NOTE: My friend Marta (a.k.a. my comrade in cheapness) e-mailed me after she read Five Unfrugal Things I do. I really enjoyed her thoughts on the subject, so I asked her to let me share them with you. I think she makes a good point. Sometimes we need to prioritize which is more important to us: time or money. Some things are just worth the extra effort.
I read your blog entry the other day about scrapbooking, disposable diapers, etc., and it reminded me of one of things my dad used to remind me of a lot when I was looking for a job and a place to live (and something I know you’re aware of when you’re clipping coupons, etc.): What is your time worth? He was talking about commuting time, I think, but it applies to everything, really. Would you actually be saving money over the disposable diapers when you calculate all the time you spent maintaining the cloth diapers?
Anyway, I have been doing a lot of sewing lately, and it reminded me that I did a little calculation for an economics class in high school about sewing vs. buying clothes in a store. I think the general assumption is that sewing things yourself saves money, but I’m not so sure. It all comes down to how much you spend on raw materials (not to mention you have to invest in a sewing machine to begin with), and when you add in the amount of labor even the simplest project requires, it adds a lot to the true cost. Not to mention that it would be hard to for me to beat the cost of some of the ready-made clothes I have, since they are so, uh, cheap. So if I add in the blood, sweat, and tears of actually assembling a garment myself, the ready-made item really has to come out ahead, financially.
But, as you know, I still sew, because I think it is fun (when it doesn’t drive me crazy). Plus, I practice the same shopping techniques at Jo Ann Fabrics that I do at department stores: know when the sales are, check the clearance racks first, and milk those coupons.