Our culture leads us to believe that we can’t do things ourselves. That we need a dog walker, a house cleaner, a hairdresser, a manicurist, a handyman… the list goes on . . . . Do something yourself that in the past you’ve paid someone to do (hint: you don’t have to start with renovating your kitchen, you could start small with making your own coffee instead of buying it this morning).
So sez Mrs. Frugalwoods, and I agree. Experience is a great teacher – as is reading and watching, per Mr. Frugalwoods. Yeah, true, for nearly anything you want to learn!
Big or little, being independent and doing things on your own creates a sense of self-reliance and self-efficacy. In today’s world of helicopter parents, a clap and whoop of encouragement from parents for each breath a child takes is ridiculous. Failure is an important lesson in life, but the failure of a parent to create autonomy in a child, to raise an adult, is the failure of the parent altogether. Then, who suffers? Society, you, me, but worst of all is the child himself. (I hate to think what kind of children the children of helicopter parents will be.)
That said, there really, really is a sense of accomplishment in doing things on your own. It is also important to know your limitations. For example, there are certain areas of expertise I will hire an expert for: car mechanic, accountant (I used to get my 1040A forms back from the IRS with corrections), and medical personnel. Those are my general ones. I’ll hire others as needed.
Oh, we also have a gardener – he comes and does his thing once a week in 1/4 the amount of time it would take us to do it. That is a definite worthwhile expense.
What do we do here at 182? What have we done? While we haven’t redone our kitchen cabinets, here are some things:
- Today we are fixing the top rack for the dishwasher. The piece cost $50.00. We will pull out the critter, install it, and hope it is back to working condition.
- I knit socks, and have at times spun the wool for them. I also knit other things.
- Mr. 182 brews beer and builds – and is building – brew rigs
- I sew my own clothes at times.
- I have developed my own film.
- We fix things, when we can, on our own. We build things at times.
- We make bread, cook from scratch, have a garden if/when possible for herbs, vegetables, and fruit.
- We have made our own bacon.
- We sometimes roast our own coffee beans in an old hot-air popcorn popper.
- We build our own computers (not laptops, desktops).
- We clean our own house.
Doing these things are very satisfying. Knowing when the cost / benefit ratio is your favor is also important, but sometimes the cost is not important, but the benefit of doing it yourself far outweighs the cost. Benefits include new knowledge and experience, satisfaction, and so on.
What don’t we do here?
- complex plumbing
- brain surgery
- complex or inconvenient auto repair / service
- furniture construction (although Mr. 182’s dad has built furniture and harpsichords from scratch)
Doing things on your own helps you to appreciate expertise in any field.
Now, time to get to work on the dishwasher.
30 minutes later, and the dishwasher is fixed. What would it have cost if Mr. 182 couldn’t have done it?