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Home Improvement Budget Tips

Updated: Apr 6

Follow this guide for easy home improvement tips on a budget so you can finally ditch those old kitchen cabinets!

Toolbox and buckets

So you’re finally ready to ditch your old kitchen cabinets? Here’s how to do it without spending all of your savings.

Shows on HGTV make home improvements look simple. In one 30-minute episode, an outdated kitchen is completely transformed into a new unrecognizable space with a sparkling farmhouse sink and cream colored cabinets.

Although considered reality television, these programs can be far from the reality experienced by most homeowners undertaking home improvements. Renovations require research and planning to ensure projects are completed on a timely basis, with care, and on budget.

First thing’s first

Before you dig into your new house project, take a hot second to make sure your finances are in tip-top shape. After all, we’re all wondering where that next dollar goes. If you have some extra cash this quarter, do you put it toward your retirement savings? Or, do you pay more heavily into your mortgage payment or your credit card debt? What about your kids’ college savings plans?! Before you kick off Demo Day, pop into the Pocketnest app and get your financial plan set up. From there, we’ll help you determine if putting extra cash toward your home makeover is the best next step. (Don’t worry! We won’t tell you NOT to do anything. Instead, we might suggest if it’s best to wait a couple of months until you put a solid dent into that credit card debt.)

Let’s get started!

Now that your budget buckets are set and you know where that next dollar should go, we’ve compiled some easy home improvement tips to stay on a budget—and get the best bang for your buck.

Make a list

With so many pins on your Pinterest renovation board it can be hard to choose which project to tackle first. What’s our solution? Create a list ranking the projects.

Be sure to factor in…

1. Return on investment

Figure out which project will give you the largest ROI. You want to add value to your home. Especially if you plan on moving within a few years following the renovation. If you need help, reach out to a local real estate agent. They will be able to give you insight on what renovations will make you the most (or any!) money down the line.

2. Your happiness

This is your home! It is supposed to be a space you are proud to call your own. If one renovation project will make you happier than another, that is definitely a factor that should play into your decision.

3. Changes to your family situation

If the family is likely to get larger, then a new bathroom might have more value than a home gym. Or maybe the home gym is more valuable. You have to decide that, but you should be thinking about what makes sense now and in the near future.

Create a realistic budget

When creating a budget, try to avoid over-renovating. If your house is worth $250,000, spending $90,000 on a kitchen renovation may be a bit much. Also, spending more usually means you will see a smaller ROI. In an article by the Washington Post, Dan Diclerico, a smart-home expert for HomeAdvisor, says that kitchen renovations should cost between 5-15 percent of your home value; whereas, bathroom renovations should be between 3-6 percent of your home value. You should also be sure to include a 10 percent contingency in your budget. Generally speaking, projects cost a bit more than expected. Planning for a contingency in your the budget will give you a spending buffer.

Break it down

Once you have picked the project you want to tackle, it is time to capture all the expenses in a budget. The budget should include costs like materials, labor and the contingency we talked about before. This will take a bit of research. The budget is not going to be exact, but should reflect your best estimates. Most homeowners will see their budgets change over time as they refine costs and finalize plans.

Meet with multiple contractors

Before moving ahead with a home improvement project you should connect with multiple contractors. Try to meet with at least three. Just like Goldilocks, you are looking for the contractor that is just right for your renovation needs. Through this process you can also figure out the average price of similar projects in your local area. When considering contractors it is also important to weigh in the reviews and opinions of others. Ask to see their completed projects and make sure you talk to other homeowners who have worked with the contractor. While the initial low cost of one contractor may seem like a great deal, the price may start to make sense when you see the quality of the work.

Do not underestimate the power of a DIY

Labor is one of the most expensive parts of renovations and, by deciding to do that paint job yourself, you may save some serious cash. Hey, you can even do your own demolition and save money while also letting out some of your pent up anger from the workplace. It’s a win, win. But if it cannot be done yourself, leave it to the professionals.

Buy materials online

You can also save some money by purchasing materials online. But before placing an order get the necessary dimensions from your contractor first and make sure the product has a good warranty. When materials arrive, inspect the item(s) to confirm that they are as described before accepting the delivery.

Sales! Sales! Sales!

Shopping in the sale or clearance section of stores for materials like floor tiles is an extra way to save. Everyone loves a good bargain and there are probably a lot more good pieces hiding in the sale section than you'd think.

Keep in mind that renovating your home right now may cost a bit more as the prices of goods like lumber have risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Time to get started

The longer you take to plan your renovation the more likely you are to stay on budget. So do not rush your project. Wait until you feel confident in your contractor and in your budget. Trust us, the results will be more than worth it!

Ready to get started? Remember to pop into the Pocketnest app to make sure your finances are in tip-top shape before calling that contractor or picking up that hammer!


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