Buy or DIY these 5 things: what’s cheaper?

We’re all looking to save money. Many times, you save by doing it yourself – DIY.  Making your own coffee, for instance! But sometimes it might just not be worth the bother. Here are five everyday items we priced to see which option is cheaper and asked – “should you buy or DIY?”.

Birthday cards: DIY

Birthday cards range in price from around R20 to over R50 for a card. That sounds quite pricey.

To make a card you’ll need some paper, a pair of scissors, pens, glue and perhaps embellishments to make it look pretty. You could also create a design for the front of the card using old wrapping paper or birthday cards.  Nothing wrong with repurposing!

An A4 colour card costs R5.90, pretty pastel paper R5. For R10 you can get the basics, possibly two cards.

The rest of the equipment and material you probably already have at home. If you have to buy them, a set of four felt tip pens costs R50. They could last a year, and they probably have other uses as well.  So, it looks like a DIY is the way to go.

There’s another option that makes DIY even more attractive – design your card digitally using a website or app. You can send the card digitally, or you can print it at a local printers. Printing costs start at R6 for an A4.

On this one – we’d go for DIY. Plus, it’s personal and unique. A card from the heart!

Bread: No clear winner

A loaf of white bread costs R14.50.

2.5kgs of white bread flour costs R30, which should make four to five loaves. Yeast is R5 for 10g, so about R15 for 30g, which will be enough for the whole 2.5kg of flour. So, using water and a pinch of salt and sugar, which we’ll assume you have in your cupboard, the bread’s ingredients cost R11.

But you have to bake your bread and use electricity, which will add a few rands to the cost, so buying and DIYing are about the same.

If you are gluten-free expect to pay around R50 for a loaf of gluten-free bread. Gluten-free flour can be quite pricey starting at R45 for 500g moving up to R118 depending on the type of flour, then you’ll need to add yeast or another rising agent and oven time. So, there isn’t a huge difference between the buying and DIYing.

Health loaves with fibre, seeds and bran cost around R20 per loaf. Ingredients cost around R19 (bran, stoneground flour, seeds, yeast) plus baking time in the oven. Again, it’s pretty even.

Of course, the smell of freshly baked bread is quite special, so you may opt for the DIY version once in a while.

Clothes: BUY bottom of the range, DIY special occasions

It’s winter so you may want to get the knitting out – but is it going to save you money to knit a pullover? Probably not.

The fact is that cheap everyday fashion is really cheap. Knitted pullovers are available from R70 to R190.

A ball of cheap wool costs R20, knitting needles R28. You’ll need at least 6 balls putting your cost of materials at R148. More, of course, for fancier wool.

When it comes to a dress for a special occasion, if you have the skills and the sewing machine, you may want to consider the make option. Dress fabrics can cost anything from R60 to R600 a metre, and for the really good fabrics over R1 000 a metre, and you might need about 2 or 3 metres, depending on the design. A special occasion dress can easily cost over R1 000 to buy. So as long as you don’t overspend on fabric, DIYing for the special occasion should save you money.

FOOD: DIY unless you want it quick and easy

A packet of seeds costs R18, a bunch of spinach R13.

You should easily get more than one bunch of spinach from one packet of seeds – so DIY is cheaper.

But you need to factor in time, water, insect control measures or pesticides, garden implements and possibly compost. And you will have to wait for the right time to plant and take care of your seedlings and harvest at the right time. You may also not be able to grow your favourite because of location – not enough sun or shade for example, or the quality of your soil – and you can lose seedlings to pests or weather.

Our final verdict on this one is that it might be cheaper to DIY, but it’s time consuming.

Cleaning items: DIY

All-purpose liquid cleaners cost R20 for 750ml.

You can make a cleaning solution using white spirit vinegar and water. Vinegar costs R8 for 750ml.

DIY wins hands down.  Plus, with a few drops of essential oil you can use it as a fabric softener.

There is a but – it’s not suitable for surfaces such as granite, marble and knives because it is an acid.

Convenience or fun?

Keep in mind that you are using labour and time if you DIY, so don’t forget to take that into consideration! Buying is quick and very convenient. But a DIY could be a great family project, and it could also turn into some pocket money or extra family funds. Whichever you choose, have fun doing it!

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