Today, my wife and I spent an hour at a bookstore waiting to meet some acquaintances. As I usually do, I browsed the magazine rack looking for current personal finance magazines when my eyes stumbled upon Make. For those unfamiliar, Make is a relatively new magazine that focuses exclusively on do-it-yourself technology projects, something that I was extremely passionate about at one point in my life.
Ordinarily, I might glance at an issue of such a magazine, go “Hmmm…,” and put it back on the shelf, but one thing made me pay attention: in the lower right of the cover, it said “The $5 Guitar Amp.” Given my musical interests, my technology interests, and my frugality interests, it almost became inevitable that I picked up the magazine and found the article.
And I fell in love. Here’s why.
Almost all of the articles focus on doing things yourself. This is basically one of the fundamental principles of frugal living: doing things yourself to save money. Even if the items made aren’t useful, they are great in the sense that they are about self-reliance, and you can learn new things by doing them. The entire magazine is little else.
Most of the articles have very little expense. As I mentioned, the cover of issue #9 mentions a $5 guitar amp. Many of the projects only require stuff laying around the house or garage. For example, one article explains how to make a stellar hammock out of an old bedsheet and two pieces of vinyl rope. Another one shows how to make a rather elegant coffee table out of plywood. If you’re a photo enthusiast, there’s a great ten page description of how to build your own pinhole camera out of, well, a lot of inexpensive bits.
These projects are great to do by yourself or with others. The magazine’s instructions are detailed enough that you can do most of the stuff alone, but also interesting enough that you can easily involve others. I look forward to doing a lot of these types of things with my son when he gets older.
Almost no ads. Whenever I read magazines, I get sick of the ads. I counted nine pages of ads in this 192 page issue. ’nuff said.
There is one big drawback, though: it’s rather expensive. The cover price is $14.95 an issue for the magazine. However, the content is so spot-on that I am considering a subscription to the magazine in the future.
If you have some spare time and are interested in technology and frugality, I’d highly recommend checking out Make’s web site as it includes a ton of supplementary material to the magazine, as well as more projects and ideas.