Woman uses tools to fix machine

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you need to know how to take care of yourself. Whether it’s because a global pandemic has made any stranger entering your home a potential viral threat, or because a lot of the resources you previously relied on are no longer available during the pandemic, most of us are realizing that we can’t always depend on others’ help when something breaks. Traditionally it has been in men’s domain to fix things like sinks and cars, and many women don’t even try to pick up on these skills. But being independent is liberating! Practical skills such as these enable women to live independently and safely, and better live life to the fullest. Here are five technical and incredibly valuable skills that women should seek to develop, and some tips and tricks for making it happen.

How to Fix Your Car

Being stranded on the side of the road with a broken down car is no one’s idea of a good time. And while you can call AAA, sometimes it’s easier (and much cheaper) to fix your car yourself. For a lot of car issues, all you need are some solid tools, and a willingness to get a little dirty. You should always have an emergency toolkit somewhere in your car as well as a spare tire. Your basic toolkit should include:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Socket and ratchet set
  • Tire jack
  • Pliers
  • Phillips and flat head screwdriver
  • Jumper cables

You should also have an emergency first aid kit and some supplies like a blanket, food, water, and extra clothes in case the problem needs a mechanic and you’re on your own for a while. Having a basic understanding of how your car works and how to make those simple changes yourself will not only boost your confidence, it will also help you hold your own at the shop so you don’t get ripped off by a shady mechanic trying to “fix” something that isn’t broken. 

While learning how to repair a car might seem like an intimidating task, it doesn’t have to be. In order to obtain a basic understanding of how parts and pieces function, you can start by watching TV shows where people fix cars, like Wheeler Dealers. Of course, Youtube also boasts an inexhaustible storage of educational mechanic videos. Look around, and you’ll find all sorts of easy opportunities to pick up this skill

How to Fix Your Plumbing

Plumbing accidents can happen anytime. Say you wake up one morning to find black specks coming out of your faucet when you turn on the water. Is this dangerous? Can you drink that water or use it for dishes? Looks like you better put down an inordinate amount of money for a plumber to come and tell you. Or better idea, why don’t you learn about the issue yourself? Oftentimes plumbing problems can be pretty easy to diagnose yourself, and unless you’re willing to pay a lot to get a plumber to your home ASAP, you can often expect some water damage to your home and apartment if you don’t act quick. Being able to fix plumbing issues (even if they’re relatively minor) can make you feel like you can accomplish anything, and help you save a ton of money. 

You don’t have to be able to replace an entire water heater by yourself, but knowing some plumbing basics can help you feel more confident that you can keep your home from completely flooding should a toilet overflow or you find a leaky faucet. Some things you should know how to do yourself:

  • How to replace a showerhead
  • How to fix or replace a leaky faucet
  • How to calk around your sink or bathtub, 
  • How to unclog a toilet or drain
  • How to fix your water pressure
  • How to replace a washing machine hose

Basic plumbing tools you should add to your toolbox include a cup and flange plunger, a hacksaw, a snake, a utility knife, a caulking gun, plumbing tape, and an adjustable wrench. Once you have those DIY plumbing skills down, you’re well on your way to becoming a master homeowner.  Next stop, read some plumbing articles on the web and watch relevant Youtube videos to learn how to make basic fixes. 

How to Use Basic Power Tools

Almost everyone has some dream upgrades to their apartment or home that they’ve seen on Pinterest or HGTV. Usually, if you want to upgrade your bathroom or tear down a wall for a more “open concept” home, you call a remodeling contractor and they’ll send in a team to take care of everything. But with a little training (and a LOT of YouTube videos), you can usually do these DIY projects on your own. Most home improvement stores will let you rent power tools so you don’t have to buy your own for a one-time project. A couple power tools you should feel comfortable operating on your own include:

  • Power drill 
  • Sander
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Table saw
  • Oscillating multi-tool
  • Nail gun

Make sure you’re staying safe when using these tools. Always wear protective equipment like gloves and goggles, be aware of any people around you who could get too close, and make sure you’re operating on a stable surface. Generally, the easiest way to get good at these tools is to just watch closely when other people use them. Dads in particular seem to be pros at working these tools. When you hear that your Dad or someone close is working on something or fixing something, ask if you can join have them explain their methods. 

How to Cook at Least One Fancy Meal

Eating fast food and microwave meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner isn’t just bad for your health—being dependent on easy and unhealthy meals can be pretty unfulfilling. Many people use cooking as a form of self-expression and a way to show off their creativity. And you don’t need someone else’s help to create an amazing meal. 

Learning how to enjoy cooking and create a beautiful meal all by yourself will help you feel more independent and like you can take on Gordon Ramsey himself. If you’re new to home cooking, start off learning small, basic cooking skills like how to cook pasta and rice just right. Over time, you can level up to more complex skills like how to cook a perfect medium-rare steak or baking bread from scratch. 

An inspirational cookbook can motivate you to get up and get excited about cooking – especially if you find a cookbook that has you make recipes at your preferred level of difficulty. Try to find a signature dish you can cook for when people come over, they’ll be impressed by your skills. The one downside? Once they know you’re an amazing chef, they’ll want to come over all the time. 

How to Install and Troubleshoot Home Tech

Having to call your dad or man of the house anytime your internet connection starts acting up can be annoying for both people, and most likely they’ll just ask you if you’ve tried unplugging and replugging in the device (so not helpful). Understanding the basics of the technology you have around your house and how to fix any tech issues yourself will help you become more self-sufficient.

  • How to self-install your internet
  • How to troubleshoot your internet connection
  • How to install a home security system
  • How to fix any basic wiring issues

Some larger tech issues or home automation changes will most likely need a professional technician’s work since wiring can be a tricky (and dangerous) thing to mess with if you’re not trained. But small tech installations and fixes can easily be done by yourself with some research and patience.  Luckily, there are always lots of people around that are good at handling technology malfunctions. If you can ask questions and get help from one of these people, make sure to write down what you learn. We all have fallen victim to the “Oh, I’ll remember” trap. Consider making a note on your phone where you document the correct process for handling a technology issue that you know you’ll encounter again.