Frugal Uses for a Camera
If you don't already have one, buy yourself a camera. Buy your mom a camera. Buy your kid a camera.
I know that writing on a frugal living website, I can receive a lot of flack for encouraging you to buy something, especially something as potentially expensive as a camera. But more and more, cameras (by which, these days, I mean digital cameras) are one of those tools that easily pay for themselves by helping you achieve other frugal goals. (See also: How to Really Save Money When You Shop)
Here's how a camera fits in with other common frugal advice.
Valuing Experiences Over Stuff
From birthdays to vacations, one of the most common frugal tips is to spend money on experiences instead of things. But, that said, if I travel somewhere amazing, I want something to remember it by. Photographs can provide more vivid, lasting memories than any t-shirts or tchotchkes, and they can always be printed and displayed.
Generating Side Income
Not every source of side income is going to require photographs, but if you're making something for sale on Etsy, reviewing local restaurants, or finding antiques at yard sales to sell on eBay, a decent camera can easily pay for itself.
Teaching Kids Financial Values
When I was young, a simple point-and-shoot camera was the first "big ticket" item I owned. Giving a kid a camera can be a great way to teach about taking care of things so they last, as well as valuing experiences over stuff. If you feel like getting your kid a film camera, only having 24 or 36 shots on a roll of film can also provide a great lesson about conserving what you have (as 11-year-old Meg could tell you with her several photographs of squirrels at the Grand Canyon).
Making Informed Purchases
Taking a picture of a product and showing it to your significant other or someone else for feedback can help your decision-making process. Cameras are also great for protecting yourself in the case of pre-existing damage to something you've bought. Check out Julie's article on more practical uses for a digital camera.
Do you use a camera to save you money? If so, share how in the comments! Don't have a camera, and have no idea what to look for in one? Check out our digital camera buying guide.