Scrapbook Bargain-Hunting: Good Sense or Waste of Money?

by Lain Ehmann on September 4, 2010


I am on several style-related e-mail lists (I know, you couldn’t tell based on my usual wardrobe of sweats and a t-shirt… I like to at least KNOW that I’m out of style!). One that came across my virtual desk was talking about shopping sales and how easy it is for women to buy the wrong things, overspend, or otherwise make fashion missteps when items are emblazoned with “40 percent off” stickers.

As I read through this newsletter, I realized how easy it is to fall into the same traps when shopping for scrapbooking goods. How often have I scooped up a stack of patterned paper that goes with nothing in my scrapbook “wardrobe” just because they were two-for-one? How many times have I plopped down my 40 percent off coupons to become the owner of idea books of which I’ll never crack the spine?

Even the freebies I (used to) get as a (former) member of the Simple editorial team didn’t temper my desire to “get a bargain.” After all, just think of all the money I was SAVING!

But “not spending” and “saving” are different things, as I am finally beginning to realize. That’s why I was so taken by the instructions provided in this article on fashion and shopping.

So in my infinite wisdom (!),  I thought I’d take these nuggets of information and advice from fashion expert Nancy Nix Rice and convert them for use by scrapbookers. So here are some ways you can make your scrapbook bargain-hunting productive and cost-conscious:

#1 -Inventory your stash. Notice items you use often. Do they need to be replaced or supplemented?   If you use your red pens all the time, for example, a red stamp pad could make additional layouts or projects with the same materials.  And consider stock-piling new red pens for when the current ones wear out.

#2 – List your NEEDS – in writing.  “Lists are empowering – not limiting,” writes Nancy. She suggests breaking lists into categories:

A – Basics that need replacing soon -  your favorite cardstock, adhesive, etc.

B –  Missing mixers – “Identify these by specific description or by end use,” writes Nancy. (“polka-dot patterned paper” OR “Disney accents for Orlando trip”).

C – Awkward occasions - What are the pages or pictures you have trouble scrapbooking? For instance, if you are a brights-lover, you may not have an appropriate selection of materials for a memorial page for your father-in-law. Or if you tend to scrap girls, you might have trouble creating a page for your new nephew with all the flowers and pastel pinks in your stash.

#3 – Shop UP a notch.  “Now’s the time to move up the quality ladder,” says Rice. For instance, if you’ve so far purchased all your supplies at Walmart or the craft store, you can hit the sales at a specialty scrapbooking store to upgrade some of your materials.

#4 – Be retail savvy.  Nancy’s recommendations work perfectly for scrapbookers. “Shop at off-peak hours like early AM or dinner time.  Check your mail/email for extra-discount coupons – why pay more than you have to? Take along items you need to match – it’s far less trouble that returning a poor choice later,” she recommends. >#5 -Be smart about what you like. If you tend towards earth tones, a collection of primary accents aren’t going to work on your pages. If you don’t use stamps, a set of Autumn Leaves alphas isn’t a deal. “A ‘bargain’ you can’t fit into [your album] is just wasted dollars,” writes Rice (with adjustments from me). “Just say NO.”

#5 – Do an at-home fashion show with your bargains.  With clothing, you’d try your new purchases on with old favorites from your closet. Do the same with your new scrapbooking supplies! Spread out your new goodies and mix and match with other stuff from your stash, your scrap pile, etc. You may find that your new purchases go great with some old favorites, making both more versatile and useful.

P.S. Learning more about your scrapbooking style can help you shop sales with confidence — you’ll know what you like and what you like but won’t use. Check out my month-long, self-paced eCourse, “Define Your Style from A to Z.” In daily emails, prompts, interviews, and more, I’ll lead you through the process of defining YOUR style (yes, you have one!).

  • Ali

    Excellent article- Thx Lain!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Glad you liked it, thanks for reading!

  • Karen

    I think these ideas are great. I will apply them to my scrapbooking hobby next year. This year I am going to spread my creative wings, think way out of my box, and attempt to use up every single solitary sale inspired item within my crafting studio. I only intend on buying adhesive and one or two pens. Wish me luck!

  • Anonymous

    Good luck!!! :) Let me know how it goes!

  • Norma

    This one really hit home. Thanks for a great post!

  • Anonymous

    Glad it was helpful! :)

  • Emeraldvalkyrie

    The older I get, the more picky I become as I shop. I have started to realize just how impulsively I have purchased an item( clothes or scrapbook stuff) just because it was on sale. I think the tips posted above are wonderful and good to have as a reminder to buy wisely.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Christy!
    I so agree — my stash is getting a lot smaller. Well, maybe not a LOT. :)

  • TrishaJ

    I was always a bargain/sale shopper, however, since LOAD 211, my goal was to try to work with what I have. So far, so good. Haven’t bought too much. We live in the country, so it is not easy to find anything anyway. My downfall is HSN for buying things that I don’t need. Yesterday, I wrote all the Anna Griffin things down that I would like. I did not order though. I will check to see if any of them are left and, if so, I might order.

  • Anonymous

    So glad that you’ve been able to scrap with what you have! isn’t it rewarding?

  • Lilie

    What a great article!  I know the feeling.  When I think I’m going in a crafting store for just  ‘one item’  lol….I then come out with a bag full of goodies.  Time to tame those impulses for sure.  :)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! Glad you liked it. :)

  • Sas_bailey

    Fully stocked and loaded here. Ready for most any theme, at any time. I am in the “shop up a notch” phase. Recently added a large guillotine and the Zutter “bind it all ” to the arsenal. My goal is to keep up with what’s new at Creative Memories and I shop for bargains at one on-line store. When I get to go to a not so local LLS, I have specifics to find (like the Disney embellishment for Orlando trip) and I dig through the clearance papers. I used to spend at least $80 every time I went into a LSS, but now, five years into collecting, I am more selective (or I already have something like it?) and usually get out the door for under $20.When shopping for clothes, I can’t count the number if times I have held something up, gazed at it wistfully and wished it came in a size 12X12.

  • Anonymous

    I notice I buy a lot less now than I did even two years ago! :)

  • Brenda

    Terrific post.  I learned recently that if I didn’t want it badly enough to buy it at full price I didn’t want it badly enough.  As I went through my overflowing stash I realized that the majority of it was multiple sheets of paper that I bought because it was only .20 and stickers with clearance tags on them.  It isn’t a value if you don’t ever use it.  Now I only buy what I really really love, whether it’s on sale or not.  Next I hope to take it one step further and only buy what I really really love and NEED, but one step at a time, right.

  • Anonymous

    That is such a good point — that if you won’t pay full price, maybe you don’t want it enough.

  • Betsye Rose Cimino Erazo

    Great article.  I’m currently doing a ‘spending freeze’ with a few friends.  We’ve resolved to not buy anything until we’ve completed 75 layouts and 30 cards… well, that’s their resolution.  I’m going for 30 layouts and 75 cards.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I can help you with 29 of those layouts! Hope you’re joining Layout a Day 212! :)

  • Vi Feirer

    thanks for the article Lain.  Nice to know our mentors have similar problems, LOL.  I’m like Betsye, really working hard on NOT spending, using what I have and making do.  You (Lain), Stacy and Ally are really helping me this year with great ideas and have totally changed my scrap booking style.  It’s fun to shop my stash and create again instead of just running out to buy and copy what I see.  Thanks VERY much for all the incentive, motivations and ideas.

  • Anonymous

    So glad you enjoyed it! I think we get started with scrapbooking a lot of times because we love the “stuff…” and then we learn that it’s about so much more than the “stuff!”

  • Heathert

    This is a great article. I have gone one step further and I have purchased a scraprack and sorted allllllll my papers. Oh my goodness I have so much pink paper and hardly any red. This process of getting everything in one place means I know what I have. I have about 5 black ink Pads and hardly any other colours. I have wasted so much on specials and cheap papers that now I am purging it is a waste. I find it hard to turn a bargain at any time. It is gd to know what you have on all the little boxes in ya craft room because it us like Christmas rediscovering what you purchased 4 years ago. Buying what iblove is my new gOal so I use it and dong waste money again

  • Michelle Zimmerman

    Thanks for the wonderful suggestions.  I have a tendency to buy cause it’s a good deal as well,  rather than buying products for each clients custom album I do.  I have written some of these tips on my white board in the craft room!  

  • Francine (aka DragonsLady)

    Love your article. I mainly digi-scrap, except for cards and have been trying to organize my digi-scrap supplies. This week I did two things. One was to put myself on a digi-supply buying budget. I said I can’t buy ANY new digi supplies until I make one layout from products from the store I want to shop right now and post that layout to FLIKR (sp?), the shop’s gallery, and at least one of my blogs. So far I haven’t made the layout but at least I haven’t added to my mega stash. The other thing I’ve done is moved all my digi-scrap supplies to an external hard drive (my desktop was getting slow and only had 26G of space left on a 500G internal drive.) I’d started the move several months a go but really needed to move everything related to the scrapbooking over. I recovered almost 200G. Now what I moved included stuff that was just digi supplies and my digi scrap classes as well. Some stuff was still zipped, others already extracted. And I found a lot that was duplicated. It will still take me a while to get it all organized but at least I’ve made a good start. And I decided I didn’t want any of the supplies from one site that did many little kits a month in one big grouping. I’d rather have full kits from individual designers. So I got rid of probably 10-15G of supplies that way.

  • Shawn Wenrich

    Great post!

  • Cassel

    Although i can see the temptation in paper scrapping, the same is true with digital scrapping. Many scrappers think that digital scrapbooking is cheaper than paper scrapbooking because of the additional options like reusing the same papers and elements several times, colorizing what we have, etc. But at the same time, buying digital goods is so much easier than buying tangible goods. And bargain hunting is also so much easier: no business hours to limit you, no limited cash in the purse, no waiting at the counter, no driving required to visit 10 stores (or more) in a single day. But someone might want to go back to the basic with digital goods and apply the 3R to scrapping: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
    I have a blog post from last year about that:
    With so many GB of digital goods, most scrappers CAN reuse, but so many call themselves “one-kit scrappers”: buy a kit, use it once, and find another one. No wonder digital scrapbooking can seem expensive in the end!

  • Sonja Gortzak-Hughes

    Great post Lain, as I get more experienced I buy better. I realize what I need most is good plain paper (I love matting my pictures:-) and some basic punches (am investing in some large circle and square punches). It feels a bit boring (patterned paper is so much prettier and fun!) but the minute I got them I was making layouts with them, again and again. Same with my paper trimmer I recently got. Not on sale but, for me, a very boring purchase. It has cut my scrapping time almost in half though (you can imagine how much paper trimming with knife and ruler you have to do if you like matting…) and it’s so much more enjoyable and straight!
    And when I read about the at-home fashion show with your new purchases I thought that, just like with your new clothes, you could photograph your new ideas and combinations for proper execution later. Else you will forget when it has all been tidied away, at least I do….

  • Zakirah

    I agree with this!

  • Amyjz

    Great article Lain! My daughter and I were at Tuesday Morning this week to see if they had anything new. They had Bazzill paper packs of 25 for 1.99. My daughter and I keep saying “we don’t need any more paper” but how can you past up that deal! We bought some and put some back! It’s so hard but we all only have so much storage space. I’ll keep this article in my head for next time I shop.

  • lainie9

    I find the storage space will help me control my purchases — I can’t buy more unless I have room for it! ;)

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