There are some things that you just shouldn’t do yourself. Surgery comes to mind, as well as other technical tasks, like rewiring your house or making your own tennis shoes. But there are plenty of other jobs that anyone with the enthusiasm and the right resources can tackle and save some money. It’s all just a matter of finding those resources and diving in! So, the question is…
Should You Do This Yourself?
DIY Investing: Yes
There are so many resources and tools out there for the amateur investor. A good place to start for new DIY investors is this investing blog you can download the free ebook. You can also take a look at this handy investment calculator. You can calculate and visualize your rate of return, and even see the difference giving up your daily cup of coffee could make.
The Bottom Line: Just make sure that you have a passion for learning about the ins and outs of good investment practices, and the patience it takes to play the game with long-term insight.
DIY Home Improvement: Maybe
A lot of DIY blogs make redoing your kitchen or swapping out your flooring look like a cinch, but their work is the result of a lot of research and planning. Jobs you should try yourself include painting your walls or swapping out your kitchen and bathroom hardware. When it comes to home renovations make sure you avoid these major mistakes.
Tasks you might consider after taking a class or two or doing plenty of research include reupholstering furniture, tiling a wall, or adding crown molding. There are many helpful websites where you can find all the advice you need, such as DIY Network.
The tasks you really should call the experts in for are projects that could be dangerous, like altering your plumbing system, or anything that involves a lot of red tape, like building a deck (which requires approval from your county).
The Bottom Line: Start with the simple stuff and build up. You’ll gain valuable experience along the way. You’ll also find out what projects you’re most comfortable working on yourself, and which ones you’d prefer to save on the time and effort.
DIY Currency Exchange: Yes
Using an ATM in your destination country is usually the smartest choice, because you don’t have to wait for exchange counters’ hours of operation, and there are minimal fees if you use your debit card.
However, if you can’t find an ATM, it’s better to go to an exchange counter than walking into a bank. The exchange rate might be a little worse, but they have fewer added fees, so the total cost will be less. If you’re looking for the greatest convenience, you can use Travelex, a site where you can order currency online and pick it up in store, or even get it delivered to your home. Try to avoid airport exchanges no matter what; they are consistently higher than other options.
The Bottom Line: Make your choice depending on your situation. If there’s no ATM for miles, use an exchange counter. If you have the time to wait and want cash delivered straight to you with minimal effort, use an online service.
DIY Legal Services: Maybe
The court system is a complex and confusing web, and you really don’t want to find yourself on the losing side of a case. If you want to represent yourself in court, you’ll need to do a lot of research to catch up with the attorneys who have had years of study in their practice area.
More DIY Suggestions
This guideline can get you started. It’s a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with basic procedures, because in some cases, like small claims court, you will definitely be able to represent yourself. In larger, more complicated cases, like an insurance dispute, you will need help from insurance dispute experts.
The Bottom Line: Don’t use a lawyer for small claims (which is defined as damages ranging from $2,500 to $15,000). But for a case that involves more money, time, and complexity you should put yourself in the hands of a capable lawyer. Do research and read reviews on local lawyers to find the best representation for your needs.
In all these cases it’s important that you do research beforehand, even if you plan on hiring someone to do the work. Even if you don’t try your hand at the upcoming job, you’ll at least be better able to gauge the expertise of the professional you hire. That way, you’ll be happy with the result no matter which route you took to get there.
Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not advising clients on how to get the best bang for their buck, you can find her scouring affordable style to write about on her fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.