Sometimes “simple” means doing it yourself: choosing the materials or ingredients, tailoring it to be exactly what you need, and savoring the process.
Sometimes simple means: “Wouldn’t it be simpler to just buy it?”
It’s not just our money that we have to think about. We also need to consider that our time is valuable.
Whole Foods sells a smoked chicken for $8.99. An uncooked chicken is about $5 or $6. Some nights I’m willing to pay that extra $4 to have someone else cook it and clean up. It’s a heck of lot cheaper than going out to a restaurant, and honestly, it tastes better. It frees up my time that evening so I can focus on something different.
There’s a value, and a beauty, to making things yourself, but you must be selective about which things you choose to do. Just as being frugal means finding the greatest value for your dollar, we have to focus our efforts in a smart way.
It might be better to buy the finished product if:
1. If a project requires buying and storing a seldomly-used tool. (Pasta maker, anyone?)
2. If a project will stay unfinished, nagging at you for months and months.
3. If the materials will cost far more than the finished product, with little perceived added value.
4. If you’re short on time or resources.
5. If buying it will support someone in your community.
It might be better to do it yourself if:
1. If you have the time to do it.
2. If it’s a skill you enjoy or want to learn.
3. If it will save you enough money to be worth your time.
4. If the result will be more unique or higher quality than what you can buy.
5. If your efforts make your family feel loved.