When I first started out on my path to frugality, I was inspired by the crafting ideas that would save me money and make for inexpensive but personal gifts for my loved ones. Knitted dishcloths, scarves, crocheted hats and soap were among some of my favorite gifts to make. I would spend hours perusing craft stores and stocking up on supplies…but I had to wonder…
As much as I truly enjoy crafting, is it simply smarter to buy a gift?
How do you know if your crafting is frugal or foolish? I have some tips and tricks to ensure your crafting is not only fun, but totally frugal too!
The problem with crafting as a frugal tactic is often the high cost of materials and also the high cost of time. It seems we crafters are never satisfied with just having *enough* standard yarn for gifts or have *enough* stickers to do the job, we end up with boxes, even storage tuppers FULL of unusued supplies purchased without a project in mind! How frugal is that? Not very.
Here too it’s worth pondering how much your time is worth, and is the crafting stressing you out? For many crafters, holiday gifts are on the needles or sitting outside with the paint drying months in advance. We’re busting out the holiday ribbons and snowy pom poms in the mid-July.
Everything boils down to time vs. money. If you’re using crafting as a way to provide hours of entertainment and a gift that you hope will be treasured simply because it was handcrafted and tailor-made, then yes– crafting your gifts might be a good bet to save on entertainment costs throughout the year, but also to raise the “awww” factor during the gift exchange. On the other hand, if you’re starting a new hobby to “save money,” you might be underestimating how expensive it can be to craft when you first start a new medium, and especially underestimating the temptation to overspend when everything at the store just BEGS you to buy it in the mighty name of frugal artistic expression!
If you want to pick up new skills, experiment with new projects or feel that this particular gift will be truly adored by the recipient you will enjoy every stitch, brush stroke and snapshot. If you’re not sold on seeing your project to blissful completion you’re wasting your money!
The upside is that the stuff we make ourselves is way more fab than anything store bought, but considering you can buy a scarf at Old Navy for $5 and it may take several balls of $5 yarn to make your own, be realistic about costs. Make your own judgments on the intended gift and what it’s worth (either tangibly or intangibly) for you to make it.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE crafting. I think it’s a brilliant plan if you can curb your impulse purchase and also need to cut back on entertainment costs (Netflix+ball of yarn=funsies!) in your overall spending plan.
If you get good at a particular hobby, you can even offer your friends lessons as gifts or teach others as a side hustle to earn extra cash!
If you’re really *not* good at a particular hobby or don’t plan on seeing it through or getting started really get solid on the crafty/frugal lifestyle, well…
…perhaps you’re better off with gift cards. 😉