Friday, August 9, 2013

10 Great Ways to Save Money on Craft Supplies!

Save on Crafting
I think most folks who are crafters are frugal. The whole mindset of making something from scraps or parts is right in line with saving money. I am definitely frugal. I love making things, but I have a hard time spending money on something that I'm supposed to be making or creating. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the ways I've found to keep crafting costs to a minimum.

1. Garage Sales

Buying secondhand requires patience, but can really pay off. Use Craigslist and your local newspaper’s website to look for garage sales near your neighborhood where crafting, scrapbooking, or stamping supplies are listed.  Be careful, though, as sometimes the folks selling stuff off have hoarded over-priced supplies and will be trying to get some of their money back. Do your research and be knowledgeable about prices.

2. Thrift Stores

Some thrift stores will carry more crafting supplies than others, so shop around and find ones that you can hit up regularly. Thrift store inventory is constantly changing, so you never know what you're going to get.  You may also want to check to see if you have a pay by weight thrift store (like a Goodwill Outlet) near you. Many craft supplies are lightweight and can be bought very cheaply (I came home with a big shopping bag full of foam paint stamps for less than a dollar from our local Goodwill Outlet).

Thrift stores and garage sales are also great places to find glassware (jars, vases, candleholders) and other household decorations (lamps, baskets, wall art, tchotchkes) that you can repaint or remake into something wonderful.  And if you like to sew, you can find lots of projects waiting for you in mountains of used clothing.

Not only is shopping at thrift stores and garage sales easy on the pocket book, it also keeps stuff out of the landfills.

These skeleton key wall hangings used to be gold.  I picked them up at the local Goodwill for about 3 bucks and painted them black.

3. Dollar Stores

There’s an entire website dedicated to Dollar Store Crafting.  It’s an art form in itself.  Dollar Tree regularly sells wreath forms, glitter, candle holders and vases, craft paints, fun foam, and various other crafting supplies at a fraction of their regular price.  Their wreath forms are great and just as high of a quality as the craft store versions; however, they are often limited in their size and selection. 

Dollar Stores also often sell other seasonal items (Christmas ornaments, pool noodles), household decorations (picture frames, figurines), and party supplies (craft paper, plastic tablecloths) that can be crafted into something wonderful. 

Some of the products sold at dollar stores are of a lower quality (for example I don't generally recommend their silk flowers). So check out the items carefully before buying.

These chevron stamps were made with fun foam from the dollar store that was just glued onto some cardboard.

4. Recycle Crafting

One of the easiest ways to save money crafting is to recycle and repurpose items that you were thinking about getting rid of.  Turning your own trash into treasure requires very little money.  Save those plastic and metal containers to turn them into storage containers or bird feeders.  Turn cereal boxes into magazine holders and turn shoe boxes into craft containers.  Take that old painting you were starting to hate and paint right over the canvas to create something new.  Turn those jeans with a hole in them into a bag.  The sky’s the limit!

I made the fridge caddy on the right out of an empty crystal light container covered in scrapbook paper.


5. Wal-mart

Depending on where you live, your local Wal-mart could be scary, picked over and messy, or just large and time consuming, but they have some of the best prices on basic crafting supplies. Wal-mart is the cheapest place to pick up things like crafting glues (like Mod Podge and Tacky Glue) and kid’s crafting supplies (like felt and plastic beads). They also have great reasonably priced craft paint, and they have spray paint over in the hardware section. 

If you're lucky enough to have a Wal-mart nearby that includes a fabric section, you can also pick up reasonably priced sewing supplies and fabric.

The best part about buying craft supplies at Wal-mart is that the prices are always reasonable. They may not have all of the specialty items in stock, but it’s the best place to go to if you're looking for supplies to finish a project and you can’t wait for a sale.

6. Michael’s Coupons and the Dollar Sections

Shopping the sales and using the coupons at Michael’s is one of the best ways to get the crafting staples. Craft paint, foam brushes, and scrapbook paper will regularly (a few times a year at least) go on sale for fractions of their regular price.

Those 40 and 50% off coupons allow us to buy things that we normally wouldn't try out, and it’s even better when you get a 20 or 25% off your entire purchase coupon. My recommendation is to not buy anything that isn't on sale when you're shopping at Michael’s. It’s easy to run in for something you need to finish a project, but unless you have a coupon, you’re probably overpaying. Most stores will let you use multiple coupons, so be sure to check their website or their phone app before you go.

The other great bargain at Michael’s is their dollar bins. They rotate in different rubber stamps, ink pads, paper punches, blank note cards, and a variety of other great supplies that are only a buck. Check this section every time you go to the store—you never know what you're going to find. Of course the tricky part is if you pass on something and go back for it, they may no longer carry it. 

These paint chip bookmarks were all decorated with stamps I picked up from the dollar bins at Michael's (and are also a recycle craft).

7. Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Morning has the best crafting section of any of the overstock discount stores.  They regularly carry great paint brushes, scrapbooking supplies, and sewing supplies. But like any overstock store, their merchandise varies in quality and supply.  I have picked up many great finds from Tuesday Morning—most at 1/2 or 1/3 the regular retail prices.  My best find was sets of knitting looms that retails for over 20 bucks that I picked up 7 dollars. 

Another nice feature of Tuesday Morning stores is their Product SKU hotline (explained on their customer service page). If you pick up an item at a store and you want to know if they have more in stock or if another local store has more in stock, you can call 1-800-901-0881 and enter the SKU number on their UPC sticker and the zip code of your store to find out.

8. Big Lots

Like Tuesday Morning, Big Lots is an overstock discount store, so sometimes you strike out  I usually go to Big Lots to buy things like paper plates and laundry detergent, but every once in awhile there will be some great craft supplies. I recently picked up Elmer’s Washi Tape for $3 for 3 rolls. I've also found inexpensive scrapbook paper (3 and 4 dollars for a 12 inch bundle pad that normally costs $10+), cheap ribbon, and jewelry making kits. Be aware of the prices there, as sometimes they are only an ok price without too much of a discount from the regular retail, and sometimes they are marked at a good discount.

Big Lots also has a free customer loyalty program that offers multiple 20% off everything shopping weekends each year and chances to earn additional 10% off days.  The added discount makes their deals even better. 

The washi tape tea lights project used some of the tape I picked up at Big Lots.


9. Shop the Remnants

Most stores that sell fabric have a remnant section, even Wal-mart.  It’s a great place to pick up fabric for smaller projects at a discount. This is especially true if you're doing a small upholstery or curtain project and would like some heavier weight fabric. Buying the smaller quantity at a discount is really your best bet. I've also picked up small portions of fleece and knits for little projects like my homemade rope bones.

10. JoAnn's Coupons for Fabric

Like Michael’s, JoAnn’s stores often have 40% off coupons in their circulars and on their website. You get the best deals when using those coupons to buy fabric. So if you need a specialty fabric for a project—or more than a yard or two for just about anything—be sure to check for a coupon! Of course you can buy other craft supplies with the coupons there too. I have also heard that most JoAnn's will honor competitor’s coupons (like Michael's, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc...), but that may be at the store’s discretion as I can't find confirmation from the JoAnn’s website.

Finding Free Inspiration

And the ultimate money saver is finding inspiration, ideas, tutorials, and patterns online.  Websites like Craftgawker and Pinterest are awesome for collecting all of the best ideas on the internet and making them easy to compile and read through.  These websites were the inspiration for most of my recent crafting ideas, and I’m so grateful to all of the bloggers and crafters out there who help to inspire people to create!

Bonus Idea:  A Craft Swap Party

I didn't include this in the list because I've never hosted or been to a swap party.  I've seen articles and posts online about folks having clothing and accessories swap parties, and they sound like so much fun. What if you took that idea and had a party just for the supplies you bought but had too much of or decided you no longer wanted. What a great excuse to come home with new crafting supplies and hang out with like-minded friends (not to mention getting rid of stuff you don't want any more)!

Please share your ways to save in the comments below!

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