Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX


Home improvements are a vital part to keeping your home up-to-date with the times and also to ensure that it doesn’t lose value when it comes time to sell.

To save money, many homeowners take the do-it-yourself route and use the tools at their disposal to upgrade their homes. Sites like YouTube have made it easier than ever to follow step-by-step tutorials that show you how to make substantial repairs and upgrades to your home without having to pay a professional.

The down side, however, is that when you choose to DIY, you take on the risk of going over budget by making mistakes. You also risk stretching out your project weeks or months longer than necessary due to a lack of time to work on it.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can stay on budget and on track to finish your home improvement project without bringing in the professionals.

Making a timeline

Let’s start with the big picture for your home renovations. When deciding which improvements to make, it’s important to know your limits in terms of the work you can do.

Set a reasonable number of hours you can work on your projects per week. Go easy on yourself. Most of us are already tired when we get home from work and probably won’t be able to start tackling big projects in the evenings. Rather, try to give yourself one weekend day to work on your projects and one weekend day to relax.

The most important aspect of creating your timeline is to try and keep your schedule open. So, write down the time you want to work on your home in your calendar, planner, or whichever app or tool you use to plan your time.

This will help you to avoid creating conflicting events and obligations, and help you stay on track to finishing your improvement projects.

If you’re looking for an evening activity related to your home improvement projects, it’s a good idea to start watching some video tutorials of people doing the same renovations as you. This will help you avoid mistakes and look out for common obstacles that you’ll face along the way.

Budgeting your improvement

You’ll want to save up for your project in advance, if possible, to avoid accumulating credit card debt. Your home improvement project should, in effect, gain you money by increasing the value of your home, not make you lose money on credit card interest payments.

Budgeting in itself is an art that few of us are taught in school. Fortunately, there are several free budgeting apps available. Or, you can simply draw one up yourself.

The key to creating a home improvement budget is to know how much of your monthly savings you can devote to this project without having to dip into other funds. To do this, you’ll need a clear understanding of where your income goes.  

Once you have a budget and a timeline for your home improvement project, you’re ready to begin. Just make sure you check in on your timeline and your budget throughout the length of the project to make sure you’re meeting your goals and aren’t overspending.


In the U.S. twenty pounds of food per person is wasted each month. That’s a lot of food. And when you’re trying to save money and stick to a budget that number can be disheartening. No one wants to throw their hard earned money away in the trash. Below are a few ways you can prevent food waste each week and save money in the process! Be prepared - Planning out meals ahead of time is key to avoid food waste. It not only helps prevent last-minute impulse purchases but it also helps you save money each time you take a trip. When you buy only what you need each item you purchase is guaranteed to be used up and avoid the trash bin. Take meal planning an extra step by choosing recipes that call for similar ingredients so you can buy in bulk and save. You can also create a list of go-to meals and their ingredients to have on hand for busy nights when you don’t have time to plan ahead. Include slots in your meal plan for leftovers throughout the week to make sure they are eaten before going to waste. In the store - Buy only what you need by including the amounts of each ingredient your recipes call for on your shopping list. If possible buy loose produce and from bulk bins to ensure you are only taking home what you really need. Buying in bulk is tempting and can seem like you are saving money, however, if you don’t use all of it up you are actually wasting money. Frozen veggies and fruits are a great option for those who never seem to be able to cook fresh produce before they start to go bad. Fill your cart with less and make more frequent trips to guarantee you only buy what you will truly need and use throughout the week. Before the store - Use up what is sitting in your cupboards and fridge before shopping. Look for recipes that include what you already have on hand and add them to your meal plan. Another great habit is to go through your pantry and take note of what needs to be tossed. By taking note of what ends up in the trash you will know when to buy smaller portions or to keep an item off your list. Be smart about use by and sell by dates before tossing something into the trash. Usually, these dates are a loose guideline that the manufacturer has decided upon. Do you research on best by and sell by dates to decide how long an item is really good for. During the week - Freeze portions of items you don’t use all at once of and can’t find in smaller portions. Make the most out of leftovers by having a weekly buffet night or using your creativity and repurposing them into a new meal. Fruit and vegetables that are on their way out can be frozen to be used for smoothies and juices or tossed into casseroles and soups. Practice smart fridge and freezer storage, drawers and shelves are labeled with their intended purpose for a reason! Preparing foods ahead of time for cooking and snacking will make them easier to reach for and more likely to move off of your fridge shelf before going bad. Keeping your fridge organized will also be more likely to be eaten. After all, out of sight out of mind and if something is pushed to the back it is more likely to be forgotten. Food waste is a big problem in our culture but it doesn’t have to be in your household. With some planning and organization, you can significantly cut back on how much food you throw away and save yourself money in the process. Happy saving!

With grocery prices on the rise, many of us are cutting corners any way we can at the supermarket. Some people cut coupons, others have switched to wholesale grocery stores where they can buy in bulk to save. However, there are many ways you can be more frugal just by switching to some more cost-effective recipes. Here are some frugal cooking ideas that will help you save each week at the register.

Smart lunches

Preparing lunches can seem like a chore that no one has time for. Many people find themselves grabbing a can of soup while they run out the door. Others go out for fast food on their lunch break spending money on food and gas. There’s a solution to this problem that will save you money on lunches and save you time in the morning—bulk cooking.

Pick one or two lunches that you’d like to eat throughout the week and prepare them all Sunday morning. You could buy ingredients for a couple types of tacos to avoid getting sick of the same ones every day of the week.

Aside from tacos, other good lunch meals to cook in bulk include pizzas, stir fry meals, burritos, and pasta dishes.

Cook with the staple foods

You can save a huge amount of money at the grocery store by planning out meals that involve staples like rice, beans, pasta, and frozen vegetables. When bought in larger portions, you’ll save at the register but won’t sacrifice nutritional content because these food staples are rich in essential vitamins and nutrients.

Omit the meat on occasion

We eat a lot of animal products in America. The beef industry alone leaves a larger carbon footprint on the environment that the auto industry! Is your family the type that has some form of meat with every meal of the week? If so, you’re probably spending a lot more at the grocery store than need be. Vegetarian and vegan meal options are usually cheaper and just as healthy (if not healthier) than meals that have meat. If you’re worried about not feeling full from a vegetarian meal, try making recipes with hearty ingredients and plant-based proteins (beans, nuts, grains, etc.). A good example would be a burrito packed with rice, beans, and grilled vegetables.

Plan before you shop

Many people have a hard time saving money at the grocery sure because they’re just not sure what to cook. They arrive at the store with only a vague idea of what they want to eat and then fill their cart with all the possibilities. Plan out a weekly menu of your meals and snacks for the week and only buy those items you’ll need for your recipes.

Invest in a good frugal cook book

There are thousands of cook books out there. Many expert chefs have realized that the average person is just looking for some good meals to try that won’t break their wallet. Some even boast cookbooks that will feed your family for just a couple dollars per person per meal.

Now that you know some good frugal eating tips it’s time to turn them into habits. Start with just one tip for now and add the others as you become more comfortable. Soon you’ll be saving money and finding new favorite foods at the same time.