Is Making Things Really Cheaper Than Buying Them?
Making things is fine if you are five, or fortunate enough to be naturally artistic, but… For the rest of us? Every month? As a genuine attempt to save money? Come on…
Make Something is one of my monthly Thrifty Habits. Why? Whenever we pay for products we are really paying for someone’s materials, their skills in transforming those materials into something we want, and the time it takes them to do that. But if you already have the materials, skills and time, why not put them together and get the product for free? This is neither a new, nor a crazy idea. You do this every time you open the fridge and knock together a sandwich to take to work instead of paying for a sandwich made by a stranger. You probably feel perfectly competent to make a sandwich – why not any of the other products you regularly pay for?
Being creative means you can always be flexible about getting what you want at a low price
Making at least one thing that we would otherwise buy each month turns saving money into an empowering, positive experience. Being creative means you always have options, can always be flexible about getting what you want at a low price – whether it’s a new set of cushion covers or a fully re-upholstered sofa.
I should say up front, I would make things even if it left me out of pocket. Creating makes me happy, and I am not alone – a recent study by Glasgow University found a connection between making and welbeing. Making things helps you get into Flow, it can be sociable, leads you to learn new skills, beats slumping on the sofa in front of the TV and gives an enormous sense of achievement.Which is why Investing In Creating Not Consuming is one of my keys to Buying Happiness. So Make Something is a happy habit – but is it always a thrifty habit? And what if you are really short on the skills side?
Why You Should Get Into The Habit Of Making Things
Making things you need but can’t afford is thrifty but only if it doesn’t end up more expensive than buying it in the first place. I am not just talking about costing more money – I am talking about the cost in time. If you have to spend time you can’t afford to make the thing – especially if you could have used that time to earn or save a bigger sum of money – then paying for someone else’s time might be more thrifty in the long run. So I am not whole-heartedly recommending the DIY lifestyle for every situation.
What I am recommending is that, each month, you give it a go. Take one thing you would otherwise buy – or do without – and try to make your own version. What’s the worst that could happen – you find out this is not for you and that this is one area where you can cheerfully pay someone else for their time and skill? The best that could happen is that you discover an activity you deeply enjoy that saves more money than it costs. That’s worth a shot, surely?
As for worrying about your lack of skills… There are plenty of projects that require minimal skills. Anyway, the only known way to develop any skill at all is to start doing something you can’t do and keep working at it until you can. Go for it!
For some creative inspiration, click here to view the Tartan Thrifty Make Something and look up Make Something in The Habits in the sidebar to the right.