One of the “perks” of home ownership is the responsibility for repairs and improvement. On the one hand, this can be great, because you have control over what you do. The colors are all your choice, the styles are uniquely yours. On the other hand, though, you can’t just call your landlord to come fix things when they break. Home improvement can be a costly endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little creativity and of course elbow grease, you can make your home into a more pleasant retreat without spending your last dollar.

DIY Solutions

The least expensive option for home improvement is to simply do it yourself. There are so many DIY shows, websites, books, and classes that you could probably learn how to do everything you ever need to know. There are no contractors to hire, no hidden fees, and you can have complete creative control. On the down side, most people don’t know how to refit plumbing or work with electricity safely. It’s easy to lose steam, too, resulting in half-finished projects that never go anywhere. If you think DIY is right for you, start with a small project, such as replacing the kitchen faucet or installing a vanity mirror. Work your way up to the bigger projects little by little, and recruit your friends and family to help you. Look for how-to courses at your local home improvement and hardware stores, and do your research about tools before you buy.

Recycled Items

Recycling is a huge industry these days. But it’s not just about taking paper, plastic, and glass and making something new. Many cities have a home improvement recycling program in which cabinetry, windows, doors, and more are carefully removed from their old settings and resold at a fraction of the cost. Often, the base cabinets simply need a coat of paint or new hardware to be updated, and you have the extra benefit of being eco-friendly. This works incredibly well with vintage homes but can help add warmth to modern ones, too. For furnishings, sites like Craigslist and Freecycle can help you score the perfect piece for far less than you’d pay at a store. Adventurous and crafty people can even try re-upholstering furniture that has good bones but might need an updated look.


Sometimes you need to do a project that simply must have a big budget. Maybe you need major structural work or the job calls for a skill you don’t have access to otherwise. At that point, a¬†mortgage refinance¬†might help you save some money and even put some cash back into your pocket. Talk to your lender or a mortgage broker about your options. Depending on many factors such as the age of your home, the length of time you’ve owned it, the amount you’ve paid for it already and the estimated value on the market, you might not only reduce your interest rate, but some homeowners are even eligible for refunds. At very least, it will save you some money each month that you can put toward improvements.

Melissa Batai

Melissa Batai

Melissa, a mom to three little ones (ages 7, 3 and 1), blogs at both Mom’s Plans where she writes about living a fulfilling life on less and paying down debt, and Fiscal Phoenix where she writes about rising from the ashes of your financial mistakes.