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What are your skillz?

As I promised yesterday, I’ll be writing about my various Ninja skills that help save me some coin. You may think Ninjas are only good for things like breaking a 2×4 in half with their head, but you are wrong. We are actually quite useful. I’m always trying to figure out ways to become more self sufficient, and I’d like to share with you a few areas where I’ve effectively managed cut corners.

Hair Cizzuts:

Paying for hair cuts is so early 2000’s. At least if you’re a dude it is. I haven’t paid for a hair cut in six years now. Back in the day when I was getting trimmed up, I was dropping about $20 a cut. Instead of continuing to throw my money away, I decided to invest in a pair of $20 clippers and cut my own hair. Averaging one haircut every 1.5 months over the last six years, I’ve saved myself over $950. And I’d like to add, I look darn good too 🙂

Handy Man:

The world of “fixing” things is new to me, but one I better learn. I’ve always bought things new, or paid someone else to fix/build stuff for me. It’s about time I start learning how to be more useful around the house. I may not be able to build my own furniture just yet, but I’m getting pretty good at assembling it. On Monday, Girl Ninja and I made an Ikea run, and I ended up assembling a dresser. It may have taken four hours to put it together (damn Ikea), but I still felt “manly” by the end.

I’ve also taken up painting. I got a desk from my buddy for free, but GN wanted it to be black instead of birch. I headed to Home Depot picked up some primer, paint, sandpaper, and a paint brush. Two days and four coats later, we have a beautiful black desk. I’m kinda diggin’ this macho “handy man” thing right now.

Wedding Crap Stuff

Even though we are having a rather expensive/large wedding, we’ve still tried to do as much stuff on our own as we can. You’ve already seen our save the dates (which we made in Photoshop), but we also made our wedding invitations from scratch. All 250 of them. It took us a good week of cutting, folding, ribbon tying, glue sticking, envelope licking, address labeling, etc just to get those suckers in the mail box, but it was worth every ounce of frustration. We called around to see how much our invitations would cost to have professionally done and were quoted around $1,000. We ended up spending about $350. I’ll be sure to put a picture of the finished product up in a couple days of them. They look very “whimsical”, as girl ninja likes to say.


It will be a cold day in hell before I pay someone to move my furniture. I probably wont always feel this way, but while I’m young and able, I’ll be doing all the heavy lifting. I’ve moved 10 times in the last seven years and have always packed and moved my stuff. I couldn’t fathom paying someone to move my stuff for me. It just seems like a waste of money. Granted, I don’t really own that much stuff. I imagine as I accumulate more furniture as well as become less mobile, I’ll probably be hiring movers. Hopefully that’s a good 10 years off though.


That’s right. These blogs things can get expensive. There are all sorts of companies out there that help improve one’s blog. From SEO optimization, to custom blog templates, to graphic designs, there are a billion ways one can drop some coin to help improve their blog.

I, on the other hand, am way to cheap to pay for any of that crap. Instead I started googling every topic I knew nothing about, but felt was important to learn. I have zero education as far as CSS coding, photoshopping, and SEOing is concerned, but through the wonders of the internet. I’ve acquired some valuable photoshop/css skills.

That said, if there is any part of my blog that you hate, it’s because I’m simply too stupid to figure out how to change it or too cheap to pay someone else to do it. Sorry 🙂

Okay, so now that many of you shared ways in which you are “lazy”, it’s time to redeem yourself and share the “Do It Yourself” projects you have mastered. Do you handle your own landscaping? Are you crafty with home decorations? Paint your own nails? What skillz are you rockin?



  1. I will say that once we used a moving company, we never went back to doing it ourselves. We pack and unpack, but I didn’t mind paying people to haul that heavy stuff. I am sure my friends are glad too.

    We do all our investing and taxes. No financial planner for us. That could be to our detriment, who knows.

    I also am a proponent of educating yourself. Be it health/medicine or blogging details, I love to do research. A class might be more efficient, but I would rather do it on my own time. I learn better that way anyway.

    • I have to cast my vote for movers. My husband and I moved all our stuff in and out through college and one apartment…then we hired movers. I will never go back. $400 is a small price to pay to cut moving time from weeks to hours and to never pull a muscle going up the stairs… 🙂

  2. We are big do it your selfers. I have this unspoken rule to learn at least one new thing a year, so that if all hell broke loose, I could kick it like grissly adams, chop wood and live off the land. Are you old enough to know who that is or am I totally dating myself?

    Anyway, here’s the list of things my husband and I do on our own.

    Home improvement stuff:
    Landscape, garden, paint, roof, tile, plumbing, electrical, fix broken appliances, install hardwood flooring, Install windows, install doors, move ductwork, hang, mud and finish sheetrock, hang kitchen cabinets. Everything we learned as we went. It’s incredibly slow going when you first start out and are learning. 10 years later projects go a lot faster.

    Home making stuff:
    bread baking, cheese making (not good at yet), yogurt, herb growing, fishing, mushroom picking, canning, refinishing furniture, stained glass. My mom has the big veggie garden, so she’s the grower and I’m the processor.

    Using coupons, stocking up on sales, buying everything possible used, selling stuff on craig’s list.

    Doing our own taxes. Saving over 20% of our income. Aggressively paying down mortgage.

    I struggle to fit it all in. The compromise is having things like a cleaning lady and going out to eat. Now with little kids, we’re trying to teach them fun life skills too like canoeing, hiking, swimming. Oh it’ll be great when they’re old enough to MT Bike, Dive and Climb on a regular basis. I really really miss those.

    • Do you have pretty strait forward tax returns? I always have a tax friend of mine do them because I worry that the money I could save by doing my own taxes is negated by the money/tax credits/deductions I miss.

  3. The biggest thing that I do myself that saves us money is meal plan and cook. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s true! We (easily) were spending around $650-$700 on eating out during a month before I really buckled down in the kitchen and learned how to make healthy & tasty meals that we would both look forward to eating. Next step is gardening! If I can grow all of the summer squash, zucchini, corn, okra, tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs that we consume, we’ll be in the money every summer (and into the spring if I can learn to freeze or preserve things).

    I also make things like our tablecloths and curtains. I’ve even made a set of placemats and napkins before. Soon I’m going to try out a dress and see how it goes!

    My husband does things like build us bookcases and cut the lawn to save us some money. Plus, when you build your own furniture it’s absolutely customized to what you need & want. No compromising! (The only downside to that is until he gets better with a miter saw and lathe, we’re rocking Quaker-style furniture haha.)

  4. Well, after Sandy L, I look like a slacker! I was going to say I do tons of cooking/baking at home-the bare minimum is bought packaged. My DH takes care of the home maintenance and some car maintenance since I’m no good at those.

    • I feel bad. I didn’t want to make it sound like I’m a superwoman. I’m definitely not. Plus,the list includes my husband’s skills too. He’s the electrician, plumber, roofer, structural repairs part of the team.

      To clarify, it’s impossible to do all the things on my list all of the time. When we were doing tons of home improvements, I wasn’t running around making jam and baking bread. I was eating take out pizza and covered in paint.

      I envy anyone who can curb their food budget. That’s one of my Achilles heals. Even with the home stuff I do, I still spend a small fortune.

  5. Yeah, I’m with Caitlin – plan and cook is my biggest DIY strong point. We still go out to eat here and there, but only 1-2 times per week.

    I also have started baking our own bread, freezing veggies/fruits/meats/fish, canning (late summer, fall), and taking on some decorating / art projects.

    In terms of wedding DIY, which I have one of those coming up, I’m making my own centerpieces and tags for favors, doing my own makeup/nails/hair, and we’re processing / reproducing all wedding photos ourselves. We have a photographer, but we maintain all rights and original, untouched photos.

    We also did all DIY travel planning & booking for our honeymoon. No middle man.

    I think our wedding invitations, quoted for 150 pcs, are around $150. Totally worth it.

  6. Well, I would like to consider myself and my husband frugal-like livers. For instance…we do all our own home repairs and remodels (tileing, laying floor, plumbing, electrical work, painting, decorating, we do it all!) We also cut my husbands hair at home, we too bought a home clipper pack and have been doing that for about a year now saves us $12 a month, or $144 a year! (I still get mine done at the salon). I paint my own nails and toes, no pedicures for me unless I have a giftcard. We don’t eat out a lot maybe once or twice a month, otherwise I cook all our meals, we take our lunch to work, and take our own pop or snacks so we don’t hit up the vending machines. We also do our own taxes every year, but I did take a class in it in college and we do use Turbo Tax, I would rather pay $40 a year for that then over $200 which is what most businesses charge around here. As for traveling, we do all our own planning and finding the best deals, why pay someone when it is actually kind of fun to do it yourself?!?!

  7. skills? Well i can type really fast on my computer and i love reading. Are those skills? Other than that i dont know what i am good for

    • KT, are we the same person? Or at the very least, twins? ‘Cuz several people can attest to the fact that I have said those very exact words. Actually, I also added “watching TV” and I seriously researched what it would take to get a job doing the ‘closed captioning’ for TV shows.

  8. You are SUPER handy! I was looking at this cute headboard from Pottery Barn, but it cost $800 (unreal). So, I went online and found plans on this amazing blog- to build the same one. For $90 I built the same headboard and now every time I look at it, I feel accomplished instead of sick to my stomach that it cost me $800. I’m done kowtowing to the “If I want it, I buy it” mentality. I’ll make it myself, thank you very much!

    Check out Knock Off Wood…you and GN can have awesome furnishings for alot less than Pottery Barn, and alot more sturdy than Ikea.

  9. I made my cars and cooking my main two hobbies. Now I do all the fixes on our cars and can cook great food for next to nothing. My wife is the home economics person, always cuttin coupons for groceries and hittin up garage sales for the kids clothes and necessities. Also, i became a regular at the pawn shops around here for tools and video games (amazon is good for used games too). Those are definitely the best place to purchase those two things.

  10. when we moved from CA to Texas we did pay a moving company, it was actually pretty close to the same price as renting a truck and driving it cross country and we didn’t have to carry the boxes out or in! We did oped to pack ourselves and that saved us $500. Depending on where we move next time we might do the same thing again.

  11. Some things I’ve been doing myself for a while, others I’ve learned as I’ve grown. I come from a household that works hard for the environment. When I was little things like cans and egg cartons were kept for crafting to keep me busy, and for fun birthday activity ideas. Other things we did because it was cheaper and at the time I didn’t realize how little money we actually had…so here’s the list of things I do for myself…

    1) Sew Christmas gift bags that are reusable and can be fun. You miss the fun of opening a paper wrapped present, but for $20 you have a whole pile of different sized bags that you can use for 10-20-30 years and save all that money on buying a gift bag or wrapping paper! Great for the environment too, since if they get soiled you just drop them in the wash and voila! Good as new! The only thing you need is a little imagination, a fabric sale at the end of the season and the ability to sew in a semi straight line. Nothing fancy and can take as little time as a commercial break to complete one bag.

    2) Garden – growing your own lettuce, peppers, carrots, onions, beans, etc saves a bundle during the season, and allows you to do something else for yourself…

    3) Canning/Preserving/Batch cooking – Until recently I made my own spaghetti sauce, lasagna, fruit for pies and eating, pasta dishes etc. The reason I don’t currently is because I haven’t saved the money for a chest freeze for the apartment yet – but I still go to moms and help her do this for the family.

    4) Cross stitch and needle point – nice as gifts if you find something specific for someone. Easy when you have a pattern to follow, modifiable if you already have the pattern but want to customize the colours to the person. Nice as pillows and wall hangings.

    5) Taxes – been doing these on my own since I was 15. Easy to follow if you read the guide, plus free advice and time from companies like H&R Block or Softron to ask questions during tax time can save you a bunch if you get stuck with something. The government sites and Service office can help with this as well.

    6) Finances – walking towards debt-free for a while and learning as I go.

    7) Basic household repairs and chores – painting, leaky toilets, faucets, patching holes in walls etc. Not many 21 year old women receive a toolkit for Christmas, but this thing has saved boatloads of money and other things since I no longer have to borrow tools from guy friends. Plus it gives you a real sense of accomplishment when something happens, and a guy friends says, “Well if you only had a [hammer, wrench, socket wrench, electrical tape, needle-nose pliers]” and you can say “hold on I have one of those!” The look on their face when you pull out your tool box, then the remark that it’s more extensive then theirs is quite satisfying!

    7) Refinishing furniture/re-upholstering furniture – fun to do, easy to figure out, great to save a piece by making it look different and new! Again, fabric sale, paint sale, hardware store sale, helps keep initial material costs down, and with a heavy-duty stapler borrowed from a guy friend who is a cabinet maker/carpenter/woodworker helps.

    8) Manis and pedis – doing my own since 1990!

    9) Makeup and facials! I do these for friends as well – training from a “hobby” business I once had that was free helped.

    10) Hair colouring – $25 plus a friend/sister to help makes it more fun than the stylist – and you get the added bonus of not spending $150 for the colour and cut!!

    11) Event planning and decorations – I’ve acted as wedding planner for a few friends and have figured out ways to save bundles. Did you know that if you order your floral arrangements for a party instead of a wedding

  12. Learned how to cook on youtube, saved a crap ton of skrilla. Eating out even one fewer time a week saves easliy $40/week on average. I’ve also learned how to break down large cuts of meat into workable steaks/Roasts Etc. Fillet Mignon $12lb whole tenderloin in the bag as low as $4lb. youtube. can teach you anything.
    Oh and I Take the bus to work overall savings $200 a month

  13. I have the Computer Skillz, but I’ve always been hesitant to farm myself out as a PC fix-it guy. I suppose it’s the Perfectionists’ Curse. I feel that it’s too much trouble to a) incorporate, b) advertise, c) actually do the work. Plus, I’m afraid that I’d be so swamped! (I suppose then I could just increase my prices.)

  14. I brew our own beer! Which saves us about $3000 a year (alcohol taxation is insane in Australia)
    I cut my own hair, the first pair of clippers I bought are cheaper then the cost of a hair cut!
    I used to do my own auto repair / panel work but my car was worth $1500 so if I got it wrong no biggie presently we both have expensive cars so getting it wrong would cause huge problems.
    I do our bicycle repair stuff though.

    I need to learn plumbing and welding and I’ll be sorted I think.

  15. I’ll chime in, I used to haul my own stuff back and forth across town. That stopped for me last time I moved coincidentally at the time I turned 40. There will be no going back. It is nice to write a check, then start the process of “moving in” with the unpacking, after standing in the middle of my apt instructing the movers “bedroom 1, bedroom 2, living room, kitchen….” and watching them do the hard stuff.

  16. I fixed our water heater (replaced the heating coils and thermostats). We also installed our own new fixtures around the house, put together our wood furniture (well, hubby did…), and we painted the whole bottom floor of our house.

    My skills would include car buying since I know the ins-and-outs from the dealer’s side too, Craigslisting (both buy and sell), and customer service. I also handle 90% of our errands and dog stuff (like getting the Pug take his pills and putting in his ear and eye drops twice a day).

    My husband is a great teacher, can read and correctly follow an instruction manual for almost anything (I’m a visual learner, so he then shows me how to do it), and he is a great cook which surprised both of us. 🙂

  17. […] Punch Debt in the Face, the Debt Ninja asks two questions: How much does being lazy cost you? and What are your skillz? in a series that balances spending and […]

  18. […] asks what skills you have that save you some coin (Up until our last move, we’d never paid for a truck or moving company, either. But it was […]

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