When you move, a lot of times you have big upfront expenses. For example, you might need a new washer and dryer or refrigerator. You might need to put in new flooring or buy ten gallons of paint. Whatever it is, you probably will be making a large purchase at Lowes or Home Depot. We personally had to purchase a washer and dryer as soon as we moved in and had just put all of our money into a down payment. Luckily, I was able to save 10% on our first big purchases, without opening a credit card!
How did I save so much money? By buying gift cards and coupons on eBay. I get that it sounds sketchy, but I promise that it is legit. I did this and have instructed other friends to do the same, and I have never heard of anyone having a negative experience.
Either way, be sure to check expiration dates. They can’t sell expired coupons or cards (and you have the protection of eBay who will always back you up if they did) but some of them have a pretty quick turn around. Just keep that in mind if you are planning out in advance!
Another option is to buy discounted gift cards. Lowes and Home Depot are both all over eBay. Those usually have no expiration date!
You usually cannot combine coupons but CAN use a coupon + a (discounted!) gift card for maximum savings.
When you’re a new homeowner, you don’t have a ton of money after you close on the home, but you also often need to do some improvements on your house. If you’ve never lived in a house before, like me, you might not have had a ton of tools to work with. When on a budget, it’s important to get an idea of when to splurge on tools and when to save.
How often are you going to use it? – If the answer is “I’m going to use it all the time,” then you probably want to spend a little more money. I love the drill I have. The first drill I had had low torque, couldn’t drill deep into things and the battery died all the time. It was cheap and chinsy and a waste of money. The 20 volt Porter Cable drill I have now is awesome. It’s powerful, the battery is great, and I never have any problems. I literally use my drill almost every single day for one thing or another, so this is where I wanted to spend some money.
How unique is this tool? – This question is in line with the first one because if the answer is that the tool is very unique, you likely aren’t going to use it that often, and if you aren’t going to use it that often, it might be better to spend less or borrow. For instance, I borrowed my neighbor’s brad nailer and air compression unit when we hung crown molding. At the time, the cheapest nail gun I could find was on sale for $199. I didn’t really want to spend an extra $200 on our crown molding project for that tool when I didn’t think I’d have much use for it after. I also borrowed another neighbor’s electric pole saw to cut down a limb on one of our trees. I’m not going to need to cut down that many limbs, so why spend a couple hundred bucks when my friendly neighbor offered me his?
What scale do you need this tool? – I asked myself this question when I was shopping for a miter saw. I use my miter saw all the time, but I had never used one before and didn’t know how much I’d need it. One thing I did know was that they ranged in price from $150-500 and I didn’t need some massive piece of equipment in my small garage. I ended up going with a 7 1/4 inch blade miter saw that I thought would fit my needs. I splurged a bit and got one with a miter and bevel and a slide, but I saved by getting a smaller blade and one that didn’t have extendable arms for leveling. I decided I didn’t need that big of a scale of tool, so I opted for one that better suited my needs.
How long is this going to last? – Know that if you buy a cheaper tool, it will likely not last as long. The price reflects the quality. If you need something now, but don’t have the ability to fund a big purchase, consider buying a lower quality version and save up for a while to buy the next one. This question also applies to hand-me-downs. I got a bunch of yard tools when my dad moved, including his lawn mower. It’s so old that I used it when I was a kid to mow the grass. But it works. It has no problems, it’s just not fancy. I’m going to take care of this mower for as long as it will last, and then I’ll buy a new one.
Think you need a tool and don’t want to pay full price? We have found that pawn shops actually have a great tool selection at a bargain price. Some big box tool stores like Lowes or Home Depot also offer daily or weekly tool rental for large items.
Every tool purchase is going to be a big one. You don’t always need to splurge for the best and brightest tool on the shelf, but you also don’t want to necessarily get the crappy cheap one either. Know your budget, know what you’re going to use it for and how often and make the decision that is best for you. If you are debating something, please feel free to drop a comment below and I’m happy to give my opinion on your next purchase!
Whether you are buying a home or renting a condo, there are good chances that you might live somewhere with a Homeowners Association (HOA). While some people hate HOAs, there are benefits – they are (in theory) looking out for what is best for the neighborhood. We have now lived in 2 places with HOAs and have finally figured out a plan for dealing with them both on a regular basis and when problems arise.
How to Avoid Problems with the HOA:
Read the rules & do your best to follow them. When you moved in, you were probably required to sign the rules. Did you read them? Probably not. It’s in your best interest to at least skim them, however, so you aren’t blindsided. If you choose to blatantly break a rule, go for it (and see below for our advice), but it’s better to know what the rules are either way.
Pick your battles. No one likes the guy who has a problem with everything. If you pop up at every meeting with a different problem, you’re going to be like the boy who cried wolf – no one will take you seriously. Try to pick one issue or topic to lead with for maximum effect.
Try to avoid complaining to the board. If you have a problem with a neighbor, just talk to them about it. Or leave an anonymous note if you’re scared. Don’t go to the board unless it’s a problem that you can’t solve on your own, or they will think you are annoying and naggy (see above). This does not apply to issues with common areas or neighborhood facilities.
Go to the meetings. I know, how annoying, how boring, yada yada. But, at the meetings, you will really hear what is going on. You will see who is in charge and can really pick up the dynamic of the board.
Make friends with someone on the board. The next best thing to being on the board yourself. You get the inside scoop and often get a heads up before something goes down. Plus, it’s always good to have someone on the inside on your side.
How to Handle Problems (Once You Have Them) with the HOA:
Approach the friendliest member first. If you followed my above advice, you made at least one friend on the board. Now is when you use that relationship. Oh I needed approval for that fence? You know I respect you buddy, that was just a mistake!
Plead ignorance. Now hopefully you actually read the HOA covenants as I suggested and you knew that you were willfully breaking a rule. They don’t know that, and they probably assume that you didn’t read the rules, or at least didn’t remember them. It’s a lot easier to forgive someone who accidentally broke a rule than willfully did it. I have actually gotten a fine waived to a warning just by acting like I didn’t know and being nice about it. The only thing with this one is that you can’t get away with it twice.
Apologize. Yeah, it sucks, but just saying “sorry about that!” will get you far.
Try to be nice. Name calling (to their face) won’t get you far. Remember, in this sad twisted situation, they hold the power. Yes, you pay dues, and that gets you one vote out of however many people in your neighborhood. They probably hold the proxy and get to cast many votes.
Consider running for the HOA. In both of the places that we have lived they have literally begged people to sign up. If you have a strong opinion, put yourself in a position to actually make a change.
Yay! You got your first tool box! But it’s empty. Whomp whomp. No fear, we’re here to help you fill it up. Your tool box is your on the go friend for completing projects. It doesn’t have to have everything, you just want it to be filled with things that you would commonly use to complete a variety of jobs. Your big big equipment, like saws, drills, power tools, etc obvi won’t fit in there, so here’s a list of tools for your first tool box.
Phillips head screwdriver
Flat head screwdriver
Picture hanging kit
Trim head nails
These are the most commonly used items on my day to day jobs that don’t involve power. Always have both types of screwdrivers because you won’t know what you run into. If you didn’t do it the first time, you’ll find sometimes people used a flat head and a Phillips to do the same job for some reason. Always have your measuring tape, level and pencil for properly measuring and marking your job. Hammers and nails are common. There are often so many things you need for the smallest job.
Take for instance this scenario- you want to hang a picture. Sounds easy enough, right? But let’s just count off each thing you will need- 1. measuring tape to determine where it goes and how far apart the nails go, 2. level to make sure you hang it… level, 3. stud finder to determine if you need drywall anchors or just nails, 4. pencil to mark where the nails go, 5. picture hanging kit or nails to hang the photo on, 6. hammer to tap the nails in. That’s SIX items needed just to hang a picture. Do you want to be running back and forth to the garage? Didn’t think so. That’s where the handy tool box comes into play.
What are some of the things you always keep in your tool box??
I got EXTREMELY lucky when we moved into our new house in that the very same weekend my dad was moving as well. What was lucky about it is that he had been accumulating tools and equipment for over 20 years at our old house and was moving somewhere he would no longer need any of it. So he gave me first serve at taking anything I needed from the shed.
As a new homeowner, I was not looking forward to the immediate large expenses of buying things to take care of our new yard. I was extremely lucky. But the reality is that I would have had to purchase tools if that situation hadn’t arisen. So my number one piece of advice for yard care tools is to see if you can get any hand-me-downs. If not, thrift stores are full of things like shovels, rakes, hedge trimmers, etc. Don’t feel ashamed to get an old tool if you need it immediately and then upgrade when you have the chance. With that, here are what I have learned to be the 6 must have yard tools for the new homeowner.
Lawn Mower– if you have grass, a lawn mower will be your most immediate need, especially if no one has been living in the house for a while and let the yard go. This is probably the tool that has the most potential to be crazy expensive, so try to get one cheap, or make friends with your new neighbor for a few months. You can find totally decent new lawn mowers for not that much either.
Rake– trees=leaves. A lot of leaves. If you have trees, you’ll need a rake. These are cheap and will go a long way. Even if you have a leaf blower, you’ll still need a rake to put the finishing touches on.
Hose– any plants to water? Any tools to clean? Any buckets to fill? Every new homeowner needs a hose. This is a spot I learned from seeing my dad’s hoses over the years of my childhood that you should spend a few extra dollars to get a solid hose that won’t crack and kink. Cheap hoses are everywhere, but you’ll end up buying seven of them over time. If you are going to buy one, make sure you make it worthwhile.
Weed Whacker– I never really knew the need for a weed whacker until I started mowing the grass in my yard and couldn’t get right up next to the fence. Guess we didn’t have that problem at my house growing up. If you want your yard to look pristine all the way up to the fence line, get a weed whacker.
Post Hole Digger– this is such a smart invention. If you need to dig perfectly round, smaller holes, like for planting bulbs or putting in fence posts or any structure, use a post hole digger. These quickly cut through the dirt and give you a perfect hole.
Wrecking Bar– without a wrecking bar, it would like have taken me at least five times as long to dig out the 14 scraggly bushes around our house that I’ve dug up (so far) on our property. This heavy piece of steel has a spade on one end and a poker on the other. It’s weight easily breaks up roots and makes it easy to pry up old stumps and roots.
What else have you found you needed since moving into your home?