How to Budget for DIY Projects

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Good DIYs save money in the long run. Some of our very favorite do-it-yourself type projects were born with creativity, out of the necessity to save a little green here or there—but that doesn't always mean DIY projects are cheap. Some supplies are expensive, and some projects require a big purchase up front, like a power saw or a sewing machine.

Budgeting for DIYs can be a DIY all on its own. To find a system that works for you, you need a clear idea of how much you need to save. Make a detailed list of every little thing you'll need for the project so there are no surprises along the way. If it's a long term project, take into account the fact that prices will change and vary over time.

The Envelope Method

saving cash in an envelope

For projects that will require a few thousand dollars, the envelope method can help you save big bucks. Take a hundred envelopes and label them from one to one hundred. Mix all of the envelopes up and pick one out every day. The number on the front of the envelope will let you know how much cash to place in the envelope every day. If you need a little more time to save up, you can draw an envelope every few days.

It seems a little shocking, but completing this system will net you five thousand dollars.

a numbered envelope for saving money

If you don't need that much to finish your dream DIY, you can modify the method and save around a thousand dollars when you use fifty envelopes. Calculate how much you need for the project and change the number of envelopes you put aside accordingly. It's better to over budget than under budget, so always err on the side of caution.

This method works well for the long-game and isn't the best way to go if you need the money to complete a project quickly.

numbered envelopes on a round table

Little By Little

Shopping for your supplies little by little can be a good way to tackle a pricey DIY. Use the list of supplies that you made to determine the cost of the project and divide them up by weeks. You can plan to spend a certain amount on supplies week by week or simply buy one supply at a time.

stacks of square lumber boards

Once you've purchased an item, set it aside until everything you need to knock your DIY project out of the park are available.

If your DIY includes renovating a room, like a kitchen or a baby nursery on a budget, the little by little method works a little differently. In order to redo a room with the little by little method, you will still buy items slowly, but you may want to add more method to the madness.

For instance, if your reno calls for newly painted walls, a new bedspread, some DIY decor, and a new dresser—you may want to start with the paint. Painting the walls first makes more sense than filling a room with new decor and furniture that will be moved in order to paint the walls at the end.

Shop the Sales

For DIYs that require a big purchase, like power tools or a sewing machine, patience may be one of your biggest money-saving tactics. Waiting until a big sale can be a great way to lessen the dent in your wallet. Black Friday or holiday-related sales are often a good place to start. You can also watch weekly ads from craft or hardware stores to see if individual stores are running any big sales or coupons that can be used on the items you need.

entrance to a store with large vertical Sale signs

If you follow popular crafters or DIY geniuses on Instagram you may be able to find discounts there too. Bloggers often have affiliate codes that they share on everything from fabric to new lighting for your home. You just have to be following the right people to find the deals.

It's a good idea to have your money ready when a sale comes around though, that way you're not tempted to spend more than you can prudently splurge in the moment.

Whether your DIY budget is big or small, it's smart to get a good idea ahead of time and make financial planning a habit for all of your DIY undertakings.