Creativity Saves You Money

Creativity can save you money in many different ways - not only by occupying your time, but also by meeting your intrinsic needs.  This blog post below details my thoughts on this topic.

Opportunity cost

My first point is very straightforward. If you are busy crafting or creating a work of art, then you're not going to be spending money doing something else (more expensive) at that point in time. This is a basic economic concept: using your time one way means that you cannot be doing another activity which would have a different economic outcome at the same time. Unless you're doing a creative activity which is particularly costly, (bronze sculpture?  making high cost jewellery?) you will be saving money by NOT participating in an activity which involves spending money - such as eating out or having drinks.

Printing Up Train Tracks

Of course, it will be necessary to make some investment in buying the tools for your art or craft, and to replace materials as you use them. However, this cost, spread over the number of hours you will use them, will likely not amount to much. Even the initial monetary impact of high cost items, if you commit to a craft, will be reduced over a period of time. I first bought my printing press in 2008. It was a significant commitment - £600 - but I have now owned that printing press for 10 years and hand printed well over 1000 prints on it now (including my Train Tracks shown above). If we assume that I have printed 1000 prints since 2008, this amounts to a measly 60 pence a print, and my press has cost me £60 a year. In comparison with the cost of eating out once a week, for example, this is minimal.

More Importantly - Your Intrinsic Needs

When thinking about how creativity can save you money, it is important to consider how art and crafting activities can meet your intrinsic needs. Johann Hari explores this in his book Lost Connections. Intrinsic motives are things you do purely because you get value from them in and of themselves - not because you get anything material out of them. Extrinsic values represent things you are motivated to do because you'll get something in return - such as money, admiration, sex or superior status.  Personally, I have three main reasons for creating my art. These are:

  • To create something beautiful
  • To learn how to do something new or apply my skills to a new project
  • To literally make my mark and create something which didn't exist before.


In doing this I make myself feel lots of different things:

  • Happy
  • Satisfied
  • Proud
  • Challenged
  • Stimulated
  • Focused

The swallow print below, for example, is one of the best things I've ever created - I cannot tell you the pleasure it brought me when I peeled back the paper from the linocut.

Swallow Preening

I'm doing something meaningful, for me, and it can only come out of MY head. Participating in a creative activity is so powerful in meeting your intrinsic needs, it means you do not have to spend money on different activities to make you happy in other ways. You don't need to buy something to make you feel happier on a short term basis, such as purchasing a new outfit or a new pair of shoes. You feel content, so you don't need to look to external, costly factors to achieve validation.

Health Benefits - Leading to Quality of Life and Related Savings

If you participate in creative activities which are meaningful to you, your health will benefit. Hari highlights that people who achieve their intrinsic goals become significantly happier, less depressed and anxious.  Other health benefits can be observed, including lower blood pressure,  a boost to the brain’s functionality, improvements to the immune system,  and combating fatigue. To my mind, this increases your resilience and develops protective factors. You don't feel such a pull to (ab expensive) short-term boost to your feelings and confidence, by drinking, taking drugs or gambling.  Ultimately, this will save you money in terms of maintaining your health, reducing your need to pay for medication, and increasing your ability to work.

Printing Up Red Hens

Selling your Work

Finally, there is the very obvious point that you can save money by selling your work! This is a huge topic in itself, so I won't write about in detail here. However, in my experience, making the decision to sell your work takes it to a whole different level which may or may not lead to a net increase in your income - and your happiness levels. But if you're successful at it, then of course, this is another example of your creativity saving you money by making you money. (For me, my Red Hens are a best seller). For me however, I think the potential for a creative activity to save you money by meeting your intrinsic needs is far more important. It also means that this precious activity does not stray into the realm of extrinsic needs.

What about you question mark is it your experience that your creativity can save you money?

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