Twelve hobbies and crafts that will lighten your family budget

(photo compliments of blog.phaseonelandscapes.com)

Need a hobby? Need to revisit an old craft or skill? The following tips are ways crafts or hobbies can save you and your family money.

  1. Paint for a new look. Jennifer gets tired of furniture easily, but instead of rushing out to buy new, she reaches for a paint can. A fresh color, and the world looks bright and shiny again. But old wooden chairs at garage sales, give them a quick coat of new color, and change the way your dining room looks. You’ll spend far less than if you headed for the mall furniture store.
  2. Decorate with blooming plants. Instead of treating yourself to cut flowers on your dinner table (unless you can cut them for free in your own garden) buy a flowering indoor plant. It is less expensive to buy one pretty plant than a series of bouquets.
  3. Roll your own (candles, that is). Beeswax candles are beautiful but aren’t cheap. You can buy the material you need to “roll your own” at any local beekeeping supply store and make a pair of hand-rolled candles for $1 a piece. Compared to the $4 a pair you’d pay in a gift store, that’s a real bargain. If you can’t find the supplies near you, Sacramento Beekeeping ships all over the country.
  4. Learn simple upholstery techniques. Furniture looking a tad shabby? If it will cost too much to replace it right now, why not try to perk it up with a little reupholstery? Fabric scraps can be had in the remnant sections of fabric stores and craft stores like Jo-Ann for just a few dollars, and it is not hard to freshen up footstools, and chair bottoms using just scissors, fabric, upholstery nails, or a staple gun. Jennifer recently spent $5 to redo two dining room chair seat cushions with velvet fabric and a staple gun. Simple step-by-step information can be found on www.motherearthnews.com. You can also check to see if the local adult learning center near you teaches an upholstery class. It is a skill worth learning–one that could save you hundreds of dollars throughout the years.
  5. Make your own gifts. Instead of buying expensive gifts for family and friends, you can make your own meaningful gifts. Do you have crafting skills? Put them to use. Cooking skills? Homemade baked goods are always a hit. Do you garden? A freshly picket bouquet is a delightful present. If you don’t have the crafty talent it takes to make gifts, write out “personal promise cards.” You remember how these work–promise to do the housework for someone, promise to pull weeds in the yard, promise to give a massage. Promise to do something that will put a smile on the face of the recipient. These make perfect gifts–no money required.
  6. Create low-cost organizers. Stay out of the expensive organizing stores and instead use some of those shoe boxes you’ve been saving up for years. Cover them with contact paper, leftover wrapping paper, or scraps of fabric. Stack them on their sides or use them with lids to organize small things in your closet and have a more streamlined look.
  7. Scent your fires. Make your own scented fire starters by collecting small pinecones, eucalyptus leaves, and dried herbs. Wrap them loosely in newspaper and add to your logs. Use sparingly. Jennifer also makes fire starters out of the trimmings from her lavender plants. Roll them up very tightly in small bundles and tie with thread.
  8. Make your own art. Decorate your blank walls with your own creativity rather than what the poster store has to offer. Painting and drawing are inexpensive ways to craft and give you a tangible reward at the end. Your children’s art can also be showcased. In some cities you can make art as a family at your local museum. Check your museum’s Web site to see if it has any free hands-on art activity days coming up.
  9. Learn to knit. Knitting can be a relaxing habit. It can also be a way to make gifts for your friends, clothes for yourself and your family, and even pet sweaters. Plus these items will cost less than they do in a store. Look for less expensive yarns on sale and at online retailers like www.bargainyarns.com. Another money-saving bonus to knitting is that your hands are occupied, so you won’t be able to eat expensive snacks.
  10. Make your own baby stuff. The cool folks at Make-Your-Own-Baby-Stuff have all kinds of information about how to stay out of the pricey baby stores and instead make your own baby clothes, accessories, bedding, nursery decor, and even homemade baby food. Even if you don’t have a baby, the site has great ideas for things you can make for baby showers and baby gifts.
  11. Learn to sew. Do you have a sewing machine in a closet somewhere? Time to pull it out. If you never knew or don’t remember how to use the thing, ask your mother or your grandmother or the older woman next door. One of them may know how and offer to teach you. | Once you’ve dusted off your sewing skills, get to work making simple things for your house–pillows and couch slip-covers–those are the biggest money-savers nowadays. You can make simple women’s clothing, but understand that your children really, really won’t want you making anything for them.
  12. Make your own play dough. Stop buying your children the commercially produced molding clay, and make it yourself for far less. Ask them to help you make it, and the afternoon will be even more fun! You can find several recipes for making your own play dough (including a recipe that uses peanut butter) at the TeachNet Web site.

Don’t give me any credit for these tips, I’m just sharing some amazing advice. These twelve tips are directly quoted from 573 Ways to Save Money by Peter Sander and Jennifer Sander. I learned some fascinating things from this book, and gained countless online references, too. 573 Way to Save Money is a book that will keep me busy with money-saving advice for months.

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3 Comments

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