A testimony from Marianne
Last summer, my husband and I were able to purchase our first home after renting for eight years. Southern California is a pricey area and we were very blessed to find a 4-bedroom fixer-upper in a great area within our budget.
We reserved some funds for renovations and completed many projects before we moved in the end of October. We had not gotten around to replacing the garage door or front door, but had the money to do it as time allowed. However, the day we moved in, we discovered a serious plumbing problem in the very old and dilapidated main bathroom.
Since we had planned to remodel that bathroom within a few months anyway, we opted to use our remaining funds plus our emergency fund money to get started on a full bathroom remodel, as opposed to paying a plumber to fix the blockage and temporarily patch things up.
Here’s how we made the most of our money to tackle this project:
We Hired “Friendly” Labor
We hired a friend from our church who is a contractor to do the demolition, plumbing, and tub and tile installation. We knew he was reliable, honest, and thorough, and charged less than any other contractor.
We Used Coupons
We collected Lowe’s 10% off coupons (these are also accepted at Home Depot). Our local post office has “new move-in” packets with these coupons and they were kind to give me quite a few. Also, I purchased a pack of seven coupons on eBay for $3.50.
We Purchased Discounted Gift Cards
We purchased Lowe’s and Home Depot gift cards from sites like Gift Card Rescue  and Plastic Jungle . The gift cards come in many different denominations, which you buy at a 7% discount. Combined with our 10% off coupons, that saved us 17% on all our major purchases (tile, bathtub, plumbing fixtures, lights, etc.)
We Made Some Exceptions
My husband and I were not in total agreement when it came to selecting the tile for the floor and tub surround. Then we realized that we were both trying to choose from the absolute cheapest options available.
When we agreed to increase what we were willing to spend on tile, we found a nice quality tile that we were both happy with. Sometimes it’s worth a little extra money for the sake of the marriage!
We Shopped Around
We had a hard time finding a vanity that was reasonably priced, and figured we would have to pay full price for one at Home Depot that we liked, but wasn’t as high quality as we were hoping for. We happened upon a clearance sale at a cabinet warehouse and found an unfinished beech wood vanity (without a top) for $25! Then we found a granite warehouse and purchased a granite top and sink, which totaled less than half of what we would have paid for the non-granite unit we had seen at the store.
We love our new bathroom and are thankful the Lord kept us from spending our money on those other projects. And soon after the bathroom was completed, we received an unexpected gift that quickly replenished our emergency fund.
When I’m tempted to be discouraged about the many projects still on our to-do list, I remember how much has been accomplished and how thankful I am that we have our own home in beautiful southern California.
Marianne is a stay-at-home mom and private piano teacher. She has been married to her husband, Mark, for 9 years and they have two cute kids: Alexis is 5 and Grant is 2. They are loving the life God has given us in San Diego.
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