Whether it’s your car, your home, your yard or yourself, everything eventually needs some fixing up. Some things require the services of a professional, but you can do many other things yourself — including home upgrades that only look expensive — and save a bundle. To save some money, see which services you can easily do yourself.
Last updated: April 8, 2020
1. Do Your Own Mani-Pedi
Manicures and pedicures can cost as much as $20 to $50 apiece and sometimes even more, depending on where you go for this luxury service and what extras you purchase. Save money by pampering your nails yourself. You’ll need to purchase some items upfront to DIY, but handling these tasks at home will add up to big savings over time. When doing your own mani-pedi, just stick to the five S’s: soak, scrub, soften, soothe and seal.
2. Give Yourself a Facial
A facial from a high-end spa can run you around $50 or more — but not if you do it yourself at home. The key to a truly great facial is not to cut corners by skipping steps or skimping on products.
Like a mani-pedi, you’ll have to invest in some products before you start. But again, the initial investment will pay for itself over time. You’ll need something for exfoliation like coffee grounds, clay for pore cleansing and skin-calming and rehydrating products.
3. DIY Chemical Peel
A light chemical peel generally costs $150 to $400. But you can save yourself money and a trip to the salon with this inexpensive beauty hack.
It’s worth doing it yourself at home, according to TotalBeauty, with products like Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel. It costs under $50 and promises to give you a brighter complexion, as well as diminish wrinkles and fine lines.
4. Color Boost Between Salon Visits
A color glaze or gloss will run you about $50 at the salon, reports TotalBeauty, but you can boost your color by yourself at home. You’ll add a few weeks between coloring appointments and end up with shiny, glistening hair. Not to mention, you’ll save money in the end. You can find a box of John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Glaze at Walgreens for about $12.
5. Relax Your Hair
The average hair-relaxing treatment costs a brutal $160 at the salon, according to TotalBeauty, but you can get comparable results at home. Try Optimum Salon Haircare — you can buy these relaxers online for about $8 through retailers like Walgreens.
6. Make Your Own Hair Mask
Hair masks can easily cost more than $50. However, Gina Layland, spa manager at Harrah’s Resort Southern California, knows a hair moisturizing treatment that you can do at home.
These are the steps:
1. Using coconut oil, apply generously to hair and leave on for at least one hour — or even overnight — and cover your hair with a cap.
2. Using apple cider vinegar diluted with water, apply to hair from roots to ends. This will strip your hair of any buildup and leave it smooth and shiny.
3. If you’re trying to strip chlorine from hair, sprinkle on some baking soda and massage it into your hair before you wash with shampoo as normal. Make sure to towel dry instead of blow-drying on high heat. If you must blow dry, do so at the lowest setting.
Pro tip: Run a dryer sheet over your hair to tame frizz and flyaways.
7. Groom Your Dog
While buying a dog costs less than having a kid, owning one can still be expensive, especially when you factor in grooming costs. But you don’t need to take Fluffy to a professional and pay $20, $30, $40 or even $90.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you can easily brush, bathe and trim your dog’s nails at home by yourself with just doggy shampoo, a brush and clippers.
8. Prepare Your Own Taxes
Professional tax preparation costs can put a dent in your budget, but millions of Americans can get help filing their federal tax returns for free. The Free File Alliance, for example, is a nonprofit company that provides free electronic tax services through different tax software options.
9. Handle Your Own Investments
If you’re paying for a full-service broker, you’re losing money in commissions that could be going straight into your portfolio. You can invest for free with services like Robinhood and online brokerages like E-Trade.
“This single practice can save the average person tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their investing time frame,” said Trey Henninger, investing blogger at DIY Investing. “Instead of hiring a financial advisor to select what index and mutual funds you should invest in, you can do it yourself with only a little bit of learning on the topics. This simple act can cut your investing expenses by a large margin.”
10. Clean Your Own Gutters
Cleaning the gutters might just be the dirtiest job any homeowner faces. Neglecting them, however, can lead to water damage in both the home’s roof and foundation. The average reported cost to have gutters cleaned by a professional is $100 to $200, according to HomeAdvisor.
11. Make Your Own Cleaners
“Making your own cleaners at home is simple, more cost-effective and also great for the environment,” said Shanika McCloud, founder of Greenplicity.
Here is one of McCloud’s favorite recipes to replace expensive, chemical-based, all-purpose cleaners: In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, along with 2 teaspoons of Castile soap. Add 10 to 20 drops of essential oils of your choice. Replace the cap and shake vigorously.
Use as you would any other all-purpose cleaner for wood, glass, stainless steel and porcelain. Wipe with a microfiber cloth or paper towel. If you are unsure of how a particular surface will react to the cleaner, test on a small area first.
12. Paint Your Home’s Interior
Painting is one of the quickest and least expensive ways to give your home a dramatic makeover. It’s even less expensive if you do it yourself. The average reported cost of having professionals paint your home interior is $1,744, according to HomeAdvisor. But that price can drop to just a few hundred dollars if you do it yourself.
You’ll have to decide on your color scheme and buy supplies such as rollers, brushes, paint tape, paint and primer. You’ll need to remove the furniture, clean the walls and remove outlet covers and switch plates. Next, outline trim, baseboards and edging with paint tape. Finally, apply two coats of paint, and then touch up baseboards, trim and any spots.
13. Paint Your Home’s Exterior
Painting your home’s exterior can beautify your home as well as add curb appeal and value — but it will cost you. The average professional exterior paint job costs around $2,770, depending on square footage, the number of floors and the composition of the material, such as stucco or vinyl siding. You can dramatically reduce that cost by preparing your home for painting and painting some exterior features yourself.
Painting doors can knock off between $70 and $150. Painting the fascia will save you between $500 and $1,000. If you do your own gutters and downspouts, that will save you between $200 and $800.
14. Change Your Oil
The average professional oil change costs $46 if you use conventional oil, according to Angie’s List. To do it yourself, you’ll need some plastic sheeting, rags, a rubber mallet, wrench set, oil pan, safety glasses, funnel, oil filter, oil filter gasket and, of course, the correct motor oil.
15. Replace Your Air Filter
Your car depends on oxygen just like you. Replacing the filter regularly — typically every 15,000 to 30,000 miles — will improve your vehicle’s performance. But getting it done by a professional can run you between $40 and $100 depending on the make and model, according to Angie’s List. It’s fairly easy, however, to clean or replace the filter yourself.
To clean your car’s air filter, just locate the filter, remove it, wipe it clean, clean the housing and then put it back. If it needs to be replaced, just take out the old one, clean the housing and put in the new one.
16. Fix Your Leaky Radiator
“Most people think they’re either going to need a mechanic or a great set of tools to fix a leaky radiator in their car,” said Clayton Parks, vice president of strategic development at Bar’s Products.
“A quicker, more affordable way is to do it yourself with a product that is designed to stop leaks and repair them from within, cooling the system and cleaning out unwanted residue,” he said. Bar’s Leaks 1196 Grey Radiator Stop Leak runs about $5 on Amazon, which is significantly less than you would likely pay for a mechanic’s labor costs.
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17. Repair Your Leaky Head Gasket
A blown head gasket can be one of your most expensive auto repairs. But you can get in front of that expense by plugging the leaks before the gasket is destroyed beyond repair.
“Go to a mechanic, and this could cost you thousands of dollars,” Parks said. “However, there are products out there that can solve this problem without the hassle of a mechanic — and without the cost, as well.”
Try BlueDevil Pour-N-Go Head Gasket Sealer, which costs about $29 on Amazon. All you have to do is pour it in according to the instructions — the solution does the rest.
18. Wash Your Own Car
The average full-service car wash costs $15, according to JBS Industries. It can cost extra for high-end services. And don’t forget the tip. You can avoid all that, however, by washing your own car.
Don’t wait so long that a layer of grime builds up — wash off dead bugs and bird droppings whenever you notice them. Use a dedicated car wash product — not dish soap or detergent, which could be too harsh for your car’s paint — and a soft, nonabrasive cloth or sponge, according to Consumer Reports.
Don’t wash the car when the body is hot, and rinse thoroughly with water to remove surface dirt before you begin. When you’re finished, rinse with a hose that doesn’t have a nozzle, which encourages sheeting. Don’t let the car air-dry. Instead, use a chamois.
19. Tune Up Your Car While You Drive
“You can optimize your car’s gas mileage without taking your car in for a tune-up,” Parks said. “A complete fuel system gas treatment can be used on a regular basis to boost octane, clean and condition lines and improve overall fuel economy, making the money you save go even farther. Most people aren’t aware that these easy, affordable and safe DIY products are out there, but they’re delighted when they find out.”
Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment, for example, runs about $26 per gallon on Amazon.
20. Make Your Body Your Gym
The average gym membership costs roughly $58 a month. You can eliminate that cost completely by using nothing but the body you were born with and gravity.
Whether you want to slim down or bulk up, there are countless workouts, exercises and routines at your disposal. From the common pushup to brutal squat thrusts, there are plenty of exercises you can do that will enable you to reclaim your health without leaving the house. Your options are limited only by your imagination.
21. Brew Your Own Beer
The craft beer market is a $26 billion industry, according to the Brewers Association. No matter how big a piece of that pie belongs to you, you can save money — and have a little fun — by taking up home brewing.
Most beginners start with the malt extract method before they try more advanced methods. You’ll need to make an upfront investment in some supplies, and sanitized equipment is a must.
Basically, you boil water and malt extract, add hops and yeast and seal in a fermenter, which you then monitor for three or four weeks. You then prime the mixture with sugar to encourage carbonation and transfer the mixture to a dispensing container. Finally, you fill, cap and store bottles for two to three weeks to allow for carbonation, at which time the beer will be ready to drink.
22. Make Your Own Wine
The average bottle of wine costs roughly $14 to $15 per bottle, according to Vivino. If you’re a wine drinker, cut down on your expenses by learning the craft of making wine at home. It’s difficult to say how much money you’ll save by making your own wine because the equipment varies dramatically in quality. And, of course, it depends on how much you drink.
The process involves choosing, inspecting and cleaning your grapes, followed by the critical stage of adding juice or “must.” From there, you’ll “rack” the batch and bottle the wine.
23. Roast Your Own Coffee
A common personal finance tip is to make coffee at home instead of buying it on your way to work every day — and that is good advice. You can slash the cost of your daily coffee fix even further by purchasing raw coffee beans and roasting them yourself. The cost of coffee has many variables, from quality to export tariffs in the country of origin, but the cost of roasted beans can be several times the cost of green coffee beans.
You don’t need an expensive roaster. Just roast the beans in a pot on the stove or even in a popcorn maker, according to frugal living expert Lauren Greutman. Either way, the key is to keep the beans moving and flipping the whole time. Remember to open your windows because the stove process lets off some smoke.
You can roast to your own level of darkness, but it generally takes about eight to 15 minutes. You shouldn’t grind or seal the beans for a day or two while they outgas.
24. Grow Your Own Vegetables
Growing your own vegetables is one of the best ways to improve your health and boost your budget. A $70 investment in a 600-square-foot garden can produce 300 pounds of fresh produce with a value of $600 in one season, reported U.S. News & World Report. That’s a net savings of $530.
You can set up a basic backyard garden in one day. Decide what to plant, clear the ground and improve and loosen the soil to get started. Next, plant and water, then mulch and maintain.
25. Make Your Own Lox
Buying lox at your local deli can be pricey, but it’s very easy to make yourself at home — though it does take a little patience. To make it you’ll need 1 1/2 cups of kosher salt; 1 cup of dill, plus more for garnish; 3/4 cup of granulated sugar; 2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed; 1 tablespoon of mace; 3 lemons, zested, plus 1 lemon for serving, thinly sliced crosswise; 3 tablespoons of vodka; and a 2-pound center-cut, skin-on salmon fillet, pin bones removed. Then follow these simple steps from a Vice recipe:
1. Stir the salt, dill, sugar, pepper, mace and lemon zest in a bowl.
2. Place salmon skin-side down on a double layer of plastic wrap. Season the flesh side of the salmon with the salt mixture and sprinkle with your alcohol. Wrap the salmon tightly and place flesh-side down in a baking dish.
3. Chill for 48 hours, then flip, gently massaging the salmon to redistribute brine. Refrigerate for an additional 24 hours.
It should be firm to the touch at the thickest part when it’s ready. To serve, cut the salmon crosswise — while skin-side down on a cutting board — into paper-thin slices and transfer it to a serving platter. Garnish with sliced lemon and dill for the full effect.
26. Prep Your Own Gourmet Pickle Platter
There’s no need to buy pickled peppers and tomatoes when you can easily pickle them yourself at home. Vice recommends using 1 1/3 cup of verjus, 2/3 cup of turmeric vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt as the pickling mixture.
Mix those ingredients together with 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil in a saucer, and then let the mixture simmer. Add in unripened cherry tomatoes and fish peppers. After the veggies are added, bring the mixture back up to a simmer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the entire contents into a heatproof bowl. Let it sit for two to eight hours and voila, you have a pickled spread ready to eat.
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27. DIY Bitters
Instead of seeking out store-bought bitters to add to your bar cart, consider making your own. You probably already have the spices you need, and you can use an orange peel that you probably would have just tossed. Although there are a few steps to making your bitters, it’s cheap to make and will last you a long time.
To get started you will need 2 cups of grain alcohol, 1 teaspoon of dried orange peel (minced), 1 teaspoon of cardamom, 1 teaspoon of coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of caraway (or anise seeds), 4 cups of water and 3/4 cup of sugar.
According to The Spruce Eats recipe, the first step is to infuse the grain alcohol with herbs and spices. Next, infuse water with herbs and spices, and mix it in equal parts with the infused alcohol. Finally, caramelize sugar and once it is cool, add it to the infused water-alcohol mixture. The final product is good for up to 12 months.
28. Opt For Homemade Pasta
Buying packaged pasta is not worth the cost when you realize how simple it is to make your own pasta dough at home. All you need are eggs and flour, according to Vice’s pasta dough recipe.
Make a mound out of 3 1/2 cups of flour, and make an indent at the top to create a well. Add five large eggs to the middle. Use a fork to beat the eggs, and slowly add in flour to the egg mixture. Continue pushing flour up to maintain the well shape. Once you mix it all up into dough, knead it with your hands for about five minutes. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to get the dough to be elastic and slightly sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes — then it’s good to go, and you can make it into whatever shape you like.
29. DIY Yogurt
You can use just a small amount of store-bought yogurt, plus a milk of your choice, to make a batch of homemade yogurt.
Heat a half-gallon of milk in a Dutch oven or saucepan on medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 200 degrees. Let it cool until it is warm to the touch — keep stirring occasionally so it doesn’t form a skin. Place 1/2 cup of commercial yogurt containing active cultures in a bowl, and add a cup of the warm milk. Whisk until the yogurt is dissolved. Then pour the mixture in with the rest of the milk in the Dutch oven, and place it into the oven. The oven should be off, but keep the oven light on to keep the mixture warm. Let it sit for at least four hours or up to overnight — the longer it sits, the creamier and more tart your yogurt will be. Once it’s set, move it to storage containers to refrigerate.
According to this Kitchn recipe, you can save about 75 cents on each quart of yogurt by making your own as opposed to buying it ready-made in the store.
30. Employ Smart Landscaping
When you do your own landscaping, you avoid paying a landscaper and you can lower your annual bills and the overall cost of owning a home. Trees can lower the temperature by 20 to 40 degrees in the summer, which can slash your energy costs by between 20% and 50%, reported U.S. News & World Report.
It takes only three strategically placed trees to save the average homeowner between $100 and $250 a year. With a $135 expenditure, you can beautify your yard, boost curb appeal and save around $115 a year.
31. Dry Clean at Home
With the cost of dry cleaning a two-piece suit running from around $8 to $15, maintaining your professional wardrobe or specific pieces of clothing that can’t be washed can get expensive. But you can alleviate these costs by picking up an inexpensive dry-cleaning kit and doing it yourself at home in the dryer.
You can get a Dryel dry-cleaning kit for around $16 on Amazon. The package contains a booster spray, cleaning cloths and a reusable bag. Each carton can clean up to eight garments without stretching, shrinking or fading them.
32. Mow Your Lawn
You can hire lawn care professionals for flat fees, hourly rates or monthly retainers. The average reported cost of regular lawn care is $742, according to HomeAdvisor. Eliminate this expense by mowing the lawn yourself. You can even make a business out of it to earn some serious income.
Popular Mechanics recommends cutting around the perimeter first and cutting a wide enough collar so you can turn without clipping flowers or hitting obstructions. Leave the blade high — buzz cuts can’t grow deep roots, so they need more water, plus short lawns grow more weeds. Go slow and focus your gaze about 10 feet in front of the mower. The following week, mow the opposite way to even out the direction the grass leans.
33. Prune Your Trees and Shrubs
Pruning trees and shrubs is critical to keeping your plants healthy and radiant. The average reported cost for tree pruning is $412, according to HomeAdvisor. When you do it yourself, you can save money and make your yard more attractive.
34. Install Your Insulation
The average reported cost of having insulation professionally installed is $1,586 for the reflective or rolled variety, which is the pink fiberglass insulation you see in many attics, according to HomeAdvisor. Whether it’s for a drafty attic or a refurbished garage, if you do it yourself, you’ll pay nothing more than the cost of materials.
Make sure you buy insulation that has the right R-value, which indicates its ability to withstand temperature transfer. Keep in mind that different insulation types require different installation methods.
35. Remove a Tree Stump
Americans pay, on average, $297 to have a professional remove a tree stump, reports HomeAdvisor. But if you do this sneaky home expense yourself, you can save money, improve your yard’s appearance, get rid of a potential hazard and make the lawn easier to mow.
Cut off as much of the stump as possible with a chainsaw, then drill holes in the flat surface about 12 inches deep, three or four inches away from the edge. Next, drill horizontal holes through the side, parallel to the ground, to connect with the vertical holes. Pour potassium nitrate stump removal granules, which you can get for less than $10, into the holes, then fill the holes with water. After four to six weeks, the stump will become spongy and soft, according to The Family Handyman, which will enable you to chop it up with an ax and remove it.
36. Seal Your Driveway
Sealing an asphalt driveway can extend its life and help the surface survive difficult winters. But the average reported cost to seal asphalt paving is $412, according to HomeAdvisor. This is a job you can handle by yourself, but only if your driveway is at least six months old. Don’t seal new asphalt.
You’ll need a squeegee tool and a professional sealant, which can cost less than $50. First, clean the debris, dirt and oil off of your driveway and tape the area around it that you don’t want to seal.
Pour a 6-inch-wide bead of sealant out from one side of the driveway to the other, starting at the garage and working toward the street. Use your squeegee tool to spread a very thin film evenly across the entire surface, making sure not to miss any spots. Let everything dry for at least 24 to 48 hours.
37. Be Your Own Mover
Moving is inherently stressful and difficult. If you’re going to save money by doing it on your own, planning is critical. Start preparing about two months before your moving day.
For the few weeks before the big day, you should focus on organization and sort and gather supplies. Around six weeks out, begin numbering boxes and packing nonessential items.
As you get closer, deal with administrative tasks, such as notifying utilities and forwarding medical records. Reach out to friends and family who you might be able to recruit on moving day. Then, strategize how to use up remaining food stores and figure out how to handle your pets and plants.
Stay organized as you go, make and follow a checklist and make defrosting your freezer and fridge the last order of business.
38. Clear Your Clogged Drain
The average cost of clearing a clogged drain is $209, according to HomeAdvisor. But you can tackle most clogs on your own. First, try the plunger. If that doesn’t work, clean the trap under the sink and insert a sewer snake down the pipe. If those efforts don’t work, your last option should be a chemical drain cleaner.
39. Install a New Faucet
The average reported cost to install a faucet is $243, according to HomeAdvisor. By doing it yourself, you can get the job done for as little as $100.
First, you should remove the drain lines from the faucet, according to The Family Handyman. Check for working shutoff valves. If you don’t have them, install them. Measure supply tubes and purchase a basin wrench.
Disconnect the garbage disposal, then disconnect the water supply. Use the basin wrench to loosen and remove the old faucet. Next, place the flange over the faucet opening according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and tighten the faucet-mounting nut.
Then, tighten the flange nut and attach the spray hose to the faucet supply tube. Mark the supply lines for cutting and connect the supply tube to the supply lines.
40. Fix Your Toilet
“Running toilets waste an enormous amount of water in a home — up to 200 gallons each day, adding an extra $50-$70 to the monthly water bill,” said Danny Lipford, host of Emmy-nominated, nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford.”
According to Lipford, worn-out flappers or incorrect water levels are usually the culprits in a running toilet scenario.
“Both of these are easy and inexpensive fixes for homeowners,” he said. “Skip the plumber’s hourly rate of $45 to $150 an hour and manage the water level yourself by adjusting the screw on the top or bottom of the intake valve. Head to the local hardware store for a $5 replacement flapper and follow the instructions to install.”
41. Install Your Own Light Fixtures
“Changing outdated or broken light fixtures in your home not only brightens your decor, but new pendants, chandeliers and wall lights will provide energy savings as well,” said Purav Kapadia, president of lighting retailer Linea di Liara.
The problem, however, is that many homeowners are intimidated by the job and assume they have to hire an electrician, which costs from $50 to $100 an hour, according to HomeAdvisor.
“A more affordable way is to do it yourself,” Kapadia said. “Please make sure that before installation, you disconnect power to the fixture at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Remove the old fixture and follow the instructions supplied with individual lighting products.”
42. Declutter Your Home
With the rising popularity of book author-turned-Netflix star Marie Kondo and home organization Instagram accounts like The Home Edit, home organization and decluttering have become in-demand services. But they can be very pricey. For example, one KonMari consultant who is based in the San Francisco Bay area charges $5,650 for her “core tidy package.”
If you have a lot of mess, decluttering can seem overwhelming, but it’s possible for anyone to do it with some time and patience. Start by making a list of all the rooms in your home, plus each area in each room that needs decluttering. For example, under “kitchen” you might have “under the sink,” “junk drawer,” “freezer,” “refrigerator,” etc. You can start with one room at a time or even one area at a time. Not only can you save money by doing the decluttering yourself, but you can also make money by getting rid of items that you no longer want and reselling them online.
43. Install a New Backsplash
A new backsplash can add an instant upgrade to your kitchen — but it can be a costly upgrade if you hire a professional. The average cost for backsplash installation is $1,000, according to HomeAdvisor.
Thanks to peel and stick backsplashes, this is a home upgrade you can DIY. Peel and stick backsplashes are available in a number of patterns, like subway tile and mosaic tile. Not only are they easy to install, but they’re also very inexpensive. You can find a good variety on Wayfair starting at around $4 per square foot.
44. Remodel Your Closet
Paying a professional to add custom shelves and drawers to your closet can be a pricey undertaking, with costs ranging from $874 to $2,478 on average, according to HomeAdvisor. However, you can buy a closet kit with shelves and drawers included and install it yourself. If you opt for a freestanding unit, no installation is required. You can find closet kits for under $100 on Amazon.
45. Make Your Own Luxury Candle
Candles often cost way more than they are worth — a Diptyque brand candle can set you back $98, for example. Fortunately, you can make candles at home for much less. All you need is some wax, a wick, a pot to melt the wax, a fragrance of your choice like an essential oil and a container. You could even use the container from an already used candle to save money.
Melt the wax in the pot and add your fragrance. Pour the hot wax into the container and place the wick into the container. Use popsicle sticks or pencils across to keep the wick centered in place while the wax dries. Once it’s hardened, your candle is ready to burn.
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