Why DIY? Reasons to Invest in the DIY Lifestyle

My journey into the DIY lifestyle came about from a desire to get out of debt. It worked well – the debt is gone, but the DIY habits remain. They’re fun! And it’s really cool when your friends say nice things about your projects (that actually turned out correctly).

However, one obstacle that I had to overcome at the beginning was the initial investment. After being in debt for so long and always strapped for cash, I was stuck in a “short-term” mentality. Living paycheck to paycheck, I was unable to look at the big picture. When I was able to switch from thinking about what it’s costing me now to how much it’s going to save me in the long run, I was able to make peace with the initial investments.

Why DIY

Here are my favorite things about investing in DIY:

Long-term Payoff

We’ve found time and time again that an initial investment that seems pretty expensive ends up saving us a lot of money in the long run. Cloth diapers. High-quality tools. Alternative healthcare. All of these things have cost at least $100+ up-front (that seemed like a stretch for our tight budget), but we’ve seen some amazing long-term payoff.

Health – Since making the commitment to preventative, alternative healthcare, we’ve seen major savings in medical costs. Our family uses essential oils, fermented cod liver oil and real food on a daily basis to prevent and treat illness. We rarely get sick now and mainly use the medical system in case of emergencies.

Time – DIY projects can take a lot of time up front. There’s always a learning process, during which you may not be sure what you’re doing. And then there’s the time it takes to keep up with projects on a regular basis. Thankfully, we’ve managed to fit DIY into our busy life nicely, so that it’s just part of the routine.

Money – I’ve mentioned already that we’re now debt-free. We could not have done it without our DIY lifestyle. We saved thousands alone just by cloth diapering our children, which costs us a few hundred up front (we bought enough one-size pocket diapers to cover two kids at once). Our high monthly medical expenses from prescriptions and doctor visits has greatly decreased. And now, I even make money by selling extra stuff we make.

One Investment, Multiple Projects

The great thing about doing things yourself is that you can use the same tools over and over again. And not just for one project. In my simple kitchen, for example, lots of appliances perform double (sometimes quadruple) duty. Our food processor gets used for making meals, kneading dough and making laundry detergent. Not all at once, of course. Canning jars (which can be quite costly if you buy them new), are used for everything from food storage to everyday drinking glasses.

Commitment

Making an investment implies a certain level of commitment. You’re in it for the long haul. That kind of commitment is important for the DIY lifestyle. If you’re not committed  it’s easy to just say, “well, I can just go to the store and buy it instead.” Doing that just perpetuates the cycle you’re trying to remove yourself from (at least, that’s what we were doing). Instead, using the money that would have gotten you say, a few boxes of disposable diapers, you could buy enough diapers to last a few children for a couple of years. (I’ve got diapers on the brain today – my youngest is potty-training.)

Better Quality, Better Results

I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a tightwad. With a spending problem. How’s that possible? Well, I can rationalize the smaller purchases, but not the bigger ones. Unfortunately, I’ve paid for that repeatedly thanks to buying low-quality items that needed to be replaced after they broke.

Thankfully, I’m married to someone who sees the value in buying high-quality items. A few years ago, I bought a high-quality blender with a reputation for lasting a long time. Because I took my time and researched my options, I knew that I was getting a great deal. Now, I have a blender that can grind grains, make dough and do all the things a blender can do and I know it will work well for a very long time.

Baby Steps

Just because you’re making an investment in the DIY lifestyle, doesn’t mean you have to spend a bunch of money. We’re frugal people (who are also eco-conscious), so we make a point to buy used whenever possible. That means budgeting for what we need and being patient and checking out yard sales, thrift stores and places like Craigslist when we need to buy something. We’ve also learned that borrowing is a great way to get the tools we need for short-term projects (we typically put the word out on Facebook).

You also don’t need to buy everything at once. If you’re just getting started, or want to tackle something new, I suggest making a list of the projects you want to do in the next few months. Then, list everything you’ll need for the project(s), and note what you don’t have. Decide what can be borrowed, what you can find used, and what you’ll have to buy new and budget accordingly.

Have you had good results investing in the DIY lifestyle? Share your experiences below!

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Comments

  1. I am not a wealthy person by a long shot…far from it. Often things are truly lean around here. When I began learning about DIY lifestyle, I went to thrift shops and found many items that I could replace my other items with such as glass containers instead of plastic, etc. I assisted a friend in clearing out her mother’s apartment and received, for my efforts, some cooking pots that I otherwise would have paid a fortune for if purchased new.

    On the food-consumption front, my friends are often amazed at my lifestyle and what I eat and say, “Oh, I could never eat the way you do. You eat so healthy.” But I certainly did not jump into this lifestyle 100% all at once…it was extremely gradual. In fact, it took several years for my taste buds to actually adjust to a new form of eating. I am only now finding that I truly prefer a different (and healthier) style of eating and that it is no longer an issue of mind over body.

    And, lastly, I am also finding that now that many of these things have been accomplished that my day-to-day cost of living has actually gone down. The soaps that I use (make), etc., take a small time investment yet I find that time investment often gives back to me in the form of a life-grounding, mind-grounding, soul-soothing activity.

    Thanks.

  2. I too slowly entered the DIY lifestyle. Incorporating a few things at a time is a lot less stressful then trying everything at once. I couldn’t imagine a few year’s ago if someone told me I needed to start eating organic, growing a garden for my family, canning our own vegetables, making our own jellies and sauces, collecting rainwater for the garden, using essential oils instead of relayling on the drugstore, making our own all natural cleaning products, composting, eliminating plastics from our daily life, eliminating processed foods, making our own personal care products, and the list goes on. I would have told them they are crazy. But now here I am. I can’t say that I’m perfect in all these areas, but I do my best.

    My advice to anyone starting out, is start small. make a list of things you’d like to try and do one or two at a time. I think the best place to start is cleaning products. As you use up your windex, try making some. When you use up the floor cleaner, make some, when you keep replacing things, before you know it, you’ll have replaced everything.

    Also, a good place to get tools you only need for a project that you can’t borrow from someone is a tool rental company.

  3. Speaking of high quality items. There is a cookware company that only sells through shows (I don’t think I’m allowed to share their name on the site, am I)? The product is expensive but is titanium lined and does not leach metals (steel, aluminum) or chemicals (from Teflon and those new “green” pans) crock pots (lead), into your food. They are made in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee (not only your life time but whomever you give them to when you pass on). THAT INCLUDES THE ELECTRIC ITEMS ALSO which have an oil core which evenly cooks your food with no oil in your food! Who’s ever heard of an electric skillet or any electric appliance have a lifetime guarantee?
    You also cook with no water for many vegetables and those that need moisture to cook, never touch the water, they are vapor cooked (never steamed),it kills the vitamins. That pan is like a double boiler only there are holes in the top pan for the moister to come through.!
    Try taking some carrots, grating them and eating a few, then take those same carrots, swish them in a little water and see how badly they taste after. That is one of the benefits of cooking without water but the most important is the fact that you are throwing your vitamins down the drain when there’s water involved (what vitamins are left after you boil everything and kill the vitamins). Our sewer systems are well fed, we’re not.
    There are MANY other benefits. They’ve been in business for many, many years and their product is “top of the line”.
    I purchased a set for several reasons. I wanted to be cooking the healthiest I could. My mother and grandfather died of Alzheimer’s. I’ve done everything I know to do to help ward that off and this cookware was one more piece of the puzzle.
    I never realized, before I saw this product, how much our cookware leaches. If you don’t believe me, take a pot (each different type you have) and put 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of baking soda (which is used to represent the natural sodium in your vegetables). Boil it for a couple of minutes and then taste your water. YUK!!! is the only description I can tell you. This leaching does not happen with the titanium lined pans. That water just tastes like baking soda.
    This was a product we felt we couldn’t really “afford” but also felt we couldn’t afford not to purchase if we wanted the healthiest life we could have. We’ve never regretted it and they have thousands of recipe’s on line and (in our area) they have cooking classes you can attend, get a free meal, and learn more every month if you wish.

  4. We have been slowly introducing the DIY lifestyle over about 10 years. We really appreciated it and could see the benefits but last year I lost my job which really took our DIY lifestyle to a whole new level.

    I was really grateful that we were already economising and the fact that we had already paid most of our debts eased some of the pressure.

    We turned our attention to releasing the stuff we no longer needed, focussed on learning how to do things we had been paying for such as cutting each others hair and further reducing our spending to live on one wage.

    Even if we had plenty of money, I might buy myself some nice new clothes but I would still embrace our DIY lifestyle with the same enthusiasm because I love it and I’m proud of all wonderful skills I’ve gained.

  5. Lorene, I don’t know why you couldn’t put a brand name on this site. I’d like to know the name of the cookware you have!
    Thanks,
    Chris

  6. Hello again, Lorene! I googled “titanium cookware” and found out the name. Thanks for mentioning it!

  7. I have to say that I am pretty discouraged about some of my diy projects. For example, my dishwasher detergent would not get my dishes clean no matter how many tweeks I made. After a year of trial by error, my husband said that it was time to go back to our previous detergent. So, I caved and bought my previous brand. It cleaned the dishes wonderfully, but I still don’t like the detergent smell that I have on the dishes. Now, hubby has said that I can diy, so long as it doesn’t effect the rest of the family. He didn’t feel the laundry soap worked either. I feel it’s really important for a united team effort for this to work, so, unfortunately, I will have to give up on some of my diy-ing :(

    • I agree with you about the dishwasher powder as mine did not work either wich was disappointing. The first few times I made the laundry powder I didn’t like it either but after a few tweakings I’m happy with it. Basically I didn’t like the soap as I found it didn’t wash properly and left a residue in my clothes. I now buy a box of eco friendly washing powder with a low scent and I add the ingredients as per the DIY recipe plus a cup of oxygen bleach powder and a teaspoon of eucalyptus oil for fragrance. I find this combination is effective and my clothes come out clean and smelling nice. Stains still need to be treated seperately though.

  8. Thank you for your honesty. Being new to this lifestyle, I sometimes feel inadequate. It is good to hear that these changes can take time. I see, as does my husband, the value in this type of life and never want to go back to the unthinking life I used to live. Thank you for providing great information and for being honest about it all. It makes me more confident that I, too, can do this. Thank you again!!