Thursday, 5 February 2015

lets do some math (cards under $1)

 I think one of the concerns people have when it comes to craft is “How much is it going to cost?” It’s a totally legitimate concern. Most households in this economic climate are running on a budget (and if that doesn’t include you, would you mind picking up my tab this week at the grocery store!)
Looking at the huge array of crafting goods out there, it can seem overwhelmingly expensive. There are so many gizmos and gadgets, pretty papers, glitter, ribbon… its easy for a ‘wish list’ to become just that, a wish, not a reality.

I know that for me, I cannot afford to spend unlimited amounts of money on a whim. My husband and I both only work part time, as we like to spend the rest of our time volunteering. But so far, we haven’t managed to grow a money tree, so we do have to keep track of what we spend. 

Fortunately, I am a math nerd and I work as a bookkeeper. I can look back over the financial year and tell you exactly how much we have spent on pet food, or eating out (sadly more was spent on pet food). Part of it is that I like to know where our money is going, and part of it (this is really lame) is that I actually enjoy doing the math!

So when I started with Stampin’Up! I wanted to ensure that it wasn’t going to cost us more than we could afford, and so I came up with a spreadsheet to break down how much my cards were costing me. (I can hear you groaning… but stick with me here!)

How much would you normally spend on a card from a store? $5 for a basic greeting card, maybe up to $10 for a fancy one? How much do you think it costs to make a card using Stampin’Up! materials?
Well… lets do the math… (please note, these are the Australian prices… if you aren’t Aussie you might need to find a math nerd in your country)

I like to include an envelope in my costs, as a store bought card will usually include an envelope.
Stampin’Up! sell C6 envelopes (fit a 10cmx15cm card)  for $10.95 for 40. This works out at .27c per card.

For your card base (also assuming we are making a 10x15cm standard size card) you will need cardstock. Whisper White or Very Vanilla cardstocks come as a 40 pack of A4 for $14.95. You can get two cards per A4 sheet, which works out at .18c per card. If you want to go for a coloured card (any of the colour collections) you will spend 25c to 30c per card base, depending if you buy them as a set of all the colours in a collection, or individual colours

So basically you are getting your base card and envelope for about 45c – 55c each.

If you want to make a slightly smaller card (12.7cm x 8.9cm) you can go for the Note Card and Envelope sets. These work out at 50c per card and envelope. (pictured above)

Now we have to decorate the card. And yes, that can be the expensive part. But it doesn’t need to be!! You will need a few items ‘in the pantry’ so to speak. You will need at least 1 ink pad and 1 stamp set. When working out the cost of these though, you have to remember how much use you will get out of each item. And be savvy with what you buy. For instance, 1 black inkpad is $9.95. Imagine how many cards you can make with just black ink! That one ink pad could make you hundreds of cards, depending on the images you use.

Another great idea with ink, is to buy the range as a set. The ‘in colour’ ranges will match a huge array of products over a two year period (papers, ribbon etc.) You can buy all 5 ink pads (regularly $9.95 each) for $47.95 AND you get 20 sheets of cardstock free. Just because there are 50 ink pads in the catalogue doesn’t mean you NEED 50 inks upfront to make nice cards.

With stamps, think about what you will use MOST. For instance, I love the set A Dozen Thoughts. For the clear set it is $36.95, that works out at roughly $3 per stamp. From this one set, you can create cards for so many occasions. You may think, a dozen thoughts = a dozen occasions, but one of the stamps is ‘bravo!’ for instance. This could be used for a new job, a job promotion, starting a business, buying a house, doing well at school, passing an exam, fulfilling a dream of moving, travel etc etc.

If you had 1 ink pad (lets say black ink) and this one stamp set, that’s a start up cost of $46.90. If that was all you used, along with your card, envelope, and some papers (which we will talk about soon) how long do you think it would take you to absorb the cost? It is maybe 9-10 store bought cards (less if you spend more than $5 per card)

You might be thinking… “Yes, but I need stamps to decorate my card, and then I need to colour them in…” well, yeah, that is one way of making an awesome card, and if you want to buy stamps and markers there are 100s to choose from. But you can also make beautiful cards JUST USING patterned paper.

Stampin’Up! has sooo many beautiful papers. The designer series papers (DSP) come as a pack of 12 x 12” sheets for $18.95. (There are some others that are cheaper (Colour Collections) and more expensive (Specialty) so just check when you order) Each sheet is reversible. This works out at $1.58 per sheet for the normal DSP.

How many sheets of paper would you use on a card (well… how long is a piece of string!) But when you consider we are making a 10cmx15cm card, even if you were to cover the entire surface of the front of the card in DSP you would still be using only 1/6th of a sheet. So that’s 26c. Keep in mind that with 1 pack of DSP you have 12 different paper designs, so you could, for instance, cut a few strips out of different sheets, but still overall use 1/6th or less of a sheet all up)

If you want to get even more for your money, check out the clearance section for papers. (Hello my friend Clearance Rack) Recently I purchased the Patio Pool Party papers for $7.59. This works out at… 63c per sheet. So if I use a sixth of that paper on a card:

Whisper White base – 18c
C6 Envelope - 27c
DSP – 11c

That is only 56c, plus a little for ink and adhesive… lets be overly generous here and say its 70c per card. (Given image sizes vary and adhesive use varies, this would be hard to calculate exactly..)

Now you might want to add a bit of ribbon maybe? Again, definitely check out the clearance rack! But even at full price, ribbon is a really cost effective way of decorating a card. For instance, at full price the ¾” chevron ribbon is $15.95. You get 9.1m. So that’s roughly $1.80 per metre. If you put 15cm of ribbon across the front of your card, that works out at about 27c for a piece of ribbon. Considering you card has so far cost 70c, its still going to cost you just under $1.

Now you might think that all sounds well and good, but what does a card that costs under $1 look like.

Here are 2 examples:

 Card 1
Coloured cardstock base 20cm x 14cm 30c
White A6 envelope 27c
DSP approx. 15cm x 30cm
                Ordinarily would be 79c. This one was on Clearance so 32c

TOTAL= 89c, plus consumables (I have used adhesive, 2 ink pads and 1 stamp.)

Card 2:
Coloured cardstock base 15cm x 30cm
                Ordinarily 41c. I got my cardstock on the clearance rack so 20c
White C6 Envelope 27c
DSP approx.. 15cm x 30cm
                Ordinarily would be 79c. I got my paper on the clearance rack so 32c
Square of Coloured cardstock under sentiment/area to write: 12c (about 3/8th sheet)

TOTAL= 91c, plus consumables (I have used adhesive, 1 ink pad and 1 stamp.)
Please note: The prices are accurate at the time of my creating this post, but are ofcourse, subject to change. I cannot be held accountable for any errors, unforeseen or otherwise, in these calculations.

I am thinking of doing a bit of blog series on cheap cards. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in.

Love, Emilie


  1. Emilie this is a great article, well done for sitting down and doing the maths. I don't think that many people bother to do this and your very logical presentation really drives home the point that making cards does not have to be expensive! I think your idea of a blog series on cheap cards is brilliant - go for it!!! Cheers Pam Cowling.

  2. Some great points here Em! Thanks for all your research.