I took a great class in college called Housing the Family. The object of this class was to learn how to budget everything it takes to furnish a home. For 10 weeks we were assigned to window shop online and create mood boards to decorate every room of a house. By the end of the semester, we had a detailed list of all the items needed to furnish a home from start to finish. This class seemed like a piece of cake at the beginning but the hard part was doing it within a certain budget. The total cost ending up to be much more than I expected.

The major lesson I learned from that class is that all the little things you buy for your home can add up really fast, but there are several things you can do to save money along the way. I hope to share some tips with you in a 5-week SAVING MONEY series starting today! Here we go....

If you were building a house, you would have a blue print because without specific plans, it would be a mess. Same concept for the inside of a house. Before you tackle a room, figure out what you want, need and have a plan to accomplish it. But how does having a plan save you money? Having a plan saves you money because it saves you from having unnecessary, extra expenses. I will give you 2 scenarios.

Scenario 1.
You are in nesting mode and decide to quickly put together the baby's nursery. You drive an hour to IKEA and buy all the furniture you think you need to fill the room: a crib, dresser, chair and bookcase. You get home, set it all up and try to arrange a functioning floor plan. The room is small so the layout is a little tricky and you realize that the dresser is too big and won't fit. You want to return the dresser but you already assembled the whole dresser AND you don't want to drive the hour back to the store and get your money back. So now you have to find another place for the big dresser in your house and still need to buy a smaller dresser for the nursery. [Total unnecessary expense: $200 for the wrong size dresser]

Scenario 2.
You need 2 floor lamps and 2 table lamps in your living room, but you don't know exactly what kind you like and want. So to avoid dealing with the pressure of choosing lamps you really love, you just buy the least expensive lamps you find at Target. After a few months of shopping, you find the ones you really want and buy them. Now you have 4 lamps that can't be returned and need a new home after only a few months of use. [Total unnecessary expense: $50 for lamps you don't really like and won't use again]

Can you relate to any of those scenarios? I can think of a million more scenarios but I will save you reading time and get to the point: both scenarios could have saved money if they had a plan before they started shopping. Having a plan before you start helps save you from making unnecessary purchases, whether big or small, like these scenarios.

So how do you come up with a plan? 

1. Pick a room and determine everything you NEED in the room. For example: in the living room I know I need seating for at least 5 people comfortably, I need a storage piece to store all my media equipment, I need curtains for the large main window, I need at least 2 floor lamps, etc.

2. Walk through the room and envision where you want all the furniture to be. Then draw a floor plan (even just a sketch, it doesn't have to be perfect). Get out your measuring tape and figure out what size, height, and length of furniture you will need before you go shopping. Measurements are so important so you only end up buying furniture you know will fit.

***Or try one of these free furniture layout tools online: 

3. Determine a color scheme and pick a few photos for design inspiration. This step can be especially hard for some people, but an easy way to do this is to look at your Pinterest or Houzz boards. Look closely at your favorite pins and determine why you love them. Is it the furniture, colors, patterns, or the layout? Figure out what you love and use those design photos for inspiration in your plan. Here is an example of a few inspiration pictures I love and why I love them:
[Sources: 1, 2, 3, 456]

4. Make a shopping list of things you need to buy to achieve this plan with specific sizes of furniture and certain fabric colors. This shopping list will help you stay on task and only buy what you need. No more buying stuff just because it might work or something is on sale. For example (based on my inspiration pictures above), my shopping list would look like this:

Remember that this is just a plan. It isn't set in stone, so if you change your mind that's okay. Having a plan will help start the decorating process and make it easier, less stressful and help save you money in the end.

Stay tuned for my next SAVING MONEY post which is all about shopping!