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Ask the Readers: Budget for Decorating?

Today’s question is from Rebecca:

I am wondering if and how your readers budget for decorating. Meaning, how do you work it into the budget?

I don’t mean anything extravagant. I am just wondering about simple things like candles, picture frames, new sheets, etc. Our budget is dialed in so tightly that there really isn’t any wiggle room, so I am curious as to how others pay for those “extras”. Any suggestions or ideas?

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142 Comments

  • Colleen says:

    I don’t have any decorating budget so I sometimes use the little income from selling things on e-bay or Craigslist
    towards sprucing up the house.

  • Sarah says:

    I’d say as with any other situation where you want something that’s not in the regular budget, try selling something you don’t need or making extra money to go towards decorating. Or anytime you know you saved some extra money that you didn’t know you would save, at least for a time, add it to a ‘decorating budget’ or an envelope until you completed a room or two.

  • Jessica says:

    If it’s something that I don’t need immediately – we budget our money out of a tax refund or Christmas bonus….if it’s needed soon – we garage sale for it!

    • Jessica says:

      I agree with Jessica (and not just because we have the same name!). We moved recently and used all of our tax refund money to decorate the house. I always hit the day after Thanksgiving sales for ourselves – sheets and towels are always crazy on sale. We also hit up all the garage sales in the summer. If it’s candles, check for Kohl’s sales – they have their own line of candles they regularly offer for half off, and the 18 oz. candle is only $4.99 (this is the cheapest, best smelling candle I have personally found). Check craigslist.com for items and teach yourself how to refinish or paint items to make them look brand new.

    • Sarah says:

      I’m with Jessica too! Garage sales are the greatest for finding little decorating odds and ends–yes, even candles which can be SO expensive to buy new!

  • Carrie says:

    I keep a ‘miscelaneous household goods’ monthly allotment in my budget and if I don’t spend it that month, it rolls over to the next month. That way, I can make larger purchases by saving or smaller ones as needed. I also give everyone allowances for stuff you just gotta have or money to save up for something you really want. We also have the change jar that everyone contributes to and then votes what they want to do with at the end of the month. We usually add it to the untouchable account for vacation money, but it could be used to pay for family pictures or decorating items. My kids suprise me all the time.

  • Alicia Pearson says:

    Most of the time I set like 3-5 dollars a pay check a side and and wait for a awesome sale from Kohl’s, I have even bought coupons for Kohl’s on ebay and turned 20 bucks into 50 or 60. This makes our money go further

    • Kelly says:

      Interesting… how does the whole buying coupons on ebay work? I have never done that before. Do you have Favorite sellers that you could let us readers check out?

      • Alicia Pearson says:

        I dont have a favorite. I make sure they have a good rating though. So I buy 3 different kohls coupons that can used at the same time on anything in the store. #1- 5 off 5 these types of coupons will be emailed to you so you can print them off with in 10 or 20 mins. #2- 10 off 10 or 10 off 20 these will be sent in the mail same as the 3rd coupon. #3 is a 15% -30% coupon. So you can use all 3 coupon on a single item that is on sale or clearance. If you use one 5 off 5 and one 10 off 10 you can get something that is 15 and just pay tax, or use the 10 off 20 along with the 5 off 5 to get it for 5 then you can use a 15 % off coupon to get it for 4.25. The % always comes off last.

        • Joanna says:

          If you just go to Kohls.com and sign up for their emails, you will get free coupons, so you won’t have to purchase them on eBay.

  • Becky says:

    Paint is a good starting point. You’d be surprised at how little additional decorating you need when you have some “pop” on your walls. Buying material at the end of season is a huge low cost way. I can’t sew if my life depended on it and there are many no sew projects. Curtains, throw pillows, and wall art. I have looked through flea market find, magazines and get ideas to make yard sale items, works of art. The end of rusty hoes as candle holders, old leather baseballs into shadow boxed flower’s, different sized picture frames with distressed paint, randomly placed on a wall. I’m not artistic nor craftish but I can get inspiration from sources that help me yard sale decorate on the cheap. All it takes is a little presto chango and next thing you know, you have a wall full of seasonal “stuff.” Hope that helps.

  • Rae says:

    I have an “extras/wants” section that I use if I see a really good deal on clothes (for me since I don’t need them, my kids clothes are separate), house/kitchen stuff, etc. But I agree if you really don’t have the money for it, selling something you don’t use is a good idea. And keep an eye out on freecycle, the free section on craigslist, etc. I have see decor pieces given away there before. I have also gotten free scented candles from Bzzagent and from the drugstore game 🙂

  • Janice says:

    I guess I used to think about that more often when we were first married, but now 12 years in, I feel like our house is overflowing with candles, frames, etc. that I end up not using or don’t have room for…one extreme or the other, huh?? When I know that I need something specific (like new sheets or towels), I usually ask for those types of things as gifts for Christmas or birthday from my parents or in-laws. Otherwise, I wait for those good coupons from Macy’s, Bed,Bath and Beyond, etc. to fill in with specific things that I think I need. Also being from an artistic family, I have plenty of things to hang on my walls that were given to us or that we made ourselves (i.e. enlarge a great picture of some family members) – you can get an inexpensive frame (with coupon) and create something to hang on your wall yourself!

    • Honey says:

      We have a high end home decor consignment shop near our house. When I am bored with things, I sell them there and use the money to replace them with new things. If you don’t have one of those near you, and you are overwhelmed with stuff you don’t really like, a a garage sale might work to turn those into $. Or swap stuff with a few friends.

    • Emily says:

      I also ask for “house” things for Christmas/birthdays. My sisters (and my husband’s sisters) are great a shopping from my “lists”.

      • Niki says:

        I agree with the consignment idea. I am not able to sell any of our old “decorations” because they’re way out of style. But, there are some wealthier towns nearby (Bentonville, AR) with great consignment shops.
        I usually sell something on Craigslist for some extra cash.

      • Melissa Z says:

        It can also be fun to swap with family. My mom loves to decorate, but ends up accumulating too much, so she lets me & my sisters-in-law periodically go through the things she no longer has room for. I do that with my other sisters-in-law too: if I have frames I no longer use, or any other items in good shape, I’ll check & see if they want it before garage saling it or goodwill.

        It’s amazing how a little bit of paint, or a couple dollars worth of greenery/flowers can spruce up/change a decorative piece.

        I look for spray paint at Menards- they periodically have rebates where it is free or $1 a can. Spray paint is my good friend for decorating!

  • One of our cash envelopes is “Home”. First, it goes towards things like minor repairs, then towards items for the home. So if at the end of the month I haven’t had to repair or replace anything, I can spend some cash on sprucing the house up. I try to keep the ‘4 Rs’ in mind when doing decor – reduce, reuse, recycle, reTHINK. The reTHINK is important, because it helps me come up with decor solutions for cheap, and not buy a bunch of junk. 🙂 By allowing a budget for small repairs, we don’t get caught off guard. And by having a ‘treat’ built in if there are no repairs, I’m encouraged to budget for it!

    • Tania says:

      I think this is a great idea! When it comes down to it, while these things are “necessary,” it IS important for quality of life that your home look kept what with all of the time you spend in it. If you’re a SAHM or someone who works from home, these things become that much more important.

    • Meredith says:

      We have a Home Depot envelope… we use it for Home Depot, Lowe’s, or anything we need for the house. It works for us…

  • LisaS says:

    often if you’re buying that sort of thing you’re tired of something you already have. so sell the old one (yard sale, ebay) and use the proceeds to buy the new. yard sales & thrift stores in upper income neighborhoods are a great place to find bargains on that sort of thing. or, especially with disposable items like candles, use those things for filler on moneymaker coupon deals. Our Walgreens had candles on the clearance shelf this week.

  • Belinda says:

    For picture frames I go to Goodwill when they have there 50% off. I grab frames that are sturdy, that have good glass, and that fit the size that I need for my pictures. About a month ago I got 5 frames for less then $5.00. Then I went to Home Depot and bought black spray paint that was only $2.00. I got the black, but they have so many colors that you can have fun and go wild if you really wanted. Next, I took them home and cleaned them up by using windex on the glass and washing the frame. When they were done drying I had fun spray painting them. Once I was done they looked like new! I was able to get 5 frames all for less then $8.00! (If you already have paint this would be an even better bargain!)

    • Jennifer says:

      I use the $1 black and white walmart spray paint on frames. If the frame is ornate I highlight the ornate areas on white or cream painted frames with some leftover furniture stain to give is a “antiqued” look.

  • Lisa says:

    Trade with your friends! Many/most/all people of household stuff they’re tired of- set up a swap!

    Ask for b-days or Christmas!

  • Ginger says:

    I don’t buy candles except when I have coupons, such as Glade often has B1G1F, and I can rack up at Publix when they are on sale. I have sheets I have had for 20 years, nothing wrong with them. I get picture frames at yard sales, Goodwill, or Big Lots.

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    We usually save our change and leftover money from our other categories (groceries, gas, and parking in particular) for new things we “need” – on our list right now is a vacuum cleaner, ‘new’ bed frames for the kiddos, and edging for the front flower beds. We purchased a new cabinet for our bathroom (roughly $60 on sale) with the previous amount. The vacuum cleaner we’re looking at will cost about $120 on sale, so it will probably be sometime in the fall when we get it. I have my eye on a pair of nice bed frames in need of new paint at our local thrift shop, so those might be bought before the vacuum – but they’re only $10 each, so it shouldn’t take much longer than fall to get the vacuum either way.

    We also have a ‘short term savings’ category in our budget that we use to save for things like trips to see my in-laws, vacations, larger household purchases (getting our floors refinished this year is in that category), our yearly anniversary get-away and the like. Since my husband has base pay, call and overtime plus my income (which we consider as ‘exra’), we have a percentage of our ‘overage’ from my husband’s base pay each pay period that we put into that category. If he’s at his base pay for that pay period, nothing gets put in there. Sometimes we put in as little as 25 cents. Other times it’s a couple hundred dollars. Usually it’s something between. Bonuses, things we sell and that sort of thing are considered “overage” in terms of our budget. We have plenty of savings for those larger trips and things too.

    Hope that’s helpful!
    Lea

  • Andrea Q says:

    Differentiate between wants and needs. If it is truly a need, it should be in the budget somewhere.

    Use rewards from the drugstore game for candles, picture frames, etc.

    Collect (for free!) and use rocks, seashells, wild flowers, acorns, etc to decorate. Use an extra drinking glass as a vase.

    Keep an eye out for good coupons…JoAnn Fabrics had a $5/$5 coupon recently; Kohl’s and JCPenney send out similar deals by email and sometimes snail mail. I got a free jar candle at Kohl’s last year using a $10/$10 coupon on a clearance item.

    Ask for those types of things for birthdays/holidays if your family exchanges gifts.

    Check Goodwill/Salvation Army for linens.

  • Laura says:

    We purchase most of our decorations at flea markets, thrift stores, or garage sales. I have found many beautiful items (lamps, framed pictures, candle holders, vases, artificial arrangements, etc.) for a fraction of the original cost, so it doesn’t make a real dent in our budget. It is usually just a few dollars here and there. The items are not outdated and very current items that I could buy in any store for full price today. We get compliments regularly on our decor and nobody would guess where it came from!

    • Celeste says:

      I agree! I constantly check out my local thrift stores and I find so many good bargains there that are brand new! Sometimes if you are looking for something specific it’s a good idea to go a couple times a week(if you have time)to raise your chances for finding the items you need. Household decor is like collecting, it takes time to get all the pieces of the puzzle but when it all comes together nobody will even know that it all came from a secondhand shop!:) All good things come to those who wait even if the waiting sucks, to put it bluntly;)

      • Jennifer says:

        So true. I follow lots of the “cheap decorating” blogs all over the internet. Miss Mustard Seed and Thrifty Decor Chick and Southern Hospitality are some of my favorites. Their are so many talented, cheap women blogging these days about revamping garage and thrift store finds. I have even taken up sewing again and made several sets of curtains out of clearance bed sheets, slip covered our beat up loveseat with dropclothes and several designer style pillows I would have to easily pay $20 each (as if I would ever do that lol).

        Yesterday I stopped at a garage sale with my 14 year old daughter and bought a beat-up old Kling nightstand for $5. She has already sanded it, and it is in the garage for my husband to spray it white and we will glaze it with gray glaze this weekend and distress it for her room. She has seen me do similar makeovers for our kitchen stools, entry bench and old outdated family room endtables and wants to try her hand at it. I am so proud of her.

  • Melissa says:

    well i got a couple of ideas that may help that i do. first for like curtains i use bed sheets (top/flat sheet) and at the sides of the sheet (the top part that lays at the top of the bed) take a seam ripper and rip the sides of it and just run the curtain rod thru it and there u go easy curtains 🙂 for picture taking i take my own pictures of my family (photography is a hobby of mine) and with the pix on the memory card i print out what pictures i want and/or frame. but u can usually get great deals and sometimes even free prints on websites like shutterfly and maybe just have to pay the shipping. or at ur local drug stores will run specials for super cheap prints. hopefully maybe this can get u started with a few ideas :))

  • Sara says:

    Things like that are fun to have, but not necessary. If I ‘need’ a new candle or something I use my blow money.

  • Susan says:

    Have you tried looking for things on http://www.freecycle.org? Or the Craigslist “free” section? Sometimes at the end of garage sales people have “Free Sales” where they are just giving their leftovers away. You can get some really good stuff that way.

    • Kelly says:

      I get a lot of partial gallons of interior paint on Freecycle. If it’s all the same type (ex: all interior latex satin finish), then you can dump them in a big 5-gallon bucket and have them mixed. I did this recently with about 8 partial gallons of various shades of blue (all free). If you mix colors that are more different, you usually always end up with a shade of taupe. If you don’t have luck getting free paint on Freecycle, I’ve seen partial gallons for sale at garage sales & also at the Home Depot re-store.

      • Jennifer says:

        I do that also. I read that is what Habitat for Humanity does with their donated paint to have enough of one shade to paint the homes they build. It is such a great way to keep left over paint out of the landfills and decorate cheap!

  • michelle says:

    I love to get tips & ideas from http://www.thenester.com. She is actually doing a series on debt-free decorating on her blog right now!

  • Mary Ann says:

    I either purchase fun stuff for the house from yard sales and thrift stores with a little thrifting money we set aside each month, use my “play money” (each month my husband and I give ourselves a small amount that we can do anything we want with) or use birthday or Christmas money for something new. My mom and MIL often give us things like potholders, dish towels, tablecloths and sheets for Christmas so I don’t often have to purchase those things which is so nice!

    I don’t like clutter and over the years have found that many times something I felt I just had to have ends up going into my next yard sale so I’ve learned to be more judicious with what I purchase (even from yard sales). By making more intentional purchases, money is freed up to buy things I really love and will enjoy for a long time vs. something to just fill the space even if it was only $1.

  • My friends and I have a swap of sorts. We each go through our homes decluttering. Then we take those items and trade them or give to our friends. Anything leftover goes either to a garage sale OR to charity. Its fun and its FREE. You can also check out craigslist on the FREE section or check out Freecycle.

  • CC says:

    DIY is so in, thank goodness! And your best tool when your doing-it-yourself is research. After doing lots of research, I bought like-new dining room chairs on Craigslist and reupholstered them with faux leather from the fabric store and a staple gun. It gave my dining room table a face lift! It took a little longer and a little more elbow grease than buying them new, but in the end, I saved almost $600! You have more resources at your fingertips than you are aware of – like the internet (try sites that focus on home improvement), store associates (like people that work at craft stores or hardware stores), and people in your own neighborhood.

  • Dee says:

    I find EVERYTHING at thrift stores, garage sales and sometimes the curb! I always have a list with me of all my “wish” items along with any measurements I may need. Letting friends and family know what you are looking for helps too. Patience usually pays off :o)

  • Sherri says:

    Yard sales, thrift stores, or ask for something for birthday or Christmas. One year I got a cake pan, 2 skillets, and measuring cups for Christmas. Not very romantic or exciting, but at least it wasn’t something I needed to exchange.

  • Ann says:

    If I absolutely have to buy this sort of thing, I get at Big Lots, Christmas Tree Shop (in Northeast), Wal Mart, etc. It seems there are often deals on candles here or on other frugality blogs and you can use your EBates credits for gift cards to purchase things you really have to. I’d urge you to check out many of the blogs like Apartment Therapy, the Lettered Cottage, ReadyMade magazine and all their links. The DIY sites have many projects as well. I recently did over our kitchen for $120 and it looks awesome–sewed a sink skirt from fabric I already had, painted cabinets, made shelf paper from newspaper and got a rug for $20 from Walmart. Now I am doing over the dining room and vow to spend no money–mostly by spray painting furniture, making seat cushions from fabric I had and framing art from old calendars or printing off art from online. There’s so much you can do! Freecycle is a resource for free things you can repurpose–yard sales another cheap option. Best of luck!

  • Ashley says:

    I have a yard sale “budget” of $5 a week (I only put it in my budget from May – October) + any change I may have collected throughout the week (those quarters go far in the yard sale world!). I’m always finding decor at yard sales. My husband and I are artsy fartsy so we are always starting home projects with items we find at yard sales.

  • I find all of those things at thrift stores. I’ve decorated the tops of my kitchen cabinets with lots of milk glass pieces I got at the thrift store for 25¢-$1.00. I get sheets at a discount dept. store like Ross or TJMaxx. We used a windfall for new couches recently. My home is certainly not well decorated—that’s not my strong point—but I like it to at least look like people live in it and care about it.

  • Stef Q. says:

    I go to Goodwill every time I go grocery shopping (it’s right next to Aldi). I am always very surprised with the things some people get rid of and you can’t beat the prices, most of the time.

  • Sarah Phillipps says:

    Right now my husband and I are redoing a 100 year old home and trying to see if we can do it all with Craigslist or second hand items. So far, we have gotten 95% of our materials this way and it looks great.

    Garage sales are, hands down, the BEST for decorations. Try to pay 10% what the retail value is. Spray paint and simple sewing skills can fine tune your treasures from there.

  • Rhonda says:

    We go to Craigslist sometimes and use my rewards cards from the surveys I take on line. I bought some new sheets last week from Macys.
    They had a great sale and after I used 2 rewards cards I paid 4.75 out of pocket.

  • Rachel says:

    I yard sale for all my household decorating needs! If there is something at a store I really want and can’t afford, I put it on my wish list for the next holiday. I’ve also used my swagbucks, mypoints, and credit at daily deal sites to “purchase” items for my home for free to very little out of my pocket!

  • Christine says:

    My credit card has a rewards program. When I reach 10,000 points, I can redeem it for a $100 gift card for TJMAXX. I have done this about 6 or 7 times over the last several years. It is fun to go and buy things for my house. Also, my son goes shopping for clothes there. However, my last one I decided to go for practical, and got a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart instead 🙁 haha

    • Kristina says:

      We redeem our credit card points for Lowes gift cards. We have received several hundred dollars worth of them! Sure makes projects around the house a little cheaper! 🙂

    • Allison says:

      Our credit card has rewards for HomeGoods/TJMaxx. I can get 2-3 $50 rewards a year and use it for all sorts of things I need “new” — from tools to dish brushes, kitchen essentials, to sheets and decor or storage items — things I might not be able to find at a yard sale in good condition, yet aren’t in the “I must have” category.

      • Jill says:

        This is exactly what we do as well! Our Home Goods/ TJMaxx gift cards are our free “blow money.” While we usually end up buying things we actually need, we don’t have to feel as bad about it, because it was free money.

  • This is such a great question! In our home we do a few different things.

    1. Accessory Swap-A lot of women do clothing swaps for themselves or their kids but decorative accessories can be used instead. Host a little party where everyone brings items with them that they intend to get rid of and everyone gets little tickets that they can use to trade with another person. This way it’s free and everyone gets something that is new to them.

    2. Yard Sale-Take all of the old items that no longer work for you (that you couldn’t transform with new fabric or paint) and sell it in a yard sale. Keep all of the proceeds from the sale and put it aside into a decorating budget. If it was all decor items, you could list your yard sale as a decor sale which usually grabs women’s attention.

    3. Craigslist/Ebay-If you only have a few items to sell or you want to get rid of yard sale leftovers, try putting them up on craigslist and see if you get a response. The great thing about this is you can keep re-posting. We once had an expensive floor lamp that I re-posted several times and finally sold it, I was so proud to see it go as my hubby purchased it before we got married and it was a nice bit of cash.

    4. Budget Trade-Switch something out of your budget like a once per week Starbucks coffee, manicure or icecream with girlfriends. It’s better for our waistline too!

  • I group all these things in my monthly “household” budget, along with personal care items and household supplies (batteries, cleansers, etc). If we are stocked up (or I can use a coupon to get something for free), I have a little extra to use towards “discretionary” household purchases.

  • I actually sell cash envelope sets where I also make custom tabs designating different spending categories, so I get to see how a LOT of people budget for things like this. Some people lump decorating money into “Fun” or “Personal”, but some people actually do have a spending category called “Home” or “Decorating”. I don’t know how much money they put into it, but it does bring up the idea that if it is important to you, you should budget for it!

    As for me, I have a category called “Fun”, and I mentally set aside $5 a week from that for garage sales and thrifting. Since everything in the envelope is my fun money anyway, I thought it was “fun” to spend $25 (half my budget!!) on a new shower curtain I had been eying for WEEKS today! No guilt, because I had budgeted for it!!

  • Erin says:

    I like to use those $10 off $10 purchase “coupons” that I get from JC Penny or Kohl’s to buy something for the house. My go-to item is a bath towel or two. =)

    • Amy says:

      Great idea! I have been wondering what to do with my $10 off from JCPenney this month! I can start “collecting” some much needed new bath towels.

  • Mrs S says:

    I use my swag bucks and my survey points for amazon gift cards. I used those gift cards to purchase a new set of correl dishes (first time in my life I had matching dishes!) and now I use them to purchase all of our linens (towels, sheets, rugs, shower curatins, etc…) If you are handy at sewing (or want to learn!) bottom sheets usually wear out first and top sheets can be re-made into bottom sheets, pillow cases, table runners and other things. Also worn out linens can be made into the same thing of a smaller size: like a queen sheet hemmed to fit a twin bed, or a towel cut up and hemmed into washcloths.

    Picture frames are usually very cheap at yardsales and can be easily sanded and re-painted. And like was mentioned before, use everyday things to decorate, vases filled with shells or pinecones, pretty wine bottles or bottles of oil…

  • Sara C says:

    I love to watch the clearance aisles at Target. I got new bath towels for $1.24 each, Queen size sheet set for $4 and frames for under $2. I wander the clearance endcaps as I’m doing my coupon shopping (that also gets me some great deals!) and if I come across something that I know I could need in the near future and is around 50-75 percent off, I will work it into my budget.

    • Lori says:

      I do the same thing – I only walk down the clearance side of the endcaps at Target. The deals you can find that way are amazing. But I have learned not to hesitate on those clearance aisles because the thigns there go quickly. If you are unsure, and you can work it into your budget, go ahead and buy it and then return it later if you change your mind.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I don’t buy a lot of stuff for my house in the Clearance isle (any more), but in September I go to watch for the “dorm room” clearance and buy every sheet set under $4 and Comforter set under $6 and donate them to Toys For Tots at Xmas. We donated 10 sets (sheets, matress pad, comforterset) last year for about $90! Felt so good, because there often isn’t much for teenagers at TfT and new bedding is often something that teenagers really like/need. This year maybe I’ll look for bath towels, etc too. Good idea!

  • Debi says:

    I agree with the paint theory! A little paint goes a long way in freshening up a room. Also just rearranging things helps give you a boost. I have printed off some of the prettiest art from the computer and put it into existing frames that I have repainted. I had been looking for a print to hang over our bed in the master bedroom, but had 0 $. My neighbor was throwing away a huge print because the glass had broken. I removed the rest of the glass flipped the print over, printed out words on my computer along with a cute graphic, glue it to the back of the print, repainted the frame and hung it up. Free never looked so good! Check it out here: http://bellamariamom.blogspot.com/2011/03/this-n-that.html (it’s the first pic in the post) Craigslist has a free section…you would be surprised at the amount of free decor you can get…you can always update it with a little paint or even fabric. Freecycle is another online freebie site. There is a blog called Freestyling, she always has super cheap decorating ideas packed with loads of style.

  • Catherine says:

    We have a seasonal/home decor envelope for house things and pumpkins at Halloween, tree at Christmas, etc.

  • Rae says:

    I use swagbucks for things that I can’ justify putting in our budget. Sometimes it takes a while, but I earn the Amazon Gift Cards, and that helps a little.

    We watch the ‘free’ section on craigslist, and while you do sometimes have to be really on top of it, you can find great stuff!

    Also, let the friends and family know that you’re looking to redecorate on no-budget. some times you’ll get birthday gifts or hand-me-downs that will work!

  • Honey says:

    Probably many other’s have suggested it, but garage sales, thrift stores, or swaps with friends.

  • Kelsey says:

    I agree with having a household budget for small misc things. I sit aside $40/month and it makes me more creative with stretching my budget. I buy everything with Hobby Lobby coupons.

  • carrie says:

    I like to have celebrating home parties to get free decor, candles, etc u earn a certain percentage of ur sales and u use that percentage to buy stuff u want! I normally avg a 500 dollar party and make 20perc in free merchandise so that’s 100 free dollars to get some stuff… The stuff isn’t cheap but its veryyy good quality and sometimes their “sale bin” aka treasure chest has realllllyy awesome deals!!!

  • TheApril says:

    And idea for free paint – ask a painter. My husband is a painter and has WAY too many gallons of paint crowding his garage. If a client doesn’t like a color, sometimes they will buy more and tell him to keep it. But, it is against the law to throw paint away without treating it first. So, my husband keeps them around, just in case we need it. Some of them are full gallons. This happens to all the painters I know.

    Also, another tip – those fancy brand name colors don’t have to be mixed into the fancy brand name paint. If you are really on a budget, you can get the Ralph Lauren colors in the cheapest tint base. Just take the swatch to the paint desk and tell them that you want it in (fill in cheap paint name here.) They may tell you that you can’t do it. It is probably because that person doesn’t know how. Come back later and ask for the supervisor of the department and ask them.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I didn’t know that you could tint other paint with the colors. Great tip! BUT– paint is one of those things that it is worth buying decent stuff, IMHO.

      • Jennifer says:

        Me too. I was told by a Home Depot employee a few years ago to just buy the cheap brand. What a disaster, I used it to paint kitchen cabinets. It chipped off easily and peeled. Definately, not a time to be cheap.

  • When I make extra money by selling items on Etsy.com or doing any other miscellaneous work I set aside some of the money for decorating and home improvement. Then I shop thrift stores, the dollar store, and garage sales for great deals. It’s amazing how you can use a little creativity to transform some of the ugliest or cheapest finds into something beautiful!

  • SHOP YARD SALES! ESPECIALLY IN THE NICE NEIGHBORHOODS! People who spend LOTS of money get rid of stuff constantly, and they get rid of nice stuff–and give it away practically for free at yard sales. Lamps, throw pillows, new in package curtains and tablecloths, pottery barn items, entire bathroom sets and children’s decor sets, I see this each and every weekend at the yard sales.

    SPEND A SATURDAY MORNING looking for some upgrades for your home. Buy $5 furniture pieces and paint them a fun color. But picture frames at yard sales and make a portrait wall. Home decor from a YARD SALE is cheaper than any sale at Kohl’s or Target–so try that first!

    I have an entire blog dedicated to my yard sale adventures. I find crazy stuff cheap, and you can too! Hope to see you out there Saturday morning!

  • Jennifer G. says:

    (Didn’t have time to read all the comments, so if this is a repeat I apologize.) My husband and I decided to consider whatever extra I have from my biweekly food budget to be “mine”. If there is extra, I’ll often use it for little things to spruce up the house, like candles, etc.

  • I would make the following suggestions for minor redecorating:

    -Ask for gift certificates to your favorite store for Christmas & birthdays
    -See if your friends are tired of their decorations and have a ‘swap party’
    -Make your own decorations. I’ve sewed my own curtains, bed skirts, throw pillows, etc when I didn’t have the money to buy them
    -Sell things on Craigslist, rummage, etc and use the proceeds for decorating
    -If you can find any wiggle room in the budget put aside a few dollars every week/month to use for decorating.

    Good luck!

  • Whitney says:

    All these suggestions are fine.

    I have a $50 a month house budget, as it’s a priority for me. That’s probably high for some people, but it covers needs and wants, so if I break a dish (happens a LOT), that comes out of that too. I’ve been able to do pretty well on that and I’m pretty picky. Good resources are Target, rummage sales in your area, and IKEA if you live near one. Read a few good DIY blogs (such as Young House Love or the Nester) for some classy projects that will make your home come together cohesively. I do put things on craigs list or ebay when I can to get something larger or more $$. Also, let me encourage to not only buy frames, candles, and whatever, but invest in good furniture for super cheap. If you have the good “bones” of nice furniture, rugs, etc. the rest will not be as necessary. And I’ve seen some quality items on craigslist for under 100.

  • Melissa says:

    I get in the mail every couple of months a $10 off a $10.01 or more purchase from Kohls and JCP. Normally, near the same time. Then you can stack those with a % off code. Look for clearance sheets, esp jcp outlet areas. You usually can get an item for less than a buck after all the codes. It’s a nice treat and helps to get sheets.

    Another idea is to take a few minutes to check out the thrift stores (Salvation Army or Goodwill). They sometimes have brand new sheets, super cheap or a photo frame etc. It’s hit or miss but takes a few minutes to save lots.

  • Heather says:

    I’m not much of a decorator, and don’t care for crafts. Instead we have bright and/or bold paint on our walls, and kids’ toys everywhere else! There are a few nice prints my husband had when we got married, and I’ve picked up a few more at yardsales.

    But to answer the question: We have a “home” budget category for big stuff like furniture, appliances, home repairs, new roof, new vacuum. Obviously, some of that is more critical (and boring), than furniture, so I’ve been contemplating separating it out. Then we also have an “other” category, where I put the small stuff, if there is any.

  • Heather P says:

    When we moved last year, we realized that aside from some small things and family photos we had nothing to put on the walls of our house. I got creative and drew a few little pictures to slide in large photo frames. I also pulled out a rug/bedspread that had been made by an aunt and given to my mother a million years ago and hung it on the wall (on a quilt hanger that we got at a thrift store for a few dollars). The biggest problem was finding things for the living room. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a few things in the scratch and dent section for $20 total and put them together on one wall to look like a nicer ‘set’ from a nicer store.

    Also, I do a ton of scavenging at Goodwill, thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Sometimes you can find just the perfect thing for a dollar or two. You have to look carefully.

    As far as sheets and stuff go, I check Target, Walmart, Kmart etc in the clearance aisles. In Jan/Feb you find all of the flannel sets marked down to under $10. In the late fall you can find all of the ‘back to school’ patterned stuff marked down as well. I routinely buy sheets for $7 or less. They might not be super high thread counts, but when they start feeling worn out, I donate/repurpose them and pull out another cheap set.

    Also, check various crafting blogs. I’ve seen some pretty nifty DIY projects that repurpose things around the house and end up costing no more than a few dollars and some time.

  • sarah says:

    I read decor blogs…spend way too much time following them, actually. You get some clever, inexpensive ideas. Sheets – I look for on clearance. They also have better deals at stores like Marshalls, etc.

  • abby says:

    For the past two years I have been married I have asked my inlaws to buy/make me home decor items every birthday/christmas. This year Christmas I got Bedroom curtains and this year birthday I got throw pillows and a large wall mirror. Plus as a baby shower gift I asked them to decorate the baby room (:

  • Heather says:

    Great question! We are on what seems like the world’s tightest budget. I have x amount of cash for transportation (gas & bus fare), x amount for food, and x amount for EVERYTHING ELSE – clothing, household supplies, diapers, everything. Whatever is left over in the “everything else” category at the end of the week goes in an envelope for larger purchases, garage sales, less necessary things, or a really expensive week (you know, two sick kids and we ran out of toilet paper). I make it a game to see how much of my week’s cash I can save.

    I mainly shop at thrift stores and garage sales for my household & decorative items. Sometimes I wander into Hobby Lobby to check out their clearance section. They have such good prices to begin with you can really get great deals. I just bought a cupcake tray for $4 with a HobLob gift card, but that felt like a splurge. I love Homegoods too but I had to stop going there because I see too many beautiful things and it’s just too tempting. If I just stay out of the store I won’t even know what beautiful things they have that I can’t afford. 🙂 Plus I save gas by not going. 🙂

    One final thing: if you need to change out some framed art, check out graphicsfairy.blogspot.com. She posts new amazing, high-quality clip art every day. She has a couple of years of archives of all sorts of delightful images, including some that are ready to frame straight from the printer.

  • KT says:

    I go to Hobby Lobby every May when they have there 66% off sale- also repurposing things can be very fun and the feeling of accomplishment is amazing- you can also take old picture frames, spray paint them and use them to frame different fabrics. I saw this once and it is a really cool DIY http://chrisanderinkeith.blogspot.com/2009/11/diy-wall-art.html

  • I so understand where you are coming from! Now we have a bit more flex money, but when we were first married, there was literally not a DIME left over to spend on wants (vs. needs). So, I made grocery shopping into even more of a challenge for myself: any money that I had left-over, I was allowed to use to make our home more beautiful. (And that was on a $50/week budget for all household and grocery back then!)

    I will never, ever forget the first thing I bought – a box of fake fruit, on clearance at Target for $3 and change. I was SO excited to display it in a bowl and add a little color to our house! I still have that fruit, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to throw it out. 🙂

    Lucky for you, this is prime yard-sale season! I can’t tell you how many treasures I have bought at yard sales, only using my change purse! Frames are easy to find for a quarter – look for wooden ones that you can spray-paint black with $.99 spray paint from Wal-Mart for a uniform look for a wall. People are always, always selling candles at a yard sale, and I frequently see sheets for $1 a set. I know it might seem like forever to save up even $1 when you’re on a tight budget, but just give it a little time and it will happen!

    Oh, one last tip – many, many times, people don’t want to lug all the junk from their yard sale back into the house. Often, it will be shoved out to the curb with a “free” sign attached. If you hop in your car around 1 or 2 on most Saturdays, follow the yard sale signs that are still up around the neighborhood and you’re bound to find at least one person giving stuff up for free. I have found lamps, tvs, frames, kitchen items, purses, and more this way! Good luck and have fun! 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Our town wide yard sales are next weekend and most people in town just put the left overs by the side of the street. Its funny to see the people in very nice cars and large expensive trucks stop house to house going thru the free stuff. My kids used to beg me to go with them to the neighbors to look at the free stuff and I got several nice things that just needed a coat of black spray paint (frames, lamp bases, chunky candle sticks) to make them look brand new. Now they would rather do ANYTHING else and hate me for a week if I suggested looking at the neighbors cast offs.

  • Carla Sorensen says:

    The thing about sheets is that I can’t remember the last time I bought or was given sheets. Do they really wear out so you HAVE to buy them? This is not a criticism, just a question. I have not bought towels for our family (have given them for gifts) for a really long time either. I think we can be tempted to think we have to have new updated linens, when we really don’t.

  • Jessica says:

    One thing that keeps me from getting too bored is swapping out the pictures in my frames frequently. I find awesome high res stuff for free on flickr, and it costs me around $2 for prints for my three frames.

  • Brenda says:

    IKEA is a great & inexpensive store to check out for housewares of all kinds. They have many more modern, sleek styles (which i love). I would save change,plus any money received for a birthday gifts, etc. for months & find a day or weekend & make a trip to the nearest IKEA. Their stores are HUGE & they have all sorts of really cool stuff. You can check them out online (www.ikea.com i think) They used to have a catalog they would mail out upon request that details most of their things so you can look ahead of time & plan your trip.

  • Maggie says:

    I LOVE filling my home with beautiful things for my family and never spend lots of money. I visit thrift stores frequently and make lots of things myself. Spray paint can be your best friend! I’ve spray painted tables, picture frames, candle holders…you name it, I’ve spray painted it. I’ve gotten almost all of our larger items, like furniture, from Craigslist or at yardsales. I also always find great deals at Target on the clearance end caps. Freecycle is a great place for things for your home.

    Family heirlooms are also a great thing to fill your home with–maybe your mother or grandmother have some great pieces stowed away in their attic or basement–you could offer to ‘store’ it in your home on display until they need it 🙂 Even if I had tons of money to spend on decorating my home, I would still do it this way–thirfting and making things yourself bring so much more personality into your home than over priced things from more expensive stores. A little creativity can make the smallest amount of money go a long way when it comes to decorating your home.

  • Laurie says:

    I try to keep my grocery budget and eating out budget pretty tight, but any extra money we save using coupons is mine to use at the end of the week goes to my decorating budget! Major purchases (i.e. furniture), are saved for usually from in a separate account (not much, but a little bit each month), and then small purchases – like accessories just come from extra grocery funds.

    My best deal EVER on paint? I found 2 gallons of matching green paint in the “mess-up” bins at Home Depot, that happened to exactly match my litte girl’s comforter. (They were $5 each). At the checkout, the register printed a $5 rebate form for Behr paint – so my daughter and I giggled all the way home about our free paint!!! 🙂 (She’s only 8, but she was pretty excited with me!)

  • Tonya says:

    I have found some really fun, interesting items for decorating at our Habitat for Humanity ReStore–it’s open to the public, and they are nationwide.

  • Danielle says:

    1.) Ask your family/in-laws. Most parents give their married children something for their anniversary and Christmas, so be open and honest when they ask you what you’d like. You can also create a registry (even if you’re already married!) at places like Wal-Mart, Target, etc. with the exact item you’d like to have.

    2.) Ask family, friends, church members, anyone you feel comfortable with! Just graciously put out the word that you’d really like to have ______ and if they have something along that line they’d feel comfortable trading with you, bartering for, gifting or selling at a really reduced rate. You never know what others might have just laying around their home or taking up space in closets that they’d be willing to part with for nothing or in exchange for you doing a few odd jobs around their home, etc.

  • Sia Hills says:

    I love garage sales for decorating (and the oops table at Home Depot – get cheap paint and start mixing it to make your own color). I just posted on a bunch of garage sale finds I got this weekend to decorate ($1.50 for 3 crystal candle holders, $1 for brand new throw pillows, and more, I included pictures if you want to see how pulling them out of a garage sale and adding them in at home can make them look new). Also, being creative (we used old wrapping paper in a reused frame from our house recently for my girls room, I have framed gift bags that presents have come in when I liked them, etc). Other then that I suggest you snag all the free online daily deal credits when they become available. Those sites often offer home decor deals, and its a great way to get an item or two for only the cost of shipping usually. Best wishes 🙂

  • Tara says:

    We have a savings account set up that we put money in from each paycheck. We save for things that we may only need to pay once or twice a year like home or car insurance or tuition for homeschooling. We also have other things like home maintenance in that account too. We budget about $25/month, but only use it when we need it. Things like parts for appliances, paint for touching up, candles, etc. all come out of that account. It saves us from having to worry if we really need something.

  • Janice says:

    Yard Sales!! They are great for decorating especially with little things, picture frames and candles for 50 cents etc. It also helps to hit the higher end neighborhoods for yard sales. They have cute decor, they just want to get rid of for a change, so it isn’t damaged or worn out, and it’s usually cheap.

  • Abigail's Mommy says:

    I stretch my household budget by buying discount gift cards. For example Khol’s is 15% off. Then you wait for a sale. You get a lot more for your money.

    http://www.giftcardgranny.com/

    • Lisette says:

      This is a great idea when you are planning to buy something new, especially when you combine the card with a coupon or other offer. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Jennifer says:

    We have a category in our budget called “special money.” It’s basically an allowance for grown-ups. My husband and I can each spend our special money on whatever we want. (Gifts for each other also come out of this category, which makes it more meaningful, because we’re giving up money that we could spend on ourselves.) I strongly recommend every married couple having this, even if it’s just a few dollars a month. It gives you the freedom to buy something you really want, go out to lunch with a friend, whatever, without causing any tension or wondering if it’s “ok” with your spouse.

  • Kate B says:

    I haven’t read all of the posts, but Freecycle is a good place to start.
    Also, put the word out to your friends. I got a beautiful one year old couch for free that way. Your friends may have something they want to get rid off, and you really want. That has happened to me. I had something fabulous, thought no one would want it, so I donated it to Good Will. Turns out a week later, a friend was looking for the exact item I had. While I am glad I donated it, I would have still rather given it to her, because she is broke, and would have loved it.
    Otherwise, most of my house hold decor is from gifts. I teased my Mom the other night that between the free couch and her Christmas and Birthday presents, my living room is looking great, and I love it. She decorated the costly part of my bathroom “re-vamp” (shower curtain and new towels) a few years back, as well.
    The other advice I have is to repurpose what you already have. Think outside of the box, move it to another room, can you spray paint it another color? Things of that nature.
    I had a bookshelf in my bedroom I almost donated. However, since flat screen tvs are so light, I was able to repurpose that into my tv stand in my living room, and got rid of the ugly clunky one I hated.
    I have also used a lowboy dresser as a tv stand in the past too.
    I have also noticed as I am getting older, I am getting more spartan in my decor. I absolutely have to LOVE something, or out it goes. It better serve a good function too.

  • Lacy says:

    DECORATORING SOLUTION FOR A TIGHT BUDGET!
    I recently framed 7 photos for my dining room (using solid wood frames) for around $18, less than the price of 1 nice frame. Here’s how it did it… I went to the thrift store and bought 7 mismatched frames (3 8×10 and 4 5×7) for about $12. All the frames were solid and it good shape. I laid them out like I’d hang them to make sure the shapes corrdinated well together. Then I hit up Lowe’s for a can of spraypaint priced about $4. I painted all the frames the same color. Then I went to Michael’s for mats. Instead of photo mats I bought nice textured scrapbook paper. It was on sale 3/$1. I bought 9 sheets because I wasnt sure which ones I wanted. (I didnt have the pictures with me.) I only used 3 sheets, I’ll save the others for another project. I used some of the mats I took out of the frames as stencils and used a razor blaze to cut the paper. They turned out beautiful if I may say so myself. 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Everyone else made great suggestions that I echo for specific items: the Goodwill/thrift stores, clearance, yard sales and Craiglist (for furniture). Decorating frugally is a passion of mine, my hobby. Home is a sanctuary and came be beautiful and peaceful without spending money or hiring a decorator. I think it is very possible to find things that look wonderful without spending much money and to repurpose to make a look that is your very own.

    It is key to me me to have an overall vision of the room instead of just finding things randomly, here and there that I like. That way I don’t spend money on too many picture frames or candles that don’t contribute to what I really want. I don’t mean a specific theme (like seashells or fruit in the kitchen) although that can work for some people, rather a sense of what I want a finished room to look like. I make a general plan in a folder or sample board with pictures from decorating magazine (leftovers from work or the doctor’s office), paint: style (Victorian, cottage, modern, etc.), color, furniture piece we need, lamps. That part is part of the fun for me but you can just have paint samples or fabric bits together in your purse to have an idea of color and the general list and idea in your head whenever you find something.

    I budget a small amount each month for this in the regular house budget and take one or two rooms at a time, planning a roughly larger budget over months/years. Lamps from the thrift store for $5 repainted with spray paint and new wiring and clearance shades from Target cost about $20 for an amazing pair of mid-century lamps. Almost all furniture is 2nd hand.

    A great source for me are church garage sales and consignment furniture stores. Also, I’ve started doing a decorating swap with family and friends. Just like a clothing swap, we take pictures of things we don’t want/need anymore and meet at one person’s house for food and fun. We bring the small things like frames and pictures to swap and look at pictures of larger items (like furniture) that we can swap. It is completely free! Hope I wasn’t too enthusiatic;). I want to encourage you that it is very possible to budget a few dollars and with a bit of planning and time to decorate frugally.

  • Kelly says:

    At Lowes they always have markdown paint and it’s cheap. They usually have good colors too. I have painted a few accent walls in my house with “oops paint”.
    These type of stores always have a markdown plant section too! Great for “decorating” your outside for cheap!

  • Jane says:

    I sometimes move things around – if it was in the den, I move it to the front room and it takes on a whole different look. I’ve also repurposed things like the old crate my grandma gave when I was a kid, makes a great “fill” in piece on top the bookcase to draw your eye up and people comment on it.

    I love clearance areas and try to budget a few dollars a month and set it aside like the above reader and then it is available if I’m in the need for change. Good luck

  • I love this question-I agree with having a “Home Improvement” addition to the budget. Granted I know it is not always easy to find extra money, but you could try taking $1-$5 out of the other budget categories. It is not a lot of money but it adds up quickly! I think that Pier One has amazing sales on fun and unique items. Also check Ebay or Craigslist or even FreeCycle- where items are actually free.Printing your pictures in black and white also add a touch of elegance to any room I think. I have SOOOOO many Yankee Candles! My mom gets tons for Christmas because she is the boss, but she hates them. So I save them to give as gifts to people I know will Love them!

  • Kelly Irene says:

    We have a few budget lines this could fit under but nothing specific for decorating. My hubby and I each have a “fun money” amount we can spend on whatever we want. It’s not a lot, but that gives me the freedom to buy something that is a want that he wouldn’t otherwise think is a great idea (like candles!). Also we do have a few lines like a small “misc.” fund or “gifts” and if I have a little extra on those at the end of the month I might use them for something I’ve been wanting but not needing that everyone benefits from (like new oven mitts, kitchen towels, or other random stuff like that).

  • Lisette says:

    We also have a budget that is zero based, leaving no money at the end of filling up my envelopes, and home decorating sure isn’t included! In the event that I do “need” a little something, I would take it out of our fun money! Granted, I don’t think decorating is very fun, so we mostly just do without! Anything “need” wise, like sheets, towels, etc. also comes out of the “fun” money! Maybe I should change the name of that envelope to “overflow.” Ha!

  • My cat loves to walk along all surfaces and kick things off with his back paws — that has made me a decorating minimalist. But I have managed to keep a few (heavy) things. I like natural decorations, so I always keep my eyes open when we’re out on walks. Acorns and pine cones make great decorations in the Fall and I love large leaves in the Summer (elephant ear, hosta). We also eat a lot of fruit so I leave it out in a bowl on my dining room table rather than in the fridge. That makes for a seasonal decoration that changes weekly!

    I lucked out on a valance for $2 at Goodwill recently for my daughter’s room. I was really excited about that. Here is a picture if you’re interested:
    http://cookingluck.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-curtains.html

  • Elizabeth says:

    Home decorating is really important to me, so it is an item in the budget. (Actually 2– I have a “home category, which is the mortgate + a little and a shopping category, which is clothes+household stuff, including decorating). If we don’t have a home improvement/repair issue, I spend out of the home category. If we do, I move into “shopping,” but that means that I can’t spend on clothes, etc.)

    Since the home stuff is important to me, that’s pretty much all I ask for for Christmas and birthdays. Now that we’ve been established for a while, I don’t need as many things, so I get to spend more on wants! 🙂 But, of course, now some of the original stuff is wearing out. (Like my 20 year old towels!) My advice is to buy the best things you can afford. Lands End Towels will go for 2o+ years before they unravel… cheap ones won’t. Penny wise, pound foolish. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      I asked for new door knobs for our 1940 house for christmas. My husband got me beautiful brass with glass knob ones. I was able to not have some ugly sweaters and pjs to wear , my husband has great taste in home decor, but has the worst taste in clothes for women.

  • BB says:

    I live in a tiny house. To keep clutter to a minimum, I try to decorate using functional items as much as possible. I’ve found that repurposing or rotating out items I already have helps a lot.
    One of my recent projects was to use a wood cabinet I found on the side of road in my neighborhood. We painted it and I filled it with bulk dry goods in mason jars. To decorate the top I am slowly buying herb plants (in grocery budget) and will get colorful pots from discount stores. The cabinet looks nice in my sunny dining room and will allow me to buy bulk food and grow my own herbs. We are landscaping our tiny backyard with berry bushes (again, grocery budget) as well.

  • Katherine says:

    One of the ways I’ve been able to decorate is to join a website like Mypoints.com. I make online purchases anyway, so I figured, why not earn points towards a gift card without having to spend extra money? When I want to buy something from Walmart, for example, I check the price online and in the store. If the prices match, or the product is cheaper online, I purchase the product online and pick it up at the store so I’m not charged a shipping and handling fee. You receive 1 point per dollar spent at Walmart (excluding tax and shipping, though). Other stores have different point per dollar amounts, and typically 1,650 points will equal a $10 gift card (number of points needed for the gift cards varies per store). I saved up my points and recently received a $50 gift certificate for Kohls. Pair that with a clearance sale, and you can stretch that $50.

    But you don’t HAVE to make online purchases. You can earn points for taking surveys, clicking on advertisements in emails they send you, signing up for news letters (that you can unsubscribe from once you earn the points!), and occasionally watching videos, etc. They send me about 5 emails a day, each worth 5 points, so that’s 25 points per day right there. And that will add up quickly. I made a separate email for sites like Mypoints since they send quite a few emails.

    Garage sales and thrift stores are great for picture frames, candle holders, platters, vases, etc. I’ve purchased all of these products at thrift stores for $1 or $2 each. If you’re looking for more expensive items like new sheets and towels, mypoints.com is probably the way to go.

  • Bobbi Simmons says:

    We use our tax return on stuff for the house or things for the outside of our house. If I have left over grocery money I put in a piggy bank and save it. Other times I ask for money for my birthday and christmas, then I use that to decorate my house. Otherwise I get hand me downs from my sister and mom!!!

  • B says:

    This is slighlt off the subject, but how does everyone stay on budget with the current constantly going up prices? Each month last month’s budget is of no use anymore. For example this month the house insurance went up $30. a month and the county is imposing a new $35. monthly fee per month per household on 911/fire services due to high fuel prices. Each month it is somthing like that and then prices are also carried on to us at stores. I was just curious how any of you all stay on a budget when each month costs are exploding upward?

  • E says:

    GREAT ideas… we will be moving soon & will need to redecorate our next home from scratch again… to give a new look & new feel to the rooms (aside from being in a different house!! LOL) I will repurpose things that we used in a certain room in our old house, & use them in a different room in our new house.

    We don’t have any extra blow money or fun money to set aside… if I happen to be able to stock up on a few grocery items at a great price, then I may have an “extra” $5-$10 to invest… if not, the “free” resources are it ($10 off $10 at Kohl’s, Freecycle, curb picking, etc.).

    We don’t get any money/gifts from parents or family for anything, so anything we want/need we buy 100% on our own. We shop Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard/garage sales, & Freecycle…. and scour the clearance shelves & racks. I have also found some really nice decor items at the $1 store every so often.

    Unfortunately w/gas prices as high as they are already, this year I haven’t been able to shop even 1 yard/garage sale… it is just too much money to drive around. So after we move, I will be on the Freecycle hunt.

    Some of you have inspired me to host a trade event w/other local moms once we move & get settled in. GREAT idea!!

  • jamie says:

    Goodwill and spray paint!

  • Leanne says:

    We put a little cash aside every month in an enveloped marked “home.” It’s not much, but it helps me to have money when I find good bargains. Before we started the envelope, I’d find the perfect something (frame, lampshade, etc) at a great deal but not have any money set aside to buy it! Now we always have a little set aside for when I find a good deal. Garage sale, thrift stores, and clearance items don’t always come when you have money allocated, so we just make sure we always have money for home things.

    Leanne

  • Kim says:

    Cheapest way I have found is to scour the thrift stores & garage sales in my area. I usually find things at a fraction of the cost. Also, if you budget your grocery shopping and have extra leftover money save it up for a few weeks and then hit the thrift stores.

  • Stephanie says:

    I save the wax from old candles and make new ones. You don’t need a candle mold. You can do it with paper or plastic cups, wick, and microwave. For picture frames. I go to thrift stores & yard sales (garage sales) and repaint them when I get home. For sheets, we tend to buy new ones once every 5 years or so. But our basic motto is to reuse and recycle. Or “upcycle” as some like to call it.

  • lisa says:

    A few years ago when my husband lost his job, we starting going to estate sales. Depending where you live, these can be an excellent source for home decor, furniture, you name it. And often on the last day of the sale, everything is 50% off or they are giving things away. We research on-line for about 15 minutes and find 3-5 to go to that day depending on the time we have. The better estate sales are not marked with a lot of signage, so the on-line upfront research is key. I live in the suburbs north of Chicago and this area is spectacular for estate sales if you have the time to do it.

  • indy says:

    I mainly shop at yard sales (garage sales) for decorations. You can find many things like new sheets, comforters, candles, pictures, furniture, etc. Craigslist is also a really good place for used furniture. I am a big fan of antiques, because I figure if it has lasted 100 years, then it should last quite a few more year. :0)

    Once you have decided what look you are going for, such as contemporary, old world, tuscan design and your color scheme, you can start looking at yard sales, thrift stores, craigslist, etc. . The finds are amazing. You can’t find everything there, but you can get many things to spruce up your home, at a mere fraction of its original cost.

  • Debra Rioux says:

    I get most of my decorating stuff and furniture at garage sales. Someones old decor can be my new style. Pay attention to the type of neighborhood as the ones that are nicer, upscale homes etc have the best stuff. They also practically give it away just for the space. If you see something you might want just get it as it will be gone by the time you come back. I get lots of linens. Shower curtains if in good shape and made of fabric are great. I make curtains, tableclothes etc out of these. It is nice because most of the edges are finished. The plastic shower curtains make nice outdoor tableclothes or ground cover for a picnic. I will put a laundry basket in the trunk or back of my car to corrall all the little things and make it easier to bring in at the end of the day when I am tired. Also come back between 5-7 pm that same day and cruise around and look at all the free stuff sitting on the curb.

  • We have a list of things we have talked about needing/wanting. We try to prioritize it, and we look for the best deals. There have been some Christmas celebrations where we buy things for our home instead of gifts for each other. Sometimes just by skipping eating out a week or a month, you can free up some money if there is something that you really want. It’s a great practice of self-control, and it’s tough; however, when you save up and get exactly what you want, you’ll have no regrets. You won’t feel guilty every time you look at what you bought. You’ll have freedom to enjoy it.

  • Rachel says:

    Consider utilizing your gift budget and giving gifts to your children (if you have got them) or husband that are new sheets, picture frames, candles, etc. When I was growing up, I commonly received “basic stuff” like socks, underwear, picture frames with a photo from the past year, books and candles as birthday or Christmas presents. Especially for kids, a box with wrapping paper and tied up with a bow makes the everyday items special, and not ordinary at all!

  • I don’t do a ton of decorating, my style is more stark and bare…..but I have found looking at things we use in every day life, it can be nice! Use a glass canning jar and fill with lilacs in the spring to set on your table. In the fall, a bowl with pine cones or apples piled in them on the table is a great decoration. Pictures of family or relatives in thrift store frames, spray painted to all match. I often see them for .25-50.
    Take pictures yourself and print them in black and white at Costco or Walgreen’s for a couple dollar’s and you would be amazed at how great they look. Large prints of famous paintings are available for cheap in poster size, and look great in a thrift store frame.

    Sheets and towels……I plan in my budget in January-March for sheets. This is normally when they are marked down or on sale. I got a great sheet set for my bed for under $14, that was high quality. I am just replacing sheets for my bed, I got for my wedding 14 years ago. High quality sheets will last longer.
    Ross and TJ Maxx have higher quality names for cheaper.

  • Carrie says:

    If you are on a really tight budget there are a couple of things you could do to be able to get those “home” items.

    First, at the end of the month, you could use leftover money from any of your budgeted categories – usually grocery has the best chance of having extra cash in it.

    Second, ask for a wanted item for a birthday or holiday.

    Third, have a garage sale ( if you have lots of things you want to get rid of) or sell on craigslist if you only have a few items.

    Then, the best way to get the most from your limited budget is to:
    1. Look for sales, especially ones you can pair with coupons
    2. Check out garage sales
    3. Check out a local flea market/ swap meet
    4. Browse craigslist and/or freecycle
    5. Check your local newspaper – classified section

  • Jennifer says:

    I have found some really nice home decor items at garage sales. People are always changing out their decor, and their trash could be your treasure! I have decorated nearly my entire home with garage sale finds and clearance sale items. I don’t spend a fortune on home decorating, so I don’t feel bad if I want to change out something. I just go looking for the next garage sale!

  • Ashley Penn says:

    I’m extremely blessed in that people keep giving me things! Of course, I don’t get all of them for free.

    One thing we do is trade service for second-hand items. An example:

    My neighbor was getting rid of his old entertainment center to replace it with a newer one. My husband volunteered to help him put it together, in exchange for the bookshelves that came with the original unit. I’m currently using those shelves to display my china collection that had been sitting in storage since we moved because I couldn’t afford a new hutch. (We had to get rid of the old one due to carpenter ants.)

    Candles are cheap at places like Dollar Tree. Get the large jar candles, and they’ll last a good long time, especially if you use a candle warmer instead of lighting the wick. (I don’t like doing this, though. The smell isn’t as strong or pleasant with the warmer.)

    And finally, GET CREATIVE! Photo frames are nice, but not a necessity. You can tack them to the wall in a large collage. It makes an interesting piece for visitors to look at while you make lunch or something.

    Some people have guest books in their homes. I have some dry-erase markers next to a mirror. The rule is everyone who visits has to leave something on the mirror. It can be as simple as their signature, or something else like a drawing, or a special quote, Bible verse, or message. Then after they leave, I take a photo to put on my hard drive. It keeps a record of your guests, and it lets your guests express themselves. You can leave the notes up for as long as you like, and wipe them off when you’re done.

    And my favorite investment for decorating… wooden roses. I had a guy who used to come around to our office selling fresh flowers, but he also sold wooden ones painted in beautiful colors. Each dozen was $20, but they were so gorgeous! I bought 2 dozen large roses, and 3 dozen smaller ones (Which were only $10 each). I didn’t buy them all at once of course. Just here and there when I could afford them. My 3 smaller bunches were blue and purple. I twisted the stems together and placed them in a jar that came from a florist’s display my grandmother got for my birthday years ago. That sits on top of my fridge. My long stems are sitting in a vase that I got so long ago, I don’t remember when I got it. I tied a ribbon around the neck and keep the vase on my dining room table, since we only eat there on special occasions anyway. They’re beautiful, they look pretty real, and you can get a jar of rose oil to spritz on them if you wants them to smell nice. They’re a bit of an investment. but they’ll last FOREVER! And it’s so much nicer than buying real flowers that will die in a week.

    Head on over to my blog to see some pictures of them. And some of my other decorating ideas.

    Decorating doesn’t have to break your budget if you have a little ingenuity. 🙂

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