An AskMetafilter user wonders:
What things are worth the time and cost of doing or making myself? For example, tomatoes from the store are miles below the ones I grow in my garden. Fresh-baked bread is amazing. But knitting socks or a sweater seems hardly worth it, despite the fact that I can customize it, because of the high cost of the time and materials. Nearly everything is so easy to get from the store. So what is still worth the effort?
There are many things worth the time and effort to do or make yourself, no matter where you are in life.
- Grow your own produce. Home-grown produce is vastly superior to produce from the supermarket. Most people have space for a small garden in which to grow herbs and tomatoes. If you have more space, expand to berries, grapes, or even fruit trees. Kris and I have been enjoying fresh grapes lately. They’re amazing. “It’s like a completely different fruit,” Kris said when comparing them to their store-bought cousins.
- Cook your own meals. This is a valuable skill, especially for young adults. If you can learn to eat well on a budget, you’ll be ahead of your peers.
- Make your own food. I’ve mentioned canning a lot lately, but there are other ways to produce your own food. Make pasta sauce. Make salsa. Bake bread. Brew beer. Make your own soups. Roast your own coffee beans.
- Build or maintain your computer. Unless you’re a Mac user, it’s easy to learn how to muck around inside your computer. Find a friend to teach you the basics. Better yet, find someone to show you how to build a machine. It’s a skill that can save you a lot of money.
- Learn simple sewing. This is great when you’re on a budget. I used to be able to perform basic sewing repairs on my clothes: replacing buttons, mending tears, hemming pants.
- Make greeting cards and gifts. Greeting cards are fun to create, and the recipients are always more pleased to get them than run-of-the-mill Hallmark cards. It’s also worthwhile to make your own gifts. One of the best presents I ever received was simply a customized CD mix. Much better than a gift certificate to Target!
- Maintain and repair a bicycle. Bikes are cheap transportation. A simple bicycle toolkit is easy and inexpensive to assemble. Borrow a bike maintenance book from the public library, and you can learn the essentials in just a weekend.
- Change the oil on your car. For most vehicles, this is a simple task.
- Knitting can be worth the effort, depending on your approach. Knitting produces custom-fitted garments. And if you learn to rip clothing purchased at garage sales and thrift stores, you can save on the cost of yarn.
The original thread features other suggestions of things that are worth the time to do yourself, including: yard work, furniture repair, basic home maintenance, and more.
The cost and convenience of buying in the store or hiring out often outweigh the advantages of making things yourself. But don’t be duped. There are still many reasons to produce things with your own hands:
- Superior quality of goods and workmanship.
- Easy customization to suit your needs.
- The satisfaction of a job well-done.
To make this worthwhile, do what you love. If you’re doing something you enjoy, something you consider fun, then the cost of your time is not a factor. If I’m planting, growing, and picking grapes, I’m having a good time. But I’d hate to replace my own roof, even if it would save me money.
[AskMetafilter: Make it from scratch?]