What Our Parents Knew About Stretching a Budget

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Making your money stretch with these skills.

It's been interesting to see that over the past few years, as the economy has worsened and so many people are out of work or looking for jobs, there has been a rebirth of skills that make our budget stretch. Most of these are skills that our parents knew, but somewhere down the line we have forgotten. For example, if you look around the Internet, you'll find plenty of blogs dedicated to such old-fashioned skills as baking, sewing, gardening and more. In fact, I met a woman who actually raises bees in her small backyard. It might seem crazy, but she has some amazing honey and uses it to barter for baked goods, fresh vegetables and even sells some.

There are so many skills that our parents knew that can make a dollar stretch. In case you weren't paying attention as a child, here are 5 skills that you should learn:

Driving a manual transmission car - Out of all the cars I have had, the majority have been manual transmission, or "sticks". I am always surprised at how many of my friends, and even parking attendants, don't know how to drive them. In general, manual transmission cars are cheaper than automatics and get slightly better gas mileage. Also, used cars with manual transmissions are considerably cheaper because less people are interested in buying them.

Cooking from scratch - I'm not even talking about advanced stuff like canning your own vegetables here. Even things like making spaghetti sauce or cooking oatmeal can save you a lot of money on your grocery bill. I like to cook, but when I look in my cabinets, I'm still surprised at how much easier it is to buy ready made options. These are typically less healthy and much more expensive. Even if you just replace one or two ready made meals with a couple of easy to make from scratch meals, you'll see the difference.

Repairs - I have a friend who replaces things that are broken and never considers the idea of having them fixed. She has little children, and as you would imagine, her vacuum cleaners have occasionally lost battles with Barbie shoes and the like. Instead of replacing the belt, she replaces the vacuum. When I showed her how to open the housing and replace the belt, she was amazed. I have another friend who has been saving to replace her washing machine and in the meantime is suffering because the machine doesn't spin that well. In my parent's day, the repairman would come and replace a few things and the washer would be good as new. The repairman's fee isn't nearly as much as the cost of a new washer. There are many great books on home repair that you can find at the library and fixing your broken items will save you a bunch in time, hassle and money.

Sewing - You don't have to be a great seamstress or tailor to benefit from learning to sew. At the least, we should all be able to replace a button, hem pants or mend small rips in clothes or other fabrics. Unfortunately, many people just toss out things that are ripped and replace them. It's a waste of money and keeping the things you love is always nicer than getting new stuff. Just learning the basics can save you a lot of money.

Gardening - You don't even have to have a yard to plant a garden. There has been a rise in urban gardening in the past few years. In this situation, people plant a few vegetables in large tubs and put them by a window or on a balcony. Just one or two tomato plants and a few other vegetables can keep you fed well all summer long. Not to mention, they are great for bartering with friends who have other skills to offer.

Making your budget stretch when you are going through tough times is important. You can cut your expenses by learning some of these skills and who knows, it might even be fun.

What other things do you think our parents new about saving money? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for PhillyJobsBlog and Nexxt, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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