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- I wanted to refresh my apartment after staying home so much during the pandemic.
- I set a budget of $2,500, then challenged myself to cut my spending in creative ways.
- I stopped buying home decor, used credit-cards rewards, and repurposed other savings.
- Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.
At the start of this year, one of my goals was to completely revamp my apartment. After spending a lot of time in this place during the pandemic, I was eager to give it a makeover. Since I’m a renter, I couldn’t do much structurally to the place, but I could move around furniture, buy new items, and make the apartment feel new.
I knew this would cost money, so to make sure this project didn’t put me into debt or set me back financially, I decided to spend most of the year budgeting and saving $2,500 to do this when I resigned my lease in October.
Here’s how I was able to put money aside and make this goal happen.
1. I set a budget for the redesign
Since I knew I wasn’t going to start my redesign until October, I spent the majority of 2021 setting a budget for what I was going to spend and how I was going to spend that money. I decided on $2,500, which was around $2,000 less than I wanted to spend, as a way of being conservative with my finances and proving to myself that I didn’t need to spend as much as I thought on this apartment makeover.
I allotted $1,500 for furniture (kitchen table, chairs,
, dresser, and coffee table), $500 for rugs and drapes, and $500 for decor (wall art, mirrors, picture frames, and paintings). I even went into more detail by giving each line item a budgeted price (e.g. coffee table, $150; kitchen table and chairs, $300).
2. I saved an extra $85 every month
When I first had the goal of redecorating my apartment in January of this year, I decided that I would put $85 aside every single month. I put this in my monthly savings plan; after my expenses were paid (rent, bills, credit card payments, etc.) I’d take $85 of the leftover money and put it in a separate savings account labeled “apartment makeover.” I usually save around $1,000 a month, so taking a small chunk of that and putting it toward my apartment budget was feasible. It allowed me to add $675 toward my overall $2,500 goal.
3. I skipped my regular trips to home stores
Rather than do mini-makeovers every month or quarter, I made a promise to myself that I’d only buy household essentials before my major makeover.
As a weekend activity, I used to take myself to home-goods stores and spend $100 or so a month. But while I was saving up for my apartment overhaul, I avoided those stores, skipped online shopping for decor, and didn’t do any home improvement all year. This helped me save over $700 and was something I was able to track in my budget by comparing my credit card statements from last year. I put that saved $700 into the apartment makeover account.
4. I repurposed other savings
My husband and I cancelled our big wedding and eloped instead, which left us with an unused wedding budget. We decided to use that chunk of cash, that we’d saved for years, on a variety of other things. We took only $1,000 from that savings account to use toward redecorating our home. That was the only savings account we pulled money out of for this project.
5. We used our credit-card rewards
To help us meet our savings goal, we each set aside some of our credit-card reward points for the redesign. We used those points to purchase gift cards at home-improvement and home-decor stores we knew we’d be purchasing our items from. We collected $250 in gift cards from cashing in some of our credit-card points.