Something was wrong with the clothes washing machine. It was going through all the cycles but the clothes just weren’t coming clean. I lifted the lid, popped off the cap to the agitator and gave it a look. I turned the agitator with my hand to see what kind of action I would get. I noticed when I turned the agitator clock-wise, four plastic nodules flared out from inside the center cylinder and would brush past an outer cylinder with teeth all the way around it. It was obvious. It was simple. The four plastic nodules (I later learned were called dog agitators) were supposed to have grippers on the end that would catch the teeth in the outer cylinder and create the agitation movement needed to wash the clothes. The dog agitators were completely worn out. I went to the computer, typed in my model with a description of the problem, and a YouTube video popped up. In a free, six minute demonstration, I confirmed what I suspected and was assured it was an easy fix. The next day, I picked up dog agitators at Sears for $10. In just under 2 minutes, the clothes washing machine was fixed and I was hero-of-the-day.

One question the guy in the YouTube video asked really caught my attention. He asked how many washers were set out on the curb for trash over this simple fix. I am going to let you in on a secret that will save you thousands and thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Here it is. Almost every man-made thing you come into contact with on a daily basis is simple. It’s true! You might have learned this had you taken one of those shop classes in high-school you thought you were too good for. Or maybe you didn’t have a handy father around to let you in on this secret.

I think the internet is the greatest tool ever invented. Whenever anything stops functioning properly or not at all, I go straight to Google to trouble-shoot and then kick back to find my solution and watch a video showing me what I need and how to do it. Some people would have thrown away a perfectly good washer and bought another one for $600. Others may have called a technician and had it fixed for $105. I spent $10 and impressed my wife.

Let me share more examples with you. My water quit flowing into the house. I have a well. I had a buddy come over and we did our internet trouble-shooting and video watching together. We determined the pump in the well was no longer working. In a day, we replaced the well pump/motor. Had I hired out the job, I would have paid upwards of $2,000. Instead, I did it myself with a friend and it only cost me $350 for the pump, one day of my life and a six pack of beer.

This summer, I noticed water stains in one of the bathroom ceiling. Some folks would have called a roofer and had their whole roof replaced, convinced the age of the roof was such that it was time. Instead of getting several thousand dollars in the hole over a leak, I went up on the roof myself and had a look. I determined it was the caulking around the vent. It was baked and cracked from the sun over the years and it just needed re-caulked. So a $3,000 roof replacement ended up being an $8 tube of caulk and an enjoyable moment on the roof viewing my property from a new angle.

Now I know cars are not that simple but the reality is, cars are made up of a bunch of simple mechanisms. When something goes wrong, you will often be able to take care of it yourself and with YouTube, there is always someone there to show you exactly what tools you need and how to do it. If this wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be so many auto parts chain stores all over the place. Sometimes a car fix is too complicated or requires tools I do not have but at least I know before I hand it over to a mechanic.

I wish I had a running tab on the amount of money I have saved over the years doing things myself. I encourage everyone, men and women, to get into the habit of using the internet to save money. And remember, almost everything made by man is simple. If man made it, then another man (you) can fix it.

Eric Daniel Brown