My Story: Remodeling for Cheap

contributed by Cynthia

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My husband and I are in the process of purchasing our first home. We are a one-income family of three children and I am in college full-time. We are very excited but quite aware of the limited budget that we have to do necessary remodeling (adding a second bathroom) and our own personal touches such as paint, wallpaper, etc.

We just returned from a short trip to the coast, and while I enjoyed the break, I was thrilled with the bargains that we came home with for our new home. The area that we were in had two Home Depots and two Lowe's stores within a very short radius. I checked each of these four stores a couple of times when we were in that area.

In particular, I checked the "Oops" section of the paint department. About a month ago, I discovered that these shelves existed. This is where paint ends up that has been custom mixed for a customer who did not like the finished product. I brought home five gallons of paint in colors that I had previously decided upon for a total of $25. This was better quality paint than I normally would have been able to afford, such as Behr Premium Plus. We now have nearly enough paint to repaint our entire house. I need roughly five more gallons to finish. My husband has to pass our local Lowe's store everyday on his way to work. Needless to say, he will take samples of our choices for the other rooms and check daily for similar hues. The trick with using this plan is to be flexible. We have chosen colors that we like, and as long as the paint that we find is very similar to those colors, we take them even though it may not be the exact shade that we chose. With a $15 to $20 savings per gallon, you can bet that we can flexible.

In addition, I checked the discontinued wallpaper bin at Lowe's and found a wonderful design of antique hot air balloons that will be perfect for the manly design of our sons' new bathroom. The wallpaper was originally $7.98 per roll. I purchased two full rolls and two rolls that had been used as samples for a grand total of $3.15 including tax. A wonderful blue paint was found to match the blue of the border from the "Oops" section for a grand total of $8.40 for the entire bathroom.

The week before we left for vacation, I was in our local K-Mart looking for a backpack for our son. I didn't find a backpack, but as I was heading toward the front of the store, I passed by a clearance do-it-yourself area that had wood stain on clearance. The new house has all hardwood floors upstairs that need to be refinished. I purchased 15 cans of stain at $2 per can. We now have enough to refinish the floors and the kitchen cabinets with some to spare for only $30 plus tax. The color was not my first choice, but when I discovered the sale, I checked the shade against my first choice and found that it was only about one shade different.

To make a long story short, we have spent roughly $71 and have already saved over $171. Plan what you want, and if you want particular colors and styles, go for it, but be flexible. You can still have the same colors, perhaps slightly different shades/hues, and save tons of money if you look, look, look and be willing to make small compromises. I am very excited about our new house and am very excited to see the finished product, but I am also very excited to see how well we can do it on a very small budget.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by

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