Do it yourself instead of breaking the bank

Courtney Kerrigan

Cut costs by learning DIY tips

With college comes independence. Students finally escape the grasp of parental control, which in most cases, means the loss of financial support as well.

Every car malfunction and clothing mishap comes from the pockets of students themselves. But it doesn’t need to.

Instead of breaking the bank when a taillight goes out or when a drink is spilled on the rug, students can learn how to achieve the simplest tasks without spending a fortune.


Clothes don’t come cheap these days, and with every rip and stain, the value goes down along with the item in the trash.

Instead of pitching battered clothes and ultimately throwing away money, a simple needle and thread or some household products can fix any rip or stain.

Mike Jabbour, owner of Jabbour’s Clothing and Tailoring in Stow, said students can easily sew seams or buttons on any piece of clothing.

“It’s pretty easy to sew a button — I mean, you could teach a kid to do it,” he said. “I see kids come in here, and they don’t even know how to do that.”

A spool of thread at Wal-Mart costs 96 cents and a package of needles costs 97 cents. So for about $2, students can thread their own needle and reconnect a button to a coat or shirt in less than five minutes.

Jabbour’s charges about $12 to hem pants, but he said with some help, students can hem their own.

“If you have someone stand behind you and mark your pants, then all you have to do is cut about half an inch below that, fold under and sew it,” he said.

Jabbour suggested students go to a professional to taper pants, replace zippers and hem jeans.

Rips and tears are easily fixed, but when students find stains on their clothes, most tend to pitch them without thinking twice.

Junior fashion merchandising major Samantha Gray said she uses household products to get most stains out instead of store products.

“Well, most people know that club soda removes stains, but I once spilled red wine all over me, and I actually used white wine to get the stain out,” she said.

She added that she uses hydrogen peroxide to get coffee stains out and vinegar for beer stains.

For upholstery, shaving cream also works to lift stains.

Cleaning products

Cleaning isn’t generally on college students’ “To Do” lists, but when the motivation finally kicks in, they can spend money elsewhere by making their own cleaning products.

Cleaning specialists site offers various formulas made from household products.

An all-purpose cleaner can easily be thrown together with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, a dab of liquid soap and two cups of hot water.

To freshen up carpet, sprinkle a little baking soda over dry carpet and let it sit for about 15 minutes and then vacuum.

“I’ve sprinkled baking soda in my shoes before and let them sit outside for a couple hours to get rid of the smell,” Gray said.

Window cleaner can be made with 1/2 teaspoon of liquid detergent, three tablespoons of vinegar and two cups of water.

Also combining lemon juice with mineral oil serves as a nice furniture polisher.


Glenn Sanders, manager of AutoZone in Kent, said students could do easy car fixes on their own, such as checking their fluid and oil, changing headlights and putting air in tires.

“It depends on the ability of the student,” he said. “If you first know how to open the hood of your car, you could change your washer fluid or windshield wipers.”

If students took their cars to a garage for the same fix, Sanders said the garage would most likely charge for about a half hour or hour of work, costing students about $60 to $80.

At Wal-Mart, Blue Coral windshield washer fluid costs $2.50, and AutoZone does the job for free.


With local flea markets and used furniture stores nearby, students can buy inexpensive items and fix them up themselves.

Gray said when she moved into her apartment, she took an old kitchen table and spray painted it black and then painted the chairs red and pink to complement it.

Students can also cover coffee or end tables with thrifty drapery or blankets and place picture frames or candles on top. Items can then be stored underneath the table.

John Spindler, owner of Homeplace in Kent, sells used and antique furniture such as tables, chairs, dressers and lamps, ranging in price from $6 for a shelf to $300 for an antique chair.

“Most often students realize that Ohio is a great place to buy stuff because a lot of them will come in and buy some stuff to take back home,” he said. “I have items all over the country.”

Contact student finance reporter Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].