This past weekend we celebrated the my little girl's 3rd birthday! (I can't even believe she is that old!) I put quite a few hours into planning the special event and wanted to share with you a glimpse into the party. We tried not to go overboard with spending on the supplies or food and we didn't buy her any gifts. Instead, the party was her gift and we tried to make it special for her, as well as, the guests. Overall I can say the party was a success, my little gal is so spoiled rotten, and a big thank you to the many family and friends who attended. We may have gone a little overboard on guests (about 30 people) but I love throwing big get togethers because I want my children to grow up with a love for family and in knowing that they have a wonderful support system of family and friends who care about them. Here are a few glimpses into this special day...
I have to admit that lately I have not been the most frugal person. My husband and I recently purchased patio furniture and it was much more than we originally had intended to spend. I have been feeling rather guilty about the cost of said furniture. Could it really be worth the extra dough it cost us? So, I thought about it for a good while and made a list.
*If I spend half of the price now but have to replace the item in 3-4 years with another (of similar price) am I really saving any money? (If nothing else I am spenidng more time researching, buying, assembling, etc. And time IS money after all.)
* Are the materials the products are made of equal? (In this case we were looking at aluminum versus steel. Hmmmm. Definately not equal in durability.)
* Does a more expensive price guarantee a warranty? (When comparing items look at the lifetime warranties. Is one guaranteed for a year, while the other guaranteed for a lifetime? If so, that warranty could save you a lot of money later.)
*Reputation (Is the product you are buying a brand name? What is the reputation of the company? Are they known for dependability, backing their products and offering replacements, customer service, or durability?)
*Look and feel (Sometimes the look and feel of product screams, "CHEAP" or "HIGH QUALITY" depending on the item. )
Sometimes price IS the deciding factor. Sometimes it just doesn't matter (like when buying a pool noodle or a placemat.) But sometimes it does matter. When it does matter these are a few thoughts I think about. I decided in the end, yes, sometimes it really is worth it to spend more money to get a quality product!
This is what works for me.
Okay, so to be honest, I made up the acronym in the title: DIM. (smiling) It stands for Do It Myself. And the question is, Do I do it myself? The answer isn't a simple one. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. It really depends on a few factors...
1) Is the DIY project I am contemplating something I have time to attempt?
If I am being honest, being a wife and a mother and an outside of the home teacher and a blogger and a cook and a... you get the picture, doesn't leave me with a ton of recreational time. In fact, most of my hobbies and home projects are done between 9pm-12 midnight (and sometimes my cleaning, laundry, and prepping dinner too). So, when I am considering a DIY project the first factor I consider is time. I research how much time it will take to complete the project and weigh the pros and cons of that time table.
2) Weigh the opportunity costs.
I have to weigh the opportunity cost here. I know what I get paid to go to work. So when considering a project after I know how much time it should take to complete I consider how much I make in that same time frame. Is it more worth my while to go to work and make that money and pay someone else to do my "dirty work?"
3) Is it doable?
Is this project something that others I know have successfully completed? Are there blogs and pictural evidence that others have been able to make this happen? After all, I don't want to discover a new land or anything... Are there resources available for me should I need a tutorial, need answers to questions I stumble upon, or a reference guide?
4) Do I have the tools?
Sometimes in order to complete a DIY project there are special tools involved. If you're grouting tile you need certain tools. If you're hanging drywall and finishing drywall you need certain tools. You must consider whether or not you already have the proper tools, if you can locate and purchase those tools easily, and how expensive those tools are. If the price of those tools outweighs the cost of having a professional do the job for you than is it really worth tackling yourself?
5) Do I have help?
What if I run into a problem? What if I have a question? What if I create a new project while working on my current project? (Now, I wouldn't know anything about this one from experience of anything. LOL.) What if I have an emergency? Is someone available that I can call on to help me with this?
6) You Tube!
I have only recently really learned that YouTube can be an amazing source of information if you're looking to complete a project on your own. There are so many videos uploaded to this site that feature DIY projects for the home. Simply search for your project and include the words "tutorial" in it and you're bound to find a plethera of resources. (Be careful though... watch the video first before deciding to tackle your project. The endings aren't always so happily ever after...)
7) Negotiate and Compare Prices
If you do decide that tackling that at home project is more than you can handle and you look to a professional to get it done be sure to compare prices. I would recommend getting estimates from 3-4 different companies/peoples before proceeding. And remember, those prices are always negotiable.
This is what works 4 me~ How do you tackle DIY projects? I would love to know!
Last week I shared with you the list of top things my family DOES feel it is okay to splurge on. You can go here to see that post. This week I wanted to share with you the top items my family does NOT splurge item. Items that we either always get for free, take the bare bones approach with, or just plain do without.
We rarely buy books in our house. I own a Kindle and so I do download them. However, once a month I am able to "borrow" a book from the Kindle library and I try to do so for free from there. If it is a book I can't wait to borrow I have money in my Amazon acocunt from using Swagbucks. (more about that here) Our town has several libraries close by that also offer the oportunity to borrow for free. And we also have a paperback swapping store nearby. You can also swap books for free online with paperbackswap.com.
We DO NOT buy warranties for new appliances, electronics, or other items at our house. Most products come with a manufacturers warranty that we have found to suit our needs. Often buying an extended warranty for an additional year or two isn't worth the outrageous price because if the item does break the cost to fix it is quite less than the cost of the warranty. We always find good deals on new purchases and we just make it a point not to add that warranty on. It's a lot of expense for something you will probably never use.
My husband and I rarely drink any sort of alcohol unless it is served for a toasting at a wedding or other special event. (Frankly, we just don't get what so many people find appealing about alcohol?) We rarely spend money on soda at restaurants or even at the grocery store. We stock up on soda pop when it is at its lowest price (usually around special events like Memorial Day and 4th of July) so that we pay rock bottom price and then we sparingly use it or save it for get togethers we might have. We buy little juice at our house and we make our own iced tea from tea bags.
4. Finance Charges, Late Fees, and as little as we can on interest...
We have never paid a late fee in our lives! Lucky? No, that's good planning and budgeting put to practice. We have never paid a finance charge of overdrafting on our accounts or making an error. We always keep a bit extra in our checking acocunt for just this reason and we balance our checkbook every Friday. The only interest we pay is on our mortgage and we've managed to get that down to 3.75%. (Although even this is higher than we would like and we make double payments or more every month in order to get this amount dwindled away. )
I do spend a few dollars each month on some small cleaning supplies. However, I've really tried hard to get my cleaning routine down to a science and to use as many cheap and/or natural cleaning products as I can. I use vinegar and hot water as a great subsititute to many harsh chemicals. I also use ammonia and hot water to clean many of my floors. I do all of my own cleaning (yes, even while working full time) and this also saves us a large amount of money.
6. Fabric Softener
I DO NOT use fabric softener or dryer sheets unless I can get them for free. My family doesn't know any better and using the dryer for most of our laundry leaves it pretty soft for the most part.
7. Lottery tickets
This is just something (kind of like the alcohol) we have chosen not to make a priority at our house. We believe in hard work and God's provision rather than the "luck of the lotto."
I prefer homemade. =)
What are some things in your life you don't splurge or spend money on? I'd love to know!
Works 4 Me Wednesday: What I Splurge On...
Everyone has those little vices. You know, the little habits that you just can't help but give into. I even have mine... I thought this week I would share with you a personal look into the 7 things my family and I splurge on. Next week I'll cover the 5 things we are very frugal about and DON'T splurge on.
Well, sort of. My husband very rarely splurges on clothing for himself. He works from home and travels every few weeks, so he doesn't have formal work attire that he needs on a daily basis. He goes long stretches of time in between buying new items for himself. My kids get mainly hand me downs, yard sale items, and items costing less than $5. I am the one who splurges the most often. Because my job is a professional one I feel it is important to dress such. However, I try to limit my clothing purchases to 1-2 items per month and I always use a coupon and combine with sales. I rarely- never buy an item of clothing unless it is on sale with a coupon.
2. Hair cuts
While we are lucky enough to have a hair dresser in our family, this is an area we do splurge on every few weeks. My sister comes and gives us all cuts at the same time and we do compensate her for doing so and not making us look like we stuck our fingers in a socket. (Thanks Sissy!)
3. Out to Eat
We try very hard to limit our eating out to only on the weekends. We try to pick one lunch and one supper to eat out on the weekends. I know for most of you this may seem like a big splurge. And truly, it is for us too. It is a large expense in our grocery budget. However, it is something that we truly look forward to at the end of a long work week and it is a reward for cooking at home and packing lunches during the remainder of the week.
4. The "good" laundry detergent
We've tried using the off brands of detergent at our house, but with 2 little ones and 2 big ones with very sensitive skin issues (eczema too) we have just not had success with using some of the cheaper brands. We wind up miserable. I've not found a recipe for a good homemade detergent that doesn't cause breakouts either. So, we've stuck with what we know works (and combining with coupons and sales) even though it costs us a bit more in the end.
5. An Accountant
This splurge costs us about $100 a year, but it might save me about 10 years worth of sanity. Because my husband's company is out of state, considers him self-employed, and we pay taxes quarterly this splurge has DEFINATELY proven to be worth it for us. Our accountant always finds ways to deduct and get us money back and she's a professional whom we trust.
Yes, I pay into health care every month for my family. And most of our basic healthcare needs are covered under that plan. However, there are some things that just aren't. For example, my insurance plan does not include a plan for our eyes. However, I still make sure to keep up with my yearly eye exams because I know that preventative health can sometimes prove cheaper than not.
Sometimes experiencing a once in a lifetime or a learning opportunity is totally worth the expense. I love being able to give my children the opportunity to try something new, to learn by doing, and the opportunity to see things they might never see again. Sometimes these things cost money. Life is short, you only live once, and if you're debating an experience because it may cost a few dollars... DO IT!
THese are the splurges that work 4 me. Next week I'll share what we don't splurge on. What works 4 you?