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By Paula Sirois -

It's so hard not to get caught up in the spring mania that hits every year, what with all those ads, commercials and articles about spring cleaning and planting, showers and flowers. It's tempting to jump in and spend a bunch of cash to make over yourself, your spouse and your home from head to toe. But what to do if the spring showers didn't rain extra cash upon you? Never fear! Here are three easy (and cheap) steps to freshen things up for spring:

Paint it: Nothing changes a room or mood of a house faster than a can of paint. Head to the closest paint or hardware store and spend some time checking out the many color options, and this time be gutsy. Tend to stay with neutrals? Try something bolder and brighter and watch how quickly you can transform your home from the cold winter blues to the hot spring hues. Be sure to check out the paints that others have blended and decided to not purchase. They are often marked down dramatically.

In and out: With the warmer weather and longer days, you'll want to spend more time outside. Hit the thrift stores and yard sales; with short money you can outfit an entire patio in a weekend. Matching is out now, so it doesn't matter if the tables and chairs didn't come as a set. Grab some spray paint in teal or yellow and spray some new life into the old seats. Set up some outdoor speakers, a big bucket of ice and cold drinks, and string up white holiday lights. Voila! You have created yourself an outdoor spring paradise.

Plant it: With a very small budget you can change the entire look of your yard by planting some colorful flowers. Visit a nursery or the garden center at a home improvement store to find plants, help and tips on what will work best in your area. Pick up some discarded flower boxes at yard sales, spray paint them and set them here and there to make your house sparkle.