Author Topic: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?  (Read 5741 times)

Susurrus

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Hello, everyone! For context, I'm a college student right now, so I don't exactly have much discretionary money. However, I do get $450 in my pocket every month, about 75% of which is going towards funding my Roth IRA.

I first became interested in card-making as a hobby about a year ago, and for a month or so I was watching videos online and squealing over supplies at fancy crafting stores - BUT I didn't actually buy anything. I told myself I would end up losing interest quickly and then I would feel massively guilty about the wasted money (probably around $150 to get the supplies I wanted). So I convinced myself to empty my online shopping cart and wash my hands of the whole affair.

Last week I saw a nice embossing machine for only $35 instead of the usual retail price of $60, and I jumped on it. Then I repeated last year's fun adventure of teaching myself all about the art of card making from Youtube tutorials, and now I have ~$200 of supplies waiting in my online cart again.

My question is this: If I'm almost positive I'll get a lot of enjoyment from exploring this hobby, is it a reasonable purchase? I've been agonizing over this for about a week now, and then I had the brilliant idea of posing it to the MMM community. So help me out here, guys!


TL;DR - I've wanted to try card-making on and off for about a year now, and I'm agonizing over whether to take the plunge and spend about $150 on supplies to do so. Should I, or am I just being a Consumer Sucka?

Thanks in advance for your time and advice! :)

asiljoy

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 06:36:14 AM »
I'm not sure what's in your cart, but Craigslist seems to have a lot of stuff from people who've abandoned their scrapbooking hobbies. Maybe their loss is your gain?

For example: http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/ank/art/5113671420.html

Is there a middle ground? Is everything in your cart absolutely necessary to get started on newbie projects?

Anatidae V

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 06:39:24 AM »
I spent a lot of money on card making supplies when I got into it a few years ago - although it was scrapbooking the tools etc are the same. I would keep an eye on only buying things you have a direct project for, rather than "because it looks fun/cute". Built up reuseable supplies gradually.

Or, trawl eBay/Gumtree/Craigslist/Facebook for people getting rid of their stuff. You'll get bulk amounts of toys to play with :)

nereo

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2015, 06:39:57 AM »
Ideally, money should be used to enrich your life.  If this is something that you really would like to explore, and you can afford it (not just the initial purchases, but all the supplies necessary to 'keep the hobby going') then by all means do it.

escape

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2015, 06:58:07 AM »
Half a month's income on fun and entertainment? I'd pass until $200 wasn't such a huge part of my world. As others said, I'd look around for people dumping unwanted supplies cheap and stick to the basics needed for specific projects for now.


nereo

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 08:20:29 AM »
Half a month's income on fun and entertainment? I'd pass until $200 wasn't such a huge part of my world. As others said, I'd look around for people dumping unwanted supplies cheap and stick to the basics needed for specific projects for now.
not sure you and I are reading this the same way - perhaps the OP can clarify... 
Susurrus stated he/she had bout $450 "in pocket" every month, most of which went to an IRA.  Cost of this hobby might be $200. 
I read this as $450 discretionary spending/mo and a one-time upfront cost of around $200.  If that's the case it seems like it's an affordable amount and if it is something that will make OP happy, then forge ahead.

If in fact it's $450 of total income and the hobby would be $200/mo (a re-occurring expense) I'd seriously skip on this until the income stream improves substantially.

2ndTimer

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2015, 08:21:36 AM »
I was recently in your position of wanting to try a new hobby.   Eventually, I figured out how to do it on the cheap and jumped in.  I am having a great time with it.  Here's how I did it.  Bought the basic system at a yard sale for about 10% of original cost.  Learned to use it by Googling.  Bought a couple of upgrades for some bits at Goodwill also for a fraction of the new cost.  Buying all consumables used for less than 5% of original cost.  You will notice that I never specified what the hobby was.  The general method ought to work as well for your hobby as for mine.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2015, 08:31:43 AM »
I greatly enjoyed card making for years. It was a wonderful hobby, and I saved my Mom a ton of money by making her cards instead of her buying them (seriously- if you send cards, those things are ridiculous!)

But it was mostly a money drain.  I now have a shit-ton of stamping supplies in my closet that I really need to list on ebay. And I managed to stay away from all the various machines.

But it was a great creative outlet, so I don't consider it to be too big of a loss.

I'd recommend staying away from internet stamping forums; it is just a giant 'buy buy buy!" fest, and it is hard to not want the latest and the greatest.


I will say: If you don't have money to spend to begin with; this is not a good road to go down.  But if you have disposable income, it's not a bad thing to do.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 09:26:14 AM by iowajes »

CommonCents

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2015, 08:46:28 AM »
I was recently in your position of wanting to try a new hobby.   Eventually, I figured out how to do it on the cheap and jumped in.  I am having a great time with it.  Here's how I did it.  Bought the basic system at a yard sale for about 10% of original cost.  Learned to use it by Googling.  Bought a couple of upgrades for some bits at Goodwill also for a fraction of the new cost.  Buying all consumables used for less than 5% of original cost.  You will notice that I never specified what the hobby was.  The general method ought to work as well for your hobby as for mine.

+1

My mom and sister have gotten into this.  It seems they have huge supplies and keep adding to them.  My sister tried to sell handmade cards for a while as a business, but I think she's given up on that now.  It seems like initially it's cheap but it gets expensive easily.

If you jump in, do as the above, plus prioritize buying what seems it'll have more generic application over specific ones (e.g. a circle punch will be used a lot, while a "happy easter" stamp much less so)

Megma

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2015, 09:13:49 AM »
I think you can also consider if you can either offset other expenses (like buy Christmas cards, assuming you do that) with your hobby.

For example, I am very into sewing and buy fabric, tools, classes as part of my hobby. However, I also offset some clothing purchases because I make dresses instead of buying them. I am not saying it is cost effective but it does reduce some costs in other areas and I enjoy it. I, like you, also wanted a lot of fancy supplies when I began but I held off until I knew I would still be interested in this hobby later on and I also took advantage of finding things on craigslist from other failed crafters over time.

The first year, I bought a sewing machine ($250), year two a serger ($150), year 3 some very nice dress shears came as an xmas gift etc. There are still some supplies I would like to have but I'm also aware, since I've been in the hobby this long, that I maybe don't "need" them.

Enjoy your hobby but if you should also choose your supplies wisely and over time! Seems like you did a good job finding a low cost embosser.

Spondulix

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2015, 09:48:05 AM »
Half your budget on a hobby is a lot. But, half your budget for starting a small business (where you'll get a decent return on investment) could be really smart. It doesn't have to be an online business - maybe there's a local farmers market or arts and crafts event you could setup a table. Have you looked into how much you could charge for these? Do you know how to do calligraphy? (That could be an added price if you address the envelope or the card, maybe?) Can you think of other uses or products you could make - like framing and matting as an art piece?

Also consider the space it'll take to store everything - it may not seem like much now, but in 5 years (and a few hobbies later) that can add up.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2015, 09:55:11 AM »
I've been thinking a lot about this.

I have a hard time thinking it will ever be "money well spent", but it could be "money not totally wasted."


I've known lots of people to sell cards.  I've never known anyone to make a profit (especially not so if they consider their time at all!)
The people who make money are able to sell ebooks or start their own lines of stamps.

asiljoy

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2015, 10:58:20 AM »
I have a hard time thinking it will ever be "money well spent", but it could be "money not totally wasted."

This is more or less how I feel about my knitting. As I've gotten further down the rabbit hole, costs in terms of yarn have gone way up as I've gotten snobbier about what kinds of yarn I like, etc. Even when I knit for presents, I'm well aware that I could have bought something cheaper, but I always figure my enjoyment of creating the product evens things out.

2ndTimer

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2015, 11:59:53 AM »
Came back to add one thing.  If you find a hobby that really grabs you, you can use it to pull you into greater frugality in other ways.  You find yourself thinking things like:  "If I walk instead of taking the bus, that's $2.50 toward the next doodad I want for the hobby."  Pretty soon you find you have walked quite a few times, saved enough to buy three used doodads and lost 10 lb. into the bargain.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2015, 04:38:36 PM »
Based on the $$ you have per month at this time you can't afford to take on a hobby like this.

Save the idea and if it still sounds great when you are gainfully employed post-studying go for it then.

Susurrus

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2015, 04:54:19 PM »
WOW, thank you so much for all the replies! I wasn't expecting this much of a response!

I'm not sure what's in your cart, but Craigslist seems to have a lot of stuff from people who've abandoned their scrapbooking hobbies. Maybe their loss is your gain?

I did look into several scrapbook listings on Craigslist in my area, but they weren't what I was looking for, and I don't want to fall in the trap of buying something just because it's a good deal. But I'll definitely keep an eye on it, because new listings appear a lot faster than I thought they would - several more scrapbooking entries have popped up in the last couple days!

I would keep an eye on only buying things you have a direct project for, rather than "because it looks fun/cute". Built up reuseable supplies gradually.

This is really good advice that I need to keep in mind. I have a weakness for fun/cute things, but I'd rather have a few things I use a lot than a box of things only used once!

Half a month's income on fun and entertainment? I'd pass until $200 wasn't such a huge part of my world. As others said, I'd look around for people dumping unwanted supplies cheap and stick to the basics needed for specific projects for now.
not sure you and I are reading this the same way - perhaps the OP can clarify... 
Susurrus stated he/she had bout $450 "in pocket" every month, most of which went to an IRA.  Cost of this hobby might be $200. 
I read this as $450 discretionary spending/mo and a one-time upfront cost of around $200.  If that's the case it seems like it's an affordable amount and if it is something that will make OP happy, then forge ahead.

Sorry for the confusion! I'm in a unique situation, where technically $450 is my full after-tax income, but my housing/food/etc is paid for. I really only have to pay for clothes, my cell phone, and travel. Getting into card making would likely be a one time ~$200 expense and then $10 every few months or so.

I'd recommend staying away from internet stamping forums; it is just a giant 'buy buy buy!" fest, and it is hard to not want the latest and the greatest.

Thank you - I was already falling into this trap and I didn't even realize it! That should help slash costs a bit. :)

If you find a hobby that really grabs you, you can use it to pull you into greater frugality in other ways.  You find yourself thinking things like:  "If I walk instead of taking the bus, that's $2.50 toward the next doodad I want for the hobby."  Pretty soon you find you have walked quite a few times, saved enough to buy three used doodads and lost 10 lb. into the bargain.

Great idea! I'll get the extra benefit of exercising my frugality muscle and hopefully those efforts (not taking the bus, etc) will start to feel like a normal part of my routine.


Thank you again for all the advice, everyone! I'm going to cautiously go forward with this hobby, but I'll be careful to add to my supplies through Craigslist and thrift stores rather than the hottest new product at Stampin' Up. In that spirit, I'm going to limit myself to $50 of supplies rather than the $200 I wanted, and I'll try to buy things one at a time rather than all at once so I can make sure I'm thinking through my purchases.

Happy crafting!

Auckland Stubble

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2015, 06:37:31 PM »
Can't believe you are asking this question.

If you love doing it and it costs only $200, why would you not do it.

Sure saving money and investing and retiring early is good, but not if you deprive yourself of all happiness while you are building up to retire.

Spiffsome

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2015, 06:58:18 PM »
Any hobby can be a money pit or a cheap source of fun.

I spin - so I could buy a second-hand wheel for $150 and a kilogram of fleece for $20, or I could buy the $1200 new wheel and spin with $200 / kg carded, pre-dyed fibre. I can learn from the Internet for free, or pay $100 for a workshop.

Have you considered meeting up with other card-makers to swap excess materials, share equipment or learn techniques from each other rather than paying for classes? Or using more recycled / junk / found materials in your card making to see what results they produce?

DeltaBond

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Re: Starting a Craft Hobby - Consumer Sucka or Money Well Spent?
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2015, 12:57:31 PM »
A friend of mine made cards in college and a few years after.  She didn't buy supplies, she used recycled magazines and used wrapping paper, it was really cool.  I've seen those machines that help you do it all, but it seems like that would take the fun out of it.

I like rosaries a lot, similar to jewelry, but has more of a use for Catholics... I decided to try my hand at making them for my parish, and I now run the rosary makers ministry... so, the church pays for the supplies and me and the other rosary makers make them for missions.  It counts as a nice hobby, and I don't have to pay for supplies OR have the stuff sitting around while I wait to sell it.  I make them, then they get shipped off.