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Trulia Blog

Why Buy It When You Can Make It? (Cheaper Too!)

Plus, you'll pick up some new skills in the process!

whybuyitwhenyoucanmakeit0326So many things in life seem to cost more than they should. When you learn a few renter-friendly DIY projects, though, you can have the things you want at cheaper prices. Plus, you’ll pick up some new skills in the process!

Bookshelves

As long as you have an electric saw and drill, you can make beautiful bookshelves at home for next to nothing. All you have to buy is the wood, some screws, and a varnish or stain. There are plenty of websites that will show you how to make simple designs. If you have some woodworking experience, go for something even fancier and more decorative.

Of course, you can really cushion your household budget by making bookshelves from three or four long pieces of wood and several cinder blocks.

A slightly nicer, more interesting version uses two folding ladders. Place the wood shelves along the steps to make a fast set of shelves.

Your fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Even apartment dwellers can grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It helps to have a balcony or small plot of land, but you can grow rosemary, lavender, basil, and even tomatoes in pots set along large windows.

The CEO of Burpee, one of the world’s biggest seed distributing companies, says that a $1 packet of green bean seeds can yield $75 worth of beans during a season.

You might save even more when you focus on high-value, organically grown products. Tomatoes sold at a farmers market often cost between $2.50 and $3.50 per pound. A couple of transplants that go directly into the soil might cost only $5.00. Those two plants could easily yield 20–60 pounds. Even if your plants produce only 20 pounds, you save about $40 to $65.

Plus, you get fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes that haven’t been treated with unknown chemicals.

Laundry detergent

You don’t need to pay high prices on laundry detergent. Instead, make your own soap from items you can get from any grocery. To make liquid laundry detergent, you’ll need washing soda, borax, and bar soap. You can also add natural oils (such as peppermint or lavender) to give the detergent a pleasant smell.

Making your own detergent is great for people who want to save money. It’s also good for people who have allergies to harsh chemicals and scented washing products.

Spaghetti tin

Don’t spend money on a spaghetti storage tin that you’re just going to keep out of sight in a cabinet. Instead, enjoy a can of Pringles potato chips. When you’re done, you’ll have a perfectly functional spaghetti tin. It doesn’t get much easier or cheaper than that.

Do you know of other do-it-yourself projects that you can do at home cheaper than buying items from the store? Dish! Share your tips in the comments below.