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Scrapbooking on a Low Budget

Updated on April 19, 2012
Scrapbooking magazines like "Creating Keepsakes" are an invaluable source of inspiration.
Scrapbooking magazines like "Creating Keepsakes" are an invaluable source of inspiration.

Written by: Jaclyn Popola

Scrapbooking is a lot of fun but it tends to be an expensive hobby. When I first started scrapping, I'd go into my local A.C. Moore or Joanne Fabrics, head for the scrapbook aisle and go crazy. If I allowed myself (which I did) I could easily spend $200 or more selecting paper, stickers, scissors, stamps and fibers. I was like a wild woman--and half of the stuff I never ended up using! Now, six years later, I know how to shop with a plan and I've picked up a ton of tricks and shortcuts that help me save money.

WAIT FOR SALES Big chain stores like A.C. Moore have sales every week. They'll usually offer 50% off paper, or 25% off stickers, and sometimes they'll even run specials on embellishments. Check the inserts in your newspaper for announcements and save your shopping until then. While there, also be on the lookout for a clearance section. Especially when the seasons are changing, stores will gather up the remnants of seasonal products that didn't sell and offer them for as much as 75% off.

ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED It's easy to get diverted. So many aisles, so many supplies, so many ideas and so much inspiration. That's why you have to have a plan. If you go wandering into the store half-cocked you'll end up buying anything that catches your eye, whether or not you need it. The scrapper's motto is, "Oh, this is so cute. I'm sure I can find something to use it on!" Newsflash: nine times out of ten, you won't. The product will just end up gathering dust.

Before you head out, there's two things you must do: 1.) have a goal and 2.) make a list. Decide what type of scrapbook page(s) you are going to be working on next--bridal shower, school days, birth announcement, trip to Barbados--and visualize what you want it to look like (sketching out your ideas helps). Make a list of the products you will need to complete the vision. Let's say you're planning on creating a page photodocumenting your bridal shower. You'll need love/bridal stickers, pale sophisticated papers, transparent vellum for an etheric touch, and slides to showcase your favorite gifts. Next, take stock of what you already have. I am continually amazed at how many duplicates I own. If you have a large collection, it's impossible to remember every single product you own, and if you're not careful you'll end up like me buying the same thing over and over because it's pretty. Make sure you don't already own any of the items on your list. If you do, cross that item off the list so you don't forget. Once you're in the store, don't let yourself get distracted! It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of oohing and aahing over new or never-before-seen products. Stay focused. You are on a mission, and you will not be deterred.

Tag stencil by Coluzzle
Tag stencil by Coluzzle
DON'T BUY WHEN YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN It's not as convenient as getting them pre-made, but there are a number of embellishments you can create on your own. Instead of buying tags, invest in a tag stencil template like the one shown here from Coluzzle and cut tags from your own paper. Using this stencil, you can also create your own shaker boxes. Cut out two identical tag shapes, cut a square into one, back it with transparent paper, attach the two pieces together using double sided adhesive photo mounts (you want there to be some room on the inside for the filler) and sprinkle glitter, sand or beads into the center.

I created my own shaker box for this layout using tiny beads, and added fibers for extra detail.
I created my own shaker box for this layout using tiny beads, and added fibers for extra detail.
ECONOMIZE Don't pay $1.99 or more for the tiny 3 yard spindle of fiber they sell in the scrapbooking aisle. Instead, head over to the knitting section and you'll be able to pick up a thick spool consisting of 98 yards for just a couple bucks. If you're looking for simple letter stickers, check out the drafting section in lieu of the scrapbooking aisle. You'll find black letter stickers in a variety of fonts and sizes for a fraction of the price.

Shop online for pricier essentials like a 12" x 12" paper trimmer or stacks of paper. You'll find great deals on the internet. has a great collection of paper sets, idea books and scrapbook kits for 40-60% off retail price. And of course you'll always find amazing deals on Ebay. Type "scrapbook lot" in the search box and you'll receive a list of over 2000 listings selling scrapbooking supplies in bulk. Home shopping networks like QVC also have deals from time to time. Check your local listings for their next scrapbooking show, or visit their online site at

If you're a fan of scrapbooking magazines like Creating Keepsakes or Paperkuts, sign up for a subscription rather than buying the issues individually at the store. You'll save 74%, and sometimes receive a free gift!

CONSERVE, CONSERVE, CONSERVE If you trim a 12x12 sheet of paper down to 8x11, don't throw away the remaining five inches just because it's not big enough to use as a background or photo mat. Instead, store your scraps in a folder and save them for another page. In the example below, I used various scraps as a space filler to go alongside my journaling.

Paper scraps can come in handy.
Paper scraps can come in handy.
Stay tuned for upcoming hubs: a primer in do-it-yourself scrapbooking techniques, cropping do's and don'ts, a guide to sketching out your layouts and more.


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    • nightcats profile image

      June Campbell 9 years ago from North Vancouver

      Good suggestions. I also try to save money on scrapbooking. I suggest using buttons, old jewelry, scraps of fabric or ribbon for embellishments.