We spent 10s of thousands of dollars buying a house and the hits just keep on coming.
The past few months have felt like our bank account is “bleeding money”.
Since this isn’t our first house, I’m not completely surprised, but it’s hard to manage the cash we have with all of the projects that need to happen (or that we want to happen).
Since we aren’t willing to go into debt on house projects, it takes thoughtfulness and self-control to prioritize what needs to get done.
The Most Effective Way to Fix Your House on a Tight Budget
Limited money means you have to set priorities. To fix a house on a tight budget means making choices.
If you don’t prioritize, you won’t have enough money to go around, which either means (1) going into debt to finish projects or (2) having a bunch of unfinished projects.
Mind Map it ALL
We have so many plans and ideas for our house. To figure out what the most important things are, I created a mind map (I used a free mind map app). You could also just make a huge list.
Either way, write it ALL down. Every idea, project, room to paint, purchase to make…
Once it’s all out of your head and written down, you’ll be able to figure out what’s most important and what order will make the most sense.
Assess the Money You Have Available
Now that you can see all that you’d like to do, take a look at your finances.
Do you have a chunk of money to work with right away or will you be setting aside a certain amount each month? Based on your mind map, you may decide that you need to save a larger amount each month than you had previously planned.
When we bought our house, we were planning on using a chunk of money to do some necessary projects. Now that those things are done, we’re saving a little each month towards the next project.
#1 – Safety & Structural Concerns
So you’ve got a huge list of projects and you know how much money you have to work with. This is where it comes down to priorities.
Anything on your list that is a major safety or structural concern for the house has to come first.
These tasks usually aren’t anything all that fun or exiting, unfortunately. However, it doesn’t matter how great the paint color or new furniture is if the roof is going to leak and ruin it all. If you can’t safely live in your house, the rest doesn’t matter.
Some of the first things we took care of were changing the locks and repairing holes in the fence so that Mozzie can safely explore his yard.
#2 – What Will Make the Biggest Difference
After your home is safe and structurally sound, your priorities can shift towards whatever will make the biggest difference in your day to day life.
Painting the walls can quickly change how a room feels and will make a big difference. If your kitchen is a disaster, it might be worth it to save up for some major improvements.
We made a few big purchases after making sure we could take care of priority #1 tasks. We bought a washer and dryer and a couch because we didn’t have those things. (We ordered our washer and dryer online and got cash back through Ebates. Don’t forget to check Ebates whenever you order anything online! It’s basically free money 🙂 )
Being able to do laundry and have a comfy place to sit at home makes a huge difference in our day to day lives.
#3 – Preference & Money
The final stage is to choose projects based on your personal preference and as you have the money.
We’d like to redo the backsplash in our kitchen at some point. It’s not a top priority, but we’ll get to it eventually. We’d also like to turn the half bath in our basement into a full bath that’s a little less “rustic” so that guests can comfortable stay down there.
When you don’t have much to spend, it’s important to prioritize your house projects so that you get the most bang for your buck.
If you start by writing down every potential project, you’ll be able to see what is a safety or structural concern. From there you can decide what will make the biggest difference for you as you have the cash to do so.
Having a house that you love and feel comfortable in is important, but it’s not worth going into debt for. If you prioritize your projects, you’ll get it all done without putting stress on your financial situation.