Have you all seen that meme…”Why buy this for $7 when I can make it myself for $93!”??? I always get a chuckle from it whenever the cartoon passes through my social media feeds because it really can be SO true. While crafting is certainly fun and good for the soul, anyone who loves to create with their hands (no matter the hobby!) can tell you that it is not inexpensive! From tools and machines, notions to supplies, and so much more, craft supplies are a big business that many of us are all too eager to pour our hard-earned money into. But while crafting may not be free or even cheap, there ARE indeed easy ways to save money on craft supplies! As someone who frequents the craft store almost weekly (sometimes even more!) and runs a business around creating, these are my own tried-and-true tricks of the trade that I think you all will find helpful too!
Before I dive into my money saving tips, I have to quickly share a word of caution based on my own experiences. Crafters, myself included, are notorious for buying fun supplies, cute fabrics, and handy tools to have…just in case. I certainly LOVE it when I can create an entire project using items I have in my stash, but I also know what it’s like to be bogged down and burdened by so many craft supplies I will never use. So while the tips and tricks I will share below advocate stocking up, buying items when you see them, and shopping in bulk, I urge you to do this only for items you use frequently, have a specific plan for, or you know for sure you will eventually use. Because even if you buy a certain supply at a great price, it’s ultimately a waste of money if it sits in your craft room unused.
Okay…stepping off my soapbox now…let’s dive into those money saving tips!
1. Wait for the Sale
My best and biggest tip for purchasing craft supplies at major craft stores (e.g., Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby) is to wait until the item you want/need goes on sale. Shocking tip, huh? But hear me out. In my experience, almost everything in a major craft retailer will go on sale. Everything. But it’s not always on sale; in fact, the sales usually rotate around the store. Some of my best examples include all the hardware and knobs at Hobby Lobby and the frames at Michaels (items I often buy many of at once). These items tend to go on sale on alternating weeks. So if you go to buy 8 knobs for the new dresser you just painted and they aren’t on sale…wait 1 week….and they will be. Waiting certainly isn’t a strategy you can use if you’re in a rush or have a deadline (in that case, see some of my other tips below). But if you need to buy a lot of a particular item AND have the time, wait for the items to go on sale. Not sure how long you’ll need to wait? Simply ask a clerk and they should be able to tell you when the item is scheduled to go on sale next!
2. Shop Holiday Weekends & Doorbuster Sales
Holiday weekends and larger “doorbuster” sales are my favorite times to stock up on things I need a lot of (like frames for a gallery wall or fabric for curtains) or use frequently (papers, adhesives, etc). Not only do these items tend to go on sale during the holiday weekends, but then there are almost always total purchase coupons that can be used on top of discounts and promotions. While there are some exclusions to the total purchase coupons (such as Cricut supplies), they are a great way to knock a big percentage off items already on sale. Shopping on holiday weekends is often how I score yards of fabric, thick cushion foam, large frames, and more expensive tools at super low prices!
3. Download Store Apps
JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby all have really good apps that allow you to download and use coupons on the spot. Sometimes you can snag one of those awesome total purchase coupons; but at the very least, you can almost always get a 40-50% off a single (non clearance) item. These in-app coupons are awesome (and are pretty much what I rely on), but they are especially good if you are an occasional shopper (and don’t receive emails or mailer coupons) and/or just need one item that isn’t on sale.
TIP! More and more retailers are now requiring that you create and sign into an account in order to access coupons, which can sometimes take time and be a little tedious. As such, I suggest downloading the app, setting up your account, and logging in before you get in line!
4. Join Rewards Programs & Mailing Lists
Although email lists and mailer coupons are a little old school, they are still really valuable in terms of learning about sales and gaining access to coupons. I hate having a cluttered Inbox as much as the next person, but I will admit that email promotions are often what alert me to sales or specials I want to take advantage of. And don’t forget that most stores will take competitor coupons, so always bring them all with you when you shop!
TIP! Craft stores are known for sending multiple emails a day, so I suggest using an app like Unroll.me to keep your Inbox clutter to a minimum!
5. Apply Regular Store Discounts
Many craft stores, including “mom and pop” fabric stores, will often have discount days for certain populations. Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby offer a military discount, which usually applies to non-sale items only. All three also appear to have discounts for seniors and teachers so be sure to ask for these special discounts if you qualify!
6. Shop in Bulk
Just like non-craft items, when you buy in bulk, you can usually get a better price per item. There are certain supplies I tend to plow through: glue, roller adhesive, transfer paper, white thread, and printer ink are just a few off the top of my head. Since I know these are items I am always using and always running out of, I will often purchase them in bulk (usually via Amazon) to take advantage of better pricing. Similarly, both Fabric.com and Online Fabric Store decrease the price/yard the more you buy, so they are great options if you need lots of yardage for a specific project. Don’t need 10 bottles of glue or 10 yards of fabric? See if you can find a friend or family member to split the purchase with!
7. Stock Up When You See It
In recent years, I have forced myself to stop buying “bargain” craft supplies to have just in case because I’ve been trying to be much more mindful about what I’m brining home and how much I’m storing in our house. That said, there are certain items I will always buy if I see them at really great prices. The two that come to mind are peel-and-stick wallpaper (but only if it’s deeply discounted) and these pads of cardstock from Michaels that regularly go on sale for $5 a stack (which is an insanely good price for a lot of paper). Even if these items aren’t on my shopping list, I will always pick them up if the price is right because I know I will use them. If you have items that you use regularly or you are trying to stock up enough of for a certain project, be sure to check for them every time you go into the store!
8. Take Advantage of Post-Season Sales
Right now…this very minute…is the perfect time to stock up on St. Patrick’s Day crafts, products and supplies because the holiday just passed and stores want it OUT. As such, they discount it deeply…often 70-90% off! This is true for pretty much every single holiday, especially Christmas. If you need to stock up for classroom crafts, future parties, or want some decorations to use year after year, shopping post-holiday can save you a lot of cash (although it may also limit the selection).
9. Check Buy/Sell/Trade Pages
Just a few months ago, I sold a HUGE box of really high quality fabric on Facebook for $100. $100 may seem like a lot of money for fabric, but if you saw how much was stuffed in there, you’d know it was a crazy good bargain. My point? There are lots of craft deals to be had within online marketplaces (Craigslist, Facebook, etc). Not only can you likely find gently-used sewing and Cricut machines (if you watch carefully enough!), but you can also likely score large collections of items (e.g., fabric, stamps, scrapbook supplies, Cricut cartridges, etc) that people are really eager to get rid of.
10. Checkout End Caps and Clearance Sections
At stores like Michaels, Jo Anns, and Target, I always always always check the end caps and clearance sections each and every time I go in. Although it does force me to exercise a good bit of restraint when I find some junk that I am convinced I can re-purpose, it has also been how I’ve scored some really great finds at really great prices.
11. Return Items You Don’t Use
This tip almost feels like crafting sacrilege, but it’s a really valuable one for both your pocketbook and your craft room. If you bought an extra skein of yarn or an alternative tube of paint or another set of beads and didn’t end up using it, take the time to return it rather than just tossing it into your stash. I know…I know. There is possibility in everything, and you might use it some day. But you know what? You probably won’t. And if you’re concerned about saving money on craft supplies and getting the best deals you can, then return whatever you don’t use, get your money back, and prevent that item from cluttering up your craft space! If you find a use for that item down the road, you can always re-buy it.
I hope these easy-to-implement tips and tricks help you save some cash while you shop for craft supplies. With a little diligence and patience, it is possible to craft on a budget! And if you have any other tricks you swear by, be sure to share them in the comments so we can all benefit! Happy crafting, friends!
Posted In 2 - DIY & Home Decor, California '16, Sewing & Crafts