I’m taking a brief break from blogging while I finish one last home project. More on that in a moment.
Want to retire early? One of my best tips is this:
Do it yourself!
Here are some things that I do myself:
- Mow the lawn
- Cut my hair
- Change the oil and perform maintenance on the cars
- Basic repairs around the house
Twenty dollars here and twenty dollars there add up to tens of thousands over decades.
My favorite DIY activity is home improvement. For most* projects, If I can do something, there is no way I’m paying someone for it. The advantages are many:
- Saving loads of money: In many projects such as tile setting, electricity and plumbing, the labor costs far more than the materials. By doing these tasks and others myself, I’ve saved at least $100,000 on my own home remodel.
- No unreliable contractors: Ever have workers not call you back, not show up or not honor the terms of their contract? For me: All. The. Time.
- No sloppy contractors: Many times, the “pros” aren’t so professional. Take your time and you’ll do a great job.
- It’s not hard: The best tool in the world is free and it’s called YouTube.
- No contractors having mental breakdowns in your driveway: Yes, this happened. I hired some guys to help me with framing. Halfway through the project, one of the guys found out his wife was cheating on him. This led to some interesting screaming episodes among the workers. It was like having a live soap opera right in the driveway.
- Tremendous sense of achievement: It is wonderful to step back after you’ve completed a big project and look at your work.
Anyway, I’m now working on my final major project! Holy crap, it feels good to type that. We’ve been at it for almost 3 years, far longer than I anticipated. But now, we’re near the end.
Our home has these ugly 4×4 posts holding the roof up around the deck:
Every time I look at them, I cringe in horror.
Anyway, I came up with a way to pretty them up. I’ll add a second false post, put stacked, slate tile around the bottom, a concrete cap halfway up and cover the remaining wood with a nicer material:
I’m in the middle of this project now. Here is what it looks like as of this morning:
I enjoy the work, but it can also get monotonous at times. To amuse myself, I got out my Sharpie marker and added some easter eggs. When someone tears down my work in 50 or 100 years, there will be some surprises for them.
This is my all time favorite investing quote. It is often attributed to Warren Buffett, but was actually uttered by his mentor, Benjamin Graham:
Charlie Munger is brilliant. I hang on every word that comes out of his mouth:
Construction at the 1500 household isn’t always a bowl of cherries:
Am I evil? Maybe just a little bit**:
Who doesn’t like a little Warren Buffett wisdom?
My grandmother was a child of the Great Depression. She knew exactly what to do with money and didn’t hesitate to give me this advice every time I saw her:
I took her words to heart. Thanks Grandma!
*Some projects like rough carpentry and drywall have cheaper costs of labor. Unless the project is small, I usually outsource here.
**The only thing someone will find if they follow my treasure map is disappointment.
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