10 Old-Fashioned Money Saving Skills That You NEED to Learn

Old white barn with green trim in a field.

Are you looking for ways to save money and be more self-sufficient? Check out this list of Old-Fashioned Skills that you should learn today including gardening, bartering and mending.

A collage of photos including a white barn, drying herbs and home canned food.

This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for you convenience.

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10 Old-Fashioned Money-Saving Skills

  A lot of basic skills that were once common knowledge are now deemed old-fashioned or unnecessary, but we shouldn’t be so quick to discard them.

  If we took the time to learn how to do more for ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it, then we’d have more money and a greater sense of accomplishment that can’t be bought.

  Not to mention, the current situation that we are going through has opened a lot of peoples eyes as to how much is out of their control, but by practicing a few of these old-fashioned skills, you will not only save money, but also become a little more self-sufficient in the process.

  I personally practice a lot of these skills because I think it’s good to know how to fend for yourself if the need arises. So here are my top 10 Old-Fashioned Money-Saving Skills that I think everyone should learn!

Gardening

  You can potentially get hundreds of tomatoes from one $2 packet of seeds, but how many tomatoes will that same $2 get you from the store? Gardening is a great way to save money if you can keep costs down by growing plants from seed and using natural soil amendments. If you are new to gardening or just want some more gardening tips, be sure to check out the links below.

Additional Gardening Resources:

Preserving Food

  Knowing how to preserve your own food is an amazing money-saving skill to have especially when you grow it yourself. It also comes in handy when you can find produce in bulk at rock bottom prices. Canning, freezing and dehydrating are the most common food preservation methods. Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation Website to start learning today!

Food Preservation Recipes:

Foraging

  Foraging is something that our ancestors knew way more about than we do today. If you don’t know, foraging is when you find food that is growing wild like picking berries in the woods or dandelion greens in your backyard.

  I wish I knew more about this lost skill, but sadly my knowledge is limited. The best way to safely learn about identifying nontoxic edibles is to sign up for a local class or take a course on the subject. You could also find books from your local library, but I’d be leery of relying on photos alone as a lot of edible plants also have toxic look a likes. Check out Wild Edibles to learn more.

Bartering

  Our culture is so used to spending money that bartering isn’t even on most people’s radar and I think that’s a crying shame. Bartering is when you trade your skills, time or goods for someone else’s. For example, I could crochet someone a hat in exchange for a couple of hours of babysitting or I could trade some of my surplus garden produce for piano lessons.

  Think about how much money you would save if you put this into practice more often. Also, there are lots of bartering groups on Facebook which would be a great place to start.

Mending

  Since clothing is so cheap and plentiful these days, sewing handmade garments is normally more expensive than buying off the rack, but having basic knowledge of mending and tailoring can save you tons of money. I don’t know how many times I’ve extended the life of my families clothes simply by sewing on buttons or mending seams. Check out Martha Stewart to learn the basics of Mending. Also, I really enjoyed the book Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh.

Cooking from Scratch

  It’s amazing how much money we spend on convenience food. I did the math and I spend $50 per month on yogurt and granola bars alone!! That’s insane considering I try to keep my food budget under $100 per week. So just by making those two items from scratch I could save TONS. Just think how much you would save if you started making just one new convenience item at home per month.

Resources For Cooking From Scratch:

Hunting/Fishing

  While my family doesn’t hunt or fish much, plenty of our friends do and I think it’s a wise skill to have in case you need to provide for yourself one day. Also, store-bought meat is expensive and being able to kill your own is a huge money saver! Of course it isn’t free to hunt, but it’s still a good source of quality meat on a budget. What would our ancestors have done without dear, wild turkey or fish to keep them going?

Keeping Chickens

Disclaimer: This was originally written in 2014 when egg prices were higher.

  Keeping a few chickens may not save you much money, but in most cases the cost of feed versus the cost of eggs/meat evens out. You can keep costs down by letting them free range, feeding them kitchen scraps and selling your extra eggs to family and friends. You could also collect scraps from friends or local restaurants to feed to your hens, but make sure they are getting mostly whole foods such as vegetables, grains, etc.

  Remember, your backyard chickens will produce higher quality eggs with a denser nutrition profile, which can cost upwards of $5 or more per dozen at the store, so it’s not fair to compare the cost of the absolute cheapest eggs that you can find to the price of keeping chickens.

Paying Cash

  Paying cash definitely seems like an old-fashioned skill these days, but it’s a great one to keep alive! Did you know that people tend to spend more when they use a card verses paying cash? Also, you can normally talk someone down on price when you have cash in hand. For more budgeting tips, check out The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

Going Without

  Did your TV break? Go buy a shiny new one and put it on the card! Did the car break down? Trade it in for a new one and pay for it later! It seems like our culture tells us we deserve everything instantly, but by doing so we’re missing out on valuable life lessons such as patience, resourcefulness, hard work and gratitude.

  Not to mention that delaying gratification allows you to avoid paying interest and save even more money. The next time you want to buy something, ask yourself if you can find it cheaper, make it yourself or go without or better yet try living by the motto made famous by the great depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

Which of these skills do you practice to save money? Do you have anymore to add? I’d love to know!

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96 Comments

  1. I think there is way more than just 10. This past year we started our home remodel. I think many are real quick to hire a contractor. While we are more of a lets get our hands dirty. Which leads to another sort of Salvage what does or doesn't need replaced. We redid the deck replace the top but not the intact beams and joists. Maybe I can use the old deck for exterior landscape. In general I think people have forgotten that some wants are not needs. Our first home was build in 1955, we bought in 2004 from the original owner who had raised 4 children in a home that was only 1050 sqft. I think our generation feels that they need more space when previous generations were satisfied with the space they had.
  2. For years, my wife and I were buying new cars, but not any more. My philosophy now is why have to pay to have a car worked on that you are already paying for. We have had several vehicles that we watched get towed away that we were making payments on. Even when the work is under warranty that is a sad feeling. Especially when you are paying good money on it.
  3. Hunting, at least in Pennsylvania, does not save money, unless you do the butchering yourself (another valuable, long-lost skill). Butcher's charge more per pound than than you would pay for beef in the grocery store. And you provide the meat.
  4. The only tip I disagree with is paying cash. I opened a credit card early this year that pays 1.5% cash back. I pay most of my bills with it. I buy groceries, gas, and just about everything with it. Then I pay it in full every month. If you don't pay in full every month and have to pay interest, then it's probably not worth using. But for someone who is a responsible bill payer, it can really pay off. I now have built up over $300 in rewards.
    1. You can learn to do almost anything just by watching YouTube videos. From appliance repair, car repairs and woodworking skills. It’s a great way to save money by doing it yourself.
  5. I make my own apple cider vinegar, bread, butter. I grow my own veg, keep chickens, weave. Crochet,sew Do as much as I can to be more self reliant
  6. I don’t plan on retiring very early but really try to keep our large expenses low and focus on spending money in ways that will add value to our life. Would I love a fancier, bigger, more well decorated house? Sure… but it won’t add much joy into my life and will only make more work for me. A nicer kitchen stove though, yes! A more enjoyable cooking experience, which I do every day.
  7. With so many things I have to learn. Like gardening and canning and forging. I have one more suggestion for you. .. Carpenter skills and/or wood working. I find there are many things that could benefit so much more if I knew how to build a box or shelf and including a greenhouse and some day the possibilitie of needing to build my own cabin or house. I wish I already had my own shop..
  8. I grew up on a small isle off the western coast of Scotland. All of my friends here in the States (where I live now) are amazed that I know things like: coming from scratch (I do not buy canned or boxed food!), how to hunt and fish (which I still do, and yes, I process it myself), garden (I love to dirt! ), and canning/drying, as well as clack the needles (you call it knitting). Me and my brothers were all taught these skills, so we take it as life skills and thought everyone knew them. Imagine my surprise after moving to the States to find out differently!! Huge culture shock! I've been here now over 35 years and have extensively traveled, and still folks are extremely surprised. Now I've been teaching my neighbor, her girls, and a few of my gal friends things I've known all my life.
  9. So glad I found your blog! I've been gardening for years, and my goal for next year is to get better at preserving what I grow so I can have homegrown vegetables all year long. Thanks for sharing your advice.

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