13 money resolutions for 2013: #3 do it yourself!



This post is part of a 13 money resolutions for 2013 series. You can check the first post for an updated list of the following ones.

13 money resolutions for 2013: #3 do it yourself!

Now that we are tackling new money goals for 2013, and have cut as much fat as possible out of the monthly budget, let’s look for areas where you could save a lot of money by doing things yourselves.

I am not very handy myself, but I have learned to do a lot of things, that are much easier than they look.


A first, obvious area, is cooking. By having a few basic recipes that you are comfortable with, such as pasta, stew, stir fry and big salads, you can invent as many recipes as there are days in the year. Preparing a huge salad with every vegetable about to go bad in the fridge is easy, cheap and healthy.

Get creative, look for recipes to accommodate your ripest food. And stop buying convenience food.

For example, when we go shopping, on the way back we are tired and stop for fried chicken. A fried chicken breast costs as much as a fresh fish from the lake. With soda and fries, it is more expensive than a full fish dinner with a glass of wine. Convenience is expensive and not necessarily better.

Home DIY

Since I started fixing up my house, I have learned about many little things, like putting and electric plug, installing pipes for water and painting a house. All of this is REALLY easy. And very cheap compared to having someone do it for you. Just watch a 10 minutes tutorial online, get the idea, go shopping for materials and start your project. I painted my whole house with lime wash for under $5, and probably added at least $500 value to it. Focus on leaks, bad insulation… and anything that is costing you money over time.


Another thing that I have learned recently is how to perform maintenance on cars and motorcycles. Again, it is really easy to change the oil or the brake pads on your vehicle, and something that can save you a lot of money over time.


I love my little plants in the garden and here in Guatemala, when a pound of tomatoes cost less than $0.50 it is not really worth the effort, but gardening is a hobby, it keeps your active, relaxes you and saves you money if you get a decent little crop. I chose a mix of the vegetables I eat the most, and some that I enjoy and find quite expensive, like bell peppers. I also put basil, which is almost impossible to find around here.

What other areas do you prefer to deal with yourself to save some money?

This post was featured on the Mo Money Mo Houses, thank you!

A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page

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  1. I’m terrible at doing most things myself but we do love to cook! We make somewhere around 80-90% of our meals and it’s saved us a ton of money over the years (including helping our health).

    We did make a headboard this year but other than that, I’d prefer to pay people so that I can save my time repairing cars, etc.
    Jason recently posted..Tips When Paying Off Your MortgageMy Profile

  2. I could not agree more in terms of convenience. Sure, it might make it easier but is often quite pricey. We’re starting to teach ourselves more DIY stuff for around the house and love to garden. We also handle all of our own investments as opposed to paying someone to do it. It’s not worth the cost, especially as I have the knowledge to do it and you’re the only one who is going to look out for yourself 100% of the time.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Why I Don’t Believe in New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

    • It is worth investigating a little and if the tasks are really annoying, keep delegating but with things like investments you have your best interests at heart.

  3. “Convenience is expensive and not necessarily better” That’s a great quote that I totally agree with. Companies keep trying to get us to spend more by making things convenient. Humans are smart, we can figure some stuff out on our own. Great post!

    • Thanks Ross! When there were talks about the end of the world we reflected on what we would actually be able to do ourselves. So far, I can’t kill a chicken, even when I am hungry. I would like to do as much as possible myself to stop relying so much on other people to sell me a product or a skill.

  4. That homemade pizza looks amazing! We do want to start a garden. Thanks for the reminder! :)
    Michelle recently posted..$5,770 in Extra Income in DecemberMy Profile

  5. I’m getting back into cooking. For health and financial reasons. My wife and I have become very lazy when it comes to cooking. Planning meals and doing one big shop is much more economical
    Jamie Dickinson recently posted..Keeping your 2013 ResolutionMy Profile

    • If you are lazy try a big cook, you prepare meals a whole evening, freeze convenient portions and have enough for the rest of the week without the need to cook.

  6. We’ve been big DIY-ers around the house, hiring out very little. I’m trying to apply the same philosophy to eating now… it’s tougher for me, but I’m getting better slowly but surely. =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..PoP Balance Sheet – December 2012My Profile

  7. As a guy who’s always been a high income earner, I’ve been the opposite: I pay for nearly everything except my core strengths. If I can make more money with a client than I’m spending changing my oil, it’s a win.

    That said, life has changed since I sold my business. Now that I’m no longer the huge income earner I was, and I’ve taken up things like home maintenance and cooking much, much more. My waistline approves (less butter and fat in my home cooked meals).
    AverageJoe recently posted..5 Simple Steps to Kick 2013 Into High GearMy Profile

    • If your high paying job takes most of your time it makes sense to pay for everything else. I enjoy doing most things on that list so it doesn’t count as real work.

  8. What I love about cooking instead of eating out is that you control the ingredients and the quality. Every bought of food poisoning I’ve ever had came from eating out. And that’s coming from a guy who eats raw cookie dough. :)
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Optimism vs Depression in the New Year – The Debt Movement + a $100 givewayMy Profile

    • Yum raw cookie dough! I started making all the ”junk food” like burgers and pizza and there is so much difference in putting real ingredients in, it becomes healthy food!

  9. maria@moneyprinciple says:

    Pauline, spot on! However, when I was doing this one the only one I implemented is cooking – it is so much cheaper and more importantly so much nicer and healthier. I started baking as well – all good fun and helps me relax (which is hard when most of what I do is write, really, so brain churning all the time). DIY I like but this can be dangerous; gardening – not my scene at all.
    maria@moneyprinciple recently posted..Join the Debt Movement! World Domination coming up!My Profile

    • I didn’t like gardening either but then I started finding it very relaxing as well. Touching the ground, getting your hands dirty, apprehending time with the growth of things.. it is actually quite nice.

  10. I use a few basic recipes every month as well, and typically add a salad or other vegetables to go with. Your suggestions reminded me that I need to make a large Chili again before my sweet peppers go bad.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..Were You Born to be a Good Leader?My Profile

    • ooh sounds delicious! one of the few recipes I can do with lots of veggies and little meat without having an angry BF saying I am trying to turn him into a vegetarian and deprive him of meat. Great reminder, I’ll cook one soon!

  11. The Happy Homeowner says:

    I love all things DIY! I’ll also be attempting to cook more at home in an effort to save $$ this year.
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..2012: Year of the Ballooned Spending?My Profile

    • Great! Cooking just takes some getting used to, now every time I eat out I figure the cost of what I ate (so low) and how much better it would have been home cooked.

  12. I am a huge fan of DIY. We cook most of our meals, I fix both of our cars, I work on the house, I deal with plumbing, electrical, and any other issue that arises. I always felt that I can do most things. The only thing I don’t do is AC work.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..The Many Perks of Banking OnlineMy Profile

  13. I’m a huge DIY advocate. If someone else can do it, so can you! It’ll take time to learn if you don’t know but you’ll be so satisfied knowing you completed something on your own. We just finished installing a wet bar in our basement, it looks great and even better, works!
    Catherine recently posted..Save Money Washing Your GonchiesMy Profile

    • woohoo! congratulations! I get so pumped up when I do something myself, even small and BF is like ”whatever” but it boosts me for the rest of the day!

  14. “Focus on leaks, bad insulation… and anything that is costing you money over time.” Great advice! while this is not DIY-related, we lose a lot of heat through our sliding glass doors in the kitchen and basement. I think they will be the first thing to be updated, mainly because they will save us money on top of improving the value of hte home.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Advantages of Being a DINK (Dual Income No Kids)My Profile

  15. I like to trouble shoot computer problems on my own. Tech support can really expensive charging up to $90 an hour for someone to re-install your operating system. I actually built my own computer from parts ordered in different countries to get the right customization for me 😀 I wish I could do all that other stuff you mentioned though. I’m too spoiled living in the city lol. It’d be really neat I think to visit a place like Guatemala simply because you have to learn to do a lot things yourself because sometimes help isn’t always available.
    Liquid recently posted..Fiscal Update – Dec 2012My Profile

    • It is really impressive what they can do over here. In Guatemala City you get most car parts for any brand, but where I live they can fix cars with a bit of rubber and some glue!

  16. Doing more myself is definitely a personal goal of mine for 2013. I’m not overly handy around the house or mechanically, but I’ve been trying to learn how to fix more things and do some basic repairs and maintenance to my car in order to avoid paying someone else all the time!
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Looking Back and Looking Ahead: 2012 Portfolio ReviewMy Profile

    • Like the name suggest, basic stuff is really basic. I guess we all got lazy with time and manual jobs took advantage to charge a premium. Knowing at least how things get fixed allows you not to get ripped off when getting a repaid quote.

  17. Hi Pauline, These are very smart money goals. The DIY approach is financially practical.
    Why not? The key is to save money for the future.

  18. I have been doing myself too! I even switched out a light dimmer switch ! I am now an electrician. 😉
    DebtGirl recently posted..Saving Money on CoffeeMy Profile

    • Well done! I checked a few tutorials and my BF taught me a lot, it is really easy to reroute electric wires or unclog a sink. You are going to save so much money! And it is really good for self esteem too to say I DID IT MYSELF!

  19. I’m going to try a veggie garden this year. That’s kind of amazing about the prices down there on produce.
    femmefrugality recently posted..For the Love of a TurtleMy Profile

  20. David Landen says:

    I have done my share of DIY home projects over the years to try and save money. You are absolutely correct in that you can watch an online video and do the project yourself. Sweat equity is an excellent way to build home equity!
    David Landen recently posted..December 2012 Monthly Income ReportMy Profile

  21. It is amazing just how many people don’t know how to cook for themselves! It is so simple and it can be a great way to not only get healthy, but save money.

    Nice post Pauline
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..MPB – Pool Room Posts #11My Profile

  22. We are planning on cooking our meals more in 2013, because we want to spend less money on eating out. It will be a little more work, I’m sure, but we really want to pay a huge chunk of our mortgage down this year so we will have to make it work :)
    Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet recently posted..Interesting Search Terms and Shout OutsMy Profile

    • It doesn’t have to be so much work if you batch cook and always have something frozen ready for when you feel lazy and are about to order take out.

  23. Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy says:

    The boy and I spend so much time preparing quality meals at home that it kind of has ruined the experience of dining out—our ingredients usually are fresher and of better quality!

  24. Cooking and gardening I can do, but I’m still working on the home improvement DIYs. We had a leak last week in our bathroom sink and had to call in a handyman to fix it. :p Annoying, especially once he showed us how simple the repair was.
    CF recently posted..Net Worth Update: January 2013My Profile

  25. I’d like to try and be a better and more patient cook. I buy some healthy convenience foods like salad from a bag. If I were to buy lettuce it would cost me .99 instead of $2.00. A little creativity could go a long way. As far as everything else? Well, I’ll probably leave that up to the experts, especially the car!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..Link Love/Week in Review 1/4/13My Profile

    • Cooking is so easy, and so is washing a lettuce! Ok you may not eat the whole lettuce but one lettuce is like 4 bags of prepared lettuce. Throwing out a few leaves is still a saving.

  26. I’m a huge fan of DIY (at least with the help from Google).

    Perhaps I’ll try both Cooking and Gardening more this year too. Seems like a win-win.
    Don recently posted..Aggressive Financial Plans For The New YearMy Profile

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