Time is money. Have you ever really thought about that saying? When you work you are simply trading your time for money. When you pay someone to perform a service or buy a product, you are trading money for time. The two go hand in hand. I have always struggled with this idea, but am learning how to balance time and money.
Why Do You DIY
I am a doer. A self proclaimed DIYer. I think a lot of people DIY because they are trying to save money. As you may know I love to find frugal ways to do things, but only weighing the money cost is hurting my time bank account.
I also am a very creative person, so a lot of times DIYing projects is a chance for me to be creative. DIY combines two of my favorite things, being frugal and being creative. I see a beautiful piece of furniture in a magazine with a hefty price tag and immediately the wheels start turning. How can I recreate this look for a fraction of the cost? How can I make it my own? Most of my day dreaming is thinking about creating. Creating furniture, home décor, clothing, gifts, hair do’s etc. My brain is like Pinterest and for years I resisted joining Pinterest because I already had so many ideas and not enough time to complete them.
The thing with creating is that it takes time. These things can’t be rushed. I see this all the time with J. He loves to draw and make crafts, but don’t expect him to drop his project to pick up his socks or come eat dinner. He is creating and needs sufficient time to get it right. I’m the same way. I need time to work on my project. I much prefer to start and finish projects all in one sitting if possible, but we have kids and they do like to eat occasionally. When possible I will wait until Mike is off from work and then spend hours working on whatever project I’ve got going. He can tend to the kids and I can focus on my work.
Determine Cost and Savings
Sometimes my projects are paid jobs. When doing alterations and custom sewing or making cookies or cakes for parties, I know how much I will be getting paid and how my time is traded for money. Other times I am sewing products to sell and don’t actually know how many I will sell or how long that product will remain in my inventory. The money will be coming eventually, but when and how close to my original price remains the question. Sometimes I am simply working on a project for our home. I could be painting, sewing, upholstering, or building something to beautify our house or to solve a problem.
When working on projects for our house almost always I only factor in the cost savings. I see $$ and am pleased with the amount staying in my pocket. Unfortunately I hardly ever think about the time involved. I still need to learn to balance time and money. Sometimes Mike will ask how long I think it will take and I usually give the vague “not too long”. In actuality I almost always underestimate the amount of time involved. I also never think about the time spent sourcing materials and unexpected trips to the fabric/hardware store.
Balance Time and Money
Some DIY projects go quickly and smoothly, because I have done that type of project many times before and know what I am doing. Other times I am trying something for the first time, so there are mistakes and backtracking to get the desired result. Of course there is a first time for everything and there is always a learning curve. Eventually I will get faster at said craft, but until then it can be a real time suck.
How can you balance time and money? The easiest, most straight forward way is to choose a desired hourly rate (a whole other post) and make a very realistic estimate of the time it will take to complete the project. Take your hourly rate plus the estimated cost of materials and multiply by the estimated number of hours and compare that total to the cost of paying someone else to do it. Obviously if the amount is a lot more or a lot less than paying someone else you have your answer. If the amounts are the same or very close you will need to make the decision yourself. Of course we are still just trading money for time in this equation.
To DIY or Not to DIY?
The other part to balance is how much you enjoy the activity. I love creating things, so even if something is going to take a while, it is something I enjoy. Not every activity needs to make or save money. On the other hand, some things are done because they need to be done. Like when Mike fixes plumbing.
Weigh your options. Is it more important for you to have free time or time to devote to another project or is it more important for you to save some money? Maybe it’s the end of the month and a budget crippling repair is needed. Your options are make the repair yourself and keep your budget intact or side hustle to earn enough money to pay someone else to do the repair. You need to decide which is more realistic.
You know yourself better than anyone else, so be true to yourself. Be honest about what is more important to you time or money. Be honest about how long things take when you do them yourself. Think about the addition or reduction in stress due to completing the project. Remember to always value your time. If your time has no value it will always be cheaper to DIY. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay top dollar for a beautiful painting, because you know the time and effort that go into it. You know your time investment will never be enough to replicate that piece of art. On the flipside you know your abilities and plenty of times DIY is the way to go.