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CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW HOME!

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You saved, you planned, you bought a house. And now you’re ready to make that new house, your house. But before you get caught up in a swirl of paint colors, curtain choices and deciding if that duvet is really all that, hit the pause button and check out our four steps to budget-friendly decorating. You’ll still end up with the house of your dreams, but without dreading the arrival of your credit card bill.

Step 1: Make a list of everything you’d like to have for your new house.  Go room to room and write down everything you’d like to change, big and small. Does the living room need new blinds? Would an energy-efficient fridge be a good addition to the kitchen? Do you hate the color of the powder room? Does the landscaping need an overhaul? Would you like new cabinet handles in the kitchen? Think about how you’ll really use your rooms and plan accordingly: that white Downton Abbey chaise lounge probably isn’t a great fit if you have three kids and a dog. Share your house? Check in with your significant other and the kids. They’ll have opinions and good ideas for how to turn your new house into something you can all be proud and excited about.

Step 2: Set a decorating budget that doesn’t depend on your credit cards.  How much can you realistically afford to spend each month on redecorating? And by “realistically” we mean that you’re paying all the bills and saving money for things like retirement, college and your “rainy day” fund. Don’t compromise anything important for the thrill of new curtains. That thrill is fleeting while the reality of not having enough money to pay the utility bill is not. It can be tempting to pull out the credit card, but think long and hard before you do. Anything you can’t pay off next month means ka-ching: interest payments.

Step 3: Be creative. There are so many ways to save on furniture, services and appliances. Check out Craig’s List or eBay. Visit your local Habitat Restore shop. Consider taking a class and handling some of your own renovations and repairs. See if you can trade a skill of yours for one of a friend’s. Look online to find the best prices—but be sure to pay attention to warranties, shipping costs and return policies. And take a look around your own home. Do you have “hidden” treasures that could find a new life? Ask a friend whose taste you admire to brainstorm with you—a fresh perspective can make a big difference.

Step 4: Have a “moving in” garage sale. As you unpack and decide what belongs where, be open to discarding things. If something doesn’t fit or doesn't have a special place in your heart, put it into one of three piles: donate, toss or sell. If you have enough items in the “sell” pile, have a garage sale and use the money to buy what you need, or want, for your new home.

You’re on the right path to really “owning” your new home. Good luck and congratulations! 

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