How To Plan a Frugal (Not Cheap) Wedding for Less Than $4,000

The average wedding and reception in 2019 (the most recent pre-COVID year for which data is available) was $28,000, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study. Given that the median American household income charts in around $69,000, (according to the Census Bureau), that means the average wedding devours nearly half a year’s worth of income.

Many people dream of a beautiful, unforgettable wedding, but not many long for the financial aftermath. The best solution is to take a serious look at all of the expenses involved with a wedding and find realistic, frugal ways to cut back on the expense without tinkering with the magic or the memories. The strategies below can collectively shave away 10s of thousands of dollars from the budget of an average wedding.

According to our calculations, a typical American wedding comes to about $28.5k, which we detail below. By paring down here and there, we got it down to $3,950, if you go with a guest list of 50. (The Knot Real Study says the typical wedding has 131 guests.) If you follow all of our ideas, you’ll reach under $4k in your final tally.

Different people look for different things in their wedding, so go through the list below and choose the ideas that work for you.

In this article

17 steps for a frugal (not cheap) wedding on a budget

Start planning early

The more time you give yourself to plan, the easier it becomes to identify bargains and help make them into a reality. Since so many wedding features are expensive, investing more time yourself can cut those costs down quickly.

Strategy: Give yourself an extra few months between the start of planning and the event
Savings: $0 directly, but it gives you time to implement the strategies below

Choose a location near your guests

Choose a location for your wedding that’s close to the largest number of your guests. While this won’t directly save you money, it will make the next tip much more likely to succeed.

Strategy: Choose a location that’s very convenient for most of the guests
Savings: $0 directly, but it enables some of the strategies below

Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts

Talk to some of the friends and family you’re inviting to the wedding and ask them if they would be willing to provide help at the wedding in lieu of a gift. This is particularly true if you have someone on the guest list with a particular talent.

Guests for your wedding might be able to help with photography, provide emcee services, tend the bar at the reception, or perform any of the other endless tasks that a wedding entails. While some guests may prefer not to do this, others will relish the chance.

Many of the roles at our own wedding were provided by family and friends. From our perspective, we felt that everything would be much more meaningful if people we loved were actually involved with the ceremony in some way, and many of them jumped at the chance. Some of them provided supplies as their wedding gift, while others provided discounts.

Getting even a little help can easily shave 5% off of the total cost of the wedding.

Strategy: Ask family and friends for assistance at the ceremony in lieu of gifts
Savings: $1,400

With all that money you’ve saved on your big day, turn to your next big step in life: Buy the home you’ll love as much as each other. Compare mortgages below.

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Hold the ceremony at home or outdoors

According to The Knot, the average wedding venue costs $10,500, adding up to around a third of the total cost of the big day. While trimming the guest list can certainly help reduce this cost, another approach is to think outside the box with your venue.

You might consider hosting the wedding at someone’s home, particularly if they have a nice yard or plenty of space. If your guest list is small, that’s much more feasible.

Strategy: Have the wedding and reception at a friend or family member’s property
Savings: $10,500

Another approach is to see if you can use a public park for the wedding and utilize any structures the parks and recreation department may have for a reception. Many such departments have nice older houses near parks that can be used for events like this. Contacting local parks services in my area found that such venues were available with a range of $1,000 to $4,000, though there would be some additional costs to help set up some services. While there will still be a notable cost involved for this, it’s often significantly lower than paying for a full-service venue.

Strategy: Have the wedding and reception at a park
Savings: $6,500

Do the catering yourself or hire a family-owned restaurant

While trimming the guest list saves quite a bit on catering, you can save more by finding a low-cost catering option. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average cost per catered plate is $51, so if you have 50 guests, that’s $2,550 in meal expenses even with a reduced guest list.

For our own wedding, catering was provided by family and friends, who prepared and served the meal in lieu of (and in addition to) a wedding gift. This may work for you if you have someone who is interested in stepping up to that task.

Strategy: Have friends and family cater for you in lieu of a gift
Savings: $2,550

If not, try asking a local family-owned restaurant to cater for you. They might be hesitant to cater a large event, but if your guest list is already relatively small, they may be willing to do this and work with you on a less expensive option. If a local family-owned restaurant can cater and save 25% per plate, that’s still a nice savings.

Strategy: Ask a locally owned restaurant to cater the meal instead of a wedding catering service
Savings: $638

Buy a small cake or cupcakes from a grocery store

Brides Magazine reports that the average cost of a wedding cake is $350. This is an area where the cost can easily be trimmed by having something a bit more simple. Rather than heading straight to a wedding cake specialist, see what options are available for a smaller, simpler cake from a grocery store. In my area, the local grocery store chain, Hy-Vee, offered an enormous variety of cake options, ranging from very classy tiered wedding cakes that almost matched the $350 tag to much simpler options that would serve 50 guests for around $100.

Strategy: Look at grocery stores for cake options
Savings: $250

Another option is to simply buy cupcakes. You can buy large numbers of cupcakes from many bakeries for as little as $1 each. Pair that with a $30 cake stand and you can provide 70 cupcakes with a beautiful display for just $100.

Strategy: Buy cupcakes and arrange them yourself
Savings: $250

Go minimal with the flowers

Wedding Wire reports that the average cost of flowers at a wedding is $1,500. That’s a lot of money!

Keep the flowers simple! Stick with a simple bouquet and simple arrangements at the wedding, then reuse them as part of the reception. The bouquet itself averages $160, but you can drastically cut your floral expense in other ways by simply having minimal arrangements, relying on seasonal flowers, and using lots of greenery. Wedding Wire’s estimates for less-expensive floral setups range from $175 to $700, so if you simply get into that range with these tips, you’ll be doing great.

Strategy: Cut back on the flowers
Savings: $900

Make your own invitations

Again, according to The Knot, the average cost for wedding invitations is $590. This cost can easily be trimmed, however, by getting a DIY wedding invitation kit and printing them yourself.

My wife and I did this for our own wedding after balking at the hundreds of dollars for more traditional invitations. We chose a nice DIY kit that cost around $70 for our guest list and printed them ourselves. If you have access to a professional-quality printer and can do basic layout, you can easily create a very classy wedding invitation on your own for $100, with another $50 for any extra inserts and $50 for postage.

Strategy: Print your own wedding invitations
Savings: $390

Consider skipping attendants and have them involved in other ways

Rather than having several attendants for the bride and groom, consider trimming that number down to a single attendant for each, or none at all. This not only reduces the complications of the event, including hard choices about who to include, but can also eliminate small incidental costs such as bridesmaid bouquets. You can include people close to you in other ways, such as asking them to do a reading during your ceremony.

Strategy: Minimize your wedding party
Savings: Small, but helps with the next tip

If you do have attendants, go minimal with attendant gifts and make them personal

According to The Knot, the average wedding expense includes $400 in gifts, including party favors. However, most of that $400 goes toward gifts for the attendants. By keeping the wedding party small, you can cut out most of the cost, and with the smaller number, you can be more thoughtful and selective when it comes to a gift.

Strategy: Minimize attendant gifts and make them personal
Savings: $200

Borrow stereo equipment or use yours from home

If you’re having a small event anyway, hiring a DJ might be overkill. Wedding Wire reports that the average DJ cost is $1,000, so you may be able to forgo that cost by setting up your own speakers attached to a computer for a small dance. For music, you are legally allowed to use a music streaming service like Spotify (but such events may violate the terms of service of such services depending on specifics). For emcee services, ask your most outgoing friend to help.

Strategy: Do the DJing yourself
Savings: $1,000

Stock the bar yourself

A wedding bartender typically costs $35 per hour, but that doesn’t include the cost of the alcohol, which adds up to $2,300, according to The Knot. You can save a lot of money here by simply hiring someone to bartend and providing the alcohol yourself, provided the venue is OK with that (check with them). You can save as much as 50% by sourcing your own alcohol.

Strategy: Source your own alcohol and hire a separate bartender (or ask a friend)
Savings: $1,150

Contact the local university

If you’re looking for live music for the ceremony or want a professional photographer, one approach to consider is to contact the local university. There may be music students or budding photographers who would love an opportunity to get started in the field and may charge a very reasonable price as they don’t yet have a large resume to lean on. Often, new people in a field are excited to prove themselves, so they’ll not only charge a reasonable price, but they’ll go the extra mile to perform well and build a reputation. Simply trimming even 20% off of the average wedding musician cost and the average wedding photographer cost adds up. There’s a risk, of course, when using a new person, but they’re also going to be very focused on the task at hand, as this is an opportunity for them.

Strategy: Contact the local university to find budding photographers or musicians who may want the opportunity
Savings: $800

Split the cost of decorations – and consider buying used

Non-floral wedding decorations can cost $600. This can be a perfect opportunity to go minimal by looking for used decorations. If you know someone who is getting married, you may be able to split the cost of decorations with them so that you both use them, cutting the cost by half. If you know of any recent weddings, you can also contact them and ask what they did with the decorations.

Strategy: Split the cost of decorations or buy them used
Savings: $300

If you’re getting married in a church, ask the auxiliary for help

If you’re getting married in a church or in the hall of a civic organization, ask if the auxiliary club associated with that venue has suggestions or ideas. While they might not be able to directly provide a lot of savings, they may be able to offer ideas and small services that can save a little, and they sometimes can point you to something unexpected that can be a huge savings.

Strategy: Ask the auxiliary club associated with the church or other organization where your wedding is being held for help
Savings: Small, but potentially big

Buy the wedding dress off the rack and on sale, or borrow and modify

The Knot reports that the average wedding dress costs $1,600, which is a tremendous cost for an item you’ll likely wear once. A much better idea? See if anyone in your family or among your close friends has their old dress and, if possible, see if you can borrow it. It may need some modifications to make it work well, but spending $200 on adjustments is better than $1,600 on a dress. If this isn’t an option, look for a used dress and modify it similarly — this will still be cheaper than buying a new one.

Strategy: Borrow or buy a wedding dress
Savings: $600-$1,400

Choose affordable, simple wedding rings

According to the Brides American Wedding survey, the average wedding ring pair cost $1,610. This is on top of the engagement ring, of course. A simple wedding band might be a great option, however. A simple band is low cost, understated, and won’t snag on clothing. If you go simple and simply cut 25% off of the cost of the rings, that’s a nice savings.

Strategy: Go with simple wedding bands
Savings: $400

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Why We Built A New Home, and What We Learned Along The Way

Buying a home is an incredibly personal decision, but there’s an added level of complexity when it’s a new home build. For our family, the decision to build came from a discussion my husband and I had when we were all at home together during quarantine. We were actually quite surprised that we were even considering leaving our current home we loved so much, but not after we came to a couple realizations.

new homenew home

Why Did We Choose a New Home Build?

Space
In the next couple years we’ll have full-fledged teenagers who will be driving. We need a home that will give them space to interact with their friends separately from us, but also a place for them to park their cars. Thinking even further down the road, when they have families of their own, we’ll want a space where everyone can fit comfortably without feeling cramped.

Our Love of Water
During quarantine, beaches and water access points shut down. We love to be outdoors, and we quickly realized how important it was for us to be near the water. Since our children are now in virtual school, we were able to expand our search radius; and while living beachfront was outside of our price range, we actually found the next best thing. We stumbled upon what would become our new home site that backed up to a small lake!

new homenew home

No More Big Projects
This was a hard realization for me, but one that I’ve been avoiding to acknowledge for quite some time. After we finished renovating my friend’s beach condo, I realized my body physically can’t handle the big projects like it used to. Building a new, sturdy home with fully functioning, well….everything….sounds way more desirable than taking on another project house!

Market Was Hot and Rates Were Low
Our current home is in a very desirable location and we knew that selling it would not be an issue. The bigger incentive to sell and build were the interest rates, and since we had no idea how much longer they’d stay so low, the time to act was now. To add icing on the cake, the area we chose with the lake is actually less expensive than our current location; not only did we get a great rate, but we’ll be getting an amazing house for the cost.

(READ MORE: 5 Reasons You Should Pay for a Pre-Drywall Inspection)

The Most Surprising Parts of Building and Designing

Every Builder is Different
We’ve built a home one other time, and we quickly learned that what was an upgrade the first time around is now a standard feature. My advice? Double check the list of standard features from your builder, which will help you determine what you should and can upgrade.

Timing is Everything
The shutdown during quarantine had a ripple effect on nearly everything, including home building. The builder warned us early in the process that the timeline would be determined by the availability of supplies. Thankfully, the builder was willing to work with us since we were up against a hot market. We all knew that the second we listed our home, we would be at the mercy of buyer competition, so we had to be flexible with our schedule. If we listed our home too soon, we could find ourselves in a situation of moving to another location until the home build was complete (something we were trying to avoid with two virtually-educated school kids and three dogs).

Upgrade Options Might Not Be As Available 
Even though the builder had a lot of standard features we considered upgrades, we were surprised by the limited options to choose from when we did decided to upgrade. Being a DIYer and having access to unlimited options, this part was challenging. We were not doing a custom build, but we thought that there would be a little bit more to choose from. Instead we opted not to upgrade things like faucets, lighting fixtures, and appliances. Instead we’ll take those on later with something that we’re in love with.

new homenew home

It is crazy to believe that building a home today came from a single conversation, followed by a series of events we could have never imagined at the beginning of 2020. Our perspectives and situational changes definitely had us taking a deeper look into our future and what we ultimately wanted for our life and where we pictured ourselves living. While we love our current home and all the hard work we put into it, we are definitely looking forward to making memories in our new home.

Don’t Go it Alone

Home building may not be for everyone, but if you’re wanting that new home experience from the ground up, check out Homes.com’s “How to Build” section. It’s a one-stop resource that walks you through the process of a new home build so you can be prepared, organized and ready to enjoy your new home.

Happy building!


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

Family Vacation Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

A family vacation is one of the best ways to celebrate great weather and take a break from the long, hardworking months of winter – but not if it puts a dent in the rest of your year’s budget.

Americans alone are estimated to spend over $100 billion in vacations this year – up 16% from 2016.

But don’t let these numbers deter you from sticking your toes in the sand. With just a little bit of planning and these five budget-saving vacation ideas, relaxing and exciting family vacations that don’t drain your wallet are only within a summer’s day reach.

1. Splash Around at the Beach

Beautiful beaches don’t just exist in the Caribbean Islands. In fact, some of the very best beaches lie on our own beautiful coast, offering just as much sunshine and relaxation as your favorite 5-star resort. What’s the best part? Most beaches are free, while others simply charge a small parking fee. If you don’t live in a coastal region, skip the pricey plane tickets for a family drive. Just don’t forget to make time for your favorite stops along the way.

Saving Money on VacationSaving Money on Vacation

2. Plan a Road Trip Around Your State

Road trips are one of my favorite ways to spend quality time with my family. Not only do you save on expensive airfare, but you also have the freedom of planning your destinations, and can always change your course along the way. Instead of spending money on a hotel room, plan to stay at popular campsites along your journey. Who knows? You may just create a new family tradition and discover something new along the way.

3. Check Out Parks and Nature Centers

Most people look forward to summer as a chance to spend time in the great outdoors, so why not use this to your advantage? Check out local tourism websites both inside and outside of your city to give you ideas of places you’ve never been before that will get your family active and moving. Most towns have a plethora of great views, biking/hiking trails, and wide-open spaces that are open for exploration to the public.

4. Visit Historic Sites

Looking for an awesome family vacation that is also educational? Visiting our nation’s historic sites is not only an affordable way to pass the time, but it is also a great way to create family memories while learning about our history. Most historical landmarks are free or very low-cost. Find out what kind of history your state and the surrounding areas have to offer. Look for things like landmarks, ghost towns, ruins, battlefields, museums, and other activities that are rich with history.

5. When in Doubt, Head to the Backyard!

A great family vacation doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money and travel far away from home. In fact, some of the most classic summer memories can happen in your own backyard. Enjoy all of the benefits of summer near the comfort of your home by setting up your very own camping experience in the comfort of your home! Cook your dinner over the fire, tell scary stories, and sleep under the stars. This is a great way to get younger children accustomed to the camping experience. Just don’t forget the s’mores!

Finding a vacation destination that will accommodate the whole family is tough, but discovering a vacation spot that doesn’t destroy your wallet can be even more difficult. Avoid the crowds and save your wallet this year, with a family-friendly money-conscious vacation that doesn’t compromise on summer fun.

Source: creditabsolute.com

10 Money Books for Children and Teens

Reading is one of the most valuable skills children learn. Not only does reading enable us to navigate the modern world, it provides an endless source of learning and entertainment.

I am incredibly thankful that all of my children are avid readers who love nothing more than to have a fresh new book in their hands, but over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t just toss any book at them and expect them to read it. They’re engaged by compelling stories and by things that match up well with their interests in the moment. They’re not immediately going to gravitate to a book about money unless it speaks to them in some way.

Why worry about it at all? The reality is that financial education is a big part of modern parenting. Many schools provide very little in terms of practical financial education, leaving it up to parents to prepare their children for this aspect of adult life, and it can be a real challenge.

There’s an abundance of great financial books for adults, but it’s harder to find great options for children that really hit the sweet spot of being age-relevant and interesting to them. Here are 10 options that manage to balance these two goals.

In this article

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a wonderful picture book for read aloud time or for early independent readers. It tells a relatable story from the perspective of the two younger Berenstain Bears about the challenge of having limited amounts of money. Children are going to be familiar with the idea of not having enough money to buy the things that they want, but what do they do in that situation? This book handles it with care.

Another good financially minded book choice for preschool children is Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey. It focuses on the challenge of having enough patience to save for a large goal without getting distracted, balanced with George’s colorful adventures and distractions.

Brock, Rock, and the Savings Shock by Sheila Bair and Barry Gott takes the idea of compound interest and makes it into an accessible children’s book with a lot of clever rhyming and beautiful illustrations. The book focuses on twin brothers, one of whom chooses to spend on momentary impulses while the other saves his money, leading to the end when the saving brother has a lot of money built up thanks to the compounding.

Another great choice for early elementary children is The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric and Jean Edelman and illustrated by Dave Zaboski. It’s a beautifully illustrated book that brings to mind the fable of the grasshopper and the ant, focusing on a parable involving a squirrel saving resources for the winter to come.

For upper elementary kids: Lunch Money

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Brian Selznick tells a great story of a rivalry between two entrepreneurially minded children, but within the rollicking tale comes a lot of good ideas about working to earn money, the value of cooperation, investing in yourself, and putting aside money for the long haul. These ideas are really effortlessly weaved into the story.

An alternative choice is How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista and Matt Fontaine. While this isn’t story-oriented like many of the other selections here, the provocative title and the perfect approach for older elementary-age children who are beginning to have somewhat more expensive tastes make this a great choice for adolescents.

Money Hungry by Sharon Flake tells a very memorable story about a 13-year-old girl who seems obsessed with money, finding all sorts of ways to earn a dollar here and a dollar there. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that she’s driven by a fear of poverty and some painful memories of not having enough when she was younger. This book has spurned some wonderful conversations in our home about money, needs and how different people see those things differently.

Another really great option for middle schoolers is Katie Bell and the Wishing Well by Nephi and Elizabeth Zufelt, which takes something of an opposite approach to Money Hungry. Here, the titular character finds all of her financial wishes easily granted, but finds that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and that much of what we think of as a wealthy life comes from other things, like relationships.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen is a beautiful story about a teenager with a summer job who is using that opportunity to both earn money and escape from some difficult life issues, particularly the death of a parent. The book intertwines money issues with the multitude of concerns and difficulties teens often face, resulting in a wonderful story with a great conclusion.

A completely different type of financial book that might just click with your high schooler is I Want More Pizza by Steve Burkholder and editors Rebecca Maizel and David Aretha. This is a nonfiction book, but it’s extremely applicable to and targets almost perfectly the financial concerns of high schoolers. Should they get a job? Should they be saving for college or for a car? It does a great job of addressing the exact questions I often hear from the high schooler in my home.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

The days may be getting shorter, but the list of home-shopping benefits is getting longer.

Real estate markets ebb and flow, just like the seasons. The spring market blooms right along with the flowers, but the fall market often dwindles with the leaves — and this slower pace could be good for buyers.

If you’re in the market for a home, here are five reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.

1. Old inventory may mean deals

Sellers tend to put their homes on the market in the spring, often listing their homes too high right out of the gate. This could result in price reductions throughout the spring and summer months.

These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, you are likely to find desperate sellers and prices below a home’s market value.

2. Fewer buyers are competing

Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the school season are no longer shopping at this point. That translates into less competition and more opportunities for buyers.

You’ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.

3. Sellers want to close by the end of the year

While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment — one with tax consequences.

A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year, so you might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31.

Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.

4. The holidays motivate sellers

As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning their parties and events.

If a home has not sold by November, the seller is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by listing a home for sale.

5. Harsher weather shows more flaws

The dreary fall and winter months tend to reveal flaws, making them a great time to see a home’s true colors.

It’s better to see the home’s flaws before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close. In fact, the best time to do a property inspection is in the rain and snow, because any major issues are more likely to be exposed.

Top photo from Shutterstock.

Related:

Originally published October 2015.

Source: zillow.com

How to Downsize: 13 Tips to Help You Declutter

Downsizing can be both freeing and stressful. It’s never easy to pare down a lifetime of memories, and most of us tend to associate our belongings with events and the people we love.

To help you make the transition easier, we have a guide on how to downsize. Read through our downsizing tips to help make sure you don’t make any mistakes while paring down enough to happily move to a smaller home or apartment.

1. Browse beautiful rooms

Begin by getting inspired.

You can thumb through magazines and books, or peruse the beautiful images of Houzz.com. Pay attention to how little clutter you see. Pay attention to the positive feelings you have about those simplified rooms.

Hot Tip: Tape a photo of a beautiful, simplified room into each room of your home. They can inspire you during your purge.

2. Contemplate simplicity

Get yourself mentally prepared — if not excited — that you have the opportunity to live in a simpler space, a space filled with only the things you love.

Think, too, about how many things you own that you haven’t actually used, touched or even seen in over a year. Focus on the joy you will feel by donating, selling or giving those items away. No matter which option you choose, you win.

3. Find a new home for some of your belongings

Ask family members and close friends if they would be interested in any of your belongings before you start to sort. Ask them to list what type of items they might be interested in, or to make any specific requests (in case someone loves a particular painting, memento or piece of furniture). If you don’t get a reply — especially from those under the age of about 30 — make a mental note to save a few things for them anyway. They might be too young to know the value of sentiment.

4. Invest in rubber tubs for items you’ll be gifting

These are your gift tubs, and we recommend rubber tubs with lids that seal tight. Think of them as a lovely gift, because they are. With each piece of jewelry, photo, letter, memento, homemade quilt or old letter jacket, you are filling this box with treasures that are sure to elicit a smile.

Picture future generations of your family enjoying or telling stories about these items. Label your tubs with the name of who they are intended for and put them in one room of the house.

photo of family photos on the wallphoto of family photos on the wall

If you have lots of family pics, consider one gallery wall of favorites. Ask your children to take or digitize the remaining images.

5. Identify items you absolutely love or cherish

Picture having to quickly evacuate your home. What few items would utterly devastate you if they were lost? (We’re not talking about collectibles with value, we’ll get to those in a minute). These are likely photos, letters, artwork, handmade gifts or things you made, jewelry, a small family heirloom, perhaps an item or two from your travels. What sentimental items would you save from a burning house? Gather or identify these items first. Try using sticky notes to mark these items or pack them all in a box.

Keep this selection deliberately small. It’s meant to be a special and meaningful group of items. There’s another level of belongings you can keep which are non-critical. But a personal treasure pile should fit in your backseat.

6. Declutter room by room: Gift, sell, donate or trash

Now you’re ready for the nitty-gritty part of how to downsize. Declutter room by room and learn the extraordinary feeling of lightness that a purge can bring. There are four categories that matter most to you now: Gift, sell, donate, trash. The more items you can identify for each category, the happier you will be (and the lighter your load at moving time). Tackle your home room by room — you’ll have a larger feeling of accomplishment that way.

photo of a donation boxphoto of a donation box

If you have the space to do so, move items you plan to sell or donate into dedicated spaces, like the garage or a spare room. Fill your rubber gift tubs as you go. In addition, think about how you’d like to sell other items. There are selling apps, consignment stores and garage sales you could use to sell your unwanted items. Or, if you amass enough items, an estate sale or auction could be more productive. It won’t be long before you get a rush from filling your trash cans. You can do it!

Hot Tip: Many cities have thrift stores and organizations which will pick up items if scheduled on the day the truck goes to your neighborhood.

7. Consider your new floorplan

It also helps to have a floorplan of your new home, with the dimensions on it.  Measure your favorite furnishings and figure out which pieces will comfortably fit into new spaces, and which should find a new home. There’s fun in acquiring a few pieces for a smaller home, and selling, auctioning or consigning older furnishings and collectibles might well cover those expenses.

8. Consult with others about their belongings

If you aren’t familiar with how to downsize there are a few mistakes you can make. One is getting rid of your children’s items without telling them. Give adult children a deadline by which to claim their left-behind items. Send them pics from your phone if they’re far away. Offer to ship them a box but don’t consider moving their items to your smaller home. The time has come. You are no longer obligated to store their old school yearbooks or letter jackets, cheerleading uniforms or trophies.

photo of a high school letter jacketphoto of a high school letter jacket

9. Be aware of emotions

If you’re downsizing after a tragedy, don’t go overboard. You might consider putting some things in storage for a year or having a friend help you decide what to keep. Emotions run high after unexpected events, and if you’re depressed, you may get rid of things you’ll want later. Don’t, however, use this as an excuse to keep everything.

10. Analyze your collectibles

The last warning: Don’t be sloppy when it comes to collectibles. Set them aside until you can get them evaluated by an expert or at least a friend or relative with a computer. These might include baseball cards, signed memorabilia, vintage toys or artisan-crafted pieces.

photo of collectiblesphoto of collectibles

11. Consolidate the items you only need one of

Here’s a quick list to help you pare down some things of which we all accumulate extras. These are items you likely only need one of:

  • Set of dishes
  • Set of glassware
  • Set of Tupperware
  • Set of mixing bowls
  • Large serving platter
  • Household tools (hammer, screwdriver, tape measure)
  • Extra blankets (keep one heavy and one light, per guest bed)
  • Large winter and summer purse
  • Coat for each type of weather (extra-warm, lighter-weight, rain jacket, windbreaker)
  • Umbrella (one travel size, one oversized)
  • Cooler (you might keep a small one for car trips or picnics with grandkids)
  • Set of small tools, measuring tape

Hot Tip: Remember that donations will be a tax write-off. Always get a receipt.

12. Purge items you won’t need in an apartment or smaller home

Small homes don’t require as many tools or decorations you may have stored in your garage or shed. To help you identify which items you can get rid of, here is a list of items you won’t need in your new home:

  • Ladders larger than a stepstool
  • Garden tools
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Large power tools
  • Excessive outdoor Christmas decorations

Hot Tip: If an item’s been in a box for more than a year, it’s very likely time to let it go.

13. Ask a friend or professional to help

If you have trouble with decision-making, ask someone impartial to help you. Be sure to choose someone who embraces your goal of downsizing and decluttering. A friend won’t have the same emotional attachment to your items and can help you narrow down your belongings, while also helping make sure you keep what you love. If your friends aren’t available, a professional or aspiring home organizer could be a great investment. They will be efficient while also being kind.

Embrace this new chapter

Downsizing to a new apartment may seem daunting, but with these downsizing tips, you’ll be ready to move in no time. By going into this process with an open mind, you will be able to create a home filled with your most important items to start this new chapter of your life.

Are you downsizing after retirement? Be sure to check out senior apartments in your area.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

8 Unique Ways to Display Fine Art in Your Home | Apartminty

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Having art on the walls of your home can help you feel settled, whether it’s a temporary rental or your forever home. There are many different methods to displaying fine art in your home. The traditional way of a hammer and a nail will get you pretty far, but you can elevate your design by incorporating some of the following ideas. 

Buying fine art is just the beginning of the process. How you display your new art can make or break the impact it can have on your space.

Every person has a different taste in art, and it doesn’t matter if you are interested in impressionists or contemporary abstracts; there is a place for your art in your home. Artwork is meant to be enjoyed daily. It can bring together the theme of a cozy beach house or give a nursery an adorable feature for your baby to look at. 

Here are eight unique and fun ways to display fine art in your home:

Gallery Walls up the Staircase:

If you have a set of stairs in your home, you likely trudge up and down them multiple times per day. It can be a fun reminder of good memories every time you march up to bed or come down for coffee first thing in the morning. Stairs are an excellent place to hang small prints that would look out of place in other rooms. Gather them together to make a feature wall.

Often, a gallery wall on the stairs contains family portraits that continue to grow as your family does. You can choose this method for a more conservative look or make it more interesting by using brightly colored frames and cataloging your vacations and everyday memories. 

Hang Art From the Ceiling:

These days, nearly everyone hangs a frame from a nail in a wall or with sticky strips that don’t damage the walls. Add interest to your space by putting a hook in the ceiling and dangling your artwork from above. This can add depth to your room and draw attention to a unique ceiling feature, such as a reclaimed wood ceiling or a decorative chandelier. 

Be sure to hand these frames close to a wall so they do not become a hazard when walking by, and use a strong string to prevent your art from being damaged. If you can’t drill holes in the ceiling, consider a gallery rod or a piece of picture rail molding to dangle your artwork. 

Use Three Dimensions:

Framed art is often two dimensional, and while it adds interest to the space, you can make your display stand out even more by adding three-dimensional objects to your collection. You can combine these two to create a one of a kind art feature in your home. 

Relate these objects to the painting or print to not distract from the original piece. A photo of a beach or the ocean can be combined with shells or sea glass mosaics to bring more life to the artwork. 

Use a Bookshelf:

display-fine-art-on-a-bookshelf
https://www.pexels.com/photo/turned-off-flat-screen-tv-276724/

If your walls are full or you just don’t have any space to hang a frame on the wall, use your bookshelves to incorporate a few frames. These can be standard freestanding bookshelves, floating shelves, or you can lean the frame on top of your desk or dresser. Set your beautifully painted image of a garden next to your vintage copy of The Secret Garden.

Using frames, books, and objects will create interest and allow you to view your collections simultaneously. This method is also easily changed if you are the type of person that likes to mix up your decor now and then. 

Color Coordinate:

A bright-colored chair in a room or rug can add intrigue to the room. Multiply this by creating a small gallery featuring the same color as this object. It will help bring the room together and make it seem more cohesive. Use abstracts or simple pieces to draw the color into space. 

Be sure not to overdo it and use moderation when using bright colors in a room. They can seem busy or hurtful to look at if there are too many. If the accent color in the room is blue, use different shades of blue to provide your eyes something easy to look at. 

Offset Frames:

There is no law stating that your frames must be in line with each other and never be out of place. You are free to do what speaks to you by clustering small frames together or using one larger piece to keep it simple. 

If you feel a little daring, offset your frames on the wall so they are not centered, drawing attention to a piece of furniture or a feature of your home. Eyes are drawn toward offset patterns, and it can create drama in the room. 

Don’t Use Frames:

If you are unsure about the pieces, you have or are interested in a more casual display, skip the frames altogether and go with bare images. Without frames, a print can be more fragile, so it may be recommended to attach the paper to a stiff piece of cardboard. Otherwise, your prints will be blowing in every breeze and could be harmed. 

Frames can also be expensive, and if you want to hang a large number of prints, it is cost-effective to go without them. Leaving your art without frames creates a bohemian atmosphere and can enhance your overall decor. 

Use a Gallery Light:

You can highlight a single piece or collection of works by installing a gallery light over the artwork. These lights are relatively inexpensive but will increase the drama of the art. The lighting in our homes changes throughout the day, and you might not always be able to see your artwork. 

There is a reason that artwork in museums is always adequately lit so you, the viewer, can experience it the way it was intended to be seen. If you have more than one piece, consider track lighting on the ceiling. 

No Wrong Way:

no-wrong-way-to-display-art
https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-single-gold-framed-painting-on-the-wall-2951525/

In the end, it is your decision on how you want to display the artwork you have collected over time. You can use one or all of these ideas in a single home, but be sure not to overwhelm yourself and your guests with too many things to look at. Have space where the eye can rest, such as a wall with only one piece of artwork or an open space on the floor. 

Before choosing where you want to place your artwork, ensure that it is the proper size for the wall or shelf, you are placing it on. If it is too small or too large, it can draw unwanted attention and distract from its intended purpose. 

Make your home a place where you enjoy spending time and allow yourself to enjoy the small luxuries of getting that piece of artwork you’ve meant to put out on display.

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Source: blog.apartminty.com

Time to Face Reality: Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff!

I know I’m going to get a few calls about this one, but hear me out. We talk a lot about managing your estate and strategies for making the most of an inheritance, but what we don’t often talk about is what to do with your “stuff” and the realities that surround that.

When helping people with their estate planning, we obviously cover the big issues, such as IRA or retirement plan beneficiary info, wills, trusts, power of attorney and advance directives (or POLST). We review titling of the assets in your estate with your CPA or attorney. But what we often don’t talk about is what to do with all of your stuff.

The reality is that what you want to happen with your stuff is often not what your heirs want to do with it.  

1 of 5

What about your family home?

A house with a quaint front porch.A house with a quaint front porch.

Let’s start with the big one, your house.  This is the one people balk at the most, but here goes. Your kids don’t want your house. I know you think they do, but they really don’t. In most cases, even when they do, it would be impractical for them to buy it anyway.

How are three kids going to “share” my house? There’s no way that’s going to work, even though the idea of them sharing a shore house sounds nice. The reality is that they likely can’t share it, and forcing them to do so will almost certainly lead to hard feelings. Somebody is going to get more use of it than the others, and that’s where the problems start.

If one of them wants to buy out the others, that’s fine — but what are the terms in which they can buy it? Do they get a “discount” because they are family? Doesn’t that hurt the others’ value for the same reason?

2 of 5

What about your beach/vacation house?

A row of small beach houses.A row of small beach houses.

Sometimes I hear that “I want them to have a place to go to in the summer.” I had a situation not long ago where a client really wanted a grandchild to have the beach house. Carrying the house was actually causing financial issues for her, but she didn’t want to give it up so she could pass it on. The heir lived out of state, but she really wanted them to have it. I asked if she ever discussed those wishes with her heir, and she had not, but then again, who doesn’t want a house at the shore? Turns out quite a few people don’t.

Finally, I suggested we call the heir and have that conversation. The heir, as I suspected, loved the idea of a house at the Jersey Shore but didn’t really want it because they simply wouldn’t have time to ever visit it and the long-distance upkeep, maintenance, etc. would be added stress for them.

With this new information, my client decided to let the house go, live a far more comfortable retirement and leave to her heir what they really wanted, cash.

I see this scenario time and again. Yes, your home holds a lot of sentimental value to you and your heirs, but the reality of them keeping it rarely ever works out.

3 of 5

What about your treasured collections?

A collection of antique aluminum robots.A collection of antique aluminum robots.

Now for the smaller stuff. While your collection of Hummels, model trains, baseball cards, (insert collectible here) is your hobby and passion, rarely does that continue to your heirs. If they don’t share your passion for those collectibles, they may be likely to sell them for less than their full value when they inherit them because they don’t fully understand their true value as a collectible.

4 of 5

What about your china service for 24?

A setting of fancy china and silverware.A setting of fancy china and silverware.

Lastly, your beautiful china. Understand that there are only so many sets of china that your kids or grandchildren can use. The effect of passing them on for generations has created a glut of china for younger people. Add to this the fact that younger generations simply don’t use china at all compared to older generations, let alone using four to five sets of it.

If the goal is to make your estate transfer as easy as possible and with as few problems or family scuffles as possible, then addressing some of these issues now may well help to solve these problems.

5 of 5

The bottom line, and some practical tips

A garage sale in progress.A garage sale in progress.

If you aren’t sure how your heirs feel about inheriting your “stuff,” then the easiest course of action is simply to ask them. I think you’ll be surprised with the answer. Then get busy:

  • Start selling. Sell items that you don’t need anymore that might have some value. EBay and Etsy are great places to start, or heck, have a garage sale.
  • Donate things others could use. Goodwill and Salvation Army could do some good with your generosity, and the work you do to gather your donations and get them where they need to go is just like volunteering, which always feels good.
  • Make it fun. Going through your things bit by bit can be a shared activity with your spouse or loved ones. Think about all the conversations and memories you’ll share along the way as you declutter.
  • Enjoy the results. Your house will feel bigger and the weight on your shoulders will feel lighter. Your kids will thank you, too.

If you have unique family circumstances that make these topics a little more challenging, just give me a call to discuss and maybe we can help come to a solution for you. 

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Reich Asset Management, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. To view form CRS visit  https://bit.ly/KF-Disclosures.

President and Founder, Reich Asset Management, LLC

T. Eric Reich, President of Reich Asset Management, LLC, is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, holds his Certified Investment Management Analyst certification, and holds Chartered Life Underwriter® and Chartered Financial Consultant® designations.

Source: kiplinger.com