It doesn't need to cost a fortune to raise a smile. Even if you're being careful with your cash, there are lots of ways of making your life better, more cheerful, smilier, that are either free or low-budget, or that are a little more expensive but such good value that they are worth far more than their actual financial cost.
Each and every time we arrived home this summer is was hard to avoid breaking in to a grin - For just the price of a packet of seeds and a few reduced-price and (when we bought them) half dead plants, we have an absolute blaze of colour to greet us - look:
Fabulous eh? Not just pretty faces either - the nasturtiums have been going into salads, being used with boiled new potatoes, and undoubtedly will grace a burger or two before they are done as well. If you've not tried them before, then they are well worth it, adding a lovely peppery bite to a salad. Not only are the leaves and the flowers edible, but the seed pods make a great alternative to capers too. By the time we're done, we reckon that they will easily have paid for the cost of that packet of seeds!
Another useful thing to know is the places local to you who dramatically reduce the price of plants when they're starting to look a bit tired. Our local Homebase, for example, regularly knock-down the price of packs of 12 bedding plants to 40p on a Sunday. Take them home, give them a bit of TLC, and before you know where you are, they're repaying you in masses of blooms! Our total investment in plants for the two pots on the front balcony, and hanging baskets on the other side of the flat, was probably about £3. The pots have all come from Poundland and similar, and even our rather sweet wicker hanging basket was a 99p shop bargain! Sunday papers also do vouchers offering a free tray of bedding plants - the Telegraph has done this on a regular basis from spring right through to now - and as MrEH is a regular reader in any case he has been getting these. A good few years ago he took out a subscription which saves him around 33% on the cover price of the paper - if you read the same newspaper on a daily basis this is worth looking into. Of course this means to us, these sorts of voucher-offers are effectively free - so far this year we have had several sets of bedding plants, a rather lovely blue scarf, free cups of tea & coffee, and £10 worth of credit to use on train travel, among other things. A certain well known supermarket beginning with the letter after S in the alphabet have also regularly given us vouchers for extra clubcard points when we "buy" the paper from them - and of course those 40 extra points, when used on deals, become £1.60 worth of fun and frolics!
There are other easy & cheap ways of cheering up your life. Got any old part-tins of paint lying about? Why not repaint a room, or if there's not enough paint for that, create a feature wall? OR, if there's not enough paint for THAT, spruce up a bit of furniture? Ideally if painting a bathroom you should use "kitchen and bathrooms" paint, as it's more resistant to damp, and cleans more easily, but if you only have ordinary, well, it will still work OK, it'll just look a bit more tired, more quickly, so you'll have to change colour again! Old padded-seat dining chairs can be given a new lease of life by re-upholstering, and if you already have fabric lying about that will only cost you the price of the foam for the seat pads. Even just decluttering can help make your rooms feel lighter, more cheery, and nicer to live in - why not set yourself a challenge to declutter 5 items a day, for a week, and see how you go? Best of all, it won't cost you a penny!