How-To - Home Improvement

Easy around-the-house projects on a budget

Learn how to budget for around-the-house projects that will improve your home’s look and function.

We get it: you want to feather your nest, but you don't want to threaten your nest egg. In this economy, it makes perfect sense. Fortunately, you can budget for remodeling projects that will improve your home's look and function – if you're willing to give something else up. No, not your retirement savings or your kid's RESP, silly!

Just trade some icing for the cake: give up a few of your regular frills and cut back, pack from home, or do without for a bit, until your project's paid for. Who knows, you may make saving a habit and find yourself stashing more than ever into your rainy day fund once you’ve paid for your decorating improvement(s)!

Read on for instant updates that can freshen up your home fast, with payment strategies that won’t break the bank.

Project 1: A pair of porch planters, approx $60, based on standard seasonal arrangements in resin urns, available at garden centres and large supermarkets.

Why: Curb appeal is what makes people feel welcome upon approaching your home. A duo of blooming porch planters creates instant appeal.

How: Turn your workday latte habit into an every-other-day latte habit, by rotating between Starbucks and (sigh) office coffee. By halving your premium java habit, you’ll save approx. $10 per week, paying for your planters in 6 weeks. Best part: you’ll enjoy your lattes more when you do have 'em!

Project 2: Hauling a bunch of junk out of your basement, attic, garage etc, approx. $400 based on one small truckload from 1-800-Got-Junk.

Why: Getting rid of useless clutter (mold- and mildew-covered items, broken things you’ll never fix, old mattresses or furniture in unsalvageable condition, boxes and bags of "mystery clutter", etc) liberates your storage spaces and makes your property both more functional, and, if you plan to put it on the market in the future, more open-house friendly.

How: Leave your car at home and walk, blade or bike to work while the weather cooperates. Your junk removal will have paid for itself before the summer's over, and your $10/day parking savings will leave you healthier and possibly leaner, too!

Project 3: Basic IKEA-issue, non-designer nursery (crib, dresser with change pad, tub chair, area rug, paint), approx. $500.

Why: You're expecting – congratulations! There's no need to go nuts (your preschooler will be clamouring for a "big kid room" makeover in no time, anyway), but you will want some basic amenities and a pleasant retreat for your little one.

How: Go cheap on your maternity clothes (and in solidarity demand the dad-to-be also cool it on the clothing shopping). Although there's great designer maternity wear on the market, if you can get away with it, there's no reason not to stick to comfy jersey maternity pants, leggings, skirts, dresses, and even non-maternity oversize tees from the moment you start showing, 'til the moment you’re ready to pop! Save even more by buying used maternity clothing online.

Photo courtesy of The Home Depot.

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