PETS

PETS

One of the biggest issues people have with pets is not having the time or energy to give them mental and physical exercise, said celebrity pet expert Andrea Arden. That's why people use dog walkers and dog day camps.

She suggests pet owners purchase stuffable food toys and place them around the house, so the dog will have to exercise to get its food. Puzzle toys also provide great mental exercise.

To avoid paying for a kennel or a pet sitter, organize a pet-sitting co-op with friends and neighbors, suggests pet expert and animal behaviorist Harrison Forbes. Save on grooming costs by learning how to brush, bathe and clip your dog's nails at home.

"Even brushing your dog for less than a minute per day can help eliminate the need for regular trips to the groomer," he said.

You don't have to hire a professional designer or purchase new furniture to spruce up your home, says home design expert Lauri Ward, president of Redecorate.com. Something as simple as clearing floor clutter can make any room feel less chaotic.

Flanking a sofa with a pair of end tables and a matching pair of lamps will make a living room or family room more balanced and pulled together, suggested Ward. And using one rug to anchor the room while leaving the floor in the other areas bare will make the whole space feel larger and less choppy, she said.

Ward's other tips: pot all plants in one material, leave one wall bare in every room, turn an L-shaped conversation area into a U shape by adding a chair or two, and use armless chairs in the dining room. (Armchairs take up a lot of space.)

If you want to add a punch of color on the cheap, purchase a pair of new accent pillows that pick up a pretty color from a rug, fabric or artwork.

— By The Associated Press