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October 22, 2019

 

With the Christmas season approaching, you may be thinking about sprucing up your home in anticipation of the holiday parties you will be hosting. As a responsible homeowner, it’s important to spend within your means. If renovations are not within your financial reach this year, we suggest identifying smaller projects that are more financially feasible but can still go a long way to transform your home. We’ve compiled some of our favourite budget-conscious home improvement projects below.

Instead of repainting everything…
Pick a specific room or try an accent wall or cupboard!
Adding a new coat of paint can brighten up the space significantly. You can freshen up stained or dingy walls and take it another level by adding a fresh pop of colour as well. For instance, changing the colour of your kitchen cupboards or adding an accent wall can add personality and warmth.

Instead of building new storage…
Add organization to your cabinets!
Whether it be clothing closets or kitchen cupboards, adding organization and getting rid of clutter transforms this storage space completely. Start by taking stock of what’s stored in these areas and get rid of items you don’t need. Once you identify the items you really want to hold onto, sort them into similar categories and display them neatly with sectional containers, hooks or hangers. Instead of building more storage, this re-organisation would show you that you had more space than you realized!

Instead of redecorating…
Add crown moulding!
The addition of decorative moulding brings not only a more elegant finish but also adds value to your home. Start by learning about which crown moulding might be most suited to your space, for instance, some architects recommend that crown moulding be no more than 6 inches in height if a room has 8-foot ceilings. If you’re keen for a handy DIY project, you can also consider carrying out the installation yourself.

Instead of bathroom renovations…
Revive your bathroom with new caulk!
Get rid of old, discoloured and brittle bathroom caulk and replace with a fresh application. Not only is this a practical choice, as new caulk helps prevent mould and mildew, but it also provides a nifty facelift.

Instead of purchasing new furniture…
Revive your couch and cushions!
If your couch and cushions are sagging after years of use, give them new life by re-stuffing them.

Instead of exterior remodeling…
Refresh your entryway!

Your home’s entrance creates a first impression to anyone visiting and improves the appeal for future buyers. Consider repainting your door and adding new door finishings like a stylish knob or handle. You can also add foliage, from potted greens to planted flowers. Other touches like installing a new house number and outdoor lighting can also go a long way.

Sources:
https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/25-home-improvement-ideas-under-150/?slide=slide_5238efbc-4764-4c3d-b0fb-786af82edf57#slide_5238efbc-4764-4c3d-b0fb-786af82edf57

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/21-quick-and-easy-budget-upgrades

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/crown-molding-ideas-cost-images-257818

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/decorating/10-budget-updates-and-easy-cosmetic-fixes-pictures

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September 30, 2019

Saving is one of the most powerful budget-friendly habits you can practise, especially from a young age. Whether it’s saving for a down payment for your first home, working to reduce existing debt or putting aside funds for a rainy day – consistently saving money gets you closer to your financial goals. To help you get on track with positive saving practices, we’ve compiled 20 helpful tips below.

 

  1. Pay yourself first. Set up a standing order to automatically put aside a percentage of your pay cheque; 10% is a great amount to start with. Setting this aside first means you won’t be tempted to spend it.
  2. Have a separate account for your savings. Putting your savings into its own account keeps it separate from the account that you use to do transactions, so you won’t accidentally spend it. You can even talk to your bank about creating multiple savings accounts dedicated to specific goals (e.g. retirement, children’s education, emergency fund, etc.).
  3. Make a budget and stick to it as best as you can. Having a clear limit on how much you can spend per month on expenses like eating out, entertaining and shopping can keep you in check.
  4. Find additional sources of income by capitalising on your hobbies and skills (e.g. baking, babysitting, helping neighbours with odd jobs, etc.). Instead of spending your additional income, allocate it to your savings.
  5. Cut out unnecessary expenses. Always evaluate the necessity of an expense before spending your money. Do you really need an extra pair of shoes or to eat out as frequently? Practise cutting back and save the money instead.
  6. Reduce your bills by being more aware and diligent. For example, turn off the lights when it’s not being used, switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, pay your bills on time to avoid paying late fees, and in the dry season, hang your clothes outside to dry instead of using an electric dryer.
  7. Sort through your closets and cupboards and sell the items that you no longer want and need. You’d be surprised at how much money you had sitting around gathering dust.
  8. Make a shopping list before going to the grocery store and don’t stray from it. Stay focused and don’t pick up any items that you didn’t intend to buy.
  9. Start a home garden to grow your own herbs and veggies. You’ll have fresher ingredients and won’t feel like you’re throwing your money away when produce goes bad.
  10. Practice the 30-day rule: Wait 30 days before making any non-essential purchases to ensure you really want that item. If 30 days pass and you still want it, then buy it. Most times, with time, you may find that the urge to buy fades away.
  11. Go for quality items versus things that won’t last. E.g. investing in energy-efficient appliances up front make all the difference in the long run.
  12. Prepare and pack lunch from home rather than buying out.
  13. Find free events and activities for the family such as a picnic at the Savannah, a fun hike or an outing to the library.
  14. Maintain your car and home regularly so that things are less likely to break down. Maintenance costs are much more manageable and predictable than emergency costs.
  15. Brainstorm money-saving ideas with your friends and get them involved so you can have a support system and develop better habits together.
  16. Keep an eye out for discounts and sales to take advantage of great deals. Don’t pass up on discounts on non-perishable items even if you don’t presently need them – they can be stored for future use. Make sure you keep track of items that you have stocked up on because if you don’t, you might purchase more than you actually need.
  17. Live more simply and focus on reducing excess or clutter. You might be surprised how little you need to have a happy and fulfilled life.
  18. Shop local. Local or store brands are usually priced lower than imported ones. This way you help support the local economy, while saving yourself some cash!
  19. Create a savings game with goals to hit each month. Maybe you and your friends can have a contest to see who can save the most; the Master Saver
  20. Be patient and persistent. Having a positive attitude and a commitment to trying different things can get you very far! Even if you slip up and splurge occasionally, don’t be too hard on yourself otherwise you run the risk of abandoning your goals altogether.

 

Sources:

https://www.mymoneycoach.ca/saving-money/saving-tips/how-to-save-money

https://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/54-ways-to-save-money

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August 26, 2019

Congratulations!  The sale is final, and you’ve just bought your new home. One of the next big steps is furnishing your home.  This can feel quite intimidating as there is likely much more space to fill than you had before. You’re also taking on the task of turning a blank slate into your own style. We’ve put together the following guide to help walk you through this new phase.

  1. Take what you already own into account

If you already own furniture and appliances, list out your inventory. Reusing items you already have, takes the pressure off your wallet.

Assess each item based on its condition and the practicality of taking it to your new home. At the end of this exercise, you should be able to label every item either “keep” or “donate” or “toss”. All the “keep” items can then serve as the foundation for your home furnishing process.

 

  1. Essential Pieces

The most important pieces to focus on first, are the ones that you use the most. Place priority on:

  • Bed: So you have somewhere comfortable to sleep
  • Fridge and Stove: So you can cook and store your food
  • Dresser: This provides somewhere to keep your clothes if you do not have built in cupboards. You can also consider a temporary clothing rack while you decide on the perfect dresser or cupboard solution.
  • Sofa: This provides somewhere to sit and to accommodate your first visitors.
  • Dining set: This provides a place to eat comfortably. If you choose to hold off on investing in a dining set right away, you could also utilise a space such as a kitchen counter in the interim.

 

  1. Other Furnishings

There are other practical knickknacks that make your house feel like home, such as cabinet organisers; waste baskets and lamps. Your choice will vary based on your personal preferences and priorities.

A helpful way to go about filling your home is to think about it one room at a time. Take a look at these home furnishing checklists like this one to get you started. It’s unlikely any one checklist will align exactly with your own personal taste and preferences, but it’s a great way to brainstorm.

 

  1. Take Your Time

Take all the time you need and remind yourself not to feel obligated to decorate your entire home as soon as you move in. Once you have the essentials, you can take more time to figure out the trimmings.  You can decorate piece by piece over time, which helps to make sure each item has a specific purpose. This also helps prevent impulse purchases and a tendency to go overboard. You can also use this period to create a ranked list of the items you think you need – reassess this list in a few days or weeks to see if you still feel the same way.

 

  1. Find used and hand-me-down pieces where possible

Why buy an item brand new, if you can acquire it in good condition for a portion of the price? Reach out to family members and friends to see if they have any unwanted furniture that they hadn’t had the time to sell or give away. Find garage sales and check newspaper listings. Second-hand furniture can also be transformed with a new stain or coat of paint to match your style and colour preferences.

 

  1. Make it your own

You can add personal touches in a variety of low-cost ways. For example, you can paint an accent wall or add plants into the space. You can also have fun with affordable DIY home decoration projects ranging from painting your own abstract artwork to adding wallpaper onto a dresser or other furniture pieces for extra pizzazz.

We hope you enjoy the process of furnishing your new home!

 

Sources:

https://freshome.com/furnish-your-home-first-time/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-keys-to-outfitting-your-first-apartment-on-a-budget_b_591c7bbae4b0a8551f3f84f7

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g1711/diy-home-decor/

https://diycozyhome.com/18-unbelievably-cheap-but-awesome-diy-home-decor-projects/

https://moving.bedbathandbeyond.com/new-home-essentials-checklist/

https://homebuyingchecklist.co/new-house-checklist-essentials/