Benefits of DIY

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There are many jobs that we once did ourselves but find that we now pay people to do for us. Assuming that you are in reasonable health, there may be some good reasons to go back to completing these tasks yourself.

 

There are some tasks that we come across where we have a knowledge/skill barrier but by using books, and especially the internet, just about any small task is achievable. From a knowledge perspective, large tasks are also possible in theory, as long as we have enough people to assist or enough time and money to rent or buy the required equipment to take the place of helpers.

 

The internet, especially YouTube is a wonderful resource for gaining the required knowledge to complete a physical task. Completing tasks yourself increases your knowledge, independence and skill level. Doing the job yourself also saves you money in most cases but sometimes when you count the time spent on a task, materials needed and time spent learning a new skill, it may not be as much as expected.

 

The best example I can think of here is changing the oil in your vehicle. You need to buy the oil, a drain pan, a ramp or jack, an oil filter and an air filter, and tools that will do the job. This will all cost more than the quick oil change garage, but the upside to this is that when you have done it once you will have the knowledge, and the next time, you will be faster. The tools (hand tools are all that are needed), drain pan and ramps are a one time expense. You will also be confident that your oil has actually been changed, your oil and air filters have really been replaced and the threads on your oil plug haven’t been stripped.

 

Another example is taking care of your own yard. The advantages are that you will get some exercise and at the most basic level of cutting and edging the lawn, it is not hard and the initial outlay is worth it as lawn care companies are very expensive now. Maintaining the lawn mower can also become “interesting”. I have a gas operated walk behind mower that has powered wheels, front and back. The wheels are powered by drive belts and they tend to stretch, fray and sometimes break, this results in no power being transferred to the wheels and you end up with an extra heavy human driven push mower. The first time that this happened, I went online to see if there was any information on fixing the issue as I hadn’t come across the problem before, because I used to pay a lawn service. I found all the information that I needed to replace a drive belt and gained knowledge. It doesn’t take me any time at all now to replace a drive belt because I know how it works and what bolts and screws to remove to get to the parts that I need. My most recent front and back yard is modest but not tiny, the quote I got from a local lawn care company for cutting the lawns and edging  was $130 twice a month and that is just too much when I am able-bodied and I can easily do it myself. I have never been a garden enthusiast but it does seem to give me some sort of satisfaction to do it myself. I am also increasing my knowledge about plants and landscaping topics to make the property attractive.

 

A while ago, I took on a project that took me some time to research. I built a new shower stall in my bathroom. There was an existing stall, but the base was leaking and it was getting moldy. The tiles were also getting moldy too quickly and were not very attractive. The glass shower door was about 20 years old and did not look good at all. I had to research the project in stages as I hadn’t completed this task before. I found all the information that I needed online.

The job began by ripping out the old stall, down to the wall studs and then rebuilding it, stage by stage. It did take a while, but it was completed 100% by myself, so it was slow going.

The end result was very attractive and while there were places that could have been better on the tile work, I was the only one who noticed. I increased my knowledge and skill level and I was very pleased.

As for the money saved, I may have saved a few hundred dollars by doing it myself and I also know that I could do the job faster and better if I had to complete another similar task.

 

Any task around the house can be completed by the homeowner with the knowledge that is freely available online. The only things that I will not tackle at present are electrical rewiring and work involving gas lines. I have confidence in my abilities but I will leave those to the professionals due to liability issues.

 

There are other topics that we can look at, such as stop ordering carryout or going out to eat all of the time and start cooking. Once again, if you aren’t very knowledgeable about cooking there are plenty of books on the subject and a load of information online. You will be able to choose your own menus and ingredients for health and taste reasons. Everyone has a cooker and refrigerator in the house and if you use it, you will be getting your money’s worth out of it.

 

I have also been my own plumber, plasterer, drywall installer/repairer, concrete work repairer and more. I didn’t know much about any of these issues until I researched them and then put that knowledge into action.

 

The main point of the topic is not so much “saving money”, although completing tasks yourself will achieve that in many cases, it is more a quest to increase knowledge about practical work and become more self-sufficient. Other benefits are that it gives a person a sense of achievement, which is good for mental health, and practical issues involve physical exertion, which is always good, especially if you earn your living in a sedentary occupation.

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The Credit Score

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The truth of the matter is that everyone should strive to use as little credit as possible because credit equals debt. Having said that, most people find that they need to use credit on high ticket items such as vehicles, buying a house, home air conditioning systems, furniture, home repairs etc.

 

The three main credit bureaus in the U.S.A.  are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and the  Creditors and lenders will normally use one of these bureaus to check your credit rating when you apply for credit. The credit bureaus operate by collecting and continuously updating a consumer’s credit rating and then selling that information to businesses in a credit report. Each credit bureau operates independently and issues it’s own rating. Consumers normally know this as their credit score, one number that represents your reliability as a borrower.

 

Credit scores generally range from a low of 300 (poor)  to a high of 850 ( excellent) and the score has a major impact on your credit options. Each individual business has their own model of credit score generation but the final ratings usually fall within a few points of each other. A lower credit score will put you at a disadvantage. You will find that you have less credit options, and the options that are available to you will come with a high interest rate and normally give you less time to pay the loan off. I think that it is always a good idea to get as high a credit score as you can, because you never know when you may need it.

FICO

The Fair Isaac Corporation formulated FICO credit scores. They are an amalgamation of the information found in the major credit bureau files on you. These scores are used by more than 90% of lenders when it comes to granting loans. They are also used when setting the interest rates, monthly payments, terms of each loan and loan approval. The FICO score is something that is normally supplied to many credit card holders on their monthly statements.

 

How To Get And Maintain A Good Credit Score

The first thing you will need is a credit history. If you have never used credit, you will have no credit rating and you will probably find it hard to get a loan.

The easiest way to begin your credit history is by getting a credit card. My suggestion is to use the card and either make sure that you pay it off every  month or keep a low balance on it. The credit history uses data from you “on time” payments, use of the card and length of credit history. You normally find that if you pay off the whole card balance in full every month, you will not be charged interest, but that depends on the individual lender and you should read the small print on your agreement.

After you create a credit history, make sure that you make all of your loan payments by the payment “due date” and keep your debt to 30% or less of the total credit available to you.

The categories generally used to determine your credit score is:-

Payment History – 35%

Credit Utilization – 30%

Length of Credit History – 15%

Mix of Accounts – 10%

New Credit Inquiries – 10%

 

The two most important factors, according to the above figures are the payment history and the credit utilization. Payment history is self explanatory – pay on time, every time. Credit utilization is a calculation of the total available credit you have versus your total debt. If you can keep the ratio of debt to credit below 30% then you should be in good shape.

Example –   Total Available Credit = $30,000

                     Total Debt = $9000

                     Credit Utilization = 30%

 

You never know when you may need credit and it doesn’t hurt to build yourself a good credit score for potential use.

If you can build and maintain a good score you will be able to take advantage of the best offers, such as:-

0% interest  finance loans for several years with no prepayment penalties

18 month + 0% interest credit card offers

9% or less APR credit cards

4% or less mortgage loans

And more

 

People with bad credit can still obtain credit but the interest rates are normally extortionate. Unfortunately,  the people who pay the most interest on loans are the people who can least afford it, or the people who have neglected to cultivate their credit score.

I once saw a 70 point drop in my credit score due to one minor monthly payment that I forgot about. The minimum payment was so small that I could have easily paid the amount many times over. The payment was to a store type credit card, and I paid the forgotten payment the following month. I had been an account holder for several years, and I had used it, and got to a zero dollar balance several times over that time. This was the first time that I had missed a payment. This didn’t matter to the company. It took about a year to rebuild the credit score to a very good level. The company involved, was so fast to react to this one missed payment in my history of being a reliable customer that I payed off the whole thing the month after that and shredded the card, never to be used again. These things happen and it is inconvenient, try not to let it happen to you.

 

Yes, the system has the advantage. I am not advocating the system and I am not advocating borrowing money, but if we are diligent, we can use the special offers that are available to a person with an excellent credit score as a useful financial tool.