10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money

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DIY can be a great approach to saving money and living better. Consider these 10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money.

10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money | Life as Mom

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw my husband demolish the inside of a house — the one he was living in — and put it back together better than it was in the first place. You can do that?!

Yes, yes, you can. If you know what you’re doing, you can also save some money at the same time.

DIY isn’t always the cheapest way to go, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. But, there are many, many simple things that you can do or make yourself in order to save some money. Oftentimes, the making and doing become a form of entertainment or other creative outlet, so it results in dual-purpose economizing.

Do-it-yourself-ness is kinda how we Fishers roll, but I know some people are worried that they can’t do it. Here I present ten simple and frugal things you can make yourself that you can’t mess up.

10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money

Frozen Foods

Let’s face it. All of us have been tempted by the wonders lurking in the frozen food aisle. Dinner ready in 30 minutes without breaking a sweat? Sign me up!

Over time, however, I’ve learned that making my own frozen convenience foods is cheaper, tastier, and healthier. You can easily make your own “tv dinners” for a fraction of the cost.

Grab this freezer cooking planner so that you can make the process clean and simple.

Travel reservations

Fifteen years ago, we paid good money to have a travel agent book plane tickets. I laugh at that now. The internet has made travel planning so much easier and affordable!

Now with high speed internet widely available, the average Joe (or Jane) can make his or her own reservations and save a pretty penny. You can use a booking site, like Expedia or Booking.com or go straight through the airline or accommodation sites.

Often times you can save a pretty penny going directly through the airline or accommodation since they have to pay referral fees to those conglomerates.


10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money | Life as Mom

Homemade Salsa

We are huge fans of Mexican food around here. As a result I mix up a batch of salsa at least once a week. The homemade variety costs a fraction of what we’d pay for store-bought salsa — and tastes so much better!

See how easy it is to make homemade salsa!

Hand scrub and other toiletries

Hand scrubs and other toiletries cost an arm and a leg at a boutique or department store, but you can mix up your own for pennies with regular pantry items like sugar, salt, olive oil, and lemon zest.

Household cleaners

Gramma knew best. Vinegar and baking soda are safe, natural cleaners that cost mere pennies. I buy huge containers for cheap at Costco and now mix my own multi-purpose cleaner. Most days I just use vinegar in a spray bottle!

Clean Mama has some great recipes here.

A cup of iced coffee on a table in the backyard.

Iced Coffee Drinks

A run through Starbucks can cost a pretty penny. It’s a fun indulgence, especially in the summer, but better enjoyed made at home. Anytime you make coffee or espresso drinks at home, you are saving yourself more than a cup full of change!

Check out these tips for Making Iced Coffee Drinks at home.

Birthday Cakes

As a child, I always thought bakery birthday cakes were “the thing” to celebrate a special day. Until I realized that their buttercream didn’t really contain butter. AND I could make better for cheaper at home.

Making your own birthday cakes is easier than you think!


Presents don’t need to be elaborate or expensive in order to be heartfelt; they can be beautiful things you can make yourself.

Putting together a simple gift basket takes only a few minutes. Something as simple as Small Notebook’s homemade chocolate syrup in a pretty jar would please any chocolate lover. If you’ve taken advantage of recent back to school sales, you may want to peruse these creative ways to turn office and school supplies into gifts.

Gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive! Head here for more DIY Gift ideas.

10 Things You Can Make Yourself and Save Money | Life as Mom

Homemade Pizza

Homemade is a weekly cheap treat at our house. It’s really easy once you get into the habit of mixing up your own dough. Tastes better, too!

I’ve got a huge archive of pizza recipes that you can make at home. Never worry about tipping the pizza guy again!

Boxed Lunches

Going out for lunch is a fun thing that I will never completely give up, but it adds up quickly. For those who are away from home at lunch time, it can run at least $25/week.

You can easily make your own lunches at home — and pack them in these cute little black boxes. The resulting boxed lunches are simple, elegant, and much less expensive than their fancy, restaurant counterparts. And better for you, too!

A couple years ago, I realized that I could make a batch of lunches at one time, instead of making them every night, a chore I often forgot to do, much to my money-saving chagrin.

Originally published July 24, 2009. Updated July 10, 2017.

Meal prep boxes filled with different types of food.

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  1. My husband and I do all these things except the iced coffee drinks. I don’t know why but we never got in the habit of cold coffee.
    DIY is the way to go. Thanks for the post.

  2. Jessica, a great post, and I was touched by your mention of Rachel from Small Notebook. Do you know how she is? Her blog ended with the post that after caring for her mom who had dementia, she found that she had breast cancer. I’ve thought of her often and hope that all is well.

    1. I love Rachel even though I don’t know her personally. I don’t know any updates other than what she posted on her blog, but was happy to send people her way since I’m guessing she still gets ad revenue, etc.

  3. My husband works midnights as a cop, so even in the city he works healthy food options in the middle of the night are minimal. For health reason and to save about 40 a week, I freeze anything extra from dinner and he takes his “frozen dinner” choice to work. Gas stations always let him use their microwave.

  4. I'm so inspired to live more simple and I've found so many resources. Thanks for some more great tips! (I love homemade salsa BTW – don't think I'll ever go back to the store bought stuff). Also, I've started to talk to my friends and family about my goals to not only be frugal but to put money away. Everyone is so supportive. One of my girlfriend's told me about Ebates (www.ebates.com). Try it and I'm sure you'll find the same. Best of luck everyone!

  5. I just found your website and am in LOVE with it. I am going to add you on the "featured" area of my site so that others can enjoy. This site is JUST what I needed during a hard week!

  6. Great post – we need to go back to the days of old and learn from our ancestors. We are going through a depression right now! We have gotten so out of hand with the commercial products. All you need is lemon, white vinegar and baking soda! This is as eco-friendly as you can get!

  7. Love your ideas – we use many of those at our house! It always makes me feel smart when I figure out how to do something on my own that would cost much more if someone else did it.

  8. My friend taught me to add baking soda to the whites load. It helps brighten it without the use of harsh chemicals, like bleach, and it is so cheap at Costco.

  9. We make our own syrup too when the real stuff (we are very picky about our syrup – only the real stuff which is locally harvested) runs out. My personal concoction is more carmel-like and a definitely family favorite – thanks for sharing!!

  10. Love this post… always better to make your own and save some money! Great ideas!