How To Run A Stylish Household On A Budget
A working mom shares her five frugal tips on keeping a tasteful and efficient house on shoestring resources
“I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.” I often steal this line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel, especially about the first place my husband and I lived in right after we got married.
Our first home was a studio unit in a neighborhood on the edge of gentrification. The only things in the apartment when we moved in were a folding bed, a trashcan and a 50-piece Tupperware set. Starting out, living on a single income, we happily filled our studio with inexpensive furniture from IKEA and the neighborhood department store.
A friend of mine who moved to the city at around the same time decorated her first apartment with castoffs she found on the street, plus items donated by various friends and family members. The only hitch with this decorating method is finding the muscle to help you haul a chest of drawers from the curb up to your walkup apartment. But the stuff she cobbled together was pretty cool, so there seemed to be a certain charm to being a spirited young furniture scavenger.
Years passed; my husband and I worked, we earned, we saved more than we spent. Most of all, we harnessed the cheapskate mentality of our lean years. It continues to serve us well, especially now we have to pay for a two-bedroom apartment, two cars, and a nanny. We realized that the only way to really keep your household financially fit is to have a budget. “Budget” may seem like a restrictive word, but it actually lets you control your money instead of your money controlling you. We have these basic budget rules that we live by:
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