3 Hacks to Decorating Your Home on a Budget

When we moved into our new house just a couple of years ago as first time home buyers, we were on a serious budget.

We didn’t know what it would be like to now have to pay a mortgage, plus property insurance and all of the extra expenses that came with owning a home. 

So we were ultra careful with our money, at least until we figured out what our budget and expenses would look like going forward.

That meant not spending on paint or home improvements at first, and certainly no spending big bucks on decorating.

But it was our first home, so we definitely wanted to spruce up our house with our personal touches.

My husband and I managed to decorate our home on a shoestring budget and spent almost nothing, and it looks great.

Here’s how we did it:

1. We Repurposed Cool Older Decorations

The thing about living in the suburbs is that, come garbage day, especially in the spring, there are always things that people no longer want out at the curb.

If you think about it, this is really a shame. After all, they should be bringing these items to the thrift store or Freecycle, but it was great for us when we were looking for decorating projects to take on.

One family ditched some beautiful ceramic lamps that we took in, painted, and cleaned up a bit.

They were perfectly fine lamps, though they were definitely not in our preferred colour. After we spruced up the lamps, they looked as if we bought them from the Pottery Barn. We still have them and we can feel good for not letting them end up in a landfill, too.

2. We Only Bought Second-Hand

This not only caters to my frugal side, but it also caters to my “green” side, too, like repurposing older things. Buying second hand gives items a second life and prevents them from ending up in a landfill or, worse, buying something new and taking on the environmental responsibility that goes with it.

So, when we moved into our new house, we needed a few pieces of furniture and didn’t want to buy them brand new. We ended up buying second hand furniture, and making slight alterations to it if needed (though often it was perfectly fine as it was).

You can can buy second hand Furniture on Gumtree and browse online, which is pretty cool.

3. We Frequented the Dollar Store

Depending on where you live, the dollar store can have some awesome stuff!

We bought vases, office supplies, and even canvas for our own art at the dollar store nearby and we saved a ton of money, especially compared to the prices of the same stuff even at Walmart or a department home goods store.

We were surprised to see the stuff that the dollar store sold, and the simple pieces that we bought there really changed the look and feel of our space.

We still get a lot of compliments on the vases that we bought from the dollar store.


Even though we probably could have budgeted more for our home decor when we moved into our new-to-us house, we’re glad we didn’t. We found some awesome decor for free or for cheap, including furniture and other home goods. So we definitely don’t regret saving our money for more important things!

How have you saved on home decor in the past?

3 Super Simple Ways I Make Money Online Blogging (Even While I Travel)

make money blogging onlineAs many of you know, earlier this year I launched my entrepreneurship blog, Unsettle.org.

Unsettle is where I teach people how to create lifestyle businesses so they can do work they love and that engages them.

I do focus on online businesses, but many of my readers have local businesses, so I don’t want alienate those people by posting on Unsettle about how I make money online blogging.

This is Suburban Finance, though, so I know most of my readers on here are interested in increasing your incomes by setting in place “passive” income opportunities so you can earn well you sleep.

And, I’m another one of those people who can say that:

I Make A Huge Portion of My Online Income Through Blogging

Before I started Unsettle I got a lot of questions about blogging.

When friends, family members, neighbours, and co-workers found out that I blog (and I make a good income from it), I was constantly being invited to coffees, lunches, and being sought out at gatherings so they could pick my brain.

That’s actually a big portion of the reason why I started Unsettle. To teach people all in one place.

Right now, of my income, at least 60% of it comes from blogging.

My Self Employment Income Breakdown From March

In February, I left my contract to become self employed and have more flexibility in my life to travel when I wanted. So my income is now all self employment income, and this is the breakdown from March:

  • 60% blogging (affiliate income, brand ambassadorships, sponsorships, ads)
  • 5% freelancing (writing)
  • 35% Etsy (Jason and I run an Etsy shop)
  • make money online blogging

March’s numbers were a bit skewed. For the majority of the month, I was travelling, so I had to turn down some Etsy sales.

I also wasn’t taking new freelancing clients, though now I have taken on three additional clients in the past couple of weeks, so that chart will look quite different for April.

Because I was slacking off travelling for six weeks through February and March, it was a relief to have most of my income be passive.

Here’s How I Make Money Blogging:

Here’s a quick breakdown of how I earn my blogging income – not including freelancing, Etsy, or anything non-blog related.

Sponsorships.. Meh.

In 2014, on my original blog (which I sold), I stopped taking sponsorships.

I didn’t feel good “selling out” to sponsors that I didn’t believe in and I wasn’t completely sure of the direction I wanted to take the site at the time.

However, by making the decision to not take blog sponsorships, I gave up an income of about $20,000 per year (if not more).

I still don’t take very many sponsors on Suburban Finance. I know they can be done well, but it’s really not my jam.

Affiliate Income

To replace the income from the sponsorships, I’ve become an affiliate for products that I really love and use.

I would never become an affiliate for a product I didn’t adore – because, again, readers are more important than that extra tiny commission I would make, and only referring my audience to things that provide value to them strengthens my relationship with them.

I shied away from affiliate marketing before because it seemed like so much work, but it’s really not.

Working with Brands

love working with a select few awesome brands, and have recently been able to get more into that.

There is a bit of a gap in the Canadian personal finance blogger market (there are quite a few of us, but not a ton of active pf bloggers in Canada who have an established following), so I have the opportunity to work with quite a few to support their services and products if they’re in line with what I’m doing with Suburban Finance.

Promoting My Services and Consulting

This isn’t directly blogging income, but it’s a direct benefit of blogging:

When you’re out there building an audience and writing for high profile websites, you get noticed.

I’ve been so fortunate to have some articles on some really great websites, and many companies reach out to me to write for them after reading those articles or noticing me. Sometimes they visit my Hire Me page or sometimes just reach out in the hopes that I’ll work with them, but..

Every time I write about a particular subject on a bigger site, I get at least a few emails from people – entrepreneurs, small business owners, bloggers – asking me to coach them in the area of whatever it was I wrote about.

For instance, when I wrote this post on Boost Blog Traffic, I had a handful of emails from people asking me to help them build a monetization strategy for their blogs.

I am very selective with who I work with (and my price tends to weed a lot of people out anyway), so I don’t take on many of these projects but there is a definite benefit of blogging for getting your name and expertise out there.


So there you have it. That’s how I make money online blogging.

If you want to learn more about building a lifestyle business so you can achieve location, financial, and career freedom, sign up for my newsletter at Unsettle and I’ll give you some tips, tricks, and ideas to help you build your thing.

How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse (Without Fighting)

Financial peace is important for more than just building and maintaining a fat bank account. It can also spell disaster (or peace!) for your marriage.

Financial issues are one of the leading causes of marital disputes and divorce. And while that is a sad statistic to share, it is not all that surprising. Anyone who has fought about money, talked about money, or disagreed about money can certainly understand why it would cause a problem between two married people.

To avoid these kinds of fights, many couples decide to not join finances. But it is not clear that that means you’ll avoid every money fight — just a lot of them.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are three things you can do to talk about money with your spouse without fighting:

  1. Choose a neutral time to talk about finances. If you’re a morning person and your spouse is a night owl, it’s not fair to schedule budget meetings at 7AM. You might be bright and bushy tailed, but your spouse will already be on edge from losing valued morning sleep. Pick a time that works for both of you — that you’re both relaxed, well-rested, and interested in talking money.
  2. Put a lid on the time for each meeting. Dave Ramsey sets a budget meeting limit at 17 minutes. For me, that’s way too short! I’d love to talk for a solid 90 minutes. But that’s something my husband really needed — a limit on the meeting time — to feel more interested in the conversation. Whether you’re the spouse who prefers a short meeting or a long one, keep it short and have meetings more frequently rather than long meetings every once in a while that try your spouse’s patience.
  3. Understand where your spouse is coming from. Both spouses need to take time to share their relationship with money in the past and how their parents talked about money. Because you never know what influences your spouse is bringing into your relationship! If your spouses parent’s constantly argued about finances and never had enough money to go around, it’s no wonder he is reluctant to have those meetings once a week! It’s only by understanding each other’s background that you and your spouse will be able to set new expectations (new, peaceful expectations) for how your family unit will deal with money.

There’s no one right way to deal with finances within your family, but there are guiding principles that can make the conversation less painful. Stick to a time limit, talk about your past, and choose a neutral time to talk about finances to keep the fight out of your finances.