DIY in the Kitchen and in the Retirement Account

“They’ll let you buy fresh dough and do it yourself,” Harrison offered. “You just get it in a big ball of dough, take it home and make your own. It’s cheaper!”

I started thinking about flour all over the kitchen counter (and floor), chopping up dozens of ingredients, a hot oven and my spotty history of culinary burnt offerings.

Before I could get the words out, Melinda announced, “I think we’ll just let them make the pizza.”

I never confirmed that Roma’s would or wouldn’t sell us fresh dough made their own special way. Knowing that I could get the finished product from them – a piping hot Margarita pizza with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and tangy basil made on a thin, light crust made me lose interest in trying my own hand at such a creation. 

Roma Italian Bistro makes wonderful pizza. I want wonderful pizza. It isn’t important to me to find out if I could do just as well for less. I already know I couldn’t, but even if I could…I don’t want to.

That’s not true for everyone. Someone else may get lots of satisfaction deciphering the secret behind the creation of a perfect pizza. Good for them. Let them buy the lump of dough. I want a hot pizza, made to order, hot and ready when I pick it up.

Much of what we read about money today seems to be written by folks who regard Doing-It-Yourself (DIY) as a near religion. Why would anyone pay a fee or a commission for another human being to provide a financial service for you when you can do it perfectly well yourself?

Of course, one answer could be, “Well, I can’t do it perfectly well myself!” 

My own unscientifically measured experience is that about 10% of the population is equipped by education and temperament to do it themselves…to be DIYers. 

The rest of us may do better either staying out of the kitchen, allowing someone else to do the cooking, or at least inviting someone else in to help us do the cooking. 

If you are considering a DIY approach, ask yourself the following questions:

Procrastination. Is telling yourself you are going to DIY just a way to put off until later making hard choices today?

Perfectionism. Can you make good decisions that you put into action without being paralyzed by perfectionism? Often DIYer works on something until it is “perfect.” But perfect is a pretty unattainable goal. Which means you may be working on one area of your finances (i.e., your budget), trying to make it perfect, while ignoring other equally important areas, giving them no attention at all.

Price focus vs. value focus. If often hear that this investment or that fund is good because it has the “lowest fees.” Maybe they do. 

But do you drive a Tata Nano? No? Well, based on what I’ve read, it may be the world’s least expensive car at 236,447 rupees, or about $3,400. And its got four wheels, a steering wheel, doors, and a motor. Just like any other car, right?

OK, maybe not. 

And maybe the lowest price doesn’t always mean the highest value. Maybe it never does. 

It does no good to save money on the pizza ingredients if you burn the pizza or otherwise don’t enjoy the result. 

Most of us are working to become financially independent. If you can move in that direction all by yourself, great. Keep going. 

But if you can’t, stop wasting time feeling bad about needing help. Most of us enlist help in every significantly important area of our lives. Your financial life should be no less important. 

Decide if you are a do-it-yourselfer (DIY) or a do-it-with-help-er (DIWH).

Both are fine. But only one is right for you.

You decide.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information at

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