50(ish) ways to 'DIY it' according to the MSE Forum
Fall down the rabbit hole that is the MSE Forum and you'll re-emerge with more ingenious MoneySaving tricks than you'll know what to do with. Our latest trip rewarded us with 50(ish) clever ways to 'DIY' it – in other words, to make or do things you'd usually pay for. Often this approach takes a little more effort than buying the goods or services, but it can be a satisfying way to save the pennies.
For this particular topic we must give a shout out to the Old Style MoneySaving board, whose thrifty ethos encompasses all kinds of making and mending. Kudos too, to the In My Home (includes DIY) MoneySaving board.
We've split the tips across toiletries, clothing, food, home, weddings and kids. It's important to note this isn't an exhaustive list – do jump into the MSE Forum yourself and find the rest. Let us know your own tricks too.
You might also like our 42 MoneySaving household hacks to avoid waste, another blog written on the back of the Forum hive mind.
About this list: All the points below have been shared by Forumites, but keep in mind that what works for them might not work for you, or might not save you money in the same way.
Create your own toiletries
At MSE HQ we love cheap make-up and beauty deals, but more impressive still are the people who make their own potions using kitchen cupboard ingredients. Besides being beautifully MoneySaving, the technique means you know exactly what's in your gloop and can keep out any irritating filler ingredients.
Warning: Some of the posts mention using baking soda. Rhiannon, our resident chemist, warns that baking soda's high pH levels mean it can irritate skin. If you really want to try it in place of, for example, shampoo, always do a patch test first.
We're not 'aving a bubble – you really can make your own soap on the cheap. Forum wisdom tells us it's also possible to concoct shampoo and even body scrubs, body butter and bath bombs from items you might already have in your cupboards.
If your daily facial routine tends to clean out your wallet as well as your skin, consider making a homemade face mask and exfoliator or a cleanser and toner, followed by a DIY moisturiser. The Forumites even have tips for whipping up your own lip balm and make-up remover.
Make your own clothes
Overspending on new garms isn't just tough on your wallet but also on the environment, with fast fashion one of the planet's big culprits of exploitation, waste and toxic by-products. See our blogs on Nine ways to turn unwanted clothes into cash and Get paid to recycle old clothes and shoes to up your green savvy, then get inspired by the Forumites who make their own clothes.
They have a wealth of combined experience in making various clothing items. Learn how to make the shift to homemade dresses, get support with making your own bras or join the close-knit community on the knitting thread.
DIY around the home
Everyone's limit is different, and some of us would prefer to call in a professional for certain jobs. Not all of us, for example, will be able to (or wish to) plaster a room. Forumites give their tips for some of these divisive tasks below, but this section comes with a warning: know your own limits!
If you're itchin' to clean the kitchen on the cheap, the MSE Forum can show you how to make eco-friendly, pet-friendly surface cleaner and different types of surface cleaner, as well as oven cleaning solution and cleaner for fridges and other appliances. Learn how to install a washing machine, build your own compost bin and properly clean the inside of a teapot.
In order to make other household chores a fe-breeze, here are some Forumite-endorsed suggestions for making carpet freshener or bathroom cleaning liquid, and some clever tricks for ironing without an iron. For the more ambitious home DIYer, here's how to plaster a wall or ceiling (attempt with caution: this one requires a bit of research and practice!). Add accessories to your home cheaply by creating an energy-saving draft excluder, a filled doorstop or a bang-on-trend macrame plant hanger.
Motoring MoneySavers might be interested to know how to replace a car bumper or how to top up the power-steering fluid, while gardeners can try making their own slate mulch.
'DIY' your wedding day
Get inspired by these marriage MoneySavers, then read our Weddings on a budget guide for 50+ more tips to keep costs down.
If the thought of spending a bundle on a wedding cake makes your eyes water, swap those tears for tiers and get some help on how to make your own fancy cake. The marriage MoneySaving inspiration doesn't end there though. Pick up some tips on how to design and sew a wedding dress, and if you want to add a truly personal touch to your matrimonial bling, our Forumites discuss ways to create your own rings via a professional workshop. You can also find guidance on sorting your own make-up for the big day.
Swap store-bought for homemade food
Lockdown saw a boom in breadmaking, but there are plenty of other staples you can make yourself. Don't assume all of these will save you money – you'll need to calculate how much the shop-bought version would cost you versus the raw ingredients. If you're whipping up a big batch of something, such as houmous for a party, you might find making your own more cost-effective.
Be sure to check what's new on the Supermarket coupons page before buying your ingredients.
Frugal foodies of the Forum explain how to whip up homemade butter, a batch of houmous and a tub of yogurt. Swap spenny takeaways for pizza made from scratch. Sweet-toothed MoneySavers, learn how to make brown sugar, a stack of sweets or a summer-ready batch of ice lollies. If you're worried about your pooch feeling left out, see how to make doggy ice lollies too.
For those wanting to step the self-sufficiency up another notch, get tips on how to grow your own veg and how to pollinate a chilli plant.
Keep the kids entertained
The Forum's thrown up several crafty ideas for pleasing the little 'uns, including how to construct a personalised wordsearch, how to make toys using downloadable patterns and how to create cardboard models.
For more like these, see our 21 free (or very cheap) ways to sprinkle joy for kids blog, which includes instructions for homemade playdough and DIY hot chocolate bombs.
Sometimes, though, it's best to leave it to a pro
If you're not already a member, you can sign up to the MSE Forum by entering a few details. Be sure to have a read of our Forum rules first.