This is the fourth in a five part series entitled ‘Your Frugal House: Five Ways to Save Money in the…’. We have been looking at five different areas of the house and at five different ways to save money in each area. With all sorts of prices on the rise, and the need to make your money stretch even further than before, frugality is more important then ever. Stay tuned tomorrow for the final installment, or better yet, subscribed!
I’ve said it before (and before) and I’ll say it again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on furniture for your living room to look nice. In fact, used furniture can be a better bet if it means that what you buy is of higher quality. Look for something that is structurally sound; the covers can be replaced or the piece can be reupholstered if needed.
Another frugal idea is that less is more. Not only do rooms look larger with fewer things in them, but you spend less time cleaning and less money furnishing. Look around you; what items do you use and what items do you have? Which leads me to…
2. Zones versus an all purpose area
What purpose is your living room serving? And is it serving that purpose well? Do you want your living room to be a place for the family to come together, an all-purpose center of the home, or a relaxing oasis at the end of the day? My living room is my house’s room of all trades: it must serve many purposes. I make it do so frugally by defining specific areas and making sure there’s lots of storage. Each piece of furniture serves a purpose and also has storage. For example, three of my husband’s five (yes, five!) guitars are stored under or behind the couch. Doing so has allowed my husband to indulge in his favorite hobby without requiring an extra room or paying for storage.
Decorating your house does not have to be an expensive proposition. Paint can be found inexpensively in the mismatched colors bin at the hardware store and fabric isn’t that expensive either. Don’t know how to sew? Try to barter services with somebody who does, or learn to do it yourself on the internet.
Look at the objects in your house that you love. What are they? Why do you love them? Is it the color, the shape or size or the sentimental attachment. Can you reproduce that feeling in your living room? What about moving the object to a more prominent place?
Try redecorating your room just by rearranging what’s already in it. In most cases you have this furniture because you like it, maybe all you need is to use it differently.
Your living room is an area for living. If it is beautifully decorated to your tastes (not a magazine’s), zoned and organized so that it works for you (not an organizing expert) you are more likely to spend time in it. Time spent at home is (usually) pretty frugal.
How do you spend your time? What do you like to do? Are you on the internet? Watching a DVD? Indulging in a hobby? Folding laundry? (Probably not.) How did you acquire that DVD or those scrapbooking materials? When you think about the kinds of pastimes you enjoy, do you feel frugal?
Here are some frugal ideas for entertainment. Go through your DVDs and pull out all those that you haven’t yet watched; then plan a series of date nights for after your kids have gone to bed. Or you could invite a bunch of friends over for a game night, to which everyone brings a board game and something to eat. Go through your hobby or crafting materials and make a list of projects you wish to accomplish. Pull out the materials needed for the first project and leave them in an area you can easily get to. It’s not a hobby if you never do it. Finally, read a book you checked out from the library, or read a book to your kids.
5. Entertainment Systems
Do you have a fancy new TV and video system? Or did you buy what was onsale at Target ten years ago? Maybe your entertainment system comes from Freecycle? I think you can guess which system is the most frugal.
Actually, it all depends. What are you using it for? If you watch loud action-adventure movies as a family tradition than it might be worth it for you to save up to pay cash for a big, muscled system. If you only watch the evening news from time to time then a Freecycled system might be best.
To find entertainment systems or other electronic equipment frugally, think about looking at different sources. There’s a fairly well developed expatriate network in the area where I live and so I have bought all my TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereos etc from people returning to their home country. Typically people are here on a three to five year contract- they buy new stuff when they arrive but can’t take it back with them due to things like different voltages. This might not be an option for you of course, but try to think of an equivalent that does; maybe you have a cousin who likes having the latest model but only keeps it a year, maybe there’s a factory warehouse in the next town over.
Where ever you buy your entertainment system, you should not forget to unplug the system at the wall when you’re not using it. Doing so will save money, and electricity.
What are your frugal tips for the living or family room? Share them with us in the comments! And make sure to stay-tuned for tomorrow’s, final, installment, or better yet, subscribed!