Are you looking to make some improvements to the single biggest investment of your life – your home?
Like many people caught up in living the American Dream, we tend to want everything now. You don’t have to take a look at gloomy debt statistics to realize that Americans are buried in debt. As Dave Ramsey has noted, the material goods it took our great grandparents many years and sometimes a lifetime of saving to acquire, we have acquired by the time we are 30. Debt makes us feel like we can have things we really can’t, so we go and get them anyway.
We have payment plans for everything, and that even includes home improvement projects. My previous next door neighbor was always making improvements to her home, but something else she was always doing was complaining about being broke. She would explain to me that her credit card payments were eating her alive. I bet they were, because that’s what they do.
You want your home to look nice, I get it. That’s not an unreasonable wish, nor is it a bad thing to tackle. Improving your home, in the long term, can raise its value, not to mention, give you a nice place to rest your head. The problem usually is that people treat home improvement much like they treat everything else. They want it NOW!
I want a million dollars but I am not willing to risk my freedom by robbing a bank at gunpoint to get it. When you borrow money to fix your home — with the idea that your home will be worth more when you’re done — you have not taken into consideration the amount of interest you will pay to do so. Trust me when I tell you I’m no mathematician, but if you are paying interest on those improvements, doesn’t that fight against the increase you’re hoping to see on your home’s value?
Improve your home, but instead of risking your financial security and draining your wallet dry, take a step back and come up with a plan to do it wisely. Your wallet will love you for it!
Here are some tips you can use to improve your home, without going into debt to do so:
Do It On a Budget – One of the biggest problems people seem to make is spending more than they thought they would. With a well thought out plan, you can avoid this.
Make a “Home Improvement” To-do List – Make a list of everything you want to do to your home. Prioritize that list in a way that gives you the opportunity to knock out each project one step at a time. Pay attention to the next step, because although it doesn’t seem to be a popular one, it is the single best way to improve your home.
Start a Sinking Fund – “Please step away from the credit card! Place it on the ground and put your hands behind your head where I can see them!” Now, look at your to-do list and figure out how much each project will cost and how long it will take you to save up for each one. Start saving your money and fund your home improvement projects without debt. Now that’s a plan!
Shop for Deep Discounts – So many people head out to their favorite home improvement store and just buy whatever they have, without ever shopping around for the best bargain. Keep in mind, that if you are paying with cash money, you have a much higher chance of getting a deep discount. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!
Forget about the Joneses – When trying to make your home look nice, do it for yourself. Forget about the Joneses, because they most likely buried themselves in debt to make their house look that good. While you’re sitting on your paid for lawn furniture, on your paid for stone patio, drinking a margarita, while waiting for your dinner to finish cooking on your paid for grill, the Joneses will be at work so they can pay interest on their upgrades.
Home improvement doesn’t have to follow you around for years. Let it do for you what it was intended to do, which is, provide you with a beautiful living space and to raise the value of your investment, without all of the added stress that comes with paying for it with debt. If you can’t truly enjoy it, what was the point of even doing it?
What are your favorite tips for inexpensive home improvement? Please share them in the comments.
Brad Chaffee is a PerkStreet customer who authors Enemy of Debt, a place he passionately, but candidly, tackles the psychological issues related to our own habits and behaviors regarding money. Brad and his family crawled out from under $26,000 of debt and some major bad habits to become debt free in 20 months, and he believes that if they can do it, you can too! Aside from his blog, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.
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