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Frugal Living & Freebies

Scrappin' on a Shoestring: Budget Scrapbooking Techniques
by Kimberly Danger
For those of you who've caught the scrapbooking bug, you know that it can be addicting. Just like any addiction, it can also be expensive. Having been a scrapbooker for over ten years and a cheapskate even longer, I have found a few ways to keep you from spending every penny you own on your hobby.

It all starts with the photos
Don't be afraid to use generic film. Most off-brand films are made by the same manufacturer as name-brand films but are packaged differently. For example, Kirkland film featured at off-price retailers such as Costco is made by AGFA (considered high-quality). Buying in multi-packs can also help you save. Check your local Costco, Sam's Club or Wal-Mart stores for the best pricing on film processing.

Go digital
If you end up tossing or not using a lot of film prints, consider going digital. Digital images can be deleted from your camera, allowing you to only print the best images. The price for processing digital prints keeps going down. Online processing places like Snapfish, Shutterfly, PhotoWorks, and Kodak Gallery also offer free prints to new customers. In most cases, it's less expensive to order online than print at home or order in-store.

Use internet sites for ideas. Rather than buying magazines for ideas, check out all the valuable online resources. Keep a notebook beside your computer to jot down ideas for layouts. Here are some of the best sites I've found:
http://www.dmarie.com
http://www.twopeasinabucket.com
http://www.memorymakersmagazine.com

Take advantage of scrapbooking store facilities
Check to see if your favorite stores have cropping facilities. Many have crop nights or rooms in the back for you to work on your pages while you shop. You will waste less money on paper you don't use if you buy as you go along. Plus, you can match your photos to the supplies you are going to use in your layout.

Look for papers and embellishments in out-of-the-way places
Who says you have to buy your supplies at specialty stores? Acid-free papers can be found at office supply stores for a fraction of the price. Low-price retailers like Wal-Mart and K-Mart can be great sources for stickers. Invest in a pen that tells you whether or not paper is acid free. Test gift wrap, magazines, greeting cards, and any other decorative paper to see if it is safe to use in your scrapbooking projects. If you're unsure whether or not the object is acid-free, don't place it next to a photo in your layout.

Make your own templates
Make your own templates by tracing items you may have around the house. Get a piece of sturdy cardboard and then trace the item on it. Use an X-acto knife to cut out the shape. Michaels also has "free activity sheets" that you can find in the scrapping section.

Organize
If you can't find it, you're not going to be able to use it. Make sure that all your supplies are easily accessible and easily viewed. File folders are great for separating your papers by color, use Ziplocks to store stickers by theme, and page protectors for storing any pages-in-progress. There are some great plastic storage chests available at stores like Wal-Mart of Target. Or, just use a filing case.

Get inspired
Carry a small notebook around in your purse and write down anecdotes, important events, and the latest thing your child has done. They can be a great source of inspiration when you go to create your next layout. You may even want to shoot some photos to match these funny sayings.

Clip coupons, shop sales
Check your Sunday paper for the Michaels coupons that let you save 40%-50% on one item. JoAnn Fabrics has the same kind of coupon when you sign up for their mailing list.

Use the buddy system
The best thing for beginning scrappers is to get together with some friends. Share your tools as well as your ideas. Shop for supplies with a friend; buy in bulk and split the cost. Know a teacher? Most schools or districts have Ellison die cut machines. If you know a teacher who will let you in or volunteer for your child's teacher, you can also cut your own.

Host a party
There are all sorts of scrapping supplies available through at-home consultants like Creative Memories and Scrap in a Snap. They can be a fun way to get some of your friends together, learn some new techniques, and earn some free merchandise!

Use your computer
Instead of die-cuts and stickers, print out graphics from your computer. You can print them out onto regular acid-free paper, or even buy paper with adhesive backing. There are also some great fonts that can be downloaded from the internet. They can be a great substitute for letter stickers, and a great help for those who don't like their own handwriting!

Save your scraps!
Frames from die cuts can be used again; either as a mat for a photo or as a die cut itself. The frame can also be used as scrap paper for small paper punches. Even the tiniest bit of paper can be used later. Try the new mosaic pages where squares of different colors of paper are pieced together to create an interesting design. the perfect way to use up that extra paper!

About the Author:
Kimberly Danger is the owner/publisher of Mommysavers.com, an online resource for parents interested in saving time and money. She is the author of 1000 Best Baby Bargains. Ms. Danger lives in Southern Minnesota with her husband and two kids.

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