Save Money and Benefit with Homemade Products

There are a lot of different ways to save money… and because of the current state of our economy now-a-days we are hearing more and more money saving tips on main stream media. The tips commonly addressed by the media are solid, but today I would like to challenge you to take your frugal living commitment to the next level by embarking on a homemade adventure.

homemade laundry detergent

What is a Homemade Adventure?

I define this term loosely but the idea encompasses a slow & steady return to making as many household items yourself, in your home. Returning to this “old world” way of thinking and living is not only a step in the direction of frugality, but also in self-reliant living!

Making homemade products is a fantastic yet largely unconventional way to save money. Years ago homemade products were much more common than they are today, but due to the economy, a push toward green living, and several other factors… the money saving secret of making products at home is reestablishing itself with vigor in the hearts and minds of people everywhere!

Benefits of a homemade adventure…

  • Increased self-reliance – the more you make the less you depend on the likes of Walmart to provide for you and your family, and by decreasing your dependence on commercially produced products you are essentially rebelling against the production, marketing, accounting and distribution practices of large corporations the world over.
  • Increased creativity and handinesscreating your own homemade products and materials will boost your level of creative thought; and a mindset of creation versus consumption will help instill in you and your family a philosophy of “reuse” versus the common cultural philosophy of “dispose”.
  • Increased green living – because you make the products, you choose the building blocks and the method of production; use of chemically laden ingredients can be kept to a minimum if you so choose.
  • Increased savings – The more products you make, the more money you will save; I am speaking from personal experience as me and my wife save more money with each additional homemade item we tackle.
  • Increased health – when you create your own products you will undoubtedly be very choosy as to the health considerations each product will have on you and your family; and because you are in full control of production, you stand to cut out more and more items that can be detrimental to your health. This mindset change has helped me and my wife to lose weight and eat better.

I am sure there are other benefits as well, and if I have failed to mention them here, please point additional benefits out in the comments!

So what products can you make at home?

I will not define the whole gamut of products to be made because you can make as few or as many as you like, but you should understand that the more you choose to create, the more money you are likely to save and the more self-reliant you stand to become!

Remember you can also sell any products you make for extra money!

  • Cleaning products – such as homemade laundry detergent, glass cleaner, soap, shampoo, all-purpose cleaner, hand sanitizer, homemade dishwasher detergent, etc.
  • Food productsHomegrown garden produce, homemade bread, healthy chocolate chip cookies, yogurt/kefir, many healthy uses for beans, etc.
  • Clothing products – while we have not started making our own homemade clothes, this is a great way to save money, gain skill, sell products, etc.
  • Home decor products – homemade napkins, tablecloths, art work, tables, shelves, bookcases, picture frames, photos, etc. This list could go on and on!
  • Homemade crafts & gifts – DO NOT forget about the money saving benefits of making homemade gifts for friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, etc. Not only will this save you money, but it will also give the recipient an actual piece of yourself as opposed to something you simply bought!

As you can see there are so many benefits, both money saving and otherwise, to making things homemade!

What about you?

Have you begun making more and more products at home since the onset of this economic downturn?

What are some of the products you are making?

What benefits have you gained from making things yourself?

About the Author

By , on Jul 15, 2009
Matt Jabs
Matt is a thirty-something IT manager and blogger who wants to help himself and others get out of debt. He writes about personal finance and debt-free living at Debt Free Adventure. To connect with Matt visit his blog, subscribe to his RSS Feed and/or follow him on Twitter.

Leave Your Comment (20 Comments)

  1. Kev says:

    Making the effort with food has really worked for me, homegrown vegetables, and making meals from scratch rather than relying on overpriced ready to serve stuff. Saves plenty of money and is easy… just a bit of planning required to make sure you don’t end wasting things. I’d be a bit more hesitant about homemade detergents and the like though. Putting experimental concoctions in my washer and hoping for the best sounds like a quick way to require an engineer call out!

  2. elkin says:

    My wife sometimes design her own cloths and pillows for Christmas and specials dates and has sold some of them too. She enjoy doing that.

  3. Horlic says:

    Nowadays there are so many young girls home made their own accessories like ring, earring, necklace, bracelet and etc. They even custom made all the girls accessories and publish on their online store for sale to make money online. That why I agree with Matt on the idea of sells your products online or off-line to make extra money! That must be a fun part time work at home job!

  4. Matt Jabs says:

    @CindyS: I had the same trouble w/the dishwasher detergent until I added the magic ingredient… citric acid. Get the citric acid at your local brewery store, or online.

    If you don’t want to wait that long & want to try it right away, use 2 packets of lemonade koolaid (the unsweetened kind in tiny packets).

  5. CindyS says:

    I have made my own laundry detergent and my own dishwasher detergent. The laundry detergent worked well, the dishwasher detergent left a residue. I tried adjusting the amounts but it never went away. I am back to using commercial dishwasher detergent. I do make my own window cleaner and use vinegar for a TON of cleaning chores.

  6. Matt Jabs says:

    I would advice it Sam… I know I am! Income diversification is a very important topic!

  7. Sam says:

    It’s good to hear I’m not the only one :-)

    I keep thinking about how I’m returning the “natural state” of things… we’re so self reliant/DIY now that we could go without power for about a month & be OK. Devolution is a good way to describe it.

    I’ve been wondering in the back of my mind if I should start working on another career path even, in case I leave tech.

  8. Matt Jabs says:

    Hey Sam: I’m with you. The further I get into simplicity, health, diy, frugality, & self-reliance… the less I care about technology! I like to call it my “devolution from technology to simplicity”!

  9. Sam says:

    Matt,
    If I had the time to blog I would – it’d help me keep my eye on the prize a bit better.
    What I keep finding is that the more I do myself the less technically oriented my life gets.
    It’s a strange evolution for me because, like you, I work in technology – I’m a net admin. I find I no longer care one blip about the latest gadgets or ____ new architecture though. I don’t know if I’m alone in such a change… the only thing that keeps me tied into tech is that I love to fix broken machines. My co-workers think I’m nuts for some of the things I make or do (and they don’t even know what all I do outside of work! ).
    I save a good deal of money doing/making all the things I do and it keeps my kid entertained in a safe, positive & constructive manner (he’s a tinkerer too).

  10. DDFD says:

    Great post! It is amazing more people don’t do this!

  11. Matt Jabs says:

    Hey Sam… looks like you have been going in the same direction I am just recently heading down for some time now! My blog is a mix of personal finance material, DIY, homemade, & healthy eating/living… all from a biblical perspective.

    I like blogging about it all because it helps keep me on track, and the advice in print form is able to help others!

  12. Sam says:

    Just stumbled on this blog & I have been doing these things to a varying degree for a long while….

    I have been making my own detergent off & on for abut 2 years now. I hate getting out the food processor to shred the soap into flakes but it is worth it. The clothes get clean & we don’t go broke.

    I save the expensive store brand stuff for really tuff stuff like blood & wine – and when my son get something red in the white clothes :)
    I know two other people who do the detergent thing too & they enjoy it. One of those people has a lot of fun playing around with scented soaps in her detergent too.

    I’ve been using vinegar & baking soda as my primary cleaners for going on 9 years & the house is clean – baking soda works much better. I use it (separate container of it) for my teeth too – my dentist doesn’t believe me. I use bleach to do the kitchen sink & dish/pot scrubbers once a week but other wise it’s all vinegar & baking soda.

    Vinegar makes a good deodorant – on the weekends (takes an hour or so for the vinegar smell to go). Plain baking soda applied after a shower works as a good deodorant too.

    We’ve been doing more beans & some recipes are blah but we have found/tweaked a couple good ones.

    I’ve been toying with making my own shampoo & conditioner – some batches are better then others.

    We tried homemade things for the animals flea treatment & it didn’t go too well.

    We are canning our garden surplus for the first time this year. It’ll be interesting.

    I use http://www.fixitnow.com to fix my own appliances – I don’t know the guy so that’s not a shameless plug… just where I get 80-90% of my successful appliance fixes.

  13. @Matt – You know, I think you’re right.

  14. Matt Jabs says:

    @Woj: It may have been my post… it’s on the 1st page search results of Google for “homemade laundry detergent”. :)

  15. One of my friends was recently reading my blogroll and stumbled on a post about homemade laundry detergent (I forget which blog). He spent about a week getting all the supplies together (giving me daily updates, of course), and is now raving about the benefits of his homemade cleaner.

    I have to admit – I’m curious to try it. Unfortunately, I buy my detergent at Costco so I have about another year’s worth of supply in the closet.

  16. jason says:

    Has there been a research on this to prove that people are actually doing any of this? Don’t get me wrong, the ideas are great, I just wonder if anyone is doing any of this???

  17. Matt Jabs says:

    I agree on all points.

    Saving money is not about making HUGE strides (although they are nice if possible) it’s about taking many small steps toward frugality and self-reliance. These things will not only save you money, but as Paul mentioned… they are also fun and more personalized.

    All I know is… the more my wife & I make, the more we save, and the more we enjoy the entire process!

  18. I’m with Pete I had an agreement with my wife if I was to get all of my tools I had to use them for good. I made my good friends wife a simple candle holder for Christmas and she absolutely loved it, I had the wood it was just some time.

    I don’t know that we are making more at home then we used to other than greeting cards. We haven’t bought a card in over a year instead we make most of them on the computer or my kids draw them. So much more personalized and fun that way and you can easily save a $100 in a year with so many different things to celebrate.

  19. Peter Daly says:

    One thing many people do is woodworking. Not only is it a fun hobby for some, but it’s also a way to make high quality (not pressboard) furniture for less money.

    Certainly, this is not for everyone, but for example, I made a bookshelf for (and with) my son for under $100. It’s made out of Oak, and it’s made well enough where my son could probably pass it on to his kids some day.

    Another way to save money is to drop your cable subscription. I’ve lived for a couple years now without cable and am $720/yr richer for it. Bring things back around to the home-made products idea, I’ve researched and put together a website with plans to build your own tv antenna (http://www.tvantennaplans.com), which will work about as good as a $50-70 antenna. Just need a board and something to use for the antenna itself, like house wiring or coat hangers. If you can use a measure, drill holes, put in screws, and cut wire…you have all the skills you need.

    I sometimes use woodworking projects to justify new tool purchases. It’s a lot easier to rationalize a tool purchase if the tool and materials to build the project still cost less than buying the equivalent quality product in a store.

    -Pete

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