“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” — William Blake.
“The road of high repair bills leads to YouTube and the purchase of a few basic tools.” — Early Retirement Dude.
DIY repairs can be a huge boost to FI/ER, but I’ve left a lot of money on the table by foregoing additional opportunities to save…simply because I lacked the tools and know-how.
Maybe you’re OK with swapping out a washer in a leaky faucet or tightening down a squeaky stair tread. But how about replacing the circulation pump motor in your dishwasher or replacing your car’s mass airflow sensor?
Look these jobs up on YouTube and you’ll discover what I did: they’re affordable and relatively easy…as are many more common household repairs that could cost you thousands if you hired them out.
Job: replacing the circulation pump motor in a dishwasher that won’t drain.
- Repair estimate from service tech: $400 – $600.
- Cost of pump: $89.90
- Time required: 1 hour.
- Savings: $315 – $515.
Job: diagnosing and fixing the transmission coupler in a clothes washing machine that won’t spin.
- Repair estimate from service tech: $200 – $300.
- Cost of coupler: $5
- Time required: 90 minutes.
- Savings: $195 – $295
Job: diagnosing and replacing a car’s mass airflow sensor.
- Repair estimate from service tech: $300 – $350.
- Cost of sensor: $35
- Time required: 30 minutes.
- Savings: $265 – $315
Job: replacing an old heating/air conditioning thermostat.
- Repair estimate from service tech: $200 – $250.
- Cost of thermostat: costs vary depending on features, but call it $40.
- Time required: 30 minutes.
- Savings: $160 – $210
Job: replacing frozen PVC pipe.
- Repair estimate from service tech: depends on size of job.
- Cost of pvc pipe varies: costs will vary. At the least, the cost of the service call and a couple of hours of labor.
- Time required: ???
- Savings: potentially a LOT.
A note on tools. Most of these jobs only require a single one: an all-in-one multi-head screwdriver that costs about eight bucks on Amazon. It has two sizes each of Phillips head and flat-blade screwdriver bits, and 1/4″ and 3/8″ bolt drivers. I’ve disassembled and reassembled my dishwasher with this one tool.
And if you want to get fancy, buy yourself a magnetic flashlight. Taken together they’ll save you from constantly having to rummage through your toolbox, or if you lack one, buying redundant tools you may not need.
That’s it. Hopefully these videos will motivate you to step outside your comfort zone and therefore save yourself big bucks. But always remember three things:
- Wear safety glasses.
- Turn off the electricity.
- Don’t do your own wiring.
- Gas goes BOOM!
While we’re on it: My family considers Amazon Prime to be an invaluable DIY, frugality, and cost-cutting tool.
In 2016 I estimate that our family saved AT LEAST several hundred bucks through our Amazon Prime membership. Three reasons:
- I do as much of our appliance repair as I can. With Prime I can have competitively-priced parts at my door in two days. This saves us days if not weeks of hand-washing dishes, trips to the laundromat (and the corresponding $$$), as well as service call price-gouging.
- Prime Video helped us cut the cable and keeps us out of movie theaters. In the past year we’ve watched Downtown Abbey, Thunderbirds are Go, Sneaky Pete, The Good Wife, Deadwood, and others. Many many many hours of entertainment for $99 a year–cheaper than Hulu and Netflix.
- I read one free Prime-eligible Kindle book each month. There are hundreds of thousands to choose from.
So do yourself a favor. I STRONGLY encourage you to try a free thirty-day trial by clicking here or on this banner:
Which home repair jobs did you once consider to be beyond your ability, but turned out to be well within it? Please leave your comments below.