Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Upgrade Your Home on a Dime with Little Natural Skill: Tips from an Interior Designer

It's incredibly important to me that my house is clean, welcoming, and comfortable. How to make that happen completely escapes me. Enter my secret weapon: Sofale'.

Sofale' is an interior designer who knows how to make a space gorgeous and suitable for your tastes. She tailors her services and suggestions to meet your budget, and offers the following tips for updating your home on a dime:

1.  Paint is everything. Your wall colors can change the entire mood of a house. If you prefer a cozier environment, go with a deeper, darker shade. Metallic paints reflect light and are thus excellent in darker rooms. Brighter colors open up a space. Sofale' often uses nature as her palette, opting for outdoor tones.

A gallon of paint can range from $20-60. If you're the DIY type, you can save money by making this a weekend project. Otherwise, reach out to a few painters and/or try thumbtack.com, where you can get multiple quotes in minutes. Get at least 3 prices before making a final decision. I typically go with the mid-priced offer.

2.  Mirrors are important as they open up any space. Per Sofale's recommendation, I recently bought two full-length mirrors for my dining room and an eclectic one to replace my bathroom vanity. I paid $34 each for the two large mirrors, and $24 for the bathroom one, all from HomeGoods. For less than $100 I made my dining room and bathroom look newer and larger.

3.  Shop Your Home. Instead of buying new things, Sofale' suggests moving current items to different places in the house. Your bedroom lamp may be better suited for the living room, or the art you have in the dining room may go well in the bathroom.

4.  Curtains to the ceiling can make a space dramatic, so Sofale' uses them when she wants to dress up a room. I'm not a curtains person but after she showed me a few homes she designed I looked into them. You can spend around $30 at places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls for two blackout curtains, and $20 or less for a rod. I decided to stick with my regular old blinds and bought a new bedspread instead  for $39 at TJ Maxx.

Sofale' offers a variety of design services, including color consultations, advice by phone while you're out shopping, moving items around to maximize space, or a complete redesign. It's all about how much your budget will allow. Check her out at sofaledesigns.com or call 301-466-5800.

And so it is.