Do It Yourself – Or Not: Counting the Cost of Frugality

Being a died in the wool do-it-yourselfer who also likes simplicity, I have often hit the wall on one aspect or the other. Sometimes something that is frugal is definitely not simple, at least for some and at least at first.

Take, for instance, baking our own bread from scratch (we even grind the wheat). At first, it was not simple for us to learn a new skill and add a new chore to our day/week. But we wanted whole wheat bread so it was worth it for us to take the time. Now it is a simple matter to bake bread – we don’t even think about how involved it is anymore. It is no different to us than preparing a meal from scratch.

We find that frugality often cancels out simplicity, at least at first. It is fussier to do things yourself in order to save money. It is more of a hassle, I guess, to sew or remake clothes rather than just buying them. It is not easy to plan your shopping trips to include all the best buys at all the stores in your area. So, saving money often wins out over simplicity, in these cases.

Counting the cost

For everything you do or need, there is a cost. From getting a haircut to buying prepared food to having your home painted. Some of us would rather work and earn the money to pay others to do things for them. Others of us like to/have to stay home and exchange the ease of paying someone else to do something by learning to do it themselves.

No matter which way you look at it, there is a cost for everything you do or need. For example, a haircut costs either a trip to the salon and $15+ per head every 6 weeks or so or it costs a $40 hair clippers from Costco and a Dummies guide to do it yourself for your family. (When I want a cut, I wait till my sis-in-law visits and she does a pretty good job.) Over the years we have saved beaucoup bucks on haircuts (we have had 11 heads over the years).

Is cutting hair simple? At first, it wasn’t. It was downright scary for me. But I “practiced” on my boys’ hair for a few months before I tackled my hubby’s hair. Boo-boos grew out in a matter of days anyway. As far as the girls, they all like basic styles that just needed trims. In time, I did learn to do some fancier layered styles (that Dummies Guide to Hair Cutting is great).

But the point is, cutting hair is now simple for me. And now, I can add another hat to my growing collection of things I can do. What’s great is that my kids are all learning new skills at the same time (did I tell you I homeschool). My 14 YO daughter does the family baking and will be handing down the job to her 9 YO sister pretty soon.

Bottom Line

Obviously, there is no rule that decides when to learn a new skill and when to pay for someone else to do it. I have taught my kids how to sew. But since I really don’t care for sewing, it’s nice that they can. I do buy canned tomatoes instead of canning them myself. We still use disposable feminine supplies. I like to buy the occasional mocha at Starbucks and buy Old fashioned buttermilk donuts at QFC.

It’s OK to spend cash on “extras” and that you can be frivolous. Just know that there is a cos

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