Category Archives: Budgeting

How to Decorate your Space on a Budget

Want to decorate a space or room in your house but it’s not in the budget?  Do you desire for your space to look like those beautiful spaces that you see on HGTV or in decorating magazines but think it cost too much to copy? Don’t despair; you can achieve the space of your dreams without breaking the bank. All you need is a little imagination, innovation and some sweat equity. Small changes can yield big results. Chances are you can decorate your space for less than what you normally pay for a great night out on the town. Below are some great ideas for decorating on a budget:

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

With summer here, it’s time to spruce up those drab walls and add a fresh splash of color. Painting your walls is one of the cheapest things you can do, that will make the biggest difference when decorating your space. You can easily get a quality gallon of paint for less than $20 dollars.  Most spaces only require 1-2 gallons depending on the size of the room.  Don’t have the time to paint the entire room?  Painting an accent wall will yield great results at a fraction of the price.  With most hardware stores having hundreds of colors and style suggestions, you can be assured you’ll find the perfect color to fit your décor.

Change Bed Linens and/or add Accent Pillows

The next biggest change you can make when decorating or redecorating is changing the bed linens or adding accent pillows.  You can find great deals on bed linens at places like Wal-mart, Bed Bath and Beyond and Anna’s Linens. You can’t go wrong with the “Bed-in-a-Bag” ensemble, which is very popular these days and can be purchased for less than $50 dollars depending on the style and size of your bed.  It definitely gives you the most bang for your buck because it’s all inclusive.  Meaning it includes a comforter, sheets, pillow cases and shams, etc.  For those of you who are in love with your comforter, changing the color of the sheets/pillow cases and/or adding accent pillows is a frugal way to spice it up. Pillows can be purchase for $10-$15, or if you’re handy with a sewing machine you can purchase fabric from a discount fabric store and make your own pillows for way less.

Curtains

Curtains are the next best thing after changing your bed linens when decorating your space.  If your “Bed-in-a-Bag” ensemble came with curtains, then you’re in luck.  If it didn’t, you can easily make your own curtains from the leftover fabric you used to make those nice accent pillows. Great deals on curtains can also be found at discount chain stores or most thrift store carry a plethora of curtains and fabric that can be purchase for less than $10 dollars.

Add Accent Pieces

Adding accent pieces to a room gives it the finishing or final touch. Turn old photographs into a collage and put it on the wall or perhaps you’re great at drawing or painting something abstract.  The sky’s the limit when using your imagination.  You can purchase picture frames and even prints for little or nothing from chain discount stores such as Ross, T.J. Maxx or Marshalls.  Better yet you can get pictures, candle holders, plants and even fabric, etc. at thrift stores such as Goodwill.  Chances are you might even have some pictures and other decorative accent pieces in other rooms in your house that you can use in your new decorative space. It doesn’t take a lot of pieces to add the finishing touch.  A couple of candle holders, a little greenery and pictures will do just fine.  Less is better sometimes when decorating….it’s about finding a balance.

Decorating your space doesn’t have to cost a fortune just a little creativity. You’d be surprised at how you can make a big impact with a little money.  If you implement some of the savvy ideas above, before you know it, you’ll be on your way to falling in love with your space all over again.

What spaces have you decorated on a budget

Budget Wisely – Don’t Forget the Toilet Paper!

The single most effective way to manage your money and save is to create a budget and follow it. While it can be difficult to get started, it’s well worth the trouble. Most households only need a simple budget to account for all of their expenses. In your income section, you should include every bit of income for the month, after taxes. This gives you an initial number that your expenses will need to come out of. If you’re lucky, you’ll wind up with a positive number and this amount can be put into savings. Knowing how to keep track of your budget can be tricky. In order to make sure you don’t leave anything out, proper categories need to be used to include every possible expense.

Home
Your mortgage payment or rent will go into this category. Any homeowner’s or renter’s insurance payment belongs here as well. This is also the category that can be the home for your maintenance and repair allowance. You should always budget an amount for repairs and maintenance, if you’re a homeowner especially. This category will be a fixed expense category. All of the numbers in this field should be the same every month, unless one of your payments changes.

Utilities
The utilities field will most likely fluctuate throughout the year, but it is still considered a fixed category because it contains bills that you will have every month, no matter what your behaviors are. Your electricity, water, sewer, gas, and phone bill amounts will go into this category. While these bills can change, you can enter an average estimate of what the bill amount will be. This will help you to know what to expect.

Food
Food is another fixed category. This will include your grocery bill. While it is possible to spend more on groceries one week to the next, food is a necessity that you probably won’t want to cut money from. Allow a small amount of extra money in this category for special occasions or holidays. Be realistic.

Family
Not everyone will need this category. It is the home for child support payments, alimony, and child care. Any money spent on family issues will go into this category. It is generally a fixed category as well.

Health
Medical expenses, copays, insurance premiums, and fitness expenses belong in this category. If you don’t have insurance or a fitness membership, you can use this category to set aside money for future medical needs.

Transportation
Whether you take a car or the bus, chances are you spend money on transportation. Gas, maintenance, bus fare, toll booth fare, car insurance, subway card, and car payments will be listed in this category. It will remain fixed most of the time as well.

Debt
If you don’t have credit cards or outstanding payments due anywhere, this category can be eliminated. Student loans, store cards, credit cards, and past debts should be listed here.

Entertainment
This category is where most of the cutting will take place, when needed. Cable, movies, internet, dining out, computer, hobbies, games, and vacation expenses will go here. If you experience a negative balance or wish to save more money each month, making cuts to this category is the way to go.

Miscellaneous
This category will be different for everyone. Any other expenses that you have can go here. Clothes, hair, nails, bathroom supplies (even toilet paper), cleaning supplies, housewares, donations, and pet expenses belong in this category. Cuts may also be made to some of these sub-headings.

While budgeting can seem like a lot of extra work, it truly does help you to see exactly where your money goes. By tracking your money and limiting certain expenses, cuts can be made and money can be saved. Make sure to include all of your expenses, no matter how small. Anything minor that just pops up from time to time can go in your miscellaneous category, don’t just leave it out.

About the Author: Daphne Garder enjoys writing about finance and savings at http://homeequityloan.net.

Staycation: Vacationing on a Budget

With summer fast approaching and the kiddies getting out of school soon, now is a great time to start planning for that long awaited summer vacation.   But if you think you’ve got to go far or spend a lot of money to have a good time, think again.  Now more than ever people are taking “Staycations” instead of taking traditional vacations abroad. 
 
Staycations are not new.  People have been doing this for years however it has recently become more popular due to high travel costs such as food, fuel and airfare.  Staycations are a smart way to vacation on a budget. They can be loads of fun and allow you to be creative when coming up with ways to have a great time at home. You don’t have to go broke to enjoy yourself.  It’s all in how you go about planning your staycation…chances are you’ll find places and many activities to do that you never knew were available right in your own backyard and ultimately save a hunk of cash.
 
Check out these savvy tips for planning a great Staycation:
 
De-stress yourself – Vacationing is all about taking time off and getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. This is the time to kick back and relax…let your hair down. What would you do if you were away on vacation? Taking a staycation should be no different.  De-stress yourself…that means turn off all phones and computers (email, facebook, etc.) and anything work related that would distract you from having a good time.
 
Plan daily activities – To ensure that your staycation is a memorable one, plan daily activities and try to stick to them. Check the local paper or the internet to find popular attractions around your city such as museums, amusement parks, night clubs, golfing and other local attractions of interest.   
 
Splurge a little – Staying put doesn’t mean that you can’t splurge a little.  Use this opportunity to check into a swanky hotel for one night and enjoy the many amenities it has to offer.  Go to the spa and get a facial, manicure or a pedicure.  A massage is always a good idea.   And don’t forget to treat yourself to a nice lunch or dinner…more than likely your city has a plethora of great restaurants just waiting for you to try.
 
Try something new – Do something different or daring like going skydiving or camping in your own back yard while roasting marsh mellows around a fire.  Don’t let it get too dangerous…the main thing is that you get out and enjoy yourself. Oh, and don’t forget the camera!
 
Staycations are a great way to vacation on a budget and by implementing some of the tips above, you can make it one to remember.  When was the last time you took a staycation?