I scrapbook, and wonder if you have any frugal tips for scrapbooking supplies? They are so expensive!
Well Nikki, “Frugal Scrapbooking” does seem somewhat like an oxymoron. I must admit that the scrapbooking that I did was mainly done in my earlier, “non frugal” years, and I bought a lot of my stuff from “Creative Memories”. They are a lovely brand, with really good stuff-but not exactly frugal!
I know, I know-someone is going to chime in with an argument that your family’s memories are priceless and therefore worth the cost to be protected.* This is true, and I do believe that an effort should be made, especially with older, non digital prints, to be place in or on something that is archival quality so the photos don’t get destroyed. However this does not require hundreds of dollars worth of gel pens, scrapbook papers and embellishments. I could make a counter argument that staying out of debt and paying your bills is worth more than protecting your memories!
I’m not trying to say that scrapbooking is evil, or that you shouldn’t enjoy it as a hobby. I think that those kind of decisions depend on the priorities that you and your family hold. As regular readers know, I am a big proponent of taking care of business (bills, savings, etc) and then using the remainder on whatever YOU decided (not me) is worthwhile and a priority.
But back to saving the money. Let’s try a bulletized list:
1. Buy only what you need!
I know, I know-this is WAY easier said than done. There are just so many neat gizmos and embellishments and papers out there, and you can just imagine all the great pages they could be used for. And there is a certain convenience to a large pile of “stuff” that you can dive into and just create from. On the other hand, I’m sure you have some items sitting there now that you paid good money for and have never used. . . or that came as part of a set and you don’t need. If the temptation is too much, maybe you just have to take the AA approach and avoid the situations that lead you to buy. (OK, I’m paraphrasing). Another words, don’t just “browse” the scrapbooking section if you frequently find yourself coming home with supplies you don’t actually have a project for.**
2. Take inventory of what you already have, and then make a list of items that you are looking for.
If you know exactly what you need, then you can stock up when you see it on sale, without overbuying. When you don’t know exactly what you have you can wind up purchasing doubles. Now I know, you might not wind up with 2 of the exact SAME “tropical vacation” embellishment sets, but you could wind up with 2 or 3 different ones-when you only need a single set. On the other hand, knowing exactly what you DO need will keep you from impulsively buying something just because you MAY need it and don’t want to miss out on a bargain.
3. Search out inexpensive opportunities to buy supplies.
I have seen the suggestion to buy such things at garage sales, thrift stores and rummage sales. Honestly I have never seen much in the way of scrapbooking stuff in those places. I have seen a selection of scrapbooking items at both the locally owned and big chain dollar stores. I’m not sure exactly how they measure up cost wise to those bought at your local craft mega mart-but you could do a quick comparison and see. My impression is that many of the packages at the dollar store are smaller-but if you only need a few, that might be fine.
4. Buy on sale or use coupons when possible.
Speaking of the craft mega mart-most of them have coupons regularly. Just sign up for their mailing list and you should get them sent straight to your door. They also tend to have “cycles” to when things go on sale. It may be that the scrapbooking items go on sale every 3 months, or once a year in February#. It can’t hurt to ask the employees if they know, or to keep an eye on the fliers to see if there is a pattern.
5. Check the clearance section.
I’ve noticed some nice stuff (paper blocks etc) in the clearance section from time to time. Can’t hurt to try!
6. Get the word out.
Let people know that you are looking for scrapbooking supplies. You may find that a friend has given up the hobby and would be willing to part with their stash for a pittance, or even give it to you for free. Or they may have a half sheet of “4th birthday” stickers that they aren’t going to use and are willing to pass off to you.##
Note: I don’t actually know these people.
7. Have a swap party.
If you have friends who also scrapbook, each of you can go through your stash for things you absolutely know you won’t use. Then all get together, lay it out and swap away! If you are worried about folks taking “more than their fair share” you could figure out some sort of monopoly money system where you get $ for the items you bring, then “buy” new stuff from the pile. Then again, if it’s stuff you aren’t going to use what are you so worried about?
Obviously you can’t borrow embellishments or papers, but you may be able to borrow certain tools from friends who scrapbook. If there is an item you are really jonesing for, but only need it for a single project, ask around. You may not need to punch holes in the shape of a saxophone more than once, and if your girlfriend has that punch she’s probably more than willing to let you use it for a few days. Just make sure you use and return it promptly.
If you’ve got a large scrapbooking friend circle, it might be worthwhile to everyone to make a list of items they own and are willing to lend. It could save everyone a lot of money. (this would work well for stampers too!)
9. Use your computer
There are lots of neat free scrapbooking printables out there. As long as your paper and ink are archival quality (acid and lignin free) then anything you print out should be fine for your scrapbook. After all, many of us are using photos that we printed out as well these days. You may be able to print out your photo with an appropriate frame or border around it already, or print out shapes, backgrounds and papers. There are also tons of free fonts out there, you could print out one sheet with the text for a several pages worth of your scrapbook-all in different cool font and colors!
I would recommend thinking long and hard before you actually BUY any scrapbooking software though. I would want to really research it and see if I would use the program, perhaps talk to some folks who already have software first, and only purchase it if you really truly think it would be something you would use. From my understanding, when you do totally digital scrapbooking, the printing costs can be pretty high, especially if you go with a size other than a standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheet-and most scrapbooks are other sizes!
As I said, I don’t really consider myself a scrapbooker, so I do not expect that this is a complete list. If my excellent readers have more ideas or tips, I’d love to hear them!
Mailbox Photo is by Bill Dwyer via Flickr.com
*I personally used a high quality scrapbook from the aforementioned home party “CM” for my wedding pictures. (I simply rounded all the corners and placed them on black pages inside a leather scrapbook with no embellishments. And yes-this was in place of one of those albums the photographer can try to sell you)
**My weakness is the yarn aisle. I have 2 big bins of yarn stash, and I have put a moratorium on myself. No new yarn purchases until I either use up or give away my stash.
#I’m making this all up as an example. Don’t go running into your craft store in Feb expecting to see a sale. . .
##I’ve often heard the advice that if you’ve put out a call for stuff, then take it when it is offered, even if you aren’t going to use that particular set. If you ask for stuff and then don’t take it, folks will stop offering. You can always either pass it on, or quietly give it to charity. The point is we don’t want to discourage generosity.