Where To Draw the Line On Personal Labor
DDave mentioned in a recent article that one of his resolutions was to not start any new projects in 2018. Coincidentally and without communication regarding that, I too came to the same resolution. I had so much stuff I always could be doing in 2017 that it became overwhelming. Overwhelming to the point of being crippling and hopeless. Multiple broken cars, endless amounts of work that needed to be done on the house, personal projects, and stack that with only one full time job, a girlfriend, and some basic hobbies, and there was less than no time for other things. Often times I had to sacrifice one area to make room for somewhere else, and most often those sacrifices would either be the things that need to get done, or the hobbies. Obviously I can't ditch out on my job to fix stuff around my house. I don't think that would fly with the boss.
I learned a few things through the chaos, however. Namely, that this chaos was self inflicted in the sense that I was unwilling to pay someone else to do work that was stacking up. I have no idea how much money I saved by:
1.) Digging, repairing, and eventually replacing the main water line that goes from the meter in the alley to my house. Filling in the hole afterward and getting rid of all the debris.
2.) Extracting a hive of dead honey comb and the accompanying bees from the ceiling in my garage. Replacing the roof where it had been destroyed, recoating the roof with waterproofing, replacing the drywall of the ceiling. Repainting, spackling.
3.) Repairing all of my own vehicles, doing my own oil changes, routine maintenance.
If I had to make a wild guess, I probably saved $10,000 if I were to combine all of that "extra" stuff I did and instead have paid a professional to do it. The water line would have probably been 3K alone, maybe more because there was 800 lb concrete blocks impeding the access to the line 6" under the dirt.
The point I'm getting at is that you have to decide at what point to pay someone else to do something, even if you are fully capable of doing it. If I could go back and pay a pro to do something so I didn't have to worry about it, I would immediately have paid a crew to come in and dig up my water line. I can replace it myself and do all the plumbing, but goddamn, hand digging that trench 24" down in the dry Arizona dirt was a pain. As I was slaving away, it finally occurred to me why farm and digging equipment was some of the first and finest examples of human ingenuity - because our ancestors long ago were digging holes with shovels and were like "This sucks butts. There's gotta be a better way." Some brilliant minds and a few years later, you've got yourself a backhoe, hydraulic power, and all the things that go with it. I'd have given a team of dudes $1000 to dig that hole and fill it in after I was done so I didn't have to. Lesson learned.
The other projects weren't too bad and were larger in my mind than they were in actual implementation. That's how it goes with most things that you procrastinate on though, they always seem bigger until you just but on your big boy pants and do them.
I struggle with paying people to do things when I squander the time that I gain by not doing them myself. If I pay a bunch of construction guys to dig a hole in my backyard, I am of the mentality that I should be killing it and out-earning them by doing what I'm good at and trained in in some capacity. Of course, you need an avenue in which to access money, such as a side hustle. If I had work that could have immediately yielded extra dollars while my water line was getting fixed, it would have been a much easier decision for me to make.
Keep your projects manageable. If there is something that can't wait or is hanging over your head, there is no shame in paying someone else to do it even if you can do it yourself. I think another challenge I will put forward for myself is to pay someone to fix something in 2018 that I could do myself but just don't feel like doing. Ah, the luxury of not living paycheck to paycheck affords such things!