Learn ‘n Save

One of the often-overlooked ways to save money is to do things yourself. Doing so can also build confidence and bring a sense of satisfaction.  This holds true for everything from doing your taxes to unclogging a drain.

Yet many times, people don’t even consider doing things themselves. Asked why not, they say things like “Oh I could never do that”, “I don’t know how”, or “But what if I screw up?”.

What if I screw up?

Fear of doing something wrong probably holds people back more than anything. But to that I say, well, what if you do mess things up? What’s the worst that could happen?

In the case of a clogged drain, you might have visions of pipes exploding and rivers of water pouring through your house. Often times though, it’s just a hairball. Which is more likely?

Do a little basic research — enough to allay your fears — and you could save yourself $70 by avoiding a 5-minute plumber visit.

For example, you could learn how to shut off the water in two places: below the sink and where it comes into the house. The Internet, your city, or a friend probably knows the answer. That takes care of the fear of water everywhere. Learn about what might cause your pipes to explode, and you can make sure to avoid that. (Pulling out a clump of hair isn’t one of those things.)

Lack of knowledge

When it comes to “I could never do that” or “I don’t know how”, remember that people are not born knowing how to do things. That’s where learn ‘n save comes in. Again, do your research. There are directions for almost everything out there, and you don’t know whether or not you can do something until you’ve tried.

Starting small can also help. Maybe you’re not ready to defend yourself in tax court, but you could give doing your own taxes a try once. Or maybe try doing your state taxes once instead of starting out with federal, since many state returns are less complicated than some federal returns. Remember too, that “complicated” from your perspective is often another way of saying “it’s something new”. Complicated from a tax preparer’s point of view is something else entirely.

If you’re worried that you’ll do it wrong, make an appointment to have an expert check them over afterward. If you’re afraid you’ll get audited, remember that that has nothing to do with who did your taxes. 

Many things that appear hard are really just time-consuming. And in my experience at least, many things that look easy are often much harder than they look. But in either case, you don’t know unless you try.

Give things a try

So give something new a try. Yes, there is a chance that you might break something or do it wrong. But there’s also a (much greater) chance that you won’t. And there’s nothing saying you can’t call in help in the process. Even if you try and fail, remember that you’re better off than someone who wasn’t willing to try at all.

Success though, is sweet.  Both because of the potential savings, and because of how it changes you. You become more wiling to try other new things. You get more involved and interested. You expand your thinking and gain new skills.

Give it a shot. Learn something new — no matter how small — and put that new knowledge and confidence to work for you today.

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