The Mathematics of Do-It-Yourself

The Mathematics of Do-It-Yourself

Mathematics? On a blog about learning Olde Tyme Skills? Well, yes. Because there’s something that puts many people off of doing things for themselves.

It’s expensive! Or, so they think.

When you first approach learning something new, there is usually a learning curve, and a start-up cost. But, if you make a habit of it, it more than pays for that start-up cost. And usually in a fairly short time. Many of the ideas in this blog require some kind of equipment or utensils that you may or may not already have. But don’t let that scare you off, especially since I work hard to select items that have multiple uses.

For instance, there is the slow cooker, also known as the crock pot. A 4-6 quart slow cooker can be had for about $20. It can be used to make yogurt, to cook meals that worthy of a restaurant without standing over a hot stove, to make candles and lip balms, to sanitize baby items, to dye your own yarn, and many other things. So instead of costing $20 to make yogurt, you have spent $20 for a great multi-purpose tool.

As An Example

Here’s a good example of how the math works. In an upcoming post, I plan to discuss different ways to brew your own coffee. (Because, let’s face it, paying $3.50 for a cuppa at the drive-through in your way to work each day is actually pretty foolish when you can do it for 1/10th of that at home.) Making coffee at home requires something to brew the coffee in. There are different types to choose from, but you will need to make an investment. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at a drip coffeemaker.

A basic 12 cup coffeemaker can be had for about $20. Spend $3.00 for a 200-pack of filters. And buy a 30 oz. can of ground coffee for about $7. On a per pot basis, that’s 1.5 cents for the filter, and about 35 cents for the coffee. So your cost per pot is 36.5 cents. (if you take cream or sugar, there is a cost associated with those, but that will vary based on your preferences.) Now, this is for a pot: if you drink the “standard” 6 ounce cup of coffee, your cost is a little over 3 cents per cup.

Compare this to the big coffee and donut chain. Their small cup is 10 ounces, their medium is 14 ounce, their large is 20 ounces, and their extra large is 24 ounces. Let’s assume you get a large, that’s a bit more than 3 standard cups. We’re talking about 10 cents for a large coffee. Make it 15 cents if you like it really sweet and light. That big coffee and donut chain charges about $2.10 for the same thing. So, you are saving about $1.95 per cup. If you drink 12 cups of coffee from your own coffeemaker, you have just saved enough to pay for the coffeemaker!

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