Don't Listen to Your Wife
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Manual Labor
Before my inbox gets bombarded with angry emails from all the wives out there, let me get this out of the way: I love my wife, and she's a brilliant, beautiful woman who very rarely makes bad decisions.
However, last week was one of those rare instances when she was dead wrong.
You see, we're constructing a parking pad in our backyard to add some value to our home and reap the convenience of always having an available place to park. And we agreed to do it ourselves to save a healthy chunk of loot. We could lay the concrete and move our fence in without too much trouble...
There were two things standing in our way: a pair of ailanthus altissima, trees affectionately known in Baltimore City as “ghetto palms.”
To avoid causing grievous bodily harm with a chainsaw (and to spare our power lines from the falling ghetto palms), my lovely wife suggested we pay someone to do it.
After much hemming and hawing, I agreed to get an estimate.
When the helpful chap came by, he quoted us a number that made me want to use the chainsaw on him instead of the trees... $600.00. My wife was ready to write the check when I told her that wasn't going to fly.
Moments later, I was out back with the ladder and my chainsaw. The trees didn't stand a chance, and were felled with relative ease. As an added bonus, I deftly avoided knocking out my neighborhood's power.
As I was dutifully bagging up the tree debris, I was overcome with a sense of pride and accomplishment — not to mention a wave of Paul Bunyan-esque machismo. I filled 20 trash bags with branches and leaves, smiling as I worked at the knowledge that each and every bag I filled had saved me $30. And the money I would have paid someone to do my dirty work paid for the parking pad materials several times over.
These kind of do-it-yourself projects could save you thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. While not everyone can be Bob Vila, there are plenty of things you can totally manage on your own...
The easiest way is to get started is to start small. So today, let's take a look at a DIY project that you are perfectly capable of doing.
Changing Your Car's Air Filter
This is a no-brainer. You can have this simple task done in the time it takes you to say “I'm not a car guy.”
In most cases, if you take your car to get an oil change, the grease monkey will pop open the hood and tell you your oil filter is dirty and ask you if like him to replace it for you.
You most certainly do not. Having someone change your air filter will run you anywhere from $10 to $15 for labor.
Do you know how long it takes to do it? About one minute. Which means your mechanic is making the equivalent of $900 an hour. That horrific injustice right there is worth doing it yourself.
1) Buy an air filter that fits your car. If you are unsure which kind to get, simply check your owner's manual, or you can search for it by make and model. Ordering online can typically save you a few bucks, or you can swing into any auto parts store.
2) Locate the air filter. Pop your hood and let the engine cool if you've recently been driving. Locate your air filter. It's usually a small black box near the center top of your engine, or just off to the side:
Image courtesy of Auto Repair Questions
Once you've found it, pop that sucker open with a screwdriver or even a butter knife. There's usually just two clasps holding it in place.
3) Remove the dirty air filter. Sometimes the filter may be held in place by a couple screws or a wingnut. So use your screwdriver or your fingers to loosen them up. Yank the old filter out and look in between the folds. If it's covered in gunk, toss it.
4) Install your new filter. Just slide the new one in place of the old one, secure the casing back on, and voilà! You are all set.
Your wallet and your engine will thank you, because not only will you save money on the front end — but replacing a clogged air filter on an older vehicle can improve both fuel economy and acceleration as much as a couple percent, which means more money in your pocket.
It's a simple little task that won't make you a millionaire, but it will get you in the mindset that you can do many things you are currently paying "a professional" to do.
I feel the same way about money management as I do about yardwork and simple car repairs: Why pay someone else for a job you can easily do yourself?
Taking your finances into your own hands is the single most profitable DIY project in the world.
You could pay a money manager to simply handle your finances, hassle-free. It's the easy way — but it is expensive as hell.
In fact, the average American spends somewhere in the ballpark of $150,000 in fees over their lifetime for professional money managers to supervise their 401(k)s (and they rarely even beat the market!).
We started the Outsider Club to empower you to take control of your money. And when you finally decide to get your hands dirty, the payoff is immense...
Not only will you reap the financial benefits, but you'll also be rewarded with a sense of pride, purpose, and satisfaction.
You can do it. And despite the nagging protestations of your wife, after a DIY job is done properly, she'll not only appreciate the money you saved — but won't be able to help swooning over your masculine prowess.
Jimmy Mengel for Outsider Club
Follow Jimmy on Twitter @mengeled
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