YNAB BLOG

Change Yourself – Change Your Budget

Xeriscaping and BudgetsHey YNABers! Annie here.

A couple of years ago I was dealing with some health issues that kept me from doing my own yard work (we have an extensively landscaped yard which can get annoying). While I was bummed about the health issues, I was kind of a relieved that we could just pay to have it done. I didn’t really think that I could keep it up to par even if I was in good health. It scared me.

Well, now that I’m in better health, I had to look at that monster on the budget and decide how I was going to kill it. So I decided that I’d invest the $220+ a month that we were spending on landscaping and basically start from scratch with the lawn to make it less labor intensive and more drought tolerant. It was a pretty big task, but it would all be worth it in the end.

So I was at the park after school the other day chatting with another mom about these plans. Mind you, I know nothing of this landscaping venture. Nothing. At all. I’ve killed aloe vera, people. Aloe, flipping, vera. This was a leap of faith.

What I am doing, however, is trading skills with a very talented friend of mine. For her I’ve done a couple of simple wood-working projects, and in return she’s gracing my garden with her vast knowledge of all things Texas-native.

Back to the park, this sweet friend of mine seemed a bit overwhelmed at all of this. Her face contorted when I spoke of digging up shrubs, building a rock wall, and planting things. “Oh gosh, I know nothing about keeping plants alive. I’m just not a yard person.”

“Girl, I’m not a yard person either!” I reminded her of the aloe vera that I killed.

And I reminded her of my three secret weapons:

  1. my friend with whom I bartered
  2. the internet and books 
  3. hard work

It’s true – I’ve not historically been a “yard person”, and to be honest, I’m a little worried that I’m going to wake up in a week and everything will be dead. But I don’t think I’m beyond learning a skill that hundreds of generations before me have mastered. If so many other people can do it, then I can probably learn, too, if I put the effort into it. 

I think most of us are intimidated by things that we are totally capable of learning. 

  • sewing
  • simple plumbing
  • simple wood working
  • cooking
  • car maintenance
  • home maintenance
  • etc.

We are so incredibly blessed to live in the age of the internet! We can learn just about anything that we want or need to. What stops us, however, are those expensive, little, defeatist phrases that we allow to escape our mouths and cement into our subconscious.

  • “I’m just not a yard person.”
  • “I don’t know the first thing about car maintenance.”
  • “I’m too scared to use power tools.”
  • “I hate cooking.”

We really don’t give ourselves enough credit. We encourage our kids to push themselves and try new things, and yet we don’t venture out into the unknown. We’re more capable than we think we are a lot of the time – it’s true. 

So what are YOU intimidated to learn that could save you some cash if you just bit the bullet?  

13 Responses to “Change Yourself – Change Your Budget”

  1. diver1972

    This is a past tense anecdote. For several years, I’d been intimidated by virtually any auto repair/maintenance beyond replacing wiper blades, refilling windshield washer fluid, replacing air filter, replacing headlight bulb, replacing oil and filter, and changing a spare tire. I gradually tackled this by starting with the *next* hardest thing. Then, I did the *next* hardest thing and so on. Of course, web-based DIY write-ups accelerated this process substantially.

    I don’t know exactly how much I’ve saved over the past several years (maybe I’ll tally it up), but I can now safely and confidently do transmission fluid changes, differential fluid changes, coolant flushes, front brake pad and rotor replacement, PCV valve changes, throttle body cleaning, radiator replacement, starter replacement, valve cover gasket replacement, timing belt and water pump replacement, oil seal replacement, in-dash light bulb replacement, and a few other various repairs.

    It’s been rewarding, both financially and mentally, and occasionally very physically challenging since I often cheap-out on the specialty tools. The only downside: I don’t think my awesome mechanic likes me that much any more because I only bring him the really hard jobs. :)

    • annie

      That’s so cool! I’m definitely NOT there with auto repair, but I want to be because I really want to teach my kids. This inspires me!

  2. Cork

    Great post. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • annie

      Thanks, Cork! It’s a reminder for myself, too!

  3. Amber

    I love this post! This is my problem with virtually everything. I always say I’m going to learn something and I don’t because I’m basically afraid of failure. If I’m not perfect at it right away, then forget it! I’m getting a little better, but not much. I love that diver1972 can do all that cool car stuff! I can change the wiper blades and air up the tires and check the psi and THAT’S IT. I know that would save me money, but I’m scared of failure and if I fail at a car, that could be an expensive failure!! I got a sewing machine one holiday and it’s just collecting dust because I’m too intimidated by it. I really dislike that about myself and am slowly working on changing it. Again, I love this post!!

    • annie

      Well, Amber, when I write a post like this it’s usually because I’m trying to remind myself! I have wanted to quit using my compost tumbler for weeks now because I just can’t get the right balance. But I keep reminding myself that it’s okay if it takes a REALLY long time. Perfectionism is the enemy of learning. Baby steps! Let me know the next thing you learn!

  4. LNLisa

    You got me! I can sew, and I have been getting annoyed for years by people who tell me, “I don’t have the patience for that” or “I could never do that.”

    Self-righteousness always bites me back! What makes it even worse is that I am actually a school librarian. I push kids to push themselves all the time.

    My list of things like that is long!
    ~Painting–I can, but I hate it so I have not done a good job when I’ve tried.
    ~Anything to do with cars.
    ~Anything to do with household repairs.

    And the list goes on. So maybe what I need is a New Year’s Resolution that starts in May: Try one Super-powered-independent-making-thing-that-scares-me each month.

    Thanks for the push!

    • annie

      That’s funny, Lisa. Baby steps! The next service you are tempted to pay for, just take a shot and see what it would take to do it yourself. ;) And let me know how it goes!

  5. Mom @ Three is Plenty

    I’m at that point where I know enough about home maintenance to decide to do it myself or pay someone at the beginning instead of making an emergency electrical/plumbing call in the middle of it!

    • annie

      Yes, we must absolutely know our limits in the midst of continually growing and learning more.

  6. Eric

    My main thing is that I know a little about a lot. It’s always been that way. I’m paying more attention in life now but it’s still just a learning process each day that goes by… an opportunity to learn more and do more with what I’ve learned.

    In fact, I actually live by this: I’m a student of failure always moving towards success in life.

    • annie

      Ooh, I like that quote. Thanks for sharing, Eric.

  7. Narla

    I love this post!
    I figured I could sew, so why could I put together other things?
    I started out with small woodworking jobs, built a closet, crown molding, and worked my way up. My husband and I just spent the past two weekends building a 450 sqft deck. A couple DIY books, youtube videos and a very helpful person at the lumber yard and we were all set.
    I was feeling very accomplished at the end, and my budget appreciated not paying someone else to do it!

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