Today I have Jenny, a DIY expert. It’s her passion to empower women to take on their own DIY projects as single women. She helps us build competence in all areas of our lives. She is a single girl who’s taken on many home projects that at first seemed overwhelming, but she believes that everyone can create a home they love even on a tiny budget, whether we’re total beginners or seasoned DIY lovers. She helps us by sharing practical ideas and frugal tips to help us all achieve our goals.
Welcome, Jenny. I’m so glad to have you on today.
Thank you so much for having me.
So as owner of the single girls DIY, I wanted to have you on the podcast today to share some of your inspiration and wisdom. I’ve already told my listeners a little bit about you in the introduction, but I’d like to hear how you got started in DIY and what gave you the confidence to know that you could do home maintenance yourself, especially the kind that so many of us shy away from.
Sure. So I was really lucky that I grew up in a house where my dad did a lot of projects and no, I didn’t think of it as a man’s job. He was always willing to show me what he was doing. And I never felt constrained by gender roles, you know, if I saw my brother doing something I wanted to do, I wasn’t afraid to try it too.
And so I got to learn can early on how to use basic tools and also have the confidence to just try new things. And then I bought my first house and of course the only thing I could afford was a complete fixer upper. And so I just had no money and a lot of projects around the house that I had to tackle. And just by taking them on one by one, over time I was able to build up skills and confidence. And then I wanted to really share that confidence and empowerment with others because I know those projects can be so overwhelming and intimidating.
Yeah, they are.
I grew up with a handyman dad, that’s what I called him. But somehow that knowledge didn’t really transfer to me. I don’t know why. It could for some, but not for me. So I have a lot of projects in my house that I know need to be done, but they’re either so incredibly small, like hanging up my daughter’s curtains, for some reason I can’t seem to get the brackets in or they’re so big that I don’t even know where to begin. And I’m afraid to pay somebody to come out because I don’t know how much it would cost or maybe the cost just to have them come out would be more than what the project would be. So I don’t want to spend the money or I’m afraid to even get started. So what tips do you have for someone like me or a single women to begin to make that mind shift from, I can’t do this to as you put it, I don’t need someone else to do it for me.
Right. Well, I think first of all, not being ashamed of not knowing how to do something is a starting point because maybe you never had the opportunity to learn how to do something. I don’t think you should be embarrassed because you don’t know how to hang a heavy picture in the wall or something. It’s just something that you never had the opportunity to do. But now you have the courage and the strength to figure it out. And so I think that’s always the mindset shift of going from, I don’t know how to do this to I can learn how to do this. So that’s always my starting point of, you know, facing something and having the mindset of, okay, what is my first step to figure this out? And a lot of times it’s doing some research online. There’s so much online these days on how to do things.
I’m going to the hardware store and just asking for help is an excellent place to start. I mean, I’ve built a relationship with someone at my home improvement store because I was in there all the time when I first bought my house. And just asking what seemed like stupid questions to me. But of course they want to help. That’s why they’re there. They want your business and they want to be helpful to you and they get to feel like experts when they explain it. And so just facing things that way. And I like to also start small, like you don’t want to start with a massive kitchen remodel project as your first DIY. Start with patching a hole in the wall. Learn the basic steps. Learn how to use the basic tools and that builds your confidence. And that’s a great way to become more comfortable doing DIY.
And when you have to call someone in to help you, it can also feel intimidating. You’ve got the stranger in your house who may be talking down to you like, I can’t believe you don’t know how to do this and you had to call me to help you. And that’s uncomfortable. And so I think, again, they’re doing your research in advance. I obviously can’t replace my hot water heater myself. Well, I don’t want to. And so actually when my hot water heater failed recently, I knew I had to call someone. And so before I even did that, I was online researching what normal costs for replacing a hot water heater in my area should be. So when the first guy showed up and gave me a price that was twice what my research said it should be, I said thank you and sent him away.
Even though it was a Saturday night and there was no one else was coming that weekend to get me hot water. So you know that that confidence in yourself, I know that this is not a fair price and so I’m going to keep looking. I’m not going to let this person intimidate me. As far as facing little projects around the house, I think it’s helpful too. Maybe make a list, list them in order of what you think it should be easiest to hardest or take the longest or need the most tools or the most help. Some things you can’t do by yourself. I rely on my family all the time to come and help me with projects. And so I think if you list them in an order and can tackle maybe one at a time, so you feel like you’re making progress, you feeling like and you’re building your skills and then maybe you’ll get to something that you think, I don’t have the energy for this, I don’t have the confidence for this.
I don’t know the tools for this and I don’t want to buy them, then that’s when you might think about hiring someone to help with it.
And when you say doing little things to help build your confidence I had downloaded from your website, I think it was things to do for the fall to winterize your home. Does that sound right?
Yeah, it was like a fall home checklist.
Okay. Yeah. I had downloaded that I think a year or two ago and I went through it. I didn’t do everything, but I did do some of the stuff on your list and actually when I was done, it did help build my confidence. I felt really good. I did quite a few things that I had never done before around my house.
Right. Some of those things just add up over time. You never think to clean up your heater vents or you know, things like that and it feels good when you cross them off.
Yep. It sure does. So one of the things you say on your website, and I’ve heard you say it before, and I really like this, as you said, here’s the secret. Men are not born with any more DIY skills than anyone else. They may have been given more opportunities to learn some of these skills, but they still have to learn them. Right?
Yeah. That’s kind of part of the reason why I started this website. I had an experience with a coworker. She walked into my office and she was holding two pieces of a hinged plastic storage box, and she said, Sylvia and I can’t figure out how to put this together, so we’re going to wait for John to do it. And it just popped out of my mouth. I said, why? Because you need a man to do it. And she didn’t respond.
She just took another look at that thing she was holding. And in less than a minute, she had it put together. And it was just that simple mindset shift of, Oh wait, what’s special about a man that he can do something that I can’t, I mean, sometimes they’re frustratingly stronger than we are and they can physically do more than we can as women, but they’re not smarter. They’re not more talented. They’re not inherently more skilled at DIY projects and maybe sometimes an unconscious bias that we have against ourselves as women. And it’s something that I try to help people overcome.
That’s great advice. Great to keep in mind too. So do you have any last words for a single women trying to do our DIY and fix some things around our house?
I would say you are already doing amazing things and I know that you can do more amazing things, but don’t ever feel bad about where you are or what you feel confident doing.
Just take the next step, face the next thing. And if you need help, ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with that. So when I say you don’t need someone else to do it for you, that’s true. But there’s also nothing wrong with getting someone else to do it with you, right? And so start small, build your confidence, do what you can and, and be kind to yourself.