Wealth does not equal money but we often mess both. We say “make money” instead of “make wealth” and we use the work for money, not for wealth. This is probably the reason why very few people think about do-it-yourself projects as a source of alternative income.
Photo by M J M at Flickr
Why Doing Things Yourself IS Alternative Income
Because when you create or fix things you are adding to your wealth. If you grow vegetables in your garden or fix your car, you are adding to your wealth. Since you are not earning money directly it may be harder to measure your income, but it’s still there.
In fact when you do things yourself you are producing income (wealth) in more direct way than when you work for money. The money is just a medium, so if you earn money you don’t immediately increase your wealth. That happens only after you use the money. Having millions of dollars in your bank account doesn’t make you rich, because you could eventually lose them all in Vegas tomorrow. With do-it-yourself you are building your wealth in the most direct and the least resource-wasting way, because there are no mediums.
Of course, that’s the theory. In practice only few do it yourself projects make sense.
When Doing Thinks Yourself Makes Sense?
It would be crazy if I was advocating to do everything yourself. In fact people in the ancient age have done everything themselves, and you know they didn’t live well at all.
Sure, you could buy books, learn and build your car completely from scratch. The indisputable effect of this would be that you would have a car for free and thus saved the money for purchasing one. But how much time would you have spent building it and what would be the quality of such a car? No doubt, such a do it yourself project does not make sense at all.
Doing things yourself is profitable when you are more effective in producing wealth directly than you are when using money as a medium. In theory, everyone should just do what they are best at and buy other stuff from the people who are best in that. This is the way the modern economy functions and if it was ideal there would be no point in doing things yourself.
In reality there are factors which make do-it-yourself projects a considerable option for earning alternative income:
- People are good in more than one thing. Fortunately we have not turned in the robots that the modern society probably wants us to be. We may be specialized at work, but there are more things that people do great. For example only a very small percentage of people are professional cooks but many of us cook well and like to cook things at home.
- People have different passions. Very often what we work for money is not exactly the thing we are most passionate about. Sometimes we just enjoy doing things but we don’t do them for money. Measuring passion as a factor which makes a do-it-yourself project lucrative is hard but the factor exists.
- The items we buy are overpriced. When you buy stuff from the groceries you pay a lot more than the real cost of the item. You pay profit for the producer, transportation costs, storage costs, reseller profits, advertising, packaging, taxes/vat, insurance and more. For some items, like a computer for example these things are probably too small compared to the tremendous research/innovation/engineering value in the item that you can hardly reproduce yourself. But when you are buying a tomato and its real cost is just 10% of its price, you may think about growing the tomato yourself.
There are several important questions that you must ask yourself before involving into a do it yourself project:
- Do you enjoy or at least not hate the activities required. Emotional benefits and costs are hard to measure, but if you hate woodworking, don’t build a shed yourself.
- Are you good in what is required for your do it yourself project. If you are truly pathetic in something, face the reality and leave it to professionals.
- How much is your time worth and can you use this time to earn money? If for one hour of your time you earn $20 and making a stool yourself will take you 50 hours, it may be a bad idea to make a stool yourself. You’ll find one for much less than $1,000. However such simple equation is valid only if you can and want to earn money with your main activity in the time you could spend for the do it yourself project. Many people work fixed hours for a fixed salary. In such case even a do it yourself project which “pays you” much less than your hourly rate might make sense, because you are saving money and adding wealth.
There are really complex factors to consider when evaluating the use of a do it yourself project. Although all things you do yourself add to your wealth, not all of them will be efficient.
Do It Yourself Ideas
Considering the above factors, what kind of do it yourself projects will make sense to you? I can only guess, so I’m leaving for you to choose. Here are some ideas:
- Do it yourself home improvements. This activity is very popular among everyone. Only you know best how you want your home to look like and considering the prices of such services, doing home improvements yourself is worth it very often – especially if you have skilful hands.
- Do it yourself website. For people like me it makes a lot more sense to do a website ourselves rather than paying for it to someone. But if you are not a techie and have no idea what is all about, you’ll need a lot of time to create your small business website yourself and chances are it will suck.
- Do it yourself auto repair. Once again it all depends on your expertise and willing to lie under the car.
- Do it yourself crafts and gifts. Hand-made crafts and gifts are very valuable and an excellent way to add to your wealth. Again, you need skilful hands.
- Growing food yourself. If you have a garden, growing fruits and vegetables is pretty easy thing to do. Your own food is not only an addition to your budget (again thinking wealth, not money) but also a way to be sure in the quality of the food.
There are a lot more things you could do yourself, the question is when it’s economically efficient and when it’s better to just buy or purchase.
The best thing about do it yourself, which makes it better compared to earning alternative income by freelancing is that you are your own customer. The chances to satisfy yourself are better and the risk of not receiving the wealth (think not being paid when freelancing) is smaller.