How Everyone Can Afford to Own a Boat

boat1When regular people think about the hobby of boating, more likely than not, they imagine wealthy people, mimosas in hand, enjoying the sun and surf on their 40-foot yachts. For most people, maintaining this type of luxurious hobby is out of the question budget-wise. However, the truth is that boating can be as affordable as it is gratifying — if prospective boat owners are smart in how they save and spend on their vessels.

Owning a boat certainly isn’t cheap, but for those who are enchanted by the hobby and savvy with their budgets, boating can be reasonably priced and particularly rewarding.

Saving for a Boat

Saving for a boat is just like saving for any other major investment, like a house or a car. Before you start putting money into an account, you have to understand how much you already have available and how much you are willing and able to part with. Then, you should calculate how much your dream boat (or the affordable version of your dream boat) costs and evaluate how long you have until you want to get out on the water. With this information, you can instigate a savings plan that will help you accumulate enough money for your sailing dreams.

The most effective way to stay true to your savings plan is to make it happen automatically. For example, you should ask your employer to directly deposit a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account. Then, you won’t eat into your boat savings when you dine out or go shopping because your money will be stashed in a separate account from your everyday expenditures.

However, there are dozens of other ways you can get in the habit of saving your money. For instance, you can:

  • Collect the coins from your wallet, purse, sofa, and car and keep them in a jar to be added to your boat savings.
  • Cut down on bad habits, like drinking, smoking, and retail therapy, which have a high price tag.
  • Avoid falling victim to coupon scams, which can trick you into buying items you don’t need.
  • Sign up for credit cards or rewards cards that have useful benefits.
  • Never punish yourself by saving; i.e. you shouldn’t necessarily diminish your current lifestyle in pursuit of a boat

boat_girlBuying a Boat

Before you start saving, you should do research into exactly what boat you want — after all, an inflatable isn’t going to cost nearly as much as a motor yacht. While you consider your ideal make and model, you should also entertain where and from whom you will buy your boat. Certain vendors can make a substantial impact on the price of vessels, so it is important to consider multiple sellers before you put money down for a certain craft.

A brand new boat may be the most desirable, but it certainly isn’t the most cost-effective choice. Like cars, boats begin to depreciate in value as soon as they leave the showroom, so you may be able to find a vessel that is barely a year old but costs more than 20 percent less than a new version. If you are open to the idea of a refurbished boat, you should also look into boat donation charities, who restore old boats and resell them at astoundingly low prices to benefit the community.

Maintaining a Boat

Owning a boat carries almost as many responsibilities as owning a pet: You must feed it (fuel, not kibble), wash it, and take it out every once in a while to ensure it runs healthily and happily. Unfortunately, all of these responsibilities require small additional investments in your vessel which can add up over time. However, there are a few tips and tricks at keeping maintenance costs low in the long run.

First and foremost, you should never neglect your boat’s most important parts: the hull and the engine. If either element falls into disrepair, you will face a choice between spending thousands of dollars in repairs or spending about as much on a new boat. You should be familiar with the necessities of your boat’s engine, including fuel, oil, and various fluids, and you should be diligent in keeping the hull painted and sealed.

For the most part, cleaning shouldn’t be an exorbitant expense. You can make plenty of boat cleaners with household ingredients, like vinegar, baking soda, and water. Additionally, most boaters agree that most cleaning needs are moot if you remember to give your boat a freshwater wash down after every use.

Other boating fees, including marina storage and insurance payments, may not be negotiable, unless you are willing to downsize your dream boat. However, if you have worked hard to afford your craft, you should find it easy to part with the nominal monthly fees that allow you to enjoy such a worthwhile sport.


Faith-Based Financial Advice for Families

bibleIn researching faith-based financial advice for families, you will find that there are several books, guides, articles, and other types of informative sources available on the topic. Proper management of your monetary resources and living within your means are the two most essential elements in today’s world for Christian families that have a desire to live abundantly and experience a high level of happiness. The Bible teaches us that we should grow wealth with a unique purpose, protect your wealth, and share your wealth with the people of God. In this faith-based financial guide, you will be introduced to several time-honored pieces of advice that will assist you in doing all of that, and more!

  1. The first step to financial security is to ensure that you and your family pay a tithe that is honest. Tithing and offerings should be the very first financial obligations that you contend with upon receiving your paycheck. Not only will you bless others in your tithing and offerings, but, God will also bless you!
  2. The next faith-based financial step is to learn the steps to managing money so that money does not manage you. According to Christians, financial peace does not stem from the amount of money that we make, but rather, from how we spend the money that is at our disposal. A positive attitude and relationship should be developed towards money. Openness and trust among family members and the management of money is imperative.
  3. The third piece of faith-based financial advice is to ensure that self-discipline and self-restraint is practiced, at all times, when it comes to matters associated with money. The needs of your family should be considered before individual needs. As a result, fewer bouts of impulsive spending will be experienced. Management skills, as it pertains to money, should be learned – as a family – with a spirit of high cooperation and love.
  4. As a faith-based family, you should always strive to create, maintain, and use a budget. It is essential for all family members to have an understanding of how much money will be available each month, the monthly financial obligations, and how any extra will be used or saved.
  5. Finally, it is important for you to save a specific amount of money each month and invest that money into an endeavor that will allow it to grow in a safe manner. Investments are highly critical because they provide future funds to make family purchases and allow families to cope with unexpected financial complications, with ease.


By utilizing the faith-based financial advice contained within this brief guide, you and your family will be adhering to the basic financial principles outlined in the Holy Bible and the religious-based doctrines of your faith. God has entrusted each of us with a certain degree of money. In most instances, that money comes from income received through employment. The money in which you are entrusted must be respected and handled effectively. The five simple steps outlined here will allow you to respect and handle your money in the best possible manner for your financial future.

New Years Goals: How To Finally Save Some Money

new year's goalsThe New Year is upon us, and with it, a fresh start! This is the time for everyone to make their resolutions about losing weight, staying fit, spending more time with their families, and of course, saving some money. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for us to keep these resolutions as the months go by, but I think it’s because we try to do way too many things at once. Remembering to floss your teeth every night and do 30 pushups in the morning and track your spending can be a little overwhelming. No one can keep up with all of those habit changes at once. What’s best is to start one of these habits slowly and steadily, especially when it comes to saving money. I know that I personally will keep up with money goal #3 that I have listed below, but I hope all of these ideas will inspire you in some way!

1. Put Your Change in a Piggy Bank

It sounds a little silly, but the ol’ piggy bank has worked for years for kids and adults alike. If you find that you’re unlikely to move money into a savings account each month, try walking in the door after work every day and dropping your change in a piggy bank. When you clean your house on the weekends and you find a quarter in the cushions, put it in the piggy back. When you pick up a penny off the ground, continue with the same habit. Save it all year and next New Year’s Day, see how much you have. There have been news stories about people buying entire cars with the coins they have saved up over the years. Read up on those for a little inspiration!

2.  Tell Someone About It

We’re more likely to save for something if we have someone to keep us accountable. However, I would recommend taking it a step further. Instead of just telling you mom that you want to save for a new car, ask her to check in on you regularly to see how you’re doing. If you know someone is going to ask you about it, you’ll be more likely to save so that you have something new to report. You can also start a blog and make other blogger friends who can encourage you when you meet small goals.

3. Track Your Spending

A great habit to get into is simply tracking your spending. I always recommend this to people as a first step. You don’t have to vow to save any money. You don’t have to promise to cut corners. All you have to do is simply write down what you spend every day. The reason this works is that once people start doing this, they realize which areas they can improve upon. Once it becomes habit, you have to really want something in order to put it on your list. If you’re married, do what I do. I jot down my own spending every day and then each night I ask my husband if he bought anything that day. He usually remembers, but it should be a daily question, since most of us are apt to forget 2-3 days down the road.

So there you have it: 3 ways to get motivated to start saving some money during the new year. As I said, taking on all three of these suggestions would be too much for one person. Just choose the one that seems like it would work best with your lifestyle and start slowly. As with any budgeting and savings journey, there are always bumps in the road. What’s important is that you always get back on track and remember your goals. Good luck this year!

photo by Cherry Point

Saving Dos and Don’ts: 14 Ways to Cut Back Spending

on saleEven if you’re making a decent paycheck, saving money can be difficult when you don’t cut back on spending. Reducing your expenses isn’t always easy, but there are some small ways that you can keep your spending in check and put more money into your savings account.


1. Sign up for Loyalty Programs

Most grocery stores offer reward card programs that entitle their members to discounts and coupons. They may ask for your email address so they can send you coupons. If you decide not to sign up to receive emails, then all you need to sign up is a phone number. It’s quick, easy, and can save you a lot of money. The only downside is that the cards will take up space in your wallet.

2. Give Handmade Gifts

Learning how to make a few simple crafts means you can make thoughtful gifts for loved ones around the holidays. Not only will your friends and family be impressed by your considerate present, but you’ll avoid overpaying for something you could have made yourself.

3. Have Friends Over Instead of Going out

If you find yourself going out frequently, try switching up your routine by having a fun dinner with friends at home. It’s much less expensive to host a potluck or group barbecue instead of visiting a restaurant. It’ll be just as much fun as going out, and chances are your friends will reciprocate soon.

4. Learn Basic Mending

It’s easy to throw out damaged clothes, but if you know a little basic mending knowledge — hemming pants and skirts, sewing on buttons, adding patches — you can repair them instead. If you can fix up torn clothes, you’ll end up spending a lot less on new clothes.

5. Quit Smoking

Expensive habits, like smoking, can end up eating away at your budget. At more than $5 a pack, cigarettes cost a lot, but give you nothing in return. In fact, they may end up costing you a lot more in the long run, considering how detrimental they can be to your health.

6. Visit Yard Sales

If you’re hunting for odd and ends or used furniture, check out local yard sales. Often the clothes, items, and furnishings folks give away are in fine condition and cost very little. And if the prices are a little too high for your taste, haggling might not be out of the question.

7. Go to the Library

Many still believe that libraries are dusty old tombs lined wall to wall with books, but there’ve been leaps and bounds in what public libraries offer. Most of them offer the newest best sellers and DVDs — including new releases and popular series.


1. Get Cable

While keeping up with the latest shows is great fun, cable is expensive. Many companies charge their customers over $100 a month for the full package. Consider drastically less expensive online alternatives: Netflix ($8/month), Hulu Plus ($7.99/month), or Amazon Prime ($79/year). All offer a wealth of shows and movies for much less than cable.

2. Make Big Purchases Without Waiting 30 Days

The thirty day rule is designed to help you decide whether you want to buy something new. Before spending your money on an item that you don’t really need, let it wait for 30 days. You may find that your urge to purchase has decreased once you’ve given it a little time to reflect.

3. Buy Lunch Every Day

Instead of going out for lunch every day, try bringing a packed lunch. It’s much less expensive to buy groceries and prepare food for yourself the night before rather than spend $10 every day. It will also be easier for you to eat healthily when you pack food for yourself.

4. Go Shopping Without a List

Visiting the grocery store without a list is an easy way to overspend on items that you don’t need. Make up a list of all the food you need at the beginning of the week, and make a point to visit the supermarket only once a week. Cross items off your list and make sure not to stray from what you already decided upon.

5. Throw Away Leftovers

At the end of a meal, don’t throw away the excess food. Instead, put it in plastic containers and keep it for later lunches and snacks, or combine it with other meals.

6. Shop to De-Stress

Many find themselves turning to shopping as a way to release stress. It may feel great to buy yourself a few new things when you’re down, but it puts an unnecessary dent in your wallet. Instead of shopping, try going to the gym, curling up with a good book or TV show, or taking a hot bath.

7. Drive When You Can Take Public Transportation

With gas prices rising, driving keeps getting more and more expensive. If you live in a city with a decent public transportation system, consider taking advantage of it. It will cost much less to ride the bus or subway than fill up your tank and drive through city traffic.

Sometimes, the smallest tricks can make the most difference when it comes to your savings. Make your best effort to cut back your spending and keep more money in your savings account.

Donna Parshall writes articles for Check n Go about online commerce, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting. Visit their site to learn more about Check n Go payday loans and other services like installment loans.

photo by VectorPortal

Avoid the Dangers of Using a Credit Card this Holiday Season

christmas debtMany people fall victim to holiday credit card pitfalls every year due to a lack of knowledge about credit, in addition to failure to adequately prepare for holiday shopping using a credit card.

Should you open a retailer branded credit card?

One of the major pitfalls of holiday credit card usage is that consumers often get convinced by retailers to open a department store branded credit card in order to realize about 10 to 15% savings on purchases at those retailers. While these savings may be tempting, most people don’t realize that the credit cards offered by these retailers generally feature a very high interest rate. If you, as a consumer, plan to carry a balance on this new credit card at all, then you will lose the amount of money that you originally saved by opening the card, and more. In addition to these high interest rates, opening new lines of credit too often in a small period of time has the potential to damage your credit score. As a rule of thumb, respectfully decline when retailers ask you if you want to open a new credit card with them to receive a discount on your purchases.

Set yourself a holiday shopping credit limit

Consumers can avoid putting too many gifts on credit simply by setting themselves their own personal limit, and keeping track of what they buy. For example, a consumer could set a personal limit of $500 to spend on credit during this holiday season, and when they reach that limit, they have to stop putting purchases on their credit card and instead start paying in cash. While its always tempting to spend a bunch of money to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, they will understand if you simply cannot afford to spend outside of your means. If you’re looking for a good way to monitor your spend, many credit card companies offer free mobile apps that allow you set up alerts that notify you when you’ve reached a certain spend.

How can using a credit card for your holiday shopping benefit you?

Using a credit card for your holiday shopping, however, can definitely benefit cardholders because of the vast amount of rewards that can be gained by putting purchases on your credit card. You should compare rewards credit cards in order to maximize the rewards you will receive based on your spending habits. As long as you know you can afford to pay off your balance without incurring large interest fees, you should put your holiday purchases on your credit card because most credit cards offer some sort of reward for each dollar spent.

photo by paparutzi

5 Ways To Save Money At The Grocery Without Cutting Coupons!

groceryWhere I live in Grenada, food prices are sky high. I’m not sure if it’s because of the tourism or if it’s just pain expensive to import so many things. Either way, I’ve had to figure out a few ways to cut my grocery budget. The catch is that because I live in Caribbean, the store  doesn’t  accept regular coupons. They don’t really do that here as far as I know. So, I’ve found a few ways to save money without having to clip them. I know many of you have very busy lives and might not have time to clip either, so here’s hoping these techniques help you as much as  they’ve  helped me.

1. Buy Off Brand When Possible

Most grocery chains offer their own brand of many items, and they’re usually cheaper than the name brand (especially if you don’t have access to coupons.)   Plus, many grocery chains have contracts with manufacturers and guarantee large quantity purchases in exchange for getting to put their own label on the item.   So, that off brand tomato sauce is likely to be every bit as good as the name brand sitting next to it.

2. Buy In Bulk

If you have the storage space and the price is right, buying in bulk often decreases the price per unit.   For instance, buying dried rice in large quantities often decreases the price per pound.   You get more for your money that way.   Depending what your grocery store offers, rice, beans, meat, cereal, coffee, cooking oils, and nuts can all be good items to buy in bulk.   Pay attention to what you buy most often and see if you can find them in larger quantities.   Spend a minute to do the math though, because not everyone reduces the price the more you buy.   Sometimes they’re banking that you’ll assume bulk is always cheaper. It’s your job to outsmart them. 🙂

3. Avoid the Pre-packaged Kits

I’m just as guilty as the next person for wanting to buy those frozen meals that practically cook themselves. However, I’ve realized that those just aren’t cost effective. I’ve actually found that buying the items separately and prepping them myself saves me money in the long run and never takes as long to make as I’ve envisioned in my head.

4. Use That Membership Card

I know it seems obvious, but this is an easy one to forget. How many times have you dropped into the store to grab something quickly and left your card at home or in the car? Those missed opportunities can add up to a lot at the end of the year, so be sure to have it on you to get the perks.

5. Substitute When You Can

Lastly, if you base your grocery shopping off the recipes you plan to make each week, consider making cheaper substitutions when applicable.   Need cake flour?   Use a little less all-purpose flour than what the recipe calls for.   Does your recipe call for a fancy cooking wine?   Use fruit juice.   Dried herbs are also a great substitution for buying fresh herbs each week.   Even chicken thighs are often cheaper than chicken breasts.   Get creative and look around when you’re at the grocery store; you’ll likely see similar but cheaper options that can add just as much flavor, creaminess, etc. to your meal.

I hope these suggestions help you to cut down those grocery bills just a little bit. I know that it’s often difficult to find the time to plan, cut coupons, and remember those grocery cards, but even changing your habits slightly can add up to big bucks saved over the course of a year. Good luck!

photo by qmnonic

How to Vacation on a Budget and Actually Have Fun

vacation on a budgetIn our culture of work a lot, then work some more,❠it can be nearly impossible to find some time off.   But taking a break, even just for a weekend, can be critical to our mental and physical health, not to mention our day-to-day productivity.   Time off allows us to relax, recharge, and come back to our regular commitments with a fresh perspective.

Even if we’re determined to take that break, though, feeling like we can afford to is another matter.   The costs of going away for just a weekend can add up pretty quickly, and financial stress can undo all the benefit your vacation might give you.   So how do you make it all work?

1. Pick your location that’s easy to get to

The cost of flights, or even train tickets, can really drive up the price of a vacation.     If you want to get away from cities, pick somewhere you can drive on a single tank of gas.   If you’d rather head downtown, consider leaving your car behind.   Try a discount bus line, like MegaBus or Bolt Bus, and get friendly with the public transportation once you arrive.   If you’re going to fly, book your flights in advance to get a lower price and use sites like Expedia or Kayak to compare airfare.

2. Use the internet to get a deal.

Discount sites like LivingSocial, Groupon, or Travel Zoo offer inexpensive travel packages that can give you over 50% off at pricey hotel and b&bs.   These will often have a certain number of meals or admission to local activities included in the cost, which makes them even more affordable.

3. Ask for a discount.

If it’s getting close to the date of your vacation, try calling local hotels and asking for a discount on room rates.   Often they’d rather book a room at a lower price than not make any money from it at all.

4. Stay with family or friends.

If you’ll only be there for one or two nights, ask people you know if you can stay with them.   You might even get a great local guide into the bargain.

5. Try camping.

Ditch the cost of hotels by camping.   Most national parks have free campgrounds; commercial venues will usually run under $20 a night.   If you have kids, setting up and exploring a campsite will keep them busy for hours, and many campgrounds have additional features like swimming pools or mini-golf for just a few dollars extra.

6. Use cash instead of credit.                      

It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending when it’s just being charged.   To keep track of what you’re spending on gas, meals out, and entertainment, have a set amount of cash with you and set a limit for what can be spent each day.

7. Eat out less.

If you’re going to be in the car, fill a cooler with sandwich fixings and bottled drinks.   Buy breakfast foods and keep them in your hotel.   Not every meal has to happen at a restaurant, even on vacation.

8.   Look for entertainment off the beaten path.

Museums, art galleries, national parks, historical sites, and beaches all provide low-to-no cost entertainment.   Ask at your hotel for ideas on places most tourists don’t go.   Take the family bowling or to play tennis; sporty activities last a long time and get everyone involved, but usually don’t cost very much.

9. Build in some time to relax.

Trying to fill every minute of a vacation is not only expensive, it can defeat the purpose of taking the vacation in the first place!   Instead, set aside time to relax with a good book, go for a walk around town, or take a nap in the afternoon.   It won’t cost anything, and the downtime will leave you feeling refreshed, even when it’s time to pack up and go home.

Traveling can be pricey, but if you plan carefully and, you can have a great trip that’s still easy on your bank account.

What’s your best tip for traveling on a budget?

photo by a2k


How To Save An Emergency Fund

emergency fundIf your AC went out right this second, and you found out it would cost you $500 to fix it, would you be able for pay for it? For the vast majority of Americans, the answer is no.

What is it about saving up for an emergency fund that is so hard? In theory, it should make sense to all of us that because life is so unpredictable, we desperately need a lump sum of cash somewhere that can be easily accessible and used in a pinch. Yet, time and time again we encounter life’s little bumps and have to go into debt to move past them.

So, is there a simple way to build up an emergency fund without giving up your lifestyle? The answer is a resounding, yes!❠Here are a few foolproof ways to do so:

1.  Open Up a New Savings Account At A Different Bank

Even if you put money into your primary savings account, most of us do not have the discipline to keep it there throughout the months. So, sign up for an online account that automatically withdraws a certain amount each month. This can be as little as $5 or $10, an amount I recommend starting with because you barely miss it. As you get comfortable, slightly raise the amount so that you can save up faster.

2.  Give Up One Small Thing And Set That Cash Aside

It would be too easy for me to tell you to cut out your gym membership or your coffee from a nice coffee shop every morning, but that’s too abrupt of a change. What I recommend is one small thing. Skip the coke at the vending machine and put that dollar in a different fold in your wallet and continue to move past small purchases like that until you get more comfortable going without.

3.  Pass On The Upgrades

Perhaps you want a new car, a new phone, or a better TV. That’s not abnormal. Our world is full of advertisements that make us want upgrades. Push yourself to live with what you have. If you want a better TV but know the one you have works just fine, put the money you would have spent in an emergency fund and enjoy using what you already have.

4. Utilize Work Incentive Programs

Many jobs will let you withhold certain amounts from your paycheck. Take advantage of programs like this that help you save automatically. The name of the game is saving without even realizing you are doing so.

5.  Save Double The Amount

If none of the above works for you, you can go through one of my favorite exercises: saving for something you actually do want while concurrently building up an emergency fund. For example, if you want to save $2,000 for a vacation before you go, force yourself to put one dollar in the emergency fund for every one dollar you put in the vacation fund. It will take you twice as long to save for the vacation, but when you actually get to go, not only is it paid for, but you’ve built up a nice savings in the process.

By using the tips above, you will be well on your way to establishing an emergency fund. It doesn’t have to be quick nor does it have to be a large amount right away. Just going through the exercise and developing good habits is all you need for a nice financial cushion in the future.

photo by trenttsd

Online Gaming Money Saving Tips

If you are struggling to make ends meet and rising costs are causing you to despair you are not alone. The worldwide recession has caused people to tighten their belts, reassess their spending and examine areas where they can save money or cut back on costs. To put it simply, there is now less money for people to spend on luxury items or entertainment and the focus has shifted to saving money and paying off debt in order to attain financial freedom.

One of the areas we have seen people cut costs on is entertainment, as it can be considered a luxury and not a necessity. However it is not necessary to cut out entertainment entirely and there are some recreational activities that can be enjoyed at no cost. Online casino games are one of these activities and many top online casinos now offer players the chance to enjoy all their favourite games at no cost. These free games are full versions of the real money games and offer players endless entertainment and the perfect way to relax.

Rather than rushing headlong into purchasing expensive computer or video games visit an online casino and choose from the huge selection of free games on offer. Gaming Club is an established and respected online casino that has brought players top quality gaming for over a decade, never compromising on quality purely because there are free games on offer. A visit to this site will give you a very clear idea of the free entertainment on offer and the state of the art gaming will impress even the seasoned online player.

Saving money by playing online casino games works in a twofold way. The first being the fact that players will enjoy unlimited access to entertainment and won’t have to spend any money on purchasing games or paying for entertainment. The second being that time spent playing free games does not equal money spent, if you substitute paid entertainment like movies, games or DVDS with free gaming there is no need to seek out any other forms of recreation that have costs attached.

Saving money by choosing a free gaming option is a definite way of keeping your finances under control and avoiding a debt trap. Save the money you would have usually spent on entertainment and enjoy a large and varied selection of free games as an alternative. You can live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget but in order to do so you will need to make some smart choices when looking for ways to save money. Taking advantage of anything free is always sound advice, especially when it offers you relaxation and leisure time at no cost.

Three Tips for Decorating on a Budget

decorating on a budgetHome decorating can be extremely expensive, especially when you’re trying to pay off debt or save up for a down payment on your first home. It’s tough to decorate on a budget during that transition phase when you’re too old to still have plastic shelving like in your college dorm days but you’re too broke to afford the quality furniture your parents own.

You may be asking yourself if it’s worth it to splurge on high quality furniture even though it may cause you to defer some of your other goals, such as paying off credit cards or student loans. But at the same time, you’re fed up with settling for second-hand furniture.

This is the exact dilemma I found myself in when we recently moved from our one-room loft to a two-bedroom townhome. We suddenly found ourselves with more space and no furniture to fill itâ”we didn’t even have a dining table!

However, I didn’t let my desire to decorate our home negatively affect our bottom dollar budget. Here are my top three tips for decorating on a budget:

Decide what you can live without

We had a lot of furniture to buy when we moved, and there was no way on our limited budget that we could afford to buy everything brand spankin’ new.

We decided at the beginning to budget on the bigger items, such as a new couch, a dining table and a desk for the spare bedroom that we decided to turn into an office/man room.

We found all our large items on Craigslist after scouring for days. We paid $150 for a large sectional couch that easily would have cost several hundred brand new.

We also scored a seven-piece dining room set for $250 plus a large brown wall mirror for $100. And the large oak desk for the man room was $150.

In total, $650 was spent on four solid furniture and décor pieces that easily would have cost us thousands brand new. The trick with buying stuff on Craigslist is finding people who are moving either out of state or down-sizing and are in real need of selling their items.

All our pieces were purchased from people who were in the process of moving and needed to get rid of their stuff fast.

Splurge on a few key pieces

With the savings from our large furniture pieces, we decided to splurge on a few key pieces that would really shape our décor. It’s a big help to decide beforehand what’s worth a splurge when it comes to decorating and what you can live without.

For example, we currently use a dark cherry wood dresser as our entertainment stand rather than going out and buying a new media console. We scored the dresser for free from our old apartment building when someone moved and decided to leave behind the dresser.

For our splurge items, we decided to go with some key items that would really help transform our living area. We chose to splurge on a brand new rug and a metal chandelier for the dining room. We will also purchase some smaller items, such as throw pillows, a table lamp and some other items to help complete the look.â

Buy as you go

I know it may seem tempting to buy everything as soon as you move in, but give yourself some time to live in the new space before you make any drastic decorating decisions.

What you thought would look good when you did your first walk-through in the evening might not look so great with the sun glare on a Sunday afternoon.

Decorating on a budget takes time to find great deals as well as saving up for the perfect pieces. If you find something you like, but it’s completely out of your price range, search online for a coupon or wait for a sale. Even better, you can often search online for similar yet less expensive items.

Decorating on a budget takes a lot of patience. It’s okay to not have everything look like the spread of a home magazine and let it evolve over time.