Some of the best ways to save money come from doing it yourself (DIY). Quick 5 minute YouTube videos are sometimes all you need to fix a fridge, replace a door handle or propagate a plant. Here’s a collection of our favourite DIY money saving projects we’ve completed, as well as stories from the wider frugal community and their DIY wins!
I grew up in a very DIY household. I was the 6 year old who would be asking Dad to hammer nails in pieces of wood, or help paint a fence. Both my parents love renovating, so we were always doing up either our house or a rental. So when Laura and I bought our house together, I couldn’t wait to put our own touches on the place. It was then I realised, while I wanted to get stuck in, I really didn’t know the proper way or technique to complete each project. Then I discovered YouTube videos and I was hooked!
- Money Saving DIY Projects We’ve Completed
- Painting interior doors and trims
- Replacing Door Handles
- Propagating indoor plants
- Unclogging bathroom sink
- Reupholstering/upcycling furniture
- Restoring wooden furniture
- Replacing a pop-up sprinkler
- Fixed microwave
- Fixing TV
- More DIY Money Saving Projects from the Frugal Community
- Modern FImily
- Money In Your Tea
- Frugality and Freedom
- Taming The Budget
Money Saving DIY Projects We’ve Completed
Quick disclaimer: We only took on projects we knew we had the ability to do and posed no danger or threat to ourselves. If you think a professional needs to fix something, leave it to them!
Painting interior doors and trims
When we’d first moved in, the previous owners had just painted the walls (win!) but not the trims and doors, which were still a dark stained timber. We wanted that gone and fresh white instead.
This was our first ‘big’ renovation upgrade on our house (in comparison to little 5 minute upgrades!). We watched around 3-4 YouTube videos on everything from how to sand the timber back, how much paint should be on the brush, how to achieve even strokes and even how many coats of primer vs top coat.
Watching those gave us the confidence to start in the study (the least visible room in the house) so if we stuffed up, we could try again or bring in the pros. Aside from pulling off a little paint on the walls from taping up (bad paint job on the walls apparently!) the trims and doors came up a treat.
It took us a total of a few weeks, working a few hours every few nights and on the weekends to complete the job. We’d listen to podcasts and chat about them together as we painted, it was such a fun process and we loved every minute of it – well maybe not the sanding, but the painting definitely!
Total out of pocket cost was just under $300 for the paint, paint brushes, tape, masks and painting sheet.
Estimated savings: $2700AU for a paint crew
Replacing Door Handles
In order to paint our doors white, the old door knobs needed to be removed and replaced. They were both filthy and tarnished. This required a couple of searches on YouTube to find the right style of door knob removal video. We found what we were looking for and had each handle off in 5-10 minutes.
Estimated savings: ~ $50-100AU for a handy man
Propagating indoor plants
This was a new one from the other night. We’d been rearranging the room and I wanted some more indoor plants. Looking at Bunnings, if we wanted another Philodendron and Devil’s Ivy, they were both $20 each…
So I looked up how to propagate both of them on YouTube. Thank you Miss Jacqui T!
Within a couple of minutes we had some cuttings sitting in water from our plants, and a week later you can see the roots starting to grow. Success!
Estimated savings: ~ $40AU for two new plants
Unclogging bathroom sink
No one likes a clogged sink. This one took a couple of methods, but was a great learning experience.
First stop this time was WikiHow with 4 Ways to Unclog a Drain. It was late at night so the first method I used was boiling water, bicarb and vinegar. This temporarily unclogged it, but it was back to blocked in the morning. We then grabbed a plunger from Dad (thanks Dad!) and making sure we had enough water in the sink, we had that bad boy cleared in under a minute. It’s been fine since, and that was months ago (yay!).
Estimated savings: ~ $50-100AU for a plumber
After taking a walk around the block, we found an old day chair left sitting on the side of the road. The shape and frame was in good condition, it was just the fabric that was worn and ugly in gold and brown hues.
We walked it back home and started looking up videos on How To Reupholster A Chair. In half an hour, we were at the shop grabbing a staple gun, some material and two spiked strips to finish off along the back of the chair.
This job was more about sustainability and learning a new craft together rather than saving money. In the end, we spent around $120AU all up – the cost of a new chair. However, I think after working on the chair ourselves and bringing it new life, it holds much more value to us than just buying new off the shelf.
This activity also makes for a great no-tech date activity as a couple!
Estimated savings: ~ $0
Restoring wooden furniture
Similar to reupholstering an old chair, we also restored an old wooden table. We’d been searching for an outdoor table and chairs set but couldn’t find any thing that suited our needs or budget. Most large settings (6 people or more) were around $900 for the style we wanted.
Chatting to Laura, I said I’d have a quick look on Gumtree and see if anyone was giving away old tables we could use in the meantime. Then we stumbled upon something greater than we could’ve imagined.
What started off as a worn table sitting in a shed for 50 years turned out to be a late 1800s wind out extendable table. Out came the sander and varnish, and with a few coats and elbow grease she came up beautiful! Not bad for free! (The mismatched chairs were another Gumtree find – 8 for $40 😆)
Estimated savings: ~ $900+
Replacing a pop-up sprinkler
Who knew replacing a pop-up sprinkler was like screwing in a lightbulb? The hardest thing about this fix was making sure I didn’t get any dirt in the sprinkler connection. Thank you 5 minute YouTube video!
Estimated savings: ~ $50-100AU for a plumber/landscaper.
We’d owned our microwave for 4 years and for at least two of those you had to slam the door for it to shut properly. This was such a pebble for us!
After one particularly hard slam, I’d had enough and went to YouTube. Turns out it wasn’t just me but an issue with the particular microwave model. The fix? Grabbing a screwdriver and pulling off the back of the unit, then lifting up a certain section – just slightly – and rescrewing everything back together. I then popped a drop of sewing machine oil on each door hook and bam (or rather, no bam!). It was the best the microwave had ever shut in its life.
We still ended up slamming it for a few days out of habit mind you!
Estimated savings: ~ $50-100AU for an Electrician or $150AU+ for a replacement.
This has been my favourite fix so far. Right in the middle of a harrowing dragon battle on Game Of Thrones, we got a loud pop, a whiff of smoke and the black screen of death. Now that’s some 4D effects!
One friend said – what a great excuse to get a new one! However, we weren’t ready to give up just yet.
We hit the tube and soon realised the most common cause of our issue was a blown fuse. So we hunted around on eBay and could only find what we were after from China. $1.40 and 2 months later and our part had arrived. (We don’t watch much TV so waiting that amount of time was a non-issue for us)
Full disclosure here – my brother is an electrician, so we got him to solder on the new part. As a quick reminder, we wouldn’t attempt any DIY we think is dangerous or best left for a professional.
The cute ending of this story, is that the TV is still working 2 years after this fix, and we just gifted it to my brother and his girlfriend who will get a lot more use out of it than us currently. Our no-TV life is a story for another time though!
Estimated savings: $2000AU+ for a replacement of the same size and quality.
While there are plenty more money saving DIY projects we’ve done, we think it’s time to hand the reigns over to the wider community to see where they have saved money and how. If you want to know more about us, you can head over to our About page or read our FIRE journey so far.
More DIY Money Saving Projects from the Frugal Community
We reached out on our Instagram to others to see how much they had saved through DIY jobs both big and small.
Here’s a few of their DIY money saving adventures:
These ladies are also frugal DIY pros. This is just some of the money saving DIY ideas and hacks they’ve done:
- Fixed our refrigerator door that was making an odd clicking noise and coming off the hinge through a quick YouTube video. It just needed a $2CA part, shipped to our house for free and about 15 minutes of work.
- Learnt how to make our own coffee at home and work.
- Grow our own herbs
- Learnt how to clean tough appliances.
- Taught ourselves how to cook different meals (instead of going out to eat).
- My wife fixed our baby monitor which turned black on us randomly just by tinkering with it. That was $200CA in savings right there.
- Painting our walls and decorated all our walls in our house with our own artwork.
- How to use apps like VarageSale, LetGo and OfferUp as well as sites like CraigsList (US) and Kijiji (Canada) to buy and sell goods for a fraction of the cost.
- How to keep back spending urges and buy items after season when they are 70-90% off.
Money In Your Tea
Kari and her family have made some HUGE savings over time through various projects – mainly centred around home ownership. Some great tips in here!
We’ve done small and medium home renovation projects, tracking expenses, meal planning, cooking and self-directed investing.
As for DIY savings, I’m sure it’s easily over $100,000CA+ over our 20 years of home ownership. We’ve done most of the painting, but also much bigger things like taking out a wall, drywalling, installing wood floor, minor electrical like replacing outlets (major electrical we leave to the pros), demolition, building a deck, and acting as a contractor when we need to hire someone else.
While I would’t say any of our renovations have been “easier” than we expected. In some cases we’ve run into complications along the way, which would have happened regardless of whether we’d paid contractors or done the work ourselves. My recommendation on renovating is to push yourself a bit, but also recognise when you need to call in a professional.
In our first house, we ripped out the kitchen and the splintery old hardwood floors throughout the main floor, and hauled everything to the dump ourselves. We installed the new subfloor. And drywalled an arch between the kitchen and dining room. But we hired a flooring installer to put in the new hardwood, hired a tile guy to do the kitchen backsplash, and the company where we bought the kitchen cabinets installed them for us. Then we painted the walls ourselves. Doing the demolition and prep yourself is a great way to save money but also get a professional look, on a bigger project.
Here’s a before and after of their kitchen:
In our current house, we recently knocked out a (non-load-bearing) wall on the second floor and installed a new wall. This gave us a master bedroom with a dressing room, and a separate bedroom for our youngest daughter so she didn’t have to share with her sister anymore. We installed hardwood flooring ourselves, but hired an electrician to install lights and ceiling fans. This summer I ripped out the awful carpet in the hallways and on the stairs. So. Many. Staples! Then I discovered stick-on vinyl tile underneath. Ugh. But with perseverance I got it all off, and then with a good sanding and a couple of coats of varnish, it looks fabulous!
One of the downsides to DIY is that you can easily get busy with other things, and renovations drag on far longer than if you hire someone. And the last 5% never seems to get done, like finding a new door handle.
Google and YouTube are great sources of information on how to do small DIY repairs and some bigger jobs too. Somewhere I heard it recommended that if Home Depot has a class on it, you can probably do it yourself. If not, hire a pro. Be careful with electricity. Changing out a light fixture for a new one is a DIY task, but rewiring a room should be left to a pro.
Estimated savings: Over $100,000CA over a 20 year span in home ownership!
The Frugal Source
I watched YouTube videos on how to fix the dryer. The fix was just a belt that had come loose. Free fix!
Estimated savings: Minimum $350AU for a new dryer.
Frugality and Freedom
I watched YouTube clips to learn how to pour espresso shots and froth milk with my office’s fancy coffee machine (bonus: free coffee beans to use too).
Estimated savings: $4.50AU a day or $1642.50AU if drinking one cup a day over a year!
Taming The Budget
French! I was paying for [French] lessons and now I do it by books and YouTube videos.
Estimated savings: $1600AU a year
You can read more about Taming The Budget on their Instagram.
So, in what areas of your life have you saved money through a DIY project and a quick YouTube video? Or, are there any projects around your house that you’re now inspired to fix after this read? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
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