We have a rare and sometimes debilitating syndrome in our family. Typically it is passed through the male chromosome, but females can inherit it too. It often results in embarrassing and socially awkward situations. There's no name for it, but it basically can be summed up as an acute case of unwarranted overconfidence.
Let me give you an example.
When we were in college (before we were married), my husband went to a barber for a hair cut every three weeks and paid $10. Being the typical poor college student, he would complain about how much a haircut cost. Well, I had watched my mom cut dad's hair for years and decided, how hard could it be?
I convinced Matt that I could cut his hair just as well as the barber for free. Just think of all the money he would save!
Of course, it was harder than it looked (I had never actually used hair clippers before) and I will never forget the panicked look on his face when I blurted "Oops!" right after cutting a bald spot in the side of his head. Luckily he forgave me…after a while…and even let me try again. Much later. I've cut his hair for the last twenty years--and got much better at it, even if I do say so myself!
There is something very satisfying about doing things yourself. Embracing a frugal lifestyle for my husband and myself has meant forcing ourselves to learn new skills or look at problems in a unique way for solutions, even if those attempts sometimes end in failures. ;)
Here are some ways other creative ways you can begin saving money on goods and services.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but in our consumer-driven culture, it's easy to think something is damaged beyond repair and pitch it without even trying to find a creative way to repair it. But, they say necessity is the mother of invention.
For example, my nephew (who is 6 ft tall and bigger than my husband), sat on the edge of our dining room table, cracking the oak pedestal base where the top affixes. The table was hanging at a 45-degree angle, completely unusable. A new dining room table was not in the budget, so my husband removed the top, bolted a metal plate against the cracked part to draw it back together and secure it, then replaced the top. We've used it another 3 years with no problems.
If you can't fix something, try to re-purpose it or salvage anything useable from it before tossing.
We once had a computer that was beyond repair. Since we were going to pitch it, my son wanted to take it apart first to see how a computer was put together. Once he took it fully apart, he discovered there were plastic brackets inside that could be listed on Ebay for people who build computers from scratch.
Recently we had an old dresser that we tried to fix and then re-purpose unsuccessfully into a bookcase. When those attempts failed, my son tore apart the dresser and saved the wood. He then turned the drawer fronts into these beautiful distressed wooden pumpkin decorations.
We also tore apart old kitchen chairs that were damaged beyond use. We saved the seats for my son to re-purpose into a craft and saved the screws for another project.
Even when an item can't be fixed or re-purposed, sometimes there are still ways to save money on it. For metal items, start a scrap metal pile in your shed or garage. Anytime something metal cannot be fixed or re-purposed, add it to the pile; once the pile is big enough, take it to a recycling place. Most places pay special rates on Earth Day, especially for aluminum.
If you choose not to fix or re-purpose an item, donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army stores; you can ask for a receipt if you itemize deductions on your taxes.
There are lots of ways to save on services. As I mentioned before, I've been cutting my husband's hair for the last 20 years. At $10/cut approximately every 3 to 4 weeks, that's almost $3,000! (With 2 sons, the savings is even higher.) I use an inexpensive set of clipperslike this one from Amazon (they need replaced every few years), a cheap spray bottle, and stainless steel shears (which last decades).
Here are some other ways to save on services:
Sometimes, finding ways to use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without is like a game or a challenge. We want to be intentional about how we spend (or don't spend!) our money and having a mindset of making things last helps us keep our perspective when we're tempted to spend money unnecessarily.
We are always looking for new ways to make the dollars stretch. What tips do you have to share?
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