Every January, we promise ourselves to start following good habits, but those intentions often fizzle just a few weeks into the new year. But what if there was a link between self-improvement and home improvement? Whether it’s losing weight, getting organized or making more money, your house can help you keep these New Year’s Resolutions for your home.
Making upgrades to your money pit can actually help you meet your goals for health, wealth and happiness this year! With a few simple changes, you can expand your space, save money, make your home a healthier, better living environment and – yes, actually accomplish some of your New Year’s Resolutions in the process! Here’s where to begin:
New Years Resolution #1: Save Money
Saving money is a common New Year’s resolution that is often accompanied by vows to cut back on the daily lattes and make dinner-and-a-movie nights the rarest of occasions. You might not realize that making a few changes or smart choices around your home can help you hold on to more dollars and cents – no sacrifices necessary.
Make smart remodeling investments
If you’re thinking about making some home improvements this year but are worried about the expense, you might want to give top priority to those that can make you money when it comes time to sell your house. For example, one source reports that even though the average deck addition costs $10,950, you’ll see a return on that investment of 82%. Plus, fixing up a tired bathroom can deliver an impressive return if the house is sold within one year from the time the work is completed. And even smaller projects like replacing your garage door at an average cost of $3,400 can score a 98% ROI.
Even if your home improvement budget isn’t up for these big projects, smaller ones can also pay big dividends. Replacing your garage door at an average cost of $3,400 can score a 98% ROI. Replacing kitchen appliances with ones that meet the new Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Star rating can reduce utility expenses and help protect the environment. Even something as small as replacing 25% of the incandescent light bulbs in your home with LED bulbs can reduce total electric lighting costs by an amazing 80%.
Keep more of what you make
If you spent way too much time last year organizing for last year’s tax returns by hunting around for important documents, getting those organized is probably high on your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Start by gathering last year’s home improvement and maintenance expenses. Some of these expenses may be deductible, especially if you own rental property, or can reduce your tax burden when it comes time to sell. If you made appliance purchases this year, find the receipts and staple them to the inside back cover of your owner’s manual. This way you’ll know where they are in the event a warranty claim becomes necessary.
Stop wasting money
The best way to keep your house from costing more than necessary this year to is lower your energy usage. Even if your home is only three years old, it may not be up to new standards when it comes to energy efficiency. Small fix-ups like improving insulation, caulking around windows or sealing the gaps around outlets and light switches on exterior walls can dramatically reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home.
For a list of hundreds of great energy saving ideas, check out the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network Energy Saver’s Guide. Here you’ll find great do-it-yourself energy saving tips for all areas of your home, as well as a shopping guide to help you choose the most efficient major appliances and a seasonal tip section that suggests the best improvement for each month of the year.
New Years Resolution #2: Lose Weight
Losing weight is a perennial New Year’s resolution, spurring countless gym memberships and diets that are neglected by the end of January. If your goal is to go on a diet, consider that “cutting the fat” would mean decluttering your rooms. Crowded spaces are hard to work in, hard to clean and can take way too much of your daily energy better put to more productive projects.
Putting practical storage systems in place throughout your home pays off by saving you time and energy that could be put to so much better use than endlessly rifling through the dreaded “everything drawer,” climbing over piles of laundry or stepping on painful Lego blocks in your kids rooms!
To clear clutter, it’s best to start with closets or other storage areas first. Get rid of anything that’s outdated, run-down, broken, or unwanted. Once you’ve freed up space in those areas, you can then clear rooms, corners and other open spaces and put leftover items in your now spacious closets.
Set up easy-to-use home organization centers at key points in the home, such as entryways, mud rooms, and laundry areas. If you don’t have a home office, carve out a small but functional space somewhere — having a dedicated place to work will help you focus on the tasks at hand.
Turn a cramped laundry room into a bright, functional workspace you and your family actually enjoy using. First, make sure the room is adequately lit, adding fluorescents and track lighting systems as needed. Make laundry-folding a breeze by installing a waist-level surface in an attractive, easy-to-clean material such as granite or solid surfacing.
If you’re in the market for new appliances, stackable washers and dryers free up valuable real estate. Front-loading machines with doors that open in opposite directions make transferring laundry quicker and easier. If you need to work with what you’ve already got, some manufacturers provide a frame for stacking certain floor models, or machine pedestals with built-in storage drawers. Add a fold-away ironing board, collapsible drying racks, and a small bowl or basket for stray change and other pocket finds.
Take on closets
A great bedroom closet system makes facing the day that much easier and can also be a positive selling point when it comes time to move. Quality components can be found at many home improvement and design stores. Also check out the products and online planning tools offered by specialists such as Schulte, EasyClosets, and ClosetMaid.
If you don’t have the budget for a specialized closet system, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to improve closet organization. Many clothes closets can accommodate another hanging rod installed below the first fixture to double the hanger space. Make room for wardrobe additions by swapping your current hangers for slim, nonslip versions that take up less space. Install wire-rack or solid shelves for storing folded sweaters, and add baskets or bins made of canvas, rattan or plastic to hold handbags and other accessories.
Hinged closet doors allow for hooks and knobs for robes, ties or scarves, as well as all kinds of over-the-door organizers, such as those with pockets for shoes. Alternately, a shoe rack keeps the closet floor from becoming a seemingly bottomless pit of mismatched footwear.