Girl Ninja and I like to think of ourselves as “down to earth” individuals. As our income has grown over the years we have tried really hard to remain grounded and not let lifestyle inflation consume us. While it would be nice to take all our laundry to the cleaners, pay someone to tidy up our house, or even whip us in to shape a la personal trainer, we know we are fully capable of doing all of those things ourselves. That said, we do enjoy eating out, taking our cars in for oil changes, and Girl Ninja likes getting her hair and nails did. Again, all things we could do ourselves, but in this case enjoy not having to do it.

And that my friend bring us to today’s million dollar question…

Are you a DIYer (Do it Yourself-er) or a PSTDIFYer (Pay Someone To Do It For You-er)? 

Here is a list of things that could go either way, followed by how we handle it in the Ninja household:

    • Meals: We probably eat out once a week at a restaurant, plus another 1 or 2 times for a quick bite (like Teriyaki or sandwiches). We definitely enjoy paying someone else to handle our meals for us.
    • Blog Stuff: Many bloggers have monthly expenses for things like staff writers, SEO software, upgraded traffic tools, etc. My only blogging expenses are the domain name and hosting ($100/year). Everything else, including the design and logos, are done by yours truly. That’s why things kind of suck around here 🙂
    • Decor/Building Stuff: We probably could have made or created many of the things in our house. But I suck at building stuff, and GN does crafts all day with her Kindergartners, so instead we hit up Ross and TJ Maxx trying to find decor stuff on the cheap. We fail at HGTV projects.
    • Money Stuff: I imagine if we had millions of dollars we would pay someone to advise us financially. Unfortunately, we do not. Therefore, we handle all aspects of our money. Investing, taxes, etc.
    • Moving: We’ve made a handful of moves and every time we have gone the way of the miser. I always regret it afterwards, because let’s face it, moving sucks. But at the end of the day, I’m too cheap to pay someone else to move my couch when I’m fully capable of doing it myself.
    • Cleaning: Currently, we do 100% of all household cleaning. Down the road, I’d be open to the idea of having someone come through once every two weeks or so and do some touch-up deep cleaning, but I never (repeat NEVER) want to think I am too good to clean my own toilet or shower.
    • Broken Stuff: If something breaks, I almost always pay to replace it, or at least pay someone else to fix it. I have virtually no handy-man talent and am intimated at the process of fixing a leaky pipe or a defunct gadget.

And that’s about all I can think for this stage of life. Obviously as we grow older, the list of possible DIY or PSTDIFY tasks increases exponentially; dog walking, nannying, lawn care, tutoring kids, vacation planning, etc. With the internet, you can find just about anyone to do anything for you if you got the money.

So readers, what things do you DIY and what do you PSTDIFY?

Favorite nail from yesterday as voted by MANteresting community: Shark Five



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  1. I’m way to cheapfrugal to pay someone to do almost anything I can do by myself. The only two exceptions to this are car repairs (not an issue for the past year because no car) and we do have a nanny to help with our daughter so I can get work done. Of course the nanny only costs $235/mo (at roughly 30 hours per week), so I guess that’s still fairly frugal. If meals count then yeah I’m big on letting others cook for us too. But we can get dinner here for less than $5 for a family of 3, so still fairly frugal, especially considering that if I cooked it would be American style food and the groceries to make the meal would likely cost me $10-15.

  2. My husband is not handy, but I am, so I’ve done all the repairs, fixes, car items – except oil changes. I am unwilling to do our own oil changes since we’re in an apartment and the oil drum in a cramped apartment space is a no. Other than that, I do our taxes, our retirement planning – but that’s mostly because I’m the one working while my husband is in school. I make half our decor, etc and buy the other half at TJ Maxx, Ross, or asking for it for birthdays. Of my husband and I’s three moves, we’ve done it ourselves, but I do like the idea of renting an ABF trailer and having someone else drive it across the country next time. I think once we have two incomes, I’ll be more likely to pay for car repairs and other handy items. But, with one income, if I can do it myself there is no way I’ll pay for it.

  3. I think we’re half and half. While i’m not handy myself, if my car breaks down my brother in law is good with fixing cars. We do have a financial adviser, but since my mother works for the company we get most of our trading/planning done for free, but most of what we do is based on what I want, this person just executes it. That said, we definitely do our own cleaning and next week we will be doing our own moving too :(.

  4. DIY with most things, repairs, home updates, etc. We normally cook 5 nights a week and eat leftovers for lunch. The 3 times we’ve moved over the past 6 years, 2 have been paid by my company and 1 we did ourselves.

    PSTDIFY for meals Friday and Saturday, decor (neither of us are very crafty), and repairs involving more complex electrical and plumbing work.

    Ninja – when you guys eventually get a house, I highly encourage you to invest in a few DIY home repair books and some standard tools. For basic repair stuff, you’ll learn quickly that you can’t screw it up so bad that a contractor can’t step in a re-do it at a minor cost, I say that based on experience! It’s a HUGE money saver to do your own home DIY projects. Electricians, plumbers, etc cost $50 to $100 an hour if you go with the best. Most repair projects are pretty easy too.

  5. Moving is definitely something that I’ve never paid for either. Right now, the plan is to never move again EVER. I’ve joked and said that if I do have to move, I’m going to just leave everything where it sits and start fresh. But that would never happen either.

    Lawn care is another thing that we do ourselves. And by we, I mean my hubby. He loves gardening and has flowers and a vegetable garden and the most beautiful lawn in town. (Maybe I’m biased?)

    We do however pay to have the house cleaned. Once every two weeks a nice lady comes in and vacuums, cleans the kitchen and bathroom counters and floors. And by we in this case also, I mean my hubby pays her.

    I take care of the taxes and financial stuff – paying bills online and such.

  6. o Meals: I am a decent cook when I put my mind to it, and once every week or two I cook 1-2 big pots of something that will reheat and/or freeze well. Some evenings I’ll do a simple sauté or roast for variety. On weekends I have formed a habit of eating lunch out, which can be Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Thai, or something like that I can’t do well myself. Dining out at a really good restaurant is much too expensive except for special occasions.

    o Decor/Building Stuff: No handyman skills at all. I did have my place repainted and had some other work done about five years ago, which came out all right in the end but was an expensive nightmare at the time because the guy I hired was a crook.

    o Investing: I have very little trust in financial advisors, many of whom are just salespeople trying to put you into high-cost investments for their own profit. With decent low-cost books and free websites readily available to give you far better advice, I see no reason at the moment to hire a so-called professional.

    o Taxes: I work for an accounting software firm, and my taxes are fairly simple. Easy to ask free advice from Dave next door on the infrequent occasions I need it.

    o Legal: An estate plan is too important and easy to screw up for DIY. I interviewed 3-4 firms and found someone who did my will, power of attorney, living will, and health care directive for an acceptable charge. I trusted him partly because he told me I didn’t need a trust. Otherwise I’ve never needed a lawyer, though from time to time I’ve asked legal questions of a friend who’s a law professor.

    o Moving: Haven’t moved for 22 years. Would only consider hiring a professional.

    o Cleaning: I have a service that comes in once a month for $90, two women who do my bigger jobs like vacuuming and floors in 1.5 hours. Well worth it and saves me a lot of time. I always keep up with the toilet, stove, etc. daily or as needed.

    o Car: Would not dream of fooling around with it myself. I just take it to Toyota.

  7. Along with age and empty nest comes way more PSTDIFY my favorite is the Now on Doody service that comes twice a week and scoops our 3 ninjadogs poops – I have not missed doing this and the service is great!

  8. We are PSTDIFY’s; I’m not confident that I would do as good a job as someone that does it for a living, whether it be plumbing, painting, etc. My Mom, Step-Dad and I attempted a kitchen facelift last October; we had to hire my friend’s contractor husband to finish the job for us… and the stuff we did do is OK at best (I’ll likely hire my friend’s husband again to fix up the stuff we did on our own).

    We will ALWAYS pay for professional movers… getting too old to do it ourselves!! BUT, we do our own cleaning and 90% of our cooking,

  9. DIY: baking, about half of my cooking, detailing my car (except when it is 100+ outside for several months, then it definitely moves to the PSTDIFY category), house cleaning, some clothing alterations and clothing creations (mostly skirts and shirts, pants fall outside my skill set with the sewing machine)

    PSTDIFY: moving (I’ve moved within the same town three times in the last 5 years, and it is so so worth paying someone else to do the actual lifting. I pack everything myself, so the loading, driving, and unloading really only costs $300 or so, and that is totally worth not straining my back!), the other half of my cooking, car repairs and maintenance, my taxes

  10. Meals- We normally cook a lot of our meals, though like you we also will eat out at least once a week. Most of the time its when we are feeling to lazy to cook.

    Blog- I do it myself also, but seeing that I am technology challenged I should probably at least consult with someone when I move to self-hosted.

    Decor/Building- I have worked construction in the past, so most of the stuff I can do myself. I agree with Tom here though, best investment you can make after buying your home is to buy some DIY books. Most repairs are pretty simple, and can save you a ton.

    Money stuff- We handle everything from bills to investing ourselves, the only thing we pay someone to do is our taxes. Mostly because they have been kind of complicated the last couple of years. I agree with Larry though, I don’t trust most financial advisors, maybe I could if one was a friend, but they are in it for the money, which means high expense ratios and less profit for me.

    Moving- When we have moved, we always hired the inlaws(free) to help us move. Now that we have a home, we don’t plan on moving again.

    Cleaning- We also do 100% of the cleaning.

    Broken stuff- It all depends on what it is. Brakes, oil changes, some sensor changes and basic car repairs I can do.

  11. My grandfather taught me a very valuable lesson when I was a young lad… Try to do something yourself and you’ll be surprised at what you can do and as a corollary, if you tried and failed, you will appreciate why you are paying someone to do it for you.

    I lived this philosophy for a while and it holds true to this day. I have rotated tires on my car and now know why I willing to pay someone else to do it. I was able to fix my dryer and refrigerator and saved some cash. The list goes on and on and I have learned a lot about what I can and cannot do.

  12. I cook almost all our meals around here and bake most of our bread. I make most of the decor in our apartment, and I garden.

    I’ve never hired anyone for cleaning or moving. I repair/make some clothing, and I’m hoping to sew my Christmas gifts this year.

    I live in an apartment, so the maintenance crew takes care of any repairs for free, but plumbing and electricity kind of make me nervous, so I think I would lean toward paying someone when we buy a house.

    My dad is a mechanic, so he does all my big-time car stuff. I go to a Quick Lube for oil changes.

  13. I am definitely a Do it yourselfer (not a word). I would rather carry my own bag than tip a guy to carry my bag. I would rather struggle for days to fix the sink, or toilet than pay someone to come out and fix it for me. When it comes to cars, I give up and pay for services, but anything else I will at least try to do it myself.

  14. DIY-er here. We recently paid someone to paint our condo (no time to do it and he did a way better job than we could have), but in general, I don’t like to pay for services that I can do myself. We’re just putting the finishing touches on our bathroom reno (new vanity, sink, faucet, mirror, and light fixture), and I’m SO proud of what we’ve accomplished. It was more complicated than we thought (had to figure out how to remove a pedestal sink that was GLUED to the wall & had to install a junction box for the fixture), but it feels so good to know that it looks awesome and that we did it ourselves. The only bad part is that now I’m looking around to see what else we can do – something tells me that I will soon have a full list of projects that will keep our weekends pretty busy!

  15. My DIY abilities are nonexistent! I am really good at finding people who fix things at reasonable prices.

  16. We are do it yourself, except we are not handy. So, then we call our parents for advice. If its something in the apartment I immediately call the maintenance department. They come take care of it. When I lived in on campus housing, I would call when we needed a lightbulb changed, and they would come.

  17. I’m a definite DIY’er. I have a voracious appetite for reading/learning, so it has luckily served me well in the many aspects of owning a home, repairing things myself, and learning to grow my various blogs. Based on your list, the only thing I’d say I’m a non-DIY’er for is eating out, although I try to minimize that to 4-5 times/month ( and I always make my own breakfast/lunch).

  18. I’m a DIMer! I sometimes suck at it, but I always try because I don’t have any money…and contractors don’t accept credit cards 🙁

  19. For a very long time, my “DIY” consisted of “put it on dad’s workbench for him to deal with,” or, “give that ripped seam to Mom to sew.” Not an option anymore. I’d like to DIY more things, but I don’t have the equipment/room to do a lot of those types of things myself, especially car/handy type things. The fewer things I accumulate, the fewer things I will have to move in another year, so right now it doesn’t make sense to have lots of tools to be able to fix tons of stuff. My landlord is responsible for fixing most things that break. However, I can’t even wash my car in the parking lot of my apartment complex, so that can be a little frustrating.

    However, I have found that a leatherman tool (I have a Leatherman wave), which is kind of like a supersized Swiss Army Knife, will be sufficient to fix a surprising number of things.

  20. We are DIY to the point of being ridiculous. I guess it’s a bit easier when you live in an apartment though. Cleaning is fairly straight-forward and our repairs are covered and done by the property management company.

  21. DIY all the way!!!

    Every broken item around the house is just an opportunity to buy a new tool and learn a new skill. Over time you will have all the tools you need for almost any repairs.

    For example, last year I renovated our kitchen. After it was finished it raised my property value by 10K to 12K. I only had blood, sweat, tears, and 4800 dollars invested in it!

  22. I’m a pay someoner. House cleaning once a month for the deep stuff. Cutting my lawn. Moving. I find it worth it everytime bc I don’t think the time and effort I have to put in is worth it. I would cut my lawn if I had a mower, but I don’t find it cost effective bc I rent my house and don’t plan on being here long term. The 30$ twice a month seems worth it since its only about 300$ a year and my yard always looks better than it I put it off too long myself.

  23. Hmmm math error on my above post. More like 600$ a yr. maybe I should rethink the pay someone on that.

  24. Money infant has to have posted wrong numbers, otherwise he’s paying a nanny less than $2 an hour. Which is horrifically unfair if that’s the case…so I’m going with wrong math…

    • Hey Kris,

      The math is correct. We are living in Thailand and that is the accepted rate for a nanny here. Ours is actually a part time rate, so for full time it would be roughly $470/mo. And full time nannies here typically work 10 hours a day 6 days a week.

      Currently the minimum wage in Bangkok is 215THB ($7.17) per day which will be raised to 300THB ($10) per day on April 1st, 2012.

  25. We do most things ourselves, including home improvement. My husband has been surprised how much he’s done simply because of my feeling he was capable. Otherwise he probably wouldn’t have tried it. I do take my car for oil changes, we’ve hired out some tricky yard projects (removing two giant limbs from a black walnut tree), and last summer I hired out a project trimming 11 doors and installing 400 SF of tile. It took nearly three weeks… it would’ve taken us probably three months. We have two small kids so frugality is an issue but so is timeliness. I love to eat out, but have been trying to cut back or find the best value for my $$ because that’s the biggest way we blow our money. There are lots of things that would be easier to have someone do for me, but then I try to think about how to turn doing it into some sort of a race or game, get it done, and enjoy the satisfaction and pride that comes from accomplishing something. Money can buy lots of things, but it can’t buy that.

  26. […] smart and working hard at things that matter. I really loved when Punch Debt in the Face wrote “I never (repeat NEVER) want to think I am too good to clean my own toilet or shower.” He’s right, I want to stay humble and never lose sight of the important things. My sister […]

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