Save Money on Summer Outings

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that summer is in full swing, I thought I’d share a post I wrote a year ago about ways to save money on outings this summer.

It definitely acts as a refresher for me, so hopefully it will help you out as well!

Enjoy! :)

 

 

10 Tips-Creating a Spa Bathroom

HGTV.com

HGTV.com

There is nothing more relaxing than coming home at the end of the day and entering into a bathroom that has a spa-like feeling. Instead of traveling to the nearest hotel or spa, why not create your own spa bath?

Here are 10 tips to help you create that relaxing spa-like bathroom in your own home:

  1. I know that whenever I enter a spa the first thing I notice is the way it smells. Think about the scents that relax you and add them to your bathroom. Calming scents are vanilla, lavender (my favorite!), chamomile, cinnamon, tangerine, and coconut. Select one and add it to your bath by using air fresheners, potpourri, candles or plug-in room fresheners. Feel free to change the scents with the seasons or whenever you feel like you need a change. Just adding a calming scent to your bathroom will make a world of difference!
  2. Consider placing white ceramic containers on your counters to hold your cotton balls and swabs, makeup brushes, toothbrushes, potpourri, your everyday jewelry or anything else your heart desires.
  3. Create a spa environment around your tub by adding a tub caddy and place candles, loofahs, shower gel and soaps on it. Most tub caddies come with a book holder to allow you to read while relaxing in the tub.
  4. Add music to the bathroom by adding a clock radio or shower radio. Be sure to tune in to a relaxing station to help you unwind.
  5. Orchids are able to tolerate the wet, steamy environment of the bathroom. They also add a calming, spa-like feel. (I cheat and use the silk varieties!)
  6. A nice, fluffy bath rug will feel really nice to your toes when you step out of the shower or bathtub. Sliding your feet into some fluffy slippers will help keep your feet warm and prevent you from slipping on the hard floor.
  7. Hang matching bathrobes on the back of a door if you don’t have any place to put hooks. Just seeing the robes when entering your bathroom will help you begin to relax.
  8. When deciding on colors for your bathroom, the most calming colors are the light ones. Keeping everything uniform in color will be very easy on the eyes. If painting the room, be sure to select formulas designed specifically for the bathroom.
  9. Consider adding art to the walls. Select peaceful designs that go with the color scheme you’ve selected.
  10. Installing heated towel bars and upgrading the light fixtures can give the bathroom an instant facelift. While you’re at it, add a wall-mount magnifying mirror to help with putting on makeup.

Those are just a few ways to transform your bathroom into a “spa bath”. If you have any tips to add, let me know in the comments section.  :)

Related Posts:

Organizing the Bathroom

Decorating the Bathroom

5 Common Organizing Mistakes

BHG.com

Today I thought I’d post about some of the common organizing mistakes I see when working with a client.

The mistakes aren’t terribly bad, and with a little tweaking, fixing them can totally change the way you function in your home.

  1. One of my pet peeves is cluttering up your refrigerator with pictures, magnets and small pieces of paper. When you have too many items on your fridge, it creates visual clutter. Most people hang items on their fridge to look at or to remember something. The problem is that you really don’t notice any of it because there is so much to look at. To those that must have something on the fridge, I usually suggest hanging either a magnetic calendar OR hanging pictures on the fridge in an orderly way. Then your eye will be drawn to it. Paring down items on the fridge will also help your kitchen appear to be more organized.
  2. Another common mistake I see is not storing items where they will be used. This is something that can be fixed quickly. The next time you use something, take note if you have to walk farther than 3 feet to put it away. Trust me, if you have to go too far, you probably won’t put it back and it will become clutter. This can happen in every room-kitchens, bathrooms, garages, kid’s rooms, and family rooms. Just thinking about where you use an item can help you find a better place to store it, which in turn will allow you to return it and reduce clutter in your home.
  3. Not having a system for papers is another common mistake I see. This one is huge! If you don’t have a place for papers, mail, children’s artwork, bills, insurance documents, magazines, etc. (I think you get the idea ;) ) they end up wherever they end up. Getting a hold of your paper and creating some type of system will turn your life around! For mail, create an in/out system. Trash junk mail immediately and file the rest. If it’s something that needs your attention shortly, place it in the “in” box. Some type of filing cabinet is a must. You can create folders for anything you desire: bills to be paid, graded school papers, kid’s artwork, bank statements, etc. When you receive those types of documents, file them immediately. Then you will always know where they are.
  4. Another mistake is not using containers to contain items in drawers. Whether you have a junk drawer or makeup drawer, you need some type of container to organize the items. You can use the acrylic organizers you see at Target, Walmart and The Container Store or little dishes, utensil organizers, or small baskets. Anything goes really. Just find a way to separate things so they will be easier to find when you need them. No more rummaging through the drawer looking for that screwdriver! There are drawers all over your house that can be containerized. Think kitchen junk drawers, office desk drawers, utensil drawers, baking drawers, jewelry, makeup…I could go on and on.
  5. This is a funny one. Oversimplifying. I have actually had a few clients that decided to organize their homes and ended up putting everything away. Nothing was on the walls, kitchen counters, end tables, coffee tables, etc. They were actually calling me in for decorating services because they felt their home needed a “homey” touch. I explained to them that organizing does not mean clearing everything away, it simply means keeping things orderly. I advised them to bring out the items in the kitchen that they use everyday and place interesting decorative objects on the tables and walls.  We brought out blankets and draped them over the sofas and moved a few plants around. Just by doing these simple things, their homes lit up and had a “lived in” feel. Being organized does not mean boring! :)

Hopefully you were able to envision your space while reading this to see if you are making any of these organizing “mistakes”. As you can see, they are not horrible, just ones that require a little advanced planning and resilience to stick to the plan of keeping it organized.

Until next time!

 

 

 

Free Summer Activities for Kids

bowlingSummer begins tomorrow!  :)

If you will have little ones at home with you this summer and you’re looking for ways to avoid hearing the dreaded “I’m bored!”, here are some free and low-cost activities to do with them over the summer break.

These are activities I do with my own kids and I plug them into our weekly schedule to keep them busy and “bored free”. :)

  1. Many bowling alleys offer free games of bowling to students over the summer. Check with your local bowling alley. You can also check here for more info about Kids Bowl Free.
  2. Libraries are full of free activities during the summer. Most will offer story times, reading program activities and/or arts and crafts.
  3. Visit your local community pool for a day of water-splashing fun. Bring some dollar store toys to the pool and your kids will quickly make new friends.
  4. Host a weekly play date with your child’s favorite friends.
  5. Check your local movie theaters to see if they are offering free movies during the summer.
  6. If you have a children’s museum near you, check their summer schedule for the dates they may offer free admission or any other free programs. If you are a Bank of America debit or credit cardholder, check here for free admission offers.
  7. Michaels usually has a free craft program during the summer months, but this year they are offering their Passport to Imagination program for $2 for 2 hours. Visit your local Michaels or check online to see what they’re offering.
  8. Have water fun in your own backyard by adding a small family pool, sprinklers, slip ‘n slides and water balloons.
  9. Register for Lowes’ free Build and Grow Workshops and Home Depot’s free Kids Workshops.
  10. Plan a weekly visit to the local park. If you have multiple parks in your area, rotate your visits to keep things interesting.
  11. Check around to see which churches are offering Vacation Bible School in your area.

Hopefully this list has given you some ideas of free things to do with your kiddos this summer. I know it keeps my family busy and happy.

If you have any free summer activities to add, feel free to add them in the comments.

Happy Summer! :)

Are You Financially Happy?

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people are not happy unless their money is right. Well, what exactly is “right”? In my mind, it means no or low debt, money in the bank for a rainy day and being able to pay bills on time.

If you don’t consider yourself to be financially happy, here are a few steps you can take to get there.

  1. Create and live by your budget. I know, there’s that B word again! Unfortunately, there’s no getting around having a budget if you want to be financially happy. You have to know how much is coming in and how much is going out each month so you can plan accordingly. If you need help getting a budget started, check out my previous post about creating a budget.
  2. Set money goals. Once you have fine tuned your budget you can begin to set financial goals. Write down the ways you’d like your money to work for you. Do you want to save for retirement, vacation,  or college? Having a budget will allow you to see how much you can devote to each area and then you can begin working towards those goals. Be sure to set short term (within a year) and long term (5 years) goals.
  3. Pay your bills on time! Paying your bills on time will increase your credit rating and allow you to receive low-interest loans, if needed. When you create your budget, be sure to allocate money for fun stuff like shopping, eating out, and entertainment. Having these line items in your budget will enable you to use those funds instead of dipping into money allocated for bills. It may take a few months to build those accounts up, which means you will have to reign in spending until you’ve reached a comfortable amount. Maybe by then the spending urge will dwindle and lead you to the next tip for financial happiness.
  4. Put money away for emergencies. Trust me, they will come. If you begin putting money away you’ll be ready and won’t have to resort to using credit for that emergency. Your budget will be able to tell you how much you can set aside.
  5. Stop comparing what you have to others. Try to find satisfaction and happiness in what you already have, not in the things you think you must have to be happy. I believe happiness is a state of mind and we can learn to be happy in whatever state we are currently in. As Dave Ramsey says, “Stop keeping up with the Joneses. They’re broke!”
  6. Plan for the future. In addition to saving for emergencies, you should also plan for events that will happen in the future. Life insurance, disability insurance, retirement and college are a few examples of things we need to plan and save for. This may not increase your financial happiness now, but it definitely will in the future!
  7. Stick with the plan. There will be many times when you will want to throw in the towel and hop off the budget train, but trust me, if you stick with the plan, you will see how much further along you will be in 3 months, then six months and finally one year’s time. Seeing how much you’ve accomplished will inspire you to keep going and you’ll begin to experience that financial happiness you’ve been looking for.

These are just a few tips to increase your financial happiness, but I know there are MANY more! Add any tips you may have in the comments section below. We all could use a little motivation. :)