Simple DIY skills to learn to save money
Lockdown has forced us to be more self-sufficient because convenient options just haven’t been available – or – as convenient! We already cut my partner and our children’s hair before lockdown, but not being able to get to a hairdresser for mine has been the little push we needed for me to brave doing mine at home. OK, it’s not the best haircut I’ve ever had, but it was free and looked better than before, so totally worth trying again. It’s a great example of how picking up just one DIY skill can save hundreds a year.
Learning to do something myself not only saves money but can also be really satisfying. If you are the kind of person who likes the idea of financial independence, you probably also like being self-sufficient and not needing to rely on somebody else to do, make or fix something.
There’s often an investment of time upfront to learn a new skill, but it can also open up a new “can do” mindset. I’ve found that once I try one new thing, I’m more likely to think “well, how hard can it be” when the next thing comes up. It’s also much more satisfying.
Last year I slowly worked my way through garden landscaping jobs that would have cost hundreds to outsource, and now every time I look at the garden I feel a flush of pride that I wouldn’t feel if I had paid somebody else to do it.
This got me thinking about other skills that are worth picking up to not only save money but also build up a self-sufficiency toolkit.
Back to my first example, learning some simple haircutting techniques can save hundreds a year, particularly if you have a family. My daughter has a fringe so we are able to keep it trimmed at home quite often without needing to arrange a trip to a salon each time. For my partner we invested in clippers, and bought proper haircutting scissors for the kids and my hair. The internet is awash with videos showing how to cut hair at the moment. If you are the impatient type and just want to get started then remember to try on dry hair if you’re a beginner. It’s much easier to see how it’s likely to turn out that way.
Learning some simple sewing techniques will mean that you can mend or darn your clothes instead of immediately replacing them. It can also lead to a creative new hobby, or even a side hustle. A sewing machine and other kit can be an expensive outlay at the beginning, but you can get far with a simple machine. I have a friend who started sewing just a few years ago with a £40 machine she bought from Lidl and now has a business selling children’s clothes (and still uses the same machine!).
Another lockdown favourite, learning to bake bread means you can always have a good quality staple at home to use as the basis for cheap and easy meals. My partner is a keen sourdough baker (see his handiwork in the picture above). We started buying 16kg bags of flour when supermarkets were out of the normal bags. It now costs us about £1 to make a big high quality sourdough loaf (see the picture above) which would cost about £3 at a farmer’s market. You could get the cost down to 50p a loaf with cheaper flour.
Growing own herbs
I cannot express the level of smugness that I feel as I walk back into the house with a fragrant handful of home grown herbs for dinner, but I’ll try! Growing your own herbs will not only save money but also cut down on waste. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a bag of mint that hasn’t ended up as half a bag of brown leaves, or a bag of coriander that hasn’t gone a bit slimy. The wonderful thing about having a little kitchen garden is being able to use just as much as you need and always having the herbs available. It saves money and single use plastic. Those bags can’t be recycled! For ultimate savings grow from seed.
Learning to propagate plants
The next level up is learning to propagate plants, which is a really inexpensive way to fill your garden. Plant swaps are also becoming more popular now, so if you can grow some excess plants that will give you some “currency” to use at a swap, or just to give to friends.
Making birthday cards
I love this one because not only can you save money by making your own birthday (or thank you/congratulations/christmas) cards, but it is (probably) so much nicer for the person receiving it! Even if you are not very creative, Pinterest is jam packed with ideas you can copy. You just need some good quality thick paper, glue and pens and you can be ready for any occasion. Stock up on stamps too and you totally eliminate the need to go out (other than to the post office…). This is perfect for those who not only want to continue their lockdown savings but have also realised they really rather like staying at home.
What money saving skills have you picked up and what bonus benefits have you found?