Welcome back to Money Matters, the place where you’ll find inventive suggestions for living well on a budget. In tough economic times it’s vital to learn how to downsize and stretch your money, as well as recycle or upcycle items you might normally discard into great home innovations. This edition offers you super cool storage methods and ways to beautify your home. It also brings you ideas on how to indulge yourself, since “me time” may be more important than you think. Remember, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way to enhancing your life—even on a budget!
MANAGE YOUR MESS
We all end up with lots of bathroom products of all shapes and sizes. One of the easiest ways to store items is to use small plastic waste-paper bins. Separate out hair products and equipment into one, cleaning products into another, etc. It’s easy to store the baskets in a cupboard and if you’re vertically challenged, they are easy to grab a hold of from a high shelf. These bins can be bought cheaply, and if you prefer to keep them out, they come in a variety of colors to complement your décor.
Storing jewelry can be a problem. If you are in a rush and trying to find just the right accessory, using re-sealable food bags allows you to store earrings, necklaces, and bracelets together in sets, so that making your selection is effortless. You can keep the bags in one easy-access container in a drawer, and when preparing for travel, you’ll be able to quickly pair up your jewelry with the outfits you’ll be packing. You can even make a small hole in each bag and slide it over the hook of the hanger. Larger plastic bags hold socks, tights, belts – any items to be worn with that outfit. Easy Peasy!
If you have china in your kitchen that isn’t in daily use, it can gather dust. Storing anything you only use for special occasions in clear plastic tubs with lids means that not only are they easier to move around when you are looking for something, but you can also see what’s inside at a glance. This smart idea will ensure your items remain dust-free.
Kids love cardboard rolls – and it’s one thing that every household has. Whether they’re from kitchen paper towel or toilet paper rolls, they can be used to store so many things. Some favorite uses are for pens, crayons and pencils. Decide how many rolls you need and then find a suitable box. Line it with the rolls so there is no spare space and then fill them up! You can get the kids to decorate the outsides first if you want to brighten them up and create a fun craft to keep them busy.
Another good use for cardboard rolls is for storing toy cars. You will need a large tray-like box and the cardboard rolls from kitchen towels work best, as you can cut them into three. Each section of roll is a home for one car. As long as you pack your rolls tightly, this works well and you can easily store the “trays” as a stack if you need to have differing heights to accommodate those vehicles.
Storage is almost always a problem for people, and most homeowners utilize every little bit of spare space. This stool can still slide under the worktop and accommodate a nice, neat little stack of boxes for paperwork. Always choose sturdy boxes, make the color appropriate to the room and where you don’t want them to stand out, choose muted colors.
If you are touching up the paintwork/walls in your home, rather than washing out the brushes/rollers every single time you use them, try using polythene bags. Simply pop your brush inside and wrap the bag around it tightly. It won’t dry out for a couple of days and you can even slide a tray of paint into a bag and it will remain liquid for a few days.
Necklaces make wonderful decorations when used to drape over lightshades and as tie-backs for curtains. However, a lightshade is also a useful place to “store” a necklace that is particularly fragile, or that you wear frequently. Each morning when you jump out of bed it’s there waiting!
Sometimes you want to create a little feature, something to catch the eye and soften a room. Using fabric is a great way of doing that. Here, a tea-towel has been used to line a wooden tea-tray and the remaining fabric has been used to make a placemat. It’s inexpensive and there’s minimal sewing (just hemming the cut edges and the tea-towel).
Simple window treatments can add so much to a room. Here, you’ll find a small swag of fabric to match the bedding and one, semi-sheer voile. As this window is not overlooked, the voile is never lowered so it’s simply a window dressing. However, in case it does need to be used, the voile has been arranged in folds and some metal dragonfly clips secure them. These are clip-on weights for holding-down tablecloths on picnic tables. They can be bought in sets quite cheaply and are a nice, fun little feature.
Maybe your budget doesn’t include a regular trip to a spa, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself! Set aside two hours a week – mark it on the calendar and choose a time when you can just stop whatever you are doing and chillax, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom to escape the family. For a few pounds/dollars you can treat yourself to a pore cleanser, facial scrub and face-pack. Use them in that order (according to the instructions), and then slip into a relaxing bath to let your face-pack cure. Wash it off and then apply a good quality moisturizing cream. Your skin will glow and you will rid yourself of all of those dead skin cells that often make our skin look dry and jaded – especially in winter. Two hours out of 168 that make up your week – you don’t just deserve it, you NEED it!
Want to help reverse the aging process? You don’t need to spend money on expensive collagen injections to do it. Restore collagen to your skin the natural way by modifying your diet to include foods rich in Vitamin C (lots of dark colored fruit, berries, and leafy green vegetables), lean protein, wheat germ, and garlic! Additionally, green and black teas contain anti-oxidants that can help to reduce wrinkles. When out in the sun, protect yourself from further collagen loss by always wearing 30 sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.
Feeling anxious? Anxiety is one of the most prevalent conditions we suffer from as a society. It can take over your life, if you let it. The more anxious we become, often the less productive we are. There are, however, some easy things you can do (and not do!) to relax, de-stress, and wipe anxiety from your life.
Don’t over extend yourself. Taking on more than you feel comfortable with at work or at home is a very common cause of stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed do only the things you absolutely have to, and learn to say no to everything else.
Think positive. Focus on shunning the negativity in your mind and embracing joyful and positive thoughts, whether serene places, happy memories, or whatever brings a smile to your face.
Laugh! Watch comedies, read funny books, share jokes with a friend—anything that makes you chuckle. Laughter releases anxiety and it really is the best medicine.
Exercise. Twenty minutes on the treadmill or a brisk walk around your neighborhood works wonders in reducing stress.
Meditate. If you don’t know how, just do an Internet search and you’ll find a myriad of ways to do it. This is a very effective method of settling down your mind and lifting your spirit!
Look out for more of Bonnie’s top tips