You’re a new homeowner – congrats! I guess it’s time to hang your first photo. What? You don’t have a drill? And you damaged the drywall? AND the home inspector missed a leaking pipe? You don’t know how much tools cost or what tool brand you like?! Your first trip to the hardware store may be a doozy, but hopefully we can make this easier with some money saving tips for your first toolbox.
Today we’re going over questions to ask yourself, how to pick the right tools for you, resources for learning, and more.
Money Saving Tips
Questions to Ask Before You Buy
First things first, before you even step foot in a hardware store you need to ask yourself the following questions:
“Have I thoroughly researched how to complete my project and what I need to do it?”
Watch a few videos and read a few step-by-step guides on your specific project. Check out the comments to see if other people recommend the method being explained. Doing this research should help you feel confident when walking into the hardware store. You should know what you need to complete the job, and maybe even additional tools in case you need to pivot.
“Am I going to use this tool again or is this a one time tool?”
Tools like drills are going to be used over and over again. But a concrete saw? Probably not. Both of these tools are going to cost money, but a routine tool is worth investing in. A single project tool may be better to rent. Ask yourself this question about smaller tools too. There’s no need to invest in an electric snake drain for a small plumbing clog. Save money with a basic snake drain.
Asking yourself this allows you to form a lifetime view of tools and helps determine what’s worth investing in.
“Am I buying tools to have on hand or do I have a list of projects that I want to complete?”
Did you buy a brand new home or one that needs some upgrades? Someone who only needs tools for the odd fix doesn’t need to spend as much as someone with a list of projects. The first person can more confidently stick to store and discount brands.
“Do I want to make all the repairs on my home or do I want to hire a professional for certain jobs?”
Some people are totally confident in rehabbing, building, and installation, but don’t mess with electrical work. Or maybe you’re totally confident wiring electric, but you have no interest in plumbing issues.
It’s okay to have high-quality tools for one type of home DIY work and none for others. Professionals are experts in their fields, and sometimes an issue arises before you’ve had time to learn and become confident in that skill. Save money by not forcing yourself to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Knowing the answers to at least most of these questions can save you money because they can guide what tools are worth investing in.
Learn About Tool Brands
Alright, you know what you need, you’re ready to go to the store, but there are a million different brands and you have no idea which ones are worth your money. What do you do?
Take a breath, remember your answers from earlier and reflect on them.
Based on your answers you probably fall into two categories:
- Consumer: Typically an everyday homeowner who is looking for more affordable tools that will get light use. They still like reliable tools, but they don’t need to invest as much as someone taking on more serious projects or has regular DIY projects.
- Prosumer: An advanced DIYer who has a lineup of projects that can range in level of difficulty and skill. Their tools tend to receive heavy use and they may even have a few crafts they specialize in or do often, or are working on big projects. They prioritize high-performing tools that hold up well over time to regular or heavy use.
Does one sound more like you? Great, this will direct you toward which tool brand to choose, especially for power tools. This leads to my next and biggest money saving tip for buying tools: Choose one brand for all of your power tools.
Why? Because most power tools are battery powered. This is awesome because it allows you to use most tools unrestricted, but batteries and chargers aren’t cheap. The good news is you technically only need one battery and charger to power a variety of tools of the same voltage. But if you have a bunch of different brands of power tools then you’ll need a bunch of different batteries and chargers, which is not cost effective.
It can be intimidating to pick one power tool brand when you’re first getting started. To make it easy I made a list of the most popular consumer and prosumer brands:
- Consumer Power Tool Brands: RYOBI, reviva, HART, Kobalt, Masterforce, and Bauer.
- Prosumer Power Tool Brands: Milwaukee, DeWALT, Makita, BOSCH, HERCULES, and RIDGID.
This list just scratches the surface as far as power tool brands go. However, it’s a short enough list to do a little research about each brand to help you know which brands are worth investing in.
Reviews & Recommendations
Alright, you know some tool brands, you know what type of tools you need. But how do you know if a brand is really worth it.
My next money saving tip: Ask around.
Ask your family and friends which tool brands they have experience with and why they like or dislike a brand. This may give you some insight on which brand is right for you.
Reading hand tool and power tool reviews is also helpful. Good news, TIA has been writing tool reviews since 2005. We also have write-ups on different manufacturers.
Did you know you don’t have to buy every tool? You can rent them. The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menard’s all allow you to rent tools. I admit, this can be expensive for some smaller items, but is a great way to save on larger items. Rental rates can go by the hour, by the day, a week, and so on.
Personally, my husband and I have rented augers for both of the fences we built and a concrete saw when we took down a retaining wall. This has saved us money from not buying the tool at full price, and because we were able to complete large projects on our own and did not need to hire out.
Also, reach out to your family and friends. They may have tools you can borrow for free and they might even teach you how to use a new tool.
Take Your Time
My last money saving tip for buying tools is less about what to buy and more to give you permission: Take your time.
Take your time to learn. You don’t need to invest in a full tool lineup all at once. You can rent, you can borrow, you can buy one at a time. You can hire out in the beginning and learn later. Not forcing the process can be your most cost effective step overall.
Power Tool Money Saving Tips Wrap-up
In the end, the biggest things that will save you money is knowledge and patience. If you take the time to understand your project, learn about brands, and figure out your ambition level, then you are in good shape for avoiding costly mistake when filling your first toolbox.
If there are any experienced diy’ers reading this, tell us what you brand you use and what kind of work you do.