I believe life skills are the general population’s most underutilized asset.

Cleaning a home?

This goes far beyond extending the life of your carpet or getting the mold out of the shower. There are psychological aspects in play. Many of us perceive clean as newer, better, even shiny!

When I was growing up, my family had a joke that clean cars drove better. It is a familiar phenomenon; as humans, there are only so many things we can take in at once, and we rely on general impressions.

Walking into a home littered with dirty dishes, laundry, and scattered items does nothing for our general mood or impression of the place — perhaps most significantly when the place is our own home. Who wouldn’t want to go out to escape a pigsty?

Going out is fine when it’s a choice rather than an avoidance tactic. Organization — and I’m not talking about the frivolous shopping for fancy boxes kind — helps a person avoid late fees and replacement costs.

Laundry?

Simply keeping an item wearable by removing a stain or by not ruining a delicate item gives a person the ability to keep a little more money in her pocket. Having to buy underwear because nothing is clean is the antithesis of frugality. I’m just saying’.

Home repair?

There is a satisfaction that goes beyond the money saved when you do it yourself. People like to feel accomplished, which is the reason networks like DIY and HGTV are so successful.

Have you ever seen an emergency plumbing bill? How aggravating would it be to learn that the call could have been prevented with a plunger? Basic appliance maintenance and repair can go a long way toward improving the life span and efficiency of larger household investments.

Cooking?

Learning to cook is a process. I strongly believe a series of successes in the kitchen gives a person confidence and the desire to try again. It doesn’t matter how much cooking experience you have. I want to meet you where you are. Some people grow up believing stirring a boxed mix together is cooking. That’s fine.

My goal isn’t to create feelings of guilt or shame. I want to introduce people to the pleasure of preparing real, enjoyable food.

“We don’t do great things in life. We do small things with great love.” — Mother Theresa

Using convenience foods because they are convenient is one thing; relying on them daily is expensive long term. Each time someone decides to try his hand at a dish instead of opening a box or ordering out is a win.

Nutritionally, I’m trying to broaden palates. It’s hard to be healthy over a long period of time with a three-vegetable rotation. But if you’re a three-vegetable reader, I’m not judging. Just think of it as a starting point.

It makes good sense to take advantage of seasonal and local produce whenever possible. I see doing so as frugality in the broadest sense of the term: It’s making an informed choice to purchase the most beneficial product rather than the one offered at the lowest immediate cost.

In addition, supporting a local farmer keeps money in the local economy, including the local tax system, which supports local schools. Long term, that can impact the willingness of other companies to invest in the area; an educated workforce is important.

From keeping your home clean and in good repair to preparing your own food, self-sufficiency rocks. Having an understanding of the domestic arts gives you a sense of control over your life.

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