Why the Best Credit Card Rewards Strategy Is a Slow One

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For those who rush into the credit card rewards game, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. After all, average credit card debt per indebted household stood at $9,100 in 2017. While some of that debt is probably the result of emergency spending, it’s inevitable that some of it also comes from poor planning.

A former neighbor of mine recently told me how she racked up debt in pursuit of rewards. In the midst of a move across the country, she signed up for a travel credit card that would let her use miles for flights or transfer to airline partners. She was going to spend money on her move either way, so why not get something in return? She was going to pay off her balance right away — or so she thought. What could go wrong?

As life would have it, the mother of two faced higher moving expenses than anticipated. She also struggled to find a good job right away, which left her relying on credit to pay other bills. In the end, she wound up with a ton of debt and some negative marks on her credit report.

Now she’s stuck trying to pay off credit card debt at a high APR until she can qualify for a balance transfer card with 0% APR for a limited time. It’s easy to see what went wrong here; she used credit card rewards without a real plan in place — and without enough cash to cover her bills or an emergency.

The potential for debt is one of the major pitfalls of credit card rewards, but there are plenty of other reasons you should approach this strategy at a snail’s pace. There’s a lot that can go right if you win the game, sure, but there’s even more that could go wrong. Here’s why you should proceed with caution.

Credit cards may cause you to spend more

While many people who pursue credit card rewards say using credit doesn’t change their spending habits, some academic research suggests that, at least for some of us, spending habits can change quite a bit.

One study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied in 2008 noted that the immediacy of paying with cash affected people much differently than the delayed consequences of paying with credit. In an excerpt published in Psychology Today, the argument was that “the more transparent the payment outflow, the greater the aversion to spending or higher the ‘pain of paying’ … leading to less transparent payment modes such as credit cards and gift cards (vs. cash) being more easily spent or treated as play or ‘monopoly money.'”

In other words, credit cards dull the pain of paying. They do this by delaying the timeline in which you have to pay your bill and by allowing you to mix your purchases in a way that causes you to forget exactly what you’re buying.

If you sign up for a bunch of rewards cards without knowing whether you can use them like you would cash, you may find out the hard way that you’re someone who overspends with credit. This can be a costly lesson, but you can minimize potential damage by taking your time with rewards cards and using them in moderation at first.

Juggling too many new cards can lead to reckless spending

One of the main drivers behind rewards card sign-ups is the initial bonuses they offer. Many cards offer hundreds of dollars in cash back or travel credit for spending a specific amount of money within a few months (e.g. $3,000 in three months). These bonuses can be lucrative, but they can also cause people to overspend to reach the required spending minimum.

Juggling too many new cards at once can also leave you in a position where you have to spend more to earn each of the bonuses you’re after. If, for example, you signed up for three cards that required you to spend $3,000 in three months to earn the bonus, you’d be on the hook for $9,000 in spending at once. Could you pull it off without jeopardizing your financial health? Maybe, but maybe not.

You’re better off pursuing only one bonus at a time and making sure you can reach any spending thresholds naturally with regular purchases like groceries, gas, insurance, and utilities. After all, buying stuff you don’t need to earn a credit card sign-up bonus is unlikely to leave you in debt. (See also: 5-Minute Finance: Track Your Spending)

New credit cards can hurt your credit score

Another reason to approach credit card rewards carefully is the fact that getting too many credit cards at once can actually hurt your credit score. Keep in mind that “new credit” makes up 10% of your FICO score, and it’s easy to see why. New credit cards may cause credit reporting agencies to believe you are a greater risk, and they may push your score down accordingly.

In addition to new credit, the length of your credit history also makes up 15% of your FICO score. Since getting new cards will cause the average length of your credit score to drop, this is another factor that can hurt your credit in the short-term. (See also: How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps)

It takes time to build good credit habits

Finally, don’t forget that it takes time to build positive financial habits — including the ability to use credit responsibly. If you jump into credit cards too soon, you might wind up in the middle of a problem you don’t know how to fix.

The best way to use credit cards is in conjunction with a monthly budget. You can charge your purchases each month to earn rewards, but you should have the cash on-hand to pay your bills since the average credit card interest rate is over 16%.

It also helps to build an emergency fund you can use to cover unexpected expenses or fill the gaps if your earnings drop for any reason. If you use credit without a plan, you could live to regret it and wind up in debt for a long, long time.

Are You Indirectly Losing Money via Your Brokerage Cash Sweep Account?

A recent WSJ article by Jason Zweig calls attention to one of the hidden ways that brokerage firms make money from you. As interest rates rise, they go out and earn the highest market rates while giving you a lot less on your idle cash. The difference adds up to big profits.

Brokerage accounts used to make you buy a money market fund with a high expense ratio. These days, they use a “bank sweep” account. They advertise the FDIC insurance, but hide the fact that they often own the bank and are skimming millions in interest:

In a bank sweep, your brokerage automatically rakes together and deposits your spare cash in one or more banks. Banks hand the brokerage a hefty fee, and the brokerage hands you some crumbs. For any given investor, a few dollars from dividends or interest income don’t amount to much. Rolled together with idle cash from thousands of other investors, they can add up to millions.

Morgan Stanley. Ameriprise. E-Trade. If you dig through Schwab’s disclosure, you’ll see them state that “In setting interest rates, the affiliated banks may seek to pay as low a rate as possible”. Nice.

Default options often prey on your inattention and laziness. Here are some ways to avoid the low interest rates of the bank sweep accounts.

  • Explore all your sweep options. Some places give you multiple alternatives for your cash sweep. For example, Fidelity has Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX), Fidelity Treasury Fund (FZFXX), and FCASH. The two funds have SEC yields over 1.5% right now, while FCASH earns only 0.25% on balances under $100,000.
  • Keep your cash accounts empty automatically. You can set up automatic dividend reinvestment, or perhaps an automatic deposit of dividends into a high yield savings account. That should keep most of your interest and dividends from piling up as cash.
  • Manually reinvest often or transfer to alternative funds. Keep an eye on your cash balance, and invest it as soon as possible into stocks, bonds, or a higher-yielding money market fund alternative. Some accounts offer a text alert if you balance exceeds a certain amount like $1,000.
  • Move your assets to another firm. Vanguard still has a decent sweep option (VMMXX, see below). Fidelity still has two decent money market sweep options as well (SPAXX and FZFXX).

Vanguard isn’t incentivized to play these interest-skimming games. Vanguard’s only sweep account nowadays is the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund due to new regulations (read more here). Vanguard used to have better options as the default account, but at least the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund still earns a decent SEC yield of 1.87% (as of 8/8/18). If you want, you can still move money manually into the Vanguard Prime Money Market fund, Vanguard Municipal Money Market funds, and the Vanguard Treasury Money Market fund which may do better on an after-tax basis.

On the flip side, if you are individual stock investor, this is why higher interest rates are good for brokerage firms like Schwab. If you believe in the future of low-cost index funds, Fidelity and Vanguard are not publicly-traded, but you can become a shareholder in Schwab. Heck, Schwab has even set up their “free” robo-advisor to profit from higher interest rates due to a sizable cash allocation. (I do not hold Schwab stock at the time of this writing, but it is on my watchlist.)

Bottom line. Check the interest rate on your brokerage sweep account – It might be a lot lower than you think. Consider taking action.

How to Tackle Your Summer Vacation Credit Card Debt

It’s easy to rack up credit card debt while on summer vacation. After all, finances are probably the last thing on your mind, and you have a handy credit card in your wallet whenever you need something. You can sit back with a margarita in hand without having to look at that credit card statement until next month.

When summer comes to a close, however, it can be quite a shock to see how high your credit card balance has grown. It’s not a fun situation, but with a plan in place, you can get out of credit card debt before the snow starts to fall. Here’s how to do it.

1. Assess your new debt

As tempting as it might be, now’s not the time to hide your head in the sand. In order to create a plan to get out of credit card debt, you first need to know how big of a monster you’re fighting.

Log into your credit card accounts — all of them — and record two things for each of your credit cards:

  • How much you owe.
  • What the interest rate is.

It’s also a good idea to go back over your credit card statements to make sure everything’s kosher. Look for any double-charged expenses (maybe that waiter at the bar was a little loose with his fingers while keying in your purchase), or any charges you don’t recognize, as this could be a sign that your credit card information has been stolen. (See also: 7 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud While Traveling)

2. Check in with your budget

It’s a good idea to check in with your budget again if it’s been a while. In this case, it also serves another purpose: Finding out how much extra you can afford to pay toward your debt each month.

Go through each line item and ask yourself if there’s any way you can reduce it without sacrificing too much. For example, do you really need to pay for cable if you’re mostly watching Netflix, or can you start bringing leftovers for lunch instead of going out to pricey restaurants? Cut those corners now and it could make a huge impact in your debt repayment plan.

3. Commit to a monthly payment amount

After you’ve gone through your budget and found extra money, it’s time to commit to a monthly payment amount. If at all possible, strive to pay more than the minimum monthly payment amount for your credit card debt. The more you can afford to pay each month, the sooner you’ll be out of debt.

Once you decide on a number, the final step is to set it up on autopay. That way, it’s even harder to self-sabotage your debt-payoff plan. (See also: How to Manage Money When You Hate Thinking About It)

4. Decide which credit cards to pay off first

If all of your credit card debt is on one credit card, this’ll be easy: pay off that credit card and you’ll be done.

But what if your debt is scattered across two or more credit cards? In that case, you’ll need to make the minimum payment on each. If you have money leftover after making the minimum payments, you’ll need to decide where to send it.

Two popular debt-payoff methods are the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods. The debt snowball method has you paying off the credit card with the smallest balance first, then moving onto the next smallest balance. The avalanche method is similar in execution, but instead of starting with the card with the smallest balance, you start with the card with the lowest interest rate until your debt is gone.

5. Throw extra money at your debt

So, you’ve committed to a monthly debt payment that is hopefully higher than the minimum required. This will get you out of debt on schedule, but wouldn’t it be better to get out of debt even sooner?

That’s why it’s a good idea to throw any extra money you have coming in toward your debt. If you earn any money from a side hustle, selling unwanted items, unexpected gifts, or a raise at work, throwing it at your debt rather than buying a new big-screen TV can go a long way toward getting out of debt sooner.

6. Make a savings plan for next year’s summer vacation

In order to avoid a repeat event next year, why not take the time now to plan a savings strategy so you don’t go into debt again? Figure out a target savings goal, either based on how much you spent this year, or the cost of a trip you want to take next year. Then determine how many months you have between now and your vacation. Finally, divide your target savings goal by how many months you have to save, and strive to set that amount aside each month.

For example, if you have six months until you want to go on a $1,800 cruise vacation, you’ll need to set aside $300 per month until it’s time to go. (See also: How to Build Your Best Travel Budget)

After all, won’t sipping cocktails on the beach be that much sweeter if you’re not worrying about facing a debt hangover once you return?

Why Credit History Matters and How to Help Grow It

Why Credit History Matters and How to Help Grow It

If your credit history isn’t long enough, lenders may view it as “insufficient” and you may have trouble qualifying for a credit card or other loan. And that’s where the challenge begins. Lenders don’t want to give you credit when you don’t have a credit history, but it’s hard to build a credit history when you can’t get credit.

The best way to establish a good credit history is slowly, over time. Make payments on time. Pay off balances as you go, or at least keep them reasonably low. As the years go by, all your responsible behavior can help you build a good credit history.

You say you can’t wait to get started? Okay, here are some things you can do now.

Consider a secured credit card.

Even if you have a short credit history, you may still be able to qualify for a secured credit card. For this type of credit card, you deposit cash that serves as your credit limit.

Consider any fees and charges when deciding between secured cards. And be sure the card you choose reports your account activity to the major credit bureaus including TransUnion®. Not all cards do this, so you want one that highlights your great track record.

Ask about credit where you bank, shop or get gas.

If you already have a savings or checking account, your bank may approve you for a card with a low credit limit.

You can also try applying for a gas credit card or store credit card. These usually have smaller credit limits, but it’s often easier to qualify for them. Gas credit cards are usually good at only one chain of gas stations, but you can take advantage of discounts and perks. Store credit cards are also limited, but they often offer rewards like cash back, points for certain purchases, or benefits like free shipping.

Talk to lenders before you apply.

For people without long credit histories, some lenders may examine data from less traditional sources, like utility or rental payments. If your credit history is relatively brief, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask your lender if they’ll look at alternative data when they’re considering your application. Just do it before you apply–asking after you’ve been denied may be less effective.

Look into a credit builder loan.

This works on the same principle as a secured credit card, except it’s a loan.

Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say you take out a small loan from a bank and then use that loan to open one of their Certificates of Deposit (CDs). The bank holds the CD, while you make regular payments on the loan. When you’ve paid off your loan, you own the CD. You end up with some savings, plus a good credit track record.

The downside? Any interest and fees you have to pay on the loan. Be sure you choose a lender that will report your on-time payments to the three major credit bureaus. And try to find a bank that offers low rates and fees.

Become an authorized user.

You can ask someone (usually a family member or close friend) to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. That way, the account’s history will be added to your credit report.

Of course, you’ll want to choose a person whose account is in good standing. There’s always the risk that he or she could miss payments, end up in collections, or even go bankrupt. In that case, their bad behavior could hurt your credit report. So, if you do become an authorized user, monitor your credit report to be sure there are no issues and payments are being made on time.

Don’t apply for multiple credit cards within too short of a time frame.

Applying for lots of credit cards all at once may seem like a good way to kickstart your credit history, but it can actually hurt your credit and raise alarm bells for card issuers. Be selective. Look for the best rates from brands you know.

Be careful about closing accounts.

Closing credit accounts may significantly shorten your credit history. Accounts you close will eventually stop appearing in your credit reports and won’t be calculated in your credit score. Here’s an example. Let’s say you have two credit cards: one with a $20,000 credit limit and zero balance and another card with a $10,000 limit and a $5,000 balance. If you decide to close the $20,000 limit card because you no longer use it, this may negatively affect your utilization ratio (the amount of debt you’re using compared to the amount you have available), your credit score and your credit history. So unless a card has high fees, consider leaving it open. Make a few small purchases every so often and pay them off monthly.

About TransUnion

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LIVE WELL: Give a Babysit

Today’s LIVE WELL is kind of unorthodox and also very exclusive to the parent crowd, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to touch on.

To me, living well means a lot of things – one of those being treating people well. Being a good friend and member of society. And with a lot of my friends having children around the same time, it’s often me thinking of ways to be of service in this stage of their life.

Looking back, when I first had Leo, I wasn’t sure what I needed help with. We were beyond lucky to have a good amount of assistance (some hired, some not), but I think what helped more than anything was another set of hands and time for myself. So what I want to remind you of today is that – a piece of advice when it comes to your relationships with people who have recently had a child.

After having Leo, the best gift offered up by friends and family was to come over and spend time with her. Whether that meant babysitting so I could take a shower or a nap (let’s be real here) or even run a quick errand.

I loved that Leo had an opportunity to get comfortable with those closest to us and that I could sneak away for just a bit. And even if I didn’t get the chance to step out, I still got to spend time catching up with a good friend. Or, another option is, if a little more time has gone by since the birth, offer to have the parents go on a date while you hang back with baby. Let the couple reconnect outside baby la la land when they’re comfortable enough to leave for a couple hours. Or even just have dinner alone in their own dining room while you sit in the nursery with bebe.

If you’ve been stressing over what to get the new parents in your life and they already have all the baby things, offer to babysit. Trust me when I say that any new parent will greatly appreciate the gesture.

Have you ever done this for a friend?

The post LIVE WELL: Give a Babysit appeared first on because im addicted.

To Date or Dump: The First Financial Clues

couple love
Let’s face it – financial status or habits rarely determine who you’d ask out (or who to accept) on a date. But should you continue onto the second date if the potential partner is a spendrift? There will be many clues about a person’s financial situation and how they handle money as early as the first date. Your reaction to these clues will depend on your financial beliefs and habits, but early consideration of what they might imply will help you determine if a date is financially compatible before you get entangled in a relationship. How you react to the following financial clues could determine your financial future, so pay attention.

Clue #1: Who Pays for the Date

There is apparently disagreement between men and women about who is ‘supposed’ to pay for a first date. Men generally believe the person who asked for the date should pay, whereas women tend to believe the man should always pay the first time, regardless of who asked who.

Setting aside prejudices about protocol, notice whether your date automatically pays, whether they ask which you prefer, whether they assume you’ll pay, or whether they ask for you to pay. Either of the first two are perfectly acceptable, but the last two response should give you pause. Unless they apologize for leaving their wallet at home, this might be a sign they are struggling financially. Someone who’s struggling with finances isn’t automatically poor at money management, but it’s definitely a reason to look further into their habits.

Clue #2: Using Coupons or Insisting on Cheap Venues

Frugality is certainly something to be desired in a partner. The issue here, though, is whether it’s appropriate to showcase extreme frugality the first few dates, since it comes off as stingy. Especially beware of someone who tells you what you can or can’t order off the menu when they’re paying. Financial control is a good trait, but manipulation is not. On the other hand, it could be a good sign that they’re reasonable frugal and have higher priorities than entertainment if your date doesn’t insist but merely shows a preference for cheaper venues and restaurants, so don’t kick them to the curb just yet.

relationships and financeClue #3: Dropping a Lot of Money

Being too cheap is a warning sign, but spending too freely is also a reason for concern. It’s possible your date is financially responsible, has a great career, and can afford to splurge; it’s also possible they’re used to living beyond their means and racking up credit card debt. Lastly, people who spend lavishly on dates may be masking insecurities or trying to detract from undesirable traits, which could be even larger concerns than how much credit card debt they have.

Clue #4: A Drastic Difference in Income or Financial Status

Normal people don’t come right out and boast their salary on a first date, but neither is it hard to piece together a general idea of how much your date makes if you know their profession.

Dating someone who either makes drastically more or less than you do could be a warning sign of financial incompatibility. It’s not a matter of whether the person cares more about you than your income: it represents a potential difference in spending habits and resources that could lead to consistent disagreements, feelings of resentment, or other finance-based relational issues.

These financial clues aren’t conclusive pieces of evidence that will make or break the decision to date someone long-term, but they are important relationships indicators. As the first few glimpses into the financial habits of a potential partner, they are valuable to solving the puzzle of who you should run from versus who you may want to get close to.

How to Know if a Card With an Annual Fee is Worth It

How to Know if a Card with an Annual Fee is Worth It

When shopping for credit cards, your jaw may drop at the steep annual fee for the premium cards out there. Those gold-star perks do come with a price: We’re talking several hundred dollars and upwards. So when is the annual fee worth it? Here’s how to figure out whether you should fork over a hefty annual fee on a platinum credit card:


Make Sure the Perks Are Worth It

Simply put, you’ll want to make sure the perks outweigh the costs  So if that travel rewards card charges a $100 annual fee, if you get over $200 in miles or points toward free travel, paying extra for that card might be worth it.

What to look for include higher than average reward points per dollar, plus the extra features and travel-related benefits. With cash back cards, it’s easy to calculate the break-even point, explains Eric Rosenberg of Personal Profitability. “You can do a little math to figure out exactly what you need to spend on the card annually to earn back your fee and make a profit.”


A Three-Pronged Approach to Assessing Value

Another way to gauge whether a premium credit card is worth the annual fee is to assess three major things: 1. short-term value, 2. day-to-day value, and 3. experiential value through premium travel benefits, says Kathy Hart, a travel hacking enthusiast.

Short-term value is the generous introductory bonus that comes with many premium credit cards. For instance, on some cards you can earn 50,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 on your card within the first three months.

The day-to-day value is how many points you’ll net for everyday purchases. Some offers include up to three points for every dollar in certain categories. You can also score more points for rotating spending categories, such as groceries in the fall, or gas during the winter months.

Last, experiential value are all the neat travel perks that are widely promoted. This could include some sweet perks such as free ride share while traveling, meals on flights, and access to airport lounges replete with yummy snacks and beverages. Some cards may offer several hundred dollars in travel credit that you can use each year.

A word of caution: Don’t use credit cards unless paying the balance in full every month, points out Hart. “The benefits of travel points are negated if you are paying interest or fees,” she says. If you’re just starting out, start slowly.

Look at the Full Benefits

Besides the premium, heavily advertised perks of a credit card, you’ll want to get acquainted with your card’s full suite of benefits, says Lee Huffman, a personal finance and travel writer. “There are often underused perks—like price protection, VIP lounge access, purchase protections, extended warranty coverage, or primary rental car insurance—that can really provide huge value for you if you knew they were part of your card benefits.” You’ll want to compare these benefits with the other cards to see if you should keep it or apply for another one.

Track the Perks You’ve Cashed In On

Sure, there may be perks. But are you taking full advantage of them? Keep tabs on all the perks you’re raking in, estimate how much each perk is worth, then do the math to figure out if the fee is worth it. “Evaluate whether you are utilizing the benefits of the card,” says Hart. “ If you find you’re not using the card, see if you can downgrade it, or switch to a card that has a lower—or no annual fee.

Review Annually

To make sure the annual fee is worth it, review your cards annually. “Credit card benefits are constantly changing, so a card that worked perfectly for you last year, may not be the right one going forward,” says Huffman. “Make sure the bank is earning your business every year.” For instance, if one of your platinum cards starts to limit lounge access or reduces the number of free luggage, consider not renewing the card when the fee is due.

Another way to see if the card is worth its weight in annual fees? Add up all the value of the rewards and benefits the card offers you, but then to subtract what you would have received if you switched to the next best card with an annual fee, suggests Steele. If the difference is more than the cost of the annual fee, then the card’s a keeper.

And you’ll want to track your use as an individual that year, not just how much the card offers. So even if the card offers several hundred dollars in travel perks, but you only use, say $100 and the card has a $150 annual fee, it may not be worth it to you. And maybe the perks you end up using the most changes. And if the perks you end up using the most change you’ll want to take that into consideration.

Contact the Credit Card Company to Negotiate

Flex your negotiation muscles and see if the credit card issuer is willing to waive the annual fee. The best time to do it is right before the annual fee is due, points out Huffman. Let the credit card issuer know you’re considering closing the card because you’re not sure if the benefits are worth the annual fee any longer.

You just might be able to get them to toss in a few additional rewards to sweeten the deal. “It doesn’t work 100 percent of the time,” adds Steele, “but I’ve been successful enough that it’s worth the call.”

Before reaching out to the credit card issuer, do your homework. If you’re a customer with solid credit and have been stellar at making on-time payments, you’ll have more leverage. Plus, see what existing cards have comparable rewards and benefits with lower fees.

 Consider Comparable Cards
Wondering if you should switch to another credit card? The trick is to add up the total value of a card’s rewards and benefits, then minus what you would’ve received if you switched to the next best card with an annual fee, says Jason Steele. If it ends up not being worthwhile, it might be time to switch to another credit card.

While you may initially experience sticker shock with those platinum credit cards that come with a, say, $450 annual fee, if you would end up benefiting from the travel-related and rewards points, it could end up being worth that extra chunk of change.

Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer. Her work has appeared in Investopedia, Magnify Money and The Bold Italic, and she’s been featured in Money, Kiplinger, Forbes and Woman’s Day. She runs Cheapsters.org, a blog to help freelancers and artists with their money, and to balance their passion projects and careers.

*This blog post does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

What to DIY Vs Leave to a Professional When Renovating

Hey guys! A little while ago I did a Q&A on Instagram all about our renovation, and got soooooo many great questions! If you want to see the results, I’ve listed them in the Q&A highlight on my profile.

One that came up a bit was the question of ‘What should I DIY, and what should I leave to the professionals?’. Which is SUCH a good question. When you’re renovating, there’s so much fun and excitement in getting stuck in with DIYs and projects of your own. But at the same time, you want to make sure that updates to your house are done properly, in a way that will increase the value and functionality of your space… And not have to be redone!

Working with Ben on our renovation, it’s been quite interesting to get an expert opinion on what can and should be DIYed in a renovation, and what should be left to someone who does it day in and day out and will do it the right way. Yes, there’s youtube videos for just about everything, but while it is *possible* to do everything yourself, unless you’re seriously talented it’s not always advisable. Obviously, the fact that we aren’t living on site and have been travelling to and from Hong Kong during this renovation has meant for a lot of the house we have worked with builders and contractors to get all the big things done, but that said, if you have more time on site there are lots of things that you can DIY, and also some that you *definitely* shouldn’t. Read on for Ben’s expert opinion!

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

We created an illustration so you can bookmark this for your home Reno!

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional When Renovating

You Can Totally DIY

Selecting Materials & Appliances – This is definitely something that you can tackle yourself, and it’s actually a really fun part of the process, so long as you can avoid getting overwhelmed by choice! That said, consult your builder if you’re unsure on a certain material.

Minor Demolition – Removing smaller items from your house like cabinets and shelving is something you can do yourself, but for major demolition school as walls make sure you speak to a professional as accidentally removing a load bearing beam can be a disaster.

Painting Interiors & Furniture – Painting is much much harder than it looks, from choosing the right paints for the area, prepping the surface to painting multiple coats. Painting a room well is no easy task! That said, anyone who has renovated will have painted an indoor wall or room, you can definitely do it! We’ll be sharing a few DIYs for this down the track so stay tuned.

Installing a Flat pack kitchen – So long as you’re handy with a drill and good at reading instructions you’ll generally  be able to put together a flat pack kitchen like the ones they sell at IKEA or Kaboodle. They’re designed to be easy! That said, if you want some customisations you might need to speak to a professional.

Landscaping – The most difficult part of landscaping (other than the design) is prepping the site – creating garden beds with soil that will actually grow  and putting in watering systems, so perhaps consider using someone to help you do this. But once that is done, planting trees is something that you can definitely do yourself!

Simple tiling – Ok so this is where Ben and I diverge in opinion. He feels that any sort of tiling should be done by a professional so it looks 100%. However, in the past I have helped my mum tile and grout a bathroom, using simple tiles that come in sheets. The outcome wasn’t too bad and is an option if you’re tight on budget. Even simply doing the grouting is possible if you want to get a tiler to lay the tiles.

Decor Updates – Anything to do with the smaller, decor elements of a renovation can be done yourself like installing new doorknobs, making curtains, updating nightshades, painting doors, hanging mirrors, putting together furniture.

For the pros

Designing the plans for your house – Unless you are an architect or a designer, it’s best to get someone to help you with the plans for your new house/update. That said, if it’s a small update you can often just do that with your builder and skip having plans, but know that the details will be down to what the builder decides on the fly.

Painting exteriors – Painting exteriors is much more complicated than your average bedroom, due to the paint and prep required. It’s also the outside of your house which is pretty hard to cover up if it doesn’t look crash hot. So I would make sure you’re across it completely before embarking on an exterior paint job, or better yet opt for a professional if you can afford it, it’s money well spent.

Structural Updates – Anything structural to the house should involve atlas a conversation with a professional.

Complicated tiling – Remember that post I put about about our tile layout? Well most of the ones I suggested there would be quite difficult to install, and not something a novice tiler should be trying out. Herringbone is best left for the professionals!

Plumbing – Depending on where you live, not only is it advisable to have a professional do your plumbing work, it’s actually the law!

Lighting and electricals – In the same vein as the plumbing work, you should get a professional to help you with anything to do with installing electricals, although once you get lights put in, you can always update the light shades.

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional
What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

Obviously when it comes to what you should DIY it’s about your skill and experience level, as well as how much time you have to sink into learning and experimenting on the job – if you live in your renovation you’ll probably be more open to experimentation. Those of you with more skills will be able to do more complicated projects. But if in doubt, consult a professional, and at least cost it up before you decide. And consider what it would cost to have to do it twice!

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional
What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional
What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

Stay tuned for more renovation ideas and guides!

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

Going through a renovation yourself? Here’s a process of how our renovation came along from choosing our Tile Patterns to Material and Colour Palettes. You can find the inside scoop to behind the scenes at our renovation here as well!

The post What to DIY Vs Leave to a Professional When Renovating appeared first on A Pair & A Spare.