Keep Your Money – Ongoing Article

One thing I love about being handy is that if there’s something you need or want and don’t have the money to buy it… you can generally make it, trade for it, borrow it, or find a workaround for it.

It doesn’t just stop there, when it comes to purchasing materials the same idea applies. There’s not always a need to spend a ton of money on perfectly straight pieces of lumber when you can glue and clamp it together to get the same or in some cases even better looking results. 3D printer filament is the same way; I’ve used the $5 a roll stuff and achieved better results than I have with the $60 a roll stuff. It all boils down to thinking outside of the box, and to do that you have to get in a totally different mindset and start to ask the question “Why is there even a box?”.

My goal for this bit here is to create an ongoing article of tips and advice for saving money and keeping it in your pocket so that if you want to go spend it on something, you can. I’ll try to add to this each week and who knows, maybe at some point turn it into a video series for YouTube or a book !!! As I said though, the overall goal is to keep your money and quit wasting it on things you really don’t need to buy unless you absolutely have to, can’t live without it, and the world will end if you don’t get it.

Starting off this article we’re going to check out the lumber discards at the local Home Depot ( Not sponsored, I just really like to shop to there !!! ).

Entry 11-8-19: Culled Lumber from Hardware Stores – By and far one of the greatest things I’ve been able to do the past year is save money on lumber by purchasing culled lumber from Home Depot that’s 70% off the normal price; sometimes more depending on how long it sits on the cart.

Culled Lumber is stuff that gets pulled off the racks because it has cracks, splits, tire tracks, nails, twists, curves, and in some cases no obvious defects at all. As I’ve been told, there’s a little guy that runs through the store at night and pulls this stuff and puts it on the cart for me to buy each morning. Whoever he is and whatever his name is, I love him !!!

I have gone to the Home Depot just to check out the culled lumber cart and the stuff I have found some days just blows my mind. For example, 4’x8′ sheet of VERY high grade plywood with a chipped corner, still 98% usable wood. The sheet is normally like $50.00 but I snagged it for $8.00 !!! I’ve purchased 16′ long 2″x4″ boards that had tire tracks on them for twenty cents each. There’s no limit to the insanity this cart of lumber provides.

Now, if you need lumber this is NOT a reliable source for it as you literally never know what you will find on it. I recently picked up a whole bunch of 1″x1″ boards that had ends any hockey player would be jealous of, meaning they were severely warped on the end. There was still 10′ of good straight wood and they cost me sixty-five cents a piece. Don’t know what I’m going to do with them but hey, there’s a future project for sure. I’ve been fortunate enough to get nice plywood, particle board, MDF, sheet rock, and all other kinds of lumber and building materials there.

If you can save money on the materials you need to build something with, then you get to keep money in your pocket. Taking some curved 2″x4″ boards and gluing them and clamping together to make some nice straight beams or table tops is a great way to save money and give a project character. Might mean a little more elbow grease, but that’s quite literally free ( unless you have ashy elbows ).

In closing, check your local Home Depot or that “L” place and see what they have for culled lumber. Usually they have a cart in the middle of one of the aisles and at Home Depot here they put a bit of purple spray paint on it or a stamp that says “Culled Lumber 70% Off”. Save some money, grab a burger and smile knowing you just scored.

OH !!! Before I forget, remember to take a truck…. I’ve gone there before with the Corolla and had to load it up, go back, get the truck, and load it up before because there was so much stuff on the cart. BE PREPARED !!!

It’s that time, and this week we’re going to put our cell phones to use and make them work for us by pulling them out our pockets to help keep our money in our pockets !!!

Entry 11-15-19: Coupon and Stacking Coupons – This all started back when I was doing smaller craft projects due to my living arrangements and I was getting things from Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Joann’s. My wife and I learned that those three place accept each others coupons. What makes it really nice is that on any given day at least one or two of those stores has a coupon for 40%-50% off a single item !!!

So how does this fit into what I’m doing now? Well all three stores have small sections for woodworking and carry adhesives, magnets, stains, sealers, sandpaper, felt, and just all kind of little things that can be used on the larger projects I work on these days. In particular, Hobby Lobby has a rather large spray paint selection in addition to selling basic resin casting kits which can be used to create inlays in wood. Take a can of spray paint at $7.00 and apply a 50% off coupon to it and it’s now tree-fiddy which makes the Loch Ness Monster happy. This comes in really handy when the resin casting kits are $40.00 and you can snag them for $20.00.

The idea here is to plan your trip out and hit several stores on the same day. When we do it I generally have a group of projects in mind and we go to purchase the supplies for all of them which we generally have to hit all three of the craft stores to get everything.

If you get on your cell phone and go to Google Play or whatever else you use, you can download the apps for Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Joann’s. You can also sign up for their newsletters and they’ll send you even more coupons which can be combined with the ones in the app for even more savings.

Now there’s a method you need to follow here for this to really pay off.

1. Make multiple purchases, meaning that you need to put your high dollar purchases together into one purchase in order to get the most savings because the coupons only get applied to the lowest priced item you have when you checkout.

2. Only get as many items as you have coupons for, if you don’t have a coupon to save money on something, come back and get it later.

3. Bring a friend/spouse who can make purchases with you, the idea is to just get as much as possible, with as many coupons as possible. My wife has a card which also pulls from my account so we’re using the same money and it really helps when we’re out doing supply runs.

As you’re checking out make sure to scan the Hobby Lobby coupon for the 40% off a single item, followed by the Joann’s discount usually the same, and then the Michael’s discount off a single item or a discount off your entire purchase.

Finish your purchase and then head off to the next store. Once you’re finished with the three store, do it again if you need to. We’re fortunate enough that we have two Michael’s around us so we can hit one in town and one on the way home which works out in case we forgot something. Same goes for Harbor Freight which I’ll talk about in a few.

Something to be aware of, don’t think you’re going to walk in there and get a new Cricut at 40% off. These are usually permanently on sale just so you can’t use a coupon on them and the coupons all specifically state they can only be uses on regularly priced items.

So yeah, Harbor Freight, another store I absolutely love. People love to trash talk this place and say the tools are crap but I’ve only had one bad tool from there and I took it back and they gave me a new one and it’s been fine ever since… that was 9 years ago so yeah, I’m happy.

There’s a coupon app for Harbor Freight you can download onto your phone and I believe off the top of my head it’s called Harbor Freight Coupons ( how original right? ). Anyhow, I think it’s run by someone who loves to save other people money because it’s constantly updated with coupons we don’t get in our area but work at out local stores. Anyhow let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Get this app on your phone. You’ll also want to sign up for the newsletter on their website and include your cell phone number and LET THEM SEND YOU TEXTS !!!! This is important because last month I got a coupon code sent to me for 60% off a single item texted to me. You also need to go on their website and sign up to get their monthly tool porn magazine sent to you which is loaded with lots of coupons.

Now depending on the cashiers you have working at your local Harbor Freight, you can score some really sweet deals. There’s a coupon or two that give you 20% off a single item, and sometimes depending on the cashier, you can use several of these in one purchase. If the cashier is a dink you’ll have to make multiple passes through the line. There’s also other coupons to look out for that say 30% off a single item $10 or less with a limit of 5. This is great for things like casters which I use on my shop carts. It basically lets me double the number of casters I can get for $10. Last week I got a set of spade bits marked at $9.99 and some wire brushes marked at $2.99 and paid $7.49 for both and was pleased.

Now the big box stores don’t generally have insane and wacky coupons but every once in a while you’ll see some nice savings come around. I find it best to just watch the circulars and commercials for anything that catches my eye. And with the holidays coming up it’s going to be time to snag some great deals on all kinds of power tools. I’m hoping to get a lot more Ryobi and Wen in the shop !!!

There you have it, another great way to keep some money in your pocket. This is something my wife even did a college paper on and scored an “A+” with and the whole class was pulling out their phones to look for coupons, it was great. This doesn’t just apply to craft stores, do your own research and see what you can combine and save with.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy another day off so save some money, grab a burger and smile knowing you just scored.

As promised, this week I’m going to tell you how to get some free lumber for nothing more than putting some gas in the truck and driving around asking local businesses.

Entry 11-19-19: Scoring Free Lumber – As I teased at the end of last weeks entry I said we were not going to spend any money aside from gas in the truck and we were going to score some free lumber. Well… mission accomplished, and exceeded. Not only did I get some free lumber, but I also have a renewable source AND another source to visit next week for some even nicer lumber !!!

What did I do you might ask???

Well, I have been on YouTube and watching videos about these folks reclaiming wood and lumber from pallets. Simple enough you might think right? Nope, with everyone out trying it sources are getting scarce BUT there is hope and all you have to do is ask !!!

There’s a place I was driving past almost every day and I kept seeing this pile of pallets growing and growing so I finally decided to go in ask them if I could have some and the guy explained to me that since I was the first person to actually ask for them, I was more than welcome to take all I wanted and keep coming back. The problem they had was people just assuming they were trash and grabbing the pallets behind the store, including the ones that they were required to keep to send things back to their vendors on; The store was running people off and telling them no because they weren’t asking which in my book is just rude not to ask. So score one for me, all I did was ask politely and I was richly rewarded. And to boot, some of the pallets are oak and maple I noticed so even sweeter !!!

Now my second score this week comes from a local restaurant that is being remodeled and I noticed they have some large fixtures outside in rather large wooden crates made from rather nice lumber. After I loaded up the truck with all the pallets from the previous score I headed to said restaurant and politely asked the foreman about if I could have the lumber from the crates when they break them down and he said sure, come back next week and we’ll have it in a pile for you.

So boom… two sources of lumber in one day and it cost me nothing more than politely asking for it.

So what shall we do next week… I’m thinking something wild and way off the wall… should I tease you with it? Give you a spoiler? What if I told you that what you thought was real wasn’t actually real and that there was an alternate universe, one that you could control? One that would help you keep money in your pocket? Would you pick the red pill or the blue pill?

You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Entry 11-26-19: Making Your Own Tools and Accessories – With the holidays fast approaching I decided to get an early jump on this entry because I think it’s a very useful tactic to getting around some of the roadblocks you may be having in your workshop.

As I learn new things and expand my knowledge I’m frequently introduced to new tools, some of these tools cost hundreds of dollars and in some cases even thousands. Unfortunately I haven’t won the lottery or had a rich relative leave me their fortune so I’m a bit short when it comes to heading over to the big box stores and getting these tools. But there is hope…

It’s well known that I frequent YouTube a LOT, and in doing so I see lots of really neat designs and you guessed it… do it yourself tools. There are people who take everyday hand tools and turn them into larger machines to do far more than they were ever designed to do. There’s also some people who have designed templates and patterns for making things like bandsaws and tablesaws that work better, and offer more functionality than the name brand tools. This just reinforces to me that if there is a will, then there is a way.

Now I’m going to skimp on this entry some and instead of going in depth on just what you can you build, I’ll get the ball rolling by providing you some links to channels on YouTube to people that I follow and have good videos and I feel can help you save money in your shop.

These channels are not listed in any sort of ranking or order so please feel free to browse them and if you like them then make sure to subscribe to them over on YouTube.

And this my friends is not by any sense of the word a complete list, just goto YouTube and type in “DIY Tool” and see what you find, when you find someone you like, check out their channel and watch their other videos as well and then move on to someone else and keep going. Some of these people even overlap and do projects together or improve and compliment designs from other makes they’ve seen on YouTube.

So what are you waiting for, get over there and get to learning then head out in the shop this weekend and get to making stuff !!! If you’re looking for where to buy some simple hand tools to repurpose, it’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday… need I say more ??? There’s also thrift stores and garage sales where you can score some great old tools on the cheap. I know one of my upcoming projects will be turning an old drill I have into a small wood lathe so keep an eye out for that.

Update 01-05-2020: Due to a series of unfortunate events involving my wife I haven’t been able to keep up to date on this as planned. I have however kept it in my thoughts and I still do intend to pick this back up as soon as possible. In the works are a week off coming up mid-January as well as a couple of 4 day weekends off. Part of the problem is, I’ve become quite dependable at work and therefore I’m a valued asset and get called upon to assist at not only my location but others, so my days off are not always mine and are sometimes not always set in stone. So please bear with me as I tend to my family.