Have you ever wondered whether it would be cheaper to buy something or to make it at home? I know I have. In fact, it’s something that’s almost always on my mind. I love to do things at home – to cook, bake, sew, crochet and I enjoy all sorts of DIY projects. So I always have to ask myself whether it would be cheaper to buy something or to make it at home. I have learnt, the hard way, that it is often cheaper to make something at home but that it’s also sometimes actually cheaper to buy it in the shops.
And this, in my experience, applies to all sorts of items, and not just meals, cakes, muffins, bread or jam but anything really that can be made at home: pillow cases, shopping bags, curtains, knitted blankets, bookshelves, cupboards, etc. The list is endless. Over the years, and in a quest to save money, I’ve made all sorts of things at home. While I’ve almost always enjoyed all my projects and creations, there were times when I realised only after I’d completed a project, that it would have actually been cheaper to have bought the item in the shops!
So before I make anything at home these days, I think about the following:
What are the materials that I would need and how much would these cost? While you don’t have to calculate the cost of each ingredient to the very last cent, it’s useful to at least gauge roughly how much each ingredient would cost you. Let’s say you’d like to make a pot of soup. Think about all the veggies you’d need to add to the soup and how much these would cost you. If you have all the ingredients at home already then you wouldn’t have to factor in the amount of money you’d spend going to the shops to buy it.
You might also want to think about how many meals you could get out of this pot of soup. If it’s, for example, 6 litres of chunky vegetable soup, then think about how much would that amount of soup cost you at the shops. Is it cheaper? The cost of materials is definitely one of the most important considerations, at least for me, when I’m deciding whether to buy an item or to make it at home.
Use this nifty electricity usage calculator to check how much electricity your stove would use, let’s say, in the 2 hours you would be cooking that pot of soup, and add that to the total cost. Sometimes the cost of electricity can be the deciding factor. Most modern ovens use a lot of electricity and you’ll certainly notice this in your electricity bill at the end of the month. Factoring in the cost of electricity needn’t apply to cooking and baking only but also to any DIY project that would require you to use electricity, for example a sewing machine if you’re sewing pillow cases or an electric saw if you’re making a bookshelf at home.
This is something I often forget to factor into the cost, especially if it’s a DIY project that would take quite some time to complete. It’s worth asking yourself if you’re going to be working on this project over the weekend and if so, would this prevent you from taking up extra work during that time and you would lose out on that bit of extra cash? We often buy things out of convenience, that’s true, but if we’re trying to save money we also need to consider if we would be losing out on any additional income if we decide to devote a couple of weekends to our DIY project. Ask yourself if it would actually be cheaper to buy the item in the shop and still have some money left over from the additional income you’ve earned to put towards debt repayment, for example.
How difficult would this DIY project be? The more difficult and demanding the project, the more time you’re going to spend working on it and the more effort you’re going to have to put into it. If you’re juggling a number of things during the week, do you feel that you have enough energy and patience and commitment to see your project through? I am definitely starting to think about this more and more often when I’m deciding whether or not to make something at home instead of buying it at the shops. Sometimes, it really is just worth your while to buy an item if it means you could get some down time after a very stressful week at work, and especially if it’s an item you could actually get cheaply, or at least reasonably, in the shops.
Now here’s something we don’t often take into account. It’s certainly something I never used to think about but nowadays I actually think about items in my life a lot less in terms of their monetary value. Instead I look for other value, possibly more sentimental value, and ask myself whether or not my DIY creation would add that kind of special value to my life, or to the life of someone I care about. To give you an example, a couple of years ago I spent several weeks crocheting a precious baby blanket for my nephew. Sure, I could have bought one in the shops, but I thought that a handmade blankie from his aunt would definitely be something with a lot more sentimental value in his later years! Well, at least I can only hope so… 🙂
How do you decide whether to make something at home or buy it at the shops instead?
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You can also find Frugal in SA
Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog link up created just for personal finance bloggers! We want to read anything to do with personal finance here. Whether you’ve written anything from how you track your debt repayment goals to how to stop arguing about money, you’re invited to link-up.
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Feature of the Week
As this week’s visiting co-host, Natalija has selected this post from last week’s blog hop to be this week’s feature – 13 Ways to Not Spend Money by The Mostly Simple Life!
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