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October 28, 2008


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Change the oil in your car yourself and you can save a little. Granted, I don't do it...practically everyone I know does. I prefer the " point inspection" FWIW.

Nonetheless, you can save money by changing your own oil, etc.

Car repair. In the past 2 years and on 3 cars I have saved several thousand dollars. For 80% of car repair you need nothing more than a ratchet wrench set, and a screwdriver. When they build cars they want them to go together as easy as possible with as many standard parts as possible, which makes replacing parts a snap. And don't buy that "modern cars use computers" like it is a bad thing. Those computers often times will tell you exactly what is wrong with your car!

For example, I got a check engine light, went to the parts store and had the code read, it said 'bad front O2 sensor,' I bought a new one and screwed it in and boom - car fixed. I got it quoted at a shop and it was $300 when I did it for $30.

Never mind the satisfaction of telling the mechanic to shove off!

One thing though, I stopped changing the oil in my car. It is dirty, time consuming, and you don't save much money. I had an oil leak once when I was bringing the dirty oil back to the shop and it ruined about $70 worth of stuff, negating about 3 years of oil changes!

You can save lots of money by doing your own home improvement projects. My website is totally devoted to that.

We do all those things ourselves and minor car repair as well. Mr. M always does the oil changes, he doesn't mind getting dirty and with my car it saves a bundle. Jiffy lube and those kind of places don't stock the oil filter for my car so the only place you can take it is the dealer, who charge an arm and a leg. We go to the dealer once a year and load up on filters and the stupid gasket they have on the oil pan plug and do it ourselves.

I can attest to cooking meals at home. I used to eat out all the time. Now when I eat out, I use some techniques to cut the cost almost in half (which I'll be writing an article on later this week). But, I cook at home about 10 times more now and it's great (for health and finances).

1. Cooking at home - yep, we usually eat out about twice a week, keeping it under $40 total

2. Home repairs/improvements - everything but the roof on our home I've done - painting exterior & interior, adding outlets & switches, new toilet, installing a dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.

3. Personal care - I get my hair cut for free from my sister-in-law in return for doing her taxes, so does my wife - this saves us hundreds each year.

4. Clothing repair - don't buy expensive clothes, so when they wear out I use them as rags or donate. I do know how to sew on buttons though, which comes in handy now and then.

5. Lawn & home care - yep, do all this myself.

I believe "managing your finances/investment" is a critical item missing from this list. It is much better to learn the ropes & do things on your own instead of "trusting" an agent/broker. Besides being cheap (no loads & lower expense ratios by selecting index funds), it also gives you a better sense of control on your finances... Considering this was written by Liz, I'm surprised she skipped this one!

My haircut/color is my splurge. I offset the cost by only going every 6 months. I'm fairly certain if I tried to color my hair, it would come out orange.

I still do the oil myself. I save some money and I know that it is getting done properly. Plus, I don't have to wait. Further, I just like working on my car.

Beyond that, I found a local car graveyard that lets you pick and pull the parts yourself. They have flat costs for parts, so you know exactly what it will cost, and you get to determine if you are satisfied with the condition of the part yourself.

I have a 2002 Chevy Malibu, and the one thing that seems common is that the circuit board for the climate control seems to go on the fritz. I found one and paid $12 and did it myself (about 45 minutes including part procurement). I would have paid well over $100 for the part, and I am sure labor would have been far in excess of $50.

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