Become a Jack or Jill of Many Trades
By Shannon M. Medisky
It’s true, knowledge is power, including the power to save money. The more you know and the more skills you have, the less likely you are to have to shell out cash to someone else. A sure-fire way to save money is to invest in yourself. So, get ready and get set to create a better self and a bigger cushion in your budget by using some of the steps and ideas below.
Be king (or queen) and a DIY expert at your castle. Regardless of where you live, small maintenance projects inevitably pop-up. From leaky toilets to jammed garbage disposals to walls to paint, the list literally goes on and on. Why pay someone to tackle these tasks when free education and resources abound? Take a trip to your local library and grab a few books on the topic. Get online and do a search on exactly the information you need 24/7. Visit your local home improvement store for free classes and workshops on a wide variety of DIY projects and skills. Need to visit the hardware store for a replacement part? Stop and ask an employee in the specific store department for a quick tutorial or installation information. Chances are they’re highly knowledgeable and happy to help.
When you DO have to hire an expert, take full (future) advantage of it. While we’d all like to save money all the time, sometimes it’s both a necessary and smart to hire an expert. All is not lost, though. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about what the problem is and how (exactly) they plan to fix it. You’re paying for their time and expertise to make the repair, but you might as well gain a “free” education at the same time. (Word to the wise, though: Feel the professional out. Some are excited to pass along their knowledge and genuinely appreciate you taking an interest in their craft. Others don’t appreciate the distraction. Also worth taking into account, some professionals multi-task better than others. If yours seems to stop working too much in order to make direct eye contact and you’re paying them by the hour, forget about it. It’s far cheaper to keep them on task and snag an education later somewhere else for free!)
Invest in the proper tools to do the job right. There’s no doubt about it, the proper tools can mean the difference between a professional and a hack job and make all the difference between succeeding and completely giving up only to hire an expert anyway. So do be open to investing in tools and supplies that will make your job easier and the outcome more successful, especially for tasks that you may end up repeating in the future anyway. Not too keen on shelling out the cash or storing extra stuff? Consider renting tools from your local hardware store instead.
You are who your friends are. There’s strength—including financial strength in the form of savings—in numbers. Don’t be shy about sharing your skills with friends and family in the hopes they’ll do the same with you. You may be able to trade skills and services, including the how-to knowledge to do so.
Photo credit: Qole Pejorian
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