DIY – How Resourcefulness Is The Key To Young Families Surviving And Thriving

In 2005 Shannon and I purchased our first house, which for the realists out there is really to say we signed our life away to the bank in exchange for the right to a set of keys to said house.  As any young couple would, there were lots of wish list items we had as we moved in, including the installation of a screen enclosure for the back porch.  Here in Florida we have 1 day of 3 seasons knowing as “Fintering” (Fall-Winter-Spring), followed by 364 days of hot, muggy, bug-laden summer.  A screen enclosure is no luxury; it’s a necessity.  Fortunately I “knew a guy” who could do the job inexpensively.

Decades earlier, when that guy was starting out his career as a professional airline pilot, he would work with his father on days off installing screen enclosures in the neighborhoods of Miami Lakes, FL.  While pilots are generally well paid, they don’t necessarily start out that way, and with a young family to support, this pilot needed the extra income.  Learning the trade with his father, a jack of many trades himself, provided this.  That pilot, and the guy I knew who could help me install a screen enclosure, was my dad.  With proper measurements and a trip to the local hardware store, we finished the job for a few hundred dollars in materials and saved several hundred more by not having to pay someone else.  While this particular job was a new skill in my arsenal, it wasn’t the first I’d learned that was well outside of my regular employment.

Shannon and I married at 21 years old, still finishing up our undergraduate degrees.  Within months after our wedding we immediately tasted of the joys of real life as our car required about $1800 in unexpected repairs.  We were fortunate enough to be good savers and to have received some money in addition to the gifts on our wedding registry, and therefore we were able to pay the bill with cash, but we realized that if we didn’t learn to be resourceful, we wouldn’t be able to survive too many of these visits from our old pal Murphy.  Both of our dads are very resourceful and knowledgeable.  Shannon’s dad can do most anything on a car, put a new roof on a house and complete fairly major electrical and plumbing repairs.  Though he was a pilot by trade, my dad has an engineering mind.  He can wire, build and fix things in the most efficient of ways.  The problem was, I spent very little time as a youth sponging up that available knowledge.  Consequently, as a newly married man, not only did I lack the skill to repair or create, I lacked the correct mindset of a problem solver, able to think critically about a solution.

More than 15 years have passed and things have certainly changed.  This weekend when the power steering pump on our van started to whine, I immediately ordered the parts online and have been counting the days until they arrive and I get to exercise my love for problem solving by tackling yet another first time repair.  Since those initial car repairs Shannon and I determined to learn and become resourceful.  In the past 15 years we estimate that we have easily saved $50,000 in repair and labor bills on car repairs, home renovations, woodworking, troubleshooting and/or installing and replacing appliances, computer and electronic repairs and upgrades and more.  We have become something that is by no means guaranteed in conventional education: lifelong learners, problem solvers and critical thinkers.  At 21, in the face of a problem, our reaction was “we can’t fix this.”  15 years later we’ve re-ordered and slightly altered the worlds to take on a whole new meaning: “how can we fix this?” or as we like to say, “we got this!”

What “can’t” you tackle right now that, with a change in attitude (“how can I tackle this?”) and a bit of learning from an expert (who sometimes comes free in the form of YouTube!), might soon be added to your arsenal of expertise?

You got this.



  1. Mom
    December 4, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Loved it! I know dad will too when he has a chance to see it and read it. Part of parenting is leaving your children in a better position than you are in. Doesn’t always include monetary gains so glad “you got this.”❌⭕️🙏🎶

  2. Jessica Sager
    January 16, 2018 / 6:02 am

    So encouraging! It’s true how easy it is to think “I don’t know how to do that kind of stuff, just call a guy.”. If that guy can figure it out, why can’t I?

    My son inspires me this way. In his short seven years, he’s done more to teach me about removing mental obstacles than I could possibly have learned in a lifetime on my own. I still chuckle thinking about how much clear tape we went through when he was trying to build sturdier structures with his wood blocks. He refused to accept my attempts to explain why it wouldn’t work. When he wanted to recreate something he saw elsewhere (a shopping cart, a stroller, a hand truck – during his “wheeled things” fixation), he never once asked if we could buy a premade toy version. He had total faith – and still does! – in his ability to create anything. I guess my job will be getting out of his way, and being inspired along the way!

    I’m really enjoying your blog! Thanks for sharing so much of your family stories!

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