Paycheck Chronicles

Five Ways To Decorate On A Small Budget

If you're on a budget - and who isn't? - this constant moving can be a big problem. No one wants to live in a bare box, and you've got to cover your windows!  Moving is already expensive, with security deposits and rent and utility bills.  How can you make your house a home without spending too much? Here are five ways to decorate on a small budget.

Great tips for making a house a home, even when you're decorating on a small budget.Buy Used

I can't even begin to tell you how much money my family has saved by buying pre-loved furniture.  Every military base has some sort of buying and selling Facebook group.  If you can't find yours, ask your new neighbors, or call your family readiness center and see if they know.  Most bases also have thrift shops on base, and you can always find a thrift shop out in town.  Spend your Saturday mornings going to yard sales, if they're popular in your area.  See if Freecycle.org has a group for your area, or remember to check out Craiglist's free listings.  The internet has made it so easy to buy used that there is almost no reason to buy new.

For example, our sofas wouldn't fit through the door to the TV room in our new house.  I figured that the best choice was to buy a cheap IKEA sofa.  In a fit of brilliance, I checked Craigslist for the exact same sofa.  Normally, I'm a little weird about buying used fabric things (bugs, you know) but I knew that I could buy new slipcovers.  Instead of spending $500 each, I bought the sofas for $60 and $100, and spent $100 on two new sets of slipcovers.  That's $260 total, instead of the $1000 the same sofas would have cost new, and I can't tell the difference.

You Can Frame Just About Anything

Using cheap frames picked up at the thrift store (so much more sturdy than the ones from the dollar store), perk up you walls by framing whatever looks interesting.  You can make your own art, frame fabric, find online printables, or do whatever inspires you.  Wall art does not have to be expensive.

Take Hand-Me-Downs

For the first five years of our marriage, my husband and I didn't own a piece of furniture that wasn't some sort of gift or purchased from the dent and damage corner with my employee discount.  Heck, I'm writing this sitting on a sofa that friend was going to give to Goodwill, eight years ago.  I keep thinking that we'll replace it, but it is comfortable and doesn't look too bad.

Focus On Things That Matter

I can't tell you what that is, because everyone is different.  What's important is that you identify your priorities and spend your time and limited money there.  No one really cares if the inside of your junk closet isn't beautiful, so don't agonize over it.  Use your energy to decorate the spaces that matter!

For me, a pretty and comfortable bed is a big thing.  It makes me happy when I get up and make it, and it makes me happy when I take it apart to go to bed at night.  Our bed wasn't super-expensive.  The headboard was pulled out of the community dumpster, and I waited forever to find bed coverings on clearance.  I did splurge on nice sheets, though, because it is important to me.

Be Patient

It's hard when you move into a new place and want to do everything at once.  We've been in our current house for over two months now, and I have a hundred things that I want to do.  I'm waiting until our budget settles down a little bit before I start buying.

Patience also extends to waiting for sales and finding coupons.  For example, I refuse to buy anything at the major craft and fabric stores unless it is at least 50% off and/or I have at least a 50% off coupon.  I've been eyeing some fabric at Joann's for a while, but I'm waiting until Black Friday when I know I can get it for a super-bargain.

Moving into a new home can bring a whole pile of expenses, and it is easy to feel frustrated when you can't afford to make it just the way you'd like.  With some creativity, patience, and a teensy bit of effort, you can decorate on a small budget and make a home that you'll love.

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