Home Improvements on a Budget

At our recent Home Improvement on a Budget and the Mortgage Market Seminar, attendees learned about today’s mortgage market, information on our home improvement loan and home improvement tips on budget. Below are a few home improvement tips that were presented that can help you get the most out of your budget during your home improvement period.

Maximize Your Decorating Budget:

What’s the dirtiest word in decorating? That’s right: budget. Whether you have just a few $100 for a room makeover, or tens of thousands, you’ll need to plan carefully and make tough choices to meet your bottom line.

1. Make a design wish list: Give your imagination free reign. Write down everything you’d like to do and buy – be specific. Although you’re indulging in a bit of fantasy, don’t forget to include the practical stuff that needs to be fixed, upgraded and purchased.

2. Determine your actual budget: Be brutally honest here: Take a look at your monthly inflows and outflows, as well as any funds you’ve set aside for rainy day projects, and see how much you realistically have to spend. If the money just isn’t there, it might make sense to put off your project while you set a savings goal, rather than maxing out your credit card.

3. Familiarize yourself with price tags: Before you draft an itemized budget, hit the stores, catalogs and Internet to research how much the items on your wish list will cost. If it’s been a few years since you’ve decorated — or if this is your first major home project — expect some sticker shock. Couches, for example, can range from a few $100 to $1000+, so price out sofas that meet your style, quality and comfort standards.

4. Prioritize your purchases and labor: Start itemizing with your decorating wish list, real costs and your total budget in front of you. If you have a whole home to decorate, decide if you need to tackle the project by room or category: furniture first, then window treatments, etc.

5. Keep common budget busters in mind: Just as you would with a remodeling budget, tuck away 10 to 15 percent of your total for unexpected expenses. If, you’ve set aside $5,000 to create a bedroom sanctuary, do your best to draft an initial budget that tops out at $4,250. That way, you’ll have money in reserve to pay an electrician when it turns out that hanging the bedroom chandelier isn’t a simple matter. Other common errors and oversights that can break the budget are impulse buys, freight and delivery charges, and supplies.

6. Phase it in: Unless your budget is unlimited, you may not be able to do everything right away. But don’t lose heart — you can spread out the expense by making a long-range plan and implementing your design in phases, as time and money allow. Designers tend to tackle jobs in this order: backgrounds and surfaces (ceilings, walls, floors), buildables (built-in shelving), furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories – take your time to do it right!

Some Other Home Improvement Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Re-paint a room: A great way to spruce up a room for cheap with the most dramatic result.
  • Do-It-Yourself: Use Pinterest.com and get some crafty inspiration and don’t be afraid to paint and do flooring yourself – try something new!
  • Call in friends & family: Why pay for workers when you have family & friends (Just don’t forget to feed them lunch)!
  • Shop secondhand stores: Great way to find unique and inexpensive pieces that you can easily fix up or paint.
  • Wait for sales & discounts: Wait to find what you really want at a price you’ll really love.
  • Sew your own linens: Don’t be afraid to get a little “Martha Stewart” and sew your own window treatments and linens.
  • Reuse items you already have: Be imaginative and find ways to reuse décor – slipcovers and new hardware do wonders!

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