Do It Yourself

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

The old adage "If you want it done right, do it yourself" carries significant merit in the frugal times of a frail economy. Donate some time to completing three tasks yourself, and you'll save money every time. Not enough time? Cut back on time spent shopping or taking in expensive movies and meals out of the home, and pull the family together to help out. The extra savings can be spent on something everyone will enjoy.


Grow Your Own

As the growing season comes to a close, there's still time to plant some late season crops. In the northeast United States, lettuce and peas can be planted and grown in cooler fall temperatures. Likewise, cold frames allow herbs to grow well beyond the normal growing months. If all else fails, dig the garden space or gather potting materials now when they may be on sale. Then, spend the winter planning next ye ar's savings.

Easy plants that require little care are beans, peas, herbs, lettuce, onions, or spinach. These crops are fairly resilient and ask for only a few basic elements. Herbs and lettuce can be grown in pots on the patio or in a protected area to extend into the frost season.

The number one reason to grow your own vegetables is health. Growing your own guarantees that you know what did and did not touch your plants as far as chemicals and pesticides. It also promotes a healthy environment, lessens your carbon footprint, and promotes healthier eating. People are more prone to eat vegetables that they have grown than vegetables that they have purchased, especially children.


The second reason to grow your own is the savings. There was once an article about a $50 tomato - the price the author paid after watering, fertilizing, and tending to the tomato plant all season. Most of what he said rang true, but the average person sees more success than that. At nearly $3 per pound for fresh tomatoes at the store, growing your own seems like a worthy investment. US News and World Report estimated that four square feet of gardening space can provide the equivalent of $15 of store-bought organic vegetables every in-season day.

Line Dry Laundry

It's not a new idea, but line drying your laundry really does save money. Instead of asking the clothes dryer to do the work, do it yourself. For $5 worth of clothespins, $10 worth of clothesline, and some eye hooks on a shed wall or in a tree, a clothesline can save hundreds of dollars of electric or gas during its lifetime. Even a drying rack in the basement or on the porch can save one load of laundry each week by drying thin items.


Remember, each load of laundry dried in a clothes dryer adds five pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, costing approximately $0.50 of electric. At four loads a week, that;s a savings of $300 over the course of one year.

Make Your Own Morning Take Out

Time is a factor when it comes to morning take out. Coffee, doughnuts, and breakfast sandwiches--they all save time but cost money. Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches that pop out of the microwave cost $1 each. Instead, plan ahead and make your own take out on the weekends. Nearly half of a household's food budget is spent on take out.

If you're in love with the taste of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, purchase the bagged coffee and brew it at home rather than ordering it at the store. It saves almost a dollar on each cup if it's brewed at home.


On the weekend make muffins, pancakes, or waffles and wrap them for consumption throughout the week. They'll be ready to go and much cheaper than the ones that are marketed for those without time.

Another option for a family is to fry eggs in the morning and wrap them in tortillas with some mild salsa. Breakfast burritos are great morning snacks that can be made at home quickly and easily without being ordered at a fast food restaurant for $1 each.

A basket of line dried laundry

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August 26, 20100 found this helpful

Great ideas!

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September 5, 20150 found this helpful

Always enjoyed this author's ideas. Have used many of them. Keep them coming.

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