Do It Yourself

My mother-in-law has slowly been growing a jungle leading up to her front door. Since it has been a slow progression, it hasn’t been something that has stood out. But recently, we’ve noticed its greatness – especially since my wife’s sister had a baby, and one must move away the plant-life to get the stroller past.

Earlier this month, my mother-in-law went on a trip to Korea. When my wife asked one day “What do you want to do today?” I quickly answered that I wanted to tame the jungle. We went over and I took about 30 minutes to clip the craziness that had grown over the walkway.

When my mother-in-law got back, we all went out, and she thanked me. She followed up by saying that she wanted to get rid of it all, and that she would get some landscaping company to come in and take care of it.

I told her not to make any calls because I was about to come into some vacation, and that I would take care of it.

When I started the job I quickly realized that it was more than I had planned for; the company that she hired to remodel her kitchen 2 years ago had left, not only the wooden pallets, but also her old counter-top. They had craftily slid that memorabilia between a shed and a stone wall. So I had to take care of the jungle, and, of course, the refuse of another company.

All-in-all, from start-to-finish, the job took me about six hours spread over four days. Her walkway is now remarkably wide (who knew) and free of anything resembling the Amazon, save for one nice hanging plant.

And finally I get to the financial part: Had I been swift, I would have called in a company for an estimate before starting. Since I didn’t, I have to ballpark on my own salary. Given my average hourly rate and the time spent, I would have received (if teaching) about $300.

I cut away all greenery, but as I had to take each pot one-by-one down the road to an empty lot to shake away the dirt, I will assume an extra $10 for disposal. I will minus $30 with the assumption that having a disposal vehicle would reduce the working time, and we are left with a (roundabout) number of $280.

So here’s the thing: my mother-in-law could have paid (let’s say) anywhere from the equivalent of $250 – $350 to make her walk way as beautiful and accessible as it is now, but instead, I was able to give some time and do it for her.

The totals?

I spent about $15 buying the following: work gloves, a hacksaw and blades (there was also a set of old blinds that I decided to deal with), a short handsaw, garbage bags, a few litres of iced tea.

And for doing all the work my mother-in-law took my wife and I out for dinner this past weekend. (My wife got the better deal by far, as she sat in front of a fan and cheered me for about 2 of the total 6 that I worked)

So what’s my point?

The point is simply this: if you can take care of things yourself, you should do so. I was able to save my mother-in-law (a guesstimate) of at least $150, and all she had to do was take us out for dinner (her suggestion). And I was able to get in some great exercise, a good sweat, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Now, as I have realized that it is full of unnecessary things, all I have to deal with is the shed.

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3 responses to “Do It Yourself

  1. Pingback: Canadian Personal Finance & Investing Carnival

  2. Let’s hear it for doing it yourself! Saved some money, got some exercise and fresh air.

  3. Thanks Larry. Yup, ended up gaining a little bit of a tan, and losing about 4 kilograms in the deal as well. ;-)

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