Frugal living is not only about mad coupon clipping and refraining from buying almost all non-essentials. It’s a lifestyle. And as being a lifestyle it requires a specific mindset, and of course certain skills that will help you spend less money and be more self-dependent. I put together this list of skills that help me and I hope would help you as well. I excluded the obvious tips like having self-control and figuring out the basics of money-management, and tried to be as specific as possible. This six different skills will help you save money and improve yourself.
1. Sewing to Fix Clothes
Ever found a hole in a sock and just threw it away, because you couldn’t be bothered with taking it to your mom? Being able to do minor fixes in fabric can save you not only a lot of socks, but also boxers, stockings, pants, and any other wearable goodness. To lean how to hand sew, check out this great video tutorial from PandemicApparel. Oh yeah, did you know that by applying nail polish to a hole in stockings will keep it from tearing further?
2. Home repair saves money
Knowing how to read the IKEA instructions and how to use ‘that funny L-shape key’, as well as being able to apply caulk to bathtub corners, changing the faucet head, or lubricating door hinges will save you lots of money and trouble. I found this website that can be of help for learning these skills. Having a ‘DIY mindset’ is very helpful as well, by which I mean trying to create something ourselves, rather than buying it at a store.
3. Basics of computers and electronics
In this era, it’s pretty hard to get by without knowing a few basic things about electronics. Even if you’re not too eager about learning this stuff, it will definitely help you make better shopping decisions and save you money for repair. Changing batteries shouldn’t be a problem, but what about replacing a dead hard drive disc? Try this tutorial if you’re a total newbie or even if you know the basics. After this initial stage, things can get a lot more complicated, but there are few things that Google doesn’t know. Searching for error messages will often lead to the solution. Be sure to put the question in quotes on Google to be sure you are getting other people’s questions related to the same error message.
4. Buying skills
Knowing how to negotiate is an indispensable skill to have, especially when you’re buying used things off Craigslist or similar. When trying to negotiate a price, be nice, respectful, and understand the seller’s view, but still appear ruthless and stand your ground. Start some small talk, ask about their family – if they like you, it will be more likely they’ll want to help you out. In the beginning of the discussion, get them to negotiate against themselves with phrases like “How much lower can you get?”, and then keep quiet so they’ll feel obliged to say something. Point out downsides of the product, even if they are not the seller’s faults. You can find many more tips for better negotiating here. As well as knowing how to negotiate, it’s important that you always approach a new product or service with a healthy dose of skepticism. Scammers use big words just to confuse you (ex. not all ‘studies’ are reliable). This is essential to frugal living.
5. Cooking simple meals
To save money, you’ll obviously need to know how to cook because food represents a huge part in an average household budget. But only knowing how to cook won’t be enough, you’ll also need to learn basics about nutrition. Learning time! So, basically what our bodies need are carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, vitamins and minerals, and fat. Carbohydrates are found in starch foods, bread, sweet foods, etc. We need them for energy and we need then to be about 45% – 65% of our daily diet. Next there are proteins found in fish, meat, dairy, and nuts, that are mainly used for building muscle and other tissue, these should be 10%-25% of daily intake. 20% – 30% of it should be fats. Fibres, vitamins and minerals should be ingested in smaller percentage. Okay, so now that you know the core basics, go read this Lifehacker article.
6. Basic car maintenance
Owning a car is pretty expensive on its own, buy paying a mechanic to change oil, replace fuel and air filters, or replacing headlight bulbs is just outrageous. AutoMD has some great tutorials to go though. It pays off to dedicate a weekend to learning these tricks and getting familiar with your car, as well as some training in changing a tire and prepping the car for emergency situations.