Money Matters, By-The-Way

In the current economic crises, it’s obviously wise to keep spending to a minimum, especially when it relates to arbitrary outgoings like home improvement. However, we shouldn’t have to give up on this altogether, because there are several simple ways of doing it well and cheaply at the same time.

1. Need a new kitchen? Reuse your old cupboards, but change the doors and door handles. It’s wasteful throwing out good cupboards. Keep your sink. Replace the taps.

2. For home improvements, hire a semi or retired builder. He may work slower, but he’ll do a more careful job for a fraction of the cost. Wait until you can combine jobs and you won’t have to pay separate costs for separate jobs.

3. Wooden/laminate floors are easier to keep clean and cheaper than having carpets (no cleansers, no hovering). Consider this when you’re choosing your new floor covering.

4. If you can make payments by instalments for material bought, without paying interest, grab this with both hands. You hang on to your money longer, thus earn a higher interest from your bank. Pay at the last possible moment (without costing yourself late fees), so your money stays longer in your account where it belongs.

5. You would be surprised at the amount of tools available for rent at your local tool shop. If you don’t have a visible one in your area ask your hardware or DIY shop, and they should point you in the right direction. If you’re capable of doing the work yourself it’s obviously cheaper than calling in the professionals. However, if you didn’t have to buy (thus maintain) large and medium tools needed to do the job, it would be cheaper still.

6. Source building material yourself so you get the discount for bulk buying and not your builders. Remember that even if they get half-price discounts on materials, the price they’re charging you will remain the same.

7. Buy white paint (cheaper than colour) and mix the colour you want yourself. DIY shops stock vials of paint colour with very detailed descriptions of how much you need for each shade of the colour you desire. All you need is a strong hand to mix it in.

8. Still on paint, matt colours may be cheaper, but they wear fast especially if you have kids or pets. Buy paint you can easily wipe down and clean with little effort. These last for years, thus save you time, energy and money over the years.

Find out more ways of spending less. Download my book, ‘How to Spend Less’ on Smashwords, or join the facebook fan page here if you know how to spend less and still live well.

~ by yearzerowriters on November 3, 2009.

4 Responses to “Money Matters, By-The-Way”

  1. Anne, this is something I can really engage with haveing run flooring showrooms for 4 years. May I be so bold/rude as to add to and elaborate on your excellent ideas.

    First, I cannot emphasise enough what an excellent suggestion your second is – so many people cut labour costs by using someone new and un or semi-trained. That is NOT an economy (nor, when it comes to flooring, is doing it yourself) – you are storing up headaches. A semi-retired or retired expert will have years of experience and skill, will know how to deal with problems that arise on site, and will do a superb job that more than compensates for the extra time spent.

    Second – a couple of points about wood and laminate – they are not suitable for all areas of the house (wood, in particular, if fitted in damp areas can actually be dangerous – I’ve seen external walls bowed out by expanded wood on a kitchen floor) – never think of saving by skipping steps of the preparation process. And note – if an installer is prepared to skip them for you to save money, alarm bells should ring – no installer worth their salt will skip preparation because it will come back and bite them in their insurance premiums if it goes wrong. Note that the professional associations for floorlayers are not the guarantee of quality they purport to be, though – there are many who are not members who are just as good. On the other hand, the professional bodies produce lots of very good advice about what’s suitable where – read it so you know what questions to ask!

    When buying flooring, buy remnants from independent stores – you will get very good quality for very low prices – you don’t need every room to match! Be wary of buying remnants from chains – they are not real remnants most of the time. What they do is cut a roll into pieces and sell them off as remnants – what this means is you end up buying lots of pieces that are slightly too big for your rooms because you think you have a bargain, but you don’t – doubly so because you’ve bought more than you need.

    Don’t be snobbish about vinyl flooring. It’s much more durable than laminate (cheap vinyl than ceap laminate, expensive vinyl than expensive laminate) and easier to clean (you can wet clean it for a start) and lay, and these days the finishes can be excellent. It is also more noiseproof and cheap. If you ARE having laminate or wood, and you live in a flat you will need soundproof underlay. Shops may try to sell you all kinds of expensive underlays for this, but the answer is a very cheap one called Tuplex that’s basically lots of polystyrene balls heat-sealed between layers of plastic.


  2. Perfect, Dan! This is exactly what I need. Thanks so much for your input in this. All help is appreciated.

    I agree with you about the laminate not being suitable for bathrooms and kitchens. We have never put them there in the houses we’ve bought and done up over the years. We have (medium cost) vinyl in the bathroom and tiles in the kitchen. Wet spills -no problem!

    I didn’t know about the remants from chain stores. I thought they were the same as indie stores. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Anne L-G

  3. I could also tell you some stories about the margins chain stores make that would send your eyebrows through the ceiling – I once thought of doing a “behind the scenes expose” blog on the flooring industry but thought no one would be interested – I’d be happy to let you have all the info, though, as it might be helpful for books like this!

  4. If/when I need them, I know just who to ask, Dan. I *do* think that people will be very interested in a specific blog like that. I just checked the keywords that people search for and ‘DIY,”how to’ and ‘how to install’ came very high on the rating scales. If you get the right market and fan base, you could even establish yourself as an expert on some hardcopy magazines dealing with flooring and associated topics. You should check out the possibliities.

    Anne L-G

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