When to DIY, and When to Go Pro

Next Door Chicago
consejos prácticos de dinero proporcionados por Next Door®.

When to DIY, and When to Go Pro

Paintbrush and paint bucket

Weigh the pros and cons of both before jumping in to your next project.

“Do it Yourself” projects seem easier now than ever. From step-by-step guides to how-to video tutorials online, the most perplexing projects can seem as easy as 1-2-3. Taking things into our own hands now even has a beloved acronym: “DIY”.

Whether you’re considering a home repair, new decor, or just looking for an inspiring new hobby, you may be ready to jump in to DIY-ing. But before you take the leap, it’s worth taking the time to think through the pros and cons of doing it yourself vs. hiring a professional. Depending on your priorities, one approach may be smarter than the other – from a financial, time-saving, or just overall effort standpoint.

Thinking through the best option for you before kicking your project off can help avoid an ‘in-over-my-head’ moment. Here are a few things to consider when deciding to do it yourself or call in the pros.

  1. What do you get from your time spent?

    Time is precious and it is likely that any new project will require some time investment, whether it’s researching the best pro for the job or taking a trip to the local hardware store for supplies.

    To estimate if your time is ‘worth it’, try applying an hourly rate to your personal time and estimate how much time you will need to invest when you’re considering your project needs.

    So, if you had to put a price tag on your time, what would that be? Is it more than the pro’s charge? If you’re not sure how much time a project could take, it’s probably best to add on some extra buffer time, just in case.
  2. What does your budget say?

    In addition to your time investment, what does your financial investment look like for the project? Mapping out details of the cost for your project, and comparing both options, is important to determine which approach will be best for your pocketbook.

    If you haven’t started saving for the project, try one of these 3 ways to save:

    • If you have a target date for your project, set what you can aside each month leading up to the project. When you hit the due date, whatever you have saved is your project budget.
    • If you have a flexible timeline, you can set a target amount and kickoff the project whenever you have that saved. Similar to this approach.
    • Determine the amount you need and the date you’ll need it by. Divide the amount by the number of months you have until that date to determine the amount you’ll need to save each month. More on how here.
  3. Are you ready for this?

    Inspiration for DIY is everywhere. Before you dive in, dig a little deeper. It may be more complicated than it seems. If the instructions seem foreign to you, or you’re not ready to be transformed into a carpenter overnight, you may consider a pro. Ask friends who have done similar projects about their experience, and be honest with yourself about the experience level needed to accomplish your goal, so you can be prepared for the real cost – dollars and state of mind.
  4. Is there fun in it?

    There’s enjoyment to be had – in the doing or the letting others do. Would you enjoy learning to working with your hands, or prefer a night on the town while someone else handles it? This fun-factor can hold a lot of weight in your decision. Some people love DIY and others would rather not. Consider which option you’re looking for right now – and maximize what works for your life.

What do I do now?

Your decision to tackle a new project or leave it to the pros is just that – yours! It might vary by type of project, or what your time and wallet dictate, but taking into consideration the whole picture can help you make the best decision for you – DIY or Pro.

To get started, build a list of all the projects you want to tackle and make a plan to execute – including a timeline and budget. And, if you do decide to DIY, take a look at these home maintenance tips for some friendly advice for home improvement.

What is Financial Friday?

Financial Friday is a series dedicated to financial education and actionable tips meant to inspire progress toward your financial well-being. Subscribe to Next Door® to get Financial Friday articles delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to Next Door®