“That’ll be $900 + tax, including parts and labor.” That’s the quote my son got a while back to have the water pump, serpentine belt, and thermostat replaced on his pickup.
But we did it ourselves for about $300 instead — the cost of parts, coolant, and a tow home.
We’re not mechanics
The most my son had ever done on a car before was replace a battery. And while I’d spent many hours “helping” my dad work on cars as a kid, all that meant was that I’m really good at handing people tools and pumping brakes.
But we got it done anyway (with the help of a manual, a YouTube video, and a really awesome neighbor.) We saved a ton of money and got the satisfaction of a job well done. That’s been my experience with many other DIY projects as well.
But what if it hadn’t turned out that way?
What if we’d screwed up? What if we’d peered into the engine compartment and been unable to even find the water pump? (I’ll admit that we did spend a few minutes looking for it.) It’s easy to let questions like that (or other dramatic what-ifs…) keep you from even trying a DIY project.
But in most cases — so long as you take proper safety precautions — the worst that’s going to happen is that you may end up paying to have someone else come in and fix whatever you screwed up. Or you may need to get help, like we did from our experienced neighbor. So go ahead and imagine the worst possibility, and see if you could live with that. Chances are the worst possibility is not really all that bad.
Overcoming the fear factor
It’s normal to be nervous when you’re thinking of tackling a new DIY project — especially if it’s something intimidating like working with plumbing, electricity, or cars. You know, things there are actual professions for. But you can overcoming that fear by doing three things:
Making sure you’re going to be safe and aren’t going to cause damage (turn off the water, shut off the electricity, disconnect the battery, wear safety goggles, etc.)
Spending a little time learning how to do it (by reading up on the project, watching videos, taking a class, or observing someone else doing something similar.)
Having a backup plan in place.
Then give it a shot
Get those things taken care of, and all that’s left is jumping in and giving it a shot. If you’re willing to do that, are good at following instructions, and are not easily frustrated you can often save a bundle. Plus, many things that look intimidating aren’t actually all that hard. They just take time and elbow grease.
They only look intimidating because you’ve never done them before.
Start small (for example, by changing your oil instead of replacing a transmission, or by tackling painting a wall instead of your entire house) and see how you like doing things yourself. You can work up to other things as you gain confidence. Soon you’ll probably be diving in to all kinds of DIY projects and saving money in the process.
Are you into doing things yourself? Have you saved money doing so, or have things ever gone awry? We’ve successfully done a LOT of different stuff ourselves — everything from tiling to cutting down a tree. About the worst that’s happened was I discovered that I’m not very good at texturing drywall. I had someone come in and redo that one.