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YouTube has lessons on everything, including home repairs

You may not be aware of this, but YouTube is good for much more than just cat videos and montages of people falling off bicycles.

It’s shocking, I know, especially since it’s hard to beat a really good video of someone falling off a bike. But YouTube can actually be very valuable if you harness its powers for good. Not only can you learn how to do things you might otherwise have to pay someone else to do for you, you can take tutorials and classes, building life skills and talents that could cost you a fortune to attain elsewhere.

Car repairs. Even if you’ve never worked on a car in your life, there are certain jobs just about anyone can do – changing the oil, swapping out the battery, replacing spark plugs, securing a loose heat shield. Experts on YouTube can show you how to do all those things, one step at a time. If you have more experience with cars, or are just super ambitious, you can do bigger jobs, too. You can even find videos featuring your car’s specific make and model, so you’re comparing apples to apples.

Household repairs and maintenance. Unclog drains. Clean air vents. Fix leaky pipes. Patch a hole in drywall. You can even troubleshoot problems by typing in stuff like “Why won’t my toilet flush?” and “My dishwasher won’t start.”

Music lessons. I’m pretty sure “learn how to play an instrument” is on every single bucket list ever. None of us has an excuse not to cross this one off, since you can learn how to play anything from the piano to the piccolo for free on YouTube.

You can learn the right way – starting with the proper form, learning scales and working your way up to chords – or just dive right in and learn how to fake your way through your favorite songs. I learned how to play “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon in about two minutes, and “Let It Be” by the Beatles is a cinch.

How to knit or crochet. There are videos for all skill levels, such as one called “Absolute Beginner Knitting, Lesson 1 – even if you’re clueless!” on the ExpressionFiberArts channel. Once you get the basic skills down, you can move on to learn how to actually make cool things. I once sat and crocheted a whole hat (complete with flowers!), led one step at a time by the video, rewinding and replaying whatever I found tricky.

Martial arts. How cool would it be to tell people you know kung fu? It’s pretty cool, because I do it all the time, but how cool would it be to tell people you know kung fu and be telling the truth? Get the quick and dirty about pressure points, search tae kwon do katas for whichever one makes you look the toughest or learn the slow, sweeping “forms” of tai chi.

Learn how to write computer code. The Code.org channel – which is run by the same folks behind the “Hour of Code” tutorials – has everything you need, whether you’re starting from square one or want to advance your skills. The lessons are easy to follow, often featuring celebrity experts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. The Khan Academy has good tutorials, too, along with great lessons about everything from calculus to cosmology.

Watch product reviews. There are more than 800,000 channels devoted to product reviews on YouTube. If you’re considering a purchase, search for reviews first. Just as you do with any critic, you’ll find the ones you like and whose opinions you trust.

Got consumer tips or questions? Email schristmann@buffnews.com, “like” Facebook.com/DiscountDiva or Tweet at @DiscountDivaSam.