By Margherite Cermak
We live in a world where services for anything you can think of are readily available… for a price. And while some services are best left to experts or perhaps simply easy and unimportant enough to have someone else do, it’s ideal to do everything you can do yourself. Doing things yourself not only saves a ton of money in most cases, but by doing things yourself you’re gaining experience, you’re learning, and your positing yourself in a strong place of decision making. Every time you do something yourself you gain a skill, even when you don’t do it perfectly. And with every skill you gain you become more valuable.
Most people aren’t very quick to do things themselves. We often delight in the luxury of having someone else do things for us. The barista makes our coffee, the post officer delivers our mail, real estate agents find us our homes, and lawyers write our contracts. The services available to us are endless and they are great. But what if instead of spending so much time earning money to pay people to do things for us we spent that time doing things for ourselves and keeping the change? Well, one common reason people opt out of doing things themselves is because they don't know how to do some of those things themselves and figure it’s just better to pay someone else. But if we pick apart some of these things, it becomes clear to see just how much easier, beneficial and efficient doing things independently can be verses hiring others.
Not knowing how to do something is a very valid challenge but so is cost. When people think of do it yourself type tasks things like installing cabinets and planting a garden come to mind as good examples. Paying a landscaper may cost you an hourly fee plus supplies, and no matter how clear you are about what you want, you’ll still have to deal with a little bit of settling. You’re also reliant on your landscaper to maintain your garden, and you’ll never really know if you’re getting ripped off or not. But if you spend some time researching what plants might grow well in your garden, and how to make them grow properly you can pick your own plants and take care of them yourself. You’ll also have the opportunity to better choose where your money is going because now you can get your supplies from a store of your choosing and wait for sales cutting the expense of a landscaper right out. Now you can spend that money on things maybe you can’t do, or don’t want to invest in learning how to do like trimming your bushes into lawn animals.
Now gardening might not be your top priority, and it may not be the most important thing that needs doing so having someone else do it and make decisions regarding may not be such a big deal and could be worth the expense. But what about the important things like purchasing a house? The general population would resort to hiring a real estate agent to find and sell them a house for a fee of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if you buy a $200,000 house you’re still paying $20,000 to a real estate agent on top of all the interest you’ll be paying to the bank by the time your mortgage is paid.
However, you don’t need a real estate agent to secure a loan for a house and you don’t need an agent to sell you one. All the resources available to an agent are available to the public, and an agent will only show you the houses that they have available to show, the ones that they are representing rather than what’s available in the market. That means that you can investigate the market yourself and contact owners directly giving you more options and saving everyone a fortune by simply cutting out the Real Estate agent.
What you gain by doing this is experience and an understanding of how real estate works. Sure you’ll have to learn the legalities yourself and you’ll have to spend hours researching but think of it like this. If you’re saving $20,000, at least, that’s twenty thousand dollars worth of hours you’re not working at your job. That’s twenty thousand dollars worth of hours your spending on setting up your home, making an independent decision, and gaining the skills needed to buy and as a result sell houses. You can now take that information and apply to be a real estate agent yourself if you so choose. In any case, you’re stronger and richer for making this kind of a choice.
This applies even more accurately to services offered by attorneys. Suppose you want to start a business. You could go to a lawyer, tell them what you're trying to do, answer a few questions and pay some money and poof, you’re a business owner. But ask yourself if that’s how you want to start your business. The scenario I just described would cost a person upwards of $1,000 if they got a cheap lawyer and filed for a basic corporation. Now think about how many hours you’d have to work at a job to earn that $1,000 to have a stranger make a decision for you about the company you’ll be running based on some answers you provided.
Can’t you spend that time looking up the different types of corporations, the pros and cons of each and find the one that most appropriately applies to the business you want to start up? From there can’t you find the proper forms and file them yourself? The answer is yes; yes you absolutely can. If you hire a lawyer you’re still paying the filing fees and taxes but if you do it yourself you are only paying the filing fees and applicable taxes. In most states filing for an LLC, the most common type of business, only costs about $100 and it’s easy. Yet you have the power of knowing you made the decision yourself based on what you learned and information you provided, putting you in a much stronger position.
When you do things yourself you will make mistakes, experience trial and error, and perhaps even become frustrated. But you’ll save the time you would have spent making money to pay for the service and you’ll earn an education in whatever it is you’re doing that no specialist could or would give you in return for the fee you’d pay them. In my opinion that always makes you more valuable than someone who simply writes checks. Your choices are to save money, gain knowledge and make decisions independently or work hard to spend money on someone else making decisions for you. Once you start doing things yourself, you’ll probably never stop.