Art by Jonan Everett
My wife and I like to try to save money whenever possible. However, when it comes to home repairs and car maintenance, neither one of us is an expert. Unfortunately, hiring a plumber, electrician, or mechanic isn't exactly cheap. When you hire a professional, their rates are usually at least $50 an hour. It doesn't matter whether the fix is easy or difficult — you're usually charged a minimum rate just for a professional to assess your situation. Rather than pay $50 to $100 for easy fixes, my wife and I have a new go-to website to assess whether we should hire a pro or try to do a task ourselves. The answer almost always involves YouTube DIY videos.
Assessing Whether We Should Try DIY or Hire an Expert
Whenever we face a maintenance problem, we simply search for guidance on YouTube. There’s almost always a DIY video tutorial covering what we're trying to do. It isn't always an exact match, but it’s usually close enough to show us how to accomplish the task.
While we're watching the video, we look for a few things. First and foremost, we look to see if the task is dangerous. If there’s a chance we'll get injured because we don't have the expertise or professional equipment, we're going to outsource the task. We also look to see what tools the professional is using. If we don't have the tools to complete a task — or if getting them would be prohibitively expensive — we’ll usually call in a pro.
Next we look at the difficulty of the task. If it looks like it would take us hours to complete something a pro could do in a few minutes, again, chances are we'll hire somebody. Finally, we consider whether we might cause damage that would cause a pro to charge us more to fix our mistakes. We then use those factors to decide whether to hire a pro or go DIY.
How We Use YouTube DIY Videos
When we go through the above checklist, we usually find out that we can likely complete a task ourselves. For instance, when we were landlords, our tenants told us the button to change the bathtub from tub mode to shower mode was broken.
Usually, I'd have to call a plumber and request a rush job. That would have probably cost me $100 or more.
Instead, I had the tenants text me a picture of the problem and the brand name of the shower hardware. Once I had that information, a quick YouTube search led me to a DIY video that showed me how to fix it. The fix was super easy, wasn't dangerous, and involved no expensive tools. I went to Home Depot, bought the one part I needed for $15, and fixed the issue in less than an hour. I saved at least $85 by doing that simple YouTube search.
Other Ways We've Saved Money With YouTube DIY Videos
YouTube has easily saved us thousands of dollars. We've learned how to change the transmission fluid and headlight bulbs in both of our cars, as well as the air filters for both the engine and the cabin. Individually, none of these tasks would have been outrageously expensive at a mechanic shop. But over time, the costs would have added up to well over $100 on each car.
Around the house, I've learned how to change light fixtures and light switches, replace sink faucets and showerheads, fix showers, make a new cabinet door, repair sprinkler heads, and install ceiling fans. Each of these tasks wouldn't have been expensive individually. But if each one cost an electrician $50 (which is estimating on the low side), I probably saved $1,000 just from light fixtures and ceiling fans alone.
It's amazing what you can learn to do with YouTube DIY videos. Just make sure that you're being safe and not taking on more than you can handle. Your bank account will thank you.