If you think back to the pre-technological days, most people had a huge variety of talents that they used every day — because they had to. People could do things that ranged from putting in stitches to building a fence to spinning wool. Now people specialize, and hire most other things out. (I don’t know too many people that can put in their own stitches, although I do know at least one who has removed them.)
Specialization can be good in theory, because it means that that person likely knows a LOT about whatever it is they do. But it got me thinking, what kinds of hidden talents do we all have that we could use if we needed or wanted to?
Here are some of the things that I know how to do that fall far outside of my typical line of work:
- Fell a tree & remove the stump safely
- Splint a broken arm
- Pour concrete
- Install tile
- Change a tire
- Change my car’s oil
- Dry fruit
- Paint a mural
- Groom and saddle up a horse
What are some of the hidden talents that you have? Could knowing how to do any of them save you money, even if you choose not to do them?
Whether you’re saving for a down payment or wanting to lose weight, the principle is the same. You can change your life with one simple question: Does what I’m about to do line up with my goals?
It’s just a matter of priorities. You CAN do the things you want most, but you have to make them a priority. This means not allowing a series of little things (that you don’t really care much about in the long run) to derail you.
For example, if you head to the mall to keep a friend company, and see something cool that you’d like, don’t tell yourself “Oh, but I can’t get that because we’re saving for a down payment.” That’s just likely to depress you, and put the focus on all the things you “can’t” have.
Instead, ask yourself if buying the cool item is in line with your goal of saving for a down payment. The obvious answer (“no”) will pop into your head, and you’ll find that you don’t really WANT the item when it comes right down to it. You’d rather have the new house. You’ll get excited about reaching that goal instead.
You’ll make progress (and change your life) one decision at a time. There might be times when you do decide to buy something at the store instead of saving for your larger goal, but that’s alright because you’ll have thought things through carefully. They won’t be fleeting impulses that prevent you from doing what you really want to do. You’ll feel good about your decisions AND reach your larger goal with relative ease.
Irregular expenses often become gotchas that can trip up people when planning for future expenses. These are expenses that we always have, but they are so infrequent compared to our monthly expenses that somehow they consistently slip our mind. It feels like they sneak right up on us. What are some of the things we forget?
1. Car and homeowner’s insurance, if paid quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
2. Car maintenance (tuneups, new tires, timing belts)
3. Christmas & birthdays.
4. Taxes (if filing quarterly, or if you don’t have enough withheld)
5. Property taxes.
6. Checkups at the doctor, dentist, and eye doctor and associated expenses.
7. Shots for pets (and young children).
8. Annual fees & subscriptions (credit card fees, magazines, newspapers)
Taking the time to look back on your spending history for the past year or two can point out things like this that might otherwise be forgotten, saving frustration and aggravation.
Get back to your childhood roots with some of these summertime suggestions.
1. Buy a packet of balloons and have a water balloon fight.
2. Have a 3-legged race.
3. Star gaze.
4. Have cloud contests (stare up at the clouds and compete to see who can make up the best stories about what you see in the clouds).
5. Fly a kite (at the beach, in a park)
6. Walk the dog, or take a walk with a friend.
7. Go swimming. Admission to most neighborhood pools is under a dollar, or there may be a nearby lake to swim in for free.
8. Play cards.
9. Plant some seeds. You can buy a packet of seeds for under a dollar. Planting them is an enjoyable way to connect with the earth and visualize growth.
10. Read a book aloud together.