Paycheck Chronicles

Making It Yourself Can Be A Big Bargain

It's Friday, and I try to talk about frugal things on Friday.  Sometimes, but not always, making things yourself can be a huge money saver.  Whether it is furniture, or a favorite food, or window coverings, do-it-yourself can definitely be a big bargain.

Obviously, the range of things you can DIY depends on your skills and your interests, but you might be able to manage more than you think.  Sometimes it takes a little trial and error, particularly with recipes, or you might have to borrow some tools or get a little help.  Don't let these things stop you.

In the last two weeks, my household has had two big DIY wins.  First, I wanted raised planter beds for my vegetables.   You can buy them pre-made, or in kits, but I thought they were all too expensive.  It was going to cost at least $150, which is just ridiculous.  After a little research and Pinterest oogling, my husband set off for the hardware store.  I was thrilled when he came home with the materials to fairly easily assemble exactly what I wanted, for less than $50.  (Which is still a lot of money, but hopefully they will last and we will get some vegetables out of them.)  I was very impressed with how quickly he got a bed built, too.  It wasn't nearly as complicated as I imagined.

Then, I figured out a very simple way to make iced tea that I like.  This may sound dumb if you're an iced tea expert.  I love iced tea, and I drink it every day.  I have made iced tea at home many times, and I just wasn't happy with the results.  I was buying pre-made iced tea and spending about $2 a day.  Ridiculous.  One day, I was at the commissary, and I noticed cold brew iced tea bags.  I had a coupon, so I figured I'd gamble the dollar and see if it worked for me.  It did!  I use the bags twice, so I can get 22 days worth of tea out of a $2 box, decreasing my iced tea expenses from $60 per month to about $3 a month.  There are a lot of things I can do with an extra $57 a month!

Over the years, I've figured out how to do quite a few things - sewing curtains, making peanut butter noodles, simple gardening, refinishing wood counters, and I'm sure there are more.  It's satisfying and it's good for my wallet.

Of course, there are some things that are cheaper to buy than to make yourself.  Sewing clothing is tricky - you can almost always find used options for less than the cost of fabric.  And some foods are just less expensive to buy prepared.  I can't make a lasagna for the price of a frozen lasagna from the commissary.

I encourage you to experiment with things you might be able to manage yourself.  Watch a YouTube video, read a recipe, or ask a friend for help.  You can learn some new skills and maybe save some money at the same time.

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