This mini episode is full of money saving tips and hacks!
A big thank you to Agility Bed for sponsoring this week’s episode! Right now, Agility Bed is running one of their biggest sales of the year for Memorial Day. Not only that, but there’s a fun giveaway coming to the blog soon! Be sure to be on the lookout for it. Meanwhile, you can save 20% site wide—that includes mattresses, pillows and sheets. Visit agilitybed.com/
-Emma mentions I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
-Do you say coo-pon or q-pon (I noticed in this episode we say both!).
-Elsie mentions her colored glassware collection.
-Elsie mentions Serena + Lily.
-We talked about DIY art you can make—click here for our wall art archives.
-Elsie mentions Vintage Revivals “cold dead fingers.”
-Here’s a link to Elsie’s kids’ watering cans.
Episode 91 Transcript
Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, this mini episode is dedicated to helping you get the most from your budget. We’ve got money-saving tips coming your way. And my favorite coupon trick, as well as how we prioritize a whole room when you need furniture. Yes, yes, yes. All right. We love a deal. I wouldn’t say I’m cheap, but I am very proud. Emma is cheap and say what our dad’s favorite nickname for himself is…
Emma: Cheapman. So my last name’s Chapman. Elsie’s used to be, you know, her maiden name. I’m still a “Cheapman”, as my dad would say, and mean that both that I kept my name and that I’m chronically cheap. (laughs)
Elsie: You can call her Emma Cheapman, and this episode is about saving money when you’re decorating. We’ve always been sale shoppers. We were raised as sale shoppers. And I wouldn’t say that…I love a splurge, too. And I’m just going to say that up front I save so I can splurge. And if you save, so you can save. Good for you. But I save so I can splurge. So it’s different ways of thinking.
Emma: Well, you know, we’re fans of Ramit. So that’s who I think of. If we’re talking about money at all, even if it’s about home decor is I think of Ramit in his philosophy on living your rich life. And I kind of think his whole thing is like be ruthless on things that don’t matter as much to you and then spend a lot when it’s a luxury that matters to you. And I think that applies to food, vacations, home decor. So, yeah, it’s like be ruthless and then buy that couch you love. You know? (laughs)
Elsie: That philosophy has absolutely changed my life and my perspective because over the last few years and it happened at the same time as I started becoming a fangirl of Ramit. So I think that it is definitely like connected. I started to buy, like, really special fancy things, like I got my first Jonathan Adler sofa. It was my dream sofa. Yes, I waited and used a coupon, but I you know, I got that sofa and I got it because I was saving on other things for sure. But I will say also as a side note, in our early blogging years, we were actually broke and that’s how we started the blog. Like everyone knows my most shared thing of my life, I’ll never be able to beat it is my colored glassware collection because it’s been in like eighteen magazines. (laughs)
Emma: It’s your oatmeal.
Elsie: It’s my oatmeal, yeah.
Emma: That’s your oatmeal money!
Elsie: I love that our inside joke now is oatmeal money. That is classic. Anyway, I’ll never be able to beat that. And how I got that glassware honestly was with a couple hundred dollars and going flea marketing every weekend. I had a list and I was going color by color and I was shopping by color I was creating a collection. Anyone can do that on any budget! It was not the splurgiest thing that I’ve ever had, but it was definitely the thing in my home that has been shared and had the most interest in it ever. So this is a mini episode. So we are going to try to not breathe and just talk to talk talk talk, give as much information as we can as quickly as possible. So the first tip I have is my coupon trick. I know that I have shared this at least once before on the podcast, but it’s such a good tip that I feel like I have to repeat it as much as possible. I just texted this to Keltie this week from LadyGang. She is doing a new house and anyway, it’s a great tip. I know I got this from Chris Loves Julia, by the way, so I’m giving a shout out for that as well. So the coupon trick is just simply that if you’re shopping at a big box store, so are thinking like Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Serena and Lily really like any of the nice home stores that have splurgey furniture that we save up for? You can go on eBay. And a lot of the time I would say a majority of the time just search like Pottery Barn coupon and you’ll be able to purchase a coupon on there. It’s usually about ten to twenty dollars. And for me, when — I only do it when I’m spending like a thousand dollars, so then I end up saving two hundred dollars by purchasing that twenty percent off coupon. So it’s totally worth it. Any time you buy a piece of furniture and any time you go over five hundred dollars, just try the coupon trick and see if you can save a little bit of money. I love it.
Emma: Mm hmm. You can always try Googling too, just in case they’re running some kind of promotion, but pretty much this Ebay trick is what you’re gonna need to do.
Elsie: You can also DM a company and ask them when’s their next big sale. And they’ll almost always tell you because that is — usually a lot of companies have two big sales a year. One is Black Friday and one is something else. So if you don’t want to wait, though, try the coupon trick, because then I love it because then you don’t have to wait for a sale because I find that when I’m waiting for a s ale, I either give up waiting because it’s too many months, or I forget or like, I just — I just lose my focus.
Emma: Or it sells out and then you’re like, dang it, that was exactly the thing I wanted for my space, you know?
Elsie: That’s true. That can definitely happen. But yeah, lately I have done it a couple times because I’m finishing up some furniture. I was buying a little bit furniture for outdoor space and yeah, definitely saves hundreds. It’s awesome. So the next tip is copy fancy brands on a tiny budget. This is the biggest tip. Listen to me. If you’re doing your first home, this is going to change your life and I’m going to teach you how to do it. So, first of all, just define the key features of what makes this brand so great to you. Is it the color scheme? Is it the materials, the shapes, the metal, the fabric, whatever it is, write that all down and then make kind of a little folder, either a Pinterest folder or a folder on your computer and save a whole bunch of pictures from their catalogs. I personally save Serena and Lily catalogs in my office and I just have like a stack of them now. So if I ever want to build a DIY, I go through those catalogs and look at ideas to kind of get my head in the mindspace, because if I’m going to make something, I want to try to emulate an expensive-looking brand. And to me, Serena and Lily is that expensive-looking brand a lot of time.
Emma: Mm hmm. Yep.
Elsie: I really think that that’s the number one tip, is to keep yourself focused on the look you want and don’t focus so much on a certain piece you can afford. Just find your own dupe, whether it be from an affordable shop or from a flea market or something that you can maybe paint or make in some way. Yes, you can do it.
Emma: The next tip is DIY art, which can save you tons and tons of money. So recently we had a blog post go up: tips for collecting art. Our friend Janae wrote. She has lots of very eclectic art around her house, so we’ll link that in the show notes show you. Art is one thing that you can — by the way, if you want that to be your splurge, by all means, support an artist and save up and buy an original piece. By all means, that’s like so such a baller move to have original art in your home. But not every room. You probably are of the budget. I am where you can have that every single room. So DIY art is a good thing.
Elsie: I feel like it’s something you work up to, you know? Like it’s something that you eventually get to is splurging on an original art piece, but it’s not the first thing you start with.
Emma: Right. And you you add it over the years. It’s not something that you’re like, oh, I bought a house. Now it’s time to fill it up with art. It’s like, well, maybe by the time you’re sixty you’re going to have a bunch of pieces that you’re really proud of and you’ve moved them from house to house and you’ve put them in different spots, you know, and that’s exciting. But in the meantime, it’s like, let’s do some DIY art. Yes. So if you like painting or you like crafting, there’s options there. You can there’s so much you can do with old family photos also. Like, that’s an option. And I highly recommend putting on your thrifting or flea market list frames because frames are so cheap to get at thrift stores and maybe they need a tiny repair. Or maybe you’re going to need to like, kind of mount it yourself or like paint it or sand it down. But you can get giant frames for like dollars if you go that route.
Elsie: Yeah. If you spray paint them and you buy a matte, you will have a new-looking frame for super cheap. And frames are not cheap. They can be pretty pricey, especially the bigger they get. And if you’re doing a gallery wall…
Emma: Yep. Yep.
Elsie: Yeah I love that tip. I also had down to take or to get photo booth images anytime you have a chance to get a photo booth image then you know, they look so cute in a frame like a bunch of them together or a single one or blown up. I think that they’re some of the most special photos. I also love our instant photos because I feel like those are the photos that remind me of my childhood when you would take a bunch of pictures and then you just get your film developed and you just take whatever’s there. If it’s a blurry one, if the eyes are closed, whatever, like people don’t do that anymore. Now that we have phones, you know, we take eighty thousand pictures and keep only the best two, which is fine, but I feel like we are missing that like candid feel. And you can get that from instant photos and photo booth photos still.
Emma: And I love seeing the ones that your girls take because they’ll be on their level. So it’s like a lot of times it’s like you and Jeremy standing by the Christmas tree, but it’s kind of a picture of your knees a little because Goldie took it and it’s just really cute. There’s just something really magical about it.
Elsie: It’s some of my favorite photos for sure. I’ll link to the instant photo or the instant camera. Sorry. In the show notes that we use, we use Instax. I have the mini, the wide and the square. My favorite one, I will say, is the square, but the mini has the most colored film options if you want like pink film or blue or something like that, the mini definitely has the most options. All right. Let’s take a quick pause for a sponsor break.
You’ve heard us talking about our Agility Bed mattresses quite a bit. We love how comfortable they are and how great we’ve been sleeping ever since we started using them. We love how they’re made in the US and that they offer a 100 day risk free trial. We’ve bought our mattresses with our own money, but we also want you to have the chance to hear directly from another customer. Here’s what Rachel had to say after switching to her agility mattress.
Rachel: I wanted to just share how much I am loving my new Agility Bed mattress. A while ago, we had ordered another brand of mattress that was shipped to our door and had these great promises. But I ended up waking up with a lot of aches and pains. So when I heard that Agility mattress was really designed for people who like me sleep on their side, I knew I needed to give it a try. Within a night, I could tell the difference. I didn’t wake up as achy and in fact, my chronic migraines started to go down because I’m getting a better night’s sleep. So thank you so much, Agility,for making such a great mattress. I love it.
Elsie: Right now, Agility Bed is offering one of their biggest sales of the year for Memorial Day. Not only that, but there’s a fun giveaway coming to the blog soon. Be sure to be on the lookout for that. Meanwhile, you can save twenty percent sitewide. That includes mattresses, pillows and sheets. Visit agilitybed.com/abm to learn more. And if you’re listening after the sale, you can save three hundred dollars on any mattress at any time with the code ABM300. That’s agilitybed.com/abm.
Elsie: The next tip is to keep a running flea market or thrift list. I actually do this on my computer because I pretty much just shop at eBay right now and so it’s pretty much just an eBay list for me during these quarantine times. But I’m hoping this year will finally be the year I can start going to flea markets on a regular basis again. But anyway, if you want to find things that are timeless and special to you and if you want to collect things, you’re going to have to shop a lot and you’re going to have to keep a list. This is the most important part of getting a nice collection and getting stuff that matches or you fill in holes. The list is really, really, really essential.
Emma: Yep, I keep it in the notes app on my phone just in case I am out and I see something or I have a chance to pop in somewhere with a mask or whatever, you know.
Elsie: That’s a good tip.
Emma: Yeah. And you can also put all sorts of things. We’re talking about home decor in this episode, but obviously you can put clothing for yourself, for your family, for your kids on the list, too. So if you’re looking for that perfect pair of overalls, put that on the list and you never know. You might see it at a thrift store for like five dollars.
Elsie: That’s a great tip. Yeah. The next one is when you start a room and you’re kind of planning out what you’re going to buy and maybe you have some things that you’ve already collected or that you’re already bringing in from another house, and then you have things that you know you need. My tip is to spend a good chunk of your budget on one special piece, something that will last you and only you know what that is. But I would say for me, my vintage rugs have definitely lasted. My nicer rugs that are like wool have lasted and then key pieces of furniture that I know I’m going to use for years to come, and then I’ll be pretty thrifty on the rest. So my example is recently we did our kids bedroom and I know in my mind that this is a bedroom that they might be in for only a couple of years because right now they’re voluntarily sharing rooms and in a couple of years they might change their mind or situation with sleep might arise where they need to be in separate rooms, which has happened before. It’ll happen again. Right? So I splurged on their beds because I knew that these are beautiful little children’s beds. It was also kind of a splurge because I got two rails for each bed and every rail was purchased separately.
Emma: That’s how they get ya!
Elsie: For real. Worth it, though. I definitely think it’s worth it because now they can’t fall off the bed. And that happened a few times. It was so not cool.
Emma: Oh no, no!
Elsie: Yeah, worth every penny for those rails. But the things I saved on were since I knew the room might change up in a couple of years. Also, our kids are growing like, you know, in three — like the difference between being three years old and six years old is very different ages. Yeah. So I did one wallpaper wall instead of four walls, which that can save thousands. That tip by itself can automatically save thousands. And also I just knew that I might want to change it up in a couple of years because their ages are changing so rapidly. Their interests and their favorite color. Oh my gosh, that changes pretty quickly. And at the moment they’re sharing and it might not be later. I also got a less expensive rug, Less expensive curtains, and we did some DIY like we made their toy boxes ourselves and we made their bookshelves ourselves and then we reused a couple of things from previous rooms. So really, the splurge was pretty much just on the beds, which I felt that they could use for a long time. And it’s like a quality thing that at the end of the stage, when they’re done and they’re ready to move out of a twin bed, I know we’ll be able to either sell those beds or give them away to someone else. They’ll still be in good condition.
Emma: So I don’t want to contradict you, but I would also say the light fixture in that room, the chandelier.
Elsie: The light fixture was a splurge. But since I brought it from another place, from another home, I’m counting it as a reused thing. But yeah, kids don’t need Jonathan Adler chandeliers in their bedrooms. That’s not a thing. That’s for crazy people. And like, I get that. So.
Emma: Yeah, but you can move it around the house like you already have. This is like not its first home.
Elsie: It’s true that chandelier has come with us for a journey and it will not end in this room. I promise you. It’s like so special to me. My Jonathan Adler stuff is my special, like, you know, how Amanda used to say cold, dead fingers or whatever.
Emma: Yeah. Like you’re going to take it with you.
Elsie: Yeah, I’m going to be holding on to it, like gripping it when I’m dead. That’s that’s what it means. (laughs) Our last tip is to explore all your options. So I think asking a lot of questions when you go to get a quote, especially if it’s on something big. Don’t be shy about saying, like, I’m kind of on a small budget. Do you have any tips for fitting this into a smaller budget? For example, when we have been getting new windows recently, there are drastic price differences between different styles of windows that I wouldn’t have known if I just showed them a picture of what I liked and said, give me this window. You know?
Emma: It might be really pricey and there could be something slightly similar, but way cheaper. It makes me think of that meme with Kristen Wiig from Bridesmaids where she’s like, help me I’m poor! Do that!
Elsie: Exactly. Yes, be that meme in the situation. Yeah. Another great example is the first time I went to get quartz countertops, Ting came with me. He’s been on some episodes and he was definitely my mentor through my first big renovation. He did everything with me. He was like my renovation dad. So anyway, he took me to the quartz counter shop and was like, we want all of these salvaged pieces. So we went back into they have this like kind of like backyard full of like extra remnant pieces from other people’s counters. And if you’re doing a smaller vanity like a bathroom or whatever, you can easily find something from this that’s in somewhat the color scheme you were thinking, especially if you’re a little bit, you know, not too picky. And like, for example, I’m about to do my outdoor countertop. I’m definitely going to get it from the remnants section. You know, I’m not going to pay like premium, you know, dream quartz price because this is not my kitchen. This is an outdoor kitchen. And I think that anytime you can be a little bit flexible and just check if there’s cheaper options because it can be surprising. And every once in a while you’ll even find like a banger deal that way.
Emma: Mm hmm.
Elsie: The last tip I wanted to say is that it’s OK if you don’t want to DIY everything, we get it. But I will say don’t label yourself as not a DIY person or not a vintage person. See if there’s something in there that you do like or that you do enjoy. So for me, I personally am not interested in using power tools. I’m not going to learn to use the saws. I don’t want to. I just don’t want to. And like, that’s my choice, right. It’s just not something that I’ve ever wanted to do. And it’s like it’s not happening, but I will definitely get down and paint, you know, a bathroom, vanity myself, paint some and bookshelves myself. Recently we did our landscaping and I planted a bunch of plants myself. I was so proud and it was so fun. It felt like really fulfilling, like to get my hands dirty and do something like that. So don’t limit yourself and keep an open mind when it comes to stuff. You don’t have to be a DIY blogger to do something yourself in your home.
Emma: You really don’t. It’s definitely I think that’s a tip for life, too, because there were so many years where I was like, I’m not a runner or I’m not a gym person or something. And you’re really just limiting yourself. It’s like you might really enjoy something you don’t know, like just try it. Keep an open mind, be curious. Life’s really fun. Like, just try things and maybe it won’t be for you. That’s OK too, you know, at least you’ll know!
Elsie: I never thought I would enjoy gardening. And you know, it’s one of those late thirties things. It’s like obsessed. Like, one day I just, like, snapped on and I’m totally obsessed and I can’t get enough of it, all of a sudden.
Emma: I’ve seen your girls are pretty good helpers with the watering and things, too.
Elsie: So, yes, my girls are good girls. They’re loving their watering cans. It’s so cute. Anyway, OK, the last step. Very important.
Emma: Very important. Make sure to brag about your deals.
Elsie: Was it even a deal if you don’t brag about it?
Emma: Exactly. You’ve got to tell everyone whenever you get that 50 percent off amazing thing that they’re all jealous of, like go ahead and do it. Be that friend because it’s fun. And I have a couple of friends. Any time I compliment them on something they’re wearing or something that I see in their home, they always, always tell me where they got it and most often how much it was, because they’re really good at finding deals and I love it. And then sometimes they’re like, oh, sorry, I always do that. And I’m like, no, please brag about this deal. This was a great deal. (laughs) I’m glad you told me this is worth talking about.
Elsie: Yeah, share the tips around, because saving money is for everyone at every stage in life all the time.
Emma: It’s fun.
Elsie: Thank you so much for listening. And we will be back with more next week!