Three ways we’ve saved money by DIYing it.

I was planning on writing a post about the free and fun things we all got up to over the holidays, the weather was stunning and we could have done all sorts of blog-worthy things. But we were all ill. Mr B managed to escape it, mainly by fleeing to the kids’ room whenever either of them turned up in the night to cough and splutter in my face and then insist on sleeping with their hot, feverish little bodies pressed up against mine all night. The boy had it, then gave it to the girl, who then shared it with me and turned hers into a chest infection. All we did for 75% of the two week holiday was sniffle in the garden in the sun for a bit, then hide inside to watch a load of Disney DVDs. The remaining 25% of the holiday involved some Herefordshire house hunting, and a loud, boisterous Easter weekend with the in-laws, including all the cousins. The kids had a fantastic time and, thankfully, we were all healthy again.

So instead of a post of Instagram-worthy fun in the sun pictures, I will share with you a couple of ways in which we managed to save money recently.

  1. Blackout blinds. These are my new most favourite things. We have lived here for three years, and each time the clocks change in the Spring, I start moaning about the light evenings. This year we had just started sorting out the two-year-olds rubbish sleeping habits and had worked out that if we wore him out enough during the day and didn’t let him nap, he would fall asleep by himself, in his own bed. Brilliant! Except that we worked this out about two days before the clocks changed and it ruined everything. So I decided that this year was the year in which I would pull my finger out and do something about blackout blinds. Even before starting our frugal thing, I was too stingy to buy blinds and always put it off (while moaning about it all summer) and just used blankets draped over the curtain poles. However, I now have two fully functioning, totally successful homemade black out blinds which were a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest actual blinds. Win. They have yet to magically turn the kids into children who sleep though, grrrr.

The Maths: 

Cheapest blackout roller blind from Homebase: £14.99 (including all the faff of drilling holes etc) Blackout curtain lining material + length of doweling = one DIY blind: £7.20

Trying to wear them out with a spot of rock climbing.

  1. Picture framing. Last year Mr B and I had a very unfrugal jaunt to Rio de Janeiro for a (CHILD FREE!!!) wedding. We brought back two unframed acrylics on canvas paintings as a souvenir. Being the money-wise (read: lazy) people we are, we haven’t actually had them stretched onto a frame. We know proper framing places are reasonably costly, so instead of enjoying our souvenirs and seeing them on the walls somewhere, they have been languishing in whichever room happens to be the current ‘dumping ground’. Until now! It was Mr B’s turn to pull his finger out. He made a manly trip to Homebase and returned with wood and nails. A few weekends later, we had two proper, actual, can-hang-on-a-wall pictures! Ta da!

The Maths (this one’s not very mathematical…):

Proper picture framing by professional people: £50? We had another canvas framed a few more years ago so I’m assuming around the same price. Wood and nails and some drawing pins that were lying around at home: Significantly less £ than 50 (I forgot to keep track…)

  1. Asparagus. This one is a bit dubious tbh but never mind. We have an asparagus bed in our garden. Actual asparagus grows in our flowerbed then we cut it and eat it. Now, honestly, we are not in the habit of buying much asparagus so the money saved is minimal, but we don’t even have to buy it on those rare occasions when we might be tempted. This was a random whim of Mr B’s when we (he) filled in the mammoth pond* and we (he) created a raised flower bed. He went to the garden centre and came back with a few things on a ‘whim’. One of the ‘whims’ was a blueberry bush. That died. Another was an asparagus plant. That survived. I was sceptical at first and neither of us really knew what to do with it. We did a bit of goolgling and then proceeded to ignore it for six months or so. It seems to have flourished under our inattention and each year since has produced a regular supply of asparagus. By regular supply I mean it reliably produces enough to feed half a person every two weeks. We tend to have one reasonly sized spear each, about once a fortnight. Not quite self sufficient yet…..

Current ‘Whims’ of Mr B:

Four french bean plants. Two butternut squash plants.

This mornings asparagus haul. Awe inspiring isn’t it?

4. Being ill. Although I didn’t get to do lots of inexpensive fun things over the Easter Holidays, I didn’t spend any money either. I was even feeling too ill to drag the kids to the local shop (a nano minutes drive away) and re-plen our paracetamol and lemsip supplies which had been completely depleted. This, I suppose, is a good thing. But also it was a pretty rubbish thing.

5. To save money I really recommend NOT househunting somewhere that is six counties away, and therefore never less than 4 hours away by car. The amount we have spent on petrol is really depressing and has basically eaten up our savings potential for this month. Bummers.

6. Student loans. Mr B has managed the unthinkable and paid off his student loan! 10 years and a whopping goodness knows how many £s later, we are debt free (apart from a mortgage but we’ll ignore that for now). Well done that man.

There you have it. Slightly more than the three things I advertised but I’ve never been terribly good with numbers. I am aware that I haven’t posted anything for a while but this is for a good reason. At the moment my brain power (and very limited small child nap time) is currently deployed on writing a real grown up business plan for a glamping business. Now, we are nowhere near to actually starting anything just yet, but we thought the best way to get an idea of the reality of our plan was by having something vaguely formal, which includes things like a Marketing Strategy and Financial Forecasts. I have just finished the rather demoralising Competitor Analysis so fancied a change of tone and wrote this instead. There are scary, nerve racking, exciting things afoot in the Blackberry household (no third babies involved just to make it clear…) but I can’t reveal anything as I am terrified of jinxing it.

That’s it for now, I need to go and lie down in a darkened room as my nerves are shot to pieces. Luckily, I know just the place – those blinds are working a treat!

*as in a big pond. Not an actual mammoth pond.

4 thoughts on “Three ways we’ve saved money by DIYing it.

  1. Mr. B

    Total cost of framing the painting: One trip to Homebase, £5.98 for 2x lengths of wood, realising that you already had a piece of wood at home, another trip to Homebase and claim back £2.99…..

    1. Blackberry Mummy Post author

      Thanks!! Although I realised I’d totally forgotten about my student loan which is sitting around getting larger as I’ve never paid any off…but err, never mind!


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