Yesterday we talked about DIYing to save money.  There is actually something to save when you buy, too.  Sometimes what you save by buying is even more precious than money…it is time.

Time is absolutely required for all DIY projects.  Some need a little time and some need a lot of time.  When pondering DIY or buy, you must factor in the value of your time.  Is the money you might save from DIY worth the time you will have to invest in the project?  Or will it consume too much of your time, making it worth spending the money to buy?

Personally, if I had all the time in the world and no other demands for that time, I would DIY everything.  Unfortunately, I do not live in that fantasy world.  In the real world I have to make trade-offs.  I have to strike a balance between DIY and buy.  That balance directly impacts the balance in my life…being able to have time for the most important things and being responsible with my money.

If you are new here, allow me to introduce how valuable time is to me.  I work outside the home full-time 5-days a week in a very demanding job, and my husband works full-time as well.  We have two boys, ages 5 and 2.5.  On top of all that, I blog very regularly 5 days a week and offer e-decorating services.  And, somewhere in there I manage to squeeze out a few DIY projects.  My point is, I understand how precious time is.  Sadly, my beloved DIY goes by the wayside when I have a long week at work or one of my boys is ill.  I have to prioritize my time around lots of competing demands.  So, sometimes I buy instead of DIY.

With respect to my time, there are three main reasons I will buy over DIY; affordability, value of time, and lack of time.


I’ll be honest, one of the primary reasons I work full-time is because I enjoy my income.  It helps us afford our beautiful home and the fine furnishings in it.  I work especially hard and enjoy spending some of that hard-earned cash.  When I see something in a store I love or have wanted for a long time, and it is within my budget, I will treat myself and buy it.  If an item I like is affordable for me, I almost always buy instead of DIY.  The fact is I just don’t have a lot of time to DIY and when I do it needs to be for truly special things, not saving a buck or two.

Value of Time

Because my time, your time, all of our time is valuable.  There are only 24 hours in a day and that cannot be changed.  We each need time for our family, friends, faith, and ourselves.  If I am going to take my valuable time to DIY something to save money, it needs to be a decent amount of money saved to make it worth the time.  Time spent on DIY projects pulls me away from other things I want to spend time on.  Luckily for me, I am perfectly happy spending my “me time” DIYing.  But let’s be real, how much “me time” does a working mother of two actually get?

When a DIY project threatens to take time away from other important things in my life, I reconsider.  I either skip the project or opt to buy to save my time.  I am going to use Halloween costumes as my example here.  I decided when I had my oldest, I wanted to make his costume every year.  Naturally, if I had more kids I would make theirs too.  (Yes, in my head I am super mom.)  I made costumes his first two years (Elvis and a skunk).  Then the third year I was pregnant with his brother.  I was pregnant and sick.  With working and being sick, my time became very limited.  That year I decided to let him wear a store-bought Spiderman costume.  That year my time and energy were better spent enjoying his last days as an only child and keeping my pregnancy healthy, than toiling away making a costume.

Baby Owl and Spider Halloween Costumes


Since that year, I have made my oldest one Halloween costume (spider) and my youngest two handmade Halloween costumes (owl and caterpillar).  Last year my oldest wanted to be Ironman, so we went store-bought again.  It gave me more time to focus on the caterpillar for his brother.  This year my youngest fits into his big brothers spider costume, so we are going with the hand-me-down for him.  I will use my time this year to focus on a handmade costume for my oldest.

I felt some mommy guilt for while over not being able to make each and every costume they wear.  In the end, I realized the trade-off is more time with them to do fun fall activities.  They like mommy’s costumes, but they like the store-bought ones too.  This year I am hoping my oldest will help with his costume, making the time spent working on it do double duty as time to bond with him.

Lack of Time

This sort of goes hand in hand with the value of time, but there is one subtle difference.  With a lack of time, I mean you simply would not have enough time even if you gave up all your time with family, friends, faith and me time.  A lot of us avid DIYers struggle with buying something that we know we could DIY.  It’s like a pride thing.  The problem is if you don’t have the time, you are not actually going to get the DIY project done.  In that case, you either are going to go without or spend money on DIY supplies for something you never complete.  You might be better of buying the original thing you wanted.

A great example here is our naïve and unrealistic plan of DIYing the drywall in our $1000+ sq ft basement.  We had never hung drywall before, but to save money we planned to give it a go.  Our plan was crazy…we absolutely did not have time to DIY the drywall.  Cutting corners to save time on a drywall project would not have resulted in pretty walls.  As we got closer to the drywall stage, we got nervous.  We were nervous about actually doing the work, but even more nervous about how long it would take us.  Finally we decided the lack of time we had would prevent us from being successful.  We dipped into our savings and decided to pay the contractor to do the drywall.  In the end, we saved our own personal time, but also we significantly shortened the duration of the project.  Pro drywallers hung the drywall, taped, mudded, sanded and primed in a week.  We decided we would reserve our limited time for more approachable DIY projects, like painting the walls and installing trim.

How do you balance your time when it comes to DIY or buy?  Which is more valuable to you…saving time or saving money?

Check out the rest of the posts in the DIY or Buy series here.



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7 Responses to Buy to Save Time

  1. wendy says:


    Great post! You’re absolutely 100% right on about time being so precious. I’m almost always willing to pay a little bit more and/or to have “one-stop shopping” if it saves me time. I want to have my family get the very best of me and my time, not get what’s left over. Enjoying your 31 Days series–thanks for being my morning cup of coffee!

  2. Over the past couple years I’ve been working on home improvement projects in my “spare time”. Even though it’s been time consuming and is taking longer than if I just hired someone to do it, I’m learning so much in the process and am so passionate about it. The downside is that I haven’t been spending as much time with my son and husband on the weekends. Managing my time effectively has been the most challenging thing in my life right now.
    Thanks for another great post.

  3. wendy says:

    P.S. Forgot to mention earlier how darn adorable those boys of yours are in their Halloween pic above! Love their costumes—whether they’re store-bought or homemade! :)

  4. Oh my mercy, those costumes are too cute! Great tips once again!!

  5. Jenna says:

    Amen! :)

    I’d say over the past year or so, I’ve come to the realization that my time is precious! I didn’t really value that before. Where my husband might do anything to save a buck, I’m learning that the time I put into isn’t always worth the buck saved. Thanks for the affirmation. :)

    I felt the SAME way you felt about the Halloween costumes, only I felt it about my kid’s birthday cakes. I’ve learned to compromise. I generally will buy a store bought cake with plain icing, and then decorate it at home however the kids want! They still get “custom” cakes to their choosing, but I don’t have to mess with baking and icing. A non-stressed Mommy is so much better then a fancy cake with a stressed out Mom!

  6. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this! I love being crafty and making things, but do not have the time for everything. At any given time I have several unfinished projects, not to mention a very unfinished home which makes me feel guilty. But spending time with my little one is worth all the imperfection.

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