How To Save Money For Home Improvement

posted in: Day In The Life 11
Repairing our frescoes is going to cost a fortune! Image: Wikipedia.


When I bought the apartment where Eric and I currently live, I knew it needed work. Everyone knew it needed work — that’s why I was able to buy it. The location, the building, the mise en scene; if I hadn’t gotten a discount, we wouldn’t have an address on our historic, tree-lined street.

But I did get a discount because the paint in the unit is an inch thick and the parquet floors are in terrible shape. The kitchen came with a Magic Chef stove ca. 1955 and a dishwasher from the pleistocene era. And the other day, one of the shelves in the inset bookcases literally collapsed. (There’s a joke in here about slouching toward Bethlehem, or Atlas shrugging, or the fall of the House of Usher, but that would require me to admit that I’ve still got a copy of Atlas Shrugged. It’s a first edition and it was a gift and it’s hard for me to let go of books, alright?)

Now that we’re staying put in Chicago for the foreseeable future, we’ve got to serious about home improvement. Eric and I have been discussing needs and wants. We need to replace all the molding; we want to connect the kitchen and the the dining room by opening up the east wall. We need to install ceiling lights; we want a gold toilet.* It’s going to cost a bunch of money because this is a big city and that’s just how it is. Plus, Eric would be cool with standard-issue everything, but I’m fancy. I told him this before we got married. He knows.

To get it done, we’ll have to take out a home loan. This is terrifying to me. Borrowing money with our home as collateral — I think that’s how it works — is just a very grown-up thing to do. I feel like a child most of the time and children don’t take out home loans. Can we manage another monthly bill? It’s freaky to think about. Student loan payments have been suspended for two years now, but that party will be over soon. And the apartment may have been on sale, but property taxes don’t get markdowns. If we want to do the work, we’ll have to get the loan, but I want it to be lean, lean, lean. This means I/we need to save money or make some more of it.

Here are things I can do to save money:

no new clothes (I hate this)
no fripperies (I love fripperies)
no major travel (let a book take you on an adventure, loser)

Here are things I can do to make some extra money:

sell my old clothes (but keep a few or I won’t have ANY clothes because I can’t buy new ones, apparently)
grow my Twitch and YouTube channels (harder than it sounds but I’m working on it)
rob a bank (complicated)

If you have other ideas, feel free to comment below! If you know how to rob a bank in your old, dumb clothes while broadcasting it all live on the internet, definitely comment below.


*do not want

11 Responses

  1. Pamela Barnes
    | Reply

    I am so glad you DO NOT want a gold toilet. I was going to have to stop following you. Fancy is one thing but gold toilets are a deal-breaker. —-LOL

  2. kari m.
    | Reply

    This is what I know about remodeling. it always costs more than you were first told . The unknown is scary- when is it going to be done? where is the money coming from? will it be worth all this? And it has to be done sometime and it won’t be cheaper later. It will be fabulous?!

  3. Jane Sanders
    | Reply

    Maybe you could take a page from the Gift of the Magi. You could sell your hair and Eric could sell his watch. Oh wait … you don’t have long hair. Do guys still wear watches or only look at their phones?

  4. Marianne ten Kate
    | Reply

    Well, let’s just say that ceiling lights are overrated, and wobbly, wonky or missing moulding can be embraced for the foreseeable. But the east wall must go. Elegant flow through the space and a fully functioning kitchen will bring daily joy to you both and make you feel so grown up — so grown up in fact that the loan will seem like just another thing grown ups like you do.

  5. elizabeth a hinze
    | Reply

    I wish I had away to make extra money
    Do you budget?
    I’ve only been doing it a year it’s amazing the difference
    it makes. (I’m 62!)
    Spend on your dreams and visions eat out less cut out
    things that you can do without
    Mary you are an amazing writer can you earn money that way??

  6. Sharon Perry
    | Reply

    Sorry, I do not have any ideas you haven’t already proposed. Don’t rob a bank, then you wouldn’t get to live in your renovated house. Kitchen first is my suggestion too.
    The inch thick paint is insulation, keep it.

  7. Wilma Bland
    | Reply

    So, Mary, my friend, when you discover the magic formula, please share! Budgeting –on this side of retirement and heading into the thirty year hike in my family with no job, fixed social security with under 1000 after Medicare — rents are skyrocketing, section 8 and other low income housing waiting lists are either closed or three year waiting periods — seems like a great place to start…but. Anyway, all I know is you only want gold toilets if there is black market for them! LOL Thanks for keeping it real in 2022!

  8. Barbara
    | Reply

    First off, welcome back to the USA. Next, when working to improve or fix something, the job can become a “turnsta.” Meaning, something else turnsta __ __ __ __ !
    Hope it doesn’t happen to you and Eric.
    Happiness in your new diggs.

  9. li
    | Reply

    There’s nothing like making a home your own with a fresh coat of paint.

  10. rita penner
    | Reply

    …Check out the DIY sites. You might surprise yourself with what you can do.
    …Just tackle some small thing and make yourself feel better about your place.
    …People fill in surveys for money. Ick, but whatev
    …Enter a writing contest with a big prize?

    • Rebecca
      | Reply

      I have an old house that is going to take years of budgeting to fix. It’s a small help, but if you’re not keeping it, sell your 1955 Magic Chef! If it works, people with old houses will buy it. I’ve been watching for an old electric stove for a while.

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