Remember Home Ec? Use Those Lessons to Help Your Wallet This Year

This quad of images shows for things: a person sewing, a father and daughter cooking, a babysitter with a child watching tv and vegetable scraps growing out of canisters by the windowsill.
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Remember your home economics class?

Well, it’s time to dust off those homemaking skills you learned in high school — or get ready to take notes if you never had this core class. You may not have realized it at the time, but what you learned in home ec can benefit your financial life, especially now that we’re spending so much more time at home.

Here are five skills from home ec class you can use to save money or earn some extra cash right now.

1. Cooking

Eating out or ordering takeout several times a week gets costly. That’s why it’s good to hone some of those cooking skills from home ec.

If you prep multiple meals ahead of time, you can save time and you won’t feel tempted to pull into your nearest drive-thru on busy nights. Just make sure you don’t fall for meal-prep pitfalls that could cost you more money, like buying special containers or using too many ingredients.

Armed with some culinary skills, you’ll have another option for hanging out with friends that doesn’t include spending a day’s pay dining out. Try planning a Zoom pie-baking competition or hosting a socially-distant driveway dinner party instead.

Knowing how to cook doesn’t just help you cut back on your expenses. You can use this skill to make money too. If you’re a good cook, consider starting a food business from home — for example, baking cakes for special occasions or selling homemade jam on Etsy.

2. Sewing

A torn seam, broken belt loop or a missing button is no excuse to go out and spend money on new clothes or even pay for alterations — that is, if you have some sewing skills.

If you slept through those lessons from home ec, look up some beginner sewing tutorials on YouTube.

Basic sewing skills can also come in handy if you’re trying to save money on cloth face masks or pull together a last-minute Halloween costume for your kid. If you really develop your talents, you can join the slow fashion movement and start making your own clothes.

You can also make money off your handmade wares on sites like Etsy or Amazon Handmade.

3. Gardening

Growing your own fruits and vegetables means you can enjoy organic produce without the organic price tags.

Gardening may not technically mean free food (depending on your startup and maintenance costs), but there are ways to do it for less. You can start a garden on a budget by using fallen leaves as mulch, composting at home and upcycling containers to grow your plants in. Instead of buying seeds, use your kitchen scraps to regrow vegetables.

4. Child Care

If your home economics class gave you an introduction to caring for babies and children, tap into that training to develop a side gig as a babysitter or nanny.

This could be an occasional money-making pursuit, or you could earn a steady income as a part-time or full-time nanny. Caring for more than one child will give you higher returns on your time investment.

Right now, lots of families are choosing not to send their kids back to school in-person, so they’re creating e-learning “pods” with their neighbors and friends. You could earn some extra money by watching a few students each day or tutoring them online.

5. Managing Your Money

Sadly, money management isn’t taught in enough schools around the country. If you were one of the lucky ones who learned how to write a check and balance your checkbook in school — congrats! Lean on that knowledge to stay on top of your monthly bills and expenses.

But if you missed out on learning personal finance basics in school, you might not have known how big of a deal your credit score is and why it’s important to keep tabs on it.

Your credit score plays an essential role in any big purchase you want to make — whether that’s a home or a car.

So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.

Within 90 seconds, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.* “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.

Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

*Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Kari Faber contributed to this article.