If you aren't making your own juice, you are probably wasting a lot of money.
Now don't get me wrong. There are juices that I still buy and there are some out there that I have that are just so darned complex that I'm not interested in even attempting to clone them. But I'd like to make a point. I've been DIYing juice since last fall and I'm still using the same supplies I bought LAST FALL! I have bought a handful of new flavors from Capella since then, but as far as PG, VG, and nicotine base, I'm still on the same original $100 purchase that I made more than 6 months ago. At that time, I bought 500mL of VG, 500mL of PG, 250 mL of 48mg/mL nicotine base, a handful of concentrated flavors, measuring syringes (3 that I'm still using), and some bottles.
That's enough raw ingredient to make 1000mL of e-liquid, and at my nicotine level of 6, I'd still have half my nicotine base left. Just for reference, Five Pawns costs a little under $1 per milliliter. What I'm making is roughly 10 cents per milliliter. Add a few more cents in there (certainly less than 5) for the freedom to keep stocked up on a bunch of different concentrated flavors...but still, the cost savings is massive.
And here's the other truth that e-liquid manufacturers don't want you to know: It's really really easy to do. There are really only 4 ingredients. Nic, PG, VG, and flavor. And if you are even the least bit good at simple percentage math, it's a snap. But I'm lazy. So I use a really good e-liquid calculator found here.
I have two flavors that I keep myself stocked up on pretty much all the time. They are my all-day-vapes. One is vanilla custard. The other is pink lemonade (or some lemonade derivative). Today, I just finished making up 100mL of vanilla custard. It is not as good as the vanilla custard that my buddy vapes everyday. He buys his from Good Vapes in Dallas and pays about $60 for 120mL. That's a really good price for very good liquid. But it's still 4-6x as expensive as what I'm making myself.
Let me make this clear: YOU CAN DO THIS YOURSELF! Just don't be one of those dumbasses who on a whim decides to do it using VG from Wal Mart and Capella flavoring from Michaels. If you're gonna do it, do it right. Be patient enough to wait for the mail. Sheesh. It's not THAT bad. Go to either One Stop DIY or My Freedom Smokes and stock yourself up on the supplies that you need.
1 bottle of Vegetable Glycerin.
1 bottle of Propylene Glycol.
1 bottle of concentrated Nicotine (usually in PG. It's more stable in PG and lasts longer.).
A couple bottles of different concentrated flavoring.
3-4 10mL measuring syringes.
A handful of small bottles to put your juice in.
And here's a note about concentrated flavors. In my opinion, the two best options out there are Capellas Flavor Drops and the house flavors from One Stop DIY. I order my Capellas flavors straight from their website here because they have a better selection buying direct. But if you are making your first order ever, I'd highly recommend just shopping at One Stop DIY. They have a couple simple starter kits that are both under $35. You can get most of the Capellas flavors plus their excellent house flavors and all the other stuff you need there. (One note is that their starter kits don't include the Capella or house flavors. They include either Lorann or Flavor Apprentice. So order some additional better flavors when you order your starter kit.)
When I made my big order, One Stop didn't exist and I bought from My Freedom Smokes. MFS is still excellent in price and quality. May be even a tad cheaper than One Stop and their selection of DIY supplies is much much larger. You can get anything you want and their nicotine base is truly excellent quality flavorless base. If you know you're going to be DIYing for some time and you don't give up easily, you'll get better value buying 250mL of nic base plus 500mL each of PG and VG from My Freedom Smokes. If you have any reservation that you aren't going to like this DIY stuff, start with the starter kit from One Stop and buy subsequent supplies from My Freedom Smokes.
I have used concentrated flavorings from every company under the sun at this point and there are other good ones out there. The Flavors Apprentice is typically pretty good and is sold by both companies linked above as well. I don't personally care for Lorann, Flavor West, or Mt Baker. I started with only Mt. Baker flavorings and they were good, but I got tired of them quickly and think that the Capellas stuff is better.
A couple last thoughts on DIYing:
1. There are a guzzillion YouTube videos out there on how to make your own e-liquid. Watch some. It's easy. I'm not going to go into a full on tutorial here. I wrote one a while back if you want to dig it up on this site. But it's easier to watch a couple of YouTube videos.
2. Don't be scared. It is NOT hard. In fact, it's pretty easy. The only thing to really pay attention to is your Nic level. Most of the time you will be starting with a concentrated Nic base. I use 48mg/mL. Since I vape at 6mg, that means that my Nic base needs to be 1/8th of my total mix to take the 48 down to 6. That calculator that I linked to above does that math for me.
3. DO be careful with the concentrated Nic. At high concentrations, it's not all that good for you. I don't personally wear gloves dealing with the 48mg base, but it's generally accepted as good practice. I've only gotten some on my skin once and, as expected, ended up with a pretty solid headache. But it didn't kill me. But if there is any concern at all, it's always good practice to wear gloves and eye protection. If you are using anything higher than 48mg (they sell 100mg/mL) then I'd consider it an absolute necessity to wear some protective gear.
Folks, your bottle of concentrated nicotine comes in a bottle with MSDS warnings on it. It's poisonous. Keep it out of reach of kids, pets, and idiots. Seriously. There is real risk there. The contents of that bottle are FAR less dangerous than 14 other bottles you have under your sink (Draino, Comet, whatever) but still, use common sense and good practices.
4. Let your juice steep. ALWAYS. It's gonna be TERRIBLE for the first 6 hours after you make it. The next day, it'll likely be usable. A week in, it'll be great. It takes a week for most juice flavors to really settle and become their very best. This make experimenting with flavors frustrating. You have to have patience. Start with simple flavors first. You can also find a pretty good selection of DIY e-juice recipes online by doing a simple Google search.
5. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't taste like liquid gold your first or fifth try. Keep your batches small at first (say 5mL at a time.) Remember how much you are saving. Don't be afraid to throw a bunch of liquid away. It takes a while to get your flavors to where you want them. On a simple flavor like my pink lemonade, it's just 20% concentrated flavoring mixed with the other ingredients and it's great. On my vanilla custard, there are 4 different flavors that I mix in it. And it took a ton of trial and error to get it to where I really wanted it.
Trust me, if you aren't DIYing your juice, you are probably wasting money. It's worth it. It's not scary. It's kind of fun. Just take your time. Don't get frustrated. And don't stop buying your regular juice from your favorite vendors while you experiment. It took me at least six months to get here. And today, I'm not buying very much juice at all that I'm not making myself. My all-day-vapes are DIY. That's where I'm at. And I wouldn't turn back.