Simple Decorating Ideas for Frugal Moms

August 27, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Home Decorating · 1 Comment 

On average, frugal moms spend ten hours every day in their homes. That’s why creating a warm, attractive, comfortable environment is so important. But how can you make your house into a home without racking up huge amounts of debt? Here are some ideas…

Paint. Decorating your walls with wallpaper can be expensive, especially if your room is large. Instead, buy a gallon or two of paint and change the entire ambiance of a room. Many hardware stores offer discounts on five gallon buckets so if you plan to paint several rooms, you might consider going with one base color throughout and changing the rooms by added a wallpaper border (available at the dollar store), or adding a second color on one wall or the bottom of the walls for accent. You can also paint tables, stools, cabinets, dressers, etc. rather than replacing them. It’s amazing how much difference a little paint can make.

Check local thrift stores for items you can use. Just because something is secondhand doesn’t mean it’s second class. You may be pleasantly surprised at some of the gems you find browsing Goodwill and similar stores. Don’t ignore an item just because it doesn’t match your color scheme. It’s simple and cheap to paint or refinish many pieces to your liking.

Thrift Stores are also great places to pick up rugs, bedspreads, draperies and other fabric that you need. And the nice thing is that even though thrift stores specialize in secondhand merchandise, a lot of times, you can find new or barely used items at thrift store prices!

It’s also worth checking flea markets and garage sales for furniture and anything else you need for your home. Even if what you find looks less than its best, you know you can easily brighten it up for a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Lamp shades make a huge difference in a room. Typically, plain white or off-white lamp shades are better value for money than bright, colorful or artistic shades. But white and cream shades can look incredibly dull if they don’t match your decor. If you’re crafty or artistic, though, you can decorate plain lamp shades yourself and come up with something totally your own. You can use almost anything to decorate lamp shades including paints, sequins, scrap fabrics, ribbons, yarn, appliques, and more. Just let your creativity flow and see what you can do!

Wicker baskets are wonderful for holding small items that clutter your home like toys, sewing and craft items, hubby’s odds and ends, and practically anything else that just needs a home of its own. Baskets also add a nice touch of warmth and decoration to plain shelves and floor space.

It’s so easy to get bored with your sofa, especially when it starts to look a little shabby as it ages. But sofas are far from cheap, so you may not be able to even consider buying a new one. You can, however, revamp yours with some throw pillows or a coverlet from the thrift store or Wal*Mart. A smart idea is to raid the fabric department for remnants and bolt ends of fabric that are too small to sell at full price. These are often sold cheap just to get rid of them. don’t worry if they’re too small for what you need. You can mix and match fabrics and stitch them together to make a nice patchwork effect.

There are many ways to change your decor enough to give your home a fresh new warmth without spending a fortune. Try these or let them jumpstart your creativity for other ideas.

Give Yourself a “New” Bathroom for Under $100

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Give Yourself a “New” Bathroom for Under $100 

Giving your entire home a new look can run into some big bucks, but choosing one room at a time, especially a small room, is doable on most any budget. A good place to begin is with your bathroom, since 1) it’s typically the smallest room in the house, and 2) there are so many frugal options to choose from that you don’t have to spend much money at all to achieve a great new look! Here are some ways to quickly–and inexpensively–update your bathroom decor for under $100.

• Paint. You can find a gallon of paint on sale for $10 and update the entire look of your room in a few hours. Even if you don’t do anything else, you’ve got a bright “new” room with this change alone.

• A wallpaper border from the dollar store will transform your plain bathroom walls into a romantic hideaway, a jungle adventure, a deep sea odyssey, or a relaxing mountain lodge.

• Change the shower curtain to match your new paint and border. You can make your own from a flat sheet for less than the cost of a store-bought one and have fabric leftover for other projects.

• Buy new towels and use some of that leftover sheet to add a border around the bottom. Or crochet an edging in a coordinating color.

• Hang new towel rods and hooks, or paint the ones you have. They’ll show-off those newly decorated towels to their best advantage.

• Pick up a new toothbrush holder, soap dish and cup set at the dollar store. A solid color will work best since you’ll have it if you decide to change patterns later. And the full set can be found for $5 or less.

• Paint a shelf to complement your new paint then hang it about a foot from the ceiling on a wall in the bathroom. Fill it with guest towels, baskets, or other decorative items to match your new style.

• Set baskets around and fill them with the things you use every day such as lotions, make-up, colognes, hair care products, etc. Spray paint the baskets to match the decor, or leave them natural. They look nice either way.

• Frame some magazine prints that fit your new room. You can often pick up old magazines at yard sales for 10¢ each. Add a 25¢ frame and you’ve got new, “original” artwork for pennies.

• Reframe your vanity mirror. Some simple strips of wood can turn that old, dated mirror into something modern and uplifting.

• If your mirror frame is wood, paint it. You can add some decals or leave it plain. Or choose a patterned, self-adhesive paper that matches the room.

• Mobile homes often have flat mirrors that are simply glued to the wall. If that’s your case, it could create a major project to repair peeling mirror paint. Instead, look for decals that can be adhered directly over the worst spots. You may not cover every bad spot, but it will certainly make the mirror look better and the spots less noticeable.

• Add new carpet. Since many bathrooms are small, you may be able to carpet (or tile) the bathroom for just a few dollars and some labor. Give it a try. Carpet remnants come pretty cheap, and the whole room will feel more plush when you’re finished.

Decorating Your Home with Candles

July 14, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Decorating Your Home with Candles 

Love candles? Who doesn’t! That’s why our homes are filled with candles of all shapes, sizes and scents. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do with all those candles we acquire through home parties, gifts, crafting and yard sales. Here are some tips and ideas for using candles throughout your home to help create a warm, comfortable environment while showing off all your waxen treasures.

• Always light a candle at least once so that the tip of the wick is burnt rather than white. This creates a much warmer atmosphere.

• Be safe when burning candles. Keep them away from children, pets, curtains and drafts. Never leave them burning when you go to bed or leave the house. And watch them closely when they burn down close to the candleholder so they don’t break and spill hot wax.

• Consider the effect you get with varying colors, sizes and shapes of candles. For instance, all-white candles make a striking centerpiece for wedding showers and parties. Bright striped candles add excitement and liven up a sunroom. And soothing pastels create calm and serenity in a bath.

• Display your candles in a variety of ways around your home. Place a few together on a bathroom vanity. Set one or two on the kitchen counter. Place one atop a bookshelf in your office. Even if you don’t burn them all, candles make an excellent addition to any room.

• Floating candles make an attractive “candlescape” for your dinner table. Fill a shallow glass dish with water. Add 2-3 small floating candle and some large flowers such as magnolia blossoms.

• Jar candles or container candles can be decorated with ribbons, trims, self-adhesive appliques and more to match your decor or the mood of your room.

• Keep candles from developing a hole in the middle around the wick, burn them one hour for every inch in diameter – at least the first time you light them. For instance, burn a 1″ round taper one hour, and a 3″ round pillar three hours when you first bring them home for the best results.

• Make a lovely centerpiece by grouping several candles of varying sizes and complementary colors on a mirrored tray. Use smooth, small river rocks to fashion a border around the outside of the tray, if desired.

• Napkin rings make the perfect size holder for tealight candles. Just be sure to protect the surface underneath from wax spills.

• Placing candles in the refrigerator before burning will make them last longer.

• Scented candles smell strongest at the bottom, so if you want a strong scent, sniff there before you buy.

• Reduce the amount of smoke candles emit when they burn by keeping the wicks trimmed to 1/4″.

• Use your imagination when selecting candle holders. Think outside the box and opt for items such as vintage saucers or bowls, flower pots, wire baskets and more.

There are many more ways to use candles around the house. Dig out all your candles and potential candleholders and create some new, stunning decorations for your home.

Frugal Home Decorating with Recycled Jeans

June 30, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Frugal Home Decorating with Recycled Jeans 

With our world going green in so many areas, it seems only natural to search for ways to reuse and recycle everything in our homes. One of the things many of us have an abundance of is denim. From denim shirts and jackets, to denim skirts, capris, and jeans, most frugal moms have access to a lot of denim. And there’s no need to trash those old jeans when they become worn or no longer fit. Use them to create budget home decor that will revamp every room in your house at little or no cost, other than time and effort. You’ll not only freshen up your home, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of going a little greener when you do.

• Cut strips from the legs, hem them all around, and use for curtain tie backs. These look really neat around lace or gingham curtains, in particular, though they’ll go with just about anything.

• Make your own comforter or bedspread. Cut squares or patchwork shapes from the denim and zigzag stitch them together to create a unique spread. Serge the edges, or hem them. Lined or unlined is up to you – this looks great either way.

• Cut squares about 10″ x 10″, hem around all four sides, and hang them on your curtain rod diagonally to create a simple valance.

• Or sew pieces together, any size you have on hand, and create a piece of fabric wide enough to cover your window and long enough to hang down about 10″-12″ for a valance. Hem three sides and stitch a simple casing at the top. Voíla! A new window treatment that’s especially good in a teen’s room.

• Sew (or fabric glue) the pockets onto a large scrap of coordinating fabric to create a pocket organizer for the bathroom or the back of a closet door.

• Cover an old potholder with denim to make a new one. Cut two pieces slightly larger than your existing potholder and sew them, right sides together around three sides. Turn right sides out, insert the old potholder in the pocket (for heat protection), tuck in the unhemmed edge, pin, and topstitch around all sides.

• Make your own placemats from the backside of the jeans and pockets. Find 4-6 similar sized pair of jeans, and cut apart at the legs leaving the pockets and waistband intact on the “seat.” Hem or zigzag stitch the edges for a great summer table decoration.

• Craft some coasters or bottle cozies. There are patterns online for the cozies, coasters don’t even need one. Cut a variety of shapes such as squares, circles, hearts, diamonds, etc. from old jeans. Either sew them as you did for the potholder with a fabric backing, or zigzag stitch the edges and use one-layer thick.

• You can also make pillows from jeans by creating the same type pocket (sewing around three edges with right sides together), turning right sides out, and stuffing with fiberfill or an old pillow form.

• Make a simple magnetic pocket to hold pens and a small notepad. Cut out a flat pocket leaving 1/2″ or more on every side for sewing. Cut another piece of denim the same size. Sew together around three sides (with right sides facing) and turn right side out. Hem the top of the “back” – the piece without the pocket. Attach two long magnet strips to the top and bottom of the pocket and hang on the fridge.

• Use your denim scraps to make a durable, attractive rug that will last for ages. You can either cut shapes and sew them together, then hem around all sides. Or make long strips of fabric and braid them into a rug. Either way, be sure to add non-skid tape to the back so you don’t slide.

• Cover your dining room chairs in denim. This looks wonderful in a country kitchen. You can either use the legs from large jeans by ripping out the innerseam and laying the fabric flat, or you can make squares and sew the pieces together to create a larger piece of fabric.

These are just a few of the many ways you can reuse your old jeans. Get creating and get crafting… everything you make will be truly original!

Frugal Decor to Enhance Your Wallspace

June 9, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Frugal Decor to Enhance Your Wallspace 

While you may not be able to give your home, or even one room, an entire makeover, you can easily add interest by making some simple changes to a wall or two. Depending on your style of decor, there are a variety of ways to beautify every room in your house with these frugal ideas.

• Paint one wall a different color from the rest of the room. Opt for a coordinating color or one that’s completely different. If every wall is white, choose something bold like red or sunny yellow. Add pillows and inexpensive accessories to give the entire room a more vibrant look.

TIP: Check your city’s hazardous waste recycling center for free or low-cost paint.

• Add texture to a wall by hanging a quilt, coverlet, afghan, tapestry, etc. This is a great way to display a family heirloom or treasure that you don’t want to damage by using as a throw.

• Hang a collection. A friend of mine who collected vintage hats hung them on her bedroom wall to create one of the most feminine, romantic rooms imaginable. Other possibilities include musical instruments and sheet music, costumes and accessories, pages copied from your favorite books, posters, newspaper articles, toys, framed or unframed photos, or anything else you have several of.

• Create a kitchen border with baskets. Hang baskets in varying sizes, shapes and colors around the top of a kitchen wall. They add warmth and texture and you can easily take one down, line with a cloth napkin and use to hold bread or rolls when entertaining.

• Design a shelf bolder with simple boards, and wood or metal brackets. Hang them 6-8 inches from the ceiling and fill with an accumulation of various things. This is great for showcasing unrelated items that you have no other place to display.

• Hang a plant. Macrame and rope plant hangers are making a comeback. You can pick them up at thrift stores or make your own to display a beloved houseplant and quickly add life and oxygen to any room. For best results, choose an area with appropriate lighting and temperature for the plant.

• Make a faux wainscoting from wallpaper, paint or self-adhesive paper. Choose a textured or smooth design in a complementary color for your room to add elegance and appeal to one wall or all of them.

• Put it in words! Use letters cut from wood, wallpaper, cardstock or self-adhesive paper to say what’s on your mind. Write out your favorite quote, Bible verse or inspiration and attach it to the wall for a contemporary design that sure’s to attract attention.

• Use found elements such as branches, driftwood, pinecones, pebbles, seashells, etc. to create a natural border, pattern or design on one or more walls. This works especially well in a sun room or outdoor-themed room.

• Frame it. Find inexpensive frames at yard sales or the dollar store and fill them with all sorts of interesting items. Consider vintage gloves, lace and pearls, buttons, denim scraps, gadgets from the hardware store and anything else you can think of. Then hang them in an arrangement on one wall for a truly original collage.

• Add a layer of paint on top of your existing paint or wallpaper. Use a sponge, rag, crumpled paper bag or ball of plastic wrap to add color and dimension to a room. Using a textured “paintbrush” makes it easy to create a truly original design with little effort or cost.

• Stencil on a border. All you need is some paint, a template and your imagination to create a stenciled border. If you’re a beginning stenciler, choose a simple design and colors that blend well with existing decor for the best results.

• Show your stripes. Paint your room the color you want the stripes to be. Then adhere masking tape in a random or uniform pattern on the wall. Paint the wall a coordinating color and remove the tape. Voila… instant stripes!

These are just a few of the many frugal, fun and creative ways you can brighten your home – one wall at a time.

Cost of Raising Baby on the Cheap

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · 1 Comment 

Have you ever read those reports on the cost of raising a child?

The last time I checked, I was told that it would cost the astronomical figure of $430,470 to raise my baby… and that didn’t include college tuition!

The people who come up with these figures must not be very creative. Some of the best things you can do for your child are free or very inexpensive.

Here are some tips for raising kids on the cheap.

1) Breastfeed

You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs alone in your baby’s first year by breastfeeding. Check out this report:

This figure doesn’t include the extra costs you would incur from Doctor visits and medications. Breastfed babies are less likely to need medical care and don’t get sick as often as their formula fed peers.

Formula feeding increases a baby’s risk of both acute and chronic health problems not only during childhood but well into adulthood. If you’re a working and breastfeeding Mother, you’re less likely to miss work than if you were formula feeding.

In addition, a breastfed baby can go straight from the breast to an open cup, thus eliminating pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups.

Even baby food is not necessary. The healthiest first foods for baby are fresh fork-mashed avocado, banana, sweet potato and the like. If you’re breastfeeding, you may be able to delay the introduction of solids until as late as 8 or 9 months.

2) Use Cloth Diapers

All I am saying…is give cloth a chance!

The modern cloth diapers are nothing like Grandma’s. The nicer ones are made from high tech materials that wick moisture away from baby, and utilize snaps or velcro to close instead of pins.

They save you a lot of money especially if you save them and use them again for subsequent children. You can buy them cheaply at thrift stores, online auctions, and diaper services (check your phone book for listings). Or ask for cloth diapers as shower gifts.

3) Rethink your Needs

Think about what you REALLY need to raise your baby. A lot of the expensive items sold in baby stores are completely unnecessary and some are even harmful. Most of the people raising children on the planet today do so without cribs, walkers (which Pediatricians recommend against anyway!), playpens, changing tables, swings, “educational” toys, etc.

Many Moms have found that a soft cloth carrier or baby sling was the only gadget they really needed. Baby is happy, stimulated by your activities and entertained. And Mom can get stuff done!

The best toys are simple and classic and require imagination. These are often the least expensive too! And most kids do best with few toys that are rotated. Think back to your own childhood…what were your favorite toys? If you can even remember them, they were probably not loud, flashy electronic battery powered gadgets. Your best childhood memories probably come from activities…playing in Grandma’s backyard, going places with Mom and Dad, the simple things.

For the baby stuff you really can’t live without…

4) Buy or Obtain Used

Let friends know that you welcome hand-me-downs and you’ll be blessed with all sorts of great stuff!

High quality clothing and baby equipment generally doesn’t wear out from just one child’s use. For safety, check to make sure items haven’t been recalled and get the owner’s manuals from the manufacturer’s websites. (The one exception would be child safety seats. Always buy those new.)

Shop at thrift and consignment shops and online auctions. Some of the very best deals can be found at regional consignment sales. Check local parenting magazines and websites for the locations of these.

Personally, I prefer used clothing because much new clothing has been treated with flame retardants and other scary chemicals that can be absorbed into children’s softer skin.

Being a frugal parent minimizes the impact on the environment, saves you money and models a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Teach your kids what really matters in life…people, not things!

Carrie Lauth publishes an informative newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your free subscriber goodies at

Save Money:How to Make Baby Food

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Save Money:How to Make Baby Food 

There are so many ways to save money raising your baby! If you’ve wondered how to make homemade baby food, keep reading…

Make Your Own Baby Food- The Easy Way!

Is your baby about to start solid foods? Are you thinking of making your own baby food?

When you make baby’s first foods, you can save money and reduce waste. You also can choose more nutritious options. Fresh foods are typically more nutritious than canned, and you can purchase organic food to prepare for baby if you wish. You can also avoid unwholesome ingredients that show up in commercial baby food.

Making baby food doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, the easiest and cheapest way is the best way!

The easy way to making your own baby food:

1) Don’t bother with buying one of those baby food grinders. They’re hard to clean and too much hassle.

2) If you wait until your baby is 6 months old to start solids, you can almost always just mash with a fork to the desired consistency.

If you’re breastfeeding, you can even wait until baby’s “pincer grasp” is developed and offer him small finger foods like peas, bits of grated apple, and the like. The pincer grasp is developed when baby can pinch small objects (like those bits of carpet fluff or food on the kitchen floor!) inbetween his thumb and first finger. In fact, if you have a family tendency towards food allergy, waiting longer to start solids may be preferable. No matter what baby’s age, always offer one food at a time and wait several days to watch for signs of allergy before offering another. Take it slow.

3) Start with fresh single ingredient foods like:

Steamed carrot, turnip, potato, yam
Ripe pear, peach, melon, plum
Cooked squash
Grated apple- raw or steamed
Well cooked beans
Hard cooked egg yolks (avoid the whites until 1 year)

Some of these foods could be served raw. Others are lightly steamed (steaming retains more nutrients than canning), to make them softer for baby.

4) It’s not necessary to make a big deal of preparing baby’s food.

If you want to take a lot of time blending food and freezing them in ice cube trays, you could certainly do that. But I’m all for the easy approach!

Although you do want to avoid giving baby salt and sugar (and spices that may upset the tummy), you can usually just take an ingredient from your own menu and “make” baby’s dinner.

For instance, if you’re steaming veggies to serve at dinner, take a tablespoon of them out of the pan before you add butter and salt. Put this in baby’s plate and mash away. Voila! Instant baby food with no extra work. Or take a bit of beef from your roast and mash mash mash until it’s very soft.

Even when you’re at a restaurant, you can either bring an apple with you and “grate” it finely with a spoon at your table, or bring along a banana or other portable food. Any restaurant with a salad bar would have cooked beans or avocado. Or give baby a bit of your baked potato (before you add the goodies on top).

Life with a new baby is challenging enough. Keep starting solids simple!

For more helpful tips on simplifying life with kids, visit:

About the Author: Carrie Lauth, mom of 4, publishes a free newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your copy plus free subscriber goodies at:

Frugal Decorating Ideas

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Frugal Decorating Ideas 

Cheap and Easy Ways To Give Every Room In Your Home A Mini-Makeover

You may be looking around your home thinking “Oh, I wish I had money to decorate!”

Anyone who has watched Trading Spaces knows that giving your house a quick makeover doesn’t have to break the bank!

Simple Ways To Spruce Up Your Space
A gallon of paint will give any room a complete facelift! Always check out the ‘oops’ gallons at places like Home Depot. People request colors and never pick them up, or the person mixing the paint doesn’t get the shade quite right. Oftentimes these colors are just putrid, but sometimes you’ll find a gorgeous color that’s a steal! I’ve decorated plenty of rooms from other people’s leftover paints — and loved the results!

Fresh flowers in a vase make a wonderful addition to any room in your home. Pick the flowers from your own yard to save even more money.

Framed pictures of family and friends are a must. If you have them printed in black and white, they’ll never go out of style!

Add mirrors to open up a small room. Mirrors are a great way to decorate, especially in rooms with low light.

Richly scented candles make every room feel welcoming. Between the soft lighting, and the scent, you can’t go wrong with candles.

New throw rugs and runners at the entrance to your home make a great first impression.

The Bathroom

This is the least expensive room in your home to completely redecorate. A new shower curtain, a rug or two, soap dispenser, cup, some decorative hand towels – and your bathroom has a whole new look.

Try a bathroom theme! How about one of these ideas from the standard to the very original?

* Ocean or Sea theme
* Medieval Times
* The Orient
* Western theme
* Rubber Duckies
* Floral – victorian
* Floral – funky

Or work from one of your favorite paintings and take a color scheme from it. Let Dali or even Andy Warhol inspire your color palette.

Your Kitchen

If new cabinets or the island you always dreamed of are not in your budget, give your kitchen a fresh look by shopping for new decorative kitchen towels and potholders and new matching tablecloth and placemat sets. I love changing my kitchen for the seasons and holidays! A wine rack or framed placemat from a fun restaurant can be the inspiration!

Your Living/Family Room

A few new lamps, a large area rug or an art piece on a bare wall can add life to a dull and tired living room. While these items can be costly, they are certainly more affordable than an entertainment center or sofa.

How about some funky toss pillows and throws for chairs and couches? A little imagination and makes up for not having a big wallet!

The Bedroom

A new bedding set is enough to give your bedroom a major boost! Treat yourself and your spouse to a set of silk or satin sheets to match your new comforter! Search for quality, inexpensive silk sheets & save up to 80% at!

Super Savings Only From!

Budgeting for the Big Change

Treat yourself to a home decorating magazine. Dream big and set your goals high for what you want your house to eventually look like, but start on a smaller scale.

Plan! Mistakes cost money, so really plan your look thoroughly.

Start a Home Improvement Fund by saving change in a jar. When the jar is full, deposit it into a savings account specifically for redecorating your home.

Pick up things here and there slowly. Eventually, you’ll have enough to re-do a room. Buy one new item for the room you plan to spruce as you can afford to.

Don’t forget to shop in places like estate sales, charity sales, and moving sales. You’ll never know when you can find an amazing piece of furniture for a great price!

Sometimes the smallest changes equal the biggest difference in decorating. Don’t start out too big. Good things come to those who wait…and those who are bargain hunters!

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