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Some of these were easy switches. I already had some skills to make these items and the materials to make them. Others required some research or learn a new skill, but in the long term, saved me lots of money.
I have compiled a list of these items so that you can make them yourself and save money too. Some might work for you, others might not.
In recent years, I have had a bit of an issue with things that I buy that get thrown away almost instantly. Although, some cards I have kept from special people or special events the majority just end up on the recycling pile.
For this reason, I decided to do two things: 1) stop wasting money on them and 2) recycle old resources as much as possible. This led me to make my own cards.
People seem to love receiving handmade cards and if you can get the kids to help too it’s a double win. Shops such as The Works, Poundland and Wilko have lots of cards and decorations for cheap. A few bits and pieces and a Pinterest account and you will be able to make a whole range of cards.
Years ago, my husband purchased a book. It changed our lives. (Yeah, another book changing my life. Check out the last one that I said this about.) It was called The Takeaway Secret by Kenny McGovern.
In this book, it shows you how to get your food to taste like your takeaway favourite. And it is AMAZING! My husband made me a burger at home that tasted like it was from McDonald’s. But better!
Over the years, this little book has saved us a fortune and allowed us to manage all our cravings without defaulting to ordering food in.
One of the things that drew me to using cloth pads was that they came in all sorts of shapes, sizes and patterns. At first, I ordered a set and as much as I loved these I realised that I would prefer a slightly different shape.
That’s when I whipped out my sewing machine and started making my own. My early specimens were far from perfect but completely functional and so lovely.
I started by drawing round a disposable pad whose shape and fit I liked. Then I tweaked the design to incorporate aspect that suited me. My current favourite designs perfect for me.
Not only are they a perfect product for me but you can make them out of all sorts of things. The first few I made were constructed of layers of old T-shirt to give absorbency. I topped this with some pretty cotton that I had stashed for a future project.
These cloth pads will last me a good few years. And every time I use them I have a little smile to myself thinking of all the money I am saving.
Like greetings cards, this seems like a massive waste. Even more so than cards. It is literally designed to be thrown away as soon as it is used. This makes it something that I try to avoid using or at least try to save money on.
There are a couple of ways you can make gift wrap and save money. First is to buy brown paper or brown paper bags and decorate these yourselves. My children love helping me with this and we use stamps and paints to create our own patterns.
Another method is to use fabric wrap. This is a good one for those of you trying to be more eco-friendly too but can be less cost-effective in the beginning. Wrapping your gifts in beautiful fabrics means that they can be used again and again.
I found that when I started using fabric wrap people were a little unsure of what to do with it. But now they either keep it and wrap gifts they give to me in it or they give it straight back to use again.
Initially, I thought that people would find it weird being giving fabric wrapped gifts but actually it is really well received. The parcels look beautiful and it is nice to have something to reuse rather than something that is thrown straight in the bin.
I have built myself up a selection of differently sized wrapping that I use for family and close friends. It works really well for them and we now share them between us.
I stopped buying cling film and foil a long time ago. Instead, I choose more eco-friendly alternatives. One of my favourite swaps is bee wax wraps.
There are lots of these on the market now that you can buy and they do look beautiful, However, they are relatively simple to make and much cheaper too.
All you need is beeswax pellets and some sections of fabric in the size you want. Some people add other things to the wax but ultimately this is all you need. They make great gifts too.
When I found out that I was a coeliac, my world of choice suddenly shrunk. In order to get the same foods that I had enjoyed eating before I had to up my skills in the kitchen.
Luckily, I realised that this not only allowed me to carry on eating many of the things I had before but also to save a lot of money too. Birthday cakes are a great example of this.
Now, I’m not sitting here saying that I’m an amazing baker nor am I really any good at decorating cakes. But that’s what the internet is more. If you’ve got an idea in mind, look on Pinterest and see if you get some hints and tips on how to make it yourself.
If you are worried that your skills are generally poor then focus on the taste. Most people don’t mind what it looks like once they start eating it.
As my eldest has gotten older the pressure for increasingly elaborate parties mounts. Luckily, so far, we have been able to have low-key events and not have to pay out too much. However, the costs soon mount up when you factor in activities, food, decorations and party bags.
Creating many of these things yourself, including hosting the party in your home can save you a lot of money.
We have saved a lot of money in the past by decorating our own party bags. The children helped with this so it was an afternoon of painting too. We have put together our own party bag gifts include selections of sweets made from larger bags.
All of these costs may seem small but when you add up the overall cost of the party it soon mounts up. I’d rather save some of that money and have a day out as a family.
Convenience is expensive. And nowhere is this more noticeable than in a prepackaged salad. Don’t even get me started on all the plastic that they come in.
I love salad! It’s great as a side dish or a main meal and the supermarkets know this. They get their own beautiful looking selections to tempt you in. But you can create the exact same thing for far less money and minimal work.
I started taking salads to work several months back. On a Sunday evening, I would make a batch with the expectation that it would last me a couple of days. Each day I would change up the content by including leftovers from the previous night.
Salad dressings are all easily created at home for a fraction of the price. Plus you get to create them exactly to your taste. Yum!
The inventor of the “cheese stick” was on to a winner there. My kids love cheese sticks. Well, they just love cheese and the stick form just makes it easier to hold.
When you look at many snack products aimed at kids, they normally fall into one of two categories: 1) Processed food that kids don’t need to eat anyway or 2) food that they should eat dressed up pretty to encourage them to eat it.
I now buy a big lump of cheese and make it stick shaped. It saves so much money. Yoghurt is another one. Buy a big pot and portion it off.
For other meal times, my kids just eat what we eat. Sometimes I’ll reduce the spice or do a slightly different side but the rest of the time they eat what we eat. It makes life a lot easier. And cheaper.
Now this one is really going to depend on your skill set and what the person you are buying for likes.
But that are lots of lovely things that you could make for your family and friends that would cost a fraction of the price of buying them a reasonable gift.
For a while, I made my friends body scrubs. At their most basic level, these were just coconut oil and sugar, and I add different elements to give different scents and benefits.
I also made wooden toys for children as birthday gifts. You can buy the blanks online for really cheap and then I used toy safe paints and sealer to decorate them. They turned into really unique presents.
Play to your strengths. Perhaps you can crochet, knit or sew. Maybe it’s painting or woodwork. But I am sure that there is something you can make that your family and friends will like. Failing that, get the kids to make it. They’ll love it then.
With the growing rise in concern about what goes into and on to our bodies, there is more and more sense in making your own makeup and beauty products.
As ever Pinterest is full of good ideas on this one and with a relatively small number of ingredients you can make a good range of products to fulfil your normal regime.
From moisturisers to eyeliners to the body scrubs mentioned in the point above, you can make it all and save money on the big brands whilst still looking good. The added benefit is that you know exactly what has gone into it all.
In previous posts, I’ve talked about how we don’t use kitchen roll or wet wipes or sometimes loo roll. Instead, we use reusable wipes that we can wash and use again and again.
These save money in the long run as washing them is cheaper than keep buying their disposable counterparts. However, you can save money by making your own in the first incidence.
I make lots of our wipes from old clothes. Particularly my children’s clothes which have been outgrown rapidly or stained with some sort of food. Rather than throwing them away I cut them up and reuse them for cleaning up spills.
As they wear out I use them for dirtier and dirtier jobs until at last, I use them for soaking up oil and eventually binning.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.
Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.
I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.