Update Your Life Without Emptying Your Wallet

Every so often, I find myself feeling a little restless with some aspect of my life or another: my wardrobe, my apartment's décor, my Friday night routine. The problem is, if I bought an entirely new wardrobe or redecorated my crib every few months, I'd be broke. So, I've come up with a few savvy ways to change things just enough without ending up penniless.

  • Update Your Digs - Feeling a little bored with your surroundings at home is natural, but spending your paycheck at Anthropologie every month is obviously not an option. Instead, make small, affordable updates to your existing décor. Try repainting a dresser or a desk, hanging new DIYed curtains, or tossing a pair of new, brightly colored throw pillows on your sofa. I just repainted the drawers on my plain black Ikea work desk, and it instantly brightened up my living room.
  • Update Your Morning Joe - If you're trying to save on morning lattes but are tired of brewing a plain ol' cup of coffee in the mornings, this one's for you. Buying an expensive, hard-to-clean espresso machine isn't the only way to get a café-worthy latte at home. Invest in a French press, a pretty, oversize mug, and some good coffee beans. Grind the beans fresh just before you use them, and use the French press to both foam your milk and brew a rich, dark cup of joe. You'll (almost) never want to drag yourself to a café in the morning again.
  • Update Your Dinner Menu - We all know that cooking at home is a smart way to save on food costs. But sometimes it's just . . . well, boring. To change up your dinner menu without splurging on eating out, try hitting up your local farmers market or subscribing to a CSA for some fresh, unique ingredients. When I come home from the farmers market on Sundays with a bag full of rapini and tayberries, I know my dinners for the week will be anything but boring.
  • Update Your Wardrobe - Let's be honest: "shopping your closet" does not work for every woman. If you're like a friend of mine who went through a serious shopping phase a few years ago and are still pulling out unworn pairs of Prada shoes, then simply scouring your closet for forgotten items is great. Otherwise, get creative. Have your favorite shoes with the broken heel resoled and polished, or simply spend a few bucks on some cute but inexpensive pieces of statement jewelry to perk up a tired outfit.
  • Update Your Pampering Routine - Every few months, I feel like I reeeeally need a massage, but that usually isn't in the budget. And while a bath, a glass of wine, and some candles will work in a pinch, you may want to kick your home spa experience up a notch or two. Invest in a super plush bath rug, a luxurious robe, and a big, fluffy bath sheet, and mix up a batch of your own bath salts or body scrub. Then hide away your new purchases in between spa sessions so they stay plush (and aren't co-opted by a roommate or spouse!).
  • Update Your Social Life - If you don't want to blow your budget going out with friends, but the same old potluck dinner and a bottle of wine routine is getting old, try becoming a home mixologist. Learn to make a couple signature cocktails, and keep the supplies for them on hand. You'll shell out some moola to get started, but after that, you'll be able to mix up a few drinks for friends for practically pennies.
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