Budget Bliss
October, 2008 - Issue #48
photography by Ted Dayton
No one likes adding home improvements to the list of items already chipping away at your budget. But with careful consideration, there are finance-friendly ways to live better - and save money in the long run.

Curb Appeal that Lasts a Lifetime
Vinyl is a trend-of-the-century product that, in the long run, will save you big money. Plus, it adds beauty and equity to your home. Instead of installing (or re-installing) a wood fence, with the one-time purchase of vinyl, you'll enjoying years without upkeep or maintenance; there's no splintering or cracking; no wood replacement or repainting; and it stands up against earthquakes, high winds and fire. Vinyl can also be used to build your decking/railing, gazebo, trellis or patio cover. Bliss tip by Madalen Hagopian of Valencia Vinyl 702-1347

"Trim" your Expenses with Paint
When money's tight, it's natural to "let things slide" a bit - but some improvements need to be done now so that they don't cost you "big" later. The wood trim on your home should be properly covered, or it could result in a major expense. Cracked or splitting wood trim left alone may need to be replaced rather than just recoated. Paint or stain is just a fraction of the cost and freshens up the look of your home. Bliss tip by Jon Green of Mint Condition Painting & Moulding 251-5521

Don't take Risks with Color
Hiring a company that provides free color samples so you can visualize what your home will look like with a new color palate will help calm anxieties over the project; plus, you'll save time, money and energy on this popular home improvement. And make sure your home exterior is power washed first (some companies offer this as a complimentary service), which is especially important for stucco. That will help ensure that your new paint will last through harsh conditions. Bliss tip by Steve Berger of J&B Painting, Inc. 800-949-2534

Beat the Heat without a Patio Cover
Permanent patio covers can be expensive, and you need to refinish wood covers quite often. A more affordable way to cool off is to place umbrellas in the areas you need them. You can choose from a wide array of colors and take them in when you're away, or during cooler months. Make sure you get a quality umbrella that is made from Sunbrella fabric; these umbrellas - which feature auto tilt - start at $300, and your investment will last for years. Bliss tip by Amy Boswell of Oasis Garden & Patio 255-9909

Forget the Moving Sign for Now
Many economic forecasts clearly state that the housing market won't begin to pick back up until at least 2010. So, what's a growing family trapped in a too-small house to do? Instead of risking a short sale or a major loss (plus the cost and stress of moving), expand the home you have. Most quality home extensions (i.e. of a bedroom, family room, etc.) start around $30,000 - not a small price tag. But when you factor in low interest rates, the added equity you'll eventually see from the improvement, the protection on the investment you've made in your current home - and - most importantly, the improvement in your quality of life, it makes a lot of sense. Bliss tip by Greg Aliano of Top Construction 775-9945
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