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15 Ways to Brighten Up Your Garden on a Budget

15 Ways to Brighten Up Your Garden on a Budget

Is your garden lacking color, depth, and excitement? If you are looking to transform your backyard into a personalized space that will impress on a budget, try one or many of these simple projects.

1. Pallet Herb Garden

Pallets can be found all over and are literally thrown away by businesses everyday. A great way to recycle old pallets is to attach terra cotta pots to them and make them into a rustic pallet herb garden. Be sure to research whether the type of herbs you want to grow require a lot of sun or prefer shade and plan accordingly. Creativity is your best friend, design your pallet garden any way you see fit.

Herb Garden in a pallet

    2. Bird Bath/Garden Planter

    Take the simplicity of painted terra cotta pots, add all the excitement of a bird bath, and what you’re left with is a beautiful bird bath planter.  If you want your feathered friends to return to your garden time and time again make sure you are regularly cleaning the bird bath.

    Tutorial: http://www.homestoriesatoz.com/outdoor/diy-garden-planter-birds-bath.html

    Clay pots stacked with birdbath

      3. DIY Pallet Bench Garden Project

      Scrap lumber is more useful than you think. Use either 2x4s or deconstructed pallets to make this simple yet wonderfully colorful bench. Simplicity rules, and anyone who walks by won’t help but notice your artsy homemade garden bench.

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      Garden Bench Multi-Colored

        4. Flowerpot Wind Chime

        If wind chimes are you style, you can avoid buying a new one and make your own. Follow these simple instructions to make an amazing flowerpot wind chime.

        Tutorial: http://houseofjoyfulnoise.com/terracotta-flower-pot-wind-chime-tutorial/

        Wind Chime

          5. Chandelier Planter

          What’s that old clunky looking chandelier in your garage up to? Short answer: nothing! So why not turn it into a gorgeous chandelier planter? Use clay pots in place of the light fixtures and be sure to attach the pots with a strong adhesive. These planters will look great anywhere including your garden, porch, or even inside your home if you so desire.

          Tutorial: http://diyshowoff.com/2013/06/11/chandelier-planter-tutorial-2/2/

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          Chandelier

            6. Hummingbird Feeder

            Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating species of birds. They are colorful, animated creatures that are as exciting to watch as they are beautiful. I’ve owned many of these feeders and by far the best design and most naturally appealing to hummingbirds seems to be the hummerbar style feeder. This design uses a large tube with plastic flowers as access points to hummingbirds favorite food: nectar! The hummerbar style hummingbird feeders start at about $20, so whether you decide to buy one or make your own, it won’t break the bank.

            Hummingbird hummerbar feeder

              7. Recycled Chair Garden Planter

              My next door neighbor once saw me throwing out a wooden chair that had the bottom broken out of it. He gave me this same idea and my homemade chair planter quickly became my favorite things on my front porch.

              Pot Chair

                8. Clay Pot Rain Chain

                With summer on the brain, rain is probably the last thing on your mind. Attaching small clay pots to your rain chains makes them stand out as unique and creative.

                rainpots

                  9. Recycled Wood Pallet Garden Path

                  Yet another use for wood pallets is to take them apart and use the lumber to create a path. Consider staining the boards first, or even using this idea to create a small bridge for your garden or back yard.

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                  Recycled Wooden Path

                    10. Clay Pot Lighthouses

                    This idea for your garden is simple enough, but it may require some artistic abilities. Glue terra cotta pots together and once they dry paint them like a lighthouse. Whether you live on coast or anywhere else this project brings a little bit of ocean air to your garden.

                    Tutorial: http://www.ehow.com/how_4882573_make-clay-pot-lighthouse.html

                    Clay Pot Lighthouse

                      11. Seashell Encrusted Clay Pot

                      Following suit with the light house clay pots, these seashell clay pots are awesome. Simply choose a clay pot, gather or buy some interesting sea shells, and attach them with a high power adhesive. Try planting succulents or tropical plants in these customized clay pots.

                      Seashell Pot

                        12. Stump Planters

                        Stumps or old abandoned logs are everywhere. As long as they aren’t rotten they will make great planters. Try filing them with summery flowers or even aromatic herbs!

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                        Tutorial: http://www.listotic.com/creative-garden-container-ideas/9/

                        Stump Planters

                          13. Decorative Mushrooms Made With Terra Cotta Pots

                          Bordering the line of folk-art, mushroom themed clay pots are frankly the most fun portion of this list. Try using bright colored paint combinations and use the pots as the mushroom stem, drain trays as the mushroom caps. Garden gnomes unite!

                          Clay Pot Mushrooms

                            14. Succulent Wreath

                            Succulents are one of the easiest types of plants to take care of. Start by creating a ring of moss (Spanish moss is my favorite), and add in succulents. Although traditional wreaths are only for the holidays, these succulent wreaths are pretty timeless.

                            succulentwreath

                              15. Clay Pot Planter Wall

                              Construct a basic wooden frame and use either chicken wire or large screen material as the backing. Attach some clay pots and go wild! Use as many as you think are suitable and fill them with the bright plants of your choice.

                              Pot Wall

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                                Robert Parmer

                                Freelance Writer

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                                Last Updated on September 2, 2020

                                How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                                How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                                Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                                In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

                                4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

                                Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

                                1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                                Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                                It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

                                Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

                                2. Keep Goals Realistic

                                It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

                                It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                                3. Account for Inflation

                                Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

                                Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

                                For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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                                4. Short Term Vs Long Term

                                Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

                                As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                                By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                                How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                                Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

                                • Ensuring healthy savings
                                • Making smart investments

                                You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

                                Ensuring Healthy Savings

                                Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                                This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                                1. Track Expenses

                                The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

                                Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

                                If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

                                2. Pay Yourself First

                                Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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                                Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

                                The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

                                Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

                                3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

                                Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

                                Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

                                At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                                Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                                You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                                4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                                In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                                Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                                • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
                                • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
                                • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                                The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                                5. Talk About It

                                Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

                                Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                                6. Maintain a Journal

                                For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                                If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                                When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

                                Making Smart Investments

                                Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

                                1. Consult a Financial Advisor

                                Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

                                Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                                2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                                Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

                                Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

                                As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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                                3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                                Einstein once remarked about compounding:

                                “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

                                Use compound interest when setting financial goals

                                  Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                                  Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                                  4. Measure, Measure, Measure

                                  All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                                  If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

                                  Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

                                  and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

                                  More Tips on Financial Goals

                                  Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

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