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Home Improvement ROI

Tanisha Warner

By Tanisha Warner, Communications Manager

Because a home is still one of the biggest investments most people will make, it pays to spend a little money and time protecting its value. According to Remodeling Magazine's 2009 Cost vs. Value Report, home repairs and remodeling are still worth the investment. Big projects such as adding an additional room or outdoor deck will generally offer the best return. However, big home improvement projects come with big price tags, so it’s smart to weigh your options.

No matter the project size, the key is to have a plan and a budget. Create a detailed spending plan and don’t forget to budget for incidentals such as equipment rentals and delivery charges. For large projects, consider the cost of contractors and permits.

Taking good care of your home can help you avoid costly repairs down the road, so if nothing else consider small projects that help to maintain efficient functioning. For a big impact with little cost, consider the following home improvement projects:

Fix what’s broken. Basic repairs may not be as exciting as adding on a new room or installing a pool, but may be the most practical choice for your weekend do-it-yourself project. Visit your local home improvement store and take classes to learn how to repair a leaky faucet or toilet, replace electrical outlets, fix a squeaky door or floor board, as well as many other general home improvement projects.

Focus on first impressions. Fresh paint and a few flowers can be purchased for a minimal cost, but curb appeal can go a long way in creating a cozy finished look for your home. Keep gutters and shingles secure. Consider replacing windows with energy efficient material to save big on utility cost.

Consider the wet areas. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most common value-add remodeling projects. Both spaces offer an opportunity to either start really small with new facets and lighting to really large expansion projects. Simple do-it-yourself improvement projects for these areas include adding new hardware to cabinets, retiling the floor or countertops, and freshening up the walls with new paint and wallpaper.

Finally, update old appliances to more energy efficient models. The cost to use appliances can quickly outweigh the purchase price, so it pays to buy energy efficient models and save big on utility cost. Visit to learn more about energy efficient appliances and available grant programs in your area.

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Go green on any budget: Ideas from the extreme to ones that save you green


The smart consumer knows the difference between the things they can afford and those they can’t, and to only make purchases that fit within their budget. The smart eco-friendly consumer stretches their dollar even further by making purchases that are not only beneficial to their bank account, but to the environment as well.

From extreme green living ideas (better for big budgets) to money-saving ideas to be more environmentally friendly (perfect for those with not a lot to spend), MMI offers the following ideas for going green.

Energy efficient home

Extreme: Equip your home with solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity. Install a composting toilet. Grow all your food in a greenhouse in the backyard.

Saves you green: See if you qualify for a state-approved appliance rebate programs. Thanks to Congress approving a national $300 million budget to support these state-approved programs, you could get money back when you purchase an Energy Star appliance like a hot water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine to make your home more energy efficient. Visit to learn about the appliance rebate program in your state.

Eco-friendly Travel

Extreme: Cruise around in an eco-friendly neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) like the Peapod. These all-electric cars are environmentally friendly because they don’t use gas or give off ozone-depleting emissions. Starting at $12,500 and maxing out at speeds of 25 miles per hour, the Peapod maybe a little too pricey for Sunday drives around the neighborhood.

Saves you green: If you can’t afford an electric car or a hybrid, there are still ways to save on fuel. Use cruise control and make sure you car tires are properly inflated to improve fuel efficiency. Also consider carpooling or taking public transportation.

Green education

Extreme: If you are planning on furthering your education and are seeking to match your passion for the environment with a college that has demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability, you can probably find the university for you on The Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges.

Saves you green: Take advantage of free online resources to further your education. has a wealth of information on how to live green. In addition, the free articles and tools on can help you become a more financially literate consumer, so you can better manage your money and budget for green purchases. Just remember to turn off your computer when you’re not soaking up all the free knowledge online.

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Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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