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The Secrets to Sticking to a Budget

The post The Secrets to Sticking to a Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

I remember back in my 20s.  I thought I had a budget. Well, it was what I called a budget.  The reality is that it was a slip of paper with some numbers written down on it.  I honestly did not know how to budget, let alone how to stick to one. It wasn’t until … Read More about The Secrets to Sticking to a Budget

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What Is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

student on laptop

Before heading off to college, many students will begin the big search for financial aid. For most, that will mean filling out the FAFSA.® And that involves calculating the expected family contribution. Though filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is pretty straightforward, understanding a student’s eligibility and how much financial aid they […]

The post What Is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)? appeared first on SoFi.

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How to Plan a Budget If Your Home Is a Fixer Upper

When your home is a fixer-upper, it can be difficult to even know where to start with a renovation. The list can be overwhelming—fix the patio, change out the mustard yellow carpet, buy furniture, paint the house. With a never-ending to-do list, planning a budget can seem virtually impossible.

By sorting through your list of wants and needs and focusing on essentials, you can outline a budget that won’t keep you up at night. Here are some tips on how to plan a budget for turning your fixer-upper into your first dream home.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

1. Sort through the “wants” and “needs.”

Where do you even start with a renovation budget? With a limited fixer-upper budget, it’s essential to make functionality the first priority. When the roof is leaking and your fridge is dead, this is where the budget begins. First, determine what infrastructure items require repair or an essential upgrade, as these are typically big-ticket items. Next, focus on beautifying projects that will reap benefits in the long run, like bathrooms and kitchens. Hold off on budgeting fancy appliance upgrades and expensive decor if you already have working items—these can come at a later time after you take care of all the essentials.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

2. Consider purchasing used over new.

Give your budget more flexibility by going for used over new with certain big-ticket items. Used appliances, for instance, can be found in great condition from other remodels or homeowners upgrading to the latest technology. Used furniture is also a fantastic way to keep your fixer-upper budget low. Don’t forget—sofas, vintage chairs, tables and more can be easily reupholstered and refinished. They’ll look brand new for just a fraction of the cost. 

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

3. Be ready to DIY with a gift card.

As a first-time buyer, there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll be diving into the realm of DIY. Learning one or many DIY skills will not only come in handy with home repairs in the future, but it’s a fantastic way to keep labor costs low. If you’re worried your DIY supply budget will get out of hand, however, shop with a gift card to your local hardware store. That way, you’ll always be working with a fixed amount of money and won’t be tempted to add on any expensive extras. It’s a guaranteed way to keep your budget in check.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

4. Get creative.

Fixer-uppers are great hands-on projects, and creative solutions are key for keeping your budget in line. For items like cabinetry that may be in good condition but out of style, get creative with refinishes to bring new life into your space. Give your kitchen a fresh take by painting cabinets in a modern shade, or reface them for a whole new look without the added cost of all-new cabinetry. Replace hardware on cabinetry, furniture and built-ins to make your pieces feel brand new. Even outdated fireplaces, doors, furniture and windows can go a long way with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Consider this cheap alternative to help save room in your budget for the fun stuff.

How to Plan a Budget If Your Home is a Fixer Upper

5. Let the professionals help.

Whether you’re starting with the kitchen or diving into a full-scale remodel, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. No matter what your budget, a professional’s advice can help ensure that your renovation has as few hiccups as possible. City codes, minute details and hidden elements can wreak havoc on projects, so let a master guide you through those hurdles instead of trying to blindly tackle them yourself. Don’t let the potential price tag deter you from investing in having expert guidance—many architects and designers have options for paying an hourly rate. This is a great option, especially for fixer-upper and DIY projects, as it allows your plans to be looked over by professionals without the price tag of a full design scope. 

What are your must haves for your fixer-upper?
 
 
Kerrie Kelly is a California interior designer who has helped many young couples choose their “first-home-together” decor. Kerrie writes on her design experiences for The Home Depot, offering homeowners ways to save money without compromising design.
 

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Under the Influence: 40% of Americans Have Purchased Something Seen on Social Media

Social media has wormed its way into most aspects of our lives. It’s how many adults make friends, find dates, and even build career networks. It’s a virtual portfolio of our personal and public selves, and of course many of…

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The post Under the Influence: 40% of Americans Have Purchased Something Seen on Social Media appeared first on MintLife Blog.

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5 Money-Saving Challenges That’ll Help You Bank More Cash

We all know saving money is something we should do, but we often view it as a chore we’ll get around to doing someday. It’s time to flip our perspective and think of saving money as a fun challenge instead. Let’s push ourselves to beef up our emergency funds and stack our cash reserves. Let’s […]

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Budgeting For Beginners: A FREE Five Day Quick Start Course

The post Budgeting For Beginners: A FREE Five Day Quick Start Course appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

  If you feel stress about money, worry about paying your bills or are just tired of trying to find a way to rob Peter to pay Paul, you aren’t alone.  In fact, I get it. I really get it. I tried to figure it all out on my own and failed miserably. That lead … Read More about Budgeting For Beginners: A FREE Five Day Quick Start Course

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What Is a Good APR?

woman holding mug on laptop

Sifting through credit card offers can be daunting. There are so many numbers and lengthy explanations that it can be easy to miss the most important details. Though it’s always a good idea to read over every contract you sign, when it comes to picking a new credit card, there is one detail consumers should […]

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20 Kitchen Items You Should Never Pay For

Substitute egg separator

When you need to separate the egg white from the egg yolk, here's an incredibly simple way to do it. Crack the egg into a bowl and grab an empty plastic water bottle. Rest the mouth of the bottle on the yolk and squeeze the middle of the bottle like a turkey baster. The yolk will be sucked right into the bottle. Watch a video of this here.

Make your own turkey baster

Speaking of turkey baster, you can make your own with a water balloon, a straw, and a utility knife. (Read this article from eHow.com for step-by-step instructions.) MacGyver would be proud.

Free trussing twine!

If you want to truss your turkey—i.e., tie the wings and legs of a bird down for more even cooking—you don't need to buy trussing twine. Use dental floss! Not only does it come in a small container, it’s very strong and won’t burn in high heat.

DIY trivet

If you have extra ceramic tiles left over from a home improvement project, you can use them as trivets. Protect tables and countertops from hot pots and dishes by affixing peel-and-stick felt corners underneath each tile. 

SEE MORE: Domestic CEO's How to Stock a Kitchen

Cooling rack stand-in

Keep your cool during holiday baking days. When you’re covered with flour, have no idea where the kitchen table used to be, and just pulled the fifth blisteringly hot tray of gingerbread men out of the oven, simply flip over cardboard egg trays (you’ll need two, spaced a little bit apart) and set the baking pan on top.

You can also use butter knives for cooling racks: Place them in rows on your counter, alternating directions. They'll keep hot baked goods elevated.

DIY bowl scraper

Have you ever seen those bowl scrapers in kitchen stores that sell for $3 to $10? These circular, plastic tools are easy to make at home. Simply take the lid of a round take-out container, cut it in half, then remove the rim. Instant savings!

Substitute rolling pin

If you're in need of a rolling pin, look no further than that bottle of vodka you have in your freezer. The chilled glass will result in a flakier pastry. Even a wine bottle will do.

Who needs cookie cutters?

Rather than buying a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, use a wine glass or a clean, empty aluminum can. If you're making donuts, use the mouth of an empty water or soda bottle to cut out the center hole.

A simple flour sifter

Julia Child probably used a flour sifter while preparing fine pastries, but you can keep things simple by putting a mesh colander over your mixing bowl, filling it with the needed amount of flour, and gently tapping or shaking it until the flour sifts through. You can use this for powdered sugar as well.

RELATED: Nutrition Diva's Keep Your Kitchen Germ Free

Replacement pastry brush

An unused toothbrush is the perfect substitute for a pastry brush. A paper towel will also work in a pinch!

Easily make a funnel

If you have aluminum foil in your kitchen, you don’t need a funnel. Simply fold a sheet of foil in half width-wise and roll into the shape of a funnel.

You can also use an “egg shell with a hole pierced in it” for a funnel, according to the book Thrift for Troubled Times, published in 1917 by Britain's "National Training School for Cookery"!

Tenderize meat without a mallet

An unopened can of beans or vegetables makes a great meat tenderizer. Cover the bottom with plastic wrap and pound away on the meat just as you would use a mallet.

Substitute jar opener

You’ve seen those nifty, colorful jar openers in cool houseware shops, but you might not realize you’ve got a bunch of tools that are just as effective lying around your garage or basement. Using an X-Acto knife, slice open an old tennis ball and you’ve got two handy openers—game, set, match! Now pass the olives.

Handy stem remover

Hate grapefruit, and wondering what to do with those grapefruit spoons that came with your set of silver? Use their serrated edges to carve the stems out of tomatoes and strawberries.

CHECK OUT: Who Knew's 5 Essential Tips to Prevent Kitchen Disasters

Make your own juicer

Instead of purchasing a handheld juicer (also known as a reamer) for fruit, simply use one blade from a hand mixer instead. Halve the fruit and twist the blade into it for easy juicing.

Homemade potato masher

The only thing better than homemade mashed potatoes is a homemade potato masher. Interlace the tines of two forks together (the forks should be facing each other) and mash away.

DIY garlic press

The tines of a fork can also be useful for mashing garlic. Just place the tines flat against a cutting board and rub a whole, peeled garlic clove against them.

Replacement martini shaker

Who needs a martini shaker? Instead of buying this expensive bar tool, simply use a stainless steel thermos with a screw-in lid. If there’s no way to close the sipping hole on the top, cover it with your thumb while you shake!

Easy bag clip

Kitchen supply stores sell bag clips to keep your half-empty bags of snacks and cereals more airtight. What's cheaper, and available at the 99¢ store? Clothespins! Or use binder clips.

How to make a utensil holder

If you need a kitchen caddy to hold the utensils you do have, read how this intrepid blogger made homemade utensil holders with plastic Beanie Baby boxes. Who knew?

For more second uses for everyday items, follow our Clever Second Uses Pinterest board! For more great kitchen tips, check out our eBook, Cooking Made Easy, available for Kindle and Nook.

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Budgeting Help

Free! How Mint offers budgeting help Ready to start budgeting and tracking your money? See our article Budgeting Tips from Mint — and subscribe to our blog for more budgeting help. Budgeting Calculators We’ve also got some calculators that can help you…

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