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Sunday, February 25, 2024

DIY savings: How to put your money to work for you

DIY savings: How to put your money to work

06.07.2023

DIY or IOU?

If a home improvement project is high on your priority list this summer, hiring a professional and putting the bill on your credit card or financing it may seem like the easiest option when it comes to finishing the job. After all, if you’re not a Handy Andy, even a small task can throw a big wrench into your overall budget. In 2022, Americans shelled out an average of nearly $9,000 on sprucing up their surroundings, with 35% relying on plastic to cover their expenses.1,2

Whether it’s with their own elbow grease or not, people love revamping and enhancing where they live, (potentially) work and play. As shown below, people who use the Empower Personal Dashboard™ spent more money on home upgrades last June, July, August and September than on healthcare and entertainment purposes.*

Empower Personal Dashboard™ user spending*

 

June 21

July 21

Aug 21

Sept 21

Home Improvement

$607

$582

$561

$578

Entertainment

$265

$268

$247

$247

Healthcare

$344

$333

$345

$339

 

June 22

July 22

Aug 22

Sept 22

Home Improvement

$590

$577

$593

$562

Entertainment

$293

$287

$296

$287

Healthcare

$346

$335

$354

$338

* Data from anonymous user spending on Empower Personal DashboardTM

But no matter your skills around the house, doing some repairs or renovations on your own may not only bring new life to your old stomping grounds, but it can also help you tighten the screws on your spending.

From minor restorations to major rebuilds, here’s how you can fix things up while continuing to hammer away at your financial goals:

Reveal your true ‘colors’

Kitchen makeovers are extremely popular, but they’re also extremely expensive. A full facelift can set you back anywhere from $14,000 to $40,000 depending on the size, scope and style while new cabinets alone can run north of $10,000 after factoring in installation.3,4 That’s a lot of dough for where you do your baking.

What’s our DIY savings solution?

Grab some paint and get to work. Sanding and staining your outdated cabinets will not only give your kitchen an updated look and feel, but it can also trim your total payment by more than 75% in many cases.5 If you get your hands dirty and add a fresh coat of color yourself, instead of calling in the pros, you may be able to complete the transformation for less than $1,000 after purchasing the necessary supplies.5 Even though you may have to sacrifice a weekend or two, that seems like a recipe for success.

Think ‘outside’ the box

Many people like to go the whole nine yards when it comes to maintaining their yard — but that upkeep doesn’t come cheap. In fact, paying for a landscaping company to mow could cost almost $50 to $250 per visit.6 If you cut your grass on a weekly basis in the summer, your service bill could grow faster than your lawn.

For other duties, like mulching, weeding, seeding and fertilizing, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars per year.6

What’s our DIY savings solution?

While you may need to acquire some essential equipment at first, as well as other products along the way, those investments will likely be well worth it in the end. Don’t forget, you can often buy used tools for a bargain. Keep your eyes open for garage sales in your area or check your online neighborhood group for any deals on lawnmowers, trimmers and edgers, which may be posted at a fraction of face value.7 Before you know it, taking care of your own green may save you, well, plenty of green.

Wow your powder room

Not only is redoing your entire bathroom a heavy lift, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. In all, hiring a professional to perform a full gut job and remodel may drain your bank account to the tune of $10,000, with an average of $600 to $800 per square foot.8,9 While you may enjoy a more modern vanity, shower and floor, that’s still a lot of money to flush down the toilet for a space that may just need a little TLC.

What’s our DIY savings solution?

Keep it simple. It may not seem that luxurious, but replacing the hardware in your bathroom can provide a quick fix without breaking the bank. You can buy and install new knobs, faucets, towel bars and handles for under $200, while they even sell peel-and-stick countertop paper as a much more affordable option than a granite surface.10 Swapping out your mirror, putting up new wall art and cleaning the tile can also help can help modernize your space so you don’t have to wash away your hard-earned cash.11

Swing for the fences

Wood not good? If your fence is standing tall and strong but looks aged and worn down because of the elements, it may be tempting to put in a whole new structure. But you may want to think twice before giving a contractor a phone call. With lumber prices on the rise (up almost 20% since 2022), getting new panels and posts could be tough to stomach. Depending on style, length and height, as well as labor and your location, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to potentially $10,000 for a new fence.12,13

What’s our DIY savings solution?

Knock on wood … and confirm your current fence is still in solid shape. If it’s just dirty but durable, try power-washing it and then coating it with a waterproof stain and sealer. You may be surprised at the results! If you’re on the fence about doing it yourself, consider this: You may be able to rent a power washer for around $100 per day from your local hardware store, while a gallon of stain is about $50.14 Reviving your fence on your own may buy you a few years until you’ve saved enough for a brand-new one.

The last word

Of course, it pays to be smart. While a hard hat and hard work can often get the job done, some projects are better left to the pros, especially when it comes to staying safe. If your home is in need of a big repair, make sure you assess the situation and speak to an expert. Doing it yourself could lead to unanticipated mistakes, missteps or mishaps, which may end up costing you more money in the long run.

1 Yahoo Finance, “Home Renovation Costs: What Experts Expect in 2023,” May 2023.

2 USA Today, “Is it wise to pay for home renovations with a credit card? No and here's why,” March 2022.

3 Angi, “How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost? [2023 Data],” February 2023.

4 Bankrate, “How much do kitchen cabinets cost?,” May 2023.

5 Forbes, “How Much Does it Cost To Paint Kitchen Cabinets In 2023?,” March 2023.

6 KompareIt, “Compare Costs of Hiring a Lawn Care Service vs DIY,” February 2023.

7 MoneyTalksNews, “5 Things to Consider When Buying a Used Lawn Mower,” March 2022.

8 Bankrate, “Which DIY projects save the most money?,” March 2022.

9 Architectural Digest, “How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Cost?,” March 2023.

10 Bankrate, “10 home renovations you can DIY on a budget,” April 2022.

11 Budget Dumpster, “Budget Bathroom Remodel: 7 Ways to Save and Upgrade,” April 2022.

12 Fortune, : Lumber prices start year up 19%—5 bold predictions for where the key housing indicator heads next,” February 2023.

13 Forbes, “How Much Does It Cost To Install A Wood Fence?,” March 2023.

14 Home Serve, “Should You Buy or Rent a Power Washer? Here's a Price Breakdown,” May 2023.

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The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

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