Aside from major decor ideas I had before moving in to my new place, I realized it needed a lot of simple changes. For me, it’s all in the details.
The hardware had so many layers of paint over it, it was about an inch thick. The lighting fixtures were caked in dust and outdated (and not in the vintage-cute way I’m going for). The cabinets were dirty, and wouldn’t stay shut. The light switches were oddly misshapen. Needless to say, I got creative.
Here are a few ways to give an older home, especially a rental, some TLC:
Remove layers of paint from hardware.
Having ten layers of paint over hardware is a tell-tale sign of an old rental. (Gotta love lazy painters.) Clean the hardware to remove decades of old paint, or simply buy new ones. It’ll only cost you some spare change! How simple (and cheap) was that?
Upgrade boring lighting fixtures.
This isn’t necessarily a cheap fix, but one that still makes all the difference. Upgrade ugly, standard lighting found in most rentals with modern light fixtures. Save the old ones, and you can take your upgrade with you when you move! In my opinion, it’s worth the investment.
This type of job usually requires some hardwiring knowledge, which is super easy to learn. (Make sure you turn your electricity off, please!)
Add unique switch plate covers.
Changing a boring, white square plate to something more unique makes one of the biggest differences in the feel of a home. This one you see is from Allen + Roth, and I changed all my visible plates to this style. Instant class! The better the quality of what you choose, the more expensive. But again, this is something you can take with you if you rent.
My house is also really old (pre 1940′s) and I don’t think the actual light switches or outlets had ever been changed from the originals. I went ahead and upgraded those too. Believe it or not, these cost less than $1 for each on/off switch or outlet. Make sure you turn the electricity off, and then simply hook the wires up exactly how they were on the old. This not only gave me smooth, non-painted switches but actually improved the lighting response in my switch that connected to the outdoor lighting. I guess it wasn’t hooked up properly to the old one!
One final bonus — this easily allowed me to change my 2 prong outlets to 3 prong. Bye-bye, ugly 3 prong adaptors.
Additional ways to upgrade:
If you can’t paint your cabinets, sand and stain them to give them the “like new” feel.
If your cabinets don’t stay closed, add magnets.
Change your outdated hooks and knobs to something cute that matches the decor in the room. Anthropologie has the best finds!
Replace locks and doorknobs to something more modern.
Use cheap, unfinished wood from a hardware store to give yourself more shelf space. Then sand and stain. I did this for both my kitchen and my closet! You save so much money, and it allows you to have more space for storage in the most custom way possible.
While most of these take an hour or two of your time, they save you money and transform the look of your home.
Did you know that items and services marketed towards women tend to be more expensive? (Source) That’s right, apparently society thinks it’s okay to charge women more because we’re more likely to pay more for the same items.
Next time you’re buying deodorant or a shaving razor, look at the men’s section and compare. Don’t be too shocked that you’re paying more!
Personally, I think we need to give a big “shove it” to the man.
Begin looking at what you’re spending on beauty and try to cut down. Here are some ways you can still enjoy being a woman, but spend a little less.
1. Cut your own hair.
This isn’t as scary as you think it is!
It’s very easy to do if you have longer hair, which is another reason why I consider longer hair to be more minimalist and easy to maintain.
Do your research first. Make sure you have the right materials, and follow a guide.
My favorite tutorial is this one on YouTube, which I have been using with amazing results! This saves me a lot of money and aggravation over bad hair stylists. (I’m cursed.)
2. Stop dying your hair.
This is a given. Dying requires a lot of upkeep and it damages your hair. It also continually takes money out of your wallet, plus you need to buy extra beauty products to heal the damage.
It’s nice to dye for a change, but if you’re short on cash it’s best just to skip this. Growing it out is a pain, too!
3. Check for duplicates.
Sometimes you can buy a cheaper alternative to an expensive beauty product without sacrificing the results. These are usually called “dupes” within the beauty community.
Look around for these duplicates by doing trial and error yourself, or by doing some research online.
Need a new beauty product, but can’t afford to waste your money on a bad purchase? Always read reviews on a product first to save yourself time and money.
I highly recommend a community like Makeup Alley. I never buy anything without checking there first, and it’s saved me so much money!
5. Stalk for sales.
Mark the big sales on your calendar and save up for them.
For example, you can get away with making a wishlist of more expensive products and waiting for Black Friday (or Boxing Day) sales, seasonal sales, or any quarterly specials a store may have every year.
This way you’ll save big and you’ll still get what you want. This requires the patience of waiting for the sale, but pays off big.
6. Clip coupons.
Saving up coupons and being aware of coupon regulations at your favorite store will help you save money on beauty products.
For example, it’s easy to get drugstore makeup on discount by combining manufacturer coupons with store discounts at places like CVS and Walgreens.
ULTA is another example — you can use ULTA coupons on drugstore makeup to pay less.
7. Try DIY.
There are so many great DIY alternatives out there that you can create with household items.
Living within your means is the secret to success. Right? I disagree! I think living below your means is the way to go. Be the cheap-o, the coupon-er, the deal-getter. Be conscious of where your money is going.
Josh and I drove from Florida to California to start a new life here right out of college, and it hasn’t been easy. We adjusted to living within such a small income because we had to. Since then, Josh has gotten a pay raise and I’ve also started working. But it doesn’t matter, because we generally try to live the same way we did before all of that happened.
You may think I’m crazy. Most of the time I would agree, but here’s why I think this works and how you can get there.
Savings. Spending a lot less money than what you’re making means you will have money left sitting in your bank account. This lets you save for essentials like emergencies (you should always have an emergency fund!) and also lets you save for goodies you may be wanting to buy in the future.
Quality. When you’re keeping an eye on your money, you’re probably paying more attention to what you’re buying. You buy things knowing they will have a purpose and it’s truly what you’re looking for.
Purpose. You’re not buying things just because you have the money to, while others go without. And that’s a pretty good feeling.
Donating. Maybe you even have enough to donate to something you feel strongly about. Wouldn’t that be better than buying something you didn’t really care for?
Smarts. I go into places with coupons and walk away paying less than the person in front of me who paid full price. I also notice a lot of people don’t read the fine print on coupons and don’t realize when stores accept expired coupons or if you’re allowed to use more than one. Know your stuff! You can end up saving a lot just being savvy.
How to do it
Don’t adjust. Did you get a pay raise? Congrats! But still stick to your current budget. It’s easy to adjust to your income level, but once you live below what you’re making it’s easier to stick to than to stop when you’ve gone too far.
Prioritize. Savings or credit card debt should be taken care of the minute you get paid, not at the end of the month. That way it’s taken care of. Because it is, after all, the most important thing next to food and the roof over your head. You pay rent every month, and you should pay your bank account too!
Cut out. Look at what you pay for every month and see how you can alter or cut out some things that are keeping you from being under budget. For me this is usually subscription services and gourmet coffee.
Save up. When I want something expensive I put money in a special place to save up for it. Paying a few bucks each month is easier than paying the entire chunk at once. Can’t wait? Sell your valuables online and see if you can make up for some difference, or try and look for a savings deal in your area.
Treat yourself. Finally, it’s okay to buy a few things that make you happy. That is of course after you put money into savings and make sure you’re out of debt. Otherwise, those things should take priority. Once they’re taken care of for the month, there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence! (Which in my case, probably still involves coupons.)
I love getting rid of “stuff” cluttering up my place and organizing the space to look its best.
You can do this without making organization pretty, but if you want to make it look like a picture in a magazine you’ll likely run into the dilemma — money.
You’re going to have to buy baskets or bins to put your things in, or buy things to optimize your space. Sometimes you’ll end up buying something just because it pulls the whole look together. I’m currently re-organizing my bathroom on a tight budget. It’s frustrating, but certainly possible. Here’s how I’m doing it.
Before going out to purchase something you think will help you organize your space, check around online first and make some casual visits around stores. Sometimes the store down the street offers an item cheaper than the discount store you thought for sure would offer it at the cheapest price. Take the time to do this and you could end up saving a lot of money over time.
Don’t be afraid to go coupon hunting and clip through that newspaper. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of buying something on discount you didn’t need in the first place. Stay focused on the items you’re trying to buy!
Sometimes places that sell used items like eBay, Amazon, or even the thrift store will have what you’re looking for at a dirt cheap price. If not, it doesn’t hurt to wait a while and see if something comes in. I’ve seen many great baskets and ceramic trays at the thrift store! Perfect for organizing.
My favorite way to afford organizational items is to sell my junk and use the money I gain to purchase them. This encourages you to get rid of things you don’t need. Plus, you’ll enjoy the extra space when you organize using your newly purchased goods!