10 Easy Budget-Friendly Home Improvements

Springtime is a wonderful season where millions of Americans spend money to make their home a better place to be. Whether that’s cleaning things up in anticipation of selling it, or just making home more enjoyable, rent or own, home improvement spending may exceed $400 billion this year. Making home improvements without breaking the bank is an art form. Here’s a list of ten to help inspire you this spring makeover season.
1. Plant flowers and herbs. Flower and herb boxes can add terrific color, are easily portable, and at roughly $20-$25 for each one, are a very inexpensive way to brighten your space in just an afternoon. Plus, if you’re like me and have herb boxes, you may get the benefit of fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, or hot oregano to cook with throughout the spring and summer.
2. Paint, paint, paint! A freshly painted room or freshly painted cabinets look and smell clean and updated. If you’re trying to sell your home, neutral colors make it easier for homebuyers to “see” all the space you have and imagine more easily how they would make the space “theirs.” Just make sure to not skimp on the tools of the trade – brushes, rollers, drop cloths, and plenty of painter’s tape!
3. Declutter your space, giving thanks and saying goodbye to stuff. Take a day or a weekend and apply some Marie Kondo muscle to your space, distilling what is most important for you to keep and saying goodbye to the rest. I can speak from personal experience just how liberating it is to declutter your home. Check out a copy of “the life-changing magic of tidying up” from your local library for some free expert guidance on how to think about this project.
4. Add wood accents and DIY trim to your space. Just adding some wooden feet to a cabinet or trim to windows or a bathroom mirror can really make your space feel fancy without taking extravagant tools (or money) to knock out in a weekend.
5. Supercharge your savings with energy efficiency! According to ENERGYSTAR, replacing your five most used light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs can save you up to $60 a year and last 6-8 times longer than conventional light bulbs. A programmable thermostat can cycle through temperature settings at different times of day depending on whether you are home or away, saving you up to $150 a year. Even just buying a few power strips to help turn off systems of electronic devices when not in use can save you $60 a year. You can improve your home and your wallet with some of these ideas!
6. Show your deep roots by planting trees. Trees are an inexpensive way to provide a buffer from road noise, nosy neighbors, and depending on the specimen of the tree can eventually add substantial value to your property. Shade trees also cool off areas of your property and home, potentially lowering your energy costs – just make sure your tree is properly placed so the tree doesn’t try to root itself in your house’s foundation.
7. Scrub your home top to bottom. Touch up scuffs on walls, scrub the tile, vacuum the floors, and put some elbow grease into degreasing the kitchen and grill. You’ll get a great workout (your core will feel it) and you’ll love the restored ordered and freshness of an organized, clean space to live and work. Consider a garage or community sale for items you don’t need anymore, or donating them to a local charity to free up space and reduce clutter.
8. Swap out handles/knobs on cabinets. Adding new handles, as small as they may seem, can really draw out new elements to your existing hardware and upscale your entire home without swapping out your cabinets (which is far more expensive). If you are preparing your home to sell, smart decisions here can help avert a major turnoff that keeps your space from selling.
9. Remove doors on upper cabinets for instant shelving. Removing the doors and painting the interiors of the cabinets can create unique visual textures with open shelving.
10. Garage sales for creative accents. If you love to dive for a discount, you can find some really unique items that can be repurposed as artwork or functional pieces for your home. Old crates can make a rustic coffee table. An easel can be used to mount a small TV in the kitchen on. Old shutters can create a wall feature. Even sprucing up a bathroom corner or a mantle with vintage bottles can liven your space and perhaps even provoke some interesting conversation (especially if your items have some backstory attached to them).
11. BONUS! Do a Spring Cleaning of your Spending. You just got done filing taxes, so why not sit down for an hour and look through the banking and credit card accounts. Is there money that you spent that you wish you hadn’t? Think about what money you wish you had back, and what led to you spending that money to begin with. Was it a want or a need? If it wasn’t a need, how can you avoid making that same mistake in the future? Spending a little time tackling these questions can lead to making better choices that save you money.

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