Personal Finance

Doing This Maintenance Project Myself Saves My Family Over $1,000 a Year

mature woman lying down on deck with her head resting against a beagle -- pet dog owner

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It’s not a fun task. But the savings are big.


Key points

  • Maintenance is an ongoing expense when you own a home.
  • The more work you do yourself, the less you’re apt to spend.
  • You can save quite a bit of money by doing your own deck maintenance.

My husband and I are what you’d consider busy people. We have kids to take care of, a dog to chase after, and full-time careers that keep us chained to our desks for more hours than we’d care to admit. My husband and I are also both involved in our kids’ extracurricular activities (him more so than me, as he actually leads our local Cub Scout den). 

Because we’re so perpetually pressed for time, there are certain home maintenance tasks we opt to outsource. Take lawn care, for example. We pay about $900 a year to have a service come in and cut our grass every week from April through October. It’s a cost we can easily justify, as it frees up time in our schedules and doesn’t break the bank.

But there’s one home maintenance task we make a point to do ourselves due to the savings involved. And while it’s an annoying one, it’s an easy enough project to handle.

Deck maintenance is all us

My house has a wooden deck attached to it, and each year, that deck needs to be cleaned and sealed or repainted. It’s not a fun project because it means spending hours outside (sometimes in the heat) and giving up a weekend. But doing the work ourselves easily saves us over $1,000 compared to the host of hiring a service, so it’s worth doing.

When it comes to recurring tasks, like lawn care, my husband and I prefer to go the outsourcing route. What’s more, we always outsource jobs that have the potential to be dangerous (like cleaning our gutters, which would require one of us to climb a very tall ladder). 

But the reason we opt to do our own deck maintenance is that it’s a one-time thing (well, once each year). All we really need to do is carve out a single weekend in the spring to get the job done, and just like that, we’re $1,000 richer (or, more accurately, it’s $1,000 less that has to come out of our bank account). 

Now if we really decided we weren’t up to the task of maintaining our own deck, we could make some budget changes to free up that $1,000. But chances are, that would mean having less money to spend on entertainment and leisure.

During the summer, my family likes to go out and enjoy waterfront dining (we have lots of that where we live). We also like to take different day trips when the weather is warm. Some of those outings are inexpensive or free, but others cost money. And so we’d rather carve out a weekend to do annoying deck maintenance than give up weeks of fun when the weather is nice and cooperative. 

It’s all about choices

When you own a home, you don’t just pay your mortgage every month and call it a day. You’re also responsible for keeping your home in good shape. Sometimes, that means spending money. Other times, it means having to sacrifice downtime to do work yourself.

Ultimately, it’s on you to decide what’s more important — your time or your cash reserves. And it’s okay to split the difference like we do. That may, in fact, be a good way to strike the right balance.

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