Are skills more valuable for making money or saving money?
I’ve been considering this in light of many of the homesteading and homemaking skills I’ve picked up over the years. We’re often told to find a way to market our skills (to earn cash)–but I’ve been wondering if there is actually more value in saving money.
Because it’s Christmas time right now gifts are on my mind. We will be buying a few things (some of them second-hand) but we will be making quite a few gifts as well.
I’ve been making homemade soap this fall. I love using the soap–but it’s also a great gift to give away. (Everyone uses soap.) I’ll be sewing a little for my boys. I’ve got a stained glass project I’m working on for my sister. In the past I’ve made dishtowels, sewn felt play-food and baby soft books, crocheted blankets, and made sugar scrubs. These are all skills I’ve learned that help offset our family’s need for cash to purchase things for ourselves, but also the cost of small birthday gifts, or “thank you’s”, or service provided for friends, that can all use up a lot of cash–if I let them.
The alternative is choosing to use personal resources (my skills) instead of cash. Jeremy makes wonderful homemade breads. Our family loves them; our friends love them. We’re excited this year to be able to gift small jars of our backyard honey with the breads. I’ve got kale growing out in my hoop house so I can take a bowl of zuppa Toscana to my friend whose baby is due in a week. There is an initial investment, for ingredients and supplies, to give home produced gifts, but it’s often much lower than the cost of equivalent items when you consider market value of handmade, artisan, local or organic.
Another factor I can’t ignore is how much I enjoy the experience of using my skills to create and give a unique appropriate gift to a friend. I like my Etsy shop for earning a bit of cash–though mostly I enjoy the creative process of following new ideas that come to me. (I’m not much of a mass-producer.)
But which is more valuable? The ability to do one thing well and earn good money for doing it? Or the ability to do a number of things–maybe none of them well enough to ever “make money” off of–but just well enough to not require paying someone else to do it for you?
Maybe one day my hand-making and self-reliance skill-set will make unnecessary the need for any extra cash. Until then I’ll try and make a little money and use it wisely to buy quality supplies for producing many beautiful and useful things for my family and friends, along with learning new skills every year, and appreciating and supporting the skills of others who can provide the rest.