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DIY Do It Yourself Projects Can Save You Money (Frugal Friday)

Posted By Jessica Fisher On June 27, 2013 @ 7:40 pm In Budget Living,Frugal Friday | 14 Comments

DIY, do it yourself projects, can be a great way to save money and add value to your life.

peg wall

I was a DIY kind of girl [4] back in the 80s and 90s. It might have started with a touch of Wannabemarthaism, but eventually it became just plain good sense. If I made something myself, I could save money. Doing it yourself can be a great way to save money.

In high school I had a friend whose mom had taught her to make her own clothes. She told me how cheap it was to make a pair of shorts. I was astounded. Since I paid for a lot of my own clothing back then, that spoke to me.

I went home and asked my mom to teach me to sew. I might not have ever wanted to learn if I hadn’t realized it could save me money. I don’t sew now because it doesn’t make sense. But, in 1989, I could buy a yard of fabric for less than three bucks, thereby garnering myself a very inexpensive pair of shorts. I could stretch my dollar farther by making something myself.

The same has held true for many things in our life as a family. There’s a multitude of ways to save money by doing it yourself. 

Here are some of our favorite cheap, easy DIY projects:

Build it.

Hubs builds whatever we need if it’s cheaper or better quality than what we could buy. Our bedroom dresser is a sturdy, heirloom piece of furniture that only cost a few hundred dollars in materials. It cost him time, but it’s worth it to us.

Over the years he’s built a number of items for us to add to our home, like the pegwall above or this picture frame [5]. Not only did he save us money, but those pieces mean more as a result of his time investment.

Fix it.

This week, FishPapa did a lot of work on our cars. He saved upwards of $300 changing the brakes and rotors on a vehicle himself.

For the past 20 years, he’s done many home repairs as well. He does exceptional work and his labor is “free”.

Clean it.

While I really struggle with housekeeping and would love to have someone come do it for me, I just can’t justify the $100/cleaning to have a service do it for me. It may not get done as well or as quickly as it might if we brought someone it, but I’m saving money.

The same goes for cars and laundry. We can wash and vacuum our vehicles ourselves much more economically than a carwash. I purposely don’t buy dry clean only clothing so that I can clean something myself instead of paying someone else to do it.

homebaked bread sm

Bake it.

I’ve fallen off the baking band wagon. I was reminded of it when I read Carrie’s post [6] about how much it costs her to make bread. If my pricing were the same to make at home ($1.15/loaf for sandwich bread), it might not be worth my while since our sandwich bread is $1.99 at Trader Joe’s with exceptional ingredients.

But, I know that my artisan bread costs me $0.25 to $0.50/loaf for baguettes or boules, compared to the same $2 for a baguette at the French bakery. It might be a good move to start baking at home to save some coin [7].

Make it.

Making gifts [8] can be a huge money saver, depending on your skills and materials already on hand. One year I made homemade calendars with supplies that I already had on hand. I filled them with pictures, bringing my costs to about $2 per calendar for a very customized, keepsake gift.

Check out the DIY: Great Gifts [9] series for inspiration and instructions on a multitude of gifts you can make yourself.

Carnitas Tacos

Cook it.

In our newlywed days, we spent more on food for the two of us than we did ten years later with a houseful of kids. Once I became a mom, we transitioned to one income and needed to cut corners. I learned to cook more and to make specialty items at home.

I can make my own crepes, pan pizza [10], tamales, biscotti [11], corn tortillas [12], granola [13], and a wealth of other items that I might previously have paid big bucks to buy elsewhere.

We can feast like kings without having the budget to match!

That said, there are some times, when it’s not really worth your time or money investment to do it yourself. See this post for a discussion of when to buy and when to diy [14].

What are your best projects to DIY?

Got a favorite decorating DIY or a favorite make-it-yourself recipe? Do tell.


This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.

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URL to article: http://lifeasmom.com/2013/06/diy-do-it-yourself-projects-can-save-you-money-frugal-friday.html

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[3] my free seasonal newsletter: http://eepurl.com/q47Vb

[4] a DIY kind of girl: http://lifeasmom.com/category/budget-living/diy

[5] this picture frame: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/09/fall-decor-on-a-dime-frugal-friday.html

[6] Carrie’s post: http://springsbargains.com/2013/06/i-was-wondering-how-much-does-making-my-own-bread-really-save-me/

[7] start baking at home to save some coin: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/05/bake-your-own-bread-to-save-money/

[8] Making gifts: http://lifeasmom.com/2013/05/fun-gifts-to-make-yourself.html

[9] DIY: Great Gifts: http://lifeasmom.com/2012/12/diy-on-a-dime-great-gifts.html

[10] pan pizza: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/08/make-your-own-pan-pizza/

[11] biscotti: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/12/chocolate-almond-biscotti/

[12] corn tortillas: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/01/homemade-corn-tortillas/

[13] granola: http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/05/maple-vanilla-almond-granola/

[14] when to buy and when to diy: http://lifeasmom.com/2012/09/buy-or-diy.html

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