Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Caroline McGraw of A wish come clear.
There are a lot of things you’ll never know until you try. Below are 5 areas I thought belonged to the experts…until I gave them a shot. I’d realized that thinking, “I can’t do that” was just a default mental setting for me when it came to these 5 things.
Once I changed my thinking from, “I can’t” to “I bet I can…” I made progress.
Read on to learn how you, too, can:
1. Haggle (or, know what you are willing to pay!)
I recently took my wedding dress to be (organically) dry-cleaned. I wanted to spend $50. I was quoted a price of $185, though my dress is a straight-cut sheath. Needless to say, I walked to another dry cleaner. They had a price of $175. I asked if they would go lower, given my simple dress. I bonded with the (newly-engaged) cashier, and told her I had $50. The cashier spoke with the manager, and quoted…$45. With tax, I spent $48.
State what you have and what you need and shop around. Be friendly, and find common ground wherever possible.
Savings: $137 (from what I’d have paid if I’d settled.)
2. Re-purpose and repair rather than buy new.
Repairing an item can be much less costly (for you and for the environment!) than buying new. Scout out thrift stores; you may be surprised!
I found a fantastic Ann Taylor jacket at a thrift store. It was exactly my size, and it retailed for $75-$85, new. Here, it was priced $18. Yet as I admired it I saw that it was missing a button. (I’m careful to check thrift-store pieces.) I knew I could handle the repair, so I went to the cashier, pointed out the flaw, and paid $2.
Try thrift or consignment shops before buying new. Leverage your capabilities (such as sewing) to save.
Savings: $73-$83 off retail; $16 off thrift-store. The jacket always gets compliments.
3. Cut your own hair.
I wish I’d realized it sooner: my haircut is basic (long layers), so I can cut it myself. Seeing my husband cut his own hair inspired me to try. I just needed to get good instructions before taking the plunge.
Choose a simple cut, and do the thing you think you cannot do (just make sure you have sharp scissors.)
Savings: $50 every 3-4 months, approximately $200-$250/year, plus the time it takes to make an appointment, travel and wait for the hairdresser (mine was always late.)
4. Make and use your own personal care products.
Baking soda can do it all. As such, I’ve lessened my ‘need’ for specialty products and reconsidered cosmetics. For now, my look is simply this: moisturizer with SPF, tweezed brows, curled lashes, a touch of lipstick (or tinted Burt’s Bees balm), a little concealer and vanilla extract for ‘perfume’.
You don’t need tons of makeup to look beautiful, and you can care for yourself (and the planet!) with less. There is elegance and class in going low-maintenance.
Savings: approximately $20 every few months, $60-80/year
5. Be content with one.
One bathing suit. One purse. One shelf of books. A one-bedroom apartment. As a wise woman once said, Less is not nothing.
If you choose wisely, you will select items of greater durability and value. There is no need for excess when one well-chosen thing can do the job.
Savings: $100-$5000+/year ($5000+ would get my husband and me a two-bedroom apartment here in DC!)
Total savings: $650 – $5650.
That money could do good elsewhere: paying your debt, appreciating in your Roth IRA or supporting your favorite charity.
I challenge you: what DIY could you try today? What could you do differently?
I’ll let you in on a secret—it’s an amazing feeling to do something new for yourself. This feeling could take you to new, unexpected places. Realize that you are more capable than you think, and enjoy the savings along the way.
Please share your creative time and money saving DIYs in the comments or ask Caroline questions about her recommendations.