UFM: things I’ve in-sourced and things I want to try

This list has been developing over time, and most of these things were things I started doing well before the UberFrugal Month Challenge began. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve been this productive in just sixteen days! But these are some things that I am glad I have “in-sourced” and that I don’t pay absurd amounts of money for anymore:

  • Cutting my own hair. I would only ever go to a salon every six to nine months before, and I always had sticker shock, and even though I loved the way my hair looked immediately after, I didn’t much care the rest of the time. So I watched some videos on youtube, got a good pair of shears that I don’t use for anything else ever, and now every six to nine months I just snip my own hair off. I don’t think it looks noticeably worse; in fact, most of the time I don’t think anyone notices that I cut my hair at all, which is fine with me.
  • Threading my eyebrows. This one I still miss a bit. I can be quite vain about my eyebrows (they are very good brows) and I’m lazy and don’t like to tweeze, so often they are a hot mess (thanks genetics). I used to go to the salon and it was a lot like getting a hair cut: I’d come out feeling fabulous, but within a couple of days I wouldn’t really notice anymore. And unlike haircuts you have to go back every month or so, so the prices are about the same as my six month cut. Now I’ve given up and I tweeze when I think they look unbearable, and try to accept that I won’t ever get them to look as good as they do from the salon. And that’s actually okay.
  • Learning web design. This is a pretty recent development, but I was planning to just pay for it previously, but it’s satisfying and fun to learn a new skill, and I feel much more confident with my computer in general.
  • Biking. As mentioned before on this blog, biking boosts my happiness by at least 10%. When I bike I’m happier, I’m fitter, I have to spend less money on gasoline, and I don’t lose my hard-to-come-by parking spot.
  • Doing my own taxes. I’ve paid to have them done before, and it was nice not to have to think about it, but it also meant I really didn’t understand what was going on, and that decreased my confidence. Now even though it’s more work, it’s satisfying to have a better understanding of the system.

I still have a way to go on things that I could in-source and a lot of excuses for not doing it, most of them around my perceived idea of time and return on investment. But, I tend to think that these are mostly excuses not to change, so here’s a list of the things I’m most interested in learning how to do myself.

  • Change my oil. I don’t understand a lot about my car, and doing even one thing myself would make me feel more comfortable with it. I know there are a lot of arguments for not changing your own oil, like the hassle of finding a proper disposal site, but we have a great property team at work that changes the oil on company vehicles, so I think it would be pretty easy right now to get a quick lesson and not have to deal with the messiness of disposal. Even if I never changed my oil again, I think I’d be glad to know that I knew how.
  • Sewing. Again, taking time and labor into account, I don’t necessarily know that this is really efficient (knitting certainly isn’t), but it seems like it would be a fun, creative outlet, and that has value. Not everything has to be about priming efficiency.
  • Gardening. We don’t have any space here, but fresh produce is such a wonderful treat (and the good stuff is so expensive) that growing my own would be pretty satisfying.
  • Woodworking. I have a really beautiful bookcase that I paid a reasonable amount of money for, but that is essentially pretty basic boards and two by fours screwed together. I feel like I should be able to do this and also charge people reasonable prices for attractive furniture pieces.

I’ll talk to the property director about helping me change my oil this week. Other than that, these other in-sourcing opportunities may have to stay on the list for awhile, but they are nice to think about!