DIY Tips That are Worth the Savings

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Last night I made egg tacos for the first time ever. That’s what happens when you challenge yourself to whip up a magical dinner out of random ingredients in your kitchen (after using nearly a week’s budget on a dress ).

I did this one other time in my life and that was in my 9th grade home economics class. Ms. Mccullough assigned each team to create a balanced meal with the ingredients she’d left in our classroom fridge. We came up with a cheese popcorn salad served with a side of applesauce. We lost to the team that made cheese applesauce sandwiches with a side of popcorn.

You win some. You lose some. But the lesson from home ec that stuck with me fifteen years later is that being creative pays off. In home economics I also learned how to bake, sew and make boys do the dishes, basic stuff that’s imperative in this economy. Interestingly, we never had a lesson on how to actually balance a budget or where to find coupons, but the overarching theme always emphasized the need to take initiative, to think outside the box, to avoid waste and, ultimately, to stretch a dollar. Make the most of what you have was the course’s true proverbial description, which is why I now say - all I really need to know (about money) I learned in home economics.

Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT), Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) and Stop & Shop seem to agree. Home economics is in a revival, according to The New York Times, not so much in schools but in stores where shoppers can get free lessons on how to make ends meet. As consumer spending drops to historically low levels and personal budgets shrink, these moves make sense. Wal-Mart’s now hired a family financial expert for shoppers to ask questions about college planning and debt management. Grocery chains are showing consumers how to make inexpensive meals in the aisles and Home Depot has classes on how to slash energy bills.

This back to basics education trend is working. More than 70% of consumers are eating at home and spending less money in restaurants, according to the Food Marketing Institute. More than 65% of consumers are making fewer runs to the supermarket and the mall, and also buying fewer store-brand items, which can easily cut grocery bills by up to 50%.

Home economics was where you picked up some great proverbial advice which also, it turns out, have hidden financial messages. Here are some favorites:

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine. In the housing world, if you act early and call your bank when you think you’re going to be late on paying your mortgage, you might get some help refinancing or restructuring the loan. You may save yourself from becoming a crumbling disaster.

Home is Where the Heart Is. It’s also where the money is saved. Food and entertainment, two areas where we tend to overspend most of our discretionary incomes, can be easily prepared and enjoyed at home at a fraction of the cost. Visit this story on how to make money at home.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned. A gym membership thrown out is also at least $800 saved. I’m just saying. Here are other ways to help save $100 a week.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. This is all about the beauty of delayed gratification, a financial lesson we hear over and over again. Apply this tactic the next time you go shopping. Before ringing up items impulsively leave them at the register under your name, go home, and return the next day only if you really, really still want it and have somehow mastered a way to afford it (i.e. not putting it on your Visa (Stock Quote: V)).

You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. Also, if you’re wearing CVS-brand lipstick instead of the Chanel brand, who’s going to know? You can’t judge a person (or their beauty) by how much their makeup cost. Visit our story on how to beautify on a budget.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m. 

 

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