Over the past 12 years or so, my husband and I have saved several thousand dollars by taking on home improvement projects ourselves. I’ve also honed my DIY “beauty” skills to save money instead of hiring professional cosmetologists or nail techs.
For example, we’ve tackled simple, lower-skill projects — like carpet cleaning, painting, landscaping and gardening. We’ve also tried our hand, with a fair degree of success, at more difficult and time-extensive projects, like peeling wallpaper, scraping popcorn ceilings and gutting and remodeling two bathrooms and a kitchen.
We also skip some professional services — dog grooming, haircuts for my husband, and manicures and pedicures for myself — and do them at home instead for a fraction of the cost.
You can do the same! Before you pick up the phone to hire a professional for a pricey service, think about how much money you could save by becoming a DIY expert instead. Consider these six expensive services that you can do yourself on the cheap:
- Do your own taxes. Tax prep software programs can make doing your taxes at home cheap and easy. You may also be eligible for free in-person tax prep services. Click here for tips on “How to Get the Right Tax Help at the Right Price.”
- Skip the salon. From DIY facials and chemical peels to at-home hair color and haircuts, you can save yourself a bundle of cash by skipping the salon. Chemical peels and spa facials typically start at $50 and go up from there, but you can do them at home. You’ll have to invest in some products up front — typically exfoliator, pore-cleansing clay, skin calming and rehydrating products — but after that, you can reap the savings and do it on your own schedule. You can also extend your salon hair color (or potentially skip it altogether) by using a color glaze or gloss at home (for roughly $10) instead of spending $50 or more a pop at a salon. My husband used to spend about $20 a month to get his hair (or what’s left of it) cut at the salon. I invested in a hair trimmer and a good pair of scissors, and now I cut his hair at a home.
- Become a paint pro. Hiring a painter can be very expensive. But you can paint the interior or exterior of your house for cheap and it’s not hard, though it can be time-consuming. Although you have to make an initial investment — rollers, paintbrushes, drop cloths, masking tape and paint — you can reuse most of the supplies, giving you the potential to save more money down the road.
- Grab some soap and wash your own car. The average carwash runs $6 to $9, according to Angie’s List. If you add extra services like a wax or mirror cleaning, a trip to the carwash can easily add up to $20 or $30. But you can do it yourself — or perhaps assign it as a chore for your kids. Make sure you use a product designated for car washing because dish soap or detergent may be too harsh for your vehicle’s paint. “Don’t wash the car when the body is hot, and rinse thoroughly with water to remove surface dirt before you begin. When you’re finished, rinse with a hose that doesn’t have a nozzle to encourage sheeting. Don’t let the car air dry. Instead, use a chamois,” writes Andrew Lisa at GoBankingRates.com.
- Clean your gutters. The average cost of hiring a professional to clean your gutters is roughly $145, says HomeAdvisor. It’s not a fun job, but you can do it yourself. According to the DIY Network, depending on the shape of your gutters, you can easily clean them out with a ladder and a pressure washer, which you can purchase or rent. Click here for more gutter cleaning tips.
- Pamper your pet. Dog grooming can be expensive if you hire a professional. I used to pay $60 per dog to have my two labs bathed and their nails trimmed. I couldn’t stomach the cost, so I bought some shampoo and conditioner online that was recommended by my vet. I started bathing and brushing them at home, though I was willing to pay $10 at my vet’s office to get their nails trimmed. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says dog owners can easily brush, bathe and trim their pets’ nails at home.
What DIY projects have saved you big bucks? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.