Saving Money By Making Homemade Comments43 Comments

The following is a guest post from Edward Antrobus. Edward is a construction worker, blogger, tinkerer and a househusband. He writes about frugality and occasionally rants about what he thinks the personal finance community gets wrong. If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my
guest posting policy and then contact me.

Recently, I embarked on a quest. Instead of getting ideas from other personal finance bloggers, I wanted to get the opinions of average people on the topic of frugality. I started asking friends and coworkers one simple question: what is your favorite way of saving money? When I asked Audrey, she responded that her preferred method was making homemade items.

“I started making things myself – face wash, bread, soon I’m going to try to make my own deodorant. Homemade is usually cheaper and better for the environment and your body. If you make your own crust and buy a few apples, you can usually make a pie that’ll serve as breakfast for the whole work week for just over a dollar :)”

Homemade Food

Now, anyone who eats apple pie for breakfast has got to be on to something. I’m personally a big fan of home-cooked meals over eating out. They are remarkably cheaper and usually much healthier for you. Don’t take my word for it, over 1/3 of all fast food workers believe their jobs actually make the world a worse place.

Doing better than fast food is a pretty easy target. Burgers and tacos made at home are not just healthier, they can be a fraction of the cost. The XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito from Taco Bell costs a couple bucks but a similar one can be made for under $1. Another example is the new Grand Turkey Club from Arby’s. That costs more than $4! It also can be assembled for less than a quarter of the price.

Homemade Health & Beauty

When Fight Club came out a friend of mine was inspired to start making his own soap. I’ve helped him a few times. If you don’t particularly care if your bars have smooth, rounded corners, arches, and a name carved into them, soap is actually quite easy to make. All it takes is lye, water, fat/oil, and any scents or dyes you wish. Store bought soaps can cost as much as a dollar per bar. Made at home, it literally costs pennies.

You aren’t limited to bar soaps either. By substituting potash (potassium hydroxide) for the lye (sodium hydroxide), you can make liquid soaps, including shampoo, facial scrubs, and hand soap.

Homemade Clothing

Audrey didn’t mention clothing in her response, but this is another item I like to make myself. Once upon a time, I worked in a clothing factory. Polos and t-shirts are actually pretty easy once you have the templates. But if shirts seem too intimidating to you, there are easier things with which to start. With a pound of yarn and a crochet hook, you can make your own scarf and a caps. How about a small blanket to curl up under while watching tv? Eventually, I want to take up knitting. With that skill socks and mittens become possible.

Saving Money Series
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http://www.edwardantrobus.com/saving-money-series

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This entry was posted in Financial Advice, and tagged , Comments43 Comments
By : Adam | 6 Nov 2012
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43 thoughts on “Saving Money By Making Homemade

  1. Cat

    Mmm..apple pie for breakfast. Can you really go wrong with that? :) You are so right that at home is cheaper. We took my MIL out to dinner – for 8 of us, the bill was 140.00! If we’d cooked or even ordered in, it would have been a fraction of that.

    Reply
  2. Seth

    I am a huge fan of cooking at home rather than going out to eat. You can’t get a decent meal for less than 10 bucks with the exception of fast food. When I eat at home, I feel so much healthier. Thanks for the tips on making soaps. I am going to have to look into that.

    Reply
  3. TB at BlueCollarWorkman

    My wife makes clothes for the girls somtimes. Dresses, usually, and costumes of course. That’s always amoney saver since I know dresses at the store can cost so much!

    Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      Awesome that your wife makes some of their clothing. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you take a random peice of clothing and sew on a label that says “women’s,” it enables you to charge more for it.

      Reply
    2. leslie

      I’m skeptical. Making your own clothes is NOT a money-saver. However, I didn’t think about making clothes for kids. You might break-even for doing kids clothes because you can use crappier fabric that is cheap ($2/yard) and you need less of it. The nice fabric I find for myself is more like $10+/yard. Factoring in time, kids clothes can be done faster especially if your wife knows the kids sizes and are used to making the same things over and over.

      For an adult, however, who is not a professional tailor (ie: isn’t 100% time efficient) making our own clothes costs more than buying – however it does mean the clothes will always fit you correctly.

      Also, this has nothing to do with you but this post is ridiculous. What is this adding to the personal finance community that hasn’t already been said a billion times?!

      Reply
      1. Edward

        I’m sorry you feel that way. I tend not to factor in time cost in things because things like this I do while watching tv. It’s shows I’d be watching even if I wasn’t multi-tasking. Clothing made at home probably won’t compete with the K-Mart special, but higher end stuff you pay for the label as much as the fabric if not more.

        The reason for this post and the others I’ve written isn’t so much to be ground breaking and tell you something that nobody has ever thought of before. It’s really to get a bead on what average people are thinking about money. I’ve asked this question to over a dozen people so far. Three times out of four, the first answer I get is “uhhh”

        Reply
  4. Jason @ WorkSaveLive

    My wife and I made mostly homemade food but we need to do a better job of growing our own vegetables. If nothing more we’re going to plant an intense amount of herbs this coming spring!

    I’m not big on making other homemade things simply because I prefer to save my time/energy and pay for it. However, I do know a lot of people that make their own laundry soap.

    Reply
  5. KIm@Eyesonthedollar

    I don’t think I have it in me to make soap, and for sure, I can’t sew, but cooking at home saves tons. I also think it is much healthier too, and you aren’t tempted to get a side of fries. When I’m out of my current taco mix, I’m going to try the one you (Edward) have on your site. It looks really good and we make lots of tacos and Mexican type food.

    Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      Soap is really no different then baking, except for the fact that you can give yourself a chemical burn from the lye. After watching Fight Club, of course we had to give oursleves lye burns. Yeah, they hurt.

      Reply
  6. Veronica @ Pelican on Money

    We cook a lot at home which saves us a ton of money. After realizing how much we spent no eating out, we made the switch and keep on saving. My lunch costs me no more than $2, often in the $1 range (leftovers). With the money I save on lunches I can reinvest instead. As for soap making, I can’t say we’ll have enough time or motivation to pursue that. Though I’m sure there are other benefits of making your own soaps and shampoos besides saving money (like keeping them natural and free of harmful chemicals found in most of the products today).

    Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      That must take a lot of motivation to invest the money you are saving on food by not eating out! I have to admit, I never really understood the idea of treating money you aren’t spending as extra income. It requires a different conceptual framework then the one I use for budgeting.

      Reply
  7. femmefrugality

    I’ll have to try soap with the potash! I’ve been afraid of lye, but the bigger problem is that I don’t have an immersion blender.

    I’m having a friend come over later this month to help me expand my crocheting skills. Hopefully lots of hats this year.

    Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      Potash won’t make a very good bar soap, it tends to be mushy. That’s why it’s better for liquid-type soaps.

      There are really only a couple stiches to learn for crocheting. Double, Treble, Double Treble, and Treble Treble are all basically the same thing with just a couple more turns of the yarn. So once you can handle 3 different stiches, all that is left is following a pattern.

      Reply
    1. Edward Antrobus

      Very true. I’m allergic to a lot of perfumes that get used in soaps. By making homemade (or really these days I’m just buying them from my friend for a little over cost), I can make sure my soap won’t give me an allergic reaction.

      Reply
  8. AverageJoe

    I’m with Jason. I’d love to have a garden at home. We haven’t yet acclimatized to the seasons in Texas, but I think now that we’ve been here three and a half years I can safely plant something without killing it.

    Reply
  9. Canadian Budget Binder

    You all know what I think about eating out and making food from scratch at home. Heck apple anything is good for me any time of the day. Mrs.CBB has mates who make their own soap and laundry soap. We make our own fabric spray instead of paying $6 at the shop. All I do is add 1 full cap of fabric softener to a spray bottle, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, fill with water and shake and you are good to go! Easy and costs pennies to make. Great post. Mr.CBB

    Reply
  10. justin@thefrugalpath

    We’ve just started trying to make more things for ourselves. We’ve done glass cleaner, it won’t save a lot of money but it’s not as bad when i breath it in compared to the blue stuff.
    Next summer I want to have a garden so we can make more things at home with stuff we grew. It seems like it’d be a whole lot more rewarding.

    Reply
  11. Brian

    CF is amazing with homemade foods – her pie crust is to die for. I also like substituting items like wax paper with empty cereal box liners. It’s fun to hack everyday items like that.

    Reply
  12. Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy

    I have heard home-made soaps are absolutely divine. Will need to buy some off Etsy to decide. But home-made is quality and cheap, therefore a huge win-win! My significant other and I feast like kings during on the week on home-cooked meals with fresh, organic ingredients from the Farmers Market, and the meals stretch throughout the week. And eventually I would like to acquire a new skill, such as knitting, to create my own funky scarves and hats. Sounds like you have a very similar goal, Edward! :D

    Reply
  13. Jerry

    Homemade IS the best and leads to savings if you know what you’re doing. It can be insurance for your health as well because you’re not putting all those chemicals and preservatives from processed food in your body.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      So true. Processed foods are so full of crap that our bodies don’t need. When you make things yourself you know exactly what goes into it. And yeah it can be a lot cheaper too.

      Reply
  14. Patti

    Make your own soap? Now that sounds interesting … I hadn’t realized that it was a cost savings. It would be nice to be able to control the amount of chemicals and artificial fragrances in my bar of soap, not to mention maybe adding some oils to make them less drying. I’m going to check it out.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I don’t think that strategy is for me, but I could see some people wanting to have more control over what’s in their soap. You can make it as natural as you want with the type of scent you want. If it saves you money on top of that, even better.

      Reply

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