Cost Effective Ways to Redo Your Backyard

Many of us take pride in our possessions, and that includes our homes and backyards. Pride of ownership is a concept that means you will do your best to make sure things look their best. Making a backyard look good can sometimes mean spending thousands of dollars on furniture and lawn care. However, this does not have to be the case! You can make your yard look beautiful in cost-efficient ways! If you are interested in doing so, read on to find out some popular methods you can try out.

Make your own Furniture

Patio furniture can look great, but it can cost a ton of money from the store. If you have a way of making your own, while still having everything look good, go for it! If you or somebody you know has experience working with carpentry, this is a great start. You can obtain the materials cheaply, and then get to work building your dream patio set. As for upholstering the pieces, this is also a project you can do by yourself. Watch some videos online about basic upholstering to get yourself familiar with the idea.

Get a Timed Sprinkler System

Watering the lawn can be end up costing a lot of money in the long run. If you want beautiful grass without the high water bill, try installing a timed sprinkler system. It will only go on at certain times of the day, and therefore you will not be wasting water. If you do want to use a garden hose, try to find one that will last. This way, you will not need to replace it as often. Websites such as backyardboss.net has good examples of good quality garden hoses.

Make a Swing

Garden swings are beautiful and relaxing when you get a chance to use them. They allow you to enjoy the fine weather while admiring your backyard. However, garden swings can be quite pricy. You have the ability to make your own swing using an old chair. Although it would help again if you know someone who is familiar with carpentry, you can also do it yourself if you want. Check online sites for inspiration and instructions!

Substitute a Barbeque

Barbeques are great additions to backyards, but many of them come with hefty price tags. If you want to enjoy awesome barbequed food in your backyard but not pay a huge amount, try looking for a camping grill! These are smaller, portable versions of a grill, and they work just as well. You can do anything on them, from boiling water to grilling meat. You can set them up in the yard overtop of a fire pit. They are great because you can move them around if you want to put them someplace else, or store them for the winter.

Get a Splash Pad

If you are longing for a pool for your children to enjoy, try looking at a splash pad instead. They are far cheaper, and easier to maintain. As well, there is a minimal risk when children use them, as you do not need to worry about drowning. Splash pads could be a great addition to your yard because they are very unique. Chances are that you will be the only family on your block that has one! They are not just for kids, either. Splash pads can be enjoyed by the whole family on those hot, humid days.

Conclusion

Just because you do not have a huge budget does not mean that your backyard needs to suffer. You can literally do everything you want to it, even though it might be in a slightly modified way. Making your own patio furniture, getting a timed sprinkler system, substituting a camping grill for a barbeque and getting a splash pad are just a few of the many ways that you can improve your backyard. Take a look around and see exactly what it is that you are looking for. Then you can talk to your friends or look online for different ways to make those visions a reality for yourself! Anything is possible when you have enough motivation and determination to make it happen!

Which Cars Are the Cheapest to Insure?

cheapest car to insure
Buying a new car is exciting. You’ve probably thought everything through already: how much you’ll need to put down on the car, how much your monthly payments will come out to and even how much interest you’ll pay. What about your car insurance?

Many people don’t realize that car insurance can increase and decrease based on the car you drive. For instance, if you purchase a high-performing sports car you’re likely to pay more money month-to-month on your insurance. So, what is the cheapest car to insure?

What Factors Effect Your Car Insurance Rate?

Of course your own personal driving history will effect your car insurance rate but there are a number of other factors as well. If your car has more safety features than another, it will likely have cheaper insurance. Additionally if you are willing to drive a car with a lower top speed (or even a speed limiter) your insurance can drop significantly as well.

There are also some lesser-known facts about factors that effect your car insurance rate. For instance, if your car is red you’ll pay more than if it was any other color. Black and darker color cars are cheaper. Finding loopholes like this is a great way to try and slim down your car insurance bill.

Most Expensive Cars to Insure

Before we get to the cheaper car insurance though, let’s take a look at some of the highest car insurance rates and which cars they belong to.

  • Nissan GTR ($3,476 annually)
  • BMW M6 Gran Coupe ($3,309 annually)
  • Range Rover ($3245 annually)
  • Audi RS7 ($3,229 annually)
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GT3 RS ($3,212 annually)

Among some of the even more expensive are big car names like McLaren and Bugatti. If you’re buying one of these cars, chances are you’re not too worried about the monthly or annual cost of your car insurance. However, many people have to budget how much they’ll spend on car insurance month-to-month or yearly. If that’s the case with you, check out some of the cheapest cars to insure.

Cheapest Cars to Insure

Each of the following cars is significantly cheaper to insure than those mentioned above. It should also be noted that each is relatively new and has additional safety features (something insurance companies look at). These may not be as glamorous as the cars above but they’ll save you a pretty penny!

  • Honda Odyssey LX ($1,113 annually)
  • Honda CRV LX ($1,170 annually)
  • Dodge Grand Caravan AVP ($1,174 annually)
  • Most Jeep models are less than $2,000 to insure annually
  • Ford Escape S ($1,194 annually)
  • Buick Encore Sport Touring ($1,200 annually)
  • Nissan Frontier S King Cab ($1,204 annually)

Most of these cars are listed because they are considered to be safer vehicles than the faster ones mentioned earlier. Each of these also has some sort of additional safety features (you can choose to add more if you’d like, which may decrease your premium even more).

Focusing on decreasing your car insurance payment could save you thousands of dollars each year so why not do a little research before heading out to buy your new whip? Your wallet will thank you!

Photo: Cars.com

Our Weekend of Unplanned Spending and Adjusting Our Budget

Though I was tempted by the 5kg jar, I couldn't justify the $40 price tag.

Though I was tempted by the 5kg jar, I couldn’t justify the $40 price tag.

This weekend was a little tough on the ‘ol budget and it was totally my own fault. Had I been more diligent about adjusting our budget, knowing this weekend was approaching, we would have been fine but if I’m being honest, I just didn’t get around to it and before I knew it, the weekend was here.

Budget Bust #1: Wedding Shower

Friends of ours are getting married in August and they had a combined wedding shower this weekend. I knew it was coming up, but just let the time get away from me and forgot to adjust our budget to accommodate a gift for them (Note: Our budget works well for us but it’s still very much a work in progress. I’m constantly thinking of little things to adjust, like accommodating one-off things like wedding shower gifts). Anyway when walking though the mall a few weeks ago we saw something on sale we thought they’d like and luckily when hubby went back they still had some and it was still on sale. Score. Budget bust gift cost: $ 46.00

I, however, didn’t realize until the night before that I was responsible to bring a salad to accompany the BBQ menu, needless to say these items were not purchased with our weekly grocery shop so I needed to go back to the store for supplies. I looked though what I had most of and realized other than broccoli I had everything to make broccoli salad. Luckily broccoli was on sale this past week so when kiddo and I couldn’t sleep past 6:30am Saturday, we headed out for an adventure. With broccoli in hand we pulled off a lovely broccoli salad only busting out budget by an additional $5.00.

Budget Bust #2: Costco

About twice a year we do a Costco run with the in-laws. I’ve already discussed my Costco shopping strategies in the past and though some disagree that tagging along with friends and family to use their membership is wrong, I can’t justify paying when we only go twice a year. And so, in our semi-annual trip, we load up on certain things. I knew this shopping trip was coming up, we discussed going this weekend a few weeks ago, but again, forgot to add it to the budget so now have to re-arrange some funds to make it happen.

I was very happy with our shopping trip though. We didn’t buy anything that we didn’t need or wasn’t on the list. The only unplanned purchase was a set of new pillows that we genuinely needed but didn’t plan on buying from there. They were on for a great price ($16.99 down from $29.99 for two) so we couldn’t pass it up. We scored a lot of great deals this trip. For $167.00 we got a ton of stuff, mostly food. One of the best deals was Goldfish crackers since our little one likes to snack on them. When they’re on sale at the grocery store (the only time I buy them) we pay $2.50/180gm. Today we got 1.62kg (1620 gm) for $9.99. In case you don’t want to do the math, that’s the same thing for less than half ($9.99 vs in-store for $22.50). She has enough crackers to last the rest of the year I think! We also scored a ton of fresh berries that we will eat then freeze for cheap, $2.00 for 2 lbs of strawberries.

Though this weekend was a bit more expensive than we planned, it showed us flaws within our budget and areas to fix. We’re not perfect and continue to improve our finances, as long as we recognize the difference between a want and need when we spend money, and adjust the budget accordingly for the future, I’m ok with it.

How do you deal with unplanned purchases? 

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Our $100 Birthday Party Bash!

Marias Birthday1Yesterday was kiddo’s first birthday. On Saturday we had a birthday party for her with all our friends and family. When it comes to hosting 20+ people it’s easy to allow the costs to add up. I was a little taken aback when I started discussing my plans with other friends to find out they were spending on average of $1,000 for their little one’s first birthday party, and these were the ones who were paying attention at all! Some just buy what they want when they want…

I love my child but no way would I spend $1,000 for a first birthday party. Especially when the highlight of her day is a cupcake mom made and the box her toy came in.

Decide on a Theme

When planning an event, I find having a theme sometimes makes things easier. It gives your party a focus and you’re able to streamline your plans. We decided on an owl theme since the first thing kiddo really started to recognize, and get excited about, was two owl paintings on her wall. It seemed appropriate and fun!

Plan a Menu

Having a June birthday means BBQ!! This was a great money-saving opportunity too. For about $60 we bought enough food to feed over 25 people, with leftovers.

Our menu included:

  • Burgers
  • All-natural chicken hotdogs
  • Broccoli salad
  • Taco salad
  • Apples and caramel fruit dip
  • Chips and pop
  • Cupcake supplies
  • Buns, additional condiments

Even though it was a torrential downpour, hubby faced the weather for our little one’s party and cooked food for us all! True love.

Limit the Decorations

I bought everything at the dollar store, a party supply haven! I spent less than $20 and got:

  • Table cloth
  • Napkins
  • Balloons and streamers
  • Paper lanterns to make owls
  • Ribbon
  • Cupcake stand
  • Odd craft supplies

We decided providing a meal and treats enough and didn’t do a ”favor” for our guests. As kiddo gets older we may look into party favors for the other children, but she was the only child present so it didn’t seem like a good use of money this time.

DIY

I made her invites on PicMonkey (I’m pretty proud of how they turned out too!) and had them printed at Staples for less than $10. Honestly, we didn’t even need an invite but I wanted the memory more than anything.

I also made a few of the decorations which was cheaper than buying anything pre-made.

It’s easy to get carried away with planning events, especially ones for kids when emotions get involved but I want to instill the importance of forming memories with family and friends more than how much mommy and daddy spent on a party!

How do you save when planning/hosting parties?

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