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Decorating Your Home for Fall on a Budget

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FRUGAL LIVING TIP OF THE MONTH: CAR MAINTENANCE

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The price of seasonal decor is on the rise. So what's a stylish decor maven to do when trying to decorate for fall? Take on a DIY project, of course!

Whether you're working on a shoestring budget, or simply trying to save a dime, with a bit of ingenuity and time, you'll be well on your way to fall home decor that even Martha Stewart deems worthy.

Try these inexpensive decor ideas to jazz up your home for fall:

1. Pinecone wreath. Greeting your guests at the door with a pinecone wreath ensures a warm and stylish welcome. Rather than paying the standard price of $50 to $100 for a pinecone wreath, make one yourself for under $10!

• Take an afternoon to collect pinecones with your children or grandchildren. Two small shopping bags of pinecones should be enough for a large wreath. Next, purchase a Styrofoam wreath for approximately $1, a glue gun for around $2, and a piece of ribbon for $1.

• Use a glue gun to adhere the flatter side of the pinecones to the wreath. The pinecones should be pointing upwards, rather than laying flat. Continue gluing pinecones until the Styrofoam of the wreath is no longer visible. Then, loosely wrap a long ribbon around the top of the wreath and tie.

• You can display your pinecone wreath by hanging the ribbon on your door knocker or simply using a wreath hanger that can be purchased at most big box stores for $5.

2. Pressed Leaf showcase. With the help of Mother Nature and some everyday items you already have around the house, you can make photo frames that display your beautiful pressed leaves. This fall staple is the epitome of autumn decor and packs a big punch for a small buck!

• Place a piece of wax paper in the middle of a heavy book, such as an encyclopedia, and lay several leaves on the wax paper without overlapping leaves. Place another sheet of wax paper over the leaves, and then close the book. Let stand for approximately 12 hours.

• Use a piece of scrapbook paper with colors that are reminiscent of fall and fit it to your photo frame. Place a dot of hot glue on the center of the paper and press your leaf onto the glue. Then, carefully slide your pressed leaf and scrapbook paper combo into your photo frame and display!

3. Simple switch. Changing your smallest accessories can provide both the biggest bang for your buck and visual stimulation. Swap out your regular throw pillows, curtains, throws, and vases in favor of ones that are laden with fall friendly hues.

• Orange, red, brown, bronze, and even green are generally colors associated with fall.

• There's no need to replace your existing decor; just adapt what you already have! Attach a fun orange or brown pompom trimming to your curtains with Velcro. Rather than ditching your existing throw pillow, simply sew a flirty and autumn-friendly cover for the fall.

Whether you're working with a $100 budget or a $10 budget, you can effectively decorate your home for the fall. When on a tight budget, your most important ally will be your imagination. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way.

Take inspiration from magazines, decorating shows or even snap photos of pieces you see in department stores and try to recreate them at home. If you're open to trying something new and taking the time to take on some DIY projects, the sky truly is the limit to what you can do!

Frugal Living Tip of the Month

Tip: Car Maintenance

How Much can you Save? $1,000 or more, per year.

Making it Work:

According to the 2014 Edition of AAA's Your Driving Costs, the cost of gasoline, tires and maintenance for a mid-sized sedan is 19.1 cents a mile. If you drive an average of 15,000 miles a year, that's $14,325 that will disappear from your bank account over five years.

However, there are a few simple steps that you can take to cut your car maintenance costs by 50-90%!

These strategies can help you to save big on car maintenance and repair:

1. Read your owner's manual. When you first acquire your car, read your owner's manual and frequently refer to its recommended schedule of maintenance. By following this schedule, you can ensure that any issues that develop with your vehicle are caught early, before they escalate into more expensive repairs.

2. Prolong the life of your tires. Underinflated tires raise your fuel costs by 15% and dramatically shorten the life of your tires. According to the ASE, most tires loose between 1 and 2 pounds of air pressure a month, so check the air frequently, such as when you gas up. Frequent tire rotation ensures that they wear evenly, further extending the life of your tires.

3. Perform simple maintenance tasks yourself. Labor accounts for 75 to 90% of your charge whenever you see a mechanic. Complete simple tasks that require little skill yourself, such as changing your air filter, wiper blades and lamp bulbs to save big on these costs. Changing the air filter also helps to reduce gas consumption as well, increasing savings.

4. Learn more detailed DIY automotive tasks. If you enjoy DIY tasks, and have high annual mileage, acquiring the skills and tools to change your own oil, spark plugs, and brake pads, as well as coolant flushes, will increase the amount that you are able to save on regular maintenance tasks.

5. Make friends with a mechanic. Check with your network of family and friends for recommendations for a mechanic. Smaller, independent garages usually charge less than dealerships. Dealership mechanics often look for additional work on the side and charge reduced rates, so ask around.

6. Visit and get quotes first. In addition to your network, check online sites for reviews and recommendations. Before you select a new mechanic or shop, visit first. You can learn a lot by seeing firsthand how welcoming the shop is and how the mechanic interacts with other customers. Obtain a detailed quote before the mechanic begins work.

7. Don't pay for work twice. If you need a repair that will require the mechanic to remove several parts to complete the work, go ahead and have those parts replaced if they are nearing the end of their life and will need to be replaced soon.

Since maintenance and repair costs add up to thousands of dollars over the years, it pays to take time to research the options that can help you reduce your costs.

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