A Handy Guide to Decorating For Less

Your home is your castle, so it only makes sense that you would want it to be beautiful, practical and perfect for your unique personality and lifestyle. It is easy to find a wide variety of great ideas online, but all too often they cost more money than the average person can afford. Decorating a home shouldn’t break the bank. If you need to decorate for less, get off the expensive websites and try these five great suggestions instead.

1. Paint

It is amazing how something as simple as a coat of paint can completely transform the look of a room. If your home is in serious need of an update, try painting the walls a new color. Sky blue is perfect for creating a relaxing sanctuary, yellow is perfect for creating an upbeat and cheerful space and gray is perfect for a sophisticated, elegant gathering place. Be sure to try a few paint samples on the wall to test how the colors will look at various times of day, but do not be afraid to put color on the wall. Your room’s paint color is easy to change when you decide you want something new.

2. Repurpose

Once you have the perfect color on the walls, you are ready to add in the little decorative elements that make your home truly your own. Do not rush right out to the store, however; shop your home first. You may be surprised at what you find. Use an empty wine bottle as a unique vase for fresh flowers. Frame your children’s drawings on the wall for fun and colorful artwork. Use old sheets to make new curtains or old clothing to make new throw pillows. Stack old hardcover books next to an armchair to make a unique side table. The possibilities are endless.

3. Visit the Right Stores

If you decide you still need to buy a few more interesting pieces after you have finished raiding your own home, be sure to choose the right stores. Start by visiting pound shops and thrift stores. Keep an open mind and you will be amazed at the unique and interesting things you can find. Many items that look worn and dingy on the shelves would make perfect accent pieces with just a good cleaning and a coat of paint. Clearance sections, auctions and antique shops are a great place to find interesting and unique finds for less as well.

4. Have Something Custom Made

One of the best ways to create a beautiful and unique space for less is to have a key piece or two custom made. Hire a quality handyman in London to build a custom fireplace mantle, custom bookshelves or a custom coffee table for you. Your entire room does not have to be custom made or expensive. If you have one key piece that truly pops, it will make your entire room look amazing.

5. Less is More

As you start decorating and finding great deals and must-have pieces, keep in mind that “less is more” when it comes to home decorating. A room that is full of knick knacks is sure to look crowded, cluttered and messy. Instead of buying and using every interesting thing you find, choose a couple eye-catching pieces and spread them throughout the space, leaving plenty of white space for the eyes to rest. This will make sure people’s eyes are drawn to your best pieces, not left to roam around the room without a focal point.

Creating a beautiful and unique space does not have to be expensive. Try these five tips and achieve a look you love today!

Save Money Driving – Fuel Saving Tips 26 – 30

This is a Guest Post by Todd @ Fearless Dollar — it’s part of his 5 site series on How To Save on Gas Money.

Are you driving to see family this holiday season? Taking a road trip to see the fam can be cheaper and more (or less) convenient than taking a flight.

If you haven’t noticed, in the past 10 days fuel prices have dropped 50 cents in many areas across the country. But don’t be deceived, they’re still a lot higher than they were just 5 years ago.

If you want to save money on driving, here’s our 5 site series on saving fuel. I’m posting across five websites, so make sure to check out all the tips!

Fuel Saving Driving Tips

Tips 1 – 5 Fearless Men

Tips 6 – 10 Fearless Dollar

Tips 11 – 15 AllThingsFinance.net

Tips 16 – 25 American Debt Project

Tips 25 – 30 Daily Tips Blog

What burns gas more than anything?

A. Frequent and sudden acceleration

B. Frequent and sudden braking

C. Excessive idling

These are the main reasons city driving cost so much more fuel than driving on a highway. What are the best ways to save gas?

26. Maintain your car

In every sense of that statement, utilize and maintain your car as your machine of choice. Because it is!

Maintaining your car according to its schedule will not only lengthen how long you can use it, but will help retain its fuel efficiency.

27. Know the season

Avoid prolonged warming up of engine. Aside from getting your heater blasting, modern cars don’t need more than 30-45 seconds of warm-up time.

Make sure you don’t use deep-tread tires or snow chains when you don’t need to. These will guzzle up the use of gas!

28. Buy a fuel efficient car

The next time you’re on the market for a car, keep in mind its fuel-efficiency, especially when looking at used cars. You’ll eventually resell it, and moving forward cars with poor fuel efficiency will be harder to sell.

29. Buy gasoline during the coolest part of the day

The cooler the temperature, the denser the gas. Meaning when you fill up, you’ll be getting a little bit more fuel.

30. Cut down on frequent and excessive acceleration and braking

Speeding up and then coming to quick hard stops is not only wearing on your car, but burning up fuel unnecessarily.

Checkout gas saving tips 1 – 5 on Fearless Men!

[Featured image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmogle/]

5 Surprising Ways to Turn Your Finances Around

Many hardworking men and women are finding that money is extremely tight in today’s economy. Even those people who have started working second or third jobs are frequently living from paycheck to paycheck. In many cases, there are not enough hours in the day to bring in additional money. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to maximize your income as is. The following are five somewhat surprising ways you can save your hard-earned money — and begin to experience financial freedom.  

Make Charitable Donations

If you are trying to get your finances in order, it’s likely donating to charity isn’t the first thing on your mind. While it may seem counterintuitive, making charitable donations can actually save you money. Donations to charity are tax deductible, and by keeping track of each donation, you can receive a sizable tax refund at the year’s end. Additionally, donating to people in need is often a catalyst for financially responsible living, as it helps you to better assess your wants against your needs.

Donating your car to charity is one of the most financially rewarding donations you can make. This donation will qualify you for a major tax deduction, and will also eliminate the costs of driving and maintaining a vehicle. Once you find the best place to donate a car in New York or wherever you live, the process is simple. The donation center will handle the details, leaving you to enjoy a life free from the costs of gas, insurance, and car loans. Additionally, by donating your car and choosing to walk, bike to work or use mass transit, you can dramatically improve your health, reducing your health care costs over time.

Take Advantage of Deals

Keeping a sharp eye on sales, searching through the bargain bin and clipping coupons are simple ways to save in a dramatic way. Grocery expenses can add up quickly, so before heading to the store, gather all the coupons you can. Planning your meals around items on sale can prevent a shopping spree from leaving a hole in your wallet. Another way to save at the grocery store is to join a discount club that offers savings on bulk items.

You can also save money on your clothing purchases by paying attention to discounts and sales. One way to significantly cut back on clothing costs is to shop out of season. Look for a bathing suit in December or a winter coat in July, for instance. Once the appropriate season comes along, you’ll be glad you have weather-appropriate clothing that you were able to purchase at half the price.

Do It Yourself

If you are faced with household projects that will cost you a pretty penny, consider taking them on yourself. In many cases, tasks such as fixing a dishwasher or dryer are simply a matter of having the right tools and a little direction. Many home improvement stores offer weekly workshops on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. This is a great time of the year to jump on the DIY bandwagon, as projects to winterize your home can become costly when hiring professionals.

Go Green

Environmentally conscious living is a terrific way to save both the planet and your finances. There are several ways you can go green to save money, not the least of which is cooking your own food. According to Forbes, Americans spend nearly a thousand dollars per year on dining out for lunch alone. Cooking at home lends itself to nutritious eating and will make you more aware of the food you are buying, how it was grown and its effect on the environment. Growing a vegetable and/or herb garden is another great way to help protect the earth while cutting down on food costs. As winter approaches, also consider turning your heat down before bed and using an extra blanket. When your electric bill arrives in the mail, you’ll be glad you took this small step.

Eliminate Clutter From Your Life

Decluttering your home and your life is one way to gain perspective on what you do, and do not, need. You can make decluttering financially beneficial by adding up the amount of money you spent on all of the items you are now throwing out. This is money you can save in the future by cutting down on unnecessary purchases. If you cannot donate the items you are looking to get rid of, sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Even if selling your belongings doesn’t make you a fortune, at the very least, it will provide you with a little extra money to put toward savings.

For many Americans, hard work and extra hours are not enough to get out of a financial rut. By implementing these five tips, however, you can turn your money troubles around. Start making these small but powerful changes, and begin your journey to a financially stable future today.

About the Author: Mary Goldman is a contributing writer and financial adviser.

[Featured image by 123RF]

Celebrate Valentine’s Day – Awesome Gift Ideas

Valentine’s day is around the corner and you must be already thinking about a romantic day out with your special person. Even more important – and a bit challenging – task would be picking the right gift for him or her during this special day.

When it comes to gifts, the costliest gift may not be always the best. Thoughtfully picked gifts – no matter how inexpensive they are – will be cherished by your partner during this special occasion and many days or months after.

Affordable Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Here are some Valentine’s gift ideas (most of them under $25) for him and her that are not only affordable but add that special punch and ‘red’ touch to the lovers’ day.

You may Click on the Image to Get more details on the gifts and where to buy them online.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas FOR HER

I’m Wild about You – Plush Monkey and Chocolate Gift box
This adorable monkey is ready to hug his away into your Valentines Heart. He also brings a Chocolate Heart Chocolate Sampler, Cookies & Cream Hearts, “Wild About You” Chocolate Bar, and MORE! to enjoy. Each gift is crafted with attention to detail, tied with ribbon and includes a personalized gift card message from you to convey your sweet wishes.

Triple Red Rose Pendant Necklace
This stunning looking three-red-roses pendant and necklace is now available at just $16. Really affordable fashion jewelry and perfect gift for her on the Valentine’s day.

24 Carat 6 Inch Gold Foil Rose
Make her day by gifting this handcrafted 24K gold foil rose – one of the best gifts that $30 can buy. And it’s enormous at 6 inches in size. Click on the image for details.

My Pillow Pets – Red and White 18″ Large
These $16 pillow pets are large and extra snuggly. Might just turn out to be the perfect gift for your girl.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas FOR HIM

And what about some exciting and unique gifts for your man?

I am Nuts about You Key ring
This key chain is packed in a beautiful red box titled I’m Nuts about You and is available for just $20. Add some fun to your Valentine’s day with this awesome gift.

Dual Silver Roses for Him
Can’t afford a golden rose? Get a pair of Silver flowers for Him – This is a pretty unique gift idea and the price is just $12.

Follow Your Heart Pocket Compass
This is yet another Unique and perfect gift for your husband or boyfriend. The heart shaped compass box is titled ‘Follow Your Heart’ or ‘My Heart Will Follow You Home’ – the choice is yours and it costs $18 on Amazon.com.

True Fabrications Carabiner Hip Flask (Red)
A classic and affordable gift for the matured man! This sturdy red hip flask costs just $12 and you can’t buy a better thing for your man for that kind of a price. The product and its variations are available online to shop now.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas FOR COUPLES

What if you want to present some wonderful gifts to your parents or couple friends that you know? Here are some ideas.

BoldSoft “Say I Love You” Pillowcases for Couples
These pillowcases are awesome. Get a pair for those special couples and it’s the perfect gift for Valentine’s day, Anniversary or other special days for any couple.

Valentine Promises – Best seller
If your parents or family friends are into reading, then there’s nothing like the best book ever on beautiful love stories that could be just eye-opener or wonderful examples in day to day lives. Get your copy now on Amazon and it’s THE best book that

iPhone 5 hard plastic matching covers for Couples
Beautiful paired plastic cases under $15 and they both look cool together. Numerous designs to choose from for iPhone 5. There are also covers available for previous versions of iPhones.

BoldSoft “Catch My Love” Couple Coffee mugs
Got coffee loving parents? There can’t be a better gift than this pair of awesome coffee mugs. Very good quality mugs with beautiful print on them.

Find more Valentine’s Day Gifts Online

Free Wedding Shower Games & Ideas

Bridal Shower is one of the most special days in the bride-to-be’s life and the wedding shower parties are known for two things mainly – gifts giving and fun oriented – hassle free wedding shower games.

As the bride-to-be’s best friend of matron of honor, it is your duty to keep the guests entertained and huge opportunity to make the party memorable with unique wedding shower games. Here are some wedding shower game ideas that you can freely use to celebrate the special occasion.

Free Wedding Shower Games

The following are some of the highly entertaining games for the bridal shower party.

1. Mimic animals game

This is a bit noisy game but hilarious. There are two variants to it – either mimicking the animals or making the animal sound itself. This is how you play it. Each guest is asked to pick a small piece of folded paper from a bowl and each paper chit has an animal’s name written on it. Based on the group size there can be 6-8 animals name (e.g. monkey, lion, dog, cat etc) written so that there can be that many groups at the end. Please note that each animal’s name has to repeat 4-5 times meaning that four or five people may get the same animal name. When the game conductor says ‘Get set go’ the guests have to open their chits and start crying like the animal name in her chit (or act like that animal, based on the variation). The idea is to find your fellow animals of the same genre and group together looking at the gestures or sound. Whoever groups together faster is declared the winning group and walks away with the bridal shower group prize.

2. The Apron Game

Aprons for fun games? Why not? Here’s how you play the apron game. You have to pin several useful items (little gifts) to an apron and have the bride wear it for a few minutes during the party. The bride then leaves the room and all guests try to remember as many items that were on the apron. It’s better to provide the guests with little post-its and pencils to write them down. The guest who remembers the maximum number of items wins a wedding shower prize where as the bride gets to keep the apron and all goodies pinned on to it.

3. Straw and peanuts game

This is a really funny game to play in a group – not just for bridal showers. There will be a bowl of peanuts kept in one end of the dining table and several juice straws provided. On the other end of the table an empty bowl is kept. The guest has to pick a straw, blow in air using that thereby sucking one peanut at a time and taking it all the way till the empty bowl and drop the pea in it. Each guest is provided 1 minute to perform this act and whoever carries maximum number of peanuts to the empty bowl using the straw wins the wedding shower prize.

4. How well do you know the bride quiz

This is one of the most common bridal shower games. There are also variants like how well do you know the bride and groom etc. The idea here is to ask the guests questions about the bride, her tastes, secrets, childhood days events etc and whoever answers the maximum questions wins the prize. The success of this game depends on how well you prepare your questions in a fun-filled manner and also the ability and eloquence of the quiz master to conduct the game. There has to be a minimum of a couple of dozen questions for the event to last for an hour or so.

5. Pass the balloon shower game

It’s one of the easiest games to play. All guests will stand in a circle and a balloon is handed to one of them. Some party music is then played and the guests need to keep passing it till the music is paused. You need to keep pausing and resuming the music at irregular intervals and the guest who holds the balloon at the time of pausing the music is out. This process is repeated until there’s one guest left without the balloon in her hand. She’s declared the winner and gets away with a small bridal shower prize.

Further bridal shower games ideas and unique wedding shower tips are available in this beautiful book titled The Alternative Bride’s Guide to Wedding Games: 111+ games for your reception, bridal shower, and more!

I hope you liked our collection of unique and free wedding shower games – if so, feel free to add social comments here or share this article with your friends.

15 Cheap and Effective Apartment Decoration Ideas

Interior designing and overall decoration of your home or apartment is usually a very expensive affair. Making an empty apartment a home is 1000s of dollars business usually. However, if you just moved into an apartment pretty much empty handed and do not want to spend too much along the same, you may consider these cheap decorating methods.

1. Garage sales
Picking up cheap used decorative items from garage sales is a great way to quickly fill your apartment with some of those necessary decoration items. During the home shifting season, make sure that you go around on garage sales every weekend until you have found all that stuff that you need for your apartment.

2. Dollar stores
Dollar stores can help you with unimaginable cheap decorative items for your home. It’s not that you get extra ordinary stuff there but some good plastic plants, small fancy lights, cheap craft items, murals etc can be spotted in such places.

3. Cheap DIY furniture
Furniture is the most basic interior decoration item but is usually expensive to buy brand new hardwood ones. Other than the garage sale options, you might want to check out some of those do-it-yourself furniture that can add a good dimension to your apartment pretty quickly.

4. Craigslist, Ebay and other Online classifieds
I must admit that I am a craigslist addict. No other online used stuff sales portal is as exciting as craigslist because it is highly localized and fast. Furniture, electrical appliances, lamp fittings, electronics – you name it, it’s all there on craigslist at throwaway prices.

5. Use your collectibles
If you have the habit of collecting stuff like bon china articles, needle work, clothe-paper craft, souvenirs or even bottles – it may all be useful for decorating a home in an inexpensive way. After all, they pile up and occupy space, why not make use of them in a better way? Recently, I saw a beautiful pattern created with beer bottles in one of the houses. It was simply awesome!

6. Draw colorful patterns on your walls
If you happen to move to a rented place or apartment recently, but don’t want to spent on painting the whole place, you may opt to paint certain colorful pattern to one or two walls alone to give those walls more focus. I have seen people creating easy geometric designs with multiple colors that go well with the rest of the decoration.

7. Use colorful (any color) curtains
Cheap window blinds can make your apartment look even cheaper or like cheap business places. Curtains are a great way to minimize the boring looks of your window walls and even creating a few folds around the blinds would make it look superb. You can use curtains on walls as well to reduce their plain appearance.

8. Use a couple of focus lamps, increase wattage of existing lighting
If you do not want to spend on new set of light fittings for your apartment, at least consider replacing the low wattage bulbs with brighter ones. Also, you may buy a couple of cheap focus lamps to divert the attention to whatever minimal wall fittings you might have.

9. Cheap floating shelves to fill walls
Floating shelves are cheaper – at the same time very effective – way of decorating your walls pretty quickly.

10. Add some flora
Adding a couple of live indoor plants will give your rooms the much needed green and organic feel which again helps your home look a lot better and plesant.

11. Consider painting one of the over-exposed walls
We already talked about wall patterns. Even if any pattern cannot be arrived at for your wall, you may just paint a theme wall in the room in a different but matching color to organize things around that particular wall. Theme walls, even without any pattern can be extremely attractive even without any major decorative items.

12. Wall murals
Wall murals offer a great way to furnish your apartment without spending much. They can be found in dollar starts, garage or yard sales.

13. Use wall stickers
Well, wall stickers are those amazing ready-made art work (big ones) that you can paste on your walls (ideally only one wall) and can dramatically add to the better look of the room.

14. Use focus lamps or tower lamps to divert attention
We already talked about focus lamps. In addition, tower lamps (pedestal lamps upward projecting) can help take the attention away from the floor and walls to the ceiling. If you want to highlight something beautiful, you should try cork flooring in Australia.

15. Use cheap and colorful floor rugs
Talking about diverting attention, you can use cheap and colorful floor rugs to divert the attention more to the floors than anywhere else. Use this focus diverting techniques on the wall, floor or ceiling to effectively do the focus management.

Hope these tips were helpful to you. Good luck with decorating your apartment!