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Captain DIY Podcast Episode Followup

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Hi there! If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you just heard my interview on the ChooseFI podcast, and you’re wondering if there are any things to add to the story. Wouldn’t you know it, I have a few things to add right here!

Some More Trade School Tips

Literally the day after recording the interview, I was at a neighborhood get-together that had apparently been orchestrated strictly to put myself and the son of the organizer together in one space. He is an Apprentice Electrician who was working for a horrible person, and I am a Journeyman Electrician who has gone through the wringer already. His parents were hoping I might have some insights for him, so they invited the neighborhood over for drinks so we could chat.

As it turns out, he had already moved on to another job that treated him much better, so he didn’t really need anything from me anymore. As a matter of fact, it was me who ended up learning from him! Just goes to show, you never know where new and pertinent info will come from!

On the podcast, I talked about my path into the trades, which included paying $25k for the schooling. I definitely don’t regret this, as it got me in with a great contractor and really kicked off my career.

One of the other options I talked about was going through the local Electrician’s Union, which would have been a ten-year commitment. Not something I wanted to do, but who knows, maybe that’s something that could work for you. Maybe it did work for you, and you are enjoying a lucrative career due to that choice! If so, fantastic!

That night at the neighborhood party, I was introduced to yet another option for those of you who are past high-school age: Community College. That’s right!

My neighbor’s son was in the middle of getting his electrical classroom hours by way of a local community college, and he was doing it one or two evenings a week (I think it was two, but I had had a couple of gin and tonics by then, so it’s a little fuzzy). He told me it was a four-year program, he was doing it while working as an apprentice, and it was costing him $1,500 per year. Let me say that again.

Fifteen hundred dollars. Per year. For a total cost of $6,000. I don’t know a whole lot about the cost of college, but I do know that $6,000 will buy maybe your textbooks and your meal plans for four years. Plus he’s working and making money at the same time!

That is an incredibly viable option for those of you out there looking for a lucrative career change who don’t want to invest a ton of time and money. Check out what programs your local community colleges offer, and I’ll bet there’s something in there for you!

DIY Stuff for the Non-Trades People

Ok, we’ve gone over the ways to get into the trades, now it’s time to talk to those of you who don’t have any interest in that route but still want to work on developing your DIY skills so you can save a ton of money around your house and feel better about yourself while you do it.

I talked about a few different beginner projects people could try to kind of ease their way into learning useful DIY skills, and I’d like to get a little deeper into that here.

  • Fixing your doors: Do you have any doors in your house that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard when you open them? Or maybe they won’t close all of the way when the weather gets hot. Maybe all they need is a bit of 3-in-1 oil or a shim on the hinges to make the headache go away! Super simple, you only need a screwdriver, and it can be done in just a few minutes. Time to pull out that yellow cape, you hero!
  • Tighten your toilet seat: This one is about as simple as they come: there’s a couple of bolts going down through the toilet from the seat, and you just hand-tighten the nuts on the back. Reach around to the back of the seat area and find where the bolts stick out, turn them the wrong way first (you don’t have to do this but you will, because they are upside-down and it’s nearly impossible to get it right the first time) then turn them the right way until they are good and snug. No more sliding off the toilet for you!
  • Caulking refresh: Another straightforward one, but just because these are simple doesn’t mean they don’t pay high dividends. Grab a razor and scrape off as much of the brackish yellow goop that is left around the rim of your tub. Then grab the tube of nice, shiny new silicone caulk and the nice, shiny new caulking gun you bought at the Big Box Hardware Store and run a bead of it around the seam. Your bead should be about a quarter-inch thick, and they even make handy little tools to make a nice smooth round edge with your caulk. Your tub will be the life of any party!
  • Clean the sink trap: Do you have any sinks that seem to drain slow, or not at all? No need to call a plumber, this is one for all of you DIY superstars waiting to break out of your shells! Underneath your sinks, you will find a thick drain pipe, and at some point, that pipe will take a hard curve. There should be a connection point on either side of that curve, and all you have to do is loosen those points until you can remove that piece of pipe. You may need some adjustable pliers for this part. Make sure to have a bucket and some rags handy, especially if the sink is backed up! Once that piece of pipe is off, get something to poke around inside it until you get all of the gunk out, then put it back in place. If that doesn’t work, check out this post about removing and cleaning the drain plug.

So there you go, a few good projects to get you started. I also recommend checking out this post series going over the basic homeowner’s toolkit.

If you have any questions about DIY projects, tool recommendations, or anything Trades related, leave a comment below!

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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