Before you do any renovations, you need to make sure you can afford the project. I get taking out a home equity loan so that you can make payments for a larger project. That may work for you as long as you can stick to a budget and be disciplined enough to make the payments. I prefer to make sure I have the money first, however. 

Find Ways to Make Some Side Income

I’ve funded my projects a couple of ways. One is to get a second job. I work full-time as a teacher and am a single mom to two boys, so I know it’s not easy to fit in a side job. But, if you’re structured and organized, you can do it. I worked on the side as a contract instructional designer. I also teach piano lessons. These are easy ways to make a little extra cash. Also, these ways don’t take much time and the times you do work can be flexible. If you have some extra skills and can do something on the side or from home, I’d recommend it. You could always wait tables as well to earn some decent money. For other ideas, visit this Ways to Wealth website. You can search for ideas to make money from home or by just using various apps when you shop. I have a friend who goes on secret shopping missions and drives for Uber as a side job to make extra cash.

Save a Little

Maybe you earn more than you need and you can set aside some money each month for home renovations. Even $100 a month can fund something small. I replaced all the lead pipes in my house this way. If you don’t have a budget, start with that. You’ll be surprised where your money goes. If you stick to a budget, you might be able to save some money each month. I’d suggest YNAB ( I’ve used this for years and it has kept me disciplined and allowed me to save money even on a teacher’s salary. It’s a little difficult to get the hang of and set up, but they have a bunch of tutorials to help you.

Use Your Tax Return

I also got a nice tax return last year and this year. That has allowed me to insulate my attic and renovate my kitchen. Since I work a contract job, I have to save a lot of money for taxes each year. I end up saving about 30% of what I earn. I rarely owe that at the end of the year, so it’s almost like a savings account for me. You could also change the deductions through payroll so they take out more tax. This could mean a bigger refund later that you could use for home renovations.

Get Plenty of Estimates

Getting decent estimates is also a way to save money on a project. If you go with a large builder, you’ll pay more than going with smaller handyman or woman businesses or specialists (like people who do only tile, for example). I’d get a variety of estimates from a lot of different people: builders, contractors, handymen/women, specialists to see who will give you the best deal. 

Pay in Cash

For some projects, you can meet specialists that will work for cash as well. You have to be careful when you do this, because you have to really trust who you’re working with, but both my plumber and my electrician will work for cash and I usually get about 15% or more off the price.

Do Things Yourself

Don’t be afraid to do some work yourself either. You can always paint walls, switch out hardware, or even install baseboard without any experience at all. If you want to tackle anything more complicated, ask the friendly salespeople at Ace Hardware or Lowe’s for instructions. You can also look up how to do things on Youtube. You’d be surprised what you can do yourself and you’ll save a lot of money that way.

If You Have to Take Out a Loan

If you have to take out a loan, just make sure to stick to a budget and don’t overspend just because you have the cash available to you. Make sure to ask what your monthly payment will be and build that into your budget. Home equity loans can get out of hand if you’re not careful.

I know it’s frustrating living with something you don’t like or isn’t functional, but spending money you don’t have should never be an option. I hear more stories of people getting in trouble that way. Avoid it at all costs and become a saver instead.


  1. Ron Kesterke October 12, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Anyone can spend now (charge it or take out a loan) and spend themselves into more debt. Decreasing debt is difficult. Giving up instant gratification requires discipline to remain patient with the plan but, in the end you save money. Budgeting, including saving consistently, is a very good habit with multiple benefits.

    • Kara October 13, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      You are definitely my dad. 🙂