1. Daily deals. Sign up to receive almost daily emails from Peachy Cheap, Scrapbook Steals, and Crafty Steals. Most days they send out an email with a deeply discounted scrapbook product that is only available until they sell out. The products are from popular manufacturers (e.g., American Crafts, Sassafras, My Minds Eye, Fancy Pants). If you don’t want emails, you can fan these companies on facebook and see what deals they have that day in your newsfeed.
2. Start a blog. You can start a blog for nearly free (you do need access to a computer or a smart phone and an internet connection). You can upload your photos and share your stories online. You could do this instead of creating a conventional scrapbook. You can even get your blog printed up into a book.
3. Shop smart. Hobby Lobby routinely deeply discounts segments of their scrapbooking merchandise, watch the advertisements and then stock up in the section that is discounted. I stock up on thickers whenever they discount stickers by 50%. Another place to check is Big Lots. Big Lots is hit or miss but I’ve snagged Basic Grey chipboard there before.
4. Opt-in. Get on snail and email mailing lists and like your favorite stores and brands on facebook or follow them on twitter. You will get the scoop on sales and possibly coupons from your favorite retailers.
5. Swap. Organize a swap with your scrapbooking friends. I have always been hesitant of actually doing this because I don’t really want to end up with a bunch of junk so make sure you lay down some ground rules (e.g., age of the items, cost of the items, number of items).
6. Alter the supplies you already own. You can use ink (from a stamp pad or alcohol ink) to change the color of ribbon. You can use embossing powder to change the color of a brad. You can use paint to change the color of a button. Use your imagination and experiment!
7. Keep it simple. I can’t recall where I read it, but a scrapbooker whose blog I follow routinely uses kraft color cardstock. I think this is brilliant. Select a couple basic cardstock colors (kraft, black, white) and build your pages around these basics. You can then purchase the cardstock in bulk and save a bit of money. You also won’t waste your money buying cardstock colors you might never use. And your pattern paper will coordinate with any of these basic colors. This method would also help you save money on letter stickers if you stick to a couple basic colors. Your embellishments almost always will coordinate with basics like kraft, black, and white.
8. Use actual scraps. When I got into scrapbooking, the scrapbooking mantra was “make sure you use acid-free materials.” Acidity will destroy what you are creating over time. This is important if you have items that you want to preserve as long as possible—like photographs developed from film (i.e., you only have one copy of the print) and can not be replaced. In the digital era, this is less important. You can more easily scan the photo if it is from film and now you have a back-up of the print and I would encourage anyone who is about to use these types of photos in their scrapbook to get them scanned and backed up digitally first. I just sent off a box of negatives to have scanned at scancafe.com. If you are using photos that you have digital copies of, why not use whatever scraps you have on hand? Use tags from clothing (instead of selling or donating some of my daughter’s clothing, I am tearing off the colorful buttons and any other items that can used as an embellishment). Use pieces of cards (you might have a stack of Christmas or birthday cards, you’re not quite sure what to do with). Use what you already have.
9. Invest in a set of stamps or a personal die-cutting machine to use for letters instead of stickers. No more excess X’s and Z’s! Using stamps is definitely more affordable of the two options, but you might find a personal die-cutting machine worth the expense. If you have a friend or family member who is a scrapbooker, maybe you could split the cost of a personal die-cutting machine to share (will work best if you actually crop together).
10. Limit unitasker tools. If a scrapbook tool can only do one thing, decide if you really need it. You might even already have a tool that will work. For instance, I only bought a paper piercer when Tim Holtz created one that is retractable. I used a thumb tack up to that point. The thumb tack does the same thing…I was really swayed by the fact Tim Holt’z craft pick is retractable. Alton Brown and Erin Doland have discussed unitasker tools much more extensively, but consider what a tool really will do for you before spending the money on it.