One thing the pandemic had all of us reevaluating was our living spaces. Being home for months on end led many of us to reassess our homes and tally up a to-do list of projects. We saw every crack in the wall, took note of leaky faucets, and even thought about adding on a home office. But tackling these home improvement projects takes time, and they simply may not have become a priority when the world spun out of control. If you’re finally ready to take on your list, this article is for you.
You may be planning to spruce up your bathroom, remodel your kitchen, or add on to your house for more space. Whatever your plans, costs for home projects can add up quickly.
Even if you go in with a saver’s mindset, it’s easy to spend extra here and there for upgrades. Not to mention, disruptions to the supply chain and high demand for building materials have made items more expensive and wait times longer. We can’t fix the current economy, but we can suggest practical tips to budget better and save money on your home improvement projects.
1. Make a Realistic Plan
No matter your end goal, the first step is making a realistic plan and a priorities list. Some items may need to wait for now. Your list may make itself; for instance, if your toilet has stopped working, that repair will be number one on your list. Once you’ve set your priorities, get estimates for what each item will cost to upgrade. Research costs online or call up contractors for an estimate if needed.
You may have sticker shock when you see some of the prices, so you’ll want to create a budget plan next. Look at your finances, then determine what you are willing to spend without straining your budget in other areas. Create a savings account just for your home improvement projects. That way, you’ll know exactly how much money you have and so won’t go into debt during the process.
If saving up is hard for you, look for automated ways to save. For example, some debit cards make it seamless to save money with an automatic savings capability. Simply specify the amount to set aside from your monthly or biweekly paycheck, and the funds will be transferred automatically from checking to savings. Some cards also offer round-up savings, which will send extra change from every purchase into your savings account.
2. Determine Wants Versus Needs
Remember “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”? Goldilocks was arguably a picky person when it came to what she liked. You can choose to have a Goldilocks mindset when it comes to your home projects. Every project, both big and small, will have hundreds of options. Some options will be on the cheaper side, and others will be extravagantly expensive. Decide what on your list is a want (e.g., heated floors, soft-close cabinets) and what is a need (e.g., security system, functioning HVAC).
This division can be tricky, and you might find that most of your project to-dos are wants rather than needs. That’s all right. Just know that you need to budget accordingly and will need to prioritize the needs over the wants. Separating your projects into smaller chunks can be easier on your wallet, too. You’ll see just how much you’re spending and how much you need to keep saving.
3. Be Sustainably Smart
Being smart about the kinds of materials you are using may help you save money. Reusing materials is great for the environment and your budget. You can source salvaged materials for your project, which also allows you to add some character to your projects. For example, say you find a great piece of marble at an estate sale. You can remember the fun of sourcing it every time you sit at your new countertop.
Of course, some items will need to be purchased new; in that case, try to select the most sustainable option. A programmable thermostat will increase efficiency and help save you energy in the long run. A tankless water heater will provide on-demand hot water so you aren’t wasting as much water.
Choosing sustainable options may take a good chunk out of your budget as these items tend to cost more upfront. However, with a cost analysis, you’ll likely find these options will help you save more over time.
4. Do It Yourself
Depending on your personality, this will either be your favorite or most dreaded tip! Doing it yourself will be more cost-effective and will allow you to have full control of the outcome. If DIY scares you, look to the internet. There are millions of YouTube videos that can walk you through fixing, replacing, or upgrading just about anything. And Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration and learning as you dream up your ideal, customized finished project.
Of course, you may need to enlist help for some projects. Ask your family or friends for recommendations for contractors. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get reliable and reasonably priced assistance. Ask contractors if they can provide a discount if you provide the materials or are flexible with project timing. It never hurts to ask, especially where your budget is concerned!
Tackling your home improvement list should be enjoyable, not stressful. Go in with a plan, and stick with it. Remember that not everything will go to plan, so budget accordingly so you can rest easy in your upgraded home.