Trade skills with your friends

Chances are your friends have a wide variety of skills that you may or may not have, Hamm writes. Why not save money by exchanging skills like computer repair and plumbing with your friends?

Jack Dempsey/AP for Rebuilding Together
In this June 2011 file photo taken by AP Images for Rebuilding Together, volunteer electrician Jim Spellman works on an electrical line at Rebuilding Together's Building a Healthy Neighborhood in Denver, Colo.

I have friends who are either professionally trained or have significant experience in many, many different fields. Carpentry. Electrical wiring. Plumbing. Home building. Computer repair. Home decor. The list goes on and on.

There are a lot of things I’m good at, too. I can handle (or at least help with) many home repair tasks. I can cook just about anything. I can rebuild a computer with my eyes closed.

There are other things I’m not so good at, though. Plumbing scares me. I’ve almost ruined things because of my inadequacy with plumbing. I’m intimidated by very large scale carpentry projects. I’m terrible at video editing (though I’m learning). My landscaping abilities are comical.

My friends, though, have different sets of skills and weaknesses.

If I have a friend that’s good at something that I’m bad at, why not ask that friend for help? At the same time, why not invite them to enlist your help for the things you’re good at?

If you’re a good friend with this person, don’t be afraid to ask. Whenever a friend asks me for help, I’m usually ready to jump.

Make it clear that you’ll repay them with a skill of your own when they need help and live up to that pledge. Even better, if a friend is out there looking for help right now, offer your help.

This doesn’t need to be a quid pro quo. It just needs to be friends helping friends.

Whenever I have friends over to help with things, I usually turn it into a social event. I’ve had friends over for small construction projects that turned into dinner and a very nice evening. I’ve been over to help friends with projects where the project turned into an all-day affair with two meals and a nice evening out on the deck with friends.

Compared to the cost of hiring someone to help, it’s far less expensive. It’s also a lot more enjoyable.

See a friend that needs help with something you can easily do? Offer your help. If you need help with something where your friends are skilled, don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll both end up ahead.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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