As a young woman in today’s world, I’ve seen how modern conveniences have chipped away at the skills so many used to pride themselves on. I greatly admire the men and women, particularly those among the younger generations, who have taken the time to learn the skills of their forefathers. Certainly, the pioneers didn’t have sewing machines to use or cars to repair, but the hardy attitude of these individuals lives on in those who take up traditional skills that can improve their lives. Not to mention a potential new hobby, a way to help out those around us, and even monetary savings.
As I previously wrote for Intellectual Takeout:
In the best of times, most people don’t need these skills. In the West, typically, garments no longer need to be mended repeatedly, food can easily be delivered to many places, and roadside services can help change a flat tire. And as trades decline, with many students opting for college by default, it’s no wonder that many of these life skills are on the outs.
But in a time when shortages are common, recession looms, and inflation is sky high, these skillsets seem increasingly relevant. So where can we start?
Traditionally, these various tasks have been divided between the sexes. That doesn’t mean that young women shouldn’t learn to repair a tire or that young men shouldn’t learn to cook. Yet, as a starting place, this split can be helpful.
So, where can young women like me begin on this road to mastering the skills of old? Here are four skills for young ladies that are easy to learn and can have an immediate positive impact on our lives.
Many years ago, a friend told me that her father paid her to replace a button on a garment because the cost to have a professional do it would be $10 plus the cost of the button. I couldn’t believe that a professional could charge so much for a task that would take my friend five minutes. That story has stuck in my mind, and I recall it every time I’m mending a piece of clothing.
Indeed, sewing can be an inexpensive skill to learn. Spending $20 on a beginner’s sewing kit can provide all the necessary supplies to learn hand sewing. And anything your classic sewing machine can do, hand sewing and some patience can do just as well (if not better). The internet has plenty of beginner’s guides on the basics, but to get started, a simple mending job (replacing a button, for instance) can be a practical project. Or if you’re feeling more ambitious, a pillowcase—which is how I learned how to sew—is another perfect starting place.
2. Budgeting and Personal Finance
Whether we have debt or not and whether money is tight or not, having a budget (and sticking to it) ensures that we are living within our means and using our money wisely. This only becomes more important as we go through life and potentially start a family, which adds another layer of consideration and complexity to existing finances.
Starting a budget can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet that has income in one column and various expenses in another—and, of course, leaving room for savings. For some, a strict budget like this may be most helpful. For others, mentally tracking spending may get the job done. Either way, knowing how to manage household finances is an important skill for any lady.
Luckily, there are ample resources on how to get started. Dave Ramsey has countless videos on a host of topics, and I’ve found The Richest Man in Babylon to be an understandable dive into personal finance.
3. Letter Writing
There’s nothing like receiving a handwritten note in the mail from a friend or relative. Whether it’s a “Thank You” card or for an occasion like a birthday, sending a loved one a note can be a simple way to show someone we care. Whenever I receive a thoughtful letter, after reading it, I will save it as a cherished memento.
However, with pre-written greeting cards easily available at the store, the cards sent in the mail today are too often left blank of any personal note or touch. Fortunately, a pack of blank greeting cards is fairly affordable, and with a touch of careful cursive or artful handwriting, we can send something more thoughtful. Pre-planning what we want to say or brushing up on our penmanship takes time, but it is infinitely more meaningful.
And for those of us who are more artistically inclined, calligraphy or a hand-drawn or hand-painted card can create a letter that its recipient can proudly display.
Some may say it’s the epitome of sexism to say that women should learn to cook, but in all fairness, I would make a similar recommendation to many young men. That said, cooking is something that women traditionally head up in the household, so it’s a perfect skillset for any young lady to learn and can be an enjoyable hobby as well.
Developing an arsenal of simple recipes that work for any occasion—from Thanksgiving to weeknights—is a way for us to eat healthier and save money. Not to mention that food can be a way to show our appreciation for others, whether it’s a meal for an expecting family or a dinner party to bring together friends. Elevating our kitchen skills above throwing together some pasta and sauce treats our daily lives with a greater level of attention, rather than the carelessness so common in the 21st century.
For beginners and experts alike, the internet is full of recipes and instructional videos, and looking through the local library’s cookbook section can provide a host of potential meals for any palate. Asking friends or relatives who love cooking about their favorite recipes is another amazing resource (and conversation starter).
Onward and Upward
While undertaking each of these new skills at once may prove daunting, picking one to implement in our lives is more manageable. Setting a goal of mending the hole in our favorite shirt, creating a monthly grocery budget, reconnecting with an old friend via mail, or cooking a meal for friends are all meaningful steps toward a future that honors the past in the best ways.
Image credit: Flickr-Reilee Bach, CC BY-SA 2.0