Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: One of the best ways to save money is to develop some self-sufficiency. I know that "no man is an island," but we shouldn't be outsourcing basic tasks.
Cook It Up
Your biggest savings will come from cooking instead of eating out or getting takeout. Don't like to cook? Try some super-easy recipes! One of my favorite cookbook authors is Mark Bittman
, who has written a series of "Minimalist" books, as in "The Minimalist Cooks Dinner" -- one of my favorites. Use a Crockpot if you're out all day, or cook on the weekend so you have some dinners ready during the week.
If cooking's really
not your bag, buy frozen vegetables and family-size meals in the grocery store (check the nutritional information -- some are pretty healthy). You'll still save a bundle over restaurant prices.
Be in Stitches
Next, learn a little sewing. You should be able to sew on a button, fix a small hole and make a hem. (Unless you and your kids are tall. If that's the case, you may never have to hem a thing!) The tailor at the dry cleaner near us used to charge $5 to hem a pair of pants, which I thought was reasonable. But now it's $10 -- more than what I usually pay for a pair of kids' pants!
OK, now here is where I may lose you. I think we should all be able to do some BASIC car stuff. Adding fluid and coolant, changing bulbs and wiper blades .... I wish I knew more, and that's on my list of stuff to learn (along with calculus and Mandarin). Anyway, your car manual is a great guide. Also, the guys who work at Pep Boys and AutoZone are a wealth of knowledge and will often, as a courtesy, come out to your car to help you install whatever you just bought.
My friend and I changed a headlamp bulb on her car a while ago. The bulb was a couple of bucks at an auto store, and it took us about half an hour to figure it out. (I know it probably should have taken about two minutes, but we were proud of ourselves.) She had another one burn out last week. She had an extra bulb from the last time, but was in a rush and therefore drove to the dealer on her way to work to have them put it in. They wanted $40!
If you absolutely can't do any of that stuff yourself, wait until your next scheduled service and try to slip a few minor repairs in. Usually they'll do a couple for free.
Moms, I'd love to hear from you. What other ways do you save money by "doing it yourself"?