Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Money Matters: Doing Our Own

In our effort to save some moula, we have been looking at things we can do ourselves. Doing it ourselves, instead of paying someone else to do it. Because we want to join the Y down the street. But that money has to come from somewhere, so......we fired our gardener.

If you don't live in suburban Southern California, the fact that everyone has a gardener may seem strange to you. But everyone does. We have lived in 3 neighborhoods in the past 10 years and I can't remember anyone mowing their own grass. Some people did plant flowers, and such, but the weekly mowing and leaf blowing is always done by a guy or team of guys who pull up in a truck and in 20 minutes or less have mowed the grass, blown the leaves, dust and grass clippings into the street and deposited the rest in your trash can. Buzz, whoosh, slam, and they're done.

When we rented, we never paid for the gardener. But as homeowners, this was one more bill to pay. Ours charged $60. It seemed a lot for cutting our little patch of grass and blowing around the leaves. When he hacked almost all of my blackberry bush down, fully ripe fruit and all, simply because it was laying on the driveway, it was the nail in the coffin.

Meet our new gardener.

He doesn't have a leaf blower, but every weekend this fall, he used his trusty rake to rake up all the leaves in our front yard. He also works with 2 young helpers. They don't have a tremendous amount of stamina yet, but they are getting better. Eventually, they'll take over his job.

When we bought the house, Aaron asked the owners if he could keep this push mower that was in the garage. I am sure they thought he was a little odd (he also asked for a vintage vacuum that looks like a rocket) but they agreed. And now, Aaron can be seen mowing our lawn with this very vintage push mower.
He likes to keep things old school.

Look at that baby go.

Yes, it is a bit of extra work and time, but Aaron enjoys it. And we are saving $60 which pays for us to join the Y. That's nothing to sneeze at.
Besides, we're also training Aaron's replacements which you really can't put a price on.

I'd love to know ways you "do your own."
My dear friend Erin has been living in the Philippines for the past 2 years and she has been doing a lot on her own. She even washes her own clothes. And I do mean by hand!

Yours probably won't be that extreme. Still, I'd like to know.
Do you do your own nails? I do.
Cut your kids' hair? I don't.
Do you make your own granola? I do. Sometimes.
Make your own clothes. I don't.

So please, do tell. It will be fun.

* To read the first installment in the Money Matters series, click here.


Mimi said...

this story made me smile! I clean my whole house on my own which is not that exciting because so do you. I cut my kids hair which is such a money saver considering the hoopla some folks attach to that rite of passage. I paint room myself. Opps - no that was you that painted the nursery for Bear. I make Lemon bars. Oops no that you too....

Lillian said...

We have pretty much done it ourselves for years. If we don't do it it doesn't get done. I will qualify that. Stan does not do electrical, or major plumbing. No electrical, because I don't what him to kill himself, and no plumbing, because he hates it so much!!

Four Flights said...

We try as often as we can to do things like wash our own cars, husband changes the oil in the cars, do all the main handiwork around the house, don't buy boxed pancake/waffle mix but make our own from scratch! We did let go of our house cleaner about 3 months ago which is a huge money saver. We did our own lawn for about 2 years but it just got to be too much.

Erin McDonald said...

I am sad to say greta I havn't washed my own cloths in months BUT we did find between the water, soap and the XL Cloths it was well worth it to send it out to get cleaned. Labor is cheep here too so I am saving sending it out for real!and Now my Cloths get all shrunk back down to their normal size! BUT I will be doing it al by hand once we move! I do cut my own hair and do my own pedicures! I also Walk instead of taking a Taxi or a hour long comute in two jeeps a train and a short walk instead of a taxi whitch saves TONS every day! I use baking soda to wash my face and Hydrogen peroxide to clean the tooth brushes weekly to make them stretch!

LOVE YOU! Thanks for posting this kind of thing I think it's great~!

Erin McDonald said...

and a funny note you don't have to put up, now you can spy out your window and day dream about the dreamy lawn mower man and it wouldn't be a sin heee heee! he is preaty cute!

pupandpony said...

Yes, we do mow our own lawn, and everything else, and yes we did have that same lawnmower (in fact that may BE it!) until we got smart and bought an electric one which I HIGHLY recommend, as even I can start it, simply by flicking a switch. And it is quiet. And YES we may be the only ones in this zip who do, but it seems silly to pay someone, when half the year the growing just stops, and you don't even need to mow, but the gardeners just keep coming. Once a neighbor got fake lawn, and the gardener mowed that too. Sigh.

Greta said...

Wendy, mowing the fake lawn? That is too funny!