Thrifty Painting Tips & no spend February

by | Feb 2, 2018 | All Things Home, Decorating, Painting & Refinishing, Tips and Tricks, Tutorials | 45 comments

I’ve put in a lot of miles on a paint brush and roller over the years and, during all of that painting, I’ve picked up a couple of small, money-saving tips.

First of all, it’s worth investing in sample pots of paint (about $5/each usually) to make sure you get the color right.  This is one of those things where you have to spend money to save money.  Ultimately, though, it’s better to spend $15-20 on samples than having to buy a whole other gallon if the color you just put all over your wall makes you want to cry.

(I’ve actually been there and did that very thing.  And I didn’t get a t-shirt.)

Painting the right color the first time is worth it.

If you’re going to use the same color again soon, wrap up the roller covers in cling wrap.  This will keep the roller ready to use for a few weeks!  I wrap it tightly (sometimes on the roller handle, sometimes not) and label it with the color (or room) and date I last used it.

It saves washing out the roller cover (which I hate doing) and it’s better than pitching it after one use.

I will also let the paint on plastic roller tray liners dry out, so I can just pour new paint over them.  This way, I can reuse roller tray liners many times over.

I also use old towels as drop cloths when I’m painting a room.  I found that I really don’t need to have a huge drop cloth, but I just need the floor covered right under where I am working.

I have a few drop cloths that I use when I’m painting furniture or ceilings, but if you don’t have any, there is not need to go out and buy one.  An old towel will work fine.

If you’re going to spend good money on quality paint and brushes, it’s nice to find a few places to pinch some pennies.

Aaaand, speaking of thrift, I am committing to a no-spend February.  I believe this concept was made popular by Dave Ramsey (or poor college students), but I’m not sure on that one.  Either way, I have been thinking of doing it for a while and February seems like a nice, quiet month to do it.

Now, I’m saying “I”, because I am doing it for my business.  Personally, we have a budget and are good at sticking to it (or moving money around from different categories to make everything balance each month.

With my business, though, it’s easy for me to be impulsive about supplies and photoshoot props and materials for projects.  It’s also easy to get sucked into newsletter sales, coupon codes, or “here’s the most amazing thing-you-need-to-buy” that you’re bombarded with when you’re on the computer a lot.  And, yes.  I realize I participate in that whole cycle as a blogger/influencer as well as an end user.

But, I’m not always good at telling myself no or to just wait. I sometimes find myself trolling for something to buy instead of combing my house to see if I already have something that will work.  I want to break that impulse and be even more intentional about every dollar I spend.

So, I will pay my bills and recurring financial obligations to keep everything running.  I can buy some thread and other small things if I need them to finish a project.  I can’t buy fabric for a new project, though.

Not only will this save me some money, but it will force me to work on the projects I already have materials for.  It will also encourage resourcefulness and creativity.

Now, I did make a few purchases in January that I’ll be sharing in February, but I won’t be buying anything new.  That’s the plan, anyway.  We’ll see how it goes!  I think it will be a great exercise!

Have you ever tried a no-spend month?



  1. Sharon

    Less is more, no doubt!

  2. downraspberrylane

    Love the paint tips. One thing I do similarly, but I think it’s cheaper, is to use plastic grocery bags over my rollers. Cling wrap can be a little pricey. I just tie the ends around the handle. I also will take two plastic grocery bags and put one over each end of the paint try (overlapping and tucking it around) when I am going to take a break or have to let a coat dry. I agree that buying the samples is well worth it…and I am a cheapskate!

  3. Sheila

    Doing No Spend February too – I feel like we really don’t spend excessively in general, but cutting out little things that are really not necessary. I lost my job (and my paid insurance) last week, and taxes will still have to be paid shortly. We’ll be okay, God is good, but it sure makes me realize how tenuous finances can be.

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m sorry to hear about the job loss! I lost a job as a tech recruiter years ago when the “tech bubble” burst and it was so stressful. I hope you can find a new situation at the perfect time (and one that is even better!)

    • Amy


      I just have to say….I admire your attitude and philosophy in the face of such an impactful event. Good for you.


  4. Sylvia

    Yes, there are many months where we do not spend any money other than paying bills and buying groceries. No clothing, shoes, makeup, books, home decor, etc. It isn’t hard with a household budget and adults. I don’t have a business or young children so that might be more difficult.

  5. Pamela

    i have done versions of no spend before. You have motivated me to do a no spend in some area of spending and Feb is a good month because it’s the shortest!! It really forces creativity to the surface like forcing winter branches to blossom.Today I needed a special card for a dear elderly friend of ours who isn’t long for this world and wanted to hand make it since years ago she and I and my mother in law would get together for card making. Unfortunately, when we moved recently I gave a young friend who teaches elementary school art free reign to my craft studio and so I was missing some items I needed. While at the store I almost just bought a card as it was easier but didn’t and went home to make a beautiful one from my supply stash. Best part was thinking of my friend all the while crafting the card just for her and how happy she will be remembering those good old days we spent together.

  6. Chrissy

    As a single person and with the obsession of not wanting to be “out of anything,” I find periodic “eating out of the cabinets” and freezer an important concept. I’m convinced that with using a little time and imagination, I could survive for at least two months or longer only going to the store for milk and eggs. That is with my current work schedule.

    • Mary Rickrich

      We are eating out of our pantry and freezer this month. I am terrible at inventory control and need to use up some things before they get too old. Am actually enjoying the challenge.

  7. B. Folk

    Yes, we have had many enforced no-spend months:-) Sheila, been there, and it will eventually get better, in God’s perfect timing. I do not say this glibly, as it was a hard road for me and my husband. We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the “debt tunnel”. God is good.
    Having just helped paint some of the interior of our church, I agree with all of Marian’s ideas (and the readers, too). Also, this may seem like a no-brainer, but: if not using paint for more than a day or two, mix it again, using a paddle attachment on a drill, before painting. If used unmixed, you may not realize that the new coat or touching-up is a different color until it dries. Then, you will have wasted time and paint. Also, this isn’t really a “thrifty tip”, but, dab a bit of the paint on the lid in a conspicuous spot, so you can easily see the color that’s in the can without having to remember what “Dried Rabbitbrush” or some such color looks like.

    • D.

      “Dried Rabbitbrush”!! Hee-hee You crack me up! Aren’t those names something?

  8. Heidi

    You have inspired me in so many ways over he years. When I first became aware of blogs I was pleasantly surprised. Shortly after this I stumbled across Miss Mustard Seed and I have been hooked ever since.

    Going to give no spend February a go. I have purchased some eye drops and I am committed to a family outing tomorrow. I had emptied my rInning away fund £900 and paid off my credit card balance in full so i think a small treat is appropriate and I have already promised my 12 year old son David, who rarely asks for anything.

    Good luck to all those who are also doing the no spend February!

  9. Amy

    Just yesterday I almost bought a shirt I don’t need. The feeling of not purchasing it was perhaps more thrilling than if I’d actually bought it at all. As I take a step back from all of my mindless and emotional consumption, I’m learning a lot about my taste, style and (interestingly) anxiety. An entire month of no spending would likely do me good. Since I haven’t bought anything at all in the month of February so far, I’m hopping on board. I do love a monthly challenge. Also, with regard to paint color, I am currently living in a house I thought would be painted a soft cream. It turned out yellow. While I can’t tackle repainting it anytime soon, your point about samples is spot-on, and I wish I’d thought of that before I committed to a choice. Live and learn, right?

  10. Patricia

    I use to do this every February when I had a young family. It helps that it is the shortest month (!) but it is also after the Christmas frenzy and paying any leftover Christmas bills. My husband was always pleasantly surprised and I felt like I had accomplished something. The trick was not to overspend in March but by then I could get what was needed and appreciated but not impulsively wanted.

  11. Denette

    I have been doing a Create, Not Collect thing lately. Not a real thing, something I made up. I do stained glass as one of my hobbies. I have purchased glass for several projects and also have some pretty glass I have purchased on impulse. I have quite a bit sitting around in a cupboard. I decided I needed to actually use what I have, after picking up some thrift store and closeout lanterns. So now I have 4 custom lanterns, a stained glass turtle panel, and I am working on something a friend asked me to make a couple years ago . Another friend saw my turtle panel and asked me to make one for her. All of these things will be made using what I already have in my home. It is nice to be making some space in my glass stash and making pretty things to enjoy and to share.

    • Diane

      Love that phrase “Create, Not Collect” 🙂 I need to remember that!

  12. Barb K

    I agree wholeheartedly about paint samples and also encourage people to buy paint decks (or fans)! I even carry one in my car! Prices vary, but I just bought a Benjamin Moore Classic Color deck for about $35 (we are at our Michigan cottage in my HUSBAND’S car). When I moved a few years back I received a coupon from the nearest BM retailer for a free one. Better than a few notepads!!! Enjoy your blog!

  13. teri

    I do “no spend February”, I got the idea from MSE forums years ago. it’s time to use up shampoo, bbq sauce and all the stuff pushed to the back of the shelf – and be creative. Saves that stuff going to waste, and saves some money too. I expect we’ll buy bread once the freezer is emptied, but it does have a nice decluttering effect.

  14. Susan

    I’ve never tried it but have always wanted to. Maybe I’ll jump on the band wagon even though we are a couple days in and I already bought a vintage thermos today 😬. Does that mean I can’t buy anything for my grandkids too…😂

  15. Carole

    I have been spending way too freely because of my computer scrolling. I do not need any more clothes, jewellery, antiques, or seasonal decor or makeup. Yet, packages are arriving way too frequently.( I can blame you for my Madewell leather purse that came yesterday) Love it!

    My spending isn’t putting us in jeopardy or wrecking the budget, it’s just not responsible. I have clothes I have not worn hanging with tags, enough makeup to doll up a chorus line, and tubs full of holiday decor. I am not a hoarder yet, but I certainly need to pause before hitting send.

    • Denice

      I could have written your exact response about myself! Feeling convicted..think I’ll join, too : )

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, exactly! My spending is always with cash and it’s not a “problem”, but I realize I’m buying things just because I like them and not necessarily because I need them. In some cases, I even have something very similar already! Ha, that Madewell purse is totally worth it, though! 🙂 I did think about that for a couple of months and waited for it to go on sale, so that showed some restraint!

  16. Cindy

    I needed to hear this. I am the world’s worst about buying something, because it’s a bargain, and not using it until 2-3 years down the road on a project. I am trying to make myself finish all my projects before I buy anything else! Easier said than done.

  17. Susan

    Love the color you painted your bedroom? What is the color?

    • Marian Parsons

      Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore

  18. Marlene Stephenson

    So you are looking at paint colors for your bedroom, yes i think samples are the best,colors today can dry and have so many under tones. That is what i am trying to do, less spending and getting rid of stuff i haven’t used in 2-3 yrs. Is your son feeling better, i hope so, have a nice weekend.

  19. monique

    Good idea, I think we all can do with a little bit less spending. And it is tax time now, always so unpleasant.
    I also roll my wet paint rollers very tightly with thin plastic and put a recycled plastic bag around it and leave the roller in the fridge. It helps keep the airtight paint from drying for a few days. I do this with my brushes too. And I brush off my tray tilting one of the tray corners into the paint bucket, less waste of paint and like you Marian the leftover paint dries, after a few usages, my metallic tray gets heavy. But doing so I do not wash and waste water and make a mess in a sink.
    Your drop cloth idea is a good and cheap way to protect the floor, plastic sheets are very slippery and dangerous.
    I often use layers of New York Times.Happy week end.

  20. Mah

    Well, guess I can’t make February no spend ! I have a new bathroom coming in Feb!!!!!! So I am spending every day!!!! Waited to long to stop now. I do most of the paint tips, it drives my husband crazy!

  21. Mary

    Hi Marian,
    Quick question. I love The historical or botanical bird picture that is your bedroom I think. Could you share where it came from?
    Mary Reeves

    • Marian Parsons

      It was from HomeGoods.

  22. Norma Rolader

    I admire you for this and great information and tips God bless and have a blessed weekend

  23. Robin W

    I love you but hope my husband doesn’t see your idea

    • Marian Parsons

      LOL! Not many men read my blog, so I think you’ll be safe!

  24. Jo

    Yes, I just was thinking yesterday that I needed a no-spend month. So reading this post was timely and welcome! It is nice to read that others are keeping an eye on spending as well.

    I have been trying to ‘shop my house’ for new decor items the last few months. Wow, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years! Lol! So I’m also downsizing my stash, including my project pieces waiting to be painted or upcycled.

    While I’m at it, just have to say how much I’m enjoying seeing everything you are doing with your home. It’s a beautiful reflection of you!

  25. Crystal

    after returning from a trip to Nashville last summer…..with a car LOAD of impulse purchases, getting home to find that I bought duplicates of vintage books I already owned, things I didn’t have a place for or, egads, didn’t really like once I got it in my home, I committed to a 30 day no shopping challenge the month of September. It worked out well for me, helped me reset my priorities and break my habit of buying impulsively. I’m not saying I don’t make a bad purchase anymore, even after considering something it may not really work in my home. But I no longer hang on to those things and during that 30 days I purged collections and enjoyed it so much I’ve made it part of my regular routine. My word of 2018 is “Intentional.” It’s worked wonders for me already. Enjoy your no spend February!

  26. Naomi Shelton

    Marian, I commend you on your plan for a no-spend February. And I am taking up the challenge to do the same. Being on-line every day and loving to look at eye-sweets makes it so tempting to buy little things. And several “little” things can easily turn into a BIG amount of money. So I thank you for the no-spend idea. I’ll let you know how well I succeed!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes!! I know lots of small shopping trips, picking up extra things while I’m out, buying things impulsively while cruising around online…it just all adds up!

  27. Wendy Y

    Yes I’m in! Once again your timing is perfect 😄. Not only do I have some goals to pay some things off by summer, but I am signing up for another one of my decorative finishing classes in April, this time way out of state, so I really need to be tighter on sticking to a budget than usual. Your post was just what I needed today to tell me I’m on the right track! Thanks again Marian! All the best to you 😊

  28. Peggy

    I needed this motivation… no spend February! I have fabric for an ottoman reupholster , window valance, kitchen cafe curtain, dust ruffle and those are just the projects I can immediately think of…’s time to stay home and sew. I’m going to work on a “to do” list for this month. Thanks for the inspiration. I know it will feel good to cross those things off the list by the end of the month.

  29. Maureen

    I’ve wanted to do a no spend month for a long time– maybe I should join you too! I am in the middle of a big remodel and have dozens of projects and all of the stuff to do them– I need to just finish some things and eat out of that freezer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. Pam from Maryland

    Kudos !! I am encouraged by the No Spend Month—- and will join the rest of you,, ,, your new home is coming together nicely ,,

  31. Ann

    I am loving your “no spend” February idea. With a new grandbaby (first one), I can impulse buy like crazy. Thinking ahead, I won’t be able to do this for each one. Better to give thought to purchases that are meaningful. Lots food for thought!

  32. Tanya

    I do this every year in January, and often again in October. January is easiest for me because the children all have new clothes and things to do after Christmas, and our freezer and pantry is often very full, so I limit grocery shopping as well. I often do it again in October. I’ve found that it really helps not only our finances, but also resets our ability to “make do” and appreciate the abundance we have. It’s also a great time to get to unfinished projects when the lure of something new isn’t tempting me. Can’t wait to hear how your month goes!

  33. Tori

    Marian, I actually line my paint tray with Press-n-Seal. When I’m done, I just peel it off and toss; with the exception of a spot here or there, the tray is clean. I also use it to wrap rollers, as you’ve shown here. Anything to minimize cleanup! 😀

  34. Leslie

    It is a running battle in our house – paint equipment cleanup. While I love the fact that hubbie does a perfect job in cleaning brushes , rollers and trays – I prefer he waits till the project is done. In between I wrap trays and rollers. As long as you eliminate as much air as possible, I have had great results. The same holds true for brushes. The simplest is to use a sandwich bag to cover the brush end, roll plastic bag to have air eliminated and secure with an elastic band. The thinner plastic of the disposable bags adheres to the paint bristles and is more economical to dispose of after you are done.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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