Shopping smart. To some it means staying on budget, using coupons, or getting more for less. For me it means buying what fits my family and homestead best at the best price. I am going to focus on long-term or larger purchases. A home or a vehicle for instance.
One of the best examples I can use is our first home. Newly married, and looking to settle long term, Nathan and I decided that our best choice was to buy a home. We fell in love with a 90 year old farm house sitting on 7 acres. It was in desperate need of some TLC, and we were young and looking for something to put our mark on. Several weeks later we were up to our elbows in paint, sheet rock dust and 5 layers of kitchen flooring. Even though we didn't have plans to move, every improvement we made, we did with resale in mind.
Fast forward 8 years. The sale of our home played a very important part in our move to South Dakota. Because of some good planning (and a lot of luck) we were able to sell our home and purchase the property where we now live. The equity in our old home made a nice down payment and allowed us to remodel the new home.
Below is a list of what we specifically looked for when buying our first home, that helped built equity.
Unfinished basement - The basement was a concrete nightmare. Uneven walls, damp, low ceilings, and that musty basement smell. We invested about $4000 transforming it into a bedroom, storage room, and family room. The single most important addition to the basement was cutting out part of the wall to make an egress window. This made the bedroom an actual bedroom (according to real estate terms) and really brightened things up.
Outbuildings - Everyone looking for a small homestead or hobby farm wants outbuildings. They are expensive to build so having them can really help you sell. Our home had a separate garage, two-car shop, lean-to, and large barn. We put a new roof on the barn and shop and did some serious cleaning. What had once been eye sores, were now quaint and functional. They were one of our homes best features.
Kitchen in Need - Our old kitchen was very much in need of love... and soap. I'm thinking that was why it sat on the market so long before we came along. We designed the new kitchen to have an eating area. Little did I know at the time what a huge selling point that would be. I still miss it.
One bath, with room for more - The house originally had just one bath. Before we even signed the papers, I had an idea of where to add another one. Trust me, two baths is waaayyyy better than one (especially for a family of five).
By the time we sold, we had invested about $20,000 (not including new roof which ins. paid for) into our home. We bought a 3 bedroom, one bath, two story; and sold a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, two story with finished basement and master suite. This is pretty much the only reason we were able to buy our current property. We shopped smart when we bought our house, and it fit our needs. Not too big, not too small.
Note: We were able to spend so little on remodeling because Nathan is an experienced carpenter, so our only cost was materials. When in doubt, hire a professional, and be sure to budget accordingly.
So next time you are shopping for... say a new cordless drill (I pick that because we happen to need a new one), don't buy the cheapest one you can find with long term use in mind. Do your homework, read reviews, and save up to spend money for a good one. We had purchased a cheapie one, and for what we paid for cheap batteries and a worthless drill, we could have bought a nice used one at a pawn shop (they are a great source for tools). The same goes for appliances, clothing, and vehicles.
Remember, shop smart, and in the long run you will pay less.
I would love to hear your shop smart stories. I may even pick one to share with next weeks, money management post. To submit your story, click the "Contact Me" tab at the top of the page.