Old-fashioned bartering and new sharing technologies are together carving a disruptive niche in our economy. Yahoo is collecting first-person accounts from Americans who are sharing, lending and bartering their way through everyday activities. Here’s one story.
FIRST PERSON | As a 25-year-old living in Huron, South Dakota with student loan debt, car payments, a mortgage – and a large extended family – I cannot afford to spend a lot of money on gifts for every occasion, from birthdays to Christmas, weddings, baby showers, and so on. However, I enjoy nothing more than giving presents to the people I love.
That’s why I started finding ways to save money by making homemade gifts over the past few years.
Why make your gifts, besides to save money?
I generally save at least a small amount of money (if not a lot) by giving homemade gifts rather than buying them. Of course, it costs the price of the supplies, plus my time, which can range from a few minutes to several hours…or even days. Still, homemade gifts are more personal, and the process can be a lot of fun. Plus, most of the time, my homemade gifts are ‘greener’ than anything I would buy at the store. One of the main reasons I make my own gifts is to inspire a sustainable lifestyle.
Types of homemade gifts I’ve made
Besides the occasional greeting card, I have handmade a number of different presents:
- One Christmas, I re-purposed various spare drawer fronts, which had been given to me, into decorative wall hangings simply by painting them, adding knobs (also free), and hanging wire to the backs. My aunt used hers as a jewelry hanger for a while.
- I have also given baked goods as Christmas gifts.
- I have gotten into crocheting lately, and have made numerous gifts for my family: I gave one sister a scarf for her birthday and another sister got a headband; I have made bathroom sets consisting of washcloths, soap savers, and face cleansing pads for various people; I crocheted baby blankets for each of the younger nieces and nephews; my husband got a thick afghan for his birthday; and I’ve made and given away quite a few dishcloth sets.
- For Mother’s Day this year, I put together gift bags of green cleaning items for my mom and my mother-in-law; they included a roll of reusable “unpaper” towels that I had fastened together with snaps, homemade lavender liquid hand soap, and a bottle of homemade all-purpose spray.
There are too many different ideas to list here, but you get the picture.
Am I disrupting the economic model?
I may be disrupting the economy to a small degree by making these items – instead of buying them – and giving them away as gifts. I am currently too busy to sell the items I craft, but for the meantime, I have found that homemade presents are a great way to save money and give something meaningful to my friends and family. Once you acquire the ability, it can be difficult to justify spending money on something you can easily make (as long as you have the time).