I was going to call this post “How to save $100s with out cutting coupons.” But that might just be a low down dirty way to get you to read this. But, if you are on a tight budget, and you are clipping coupons to save 25 cents on three boxes of mac and cheese, it doesn’t take much to put a major dent in your monthly budget. I admit, I am fairly tight fisted when it comes to spending money on things I don’t want to get. As a family, we don’t eat out all that often, and try to schedule shopping trips so we aren’t out and about during lunch time to avoid the “Well, since we are out anyway, let’s get lunch.” We don’t go to the movies hardly at all, and we even canceled cable to save the $80 a month. Hopefully things will take off with this website and we can start going out more, and I can watch more sports, but these cuts were enacted so we don’t go into debt. We currently have no credit card debt and want to keep it that way.
We are doing our best to stay within the one income budget, but stuff always comes up. One of the biggest things we can do to save money is do-it-yourself repairs. You managed to save $50 dollars at the grocery store, shopping deals, buying generic, and clipping coupons, and that is awesome! But what happens when one of your sprinklers breaks? Or a pipe breaks in your yard, or under a sink? Or your kid throws his baseball in the house and breaks a light fixture? Or an old electrical outlet stops working (or shoots out sparks!!!)? If you hire a professional, you will end up paying at least $100 or more. If you do it yourself, you only pay for parts, which you would probably pay a professional for those too. A new outlet and cover will set you back $5 at the most, if you go with fancy styles, usually they are about $1.50.
When to call a professional
There are definitely things you want to call a professional to do. Things like: anything dealing with garage door springs (they will take a leg off), septic tanks (gross), windows, chimneys, etc. Also, if you aren’t comfortable doing these tasks, or you know you will put it off until next Thanksgiving, (just to watch some family member scream at the sparks shooting out of the wall), you might want to call a pro to get it taken care of. But a clogged sink drain can be fixed using only a bucket and a garden hose (most of the fittings under a sink can be removed by hand. The bucket is used to catch the water, the garden hose is used to clean the gunk out.) Also, if the professional you call isn’t all that professional, they may try to sell you stuff that you don’t really need. “See the clog was caused by these old pipes in your 4-year old home, not the globs of hair that go down the drain. We’re going to need to replace all the pipes in your house. That’ll be $8003.68. ‘preciate the business.”
But there are many jobs around the house that as a stay at home dad, or “man of the house”, you can fix with very basic tools and a little bit of know how. Even if you don’t have the tools, the cost of new tools is often cheaper than calling the professional, and now you have a new pipe wrench, or power tool. Actually, you would be amazed at the number of things I have taken apart, couldn’t see anything wrong, put it back together, and it worked. Sometimes, things just need the dust and hair removed from the circuits.
Duct tape and WD-40
Duct tape will actually fix a lot of things. It won’t be a permanent fix, nor will it look pretty, even with the designer styles they have now. Remember duct tape holds stuff together, WD-40 keeps them apart. If you have squeaky door hinges, WD-40 will work, a graphite spray is better, but WD-40 will work. It also works for getting bolts to unscrew, cables to move, at lots of stuff. Duct tape will contain leaks, patch holes in screens, and keep the fabric of time from ripping apart.
If you come across a repair, there are tons of resources on the internet. Step-by-step instructions, YouTube videos, and often the replacement part will come with instructions. As things break (or get broken) in my house, I will post my how-to guide to fix things. Most of the time, when you take something apart, you usually can’t make it any worse. That said, trying to force stuff apart (or using a hammer) could break something really bad. Also be sure to place all small items into a bowl or something, so they don’t go down a drain or into the baby’s mouth. One missing $0.12 piece may lead to replacing a $500 item. For example, a toilet tank lid set precariously on the edge of the bathtub that gets bumped and broken is very hard to replace (especially if the toilet is more than 15 years old), and may lead to replacing an entire toilet.
Another bit of early advice: when working with electrical things, turn the electricity off at the circuit breaker. Be sure to test the socket or light switch to make sure it is off before you work on it. Plug a lamp into the outlet (make sure the lamp works first – a burnt out bulb could mislead you), or turn the light on (again make sure the light works first), or use a volt meter if you have one. If you are working with water, turn the valves off.
Stay at Home
Being a stay at home dad means you have kids in the house. The kids (definately not you, dads don’t break stuff) are going to break something, and you can be the hero that fixes their toy. Or if an appliance or piece of furniture breaks, you can be a hero to your wife. Try working on something that is broken and is going to get thrown away. anyway The head missing off of Barbie may not work, but a toy car that doesn’t work anymore (or is making some god-awful noise). Sometimes all something needs is the screws to be tightened. If the screws are tight, than take it apart, see how everything works, and try to figure out what is broken. Then put it back together, it just might be better.
If you have any broken items in your house, or things to be fixed, please add it to the comments and I will try to give advice to that issue. Thanks – Dashing Dad.