Remodeled kitchen

Battling With Your Budget

Home improvement projects always start with the best intentions, and many times, end up draining your pocketbook and peace of mind. Before you launch your next undertaking, see how easy it is to save by planning ahead and being creative with your budget.

Tip: Whether you’re updating the decor in one room or going for a total remodel, costs can add up quickly. No matter the size of your project, keep up with costs as you go. Don’t wait till the end for a drum-rolling "grand total" -- it will undoubtedly be grander than you ever imagined.

Updated bathroom
Jean Allsopp

1. Splurge Before Selling

Budget buster: "We’ve finally decided to put our house on the market, but there’s some work to be done before the sign goes in the front yard. I’m thinking new appliances, new flooring, new furniture..."

Breathe easy: Time out. We understand you want to get your home ready to sell, but with an outrageous wish list, you won’t have any funds to buy your new home. So, start with the kitchen and bathrooms -- these are key selling points that buyers will be picking apart. And spruce up your curb appeal with a freshly painted front door and colorful plants to greet potential buyers. After all, this is the first and last part of your home that they will see.


Slipcovered furniture
Timothy Street-Porter

2. Furniture Frustrations

Budget buster: "Between the dogs and the kids, our furniture has been through the ringer. We don’t really have the money to buy new furniture, but what else are we supposed to do?"

Breathe easy: Before you leave your furniture for curbside pickup, consider the options. One easy way to give your pieces a new look is by reupholstering. Just with a change of fabric, that worn-out chair hiding in the guest room can be the star of your living room.

But our foolproof, money-saving solution has to be slipcovers. They are easy to change out, and you can have them made in stain-resistant fabric so that they’re kid and pet friendly. Problem solved!


Recovered dining room chair
Becky Luigart-Stayner

3. Neighborhood Rivals

Budget buster: "My friend down the street just redecorated her entire home from top to bottom, and it looks amazing! Everything is brand new, and between you and me, I’m so jealous. I can’t have anyone over to our place until I do something just as lovely."

Breathe easy: This game of Keeping Up With the Joneses is a longtime battle that can get you in serious money trouble if you’re not careful. What's more, if you didn’t budget for large purchases, it’s best to stay away from them.

Still want to redecorate? Hold a yard sale to purge those items you no longer want, and then take some time to scope out local flea markets, Craigslist, and even your own home for treasures. With a little creativity, you can have beautiful, customized pieces that will make your home the envy of the neighborhood.

Painted floor detail

4. Flooring Matters

Budget buster: "I love our hardwood floors, but at this point, they look like the Kentucky Derby was run in our home. I guess it’s time for all new flooring, but isn’t that pricey?"

Breathe easy: Whoa, horsey! Before you go tearing up your precious hardwoods, there is hope for them. Painting your floors is an easy, far less expensive way to instantly update your flooring -- and pump it with personality! Try stripes, patterns, or a touch of color for a new look.


Homestead Preserve
Tria Giovan and Erik Kvalsvik

5. Contractor Issues

Budget buster: "It was just supposed to be a simple remodel, but we’ve hired and fired multiple contractors, and I’m still not happy with the project. I think every crew in town’s been through our house -- and our budget."

Breathe easy: It’s time for a reality check: Not all contractors were created equal. They each have different certifications, specialties, and backgrounds. For instance, one may specialize in small residential remodels while another only focuses on building homes. Before you choose your contractor, do your homework. Interview multiple potential candidates, and ask for the names and numbers of past clients for referrals. For a list of conversation starters, check out the top 10 questions you should ask your contractor.

Saving money

6. Spending To Save

Budget buster: "My New Year’s resolution was to get my life back in order. I bought every DVD I saw on infomercials about financial planning, got several books on organization, and even went shopping for storage bins, dividers, and. . . wait, why’s my credit card statement so high?"

Breather easy: Let’s think about this for a second. Getting your life in order is fabulous, but like any important mission if life, it’s essential to have game plan. Instead of trying to organize every aspect at once, start with the most important, like managing your finances. Taking on one task at a time will make the end result more attainable. And for heaven’s sake, put the credit card away!

Reesa Berkstresser, John O'Hagan

7. Handyman Breakup

Budget buster: "Our handyman has been at the house so much lately, my kids think he’s a long-lost uncle. There are just so many little improvements that need to be done. Who would tackle them if he doesn’t?"

Breathe easy: Take a cue from Rosie the Riveter -- you can do it! In one weekend, you can make a trip to the home improvement store, gather materials, and finish a small repair or update. Better yet, you’ll save lots of cash by doing the work yourself. Don’t know where to start? Try one of our popular home improvement ideas such as painting a room. And before you head to the store, calculate your materials so that there’s no overbuying or overspending.

By Dawn Williams, Associate Editor

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