For most people, winter is an excuse to slow down, stay home, and take it easy. But for those industrious few, the chilly season marks the perfect time to make some big changes at home.
But like any other time of the year, winter renovations can come with a huge price tag — whether they’re smart upgrades to your attic insulation and HVAC system or a huge living room facelift.
Are your finances ready? Before you borrow a line of credit, check out these tips. They’ll help you prepare a budget for anything that comes this season.
Track Your Spending
Before you can see how much of a budget you have, you need to understand your cashflow. You can do this by comparing your income to your spending.
While most budgets operate on a month-to-month basis, it’s a good idea to track your spending at least three months into the past. Include everything—from your mortgage payment and line of credit bills to frills like takeout and toiletries.
Tracking everything from the past three months or more can give you a better idea of what you’re spending on average. Subtract this sum from your income, and that’s what you have for your winter renos.
Use Credit Wisely
When money’s short, some people turn to a line of credit to boost their budget. But when it comes to cosmetic upgrades, paying cash is always the best way to go. It’s free from interest and other finance charges that come with most short-term personal loans or lines of credit.
The financial experts at MoneyKey only recommend a line of credit with an unexpected emergency repair, like when your pipes burst this winter, and you can’t afford to fix them on your own.
Boost Your Budget by Cutting Spending Elsewhere
Rather than relying on a line of credit made for emergencies, you should take a look at your budget’s list of spending. Like most people, you probably have some expenses you can cut.
Unnecessary subscription services, going out for dinner every week, or only ever paying the minimum on a line of credit are minor habits that can have major impact on your finances. Cutting these expenses and paying more than the minimum can free up more cash for your winter renos.
Some projects are better left to the professionals. A down-to-the-studs remodel is one example. Rewiring your home is another. These take training and skills to do safely.
But don’t sell yourself short. There are plenty of repairs and restorations that you can take on yourself, provided you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
Always research your task well before you pick up a tool. You’ll want to follow a plan to avoid any issues that can arise when you run headfirst into action.
Borrow, Don’t Buy
One of the biggest challenges of becoming a DIY expert is your access to tools and equipment. While some jobs require just a basic tool kit and a paint brush, others may rely on table saws, belt sanders, or tile cutters.
Filling your garage with these tools can get expensive, especially if you only need them for a small job. To keep your costs low, ask friends and neighbors if they have something they’re willing to lend. If they don’t have what you need, check a local tool library to rent a tool.
Stay on Budget This Winter
If you have big plans to renovate your home this winter, these tips will help you make change without busting your budget.