Many valuable, money-saving life skills have been lost over the past few generations and it is truly a shame. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers really knew how to stretch a dollar. While our livelihood is no longer dependent upon mastering these skills, our budgets could benefit from a general working knowledge about them.
The ability to use a needle and thread or a sewing machine for minor clothing repairs and hems is a great way to extend the life of your clothing and home decor. I cannot sew my own clothing or make any drastic alterations, but I can fix up a few throw pillows, hem curtains, and do some light and creative mending (my husband has a special talent for ripping pants). Don’t look too closely because my seams are far from perfect, but it gets the job done and saves us money. My throw pillows are actually pretty cute. Fabric can be quite expensive, but you can get creative and look for sheets or curtains on clearance, online companies with reduced fabric, or even old clothing to repurpose. Pinterest is a goldmine for ideas and suggestions.
It does not take much skill to throw a bunch of ingredients in the crockpot. I grew up helping my mom cook, but this has still been a work in progress in my adult years. Making sure the meat is done but not too done while simultaneously trying to prepare the veggies and clean up after yourself so that everything is finished at the same time takes some practice! Cooking at home is healthier, cheaper, and often times more delicious than eating out. Also, bringing people into your house to share a meal around your table is such a joy. You don’t have to learn how to braise a rack of lamb, but have a few dishes in your recipe book that you really make well. Don’t be afraid to experiment. We’ve had more than one failed meal at my house. We usually ate it anyway because dumping food is like throwing out money, but we learned and we didn’t repeat the mistake. Again, Pinterest can provide you with a plethora of recipes. You can follow my “Meal Prep” Pinterest board here to help you find make-ahead recipes.
Learn how to paint walls and furniture and how to spray paint pretty much anything you want to freshen up. So many things can look brand new with a fresh coat of paint. I’ll be doing a more detailed post later about how to repaint furniture. We have repainted or restained almost every piece in our house and we have gradually gone from a house full of mismatched old furniture to a cohesive home with a rustic, cottage look. The best part is that most of our furniture came from Craigslist, family members, Facebook furniture sites, or yard sales. While you’re working on a project like this, all you can see is the flaws, but after you finish it, you will be SO proud of yourself! Paint is much cheaper than a new set of furniture and you will be amazed at what a difference it can make.
This one is my biggest challenge on the list! I took Botany classes in college, researched gardening on Pinterest, and phoned some homesteading friends and I still killed everything. I seriously do not know why I cannot keep plants alive, but I am really terrible at it. My whole job is to keep people alive and I don’t struggle with that nearly as much as I do with a garden (thank goodness!). Even so, I’m going to try again this spring. I’m pinning and reading already to try and figure out what the heck I’m doing wrong. We are renting so I am planting in garden boxes and my space is limited. My goal is to grow a few high-yield vegetables with the space, but so far, I have not had much of a harvest. This past year, we adopted a newborn in the spring so I’m going to use that as my excuse for the 2016 crop failure. Rest assured, the baby is growing just fine. Here’s to hoping next year will be my year to save money with a garden!
This one is closely linked to gardening, so I haven’t had the opportunity to practice it as much as I would like. I have, however, canned salsa and strawberry jam when the produce was in season and deeply discounted. It’s even cheaper when you can go to a farm and pay to pick it yourself. There is something enormously satisfying about opening your pantry and seeing a shelf full of home-canned food. You will feel like you probably could have survived in the prairie days until you remember there was no indoor plumbing. After initially purchasing the jars, canning is inexpensive and you can cook the food in enormous batches to save time. Home-canned foods also make great gifts and cost you very little.
This life skill is one our ancestors wished they had been fortunate enough to use. Learn how to use YouTube, Google, and Pinterest to make minor repairs around the house. My mother has fixed a garbage disposal, washing machine, and toilet by watching YouTube videos. Do you know how much it costs to have a plumber come to fix those things? The house call alone is usually a minimum of $75. Don’t be disassembling your home’s plumbing or anything, but do a little research to see if it’s a simple fix before you pay a professional. You may be surprised by how much you can do yourself with a little guidance from the world wide web.
Gather up your supplies and your computer (or your grandmother) and start learning! What other life skills would you recommend mastering (or basically understanding) to save money?