DIY - "Do It Yourself" Tips for Richer Life

The DIY movement has been around for centuries; however, following industrialisation it was overlooked for several generations in favour of mass produced products. The do it yourself approach has now returned with a vengeance.

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The Recent History of the DIY Movement

DIY tools

The ‘60s

In the 1960s the hippy movement embraced the do it yourself approach in a big way, as their rejection of mainstream culture meant that buying corporate made products was out of the question. Hippies became well known for DIY skills such as making their own clothes and jewellery as well as growing their own food.

The ‘70s

The Punk Rock movement was born in the 1970s and was based on ideas of rebellion, anarchism and doing it yourself. Punk-style DIY included organising their own shows, skill sharing and even publishing their own magazines.

The ‘80s and ‘90s

The DIY movement took a back seat during the 1980s and ‘90s as hyper-consumerism proliferated. High end brands became a status symbol in mainstream culture and those who made their own products were looked down upon as lower class citizens.

The Late ‘90s

Following several high profile corporate scandals and environmental disasters, trust in corporations plummeted in the late 1990s. Taking a DIY approach came to be seen as an effective way to embrace a healthier, more ethical and environmentally friendlier lifestyle. Australian social analyst David Chalke described the shift back to DIY as “... a backlash against the materialism of the 1990s.”

The ‘00s

Of those still not sold on the DIY approach, the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8 would prove a turning point for many. After countless people lost their savings when the market crashed, doing it yourself became a necessity for those who could no longer afford to spend freely.

Benefits of DIY

There are countless reasons why the DIY approach has returned to popularity; here are a few of the main benefits of doing it yourself.

  • Inexpensive – You can save a considerable amount of money if you are willing to make your own items or do a job yourself; however, not every DIY project will save you money so carefully consider the costs of materials and labour first.
  • Ethical – By taking a DIY approach you can avoid supporting businesses or corporations whose morals and ethics you disagree with.
  • Environmentally friendly – Making your own products means you can ensure that their ingredients and the production process are environmentally friendly. By eliminating the need for packaging, you will also save a huge amount of resources each year.
  • Unique – Whether you are after clothes or furniture, the only way to find something truly unique is to make it yourself. Even if you are following someone else’s recipe or instructions, no two DIY products will ever be exactly alike.
  • Custom Made – Mass produced products and services are made to suit the average person; but if you want something that will suit your individual needs, taking a DIY approach is a fantastic option. Making your own product from scratch or altering one that you have bought can sometimes be the only way to find an item that ticks all the right boxes.
  • Gratifying – Making your own products or doing a job yourself will often be extremely gratifying as well as give you a far greater appreciation for the end result.
  • Community Building – Many people have embraced the DIY movement as a way to overcome the isolation of modern society. Activities such as knitting groups and community gardening can be great ways to meet your neighbours and do wonders for the health of your community.

How Many People Take a DIY Approach?

The modern day popularity of the DIY movement has spread far and wide. Websites such as YouTube and Pinterest have facilitated the spread of DIY tips and advice; while others, like, have made selling your creations easy. Even mainstream television shows are jumping on board and helping to spread DIY ideas on everything from cooking to home renovation.

While there is no way to know just how many people are embracing a DIY approach, one strong indicator is the increased sales of DIY related products, services and courses. The sale of sewing machines and related products has skyrocketed, as have enrolments in courses such as dressmaking and clothing repair. Sales of baking soda, vinegar and borax indicate that more people are making their own cleaning products, and a spike in the sale of seeds and gardening items reflects the popularity of the grow your own approach. A Sydney Morning Herald report in October 2012 also revealed that almost one million Australians now manage their own superannuation.

How Much Money Can You Save?

Taking a DIY approach can save you anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand depending on the project. Doing your own home renovations is one of the best ways to save money, with Australian Owner Builders manager Phil Graf claiming that you can save from 20–40% on the cost of renovations by doing them yourself. However, it is only worth having a go at tasks that you can do safely and reasonably well, otherwise you may be risking your safety or wasting your time and money.

How Much Money Can You Make?

With the Global economy relatively uncertain these days, a lot of people have begun making items to sell, and some have made huge amounts of money doing so. The most successful DIY based businesses have been those related to arts, crafts and fashion, and while not all of them make money, some have been wildly popular. Among the most important factors is being able to create something unique and market your products well, as it can be a challenge getting noticed among all those other DIY based businesses.

How Many People Sell Things That They Make?

It is impossible to tell just how many people are now selling their DIY creations; however, all evidence suggests it is becoming an increasingly popular way to make extra money. The huge amount of websites set up to facilitate the sale of handmade items indicates a steady increase in DIY entrepreneurship, and it has never been easier to sell items via your own website. Local markets and festivals have seen an increase in the sale of home-made products and it is becoming common for people to make and sell items among their group of friends.

A 2009 study conducted by JWT surveyed 18-29 year olds in Australia, Canada, the U.S and the U.K and found that around 25% said they would start their own business if they had trouble securing regular work.

Starting a Home Based DIY Business

For any business to be successful it needs to be well thought out, organised and based on a solid plan. The following tips will help ensure your DIY business gets off to a good start:

  1. Set up a quiet space in your home where you will be able to work uninterrupted
  2. Rent or borrow any necessary equipment or buy second hand whenever possible
  3. Find out if you have any direct competitors and learn how they run their business
  4. Consider taking a course or two to enhance your talents or boost your business management skills
  5. Establish an online presence in order to market and sell your products
  6. Use your existing networks to promote your business, such as your circle of friends, family and co-workers
  7. Don’t quit your day job until your business is well established, as you will need a reliable income to help get your new venture off the ground

Australian DIY Resources

There is a wide range of DIY resources available in Australia, the vast majority of which can be found online. Here are a few of the many popular options.

Ofxam DIY Resources

This great website tells you all you need to know about growing your own food. It is targeted towards both adults and kids and includes vital information on the issue of world hunger.

HomeLife DIY tips

You can find all kinds of crafty DIY tips on this fantastic site. Whether you are looking to decorate your bathroom or make Christmas gifts you will find innovative tips on how to do it here.

DIY ideas for outdoors

Pinterest contains a massive amount of DIY information and the Better Homes and Gardens Australia board is a goldmine for ideas on do it yourself outdoor renovations.

DIY advice on music

Aussie musicians will love this Triple J site which offers DIY advice on everything you’ll need to know to record and promote your own music.

Advice on legal issues

This site simplifies the process of dealing with family legal issues, allowing you to take a DIY approach and save a small fortune on legal fees.

ATO website

Those interested in managing their own superannuation will find all they need to know right here on the ATO website.

The DIY movement is stronger now than it has been in decades, with countless people taking a DIY approach to everything from making music, art, beauty products and clothing to doing their own taxes and home improvements. Regardless of what attracts you to the DIY movement, don’t just sit there, get involved and have a go at doing it yourself!