Practical skills for Frugal Living

RSS Author RSS     Views:N/A
Bookmark and Share          Republish
Your Most Valuable and Portable Asset is Your Skill Set. Or, Have You Been Deskilled?
“Who has a trade may go anywhere” ~Spanish Proverb
Are you as skilled as your Grandparents?
How do you define skills? What skills are practical skills and thus important—wealth-creating skills? Is there a shortage of people with practical skills? Meaning, are most people just not that useful? Are you skilled and useful? If you had to pick up and move, would your skills create value and earn you a living anywhere?
Skill is defined as proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience. To me, this is painting all skills with the same brush and lumping the useful and the useless altogether. Pushing a button at McDonalds, to make the fries, isn’t a practical skill. It’s useless, worldwide, except at McDonalds.
Just because you were trained to do something, doesn’t make it practical or useful. Take the people who work on assembly lines, doing one action over and over. They may be ‘trained’ and ‘practiced,’ but is what they do really useful? A person who makes one cut on a slaughterhouse floor is not a butcher. This sort of one dimensional work is rampant in our culture, in offices and factories – the super specialists are actually useless. Are you one of them?

What a specialist does may only be useful in one company or factory – not practical and not that useful. If the plant, factory, or office shuts down, what do they have? From our meat cutting example, they have the ‘ability’ to make one cut. The ‘skill’ is pretty useless. They’ve allowed themselves to be deskilled, like millions of others in America, by the division of labor. Not very practical.
Adam Smith said division of labor would be economically destructive (emphasis added).
So, what is a practical skill? What is useful in this day and age? You have to look at what people actually need to survive and thrive and then discover the associated skills. What do we need to survive and thrive? Water, food and shelter are required for survival, right? To thrive, we need more varied practical skills.
So, an understanding of how to find and use water is important: plumbing, water management, water purification, desalinization. What skills, besides plumbing, are necessary? Irrigation puts water to good use raising crops, so skills in proper irrigation are practical.

For food, farmers are the obvious personified answer, but what are the skills associated with farming? We don’t have enough space here, there are so many skills a
farmer must know if they raise crops and animals. They have to know everything about each crop and each animal in order to produce and get their goods to the market – farmers have a lot of practical skills.
Food production, preparation and storage are all necessary skills in order to take raw food stuffs and convert them into more useful forms. Butchers, produce managers, grocers, bakers, chefs, all have their hands on raw food, and all use their practical skills to add value to the food. They do what they do, and it betters you life.
How about shelter? This one is vast also. Just think about all the skills that are necessary in order to build a home: excavation, masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electric, finishing, etc. Really, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of some of the skills necessary for maintaining ‘normal’ life in North America and we haven’t even touched on what practical skills are necessary for our culture to thrive.
Becoming de-skilled is a very real possibility if you follow a certain path.
So, what are you going to do about it? I guess it depends on who you are. If you are practically skilled in a variety of useful ways, keep learning more – make yourself as useful as possible anywhere in the world, to as many people as possible, and you will thrive.
If you’ve just finished up a degree from college or university and you have zero debt, but zero prospects because you studied gender studies and the history of feminism, consider learning a trade through on-the-job training, if you can. Read books on practical skills: farming, carpentry, cooking, auto repair, natural medicine and so many more do it yourself ideas.
If you have finished up a useless degree and have immense debt, you have to be aware of the fact that you have just wasted time and money. It happens, get over it, and get on with making better choices. Read books from the library or online and learn practical skills from here on.
If you are a parent, be very aware of how you are influencing the choices of your children. One of the best answers in life, though used far too little, is “I don’t know.” If you’re honest, you will use it often. Many parents who suggested degrees as the answer to “how to earn a living?

Report this article

Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article