Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Favorite $ Saving Tips - Saving on Decor

It's November! This is a good thing - cause I like November and it means I am only 3 months from my due date..but also a scary thing - cause Zach's birthday is coming up and the holidays and I have so much to do before those things are here.

I wanted to make another post about some deals we have found in our house that have helped us save $$. This time its mostly on home decor and stuff like that. Hope its helpful. :)

Saving on Decor:

1 - Cheap and Free Photo Books. I love pictures and I love scrapbooking but I have to admit that making scrapbooks yourself is very time consuming and can get expensive not to mention that I don't have the luxery of spreading out my materials and leaving them out until I'm done now that there are curious toddler fingers roaming around the house. :) When I started seeing the pre-made photo books I thought they were really cool - you still get to design them yourself and everything - but they can be REALLY expensive...like $45 sometimes which I think is crazy. So I ruled those out of our budget pretty quickly. BUT not for long. I have joined a few photo websites for other purposes and pretty soon I started getting some great offers for cheap photo books. Now, sometimes you have to wait a while for a good deal, but its worth it. My favorite site is Artscow. They ALWAYS have great offers. Just join the site (free) and make sure you sign up for their emails cause thats where you hear about the deals. Most of the books below came from Artscow and I only paid shipping on them. Yeah thats right - $3 to $7 total. Not bad for 20 pages of pictures! I have also used shutterfly and picaboo but not many sites offer them for free very often - artscow is the best. The smaller hardback books (6x6, 20 to 30 pages) on artscow are available for just shipping costs pretty often. Zachary LOVES "reading" our vacation books and they are great for setting around the house (I know I always look at peoples pictures). They also make GREAT gifts. So there ya go, that saves you $30+ on printing your pictures and scrapbooking. It does take some time, especially if you want to design the layouts yourself but there are also options to just click and add your whole album to preset layouts so you have some choices. :)

2- Making your own decor. You don't have to be a great artist to do this stuff. I made the canvases pictured below with cheap products from AC Moore and Michaels. We have lots of "trees and nature" stuff in our living room and they match ok. They aren't perfect but they don't have to be as far as I'm concerned and they were a lot cheaper than paying for pre-made wall art in their sizes.

Try joining Pinterest for great access to step-by-step do it yourself art/craft projects. You will find some great ideas!

On a related note - Artscow also does lots of specials on stretched canvases and we have put this to use several times to help decorate our walls. I got the canvas pictured below AND 2 others (all 18X24 in size) for $11.99 total...yeah that included shipping. Now the only thing is they don't come on the frame so you have to spend another $4 at Hobby Lobby to get the frame and use a staple gun to stretch them on (tip: start from the middle top and bottom and move outward from there when stapling...and stretch well). This is SOOO much cheaper than buying big canvases from places like Olan Mills (not to mention you get a lot more variety on background and color).

3 - Shop discount places. We LOVE IKEA - we especially love that they are always offering deals on some of their best selling items.

We waited for this bookshelf to go on sale for $99 before we bought it. It's huge and takes up most of the space we needed to fill in our living room so merry christmas to us last year. :) We had kept our eyes out for something like this piece for a long time and were seeing prices around $300+...no thanks!

We love it. Also - most of the furniture in our living room was either given to us or bought for extremely cheap. If you are crafty you can make anything look new and if you aren't - ask a friend for help. There is so much unused and unwanted furniture out there - I have a hard time spending much on new stuff. The end tables in this room were bought at Target for $20, our TV was sold to us for cheap when we bought the house (Thank you Kyle), Chris used to work at a furniture store so theres the free coffee table and stool, I was given a papasan chair as a gift for college (still in use) and there ya have it...or most of it. We did buy our sectional sofa new from rooms to go but even that we waited for good deals on and found one where we could buy a few $100 giftcards from the store and they DOUBLED them automatically. Just keep your eyes peeled!

Don't be afraid to try Big Lots or Hobby Lobby and even Thrift stores and garage sales if you have the time and the guts. ;) More often than not, we walk away from these places empty handed. In other words, we don't assume that we have to buy something every time we go, BUT over time we have picked up some decent things for a fraction of the normal cost, just by keeping an eye out for a good deal and waiting for the right time to buy.
I say all of this cause I know a lot of people who feel like when they get their first home or something they have to run out and buy a matching living room set (etc) to fill it up. If this is what you want, then go for it, but don't feel like its your only option in order to have a decent looking home. I think our room looks fine even if its not fancy and perfect and it didn't cost us near what you would pay for an entire matching living room.

Basically, what a lot of this stuff comes down to is this: Don't box yourself in to feeling like there is this set standard of living that you have one way to obtain. I honestly hope that even if Chris and I did have the option to spend lots of money on these things (i.e. $45 on ONE photo book, $100 on wall art, $2000 on a living room set, $1000+ on a big screen tv), that we wouldn't. Cause we don't have to. Don't let people make you feel like you have to live that way. Look for a better alternative when you need to. Being crafty and having patience and using 2nd hand items (im not talking used camp t shirts here people) has helped us make a comfy home for ourselves that if you looked at our budget - you might wonder how we afford.
Note: We are also blessed with great friends and family who sometimes give us nice things as gifts that we would not buy for ourselves. I point to this out because I feel like it would be overlooking something that contributes in this area that we greatly appreciate.

Anyway, there are a few more of our money saving tips. Once again, these are things our family does on a regular basis that save us lots of $ over time.

Side note: Yesterday we had to make a trip to walmart to get a new tail light for our car. Just so happens that they were in the process of marking down the halloween costumes when we got there. Guess how much they were.....$1. ALLL of them. so Zachary and his brother are pretty well set for the next several years of halloween and dress up...every boy needs a superman costume to run around in, right? ;) We found animal costumes, superheros, a racecar costume, etc. All regular priced at $20...for $1.

Anyway, I was excited so I thought I would share. I love finding awesome deals! And anyway those same costumes will be back on the shelf next year for $20 again so why would I wait to pay that? (let me establish that I wouldn't pay that in the first place, but you get the point).

We also found 20 packs of mini play doh for $1.25 because the bag holding them had a halloween print. Goody bags for Z's party and Christmas gift for the boys?? I think so!

Don't be afraid to stockpile - just don't buy/keep things that you will never use. (I always picture my grandmothers attic whenever I wonder if I should buy something....it helps me keep perspective, haha. She kept EVERYTHING!)

Have a great week person who reads this...hoping theres at least one of you. ;)