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Let’s Talk About Merchanding & Mystery Shopping.

I stumbled upon Merchandising and Mystery Shopping back in the late 1990’s not long after I started surfing the net. I used to see ads in my local paper about getting paid to shop but they also always wanted money for a packet. First rule is NEVER EVER pay a fee to a company for info. Good legit companies will never ask for money from you. Those are scams and run away as fast as you can. I have worked for over 20 different companies in the last 10 years and have never paid a fee to work. Again, this won’t make you rich, but it is a good extra income. Sometimes you will you can get with a company who will give you a lot of work so it is possible to make a pretty nice income of even say $20,000-30,000 (this is definitely true if you live in a big metro city). My towns around me are building up and so are the number of jobs. There is some competition, but if you are reliable, have some experience, and take last minute jobs then you will be offered more work. I was with company that the scheduler always called me first since he knew that the job would get done quickly and could depend on me if someone cancelled.

What kind of work will you be doing you ask? Well it depends on the company but I have done Mystery Shopping jobs like evaluating a bank, real estate jobs, buy something from a store, and you either keep it or have to do a return, restaurants, clothing stores, electronics, video game and movies, actual movie theaters, gas stations, pizza, burger joints, pharmacies, grocery stores, and so much more. Pretty much anyone with no experience can start but the more experience you have the higher paid jobs you can receive. This again depends on your area and the company. I don’t take the small $7 jobs unless it’s a quick one and I’m already doing something else. Most jobs pay $10-15 each and there are ones that pay $20-40 (again most of these require more experience). There are times that I will take 3-5 jobs for one day so I spend less money in gas, and I earn that day about $50-80 for a couple of hours worth of work. Most jobs are 10-20 minutes long. The more you do the faster you get with the paperwork.

Now Merchandising is a little different and again you don’t have to have experience but it will definitely help. I did have experience since I used to work as a stocker at my local Wal-Mart, and I used to put together the displays, shelving, and could read a plan-o-gram (the paperwork that shows how to put the display up and where everything should go). It’s really not hard once you get the hang of it, but most companies really prefer you have experience. These pay much better and usually it’s by the hour but sometimes it’s by the job. Most of my jobs I got paid $10-12/hr. Some companies are cheap and only want to pay $8 but I did take one since it was 4 stores all within a 20 mile radius and it was a weekly job so a nice steady stream. Of course gas was still pretty cheap when I was doing this regularly. So now you should definitely consider the cost of gas. I love the flexibility and to me it was fun.

The kind of Merchandising jobs you do could be anything from putting up actual shelving, restocking, and putting up displays. I mainly did displays and restocking. It was extremely rare I had to do actual shelving. I did once have to put a display that required another person to help so I employed my mom. We went to 6 stores in different towns (the same weekend) and we did get paid almost $400 which after gas we still both made $16/hr. The work really wasn’t that hard but it was a lot of fun, and gave us a chance to spend some time together. I even helped her find a few jobs in her town to make an extra income.

There is also demonstrating. This could be anything from handing out samples/coupons in your local grocery store to Wal-Mart but there are other kinds of demo work. Sometimes it can be working at a cellphone kiosk to showing an electronic gadget. There is also work involving taking surveys at a certain location. The pay isn’t as good but most companies pay $7-9/hr for 2-6 hours of work.

Last let’s talk about focus groups and surveys. I have already shared a few really great survey sites that do pay you for your opinion. I also have done focus groups. This is a little hard to break into unless you live in a metro area. The bigger the city the more opportunities. Some are done online but most are done in person. These can pay anywhere from $50-200 or even higher. There are different kinds like mock trials, medical research (with or without using oral meds), and even companies asking if you like a new product or to talk about a certain issue which could be about many things. There are so many kinds of focus groups and some are even for kids. I also have my son take a couple of surveys which pays $10 each so not bad for a young school-aged child.

Now where can I find these jobs? There are several ways to find jobs.
1)Forum boards are a great way to see jobs by location and by company. There are a few good places I check regularly for work.


Mystery Shopping Providers Association- (just a small word on this one. If you become certified then they will be more jobs available to you. This changed a few years ago and I have never taken the test. I’m not sure if it’s worth the fee or not).

NARMS (love this place)-

There used to be a couple more but I lost the info when my computer crashed. If anyone has more to share then please leave it in a comment and I’ll add it to the post. Thanks.

2)The other way is to check the company directly. Not all will share a job list and some won’t even take applications. You can check companies above at those forums and just go to the site directly.

3)Another of my favorite ways is to talk to other vendors and check the vendor log. When you merchandise most stores have a vendor log for you to sign with your name, company name, date and times you were at the store. Some ask for you to wear a vendor tag if you don’t already have one. This was a great way for me to find other great companies. Then I would either go to the website or call the company. Some won’t take apps but a few schedulers would add my name to their database and it’s how I got in good with one. I proved to be reliable and dependable for those that quit or backed out and I would go and do the job. Of course this helps if your kids are in school or older or even no kids. It’s not always to take last minute jobs with small children. Good luck and I hope this helps those that were curious.

How to Pick a Lawyer and Also Save Money on Legal Fees

Are you looking to hire a lawyer? Are you worried if you can handle all the fees that come with it?

Finding a lawyer is tricky considering all the factors surrounding your particular case. Moreover, the average person spends around $250 annually on legal services. 

That is an amount that not everyone readily has. 

Thus, you need to know how to pick a lawyer the right way. How do you do it? What are the key factors you need to consider in your search?

What are the strategies you need to learn to save money on legal fees and expenses? Continue reading below to find out the answers. 

The Value of Finding a Good One

Before we teach you how to pick a lawyer, let us first touch on the value of finding a good one. With so many lawyers and law firms out there, it is best to go for someone with ample experience. 

When you hire a seasoned lawyer, you can expect him/her to understand the ins and outs of the legal process. You can depend on their experience in handling a variety of cases. You can also get a fresh perspective on your case, especially when your emotions are high.

How to Pick a Lawyer

Whether you are looking to hire a child support lawyer or a DUI attorney, you need to consider some key factors before deciding. Let’s take a look at some valuable tips that will lead you to the right choice.

Determine the Type that You Need

First, you need to determine the type of lawyer that you need for your case. The key is to find an attorney who specializes in the kind of case that you have. If you are dealing with financial challenges, then a bankruptcy lawyer is what you need.

If you are facing a family turmoil, a family lawyer is the best person to help you. If you need to fix your estate and inheritance, find a lawyer who specializes in trusts and estates. If you are planning to put up a business, consider hiring a corporate lawyer.

Ask for Recommendations

Next, you can begin your search by asking for referrals and recommendations. Start with your friends and family. Talk to someone who recently hired a lawyer specializing in the area that your case falls under.

Ask for details regarding the type of services their lawyers offered. Were they satisfied with their lawyers? 

You may also consider asking other lawyers who can refer to some of their colleagues. Lawyers know how their fellow attorneys work. They can tell you about their colleagues’ work ethic, practice habits, and competence.

Mind Your Budget

Another important thing to consider is your budget. You need to have one in mind before talking to any lawyer. You don’t want to hire someone who is way beyond your price range.

It is a common notion that hiring a good lawyer means shelling out a fortune. In reality, several good lawyers charge affordable rates for their dependable services.

Consult a Law Directory

Apart from referrals and recommendations, you can also consult a law directory. Visit any of your local public or law libraries and request the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. You may also access it online.

There, you will find an extensive well of information on various law firms and their lawyers. The directory contains the names and fields of expertise of lawyers in the United States. You can also view how every law firm ranks according to peer review ratings.

Background Check Matters

Conducting background checks is also non-negotiable in your search for the right lawyer. Aside from checking the peer review ratings of the lawyers, you should also check if they received any disciplinary actions in the past.

Also, you may contact your local bar association. Find out if the lawyers you are looking to hire received any complaints about their practice. 

Additionally, most bar associations offer free referral services. They can point you to a lawyer that fits your needs and requirements.

Perform Candidate Interviews

After creating your shortlist, you can start conducting candidate reviews. You can do this during the initial consultation. Though lawyers will ask you questions about your case during this time, you can also get to know them better during the consultation.

Find out how long have they been practicing. Learn about their track record and success rate. Ask if they carry certifications or special skills.

Also, you need to get to the bottom of their fees. Find out how often they will bill you. Ask if there are other additional costs on top of the lawyer fees.

How to Save on Legal Fees

After trimming down your choices, you can start working on lowering your legal fees. Here are some tips to consider:

The Alternative Fee Arrangement

During the interview, negotiate with the lawyer and ask if he is open to an alternative fee arrangement. Though most lawyers take a flat fee, some offer an alternative billing model.

Fix Your Documents Early

You should also organize your documents in advance. Do this before meeting with a prospective candidate. Make sure to print copies of documents such as emails and receipts, among others.

Arrange them accordingly to save time.

Swap Services

Do you specialize in a specific field? Then you may consider offering a swapping of services. Some lawyers require assistance in marketing. Others need some help in bookkeeping.

Ask the lawyer if they need anything and see if you can offer the service in exchange for a reduction of the legal fees.

Take Some of the Load

Last but not least, consider taking on some of the tasks. Most people believe that the fastest way to go about their case is to let the lawyers handle everything. In reality, you can save on some legal fees if you take on some of the workloads.

Apart from preparing the key documents, you can work on providing relevant information. Make sure to consult with him/her first to avoid duplicating any of the tasks.

Make Wiser Legal Decisions   

Learning how to pick a lawyer is imperative in attaining favorable results for your case. Lowering the legal fees will also ease the burden of going through a taxing endeavor.

But you should never stop there. You should continue making wiser legal decisions in all aspects. 

We encourage you to read our different articles on law and the legal practice. We discuss topics that will help you make the best decisions for all your legal concerns.

The Cheapest Way to Buy a House: 6 Creative Methods

There are a lot of benefits to renting a home. For example, repairs and upkeep are the responsibility of the landlord. There’s no commitment to staying in one place for too long. There are also no property taxes or homeowner’s insurance to pay unless you get renter’s insurance, which is pretty inexpensive.

But, the cost of renting a home has been on the rise, while the cost of buying a home has leveled off. In fact, it’s a buyer’s market, and purchasing a home is easier than ever.

The thought of investing in a house may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a ton of money saved up for a down payment or if your credit isn’t stellar.

So what is the cheapest way to buy a house? Read on to learn about 6 creative methods and you’ll be on your way to becoming a homeowner.

1. Find a Foreclosure

A foreclosed home is one that has been taken back by the bank because the homeowner stopped paying the mortgage.

More often than not, the previous owner lived in the property until they were kicked out. Also, if they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments, they couldn’t afford repairs either. This means that the home may be neglected.

In addition, many foreclosed homes are sold “as-is”. That means that in addition to needing repairs, they’re left in a terrible state. That’s not always true, but it can be. They are often stripped of all appliances, light fixtures, window coverings, and anything else that’s removable.

That said, foreclosed homes can be one of the cheapest ways to buy a house. The bank just wants their money back, and soon. They’re often willing to sell the home way below market value.

One thing to keep in mind is that if a foreclosed home is in a desirable neighborhood, it might get a lot of bids. If you’re up for the competition, a foreclosed home can be a good choice.

2. Settle on a Short Sale

A lot of people get confused about the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure. They both are homes owned by the bank due to the homeowner’s inability to pay the mortgage.

The difference is that with a short sale, the homeowner was responsible by letting the bank know of their financial circumstances.

The term “short” can be deceiving. Homes that are sold with a short sale often take a long time. The way it works is that you, the buyer, make an offer on the house, which is not always what is still owed. This is why it’s one of the cheapest ways to buy a house.

However, it’s up to the bank to accept this offer. Sure, they’re better off getting some of their money back than none. But banks often take a long time making this decision.

If you’re willing to wait, a short sale can be a great option.

3. Location, Location, Location

Prices of homes vary from location to location within a city. But many neighborhoods that seem less desirable might be the next up and coming locale.

One way to find out is to take a look at businesses that are starting up. If an area of town has a handful of new restaurants, shops, and bars, chances are, it’s a great place to buy. Jump in on a low-priced home before a neighborhood is gentrified.

Another option is to buy further out of town. As you go farther out of the hustle and bustle, home prices tend to drop. You can even get a bigger home for your money. Either way, taking a look at less than prime locations can be one of the cheapest ways to buy a house.

If you’re looking for a home in Florida, view here for some of the best home offers around.

4. Pay with Cash

If you have the money, buying a house with cash can often mean paying less. Some sellers are willing to drop the price if the buyer can pay outright, rather than getting a loan through the bank. You just have a lot more leverage and buying power if you can pay with cash in some situations.

Of course, that depends on the home and the seller, but anything that will give you a leg up when negotiating home prices is the way to go.

5. Consider a Duplex

You may pay more outright for a multi-family home, but buying a rental income property can help pay the mortgage.

In some cases, renting out half the house can pay all of your mortgage, taxes, and insurance, leaving you with a house you live in for free.

Now free isn’t really free. There’s a lot that goes into a rental property, including maintenance and upkeep of two homes and dealing with tenants. In addition, there’s the risk that the other half won’t always be rented. But if you’re up for the challenge of being a landlord, this can be one of the cheapest ways to buy a house.

6. Fixer-Upper Grants

There are a lot of options out there for people willing to buy a house in a developing neighborhood. Look around your city and you’re sure to see areas with historic homes that are falling to ruins with boarded-up windows. These dilapidated buildings are dollar signs for some people.

However, you have to be willing to fix the house up, live in it for a while, and keep it well maintained. If you’re not handy with a hammer, this option might not be for you. But if you are, buying a fixer-upper historic home in a “blighted area” is a great way to buy a cheap house.

Programs like the HUD Good Neighbor Program will allow eligible people to buy a house at a deep discount, as long as you live in the home for three years. They don’t want people who are just going to flip it. They’re creating neighborhoods.

The Cheapest Way to Buy a House

There’s no right answer when it comes to finding the cheapest way to buy a house. All of the above suggestions are options that can help you save some cash.

Many people believe that buying a home is out of their reach, but most of us can find a creative way to be homeowner rather than giving all your hard-earned cash to a landlord.

Owning a home is a big responsibility, but it’s also a great investment. If you take one or more of these options, you’ll be a having a housewarming party in no time.

Buying a new home doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. It can be a reality. Check out more great tips on personal finance.

5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Is Essential for Single Mothers

why life insurance

What happens to your kids if something happens to you?

As a single parent, this thought can be terrifying. No one wants to think about dying. But when little ones depend on you, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if you were no longer there.

That’s why life insurance is important. When you’re the sole provider for your kids it’s even more important.

With the right life insurance policy, you can provide for your kids even when you’re not around. That would assuage a lot of worries, wouldn’t it?

Money is always pretty tight, though. Every cent counts. You may be wondering if you can really afford to buy life insurance.

Let’s take a look at some options. And then we’ll look at some reasons why you can’t afford not to buy life insurance.

Term Vs Whole Life Insurance

When you’re pinching pennies to provide basic needs for your children, every cent counts. You know that life insurance is important but you don’t know if you can afford it.

There are two general types of life insurance policies. Term life insurance and whole life insurance. The main difference is that term life insurance is good for a set term. Terms typically run from 10-35 years. Whole life insurance covers you your entire life.

Thus, a term life insurance policy is a lot cheaper. There is less risk that you’ll die during the term so the company can afford to offer a plan at a cheaper rate.

Term life insurance policies are very affordable. The peace of mind alone that a life insurance policy will give you is worth far more than the premium.

You can find more information about term vs whole life insurance and get a quote here.

Why Life Insurance?

Okay, so life insurance is affordable and gives you peace of mind. But what does that really mean? What do life insurance benefits cover and how will it put your mind at ease?

Let’s look at some of the reasons why life insurance is important for single moms. You can pick and choose what you want your specific policy to cover but here are some common options.

1. Death Expenses

It may surprise you to know but dying is very expensive. The average cost for all end-of-life necessities (not just the funeral) is a whopping $11,618!

You barely have two pennies to rub together on any given day so it can’t come out of your savings. Who’s going to pay for your death expenses?

With a life insurance policy, you don’t have to worry about that question. The policy will cover your death expenses.

This makes things a lot easier on family members. They have enough to worry about during such a difficult time.

2. Pays Off Debts

Are you still working diligently to pay off your debts? What happens when you die? Do they just go away? In some cases, they do. In others, they don’t.

For example, say you are paying off a mortgage. If you die, the house would most likely have to be sold to pay back the debt. Thus, in addition to losing you, your kids would have to leave their home.

A life insurance policy can pay off your mortgage. Your kids’ new caregiver could come to live with them instead of having to be uprooted during such a tumultuous time.

3. Covers Estate Taxes

The government is only too happy to have a tax for everything and that includes your estate. Of course, as a single mom, you might not have much of one. But what you do have you want your kids to be able to keep.

Estate taxes vary depending on the state you live in. Plus, if the estate is worth less than a certain amount (that varies by state) they won’t be levied against your estate.

But, if estate taxes do come into play, your kids won’t have to worry about them if you have a life insurance policy that covers them.

4. Covers Your Kids’ Expenses

Your mom, sister, cousin etc may be totally willing to look after your kids if something should happen to you. But, as you know, kids cost money.

Can your mom support your kids on her fixed income? Probably not. Your sister or cousin may already be stretched thin caring for her own kids.

A life insurance policy will ensure that the money needed to take care of your kids is there.

Life insurance policies don’t typically pay out to your children. That makes sense as they wouldn’t know what to do with the money anyways. Instead, you can name a guardian or create a trust that will pay out the money at specific intervals that you can choose.

Regardless of how you want to set it up, you can rest easy knowing that the necessary money will be there.

5. College Expenses

You can even include college expenses in your life insurance policy. Your premium may be higher with this option included. But if a college education is something that you really want for your kids, it may be worth it to you to include it.

Final Thoughts

It’s not a pleasant thought, but one day you’re going to die. You hope it’s when you’re old and your kids are already raising kids of their own.

But you don’t get to choose. You can eat healthily and exercise all you want, but you don’t get to choose when you die.

Take away the fear that your kids won’t have what they need by buying a life insurance policy. You can hope your kids will never need it, but it will be there just in case. That’s why life insurance is so valuable.

For more great personal finance and budgeting tips be sure to check out our blog.

How to Sell Your Vintage Dresses Online and Make Money

vintage dresses

Do you have a closet full of old dresses taking up space? Maybe it’s about time you clean up that closet and start your own home business.

Buying new dresses can be expensive and stressful. Why spend so much on something you only wear a handful of times? Reselling your old dresses will free up your closet space, and save others time and money.

Selling vintage dresses is an easy and intuitive way to make some extra cash from home. The market for reselling clothing online is growing 35% per year, and it’s not slowing down.

Read on for some helpful tips on getting started selling your vintage dresses online:

Finding Vintage Dresses

Where should you search for dresses to sell? The best place to start is your closet.

Searching through your old clothing that you no longer wear is a sure way to find a gem or two to sell. Keep an eye out for name-brand items and unique vintage styles hidden in your closet.

If your wardrobe doesn’t cut it, you can try searching through a friend or family member’s.

Otherwise, thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets are all gold mines for vintage clothing.

Now that you know where to find items to sell, you can begin the selection process. While it’s easy to pick items you like, you need to be aware of what will actually sell.

Selecting Items to Sell

After you’ve figured out where to find vintage clothing, the next step is deciding which pieces to sell.

Details that you should be very aware of during this selection process include:

  • Quality of the item
  • Brand of the item
  • Condition of the item

The material the item is made of is extremely important when reselling. People are more interested items that are made with high quality materials, like wool and cotton.

Brands play a major role in how an item will sell. Some brands are more sought after than others. Knowing what’s popular is the key to success.

The final piece to selecting clothing to sell is condition. Be sure to check your items for mysterious stains, ripped seams, or damaged graphics.

Some clothing may retain its value despite damage, like an original Rolling Stones t-shirt or a shirt with purposely faded graphics. But classic rock and Retro Brand t-shirts like these are collectible and in-style.

But vintage dresses are expected to be in excellent condition. This means they’re free of holes, rips, and stains.

After you’ve selected the dresses you want to sell, it’s time to prepare them to be listed.

Preparing Your Items to Sell

Now that you have a nice selection of dresses to sell, it’s time to prep them for resale.

The first step to preparing your dresses is making sure everything is cleaned and repaired. While some of this can be done on your own, it’s wise to pay for these services when needed.

After that, it’s time to take photos.

Items with nicer photos are more likely to grab people’s attention. Having friends model the clothes for you and getting shots of different angles are two popular strategies for standing out in the digital marketplace.

Becoming a Business

Congratulations — you’ve just started your own business!

From here, it’s up to you to maintain your inventory and ensure you’re selling quality dresses. As competitive as the resell market may be, putting in the time and effort will pay off in the end.

If you end up realizing that the vintage reselling business isn’t for you, check out our list of home business ideas you could explore instead.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Florida

best places to visit in Florida,

Pristine and world ranked beaches, wildlife, adventurous family-friendly theme parks, and hundreds of museums and entertainment locations, Florida has so much to offer.

How do you choose where to visit for your next Florida trip?

Here is a guide to help! Keep reading to learn what makes these cities the best places to visit in Florida.

1. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is ranked #1 best places to visit in Florida by U.S. News and World Report for lots of reasons.

To start, St. Petersburg neighbors Clearwater beach, which is ranked one of the world’s best beaches for its white sand and beautiful clear water.

St. Pete has it’s own beautiful top-ranked beaches, too, where you can find vacation spots for every type of traveler. Whether you want lively spring break-style fun, water adventure, or a more quiet and relaxing vacation, you can find it in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg downtown hosts an array of entertainment, shopping, art, and exceptional food. It is an artistic and hip place with something for everyone.

If you like craft beer, then you’ll definitely enjoy St. Pete’s beer scene. And did I mention the food? Well, it’s amazing featuring everything from Latin, Cuban, Cajun, American, Italian, and more.

Downtown is also home to historical architecture and museums including the world famous Dali museum.

And if you’re a baseball fan, you can catch a game at the Tampa Bay Rays stadium in downtown St. Pete.

St. Petersburg is a great place to vacation for the adventurers out there. It is home to many historical sites, including archeological ones like Fort De Soto. St. Pete also features tons of parks and preserves where you can see beautiful nature and wildlife.

Last but not least, if you are a dog owner then St. Pete is the place for you. The town of St. Petersburg was ranked the most pet-friendly city in the country last year!

2. St. Augustine

This one is for the history buffs out there!

St. Augustine, Florida is the country’s oldest city, founded by Spain in 1565. Visiting this beautiful city is like stepping back in time and into a whole new country.

The Spanish architecture and culture is vast and gorgeous. There are tons of historical sites to visits including forts, museums, and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

The city sits on the Atlantic ocean and features harbors and nearby beaches. You can experience the typical beach vacation while exploring our nations oldest history.

And if you’re into Spanish food, there’s lots of it to be had in St. Augustine!

3. Orlando

While you won’t find white-sand beaches, Orlando has tons of fun to offer. It is ranked #1 in best places to visit in Florida for family vacations.

Orlando is home to the happiest place on earth–Disney World. Disney provides a world of theme parks, shopping, shows, delicious treats, and more. There is something for everyone, not just children.

Check out my tips for planning a Disney trip with children.

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure provide additional fun and entertainment. They offer movie-themed rides and shows from our favorite films including a real-life adventure through the world of Harry Potter.

We highly recommend doing the Universal VIP tours for a personalized experience without the waits!

Orlando has more than just theme parks, though. There are renowned outlet malls for exceptional shopping, tons of restaurants featuring top-ranked chefs, and exciting nightlife downtown.

4. Siesta Key, Sarasota

Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, Florida, was ranked the country’s #1 beach in 2017 and for good reason. The beach features shiny white sand, clear waters, cleanliness, and preserved nature. It truly is the perfect place to get away to and relax.

Plus, it is one of the larger beaches in Florida. So, you can wander the shoreline for hours and find different things to do in different areas. Whether you want to play sand volleyball or get lost in nature, you can!

Sarasota itself has a lot to offer, too. The shopping, great food, boutiques, Ringley museum, fishing, and more make Sarasota one of the best places to visit in Florida.

These are just some reasons why celebrities choose Siesta Key and Sarasota for their home.

5. Miami

Welcome to Miami! The home of celebrities, famous pristine beaches, the country’s best Cuban food, and more shopping than you can handle.

Miami is full of life, culture, and fun. It is one of the best places to visit in Florida if you’re looking for nightlife, dancing, and vibrancy. It is also a place to find trendy restaurants featuring world-renowned chefs.

And don’t forget about the beaches. Miami’s South Beach is ranked #4 for U.S. best beaches. Fort Lauderdale, another ranked beach, is nearby as well.

Both beaches and surrounding areas feature fun-in-the-sun such as parasailing, watersports, and deep sea fishing.

6. Key West

The southernmost point of the United States can be found in the Florida Keys. Surrounded by clear water, the island of Key West is a place everyone should visit.

Key West features adventure and relaxation. There are beaches everywhere you turn with teal waters and exotic corals. You can find spas, retreats, and resorts, too.

For the adventurer, Key West offers some of the best sea fishing in the country. In addition, there’s snorkeling and scuba diving, watersports, and lots of cute walks or bike ride to be had.

If you’re into history and reading, you can’t pass up seeing Earnest Hemmingway’s home!

7. Crystal River

Crystal River is an underrated vacation spot where local Floridians escape to for their own vacations. It is perfect for the nature-lovers out there who want to escape into wildlife and peacefulness.

Crystal River sits on Kings Bay, which is a spring-fed bay. There are natural fresh-water springs that you can swim in where the water stays cool and crystal clear all year. You can literally see the bottom.

Crystal River also features kayaking, canoeing, scalloping, fishing, and manatee watching. There are wildlife refuges surrounding the town and an early Native American archeological site on the northwest side.

Best Places to Visit in Florida–Where Will You Go?

Whichever place you choose to visit in Florida, you won’t regret it.

Once you’ve decided, check out our tips on vacation planning, packing, deals, and more.

If you’re looking to start saving for that vacation, we can help with that too. We have tons of unique ways that you can earn extra money.

10 Tips for Interior Design on a Budget

It may come as a shock, but some people pay up to $150 an hour for an interior designer. For families on a budget, that figure is out of the question.

Fortunately, the DIY approach to home improvement has caught on in recent years. People are now deciding to tackle jobs on their own instead of paying inflated prices for professional services.

The great thing about taking on design projects yourself is that you maintain total control. You’re able to express your creative side and transform your space exactly the way you like.

However, trying to pull off interior design on a budget can get out of control if you don’t have some techniques in mind. You may need to do a little homework first.

To help you out, we’re going over 10 tips for giving your home a makeover on the cheap.

1. Have a Game Plan

Lack of preparation is an easy and fast way to go over your budget. Before making any purchases, you need to figure out exactly what you’re going for.

You probably have an idea of what aesthetic you want, but it helps to pinpoint it. Look at interior design websites and magazines to fine-tune your vision. You can then start pricing items and materials you’ll need for the job.

It may help to break down your projects one at a time instead of trying to do everything at once. Working in phases helps keep your finances manageable and allows you to save up a little between each project.

2. Second-Hand Stores

Doing interior design on a budget means you’ll need to avoid high-end brands. The best way to do this and also get unique, stylish furniture and accessories is to visit second-hand stores.

Look at local thrift stores, antique shops and even estate sales for low-cost, used items. Just because it’s used doesn’t mean it’s low quality.

Keep an eye out for furniture with sturdy construction. Remember, you can reupholster an old chair or couch and turn it into a great looking piece.

A good tactic is to find a second-hand store you like and ask when they usually get new items in.

3. Paint is Your Friend

Painting is one of the most cost-effective ways to give a room a completely new feel. After you decide what furniture or accessories you’re adding to a room, choose a complementary color for the walls.

Take your time and go over some color palettes. Narrow your options down two or three of your favorite colors and get samples from your local home improvement store. Then, paint a small area with each color.

Paint color changes as it dries, so give it few days before choosing a winner.

4. Go Minimal

The minimalist aesthetic has been in style for some time, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up. This is perfect when performing interior design on a budget.

Going minimal means cutting back on accessories and creating an open, clean environment. It also means focusing on neutral colors and natural fabrics and materials.

Instead of many pieces of furniture in a room, choose only a few items to decorate a space and accentuate them with good lighting.

5. Get Creative with Your Decor

Decor refers to items used to add style instead of serving a specific function. This is an area where you can really express your creative side.

If you like taking pictures, try framing your own photography. Or, a custom painting by you or a local artist is a great addition to a room.

Look for used rugs at second-hand stores to add a classic feel to your living area or study. You can also find interesting items like globes or vintage bottles to adorn shelves and end tables.

6. Keep Your Eyes Open for Sales

You can’t pull off interior design on a budget if you’re not constantly looking out for sales. After you find your favorites showrooms, ask when their next sale is. You may have to wait a little longer, but you’ll save money in the long-run.

You should also look for discontinued models of specific furniture. These can sometimes go for as much as half off.

Antique reproductions look authentic and go for much less. English Georgian American has a great selection, so check it out!

7. Buy Naked Furniture

A great way to save on furniture is buying pieces that haven’t been stained or varnished. Then, finish them yourself and get the exact look you’re going for.

When doing this, you’ll want to make sure and know what type of wood you’re dealing with. Certain woods take stains better than others, so ask the seller before buying.

You’ll also want to educate yourself on the finishing process. This means sanding and applying a stain or paint evenly. Do a little research and become an expert yourself.

8. Treat Your Windows

Another great design element that totally changes the look and feel of a room is window treatments. And there are actually inexpensive yet high-quality options.

Try to avoid buying curtains from an interior design store. Instead, look at fabric stores and choose quality materials, then have them cut. This saves you money and doesn’t look like you skimped on something cheap.

9. Transform What You Already Have

The best approach to interior design on a budget is making good use of what’s already there. This is where you really have to think outside the box.

An old chair that looks like it’s heading for the trash may just need a new finish. Slipcovers give new life to a worn out couch. Apply your cross-stitch talents to your drab throw pillows.

10. Mix it Up

Buying complete matching furniture sets is expensive. Instead, mix up your approach and create a compelling aesthetic using different styles. This gives your space an eclectic look and doesn’t break the bank.

You can also perform DIY updates like reupholstering chairs and applying paint to create a more uniform style with preexisting furniture.

Interior Design on a Budget: Wrapping Up

When making interior design renovations yourself, your biggest asset is your imagination. Don’t think of a strict budget as a limitation. Think of it as a way to get innovative.

Remember, always start with a plan. Then, pick and choose which of these interior design tips work best for your home.

If you’re renovating your home and are looking for more great DIY ideas, check out our blog today.