Monday, May 24, 2010

Scrapbooking on a Budget

Scrapbooking can be an expensive hobby. There's so many papers, embellishments and tools on the market these days. It's no wonder we scrappers feel the need to have one (or two or three) of everything!

I used to be a scrapbook supply collector. I bought more than I'd ever use in my lifetime. A few years ago the local scrapbook store had a going-out-of-business sale. Everything was 75% off. Wow! How could I pass up a sale like that? I went to the store two or three times in a week and spent about $90 ($10 is my norm). Most of that was paper. Can you imagine $90 worth of single sheets of paper? The stack was about two inches high. What the heck did I need all that paper for? When I sat down and realized I'd spent $90 of our household money on scrapbooking supplies that I didn't need, I knew it was time to stop. I immediately put about half of the paper on ebay and got a little bit of my money back. The rest sat in my paper bin because really...who needs that much paper?

So, my point of this blog post is to say that you don't need anything more than a pack of nice cardstock, adhesive, a journaling pen, and an embellishment or two to go with your photos. The rest is fluff.

I've compiled a few tips on how to scrap on a budget. It can be done because I do it all the time. I rarely shop for scrap supplies these days because I'm using up the supplies I've owned for years. When I do treat myself, it's for one or two sheets of paper, a $2.00 bottle of Stickles or something in that price range.

1. Shop with coupons. It's pretty much a no brainer but it needs to be said. Most craft store chains offer coupons, either by email or in their printed flyer. Many accept competitor's coupons. Use them but don't abuse them. Read the coupon terms and respect store policies. Don't complain to the cashier when she won't bend the rules. She's just doing her job.

2. Shop discount and dollar stores. Walmart carries some scrap supplies. I think some stores are better stocked than others. My local Walmart's scrap aisle is pretty lame but I do buy my adhesive there. Some dollar stores have scrapbook sections. Dollar Tree carries Miss Elizabeth brand. I've bought a few of their paper packs and they're pretty nice. I've gotten quite a few packs of alphabet stickers there as well. Lately my local Dollar Tree hasn't had much to choose from but it doesn't stop me from checking when I'm in the area. I found some really nice 24 packs of Daisy Ds 8x8 Christmas papers at a dollar store at the mall right after Christmas. The best part was they were half price - 50¢ each! They had two different packs so I bought two for me and two for a friend. :)

3. Use your scraps. I sometimes hear that people throw out their scraps because they don't know what to do with them. What? You might as well throw your money out the window! Scraps can be used for mats, punch outs, letters, cardmaking - just about anything you need a smaller piece of paper for. I always dig through my scraps before I cut into a full sheet. If you don't know how to store them, consider using an accordion style folder or ziploc bags. Separate them by color to make it easier to find what you need.

4. Shop yard sales. People always sell craft supplies at yard sales. I've found ribbon, buttons, cardstock and rubber stamps. Last year my daughter and I found a yard sale that was nothing but scrapbook supplies. Can you imagine? I don't remember picking up a lot, but we did leave with a few treasures that cost a fraction of what we'd pay in a store. My daughter found some pretty beads for about 50¢. She ended up making several pairs of earrings with them, then sold them at a craft fair for $6.00 a pair! That's just a little add-on to my story but I think it's pretty cool that she was able to do that.

5. Split it with a friend. Whether it's a bulk pack of embellishments or a pricey tool, split the cost with a friend (use a coupon of course!) and share the wealth.

6. Buy used. This is kind of along the same line as shopping yard sales, but also includes shopping on Craigslist, ebay, etc. Used stamps are just as good as new. Do you have to have the latest release of Cricut, or will an older, used version work just as well? (I don't know, because I don't own a Cricut) Research what's out there before you buy brand new.

7. Organize your supplies. A lot of scrappers keep buying because they don't remember what they already own. Organize your scrap area. See what you already own before heading to the store again. I bet you have doubles and triples of some things (are you nodding your head right about now?).

8. Use your existing supplies. Naturally this follows #7. After you've organized, use up your stash. Challenge yourself to do a few layouts using just your existing supplies.

9. Make your own embellishments. You can save so much money by doing things yourself. I make my own flowers with paper punches and those scraps I mentioned in #3. I've done a lot of my own paper piecings (using scraps). If you don't know how to paper piece, check out my easy paper piecing tutorial. Create your own tags, stamp your title or background paper, distress edges with a piece of sandpaper from your husband's tool box. I love having one-of-a-kind creations on my pages.

10. Shop ebay for magazines or hit your local public library.  Ebay's policies no longer allow subscription sales but sellers have gotten around that by calling them gift certificates. Search for your favorite magazine and add the word "gift certificate" to the keywords. I've scored one year subscriptions to Scrapbooks, Etc. for $7.00 on ebay. As always, when shopping on ebay check the seller's feedback before clicking that Buy It Now button. Oh, regarding that $7.00 subscription. I always leave my magazines intact. I'll eventually sell those magazines in a yard sale and get half my money back, which makes the subscription that much cheaper. And speaking of used magazines, there are plenty of crafters that sell their old magazines on ebay and craigslist for a fraction of what you'd pay for a subscription.

11. Buy only what you need for the photos you plan to scrap. The biggest waste of money is when you buy something because it's pretty or on sale, not because you have a use for it. Sure, that pack of Snow White stickers is pretty but if you haven't been to DisneyWorld or Disney on Ice, you have no use for them.

Now I need to add my own words on something that really bothers me. It's shopping addictions. Whether it's scrap supplies, shoes, clothing - I see so much waste out there. So many things are bought and never used for the sake of...what? To possess, to fill a void, to overcome boredom? If your shopping habits are creating a hardship for your family or if you've become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of everything you've purchased, then living on a budget may not be the issue you need help with. Scrapbooking is a fun hobby but it can be expensive. Shopping can easily get out of control. Sometimes the best way to save money is to stay out of the stores.

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