Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: Making a House a Home on a Budget

Monday, November 24, 2014

Making a House a Home on a Budget

Making a House a Home on a Budget via Blissful and Domestic Blog

When Hubby and I were in the market for buying a home, we ended up doing things that were very far from the norm. While Hubby was in the military, we had saved up over $30,000 to use as a down payment on a home. We thought Hubby would get out of the military, find a job, and then we would find our dream home. We had made a lot of plans and were excited to start seeing them unfold. Then economic crisis happened and we had to change our plans. Hubby wasn't able to find a job, so he decided to go back to school full time and get his degree. We were living in an apartment and we were going to have to start tapping into our savings to cover our rent. This is what we thought was our fate until Hubby had an idea. He said that since we had money saved up, we should see what we could get in regards to a home for only what we had in our savings account. We decided to pay cash for our home. We knew that $30,000 wouldn't buy us our dream home, but it would buy us something to live in and fix up throughout the years. We went with a Realtor and told him our plan. Only a few houses were within our very limited budget. We found a home for less than what we had in cash, which left us a bit of money to fix it up. We bought a trailer, who's previous owners had recently started renovations on. It was rough, but it was ours. Hubby worked tirelessly on that trailer, day and night. He put in a kitchen and fixed that rotten flooring that was in some some of the rooms. It wasn't perfect, but it was ours. This house would become our little family project.

I remember when Hubby first told me of his plan, I was less than thrilled. This was not what I had envisioned. Then reality hit and I remembered how thankful I should be for the situation we were in. When so many around us were foreclosing on their homes, we would be able to pay cash for one and not have any monthly mortgage payments. That in itself was enough for me to get on board. I also liked the idea of having a clean canvas to create with. No matter the current state of your home, don't get discouraged. Through a bit of creativity and hard work, you can create something beautiful.

There were a few things that helped me, as we lived in our fixer upper. Being content with what we had, being frugal, and being patient all helped us in fixing up our house without going into debt. We didn't want to have to pay for renovations years down the road because we charged them on a credit card. We shopped smart and have continued to work on our home to make it perfect for us.

Be Content with What You Have

Being content is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Sometimes we get so focused on where we want to be tomorrow, we forget to enjoy today. If there are things that you would like to change about your home, that's fine, but don't let it consume you. Give yourself a “blessing check”. Have you heard of that before? It is where you count your many blessings and name them one by one. Doing this, puts things in focus. No my fixer upper was not absolute bliss, but my family was together and we were making things work. We all have been given so much and I think it is important to take a step back now and again to see all that we have been given.

I think it is also important to be ok with where you are at right now. I have seen so many people who are in a hurry to get a bigger and better thing, whether it be a house, car, you name it. Be content with what you have. Don't rush into things, just because you want that immediate gratification,

Be Patient

When you are wanting to redo things in your home, be patient, Rome wasn't built in a day and your home can't be fixed in a day either. Focus on the things you can change right now, rather than the things you can't. If you think your front door is looking less than fabulous, but don't have the cash to redo the door, liven it up with a fun new wreath. It is a little fix that can brighten up a dreary door and have you feeling better about your surroundings. This is something I learned as we have lived in a fixer upper. When we had cabinets without doors, I got creative and used suspension rods with curtains. When we couldn't afford that new hardwood floor I wanted, we got creative and painted our existing flooring. It is those little things that create a homey inviting space. A house does not have be dressed to the nines to become a home. It is the people living within those walls that make it home. Never forget that.

Be Frugal

When you are planning to upgrade things in your house, do it with a frugal mindset. Going into debt to fix our house, was not something we wanted to do. When we have wanted to fix things in our home, we figure out how much it will cost to complete the project, plus a little extra for the unexpected, and save up the money. Being able to pay cash for the upgrades, is a relief. It is no fun to charge an upgrade and continue paying it off months after the project is done. Be patient. It will feel even greater if you know you are not still paying for whatever project you just completed.

There are a lot of places where you can find discounted items to fix your home up with. Thrift stores sell all kinds of home goods that you can use to decorate your home with. THe majority of our home is decorated with items I made or found at thrift stores. Another place you can go to is The Habitat For Humanity Store. They sell all kinds of items to help you with your home projects. Hubby has found fencing, cabinets, tiles, and light fixtures there. Buying used and saving the difference really helps keep the cost down on projects around the house.

When we first moved into our home, I wanted to paint the hallway, but we didn't have enough money for paint. I shared this with my family and it turned out that many of them had paint cans in the garage leftover from when they painted there own homes. The paint also happened to go with our color scheme. Reusing something that someone else was going to throw away really helped us stay within a limited budget. 

No matter what, give yourself a bit fo grace. Don't try to keep up with those around you. Do what is right for your family and do it on a budget. You will never go wrong when you set a budget, pay cash, and create beautiful on less:)

I hope this gives you a bit of a glimpse into what has helped me as we create our house into a home.

XO Danielle


  1. Great post! I would LOVE to see photos of some of your projects. :) My husband and I are getting ready to move into our $33k fixer upper and I'm dying for inspiration. Cheers!

  2. I remember when I first found your blog, it was the year before I bought my own home, and I poured over your posts about you two buying your house and renovating it. It gave me so much encouragement. I bought a house with great bones and lots of potential and it's become a home with great work and resolve much like your own. Thank you for always inspiring!

  3. loved your post ! as well we did the same thing! and we still live in the house 28 years later and its paid off and we dont worry! and its totally fixed up! Do you still live in the same house you wrote about?

  4. This is great advice! I love the Habitat for Humanity Stores. My mom, who runs a local community theater, was able to get 20 beautiful matching upholstered chairs for the theater-- for a tiny fraction of what they would have cost new. Also, windows, a large counter, plus lots more. It's so great to re-use things from secondhand stores and they have lots of life in them. Thanks for your home tips!

  5. This is such a great post! You have a fun, inviting home and have been a great example to me as I practice patience in wanting to fix and update our home. My hubby is super frugal and he is the one who found your blog and got me visiting and I love it and learn so much. Our home is also paid completely off and it feels soooo good! Now that the children are mostly grown and on their own, we are thinking of down sizing and pocketing a large chunk of change into the 'ole retirement account. If you ever do decided to "upscale" you should consider keeping your current home as rental property since it is paid for. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

  6. This was a great post Danielle with a lot of good advice.... Would love to see a home tour of your house and what you have done, made, thrifted etc.. Thank you again for this post! :) XO Robyn

  7. Such beautiful, positive, real life advice! Thank you for reminding me to find contentment in my imperfect home. You are so right. I have so much to be thankful for! We also choose to live a debt free lifestyle and do as many of our home renos and repairs ourselves as possible. Just this morning upon waking, disturbingly, I found the my kitchen sink has detached itself from the drainpipe underneath causing a big mess under the sink. While cleaning it up-first thing this morning, so not fun...I also found that a second leak happening where two pipes connect in a different spot. This leaves me without a kitchen sink to use until it's fixed. I sent pictures of the issue to my husband, who is at work. Before calling a plumber, I will patiently wait for my husband to have time to try to fix it first. Which I'm confident he'll probably be able to do at a fraction of the cost of hiring a plumber. Hopefully later this evening after he gets home from work or tomorrow! I tell myself that even with a family of 7, and a very busy kitchen, it's not as bad as it seems. I'll just use a plastic washtub as a sink replacement and collect/dispose of water from the nearby bathroom sink for now ;) Which I am very thankful for :) Have a wonderful day Danielle! Reading your post has been a blessing to me this morning :)

  8. Danielle,
    what a wonderful post..I would love to see a home tour on a blog post.. I saw your kitchen tour.. It is lovely..You two,have done a great job.
    My hubby built our house [no, he is not a housebuilder- but we could not afford to have one built..]He read lots of library books and studied. He did some carpentry work at his job.. It was a big undertaking , but I love my home. and I love that he built it with his own two hands. He had no help[other than me and the 2 kids...which we weren't much help ,ha]. We hired the house to be bricked.Other than that, he did it. We owe nothing on it. and it is wonderful to have our house paid for. We are retired now, and I cant imagine having to make house payments. We still are doing things to the house- 20 yrs later.. SO fun.

  9. "Be Content With What You Have"--to me, this is the best of all the statements. Too many people have tried to make themselves happy by living their lives for others, and most of the time, it doesn't work out that way. Having your home paid for is a wonderful feeling. I'd rather have that than a great big house any day.


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