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Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m a “do-it-yourself-er”. There, I said it, and I’m proud of it. Want to learn how to save big money by doing things yourself? Read on…
When I was growing up, my dad did everything himself. No matter what it was, even if he didn’t know exactly how to do it, he would find books or other professionals in the area to glean from enough to do the job he needed done.
It wasn’t always a matter of money, although sometimes it was. My father felt that no one else cared more about your project than YOU. Determined to do things right, the first time, he insisted on doing things himself.
Being the oldest of two daughters, I hung out with dad quite a bit as a child. Watching him work to improve our home, in the evenings after his day job, was a fascinating way for me to spend my time! I loved the sound of power tools and smell of sawdust all over the garage!
Dad always encouraged us girls to at least try to fix things ourselves. He helped us to build our own toolboxes so that we would have basic tools for any job.
If the kitchen drain was clogged, he showed us how to get under the cabinet so that we could work on it. After getting a bucket to put under the trap, he showed us how to take off the pipes and clear the drain. Whether it was electrical, car problems or the roof leaking, Dad always insisted on showing his daughters how things worked and how to fix them.
Here’s the big takeaway from my father:
TRY to figure out or fix things yourself. If you mess it up, you can always call the repairman!
Back in the day, people did more for themselves than they do now. The economic landscape was very different prior to the Industrial Revolution. Goods and service weren’t as available as they are today, leaving people to learn the skills of everyday life themselves.
Frankly, I think we could all benefit from that kind of thinking. The DIY mindset is truly what homesteading is all about!
Further, we truly need to teach our children these critical life skills! Too little emphasis has been placed on them, leaving us with a generation of young people who don’t know how to do much of anything for themselves.
So, let’s get down to it! What can you do for yourself to improve not only your bottom line, but increase your overall resilience?
1. Cut Your Family’s Hair
Let me be clear. I’ve never attended cosmetology school. Nor do I have a relative that cuts hair to learn from. We’re talking “no skill level whatsoever” on this one!
However, when my first son was born with a head full of blonde hair about 25 years ago, I realized that this child would need to visit the barber often! But, we put it off as long as possible!
Once he was about 18 months old, his hair was so long, we had no choice.
This happened at a time in our lives when I was leaving the workforce to be at home with my children, as we chose to live on one income. Money was tight.
Then our next son was born…with lots of long hair! Time for a cheaper solution. I need to learn to do this myself!
PC’s were barely heard of at that point, so instructional videos from YouTube were not an option. But one day, I found a Wahl haircutter (which I highly recommend!) at the grocery store, with an instructional VHS tape! Bingo! The rest is history.
Was I perfect at it? No. Did I get better over time? Absolutely!
I saved thousands of dollars cutting my 6 boys hair over the years. (Yes, more children came!) All this to say that I never really got the hang of girl’s hair, other than bangs, so we kept simple styles that didn’t need trimmed that often.
2. Manage Your Home’s Maintenance Schedule
The best way to avoid costly repairs is to be consistent with your maintenance!
Creating a maintenance schedule for your home will not only save you money, but time and hassle. By having a monthly, quarterly and annual home maintenance schedule in place, staying on task will be simple.
3. Groom Your Own Dogs
This is a new one for me.
I have had quite a few dogs in my life, mostly rescue dogs, that never required any special grooming.
Enter Remington Michael a couple of Christmases ago.
He was a surprise from my husband and I love this dog dearly. However, being a Havanese, he needs cut regularly. Taking him to the groomer was fun for one or two times, but then the hassle of it and the bill got old…fast!
Dog grooming can cost more than an adult’s haircut! What the??!
So, since Remi isn’t going anywhere, I decided to look into grooming him myself and guess what? The very same Wahl clippers that are used to cut human hair are simply re-labeled as dog clippers! I got a cheap grooming table, which pays for itself after a couple of cuts, and I’m good to go! He doesn’t look as good as when the professional does it, but he looks pretty darned good and my skills improve every time I trim him.
4. Take Care of Your Car
The average cost rose 1.17 cents to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.
“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,”
John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
We always buy good used cars and carry liability insurance, but still, repairs and maintenance can really add up!
Using a car maintenance schedule chart can really be useful in staying current on your car’s maintenance! Do some research about your car/cars and make an effort to learn some basic maintenance that you can accomplish on your own, every dollar you can save goes straight to your bottom line.
5. Workout at Home
I’ll confess that I was a total gym-rat in my 20’s. My workouts began before dawn, afterwards I showered and dressed for work in the locker room. Then I proceeded to walk about 1/2 mile to work (all downtown and in my sneakers) before changing into my heels for the day.
I was crazy.
Now that I’m in my 50’s, with lots of aches, pains and injuries from that time period, I don’t engage in harsh workouts. I am a big fan of natural movements that get my heart pumping and increase strength gently. Building functional strength helps me to develop a strong body that puts more focus on everyday performance rather than superficial appearances.
That said, I don’t go to the gym anymore for many reasons.
A. I’m a major introvert.
B. I don’t like to have to get in the car and go.
C. It’s full of germs.
D. It messes with me in terms of comparison.
E. It takes too much time.
F. It costs money.
Besides, it’s just too easy to workout at home! I use some weights that I picked up at a garage sale years ago, walk the dogs, lift beehives, do farm chores and lift 50# bags on a regular basis. It works for me and I can do it whenever I want, at the pace I want. It fits into my everyday life, and so it gets done.
Find what works for you and do your best to keep a routine. Use what you have access to! Do you have property that you can walk/run around to get your heart rate up? Do you have trails nearby? How about a city park?
6. Make Your Own Fun
It’s far too easy to spend money to entertain ourselves these days.
Just going to see a movie can cost an arm and a leg! Not to mention a meal out! Geez!
Back in the day, when I was a kid in the 70’s, things were a bit different…and better in my mind. After the evening meal, our parents would clean up the meal and play LP records. Coffee was made and my parents would often sit outside and chat. All of us kids went back outside to play and savor the last couple hours of sunlight. We only came inside when it was really dark, after catching lots of lightning bugs!
It was pretty rare that our parents left the house for a date, maybe 3-4 times a year, and it was a very big deal when a babysitter came over.
My point is that money wasn’t spent for entertainment very often, our homes and yards were our entertainment.
For some of us (introverts), entertaining myself is easy…I enjoy being alone and reading a book or sewing. Other folks need a bit more kick to their off-time, so how about 55 Ways to Entertain Yourself???
7. Grow Your Own Food
Keeping a garden is not only a fabulous way to keep yourself entertained, as well as exercise your body, but you’ll save money and feed your body healthy food!
I’m big about growing food, even in the smallest amount.
Have you seen the prices of fresh, organic lettuce and salad makings at the store? It’s ridiculous and most of the time, the quality is poor. Do you know how easy it is to just grow some lettuce and radishes in a window box? Or a small corner of your yard?
Our family has grown much of our own food for years now, graduating to raising our own beef this year. It takes time to learn what works for you and your climate, but gardening is such a worthy endevour emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and financially!
8. Preserve Your Food
Once you begin to enjoy the fresh food you grow, you’ll see the importance of preserving that food!
After all the work and investment, you’ll want to make your gorgeous fruits and vegetables last into the winter. You’ll save money all the way around by having a working pantry full of food that you put up yourself!
Also, remember that you don’t necessarily have to grow the food you put up! I canned pineapple last year with “loss leader” pineapple from the store! Knowing how to can and preserve food will allow you take advantage of “loss leaders” as well as taking advantage of your friend’s excess garden produce!
If you’re looking for a “hands-on” class, check out your local extension office for classes, or better yet, get grandma on the phone and ask her to teach you! I taught my new daughter-in-law last year and once she got the hang of it, she ran with it!
9. Cook Your Own Meals
People get all hung up on this one.
A “meal” doesn’t have to be a fancy, over-thought thing. Mealtime looks different for every family, but just make a plan to eat a home and stick with it.
When our children were younger, we were feeding a pretty big tribe each and every meal, so meal-planning was a more complex thing at that time in my life. With a weekly plan, though, it was achievable.
Today, with just 2 teenagers at home with different schedules, they pretty much fend for themselves. I try to keep a couple of casseroles in the frig, as well as fresh fruits and veggies, and sandwich fixings.
Keep it simple. Serve up what’s in season. Make a buffet of good breads, cheese and fruit for everyone to munch on.
Don’t limit yourself to standard meal ideas, sometimes I’ll eat leftovers from last night’s meal for breakfast! Some of our favorite dinners are soup and sandwiches or breakfast!
10. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
I seriously dislike commercial cleaning products. I can’t even stand to walk down that isle in the grocery store! The toxins and artificial fragrances give me an immediate headache! Oh, and the prices!!! Absolutely ridiculous! You can make your own for pennies at home, it’s just so simple!
The amount of homemade cleaning product recipes probably amount to millions on-line. But, I truly keep it simple at my house, using vinegar and water as the base of most of my cleaning products.
Simple Living Mama has a sweet, little print-out available right here with lots of recipes to get to started and save a ton of money!
It wasn’t until the 1940’s or so that there were commercial pet foods on the market. Prior to that, dogs ate what the humans didn’t finish….food scraps.
Later, by the 1980’s or so, the pet food market picked up steam and became the mega-business it is today. In 2011, it was a $61 BILLION market, and $23.05 billion was spent on food alone! Americans will spend about 1% of their income on their pets annually, vet care being the number one expense, food is second.
But do you have the time to make your own dog food? You will if you coordinate what you’re already cooking for your family with these recipes!
The laundry detergent isle is another isle that I cannot go down! When it’s so cheap and easy to make your own! I can make 10 gallons of detergent for around $3, that’s an incredible savings!
Homemade and handmade gifts are one of a kind, personal and made with love. How can you beat that?
With some planning, you can be ready for special occasions and the holidays. Whether you sew, crochet, knit, carve wood or can food, you can easily create a stash of gifts that will be ready at a moment’s notice!
14. Repair and Make Your Clothes
There was a time when I couldn’t thread a needle, much less make a stitch.
Over time, I taught myself to sew, at a time before the internet was around. Using the library, I struggled to stitch a straight line for a long time.
Today, it is so much easier to learn these skills with the internet and websites like Bluprint! I am a member of Bluprint myself and am always learning new things!
If you don’t have a sewing machine, start with hand-sewing! Watch a few videos and learn how to make a few stitches properly, this would at least allow you to do some repairs on clothing. Learn the proper way to sew on a button!
You’ll progress in time and be ready for more difficult projects.
Can I encourage you to save up for a sewing machine? I’m telling you, it’s so easy to make pillows, blankets and drapes for your home! All you have to do is sew a straight line (for the most part)! If I can do this, YOU can do this. I found my Singer on Amazon during a Black Friday sale for $79, totally worth every cent!
15. Take Care of Your Electronics
This one is huge in terms of saving you money!
PC’s and cell phones can cost you an arm and leg!! Learning to maintain them regularly will extend their lives and save you a lot of time and hassle. It’s a waste of time and effort to lose all your information.
16. Save Seeds and Grow Perennials
When you are a plant/flower lover, it’s easy to go overboard. Annuals (plants that only live for one season) can cost you a bundle, very quickly.
Years ago, I moved toward perennials (plants that come up year after year) in my vegetable and flower gardens.
Perennials are fabulous for many reasons:
-They come up year after year.
-Perennials are less work overall.
-Perennials can be split and shared or expanded.
-Once they’re planted, they cost you nothing!
Seed saving is a skill that I’m working on currently. Yes, I save some seeds, but I haven’t been as faithful as I should be. I’m changing that this year!
Here is the low-down on seed saving from Mother Earth News!
17. Barter for What You Can’t Do
At the end of the day, we can’t do it all.
We all reach a point when we can’t do anymore, whether we run out of time, energy or both. It’s okay to rely on others to help meet our needs!
It’s also okay not to pay for it!
Bartering is a long-lost skill that’s making a comeback! Bartering is nothing more than an exchanging of goods or services, without paper money.
I’ve bartered for many things, using my resources as payment. For example, I bartered some homemade soap and honey for 10 chickens! How cool is that? Of course, you will need to find folks who are willing to barter, but believe me, they’re out there! Most homesteaders are totally open to it!
Here’s to keeping more money in our pockets!