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August 07, 2012 | By: Kerri Barreca

Give DIY a try.

My Great Aunt Nancy goes to the hair salon every Saturday morning to get her hair washed, dried and curled. This has been a ritual for who knows how long. She is widowed and living on a very limited budget to say the least. I offered once to lend her my hair dryer and curler set thinking this might help her save a bit of money. That went over just about as well as the time I tried to buy a hot wax kit in the pharmacy for myself and instead she insisted on booking a session for me with the beautician. We clearly have very different views on when 'do-it-yourself' type projects are appropriate and when you should leave it up to the professionals.

I just don't get it. Is there a generation gap? Does she lack the confidence to do it herself? Maybe the whole experience of going out to the salon in my Great Aunt's case is more social than anything and that's why she can't give it up. To be fair, I did venture out to the spa one day to see what a facial is all about. It was nice I suppose but for $90, that is most definitely something I could have done myself at home for a fraction of the price. No I don't own a fancy steam machine but I can just as easily put some boiling water in a pot and let that steam clear my complexion. And sure, the first time I waxed my own legs it was a little messy but practice makes perfect. I love that I can trim my bangs, do my nails and even manage an up-do fit for a bridesmaid by myself. It just takes practice (and maybe a few YouTube tutorials as well!).

Do-it-yourselfing is certainly not limited to personal grooming. I remember when my dad redid the floors with wood. This project took him longer than it would have taken professionals but I'm sure he saved a bundle. If you are in good shape and have the time, then why not mow your own lawn, shovel the snowy driveway or cook a meal instead of going out. Being autonomous rather than depending on others is empowering and can save you some cash. However, there are some limits that should be respected. Anything to do with plumbing, electricity or car repairs could be not only dangerous if you aren't properly trained but could end up costing you more in the long run if matters are made worse by any amateur errors. If you are determined to do these projects yourself either take a class or have someone show you the ropes who is experienced.

I challenge everyone to think of one thing they can learn to do by themselves rather than paying for someone else to do this service for us. My most recent tutorial was in changing a bicycle inner tube. I knew it was easy since every time I'd gone to the shop with a flat tire the mechanic took no more than five minutes to do the job and then charged me 20 bucks. I got sick of that pretty fast and asked my dad to show me how it's done. After all, they do say that if you teach a man to fish he will never be hungry!

While my Great Aunt may be unwilling to compromise on her salon days, she has at least stopped booking beauty treatments for me; we have agreed to disagree on this particular issue. If you too indulge in these types of things, give the home version a chance once in a while and who knows maybe you could find a hidden talent!


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