesn’t match the acronym).

Laura
7 years 7 months ago

Good tip! Cleaning takes us about an hour of hard work a week (we do some cleaning 15/min the other days).

We use this tip for when we go out of town and need someone to take care of our pet. We have a friend stay over for the week and pay her $20. It saves her money because our location is closer to her job and she can use our groceries.

Joe K
Joe K
7 years 7 months ago
@Freddy, I’ve been successfully cutting my own hair for 4 years now. I was a freshman in college and was away from my barber for an extended period so I decided I’d buy some clippers and cut it myself. Spent $30 on a pair of clippers and mangled my hair the first two or 3 times, but after that I got the hang of it and now I do a pretty decent job I think. I’m 23 and working full-time as an engineer at a big company and they don’t seem to mind. Now my hair is nothing special, very… Read more »
geekmba360
7 years 7 months ago
I don’t fully agree on this one. In some cases, time is as important as money. For example, in our house, we have cleaning lady coming in once a month to clean the house. It saves my wife tons of time and energy. She stays at home with 2 young kids, and it’s very tiring to keep the house clean. “Outsourcing” offers a lot of benefits. I think the key is to consider both the expense and the returns part of the equation. I wouldn’t make the decision purely on the merits of saving money. In a lot of cases,… Read more »
YScuba
YScuba
7 years 7 months ago
I have been a do-it-yourself person for years. Sometimes I have to give myself “permission” to let someone else do it. So, I’m all for it. But if you change your car’s oil yourself, make SURE that you dispose of the oil properly. That means taking the used oil to a disposal center or to a garage where they recycle the oil. If you dump it down the sewer and you live in the middle of the country it heads right to the gulf adding to the dead zone there. If you live on the coasts it contributes to the… Read more »
Kaila
7 years 7 months ago
I learned how to change my own oil about a year ago. It costs roughly $20 to pay someone else to do it, and it costs me roughly $8 to do it myself (I’d never heard of a $75 oil change until I read one of the comments above). When I do it myself, I use a better quality oil than the $20 oil change gives me, and it’s usually faster for me to do it myself than to wait 30-45 minutes at a cheap-o place. I’m also very pleased that I don’t have to readjust my seat and clean… Read more »
Carla
7 years 7 months ago
Since we dont have clutter or a lot furniture and stuff in our house I can get it clean pretty fast, especially since we only have hardwood floors and no drapes to vacuum/wash, etc. Unless we have a newborn (we don’t have kids), I don’t see outsourcing my housecleaning to anyone. The same goes for cooking, and other household chores. Though it’s not the end of the world, I can’t do my own spa services to save my life. Eyebrow shaping? Not if I want to look like a freak. Pedicures? Never looks good. I do trim my hair, but… Read more »
Grumpy
Grumpy
7 years 7 months ago

Just remember that what goes around comes around. If you stop using a service provider, their income is reduced. So what do they do? They stop spending too – maybe on your business, or your spouse’s/brother’s/whatever. The last thing (hyperbole, I know) you want to is stop putting money directly into your fellow citizens’ pockets, and that’s what happens when you stop buying high-labour/low-capital services such as dogwalking, cleaning and gardening. (No, I’m not involved in any of those activities.)

Writer\\\'s Coin
7 years 7 months ago

I tried cutting my own hair once and it did not work out so hot. I had to rush to the Hair Cuttery under cover of dark to get it fixed. The lady there was like “What did you DO?” It was a good attempt though.

Freddy
Freddy
7 years 7 months ago

@Joe K: thank you, I’m going to give it a try

Mike
7 years 7 months ago

I do cut my own hair, buzz cut.

If you can’t cut your own hair check to see if a friend or family member can do the job. Instead of paying them, barter. See if there is something you can do for them.

While what Grumpy said is true it reminds me of this video
‘The Good Consumer’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_ut93YYZu8

Don’t let Grumpy and other people make you feel bad because you decide to save some of your hard earned money.

styleosophy
7 years 7 months ago

I hired my niece to do my housekeeping. Helps her and the economy as she is in college and looking for a job.

Grumpy
Grumpy
7 years 7 months ago
Mike – I’m not saying that saving money is bad, just that some ways of saving hurt your community more than others. How much of your cleaner’s business do you account for? One-tenth? So your decision has a big effect on her (or his) life. She has practically no capital tied up in the business (I’m told that round here, cleaners use their client’s equipment and products), so if you drop your cleaner, that’s money straight out of her pocket. But your haircut is maybe 1/1000 of an individual hairdresser’s work. (Ten minutes once a month is probably typical for… Read more »
Anne Howe
Anne Howe
7 years 7 months ago
In principle this is a good tip however, but it puts money as the only value you get from that service. If you make more money than you pay the cleaning lady per hour I would just work an extra hour and bank the difference. win win, the cleaner still has a job, you continue to invest in community and you get to do something you like better, maybe? If that does not sit well, do the cleaning at surface level, cut the cleaners hours.You could lose your cleaner, find that you really hate doing that cleaning job and then… Read more »
Nick
Nick
7 years 7 months ago

I think this makes sense to a lot of people, but not all. If a cleaning lady charges $20 to clean your house, and it would have taken you say 2 hours to do the same work, but in order to make time to do that cleaning, you’d have to leave some overtime on the table, it just might not make that much sense, financially speaking.

mike c
mike c
7 years 7 months ago
Been cutting my own hair since 1999. These days, it’s mostly a buzz cut, since higher powers have taken it upon themselves to create a receding hairline where my bangs used to be. But in the beginning, it was just a normal short-haired guy cut. Just took some clippers, some scissors, and a good hand held mirror. And a dust pan and broom to clean up when I’m done. Initial cost, about $40. I easily made up for that in the first year. A few months ago, I helped my inlaws sell their lawnmower, because my MIL decided she had… Read more »
Danielle
7 years 6 months ago

Good advice. I do my own nails and recently got rid of my expensive gym membership. For some people though, I feel a cleaning person is more than just an expense. It can save tons of time that people can use to spend with their family.

Budgeta
Budgeta
7 years 5 months ago
I cut my own hair. Recently I started to color my own hair because of the ongoing cost and the ongoing damage to my hair. I do have a leg up on most of you because I am a licensed cosmetologist. Still, they don’t teach you how to cut or color your own hair in beauty school. I just figured out how to layer it myself pretty early on and have done so most of my life. I have taught my 2 oldest daughters how to cut the back of my hair. So one of them does it for me.… Read more »
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[…] This is a link to the twenty-sixth in an ongoing series billed as 30 Day Challenge to save $1,000 by Ramit Sethi at IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com, his blog on personal finance (banking, saving, budgeting, and investing) and personal entrepreneurship. His series outlines the various ways we can keep money in our pockets.  Tip #26: Gardener? Cleaning lady? DIY instead […]

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[…] #24: Cut your commute expenses by 40% Tip #25: Earn more money using your God-given skills Tip #26: Gardender? Cleaning lady? DIY instead Tip #27: Use barriers to prevent yourself from spending money Tip #28: Use price-protection […]

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