12 Money-Saving DIY Skills That Everyone Should Know

Image of a person changing a tire by the side of the road

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Image of a person changing a tire by the side of the road
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Essential Skills

In today's expensive and fast-paced world, it can feel super challenging (if not impossible) to save money and live comfortably. Thanks a lot, inflation

That's why having a set of essential life skills can make a real difference. While they may seem basic or obvious, these skills are not only useful in emergencies but also help boost our confidence in becoming more self-sufficient and empowered. Having these skills in your back pocket can also help you save money from having to hire professional help. 

From sewing to changing a tire, here are 12 basic life skills that everyone should know.

car maintenance and repair - mechanic writing checklist paper on clipboard

1. Basic Car Maintenance

Having a basic understanding of cars and engines — including how to change a tire and jump start a battery — can be a vital skill for any driver. This knowledge can save you the cost and wait time of roadside assistance, especially if you experience a flat tire in a rural area with limited cell service. Basic car maintenance, such as checking oil levels and replacing air filters, can also extend the life of your vehicle and improve fuel efficiency to reduce overall expenses. 

Plus, knowing how your car operates means the mechanic will have a much harder time trying to rip you off. You go, bestie! 

Grandmother sewing.

2. Sewing

Being able to mend clothes, such as sewing a button or fixing a torn seam, can significantly prolong the life of a garment. You'd be surprised by how much money you can save if you don't have to constantly buy new clothes. Plus, learning how to sew can be a creative outlet to customize or upcycle old outfits, minimizing waste and promoting sustainability. Basic sewing is easy to learn and requires very little equipment. 

Cooking vegetables, step seven, seasoning

3. Cooking Basic Dishes

Knowing how to cook simple, nutritious meals can drastically cut food expenses. Compared to always eating out or buying pre-made meals, which can quickly add up, cooking at home allows you to cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. This way, you can control what ingredients go into your meals to promote healthier eating habits and improve your cooking skills. 

"A lot of today's 'stuff' isn't designed for repair but to be replaced," writes one Redditor about basic life skills that everyone should know. "But my answer would be home cooking and meal prepping." 

Woman Using Fire Extinguisher To Stop Fire

4. Using a Fire Extinguisher

Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher can be lifesaving and prevent minor accidents from turning into major disasters. A good way to familiarize yourself with fire extinguishers is to know the PASS technique: Pull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep the nozzle. Remember to also check and maintaining the extinguisher itself to ensure its up to date and working well. 

If you encounter a grease fire, remember not to pour water on them, advises one Reddit user. "The WORST thing you can do with those fires is try to douse it with water," they write. "If you get a grease fire, turn the stove off and cover it with a lid, that's the best way."

Related: 13 Fire Hazards Hidden in Your Home — and What To Do About Them

Man's Hands Changing an Old-School Light Bulb with a New LED Light Bulb, New Bulb Is Lit and Screwed In
Pornpak Khunatorn/istockphoto

5. Replacing Light Bulbs

Having a basic understanding of home repairs, including how to replace a light bulb, can save you a pretty penny down the line. Knowing how to safely change a light bulb is essential for maintaining a well-lit living space, which is important for both comfort and safety. Faulty light bulbs can create a fire risk by overheating or causing electrical shorts. They can also contribute to poor visibility, which can lead to accidents or other mishaps. 

Knowing the right type of bulb for different fixtures can also enhance the efficiency of your home's lighting and reduce energy costs in the long run. 

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6. Unclogging a Toilet

A clogged toilet is more than just a pain in the butt (sorry, we had to); it can pose a hygiene risk by harboring bacteria and causing unpleasant odors to permeate your home. Knowing how to use a plunger, or a plumber’s snake, effectively can save you the expense and embarrassment of having to call a plumber for a simple fix. 

Regular maintenance and careful disposal of waste (not flushing hygiene products or toilet paper depending on your plumbing system) can also prevent clogs or more serious damage, which can be very costly to repair. 

"Go to a small hardware store (local or Ace) and look at what they have [for toiler repairs]," advises one Reddit user. "You should be able to handle all these items to repair and maintain. Even if you're a renter." 

Full first aid kit on white background
Vitalii Petrushenko/istockphoto

7. Basic First Aid

Knowing basic first aid techniques such as CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and how to treat burns, cuts, or sprains, can be an invaluable skill in emergency situations. This knowledge can keep potential life-threatening situations from worsening, and provide crucial care in the moments before professional help arrives. 

"Not necessarily DIY, but I really feel everyone should know basic first aid, CPR, and how to use an AED [automated external defibrillator]," writes one user. "You never know when you could help save someone's life." 

Related: The Ultimate ‘Go Bag’ Checklist: 9 Essentials To Always Pack for an Emergency

A budgeting  app can be a great tool to help you meet your goals

8. Budgeting

Understanding how to manage finances, prioritize expenses, and save for future needs is fundamental for one's long-term financial health. Budgeting helps avoid debt, increases savings, and ensures financial stability. As one Redditor suggests, budgeting apps like "Mint," and "You Need a Budget" can help us better monitor spending, track progress, and gain insights into our financial habits.

"It’s entirely antiquated, but [balancing a checkbook] creates a habit of budgeting which has been entirely lost," advises another user. "The amount of people I meet who don’t know where their money goes is absolutely staggering."

Related: How to Protect Yourself From Financial Ruin in Retirement

Child and mother gardening in vegetable garden in backyard

9. Gardening

Having basic gardening skills can help reduce food expenses while providing a sustainable way to enjoy fresh (and chemical-free) produce. Gardening is also a relaxing and fulfilling hobby that can improve one's living environment and overall well-being. As a general rule of thumb, consider starting with plants like herbs or tomatoes, which are easy to grow and don't require a lot of space.

Related: Planning on Planting? Check Out These Cheap, Year-Round DIY Greenhouse Ideas

Repairs Are Costly

10. Basic Home Repairs

Knowing how to fix a leaky faucet, patch up a hole in the wall, or tighten a loose hinge can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. While these tasks require some basic tools and a little know-how, they can significantly reduce home maintenance costs that come from having to hire a professional. Acquiring these practical skills can also help increase the overall value and upkeep of your home. 

"Basic plumbing knowledge and interior home repair (both can be learned via YouTube) are money savers," advises one Redditor.

Focus on Two Men Negotiating at Work, Sitting at a Table with a Laptop

11. Basic Negotiation Skills

Whether it's negotiating a raise, discussing car repairs with a mechanic, or simply dealing with a landlord over rent, effective negotiation skills can help you save money and lead to better outcomes in various aspects of life. Practicing fairness and understanding in negotiations can also strengthen your day-to-day relationships. 

Happy young couple paying bills online in computer app

12. Digital Literacy

Understanding how to harness the power of technology to your advantage — from smartphones and tablets to computers and printers — can open up a host of DIY resources. These tools, from online tutorials to digital manuals for fixing all kinds of things, can help you become more resourceful and save money in the process. Digital literacy can also help you manage online banking, shopping, and navigating governmental services more efficiently.

"Most of this [stuff] is not hard, it’s just a matter of knowing how to do the repair, and as others said YouTube is invaluable," writes one Redditor who grew up "on the very edge of poor/lower middle class on a small farm."