Tightwad Tuesday: Learn the Home Arts

One thing has become obvious since I began homeschooling. I have a lot to learn. No, not my kids. Me. I have a lot to learn.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly adding stuff to my kids’ curriculum. Lately I’ve been focusing on the practical skills I want my daughter to know before she goes off to college. Cooking, sewing, gardening, knitting. These are all things that can help save money. And sadly, these things are all falling out of fashion.

Knowing how to cook allows you to cook from scratch. This is far less expensive than popular convenience foods. Still, I fear convenience foods are making knowing how to cook less important. I want my daughter to know how to make pancakes from scratch, rather than from the recipe on the back of a box of Bisquick.

Sewing can make clothing go farther. Knowing how to put a cute patch on the warn knee of your daughter’s jeans can breath new life into them. Old pants can become capris or shorts. Knowing how to sew curtains allows you to transform a room with bargain priced fabric. The money saving possibilities are endless, if you know how to work a sewing machine.

Gardening…I probably don’t even need to talk about gardening. If you want bargain priced organic produce, starting a garden with your favorite vegetables is the way to go. Though not always less expensive at the outset, gardening year after year can save money in the long run.

And even knitting can save money. If you know what you’re doing, you can repurpose yarn from an old sweater into something new, by unraveling and reusing the yarn.

So this year, along with my daughter, I’ll be learning some of these skills. I know the basics of all of them, and despite my tendency to eat out, I do know how to cook. As for sewing, gardening, and knitting, I only know the basics. I’m looking forward to learning these new skills. The more you can do yourself, the more money you can save. It’s never too late to learn something new, and with the resources on the internet, learning is free.

Are there any skills you wish you had learned earlier? What are they?

Photo by tsuacctnt.


By , on Aug 25, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Eva:

    I am in the learning curve of teaching myself how to sew. I know how to knit and crochet enough that It won’t be that hard to finish teaching myself from all the craft books I own. Cooking, I’m slowly picking up the “cooking from scratch” thing from my IL’s. Gardening, I”ve never learned that, It doesn’t seem that hard however, you don’t know til you try. Gardening and canning and freezing is something I’ve always wanted to learn however, especially now that I’m married with four children (two teens, and two younger ones).

  2. I firmly agree with your first point. After I taught myself to cook, I found that I didn’t need a set recipe anymore– I can “make it up” with some very basic ingredients.

    True of many things in the DIY world . . . a little knowledge leads to more knowledge and abilities.

  3. I agree that those things are all very practical for your daughter to know to save money. But what about “manly” tasks? She’ll save a lot of money if she can change her own oil or be able to change a flat tire. You shouldn’t just be teaching her all of the womanly, homemaker type jobs! That just brings her back to the 1950s, when it was a woman’s job to cook, clean, and sew!

  4. KarenC:

    Along with sewing, I am teaching my daughter to bake bread and cook. Someday she can impress roomates and friends with how she can cook and bake without a receipe! Earlier this summer I read an article written by a financial advisor on how we here in the U.S. tend to be consumers, not producers, and I have been thinking of ways to become more productive, and passing that idea onto my daughter. Adults should look into adult education courses at local schools and colleges. I have taken basketweaving , painting, soapmaking, chinese cooking and classes on how debt works and understanding the stock market. If you can teach, call a local school and ask about holding a class. I used to volunteer at a local church teaching simple flower arranging and once I taught a class on making bows. I earned $75 for two hours, which I thought was pretty good!

  5. Isabel:

    Great article. I was not taught those skills growing up, but since i left home and got married, I am slowly teaching myself how to do those things – Cooking and knitting are now my fav hobbies and saving money is an added bonus. Glad to hear that you’re teaching your kids from young age. I am certainly planning to do so myself when we have kids.

  6. I still wish I knew how to do more than just basic car maintenance even now in my 40s. All I know how to do on this vehicle is check the oil, air pressure in the tires and put in more wiper fluid. I would like to know how to change the oil and even replace the brakes, and being divorced, I would even more so like to find someone who will teach my kids these things!

  7. Bev:

    I just ran across your blog and I love it…the thing I wish I really knew how to do di to make clothes, curtains, slip covers…you name it. This is the winter I teach myself this skill…at least the easy stuff!

  8. That is great! I think everyone should have some basic skills of cooking and sewing. They are both important in helping you save money. I was lucky that I grew up learning how to cook, sew, reuse things, garden, canning and fixing a lot of broken everyday items.
    I’m not sure my parents set out to “teach” us for our futures, it was just a normal everyday knd of thing. Both of my brothers know how to cook, sew, iron, garden, fix things and can their vegetables.

  9. AngelSong:

    Another plus: If you can knit, crochet or sew, you can make extra money by selling items you produce. I started teaching my kids to cook when they were five years old. When my daughter invited us to dinner the first time after she was married, my son in law told me, ” she sure is a good cook!” I smiled and said, “thanks!”

  10. marci:

    Include both the kids – he is not too young. My 8 yr old granddaughter has been cooking since she was 5. And I started her off with the big needle and plastic canvas and felt hand puppets for her sewing. This year in the 4H summer camp, she took an additional cooking class and sewed a darling tote bag :) Never too young!

    Canning is something I wished I had learned earlier… it’s a stretch to learn new habits at 55 :) Also, dehydrating – I learned it about 14 years ago. Wish I had learned more plumbing and basic electrical repairs…. like how to fix the faucet or put in a new one … how to wire a light switch or put in a new light.

  11. I love that you’re incorporating this in with homeschool. These things were not taught in the public school while I was there, but I wish they had been!

  12. Lynnae:

    Oh trust me, they will both be getting an extensive course in personal finance before they leave home!

  13. Jean:

    PLEASE teach them how to balance a check book – no one ever taught me this skill and I struggle with it. I’ve often believed that if schools would teach financial skills instead of or alongside things like algebra and geometry (both of which I swear I have never used since) life would be a lot easier for us.

  14. hebmily:

    Falling out of fashion? Couldn’t be further from the truth. Cooking, knitting, gardening, sewing – all absolutely ‘in’ right now. I’m in my mid-20’s, have a corporate career, and still find the time/make the time to do these things. I’m researching container gardening for our apartment balcony, but in the meantime, I’ve been hitting up the farmers markets and canning and freezing the excess. Definitely make sure to teach your kids how to can because classes and mistakes can be quite expensive.

  15. kath:

    Great post!
    I wish I had learned how to cook beyond what we learned in Home Ec class in HS. I wish someone had taught me how to manage my money better and balance a checkbook. I have been sewing since I was 9 when I started teaching myself, but knitting and crocheting are skills I would love to learn.
    You’re right, all of the skills you mentioned are so useful, especially these days with an uncertain economy. It’s very empowering to be able to take care of yourself.

  16. Lynnae:

    Lisa, yes, my son is still pretty young, so I haven’t focused so much on him. But I agree it’s important to teach boys these skills, too.

  17. Lisa:

    Excellent article! I wish I knew how to do more of these things, myself. I noticed you only mentioned your daughter. Maybe that’s because she’s a little older and better able to work on these skills right now, but I think it’s important to teach sons these skills, as well.

  18. womanofthehouse:

    Sewing and knitting are on the rise in popularity. My daughter and I are learning both, and it’s been easy to find people and resources to help. I’m not sure why people are returning to the skills, but I’m glad they are. :-)

  19. Christina:

    I was never taught how to cook, garden, or sew when I was younger. I taught myself how to cook after I got married (at 18) and now I am learning to garden and sew. I also would have liked to learn how to do basic car maintinance – my husband has taught me now, but that is something I plan to teach my children!

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