I’m going to put a wrap on the Summer of Saving series with something that I think is vitally essential to personal finance and life success.
Non-coincidentally, it is something that has severely fallen out of favor in the last few decades. And a few new-age… lets say “people” have even recommended that you should do away with it completely and outsource your entire life.
And it seems like the general attitude towards it in younger generations is one of fear, apathy, or even resentment.
The “it” I speak of is often referred to as do-it-yourself, or DIY. I prefer the term “insource”.
Over the next few articles, I’ll discuss a few fun examples of how you can insource to save yourself money. Looking back, this has been a major theme throughout this summer’s articles:
Learning how to cook? One of the most profitable ways to insource.
Taking preventative health measures like eating well and exercise? Insourcing.
Building your own home gym? Insourcing.
Selling a house for sale by owner? Yep.
Taking care of bike maintenance basics on your own? You guessed it.
In fact, insourcing can be applied to just about every major financial and spending category from auto maintenance, to DIY around the home, learning how to invest on your own vs. handing it over to a salesperson, and even planning your own wedding.
Now, there are some things that probably should not be insourced. I don’t expect any readers here to hand-craft a laptop, drop a new engine in a car, rewire an electrical panel, weave a pair of pants, or mold a bike frame. But replace a laptop fan, do an oil change, wire a digital thermostat, patch a pair of pants, or fix a flat bike tire? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!
The cost benefits of insourcing, over a lifetime, can be extraordinary. It’s hard to mathematically put a number on this, but is it fair to say that it is possible that “hundreds of thousands” can be saved from insourcing the easy or moderately difficult stuff vs. simply outsourcing everything? Maybe millions if you factor in compound returns on savings?
The benefits don’t end at cost savings either. Insourcing can be fun, challenging, rewarding, and even spiritual in nature. The more we outsource, the less connected we are to the things that we own and the things that we do. Everything that is outsourced can be looked at as a missed learning opportunity. A missed opportunity to gain wisdom and have confidence in yourself and your ability to think and work through a challenge.
The most common pro-outsourcing claim I hear is that outsourcing frees up time to focus on whatever specialist skills you are good at. This (they say), frees up your time to make more money in your area of expertise. Now, this may be true for a professional basketball player, chief executive, or genius inventor or developer who can deliver significant returns with each additional hour invested in to their specialty. If I’m a backup NFL quarterback making $1M a year with the potential to make $10M as a starter, is my time better spent practicing, working out, and watching game film for an hour or saving $10 by doing my own oil change? But is it true for the 99% of us who work the typical 40-50 hours a week at anywhere from $7 – $40 an hour?
You see, each hour we invest in learning something new is an hour not wasted on television, video games, sitting in a bar, or smartphone apps. And it can result in monetary gains to supplement the 40 hour workweek, whether that’s pure cost savings vs. outsourcing or even turning the new-found skill in to a marketable hobby. It’s quite possible others will have the same problems that you have addressed through insourcing, and with everybody outsourcing, if you enjoy the work, why not turn it in to additional income? At the least, you’ll be able to offer something of value outside of your charming personality to friends/family/neighbors – and who knows, maybe someday they repay the favor with a skill they have learned through insourcing.
So long as you educate yourself properly and your safety is insured, I can think of few things more beneficial than making a habit of insourcing as much as you can.
I had to laugh when I read your list of things you don’t expect people to do themselves.
My husband assembles working laptops from multiple broken ones and we’ve always built our own desktops.
My brother is known for taking two or three cars on their last legs and making one working one – usually by dropping in a new engine…in less than a week with three kids.
I knit, weave, and sew so I’ve got your pants, socks, sweaters, curtains and a whole lot of other stuff covered.
We can’t yet mold a bike frame, but we haven’t gotten the blacksmith forge up and running yet either.
We do outsource most electrical though. :)
I was taking it easy on people for a change, and you came in and showed us what’s up!
Well thanks for picking all of our favorite hobbies! Now, if you had said plastering, I’d be right out. Favorite hobbies aside, the key to DIY is to know when you are over your head, but to take the opportunity to learn something when you do outsource. We’re having someone over to look at our furnace, but I can guarantee my husband will be looking over his shoulder picking up some good knowledge for next time.