Remember Home Ec? Use Those Lessons Now to Manage Your Money Better

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 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.

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

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. Hosting a potluck is much more economical.

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.

Learn how this woman took a baking hobby and turned it into a full-fledged business.

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, check out this post for simple sewing tips for beginners.

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. Consider this guide to selling cloth face masks.

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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.

Babysitting can be an occasional money-making pursuit, or you could earn 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.

Pro Tip

Here’s what you need to know if you’re seeking child care gigs during the coronavirus pandemic.

5. Budgeting

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, our guide to budgeting is a great starting point. You might want to simply track your spending for a few months before creating your first budget — or you can use old bank statements to figure out realistic spending limits for each of your budget categories.

While budgeting is important to keep your everyday spending in check, don’t forget to lean on it during those big (and often expensive) life moments, like when you’re planning a wedding or buying your first home. When you’re actively keeping tabs on where your money’s going, chances are you’ll be able to save more of it.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.