Should I do my own taxes (the real cost of DIY)?

Often, hiring a professional for a job or a project becomes overwhelming. With many options available on the market, we spend our time and energy looking for the perfect fit. That makes many of us think - should I just do it myself? To learn if DIY is the right path for you, ask yourself questions below.

Do you remember that one time you decided that hiring a plumber (painter/tax accountant/mechanic/lawyer/advisor) to fix the leaking sink issue (any other issue) was a waste of time and money? Rolling up your sleeves, you decided to Do It Yourself...

The ending of that story depends on whether you asked yourself the questions below before taking on the project:

  1. What's the cost difference? When considering the cost difference of doing the project yourself, make sure to take into account time, money, experience (and lack thereof), cost of materials and tools. Most importantly, what is the trade off? Will you be missing (paid) time at work or time with your friends and family? Are the losses greater than the possible savings? Is it possible that the execution of the project will be lacking (read: "disaster") and you will have to pay the professional to redo it, costing you even more time and money?

  2. Is it a stretch project? A stretch project is something that is an extension of your existing skills, but is generally more difficult, complex, or pushes the limits of your comfort zone. If the project is completely out of the scope of your skills or knowledge, will the learning process consume too many resources?

  3. Is it time sensitive? Doing something yourself usually means working with fewer resources or learning as you go. If the project is time-sensitive, it is wise to consider hiring a professional who has the knowhow and the manpower to complete it in a timely fashion. This includes fixing your only car (you can't easily get around without it), filing your taxes for the first time a week before the cutoff, fixing the roof of your house in rainy season.

  4. Do I have (or want to buy) the right tools for the job? Every job or project requires a set of tools. It can be anything from paperclips to tractors. Do you know what tools are required for the job? Do you know where you can buy/rent these tools? Do you know how to use them? Will you ever used them again if you bought them? Do you have the space to store the tools? If the answer is "No" to most of the questions, it may be a good idea to outsource the project to a professional.

  5. What does it impact? Project we encounter in life are rarely 2D. Most often they are an ecosystem, where the perfect (or not so perfect) completion of the project affects other elements. For example, poorly changed oil in your car could lead to problems with your engine, incorrectly filled out taxes could lead to extra fees and a low tax refund. Consider the consequences before starting a project you are not 100% convinced you will succeed in completing.

  6. How awesome is it going to feel to say I did it myself? Completing a challenging project, especially one you thought you couldn't do can feel very rewarding. This feeling often makes the struggle worth it and gives you the energy to take on other projects with greater confidence.

Check out our How to Choose a Professional Checklist to learn how to find the perfect candidate for the job, if you decide that taking on the project yourself is not wise. Remember, there is no shame in saying "No" to a project and allowing a professional to handle it. After all, we can't be amazing at everything.