Decorating on a Budget

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Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things, decorating! Yes, decorating can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’m going to talk about doing so with a modest budget. It helps to be creative and crafty, but it’s not required.

The top picture that you see is one that I took at Dismals Canyon in Phil Campbell, Alabama. I chose it because I am planning to have it printed at Walmart so that I can hang it on my wall at Berry Cottage. I can print it as a 16×20 poster and buy a frame for less than $20 and it has meaning to me and my family. If you enjoy taking pictures and want to show off your artwork, there are many options for printing. I chose Walmart because I can upload my pictures and drive there to pick them up. No waiting.

I buy all of my furniture from second-hand stores and on Facebook marketplace. I buy my mattresses at Wal-Mart because I’m terrified of getting bed bugs. There are ways to check for them, but I personally would rather avoid them.

A simple way to dress up a room is with new curtains and throw pillows. If you have a sewing machine you can use sheets from a thrift store if you can’t find inexpensive material that you like. Just cut out your pattern or the measurements you need for what you’re making. Remember to leave room to hem it. You can also use old clothes and sheets to make a throw or a quilt.

If you like figurines or you’re looking for holiday decor, Dollar Tree is awesome! My mom has an adorable Christmas village that she bought piece by piece there and you can’t tell. They add new ones every year so you can add to your collection.

You can also repurpose furniture. For instance, there were two dressers in the Berry Cottage when we bought it. One is tall, but the other is perfect for our TV. I use the drawers to store DVDs, games, and CDs (I still have CDs and cassette tapes, but the cassettes stay in my 1999 Toyota). You can paint furniture to fit your decor and even change the knobs to give it a new look. I’m considering it with our new TV stand, but I kind of like the retro wood and brass look.

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This picture was taken when we first bought the house so this room looks very different and all of the trash has been thrown away.

What are some of your favorite ways to decorate on a budget?

Try Something New!

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About eight months ago my mom and I started going to a monthly painting class. We go out to eat and then spend two hours working on our masterpieces. She and I had never done anything like this before, but we wanted to get a break for a couple of hours. Our teacher is amazing and she not only teaches us how to paint but also how to fix any mistakes.

Eight months later and our paintings are not only improving, but now we’re talking about doing this on our own because we love it and two hours a month aren’t enough. You can see in my painting at the top that it’s not perfect, but it’s fun and relaxing.

If you have ever wanted to try something then go for it! Don’t be afraid that it won’t be perfect, that comes with time and practice. There are YouTube videos for everything these days! You can learn to crochet, knit, cook, or even do home repairs! Just relax and give it a chance. A hobby isn’t about perfection, it’s about relaxation and having a great time!

My next project is going to be painting the Berry Cottage on my own because I have always wanted a painting of my old house hanging in the living room. Even before I actually had an old house. I envisioned one day having a two-story farmhouse, but with my husband’s disabilities, a one-story is better for our family. It will also be easier for me to paint.

Here are a few ideas in case you need inspiration for a hobby:

  • Blogging (you can start for free on WordPress or Blogger)
  • Drawing
  • Journaling
  • Dollhouses/Miniatures (This is a goal of mine)
  • Quilting/Sewing
  • Pottery
  • Gardening

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some suggestions to get you started. Don’t worry about perfection, just have fun. I also highly recommend trying a painting class. You may be surprised at what you can do!

How to Create a Budget

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I haven’t really discussed finances much on this blog, but today I want to because it’s something I enjoy. I use Google Sheets, but there are apps you can use and other spreadsheets. I just like that I can open it anywhere and see what bills I have to pay. I create my budgets months in advance and I tweak them when I get to that month. I already have February 2020 on my Budgets spreadsheet.

The first thing I did was list my bills down the left hand side, leaving the top rectangle blank (I’ll explain why in a moment). Each item gets it’s own rectangle. You can change the font and size, which I did to make it easier for me to read. A few examples of what to include are:

  • Tithes and offerings
  • Savings (Pay yourself)
  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Electricity
  • Water/Sewer
  • Trash
  • Propane/Natural Gas
  • Food
  • Internet
  • Cellphone
  • Car loan
  • Car insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Gas
  • Credit Cards

Your list may be longer or shorter depending on what bills you have to pay. The beauty of a spreadsheet is you can move things around easily as your needs change.

To the right of the blank square I type in the month. Then, beside each bill I type in how much I owe for that month (rent) or an estimate (electricity). Make sure all of your amounts are in dollar formats, you can do this by highlighting all of the boxes with numbers and hitting the $. Now I highlight them again, if needed, and click the funny looking “E” for Functions. I use this to add everything together and that amount appears below the last amount in my budget.

To keep track, as I pay bills I mark them green for paid, yellow for pending, and red for not paid. It makes it super easy for me to see what I need to pay still at the end of the month. Also, if a bill ends up costing more or less when I go to pay it, I change it in the Budget so I know for next month.

If you use an app or a different spreadsheet, tell me in comments. I may try them out and I write another blog post highlighting your suggestions. I will not use your name without permission.

 

Progress at Berry Cottage

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We got the floor installed in the kid’s bedroom and I was so excited that I couldn’t wait for the tools to be put away before taking pictures. Look closely at the flooring. It looks like hardwood, even in person, but it’s not. It’s sheet vinyl that I bought from Lowe’s for $.37 a square foot. It’s grooved and has knotholes just like real hardwood, but for a fraction of the price.

We also put in the window unit. The house has never had central heat and air and we chose not to put it in to save money. We’re planning to buy a natural gas heater before it gets cold. We were told that the gentleman who owned the house before us kept the house warm with one brick on a natural gas heater. He only had one air conditioner so we’re assuming he liked the house very warm, which we don’t, so one brick may force us outside until nightfall.

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We also had a new wall put in. The old wall had been eaten by termites. Fortunately, there wasn’t any new damage or evidence of living termites. We are going to have the house treated as a precaution since most of our walls are going to be the original shiplap that hasn’t been destroyed. This wall will be getting trim put on it to hide the seams and add interest since it’s vinyl and can’t be painted easily. The black on the left is the five panel door we had installed months ago.

Our next project is putting in new flooring and paneling in the hallway. I will share that with you once it’s done. We are doing this remodel on a super tight budget, but we’re so excited with how it’s turning out. I can’t wait until it’s finished, it’s going to be my happy place.

Why I Use the English Standard Version Bible

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There are a lot of Bible versions out there including the King James Verson (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New Internation Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV), and lots more. If you have followed my blog you have likely noticed that I only use the ESV. Or seem to.

I used to be a KJV-only type because that’s what I grew up with and what we use at church. The problem was that I struggled to understand it and I was missing the meaning because of that. For my birthday this year, I was given an ESV Bible so I started reading it.

The first thing I noticed was that it was saying the same thing as my KJV, but in modern English. This makes it super simple to follow along in church. I also don’t get distracted by the lingo so I retain more of what I’m reading. This makes me want to read more and I can spend more time doing so.

It does have the same issue as most modern translations, verses are missing. I did my own research and agree that they were likely added after the original manuscripts. I do have a journaling Bible so it’s simple enough for me to write them in. I did that when I realized my Bible was missing four verses in 1 Thessalonians.

I’m definitely not saying that you should choose a translation and just use it, I certainly do not. I use the NIV, NLT, KJV, and ESV personally. Occasionally I’ll use the CSB (Christian Standard Bible) on my Kindle. To make things simpler on this blog I stick to ESV unless I make a note otherwise.

Why Owner Financing Can Be Better Than Traditional

My husband and I have done both owner financing and traditional mortgages. Be sure to do your own due diligence, I’m not a lawyer and can’t be held liable if things don’t work out well for you.

That being said, owner financing opens doors for people with no credit and poor credit, depending on who is offering it. The company owner financing Berry Cottage looked at our payment history instead of our credit score.

It also allows buyers to purchase homes and land that a bank may not finance. Very few banks would have financed Berry Cottage because it had some issues when we first bought it. We were able to get a lot done for very little money, thanks to friends and family, but a bank wouldn’t have looked at that.

You can negotiate better terms some times. We put $1,000 down, we don’t pay any interest, and our loan term is only for three years. Then the financing company pays all of the closing fees. There isn’t a bank anywhere that will do all of that.

Before you sign a contract to owner finance anything be sure to read the contract and hire a lawyer to look it over. If you go through a company do some digging into their history and look for reviews. It can be harder with an individual, but try. If something doesn’t feel right then walk away.

With Berry Cottage we paid for the deed and the property map to make sure things added up. To be honest, it seemed to good to be true. Everything checked out and the contract was so simple that I had my skeptical parents read over to see if we missed anything. They agreed that we needed to proceed quickly. It’s almost been a year and I can’t say enough good things about the company we’re buying Berry Cottage from.

Just Participate, Don’t Anticipate

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“Just participate, don’t anticipate” was the mantra on my Walk to Emmaus. It made us slow down and not overthink our weekend, just enjoy the surprises that popped up along the way. I find that doing this now is almost therapeutic. I thought I was crazy, until today.

Every afternoon I start my Bible study with Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young. Today it says, “Concentrate on keeping step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you”. It references Proverbs 16:9 which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”. This means that it’s okay to make plans as long as you allow God to guide your steps.

That’s what we have done with Berry Cottage. We asked God to show us where He wanted us and He showed us Berry Cottage. Then He blessed us financially to be able to move there. We serve a loving, merciful God who wants to bless us, but in His time and in His way. That’s what He’s teaching me.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I still have my struggles. I’m still praying to be content in our current circumstances, but I’m learning that contentment is really a choice. Some days I have to ask Him to show me the way, but it’s getting easier.

When Are You Moving?

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I get this question a lot. I have been praying that God would open a door so that we can move. Yesterday I told my husband that I want a move-in date. He said, “Show me the money”. I prayed and asked God to please help us. An hour later my mom called with a surprise for us. We are moving in July of this year!

To say that I’m excited is an understatement. The house won’t be perfect, but I don’t even care. That will come in time. I’m ecstatic because I know where God wants us. All we have to do is take what we need, which really isn’t much.

I will post pictures as we complete projects and start decorating. That’s my favourite part of this. Decorating and making our house a home. It’s going to be simple, but comfortable. Like the house itself.

If you are looking for an answer or you are struggling, go to Jesus. I can tell you with certainty that He loves you and He’s waiting for you to talk to Him. He still talks to us just like He talked to people in the Bible. We just have to take time to listen. We’re too often too busy for Him. He’s never too busy for us.

The Walk to Emmaus

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If you have never heard of The Walk to Emmaus I encourage you to ask at your church and see if anyone has been. I went in April and I sent my mom on the very next one. It isn’t a secret society nor is it a cult. It is an incredible experience where you will see Jesus.

The Walk to Emmaus is based on Luke 24:13-35. It’s just after Jesus was resurrected and he appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus. They walked and talked with Him, but did not know that He was Jesus. It wasn’t until He broke the bread and blessed it that they recognized Him. Then He vanished.

The Walk to Emmaus ministry is clouded in mystery because if you know what is going to happen you will miss a blessing. The purpose is for you to focus on Jesus all weekend. To truly seek Him. If it’s like my weekend and my Mom’s, you will encounter Him. It may not be the first day, it may be the last, but He will meet you there. You only have to be receptive.

It is not a replacement for going to church. It is a place to go and get re-charged. Then you return to your church and your community ready to serve. While I was there I realized that I wasn’t serving because I had allowed my anxiety to overwhelm me. The devil still tries to use my anxiety, but I’m wise to his tricks and I rebuke him. Right now, this blog is how I serve until God shows me what He wants me to do.

The Walk to Emmaus is life-changing, just like it was for the two men on the road to Emmaus. I pray that if you haven’t been that you will pray about going. If you have been I would love for you to share your experience without revealing any of the secrets.