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How to shop for your home on a budget

Karen Leland is the bestselling author of Time Management in an Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. She is featured columnist for The Huffington Post Living section. Read her blog and contact her at karenleland.com.

Budget home decor

In a recent study by Furniture Today, three of four consumers said they plan on redecorating some part of their homes in 2009. If you're in the mood to freshen up a room or two without breaking the bank, here's how to shop for home decor items on a budget.

step 1: "Clip" online coupons

Woman Painting Wall

One great way to save money on home furnishings is to make your online purchases through a shopping site that offers rebates or coupons. Sites such as Points & PrizesRetailMeNot.com, couponwinner.com and FabulousSavings.com make it easy to find online coupon codes. Simply enter these codes at the checkout page of participating merchants for instant discounts.

Step 2: Rebates & Cash back

Look for offers -- from credit card companies and others -- that offer rebates and cash-back offers. You can also check online: Ebates gives you cash back on purchases made through their site. Some of the retailers they represent include West Elm, Nordstrom, Home Depot and the Home Marketplace. 

Step 3: Pick up paint on the cheap

Nothing spruces up a sad room like a fresh coat of paint. Pam Melton, a blogger with howtv.tv, says you can get specialty paints at a fraction of their regular prices by perusing the mis-tints or "oops bin" of your local paint store. Melton says, if you go this route, be sure there is enough of the color you need. In a pinch, you can have more paint made up at the regular price and still come out ahead of budget on the overall project.

Step 4: Find things for free

Leah Ingram, author of the new book Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less (Adams Media, 2010), says she's shocked at how few people are taking advantage of all the giveaways available online. Ingram encourages would-be bargain hunters to check out sites such as freecycle.org, totallyfreestuff.com and thefreesite.com for everything from sofas to soda makers. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Also see: The art of dumpster diving

Step 5: Check out Craig'sList

Melissa Garcia, of consumerqueen.com, is a fan of cruising CraigsList for brand new and slightly used home items on the cheap. "People are moving and need to get rid of stuff fast," says Garcia. "You often can find brand new items for 50 to 75 percent off their retail price."

Step 6: Go for a guarantee

"It's one thing to shop on a budget and another to be so miserly you make bad purchasing decisions," says Ingram. If you're shopping for a dining room table or another major piece of furniture, look for items that come with a warranty or guarantee. You may spend a bit more money, but they will hold up in the long run.

Take a gander at such companies as landsend.com and nantuckit.com -- both of which offer lifetime guarantees on their products.

Step 7: Go green

The folks at moneysavingguide.com encourage consumers to be on the lookout for government incentives. According to the site, green is the new hot thing -- so hot, in fact, that the federal government will give you up to 30 percent back (up to $1,500 against your federal income taxes) on many Energy Star appliances. Your city or state may have its own program in place, as well.

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