Today’s article was provided by Miranda Marquit.
Right now, many people are interested in saving money with do-it-yourself projects. This includes everything from making your own cleaners, to creating your own makeup, to growing your own food. While most of these can save you money, they will end up taking up some time. For those who enjoy a certain level of self-sufficiency, the time investment required can be very worthwhile.
Around the House
- Vegetable garden: You can grow your own food, enjoying the bounty without having to pay very much. While it can be time consuming to tend a vegetable garden, it is well worth the effort. You get exercise, it can be done as a family and you experience the great feeling of accomplishment at harvest time. Green Daily has a helpful vegetable garden guide, including a section on herb gardens. If you don’t have a lot of space, container gardening can help you grow at least some of your own food.
- Can/bottle your own fruits and vegetables: If you have a garden, you probably have excess. While you could give away some of your extra produce, or sell it, why not save it for later? You can preserve your fresh produce at a lower cost than buying it already canned or bottled. Farm Gal offers a complete guide to different methods of preparing fruits and vegetables for storage.
- Seasonings: Want to add a little different flavor to your food? You can with do-it-yourself seasonings. These are much less expensive than buying specialty seasonings. And if you have an herb garden, it makes the process even less expensive. I’ve dried my own oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary for years. And if I want to season something with fresh herbs, all I have to do is go out an pick it. The Conscious Kitchen has a variety of ideas for delicious flavored salts. Reduce Footprints has a great taco seasoning, and Stop and Smell the Chocolate offers a ranch dressing recipe.
- Candy: You can make your own candy and even ice cream for a fraction of the cost of buying it already made. Alicia’s Recipes features a number of candy recipes that can have you saving money and enjoying the sweet life. We quite frequently make our own ice cream. And while you can save over time with an ice cream maker from the store, Suite 101 has instructions on making your own ice cream with coffee cans (one of my favorite things to do growing up).
- Baby food: If you have a little one, you know that buying baby food at the store can be expensive. The crazy thing is that you can make your own baby food for a great deal less. Babies can eat a lot of what we do — especially fruits and veggies — as long as they are properly prepared and mashed up. Rookie Moms has a guide on making your own baby food, doing it in batches so you have a lot of it that you can store in the freezer.
- Laundry detergent: Keeping your clothes clean can start to add up. Laundry detergent is one of those household items that costs a great deal. You can pay about 30 cents a load at the store, or make your own for about 3 cents a load. Courtney has a great recipe for do-it-yourself laundry detergent.
- Household cleaners: Most of the cleaning you need done can be accomplished with the help of simple, everyday items that you probably have in the house. You may need to buy some Borax, rubbing alcohol or chlorine bleach, but all of these things are relatively inexpensive. From window cleaners, to floor cleaners to disinfectants, Living Easy offers helpful and easy recipes for household cleaners.
- Pesticides: You can create your own bug killers. This is great for the garden, and the lawn. Greeniacs offers a handy guide to making generic pesticides yourself, as well as targeted pesticides.
- Generate electricity: A movement for more individual energy production is underway. You can actually set up your own personal wind turbine and/or install solar panels. There are tax credits available for these efforts, and a number of products available, some of which you can install yourself. Depending on how you go about it, it is possible to make back your initial outlay sooner than you might have thought. Rod Warnock offers a common sense guide to figuring out the best way to approach building your own solar or wind system. However, be warned that many of the small, do-it-yourself systems will not generate a great deal of power. But they can help defray some of your costs.
Health and Beauty
Healthy and beauty products are among the most expensive items on the market. You can save a ton of money by creating these yourself. It is important to note, however, that you should be careful when dealing with health and beauty concoctions. It is not a bad idea to consult with your doctor, since some of the ingredients used can have side effects for people with certain conditions (like pregnancy).
- Use witch hazel: In terms of health and beauty, there are few things as useful as witch hazel. Wisebread has a list of uses for witch hazel, some of which include instructions for mixing your own solutions.
- Lotion: With a few relatively low-cost products you can buy at the grocery or craft store, it is possible to make your own lotions. You can make a variety of lotions, even some with different scents, fairly simply. The Idea Queen has some good lotion recipes for everything from dry skin lotion to mint scented lotion.
- Facial: You don’t need to go to the spa to get a great facial. You can give yourself a facial for very little, using items that you probably have in the kitchen. About.com Beauty shows you step by step how you can create your own facial.
- Deodorant: You can actually make your own deodorant at home. In many cases it is safer and works just as well as the expensive store-bought stuff. The Greenest Dollar offers a number of recipes and helpful hints (and a video) of how to make your own deodorant.
- Sun screen: You need to be protected from the sun. Your child needs it even more. Making your own sunscreen can be a cost-efficient way to have a healthier summer. The blog at Wabi Sabi Baby offers simple directions for creating sunblock yourself.
- Mosquito repellent: Malaria may not be a problem here in the U.S., but West Nile is an issue. During the summer months, it is important to protect you and your children from mosquito bites. Making your own repellent is a good way to do that. DIY Life offers an effective (and fairly inexpensive) recipe for mosquito repellent.
- Cosmetics: There are a number of ways to make your own cosmetics. Lipstick, eyeshadow and foundation can all be made at home. Splendicity offers an excellent list of resources and a guide for making your own cosmetics.
- Pet grooming: The health and beauty of your pet is important. However, it can be expensive to go to the groomer’s regularly. By buying a few items now, you can save money over the long haul by taking care of pet grooming yourself. Petside has a list of things you need for proper cat grooming, and World of Dogs offers a guide on dog grooming.
Holidays can be very expensive. Here are some guides to fun, do-it-yourself holiday ideas for a number of occasions.
- Holiday Wreaths: No matter the time of year, you can look festive and in the spirit by creating your own holiday wreaths. My sister-in-law saves a ton of money by making her own wreaths — one for every month of the year. Do It Yourself offers a guide to making your own holiday wreaths.
- Christmas: This is the granddaddy of holidays. Gifts can get expensive, though. You can save money and give a gift from the heart with a homemade gift. Get Rich Slowly offers a list of gifts that you can make yourself for an inexpensive and fun DIY Christmas.
- Halloween: Another holiday that can get expensive is Halloween. Decorations and costumes can get a little crazy. Thrifty Mommy at BlissTree offers 50 do-it-yourself Halloween ideas that include costumes, food and decor.
- Valentine’s Day: Yet another commercial cash cow. You can express your love without breaking the bank, though. The blog at Popular Mechanics describes 10 DIY gifts that show you care, without the need for indulging in consumerism.
- Easter: You can actually make your own Easter baskets for Easter. There’s no reason to spend up to $10 or more on a nice Easter basket when you can make one for less at home. One Crafty Place has several easy Easter basket ideas.
- 4th of July: You can offer a great party on the 4th of July for a little bit of money and if you have a little bit of creativity. Life 123 offers simple and cost-effective ideas for DIY 4th of July decorations.
- Birthday party: This counts as a holiday since the kids love it. You can put together a great birthday part at home for a fraction of the cost — as long as you are willing to put in the work. About.com Entertaining has a pretty thorough guide that can help you plan a good children’s birthday part.
- Wedding: Your special day of joy can also be do-it-yourself. My wedding was largely DIY, and I think it turned out rather well. It was fun, and it was simple. And it didn’t cost a whole lot. Green Panda Treehouse has a great guide to creating a classy DIY wedding.
Baker: There are two reasons I wanted to feature this article by Miranda. First, she touches on a topic that is a weakness of mine, DIY-projects and self-sufficiency (although I’m trying to improve). Second, it contains so many insightful links from other valuable resources around the web, many of which I’ve visited for the first time. I hope you enjoy the change of pace!
What did Miranda leave out? Feel free to post your own favorite ideas and links to other essential products that you can make at home and save money. I know this is a passionate topic for many of you and am interested to read your experiences below!