As a creative soul, I dreamed of getting a Cricut for a while. I pinned endless blog posts about amazing creations but figured it wouldn’t ever be for me. That is until I found a way to get it affordably and start creating without spending a ton of money.
Now I love my Cricut and can’t imagine not having it. I’ve made my family tons of cute things, I made nearly all of last year’s Christmas presents with it, and I’m even making a little money on custom shirts.
If you’re dreaming of getting a jump on your Cricut dream, try some of these ways to do it on a cheapskate’s budget.
This post contains affiliate links, which allow me to receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase. All opinions are authentic and my own. These are all reliable products I actually use.
Don’t Pay Full Price For Your Cricut
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Cricuts are expensive. At full price, you’ll pay $230-$250 for the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine by itself. And a nice starter bundle with tools, mats, and pens will cost at least $280 depending on the extras.
1- Buy Secondhand
I paid $200 for my Cricut Explore Air 2 and it came with mats, tools and some vinyl. How? Secondhand baby! I stalked Facebook Marketplace ads for weeks until I found a gorgeous pale pink one in nearly new condition with all those extra goodies included. The woman who sold it to me was like lots of people… she bought the machine with grand plans then watched it sit there and collect dust. Those tortured souls could be your ticket to big savings. You just have to be patient and check resale sites often. Even better, set up search notifications so you will be the first to know when they’re posted.
2- Wait For A Sale
Cricut machines do go on sale, though it’s rare in my experience. This strategy also takes patience and stalking the Cricut website and Amazon. Sign up for any deal alerts you can find.
3- Ask For It As A Gift
I have a couple of girlfriends who got theirs this way. They dropped lots of not-so-subtle hints to their husbands around Christmas, and Santa came through.
Only Buy What You Need Up Front
In the beginning, I was really overwhelmed at how much stuff I thought I needed to buy. There are a bajillion Cricut related products. But you don’t need to buy them all, and you don’t even need that many to get started. Here are some starter essentials.
You’ll need this to put your vinyl on for cutting. There are three types of 12×12 mats, plus oversized mats for bigger projects. For starters get a green, standard grip mat. You can branch out to different mats as you get comfortable cutting different types of material. But even with different materials, I tend to stick to one mat all the time.
2- Weeding Tool
There are a lot of tools you can get and they come in nice sets, that I would actually recommend buying up front because they’re a good value. But one of the two tools you’ll absolutely need to start with is the weeding tool. This will help you pick out and pull up all the vinyl you don’t need in your design.
The second tool I would say is essential is the scraper. You use this to smooth out your vinyl on the mat before cutting, as well as smooth out the design on the surface you’re sticking it to.
4- Transfer Tape
If you’re working with ‘sticky vinyl’ on things like cups or notebooks, you’ll need transfer tape. You put this on your design in order to transfer it from the cutting mat to the item you’re putting it on.
I put this near the end of the list because this is where you can start having some fun picking colors. Amazon has tons and tons of options for sticky vinyl (cups) and heat transfer vinyl (shirts). I would recommend starting out with a bundle of various colors to play around with. And you’ll need several because you will mess up the first few projects. It’s ok, it happens to everyone. It’s part of the learning process.
Now that you have your vinyl and tools, you can get some shirts and cups and things to start creating! My advice would be to start out with cheap items that you won’t be heartbroken if they get ruined. Buy blank t-shirts and cups and mugs at thrift stores or dollar stores so you won’t be out a lot of money if you make a mistake, but if you nail it, you’ll be happy with it too.
P.S. I know you’re totally going to nail it. 🙂
Buy Other Supplies When You Can
1- More Vinyl & Blanks
When you get some practice projects under your belt, you can branch out to other tools and items when you have the money. The first thing is to buy more vinyl and blanks. This is when you can really start having some fun and wowing your family and friends!
2- Glitter Vinyl!
And if you’ve been practicing with regular HTV (heat transfer vinyl), now is the time to try glitter! It is so easy to work with, I like using it much better than regular HTV. And it’s so gorgeous!
You can also buy pens for some cool paper projects. This is something that a lot of people don’t even realize they can do with their Cricut. You can create name tags, gift tags, greeting cards… and I address all my Christmas cards with the Cricut pens. It makes them look like I spent a lot more money on them than I really did.
Buy Only Reliable, Top Quality Supplies
A big money waster is buying unreliable vinyl. It’s also a big time waster if it ruins your project. There are pretty much two industry standards for vinyl:
Siser Easyweed for HTV &
Oracal 651 for sticky vinyl.
Lots of different companies and smaller sellers carry this brand, so you’re able to find it anywhere. My favorite place to get standard vinyl and HTV is Amazon. The selection and prices are great. I’ve also used patterned HTV from Etsy sellers and high-end holographic glitter HTV from a boutique seller. I was happy with the results so I know I can trust them from now on.
If You Decide To Go Pro
When you’re comfortable with your Cricut and think you might like to start selling, here are a few pro tools that are a must for professional quality designs.
1- Heat Press
If you’re going to be selling shirts, even to family and friends, you’ll need to invest in a heat press. Your home iron will not be enough to produce top-quality that lasts. But this is a serious decision, because heat presses, like Cricuts, are not cheap. You can expect to spend around $150 or more for a good press. The link below is the heat press I bought and personally use with great results.
2- Tee Square It
Save yourself tons of headaches and hours of painstakingly repositioning shirt designs, by getting the Tee Square It tool. It is a lifesaver and was a total game changer when I finally got one. It lines up multiple shirt points for you at the same time to ensure you’re getting a well-placed design.