This is a guest post from Cassie from Mrs. January who writes about couponing, budgets, food, etc. If you enjoy the post consider subscribing to her feed here.

Ahhhh, home sweet home. Though it isn’t quite so sweet when the walls are bare and the carpets are an ugly shade of puke green. Oh yeah, and your furniture is stuff you’ve been using since you got your first place. If you’re like me, you like to have a nice house. You get all giddy when people come over and tell you how nice your home is decorated and how they wish they could be just like you (okay, so that never actually happens to me, but let’s just pretend, shall we?).

So you decide you cannot possibly stand to live in your ‘boring’ house anymore. You want to spruce it up. Maybe a new wall color (or coloUr, if you’re a Canadian like myself, eh), a few pieces of art on the wall or maybe even a new dinette set so you and your family can have REAL family dinners, instead of sitting on the couch watching the latest episode of American Idol while you eat your beans and rice.

When you start looking around at all of this stuff, the numbers start to add up very quickly and soon you are overwhelmed and second guessing this nice looking decor you’ve been dreaming about. I mean, is it really all that important to live in a nice house?

I say YES! You want to live in a place that makes you feel happy. You are not going to feel happy in a house that is stripped of all things fancy. You deserve a couch that doesn’t have tears in it. You deserve that nice big candleabra you saw at the mall the other day. You want these things, and you deserve them – but can you afford them?

Well, that all depends. It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to decorating your house. Just ask my husband. I’ve gotten in trouble a couple of times when I would come home with 6 bags full of trinkets that I’d find at the local thrift shop. Whoops.

Here are my suggestions for furnishing your home on the cheap:

THRIFT STORES – Duh, you know I’m gonna be bringing up the love of my life, the thrift store. You can find SO MANY awesome things if you just use your imagination. Say you’re looking for some nice wicker baskets for display (and storage!) and you happen to find a few at the thrift store but, ew, they are a yellow baby poop colour… but guess what, that’s easy to fix! Did you want brown instead? Black? White? Easy! Just spray paint them. A can of spray paint should only cost you a few dollars and it is easy to use. Voila! Baskets that cost you $1 a piece – instead of $10 that you would most likely pay at a retail store. This idea can be used towards anything in the thrift store. Nice dresser – but stains and ugly hardware? Sand it down, paint it, and replace the hardware with new stuff you can get fairly cheaply at Home Depot.

CRAIGSLIST/CLASSIFIEDS – This is similar to doing your shopping at the thrift store, but you will usually pay a higher price. However, it is still cheaper than paying FULL price so I’d say it’s worth a shot. Take a look online, there are many classified sites that you can use for free. Search for an item you want and watch them all pop up (most of the time, with photos!). Remember to think outside the box with how you can transform these items with some paint, etc.

FREECYCLE – What? You haven’t heard of Have you been living under a rock? Go check it out! This website is designed so that folks can give away their items. You heard me right, GIVE THEM AWAY. Free! You can also post ‘wanted’ ads for items you are searching for. This is a great way to turn someone else’s ‘trash’ into your treasure! Don’t forget to give some of your own belongings away as well. Fair is fair!

YARD SALES – I’m hoping you all know what a yard sale is. Just like the thrift store, except the prices aren’t usually set in stone. Make an offer lower than the price they are asking and they will usually take it. Another idea is to go to the sales right near the end and make a VERY low offer on something. Most of the time, your offer will be taken because people want their stuff to sell and at the end of the sale, they know they’re going to have to box all that stuff back up again and who really wants to do that?

FRIENDS AND FAMILY – You can always ask people you know if they have anything that they no longer use. If you don’t get it for free, you will almost always get a dirt cheap price. Don’t forget to pay it forward when someone comes to you and asks the same thing!

Having a nice home doesn’t have to be an expensive journey. I hope I have inspired you in some way.

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