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This week: grocery foods you should make at home, a year of bike commuting, cheap home improvements, saving for retirement on a budget, and thrifty decorating tips.

1. 20 Thrifty Decorating Tips

[My Dollar Plan] “Decorating your home or apartment doesn’t mean that you have to go broke doing it. If you’re creative and use a few helpful tricks, you can decorate your space with money to spare.”

There’s some good stuff here. Some examples: Buying couch covers, painting an accent wall, using mirrors, refinishing rather than replacing, updating hardware, and one of my all-time favorites, buying used. See the post for more.

2. 3 Simple Ways to Save for Retirement on a Budget

[Narrow Bridge Finance] “Another factor that many face in regard to saving for retirement is finding simple ways to do it and this is especially the case as you first start. With that in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss some actionable ways to start investing for retirement if you’re on a budget.”

These ways to save for retirement are simple: Start with your 401(k), then cut back on expenses where you won’t feel the pain, like trimming subscriptions and memberships, and making more money with a side gig or monetizing a hobby.

3. 5 Ways to Improve Your Home That Are Cheaper Than a New TV

[One Cent at a Time] “Recently we visited a friend’s home. They are doing exterior paint work. The paint, which will last for a lifetime (a ceramic paint), would cost them upward of $25,000. Huge price to pay for owning a home. But upgrading your home can be a good experience, filled with joy and wonder. Can there be improvements that would cost less?”

Someone paid $25,000 to paint a house? A few years ago, I hired a couple of guys and painted mine in an afternoon for less than $500. Granted, the paint wasn’t ceramic (whatever that is) but I’d burn my house down before I paid that kind of money to paint it.

But that’s beside the point. This article, like the one above, makes suggestions for home improvements that won’t break the bank. They include getting new rugs, installing a security system, painting interior walls and upgrading the lighting.

4. A Year of Bike Commuting

[Planting Our Pennies] “When I started biking, I thought it would be a ‘once in a while’ or ‘when the weather is nice’ type of thing. However, just a short year later, we’re getting ready to list our second car for sale and happily transition to being a one-car couple.”

I love riding my bike, but wouldn’t think of taking it to work. I couldn’t anyway, since I work at home. But if I were like this author and worked in an office 9 miles away, I’d be afraid of arriving at work soaked with sweat or freezing cold. I’d also be afraid of getting rained on.

After reading this post, however, maybe I should backpedal.

5. 35 Grocery Items You Should Make at Home (and 5 to Buy)

[Wise Bread] “I pride myself on my somewhat extensive homemade pantry. Not just because making foods and other products at home is usually a healthier option (which it certainly is), but also because it saves us some money in the process.”

Although we’ve published lots of recipes to make everything from laundry detergent to Rainbow Rice, I was still amazed at some grocery products easily made at home. Examples include peanut butter, bagels, cheese, yogurt and almond milk. Who knew?

What do you like?

We’re always on the hunt for talented personal finance writers and interesting sites. If you’ve got a favorite, let us know below or on our Facebook page! You can also talk to us about anything you’d like simply by hitting “reply” to your daily email update. (Not subscribed? Fix that right now!)

Stacy Johnson

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I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


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