My Money And The Do It Yourself Economy

If technology and robots make the completion of tasks quicker and easier, does that then mean humans are become lazier or have more time to do other things? Whilst there are arguments supporting either side, I am of the opinion that individuals now realise how precious the commodity of time is and the ‘value of a dollar’, and thus strongly believe in people having more time to do things.

With the cost of living slowly rising, the trend of ‘doing-it-yourself’ is being brought back from its twentieth century foothold by young to middle aged Millennials. In a world where everything can be digitised, consumers are experiencing a backlash in the efficiency that app companies are creating by charging a continual list of expenses in order to complete jobs such as cooking food, meal delivery, cleaning and home maintenance. And whilst some people are totally in-awe of the 15 to 30mins that is saved by these freelance and professionally hired services, the costs do add up, and people soon find that the amount of income they earn is not sufficient to support this ‘uber’ lifestyle.

Now if people can support this lifestyle of assigning duties to other people and still have a few dollars in the bank, congratulations, however, for the group of people who cannot, I highly encourage you to embrace the DIY economy. Whether it be for employment, or just to save some money on a job around the house, the premise of ‘doing-it-yourself’ is a self-sustaining movement that will keep cash in your pocket and control back in your life. However the payoff for the thousand-odd dollars you save per year will be the extra elbow grease and time you need to allocate.

Although the DIY economy has been in existence since the beginning of civilisation and made popular in the 1900s, mainstream media has pounced on the opportunity to sell people the ‘fantasy’ that everyone can be a DIY-er as shown in various programs of house flipping, home improvement, cooking at home, and fitness. And whilst this makes for good television entertainment, the reality is that the money you save is compensated by extra stress that has to be solely burden by you. Is saving an extra $600 dollars a year on garden maintenance worth it? For most people yes.

I don’t expect you to read this article and then immediately decide to start gutting and renovating your home, however I will suggest three easy places where you can ‘trial’ the DIY lifestyle for yourself.

  1. Food – Start cooking your own meals. The takeaway food industry has exploded over the past three years with useful apps and services which can easily connect people with food shops, and whilst this is highly convenient it is also highly taxing on your wallet. Spend a couple hundred dollars a month on groceries, and start using that induction cooktop that is in your apartment.
  2. Home and garden maintenance – This market probably has the best potential to go beyond just the home, and possibly into a ‘side hustle’. Whilst businesses have a right to charge a fee for a professional service, freelance and contract app platforms such as Airtasker can equally charge as much (you don’t want some random person butchering your hedges). So, spend a couple hundred dollars on a lawn mower, line trimmer and hedge trimmer (and some safety equipment) and start making a net saving on those monthly gardening costs. Similarly, the home cleaning services can amount to thousands of dollars a year on services than can be done for around $300 for the year. No one said DIY was going to be pleasant so be prepared.
  3. Clothing – Unless you own garments that are designed and constructed in such a way that dry-cleaning is the only way to maintain them, do your laundry yourself. Whitegoods are coming down in price as more and more brands look to create a competitive status in the market, and that means that the cost of operating and buying a washing machine and dryer (in the long run), is minute when compared to the weekly cost of dry-cleaning which can cost up to $100 a week or over $5000 a year.

All in all, it is true to say that DIY is a physical lifestyle. Whilst it isn’t the most visually appealing, it is hard to believe that people can justify spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on simple jobs that only require an hour or two a month to complete. It is interesting to note that the rise of the freelance and on-demand economy, has also produced a simultaneous wave of first-time DIY-ers who are looking to save money in their household bank account. Although it should be noted that if you can afford the price mechanism of the market, there is nothing wrong with that, but to suggest that everyone has the luxury of scheduling monthly appointments for home maintenance or weekly trips to dry-cleaners is absurd and so the power thus finds its way back to the people.

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