DIY Projects that Save Money

Have you ever been out shopping at the mall, seen something you like and thought, “I bet that $50 shirt/ chair/ piece of art/ furniture/ accessory cost about $5 to make!” First of all, you’re probably right. Second, there are a lot of things you can make or customize for a fraction of the cost of buying that same item in a retail setting. DIY projects are a great way to customize your wardrobe and home on a budget and still get the look and style that you love. Here are a few suggestions for projects that can save you a bundle (which you can then put toward something fun, like a vacation!)


  1. Customize your clothing. You can transform your store bought clothing from boring to beautiful by painting designs or fun sayings on your shirts and jackets with simple household bleach and a paintbrush or distress your own $20 jeans instead of paying $50 – $100 for a pre-distressed pair at an expensive boutique.
  2. Make your own accessories. Take a simple headband and glam it up with a glue gun and mismatched jewelry pieces, buttons, pins, or whatever makes you smile. Do the same with vests, belts, shoes, scarves, gloves, and hats. Metal studs and patches can turn your plain pair of pants or leather jacket into a personal style statement, too!
  3. Make your own garden fertilizer. We’re talking compost here, folks. You know, those food scraps you have when you’re cooking from scratch? Instead of tossing them in the trash or the garbage disposal, take an old coffee can or plastic container with lid and make your own kitchen compost. A simple charcoal filter like you’d use in a kitty litter box will handle any odors, or you can keep your food scraps in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add them to your garden topsoil and enrich the dirt with leftover kitchen goodies your garden will thank you for. Check out A Gardener’s Guide to Composting for more details.
  4. Make your own wall art. Purchase a few inexpensive canvas frames from an art supply store. If you have a wallpaper you think you’d like to use in a room of your home, try taking small samples, stretching them around the frame, and hanging 3 to 5 of them in the room. You may find you like the pop of color and design more as a feature on a painted wall. Or, if you fall in love, you’ll know it’s worth it to do the entire wall or room. Another option is to take a favorite photo or wall calendar and have the picture enlarged and transferred to canvas to create a unique work of art.
  5. Make your own furniture. This is easier than it sounds! One frugal idea is to cover large plastic storage bins with fabric scraps and use them as end tables. You can spend just a few dollars at a big box or fabric store and pick up 2 yard bundles of nice fabric. The bonus? Your new end tables also double as storage! Are you remodeling? Convert an old kitchen or bathroom cabinet into a kitchen island by adding a fresh coat of paint and four casters to make it mobile. Want to extend the top and use it as a combination island and eating space? Use an old exterior door or put a couple of cabinet doors together and secure them to the top of your island. Need a serving tray? Turn a salvaged cabinet door into a TV dinner tray, serving tray, or cheese board by simply drilling two holes on either side of the tray and attaching handles for carrying.
  6. Change your paint color or paint an accent wall. Its amazing how much a simple color change can transform a space. If you’re not into repainting the entire interior of your home but want a fresh look, try painting an accent wall in a hallway, alcove, or on a smaller wall. Move your photos or artwork around and try a new arrangement. These simple, small changes can add a fresh perspective and make you view things differently, and it will save you a ton of money over hiring an interior decorator. A fresh coat of paint can also transform a tired piece of furniture and give it a new look.
  7. Learn to love thrift shopping! Goodwill and other secondhand stores are not just for clothing. You can find great artwork, household goods, outdoor furniture, and tools in good condition for a lot less than retail pricing. Look for items that speak to you, even if they need a little love like a fresh coat of paint. Also look for things you can upcycle or convert to a new use, like a storage chest that would make a great coffee table, or a dresser that would store your unused kitchen items like seasonal tablecloths or large pots and pans. Yard sales, flea markets, Craigslist, Habitat for Humanity Re-stores, and Freecycle.com are other great places to shop for unusual treasures that you can repurpose with a little DIY elbow grease and some imagination.


These are just a few examples of DIY projects that can save you a lot of money and bring you a wonderful sense of satisfaction from accomplishing a design upgrade on your own. Take advantage of all the how to articles and videos online, and check into free classes at your local home improvement store, community center, library, or nursery.