In a pandemic world, the ability to do things yourself is more essential than ever. Your toilet’s busted? A plumber won’t only cost money, but bring in unwelcome germs. Now that we’re entering a post-pandemic world, hopefully, those new skills have survived. If they haven’t, or if you didn’t learn anything to begin with, no problem, there’s still plenty of time to learn. These are some basic skills we think everyone should have; not only to save money and avoid germs, but to be a more independent and productive member of society. 


Gardening brings with it a lot of baggage. You might think it’s just for old people, or hippies, or it’s just plain hard work, but gardening could mean a variety of things. It could be a small space in your backyard where you grow a few vegetables, it could be keeping a few houseplants alive, or it could be landscaping your front lawn. Gardening can certainly be laborious, sweaty, and dirty (you’re literally dealing with dirt), but in the long run, it actually requires little effort. Once your plants are in the ground, all you need to do is a little watering and trimming here and there. All you need to get started are hand gloves, pruners, a watering can, and good soil (super important). More and more studies come out every year singing the benefits of gardening. 

How great would it be if you could pull some beautiful vegetables out of the ground, after spending very little time tending to them, and turn them into an equally beautiful dish? Cooking is an essential skill, and you don’t have to use garden fresh vegetables to do it (even though it would be nice). Aside from reducing cost, cooking your meals heightens your appreciation for food. It can also be an instrument for relieving stress. Plus, what's safer? Preparing your meals yourself or having a stranger do it? Covid or no Covid, if you have a food allergy or dietary condition, cooking food yourself is far and away the best option.  


Each time you call your handyman to fix your dishwasher or your broken chair or your ceiling fan, try to let their charges sink in. Even when a job done takes five minutes, the price can be exorbitant. Handymen, plumbers, carpenters, and contractors all rely on the fact that you have no idea about the specifics of their job. That way they can charge whatever they want and avoid questions.  Learning how to fix things around the house will save you money on two fronts. If it’s a minor issue, you’re now able to handle it yourself, and if it’s a major issue that requires a specialist, you at least know enough to make sure they charge you a reasonable price. Some basic handyman skills include changing your car’s oil, washing your car properly, putting up wallpaper, painting walls and furniture, unclogging sinks and toilets, hanging pictures and art, and staining wood. 

Obviously learning these skills requires a wide variety of materials. Getting a basic toolkit from your local hardware store is a good start, but you’re going to need to buy the right products for whichever project you’re doing. That’s also the best way to improve (at any of these skills really). Pick something in your home that needs work (fixing a squeaky chair, cleaning tile grout, etc.) and get to work. People can be particularly nervous when working on their home, on the account that they don’t want to break something; but the only way you learn to fix, is by breaking first.  


Knowing how to properly care for your clothing involves way more than just doing laundry (and you probably aren’t even doing that totally right). The better you care for your clothes, the longer they last, and the less you spend on new clothes or waste by throwing away old ones. Proper laundry care is actually more complex than you might think, especially when it comes to caring for your delicates (underwear and formal wear) and certain kinds of denim. Beyond that, it can be valuable to learn how to sew. Sure it’s a traditionally “feminine” role, but who gives a shit really. We don’t mean you should be sewing your own clothes from scratch, but you should know how to tack on a new button when one falls off (as it will inevitably do) or stitch up a tear. If you’re into sewing, you could eventually get creative with it and stitch a rainbow into your old pair of jeans (or whatever design speaks to you). 

For laundry, you need pretty much what you already have like detergent, fabric softener, and bleach (although it can be helpful to have vinegar and even club soda for certain stains). For sewing and mending, you can purchase a basic sewing kit that should have everything you need. 

Sure, saving money with these skills is great. Plus, if you get good enough at some of these things, you could turn them into another form of income. But at the end of the day, things break, and the people who have the skills and the knowledge to fix things when they break, become more confident, independent, and responsible citizens.