Frugality in practice: The DIY footrest

I've been working at home for a month now. I like it. The first week was a little scary, but the past few weeks have been immensely productive. I've caught up on e-mail. I've conducted and given some interviews. And I've planned some posts for the future.

Most of my day is spent at my desk writing. The first few days were awful. My wrists hurt. I couldn't find the right chair height to match my keyboard and desk. Eventually I discovered a solution: move the keyboard from the keyboard tray to the desk and raise my seat so that I can use the entire desk surface to support my arms. But this created another problem. Apparently my legs are a little short. When I raised my seat to its maximum height — which is where it needs to be — my toes dangled a couple inches above the floor. I felt like a little boy.

Because an ergonomic office is vital for what I'm doing, I went to the nearby office supply store to buy a footrest. “Sure, we have those,” the helpful salesman said. “Well, we have one model, anyhow,” he added.

He led me to the fax machines to show me their single footrest. (Why was it with the fax machines? I have no idea. I would have put it with the chairs and desks.) I picked it up and was going to buy it, but then I thought to ask, “How much does this cost?”

“$49.99,” he said.

“Fifty dollars?” I said. I think my jaw dropped.

“Well, $49.99,” he said. “It's a very nice footrest — it's fully customizable.”

“No thanks,” I said, putting the footrest back on the shelf. “I could build the most beautiful footrest in the world for $50.”

“Yeah, you probably could,” agreed the helpful salesman.

Originally, I had planned to use a block of wood to prop up my feet, but then decided an actual footrest would be a treat for myself. But not for $50. (Nor $49.99.)

Instead, I drove home and rummaged through my woodpile. Wouldn't you know it? I found an 18″ length of two-by-four and a 12″ scrap of something else. Three nails later, I had my own frugal version of a customizable footrest.

Depending on my mood, I can angle my feet up or down. I can set the block of wood in a high position or a low position. I've been using my footrest for two weeks now. It works great. Sure, it's ugly, but that's okay. I like that it's ugly. Every time I see it, it reminds me that I have an extra $50 in my pocket.

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credit addict
credit addict

I think another lesson here is to shop online… Looks like that $50 footrest costs $28.75 from Amazon. Still not a better deal than free, but it’s 42% less.

SingleGuyMoney
SingleGuyMoney

That’s a great idea. I need one of those for my home office. At my work office, they were nice enough to buy one for me.

Alison Wiley
Alison Wiley

I love this story and the way that you used existing resources and your own skills and ingenuity. Well done! I would point out that you didn’t just save money, you saved natural resources. Happily, those two things often go together. More at my blog Diamond-Cut Life http://alison97215.wordpress.com.
best,
Alison in Portland, Oregon

J.D.
J.D.

Credit Addict is right: while prepping this article, I realized that shopping online would have saved me a lot of money. I might even have ordered the footrest at $28.75 (thought that’s still $8.75 more than I wanted to pay). I do a lot of my shopping online, but sometimes I completely forget to look. This was one of those times.

dmp
dmp

I love that you love that it is ugly.

Frugal Dad
Frugal Dad

That may be the most beautiful footrest ever invented. Brilliant! I am planning to duplicate it here with some scrap lumber I have left over from my square foot garden project (inspired by you, J.D.).

Ken Clark - CollegeSavings.About.com
Ken Clark - CollegeSavings.About.com

Classic!

credit addict
credit addict

Another possibility would be a nursing stool. My wife had one of these for resting her feet while nursing our kids. They’re actually quite comfortable for desk work, though I’d imagine they’re not exactly cheap (can’t remember).

Edit to add: Just checked Amazon. She had this one from Medela. It’s a nice little wood foot stool for $23.95 — even less than the lowest price for the foot rest you were drooling over. It’s a bit taller, though, so I’m not sure it would work for you. And it’s obviously still more expensive than scrap lumber and a few nails.

Mo Money
Mo Money

What is that old saying. “Necessity is the Mother of invention.”

Kathy
Kathy

Haha! That’s great!

Toby
Toby

I dunno… three perfectly good (and I assume, new) nails… pretty spendy. 😉

I love this story. 🙂 Way to go!!

MoneyBlogga
MoneyBlogga

Good for you. It’s surprising how well improvisation can work – often better than the store bought item (which probably wouldn’t last as long and is programmed to self destruct within the year anyway!)

One of my clients hasn’t bought a new stick of ANYTHING since the 1980s. The furniture they have is straight out of 1985. Yes, it’s rickety and not-so-great looking but they don’t care. They’re saving all of their money for an early retirement. I’ve taken a page out of their book as well.

Shirtless
Shirtless

I just use my sub woofer under the desk. I also keep a small Fender practice amp under there as well for when I want to recline a bit.

rhbee
rhbee

So this isn’t a case of ugly is as ugly does then?

I still use glass block and boards for my office shelves though my wife’s family always asks me “where’s the beanbag chair?”

DYI without the instruction kit, that is definitely the way to go. You might want to look into an inexpensive floor pad to prevent carpet wear though.

metroknow - AlmostFit.com
metroknow - AlmostFit.com

Depending on my mood, I can angle my feet up or down.”

Larf!

Great post as usual – hey, if you really want to be according to mood, you might consider having a few in different colors.

For some things, there’s Office Max. For everything else, there’s a 2×4.

Dyna
Dyna

paint it black or some other dark color you have and it will look great

I wanted a little rabbit house for my bunnies cage went to petco thay had it 3peices of bare plywood nailed together for 19.99 I went home and made one out of the scraps of plywood in my garage

Drakar2007
Drakar2007

One of the things I hate the most is when I’m talking to some salesman / rep / etc, and I say (as you did) something like: “so that one is 50 bucks?” and they correct me: “no, it’s $49.99” (they may as well say “49.99 and 99/100 cent”, since that’s still fractionally smaller than the real price. I guess they already do this with gas, heh). I’ve never been quick enough to do so before, but next time someone does that (if I can resist the urge to strangle them long enough), I’ll stop the conversation and say, “wait…… Read more »

Diatryma
Diatryma

It’s also really easy to make a cat tree, if you have the equipment. Plywood, two-by-fours, a bunch of nails because I couldn’t work the borrowed drill, leftover carpet, and sisal rope for the uprights. It’s not pretty, it’s not curvy, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot cheaper than anything else for my cat to sit on in front of the window.

dustin
dustin

nice shoes.

Ruthie
Ruthie

Great post. I rest my feet on my printer, which I keep on the floor under my (small) desk to get some more desk space. Usually works great, although occasionally I’ll hit a button by mistake with my fidgeting toes. 🙂

tylerwillis
tylerwillis

The question in my mind: at what point do we consider frugality first, shopping second? It’s great that you saved yourself $50, but you did spend the time to drive to the store, look around, and come back. Frugality shouldn’t be just about the money – it should also save time. If you’d thought to improvise first, then you’d saved yourself some time.

Not berating, just noting.

Peter W
Peter W

Absolutely ridiculous.

Darla
Darla

Thank you!!!! My feet having been swelling terrible and I am to keep them elevated which works fine as long as I can work from bed, BUT if I have to sit at my desk I have a heck of a time, so THIS will help that.

Not only that my husband is a serious handman and can have one of those whipped up here in about 10 minutes.

*off to show him*

Anne D B
Anne D B

I would invest in a laptop. I think this is a “penny-wise, pound foolish” situation. Big outlay of money initially, but you can customize your ergonomic situation (i.e., rest laptop on your lap; settle into comfortable chair w/ laptop on lap). I feel qualified to speak on this since I contracted tendonitis while working at home, stopping just short of carpal tunnel syndrome. Believe me, once you screw up your body, it will take a lot more than $50 to repair it. Best of luck to you!

Will
Will

I’m afraid I have to disagree with Anne on this one. I work from home on a laptop, and I’m getting signals from my wrists that now should probably be a good time to invest in a desktop and an ergonomic keyboard!

the.arctic
the.arctic

If you have access to large cardboard tubes (approx 4-5″ dia), they work quite well as footrests. You can also massage your feet by taking your shoes off and rolling them back and forth over the tube. And they’re free.

The kind I’m talking about are 2-3 feet long and are thick walled cylinders used for rolls of plotting paper. You might check the dumpster at your local print shop. Or you could call an architecture firm that does their own plotting. Depending on how much they do, they might be throwing away 5-15 tubes a week.

trb
trb

We’re definitely short-legged in my family. My grandma has had a thick wooden block under the kitchen table to rest her feet on for 60 years. We’ve all taken a lesson from here and used footstools – I’ve got my financial docs storage container at my home office, an extra recyling tub upside down at work, my backpack on an airplane, and (you guessed it) a big chunk of wood under the kitchen table. Love a good footrest! Never had a tiltable one, will have to give it a try.

Matt S
Matt S

We got this $3 children’s stool from Ikea.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60101063

Works great.

Kathryn
Kathryn

I have a deep desk with a shelf built underneath the middle section for a printer. (Yeah, like I’m going to leave my chair, squat, and reach back almost 3′ to get some printout … ain’t gonna happen). We also have leftover paint I didn’t couldn’t store in the garage (shelves full). So we use the shelf and the floor (tiled) to store leftover paint and primer. Not only has it kept the paint in better shape for touchups (no skin has ever formed and, in a controlled temp climate, the paint hasn’t gotten thick and unusable) but it also… Read more »

My Daily Dollars
My Daily Dollars

Isn’t it satisfying to know that you can make something that works just as well as whatever overpriced option is in the store? That’s great!

elisabeth
elisabeth

A few years ago, I requested a Levenger “trampoline” footrest for a birthday gift. On the one hand, I felt it was too was expensive (though I see it is now on sale for 29.95), but I spend a lot of time at my desk and wanted it for probably a year before we bought it — the wait and see if you still want it technique didn’t work on this item! It tilts back and forth and there are three massaging roller balls (same effect that #26 above is getting for free), so it gives me something to do… Read more »

No Debt Plan
No Debt Plan

Can you imagine the profit on a $50 foot rest? Probably cost $3 in plastic, tops. Good grief.

Jean
Jean

Love it! I think that we are so used to going out and buying whatever we want that we forget we are completely capable of creating things ourselves. This is how I started making beaded jewelry. I looked at something that someone was selling at a craft fair and thought, ‘I could do that!’ In addition to saving money, there’s that little self-esteem boost that comes from seeing the results of one’s handiwork (no matter what it looks like!).

Cat
Cat

I use a phone book under my desk. I can’t remember the last time I looked something up on the phone book so at least I get some use out of it.

mike
mike

i agree that 50 bucks is too much for a footrest but i am tickled by the thought that you mentioned being quite able to BUILD the worlds most beautiful footrest yet……your hunk of wood is anything BUT beautiful. Hey, man, if it works for you – cool – i just hope you don’t shortchange yourself and start typing your blog on discarded cargo crates to save a buck!

Shanti @ Antishay
Shanti @ Antishay

This post is awesome and made me laugh all over 😀 Thanks for sharing!

Charles Anderson
Charles Anderson

My grandmother used a phonebook covered with shelf lining contact paper. It lived under her desk most of the year, but then was used as a booster seat when grandkids came buy.

Phonebooks are free. Shelf paper is cheap.

kick_push
kick_push

JD.. that’s ghetto!

hahaha i like it though

Aryn
Aryn

I use a sturdy shoebox (Avia) under my desk. It’s exactly the right height and holds up well.

Avani
Avani

I usually use a tissue pack. It can also be used as a small table while using laptop.

ann
ann

I love the irony of a frugality website having ads for expensive closet organizers! No sarcasm there, it tickles my funny bone. And I’m glad you’ve got advertising going to support your work.

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