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How much?! I can make that!

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

We have all thought it. Cruising through a craft show or shopping at an antique mall or even shopping through home decor at Hobby Lobby, we see something we like. Then check the price tag and woah, get hit with sticker shock. We think, they want how much?!! I could do that myself! I have thought it many times and I have overheard shoppers say it about my items at vendor shows. So I thought I would share some advice on when to buy vs. when to make yourself.

The number one thing we normally consider when making that decision is cost. How much does it cost to buy and how much does it cost to make? Some materials costs are easy. Paint, glue, wood. You can go to the store and buy these. Some materials and other costs aren’t so easy. Let’s use one of my baling wire signs for example. It is an old board, rusty wire and nails, organized into a word or picture. They are very simple to make (I have a tutorial on Hometalk on how to do them, find the link on the top of the blog page at our website or search for Front Porch Fix-Ups on Hometalk). I charge $20 for these signs. The materials are usually free. So why in the world am I charging $20?? Time. Not just the time to make the sign. I don’t just have old boards, rusty baling wire and rusty nails out on the porch. Ok, maybe I do now but I didn’t used to. We had to find them. I spend time asking friends, neighbors, posting on social media, spending a whole weekend day at auctions or flea markets, or walking through a field or an old barn looking for this stuff. I load the family up and drive to crazy places and search through dirty junk piles. That's worth something. So I have the stuff, what next? Cleaning! Costs of cleaning? Supplies would be soap and water and a brush or sponge or rag, whatever you want to use. And of course time. You hose it off, scrub, hose it off again, scrub, and then you let it dry. Again, that is time working. Now to get started! ! I draw the letters on with chalk so that I can see if I like it before I just start nailing blindly. So, the cost is chalk and time. There isn’t much time involved unless you have to redo your drawing 100 times. Which happens sometimes. By the end you will also need a hammer, pliers, hanging hardware and the tools to put the hanging hardware on. And of course the time it takes to finish. And don't forget to add in the mileage and any extra costs that you might not have had to pay for if you had just bought it at that vendor fair.

So how do you decide if it is worth doing yourself? You just need to decide how valuable the non monetary costs are to you and add it to the actual amount of money you would be spending on supplies. Do you already have everything at home and you don't have to go out searching for things? Or do you enjoy the hunt? Do you find cleaning relaxing? Do you mind the trial and error process of creating something? Can you get the materials at a low enough price? If so, by all means, go out there and make it! It’s good for the soul to make and create. :). Or would you have to spends weeks searching for old wood or have to spend some good amount of change on it? Would you lose your sanity hammering and hammering and hammering? Do you not like getting dirty? Well, maybe this project isn't for you and you should just spend the 20 bucks. But don't give up! You will find the project perfect for you!

I am getting better at recognizing when I should just buy something and when I have the skills and tools to make it myself. There are still times when I think I would rather make something myself even though it would be easier and a huge time saver if I had just bought it. But I'm learning, and learning is part of the fun, right?

Keep shopping and keep making! As always, thanks for stopping by and we would love to have you visit us on Facebook!

Lisa Lark


Front Porch Fix-Ups