Everyone wants to have an attractive home. If you’re like me, you’re on a strict budget. Most of us cannot afford to redecorate our homes. Here are some tips for furnishing and decorating your home frugally.
1. Shop yard sales and thrift stores. I’ve been doing this for years. A few years ago I was at a yard sale and found a really nice living room couch and oversized chair. The person I bought it from had only used it for one year. She paid $1200 for it and I got it for only $120. Sometimes you can find some really unique items by shopping this way.
2. Check Craigslist. You just never know what you’ll find on Craiglist. Before purchasing our last home, the home inspector found some issues with the bathtub. My husband found a brand new tub with jets on Craiglist for 1/5 the price. It was one a contractor didn’t use. Another great find was a HE washer and dryer. We got an almost new set for 1/4 the price. The owners were moving to Hawaii and it would cost them more to have it moved.
3. Think paint. Paint is one of the least expensive ways to add warmth and color to your home. It really is amazing how $30 in paint can transform a room.
4. Repurpose what you have. Paint that old lamp or picture frame. Change your night stand into a bookshelf. Recover your old pillows with fabric. Use a sheet for window treatments.
5. Get an outside opinion. It helps to ask someone else’s opinion for ways to help your decorating space. Many times friends will see things you didn’t see and have ideas you had never thought about. They may suggest moving a piece of furniture or changing a wall hanging. Those small inexpensive tips can make a big impact.
6. Borrow furniture. When I first got married, I didn’t have any living room furniture. I ended up borrowing some things from my parent’s house. All you have to do is get the word out to friends and family that you need some items for your home. Some people have things in their basement that are just sitting around collecting dust. Some will let you borrow things and others will just let you have the stuff.
7. Be patient. You can’t expect your home to look perfect right away. It takes moving things around, searching for deals, and tweaking things a bit. It will all come together eventually.
8. Bring in nature. Consider filling jars with shells from the ocean. Fill a vase with twigs. Put some pinecones in a basket. There are many things that we can use from outside.
9. Do it yourself. I am not one for creating things but if given an idea, I can usually duplicate it. Thanks to pinterest, there are thousands of ideas at your fingertips. I have pinned many ideas for future use. Be sure to check out my boards “For the Home” and “DIY and Crafts”.
10. Update out of date pieces. Our last home was one of my favorites. It was loaded with charm. The problem was that the fixtures were outdated. Everything was brass. We didn’t have the money to purchase all new lighting and bath towel bars so my husband gave everything an inexpensive update with bronze spray paint. You can check out pictures of our chandelier makeover.
What tips do you have for low cost decorating?
image (c) Karen Weideman
July 31, 2012
I enjoy looking over the stats each month. It is neat to see the things that interest people the most. Some of these articles have been around for a while and yet every month they are the top reads. There are some oldie but goodies here. I hope you’ll enjoy checking these out.
Tomato Casserole Recipe (Yumm!)
A Thrifty Way to Stuff Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse)
Which article is your favorite?
July 26, 2012
For many people, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it can also be the most stressful. The costs of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts can really burden one’s finances.
You might be wondering why I am talking about Christmas today when it is only July. Both of my children’s birthdays fall in July. Once their birthdays have passed I begin thinking about the next big event, which is Christmas. Giving myself some time to think, plan, and prepare helps to save money. Hopefully, this post will encourage you to think ahead and plan too so that you can also save money.
Here are some ways to save money on Christmas gifts. Another day we can discuss ways to save money on the other parts of Christmas.
1. Get help from friends and family. Let them know what you’re shopping for. When I do this, other people let me know when they spot a good deal on something I need. It goes both ways. I have been known to text pictures to people at midnight on Black Friday with deals they might be interested in. It helps to have others watching out for what you need.
2. Ask friends and family what they want. Hopefully, this will avoid countless hours shopping, racking your brain, wasted gas, extra unwanted products in the environment, and the hassle of returns.
3. Try gift cards. Some people may think this is inappropriate, but I think it’s a great solution. Gift cards save time, wrapping paper, shipping expenses, and help avoid unwanted gifts. Let the person buy what they want.
4. Save your receipts. Get an envelope for your purse or have a special file folder in your filing cabinet. You never know when you’ll have bought the wrong size or something didn’t work. It’s really upsetting to return something without a receipt and not get the full value of the item.
5. See if your store offers a gift receipt. I think it’s nice when someone includes a gift receipt in the box. This avoids the uncomfortable situation of asking where they bought it or if they still have the receipt. I’ll admit that many times I’ve been left with things I couldn’t use or return. Gift receipts are great!
6. Be specific in your requests. If someone asks what to get your child, try to be as specific as possible. Tell them the exact name of the toy or their specific pants size. Before Christmas and birthdays, I have my kids write a list of the things they really like and want. Then when family asks for gift ideas, I have something to tell them. I like to have a variety of lower priced items on the list too (such as hair bows, stickers, etc.) so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a lot. This also helps with people looking for filler items.
7. Consider drawing names with co-workers or family. We did this with my husband’s family for several years. To make it more fun, we kept the names we drew a secret and were surprised when we exchanged gifts.
8. Buy just for the children. This is becoming a common practice in our families. We buy for our parents and the children. This has really cut down on spending and getting unusable gifts. It also makes for a more relaxed Christmas.
9. Consider playing a game instead of swapping gifts. Try a white elephant or dirty Santa game. Some games involve bringing a nice gift that someone would want. Other games involve bringing a funny or prank type gift. There is usually a gift maximum price suggested, such as $10-20. With the games, each person brings one gift and each person leaves with one gift. Be prepared for lots of laughter and fun.
10. Be realistic. While you’re out there shopping, you’ll probably find loads of great deals and things you want for yourself. Be sure to budget in some money for things that you want.
11. Make a budget and stick with it. NO CHARGING! If you can only afford a $20 gift then make those dollars stretch. There are deals all around so that you can make your purchase special.
12. Take those credit cards out of your wallet. It’s much more tempting to charge something and purchase something out of your price range when the credit cards are in your wallet. You don’t need a debt hangover in January.
13. Try making homemade gifts. With the new craft items, DIY tv shows, and Pinterest, hand crafted items have made a comeback and are more desirable. Do you have a nitch? You can make note cards, pillows, crocheted hats, wreaths, and many other different things that are nice. A gift doesn’t have to be store bought.
14. Instead of individual gifts, consider a family gift. You could purchase a popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, candy bars, and a new DVD. Perhaps you could purchase the family a season pass to the aquarium or something else they would like. The key is to think about the family and what their interests are.
15. Keep a gift closet or special place for gifts. Years ago, I used to have a gift closet. I would purchase things throughout the year and put them away for later use. Now that I no longer have a gift closet, I have gift totes. It’s not as convenient but the concept is the same. I find things throughout the year that I think people will like (on clearance or not) and put them away for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is a more thoughtful process because I am able to think ahead and consider the person that I am buying for. I am also able to pick up a few extra things for teachers, co-workers, and extended family.
16. Don’t wait until the last minute. Shopping the week before Christmas means that things will be picked over and you’ll have to choose from what’s left. You may not end up with a nice gift like you had planned, or you may have to pay more for something.
18. Give the gift of service. Instead of you and your friend exchanging gifts, consider giving a gift of service. Everyone wants to go out on a date with their husband. Many of us don’t go out though because we can’t afford to go out and to pay a sitter. Give your friend babysitting services. You could also give other services such as housecleaning, gardening, raking, etc. Perhaps you could pick a chore that she doesn’t like to do. Use your computer or art skills to make a certificate for the services you are giving.
19. Consider giving something used. I remember just a few years ago my son kept asking for Rescue Heroes. Each of the figurines were around $10 each. Finally I did some searching online and found two huge lots on ebay. I got the two lots for around $50, including shipping. Something similar happened with Polly Pockets for my daughter. She soon realized that she could only get a few Polly Pocket pieces for $15 but we found a big box with buildings, figurines, clothes, and more on Craigslist for $40. Consider the person you are buying for and decide if they would mind something used.
20. Consider regifting. Regifting doesn’t have to be tacky or thoughtless. We all get gifts we have don’t need. Hang onto those gifts and try to thoughtfully give them to someone else. Perhaps you could give them to your neighbor, mail carrier, your child’s teacher, the person that picks up your recycling, or your favorite bank teller. Regifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just make sure what you are giving is considerate of what that person likes and that the gift is in good condition. Here is a post with regifting tips.
This is certainly not a complete list of ways to save on Christmas gifts. Which ways do you save?
This article was originally written by me in 2007. It has been revised and edited.
July 20, 2012
Just recently, I received a bill to renew my car insurance. I glanced at the bill and was getting ready to make a payment when I noticed something — this time there was a pay in full discount amount. I began to look over my bill more closely. Normally I pay a $3 monthly installment fee so that I can make payments for my auto insurance. Considering I don’t have to plunk out $450-600 at a time, I didn’t think the $3 per month was too bad. But when I factored in the pay in full discount, it makes a big difference.
By paying the full amount up front, I was able to get a discount of $39.90. Also, by making the full payment I avoided paying an extra $18 in monthly installment fees. This made my savings a whopping $57.90. Quite a bit a difference, don’t you think?
Here’s a few ways to save on your car insurance:
1. Ask for a pay in full discount such as the discount I received. If you can’t afford to pay the full six months, perhaps you could afford to make two payments – half up front and half later. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
2. Ask for other discounts. Some insurance companies offer discounts for military or students with good grades. Periodically we call our insurance company and ask for discounts. We have been with them for about nine years. When I call them I ask for a good driver discount. We’ve had no tickets or wrecks so we are considered safe drivers. Or you could ask them for a loyalty discount. There are all sorts of discounts available. You just need to ask.
3. Compare prices. It pays to shop around and compare prices of different companies. Be sure you’re comparing similar coverage though. It wouldn’t be a good deal to save $25 and not receive the coverage you need.
4. Ask about a higher deductible. Some financial advisers will tell you to always get a higher deductible. I would have to disagree with that one. Compare, compare, compare. We have a zero deductible and there wasn’t much difference in price. Don’t assume that it will be way cheaper to get a higher deductible, but then again, it could be. I would recommend making a list of companies you want to call and writing notes on prices for different types of coverage and deductibles and then comparing rates. An hour of your time could save you hundreds of dollars.
5. Check into a company’s reputation. With all of the online rants and reviews, it is fairly easy to research a company. Also, ask around to your friends and locals. Find out who they use and if they are pleased. It’s not a good deal if you are with a company that won’t answer your calls or help you when you need it.
6. Carry multiple policies with the same insurance company. Many companies offer a discount if you hold more than one policy with them. You could have your homeowners, renters, or life insurance policy with that company. Ask if they have a multiple policy discount.
7. Drive a low profile car. Some cars have a reputation for speeding tickets and trouble and therefore the premium for them is higher. Annual reports are available that list the most stolen cars in the country.
8. Keep your credit in good standing. Until recently, I didn’t realize that insurance companies check your credit regularly. A few months ago we received a letter from our insurance company stating that our rate would be higher because of an issue on our credit report. We did some investigating and found an incorrect claim that we had to dispute and get corrected. Without the insurance credit check, we wouldn’t have known about the error or that insurance companies check on people.
9. Maintain a safe driving record. This one seems like common sense, but a ticket or accident could really raise your insurance rates. Pay attention to speed limits and school zones. If you do get a ticket, see if you could take a safe driver course to reduce the points and insurance premium.
10. Drive less. Some insurance companies offer low mileage discounts for those that carpool or drive a low amount of miles each year. I once received the discount because I worked less than five miles from my house.
Making calls, comparing rates, and asking for discounts can save you hundreds each year. Make sure you have enough coverage and be safe.
What other tips do you have to add?
image (c) Karen Weideman
June 29, 2012
It’s almost July and it’s really hot outside! Some areas are lacking rain which can kill your lawn and garden. So how is a person supposed to keep their lawn and garden alive during times of summer heat and water restrictions? There are ways to use less water, save money, and not break those restrictions.
1. Use grey water to water your plants.
Grey water is simply the water that comes from washing your clothes, dishes, and taking a bath.
It is hot here in the south. There have been several summers that we have had water restrictions. During one of those times we had just planted some bushes in our flower beds. I didn’t want my bushes to die so whenever I gave my kids a bath, I wouldn’t drain the tub. I would scoop the water with buckets and carry it outside. Each bush got a full bucket of water each night which soaked the plant. It wasn’t as convenient as turning on the hose, but it kept my plants from dying. You might want to avoid using water with harsh detergents on fruit and vegetable plants.
2. Get a rain barrel.
You might be skeptical and think that you won’t get enough rain to fill up a rain barrel, but rain barrels can collect hundreds of gallons from one rain shower.
One year I had planted a new tree and along came another drought with water restrictions. I didn’t want my new expensive tree to die. Sometimes hot summers bring storms. I didn’t have a rain barrel, but I did have a big 55 gallon trash can. When I knew the storm was coming, I took the end spout off of my gutter and put my big trash can under the spout. I filled up the trash can, some buckets, and other trash cans I had around the house. I kept those barrels and cans under my carport to use for watering. (As always, use caution. You should not go outside and do this when it is lightning.)
A rain barrel continuously collects rain. You can attach a water hose to your rain barrel so that you can easily water your plants. If you are handy, you might consider watching Youtube videos or reading tutorials online for information on making your own rain barrel.
3. Place mulch, compost, or grass clippings around plants to keep the soil moist.
Don’t throw away your grass clippings. Use a bagger on your lawn mower and put those clippings in your garden. Mulch, compost, pine needles, and grass clippings keep the soil from drying out. It’s probably too late to make compost for this year’s garden, but you can begin this now for future use.
4. Water your plants and lawn in the evenings.
If you water your lawn and garden during the hottest times of the day the water will evaporate from the ground too quickly. To be more efficient with your watering, water during cooler times of the day. Watering at night will allow the water to soak into the ground and be useful to the plants before it evaporates.
5. Think of other nonconventional ways to collect water.
Several drought situations have caused me to really think about the liquid I was tossing down the sink.
Each day when I came home from work I would save the water I didn’t drink from my water jug. Save those few ounces of coffee from the coffee pot rather than pouring them out. Plants actually like coffee. Save the water from where you have boiled potatoes or pasta. Put a bucket in your shower while you are waiting for your shower water to warm up. Keep the water from your dehumidifier tank. If you stop and think about for a few minutes, we waste a lot of water each day.
This is a good start but certainly doesn’t cover all of the ways to save water on your lawn and garden. Please add your tips in the comments section below. Thanks!
June 22, 2012
We all get those thick plastic bags. Our sheets, comforters, pillow shams, and other bedding items come in them. Some people might throw them in the trash, but I prefer to reuse them. I especially like to save the ones that have zippers and handles on them.
I have reused bedding bags for all sorts of things including:
- storing extra hangers
- packing baby needs for a road trip – baby bottles, spoons, etc
- organizing toys
- keeping extra carseat parts together
- organizing loose items in my car
- keeping sets of sheets together
- storing seasonal clothing
- keeping emergency clothes in the car
- storing bubbles and bubble toys
- keeping craft projects separated
- organizing cards and stickers
- storing gift bows
These bags are nice because they are see through. You don’t have to guess what’s inside the bag. For years I have been using the same large comforter bag for storing gift bows. Recently, I used two bags to help my daughter organize and store her yarn and looms. Everything stays together, she can see what she has, the items are kept dust free, and the cats aren’t in danger from eating the yarn. The organizing and storage possibilities are endless.
What uses do you have for bedding bags?
image (c) Karen Weideman
April 9, 2012
Each year when it turns warm we have a few problems. My kids have outgrown a lot of their pants and it’s hard to find shorts that are long enough for girls. What is up with the shorty shorts anyway?
My daughter usually has such cute jeans with embroidery, flowers, and jewels on them. It’s a shame to let go of good pants just because they are too short.
A few years ago I decided that I would take a pair of worn out jeans and make them into shorts. As you can see in the picture, these jeans were worn out in the knees.
Now we have cute shorts that are long enough and they didn’t cost us any money. Reusing old pants is a great way to save money on your summer wardrobe.
September 23, 2011
Fall is one of my favorite times of year. It cools off a little and makes outdoor time comfortable. There’s a crisp smell in the air and it makes me long for hayrides, pumpkin patches, and beautiful fall colors.
Along with fall comes end of summer sales. It’s a good thing I had a little money set aside because I have found some great deals lately.
Monday I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement to see if their patio furniture was 75% off yet. It was only 50% off but they only had three tables left of the one I wanted so I went ahead and purchased the table for $23. I heard that the furniture was going 75% off on Wednesday so I went Wednesday morning to get the chairs I needed.
I have shopped around for a while for a table and chairs set I wanted. I made due with a set I got for cheap on Craigslist until I could find just what I wanted. Sure, there were other more attractive sets that looked more like dining room furniture but I decided on this set because it is durable, comfortable, and attractive (to me). It also matches the firepit I got last year for my birthday.
Wednesday I purchased the chairs for $8.75 each. I went ahead and got 8 of them because we plan to get another table to match this one. We like to have the extra seating for company. And let’s face it, you can hardly buy the cheap plastic chairs for the price I got for these metal ones. The rude store manager almost sold these out from under me but thankfully my friend managed to snag them before he hauled them off.
As you can see in the picture I found some cushions for the chairs. These were only $5.25 each. They have a nice design on them but I’m not sure if I’m keeping them. They don’t exactly fit the whole seating length of the chair. I set them in the chairs to mull it over. What do you think?
I also got a 4 foot bench for only $20. I’m excited about this bargain too!
It’s not put together yet so I’ll just show you the picture of the box. Soon it will be a nice addition to my yard.
Lowe’s also had some cute (and some very tacky) yard ornaments and accessories. Two weeks ago I purchased three lanterns at 75% off for only $11 each. I got two of them for my brother’s birthday present. I was so pleased that I was able to get him an $80 gift for only $20.
Wednesday I found this chicken for $4. And no, I am not a collector of chickens. I just thought this one was cute and she made me smile.
My outdoor yard furniture is finally coming together. I am so pleased by the bargains I got.
Have you found any deals lately?
July 26, 2011
Every now and then I like to post deals that I got and show you how much I saved. I don’t do this to brag but because I am excited about saving money and I want to inspire you to save.
Cuddlebug’s birthday is this week. He is my baby. He is my heart. I can’t believe he is turning six. Where has the time gone?
Cuddlebug’s interests have changed a lot over the past six years and then in a way, they really haven’t changed much at all. They have just developed more. He is still into cars, trucks, balls, and Magnext. His newest interest is badges and handcuffs. He says he wants to be a cop someday. It is bedtime and I’m feeling a big nostaligic so I better get on to the deals.
I have explained many times before about purchasing birthday and Christmas items throughout the year. Target is known to clearance their toys after Christmas (usually in January) and then in the summer (usually in July). There are some good clearance items other times of the year too. You just have to catch them at the right times.
When Target has their toys on clearance I usually take the opportunity to purchase things that I know my kids will like. I put them away for the next birthday or Christmas and this saves a lot of money.
Magnext magnet set – reg $19.99, $9.98 clearance
G.I. Joe R.H.I.N.O. vehicle – reg $49.99, $12.48 clearance
Air Hogs Moto Frenzy – reg $24.99, $6.24 clearance
Cherokee leather blue and orange shoes – reg $17.99, $4.48 clearance
Door hanger kit – reg $3.99, $.98 clearance
Animal adventure sticker book – $1.00 from Target dollar section
Color Wonder soft sticks – $1??
Everything I purchased came from Target except for the Color Wonder sticks.
At regular prices this would have cost around $122-$125 but I paid about $36. As you can see, shopping throughout the year saves a lot of money.
What deals have you found lately?
Image (c) Karen Weideman.
July 19, 2011
I wrote this article about four years ago when I worked for “the other company”. I’m slowly trying to transfer and rewrite some of my content for my own site. A friend messaged me on facebook today and wanted to know if I had any tips for saving money on gas and so this was a good reason for this article.
With gas prices so high right now, we could all use these tips.
1. Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, braking) wastes gas. Driving sensibly can help increase your gas mileage by 5% for around town driving and 33% at highway speeds. Someone said that you should drive like you have a hot cup of coffee on your dash.
2. Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
3. Remove excess weight. Avoid carrying unnecessary, heavy items in your car which will reduce your mpg.
4. Drive at a constant speed. I use my cruise control a lot because I can set it and not worry about my speed going up and down. This saves gas and also avoids me getting a ticket. I wouldn’t recommend using cruise control in the mountains or hilly areas.
5. Turn off your air conditioner. Running the a/c uses more fuel. July is one of the hottest months in the south so this tip is impractical in extreme temperatures. When the temperature is 85 or below, I enjoy rolling down the windows. Try to park your car in the shade so that it doesn’t get so hot inside the vehicle.
6. Keep your engine tuned. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensory, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.
7. Check and replace air filters regularly. It saves gas and improves mileage.
8. Keep proper tire pressure. Under inflated tires lower gas mileage. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
9. Reduce the drag. Avoid roof racks and bicycle racks when traveling. Place items in the trunk if possible.
10. Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel and pollutes the air. If possible, schedule your commute from work during the least busy times. I remember when I worked in Blacksburg, I really had to watch the times that I left work. Waiting an additional 10 minutes could cost me an additional 30 minutes of commute time.
11. Schedule your errands more efficiently. I try to do all my errands on one side of town in one day that way I’m not driving all over the place. This saves time and money.
12. Consider a fuel efficient vehicle. I’m not saying to run out and buy a new vehicle. The cost of a new vehicle will be more than gas. If you’re looking to purchase another vehicle, consider one that is more fuel efficient.
What other gas saving tips can you add?
image (c) Karen Weideman