Ways to save money with a fixer upper.


We bought a 1941 fixer upper in April of this year.  It had been abandoned for years except for the squatters that took up residence and rotated groups of them out for God knows how long.

The home has great bones, as they say (I picked up a lot of housing lingo on this journey), and what it needed most was a scrub down and paint.  I like to use green cleaners but I turned to bleach cleaners for this project being that I can only imagine what had occurred in our home and didn’t want us getting a case of staph or whatever you get from intense filth.

Industrial strength cleaners, paint, paint, and more paint, lots of mowing, pruning, planting, and some fences and that was it.  There was a little plumbing and electrical and we did hire a carpenter for a while but then he left for a family emergency in Mexico and my husband learned to do a lot of things fast.

Now we are settled in and not wanting to dip into the savings anymore.  We were very smart about the purchase and penny wise with the work on the place but now we are having to be super frugal.  As in work with what we have and no more trips to Home Depot.

But I still need soil for one of my raised beds.  I need a laundry line.  We had no light bulbs.  I have other desires too, like a hammock and things that don’t make the list of “priorities”.

And just like that PG & E called regarding a weatherization on our house.  Being that we are low income we qualify for something I talk about in my books all the time but never owned a house to do it.  PG & E’s Weatherization Program.  PG&E will come in and change out your lightbulbs, weather strip doors and windows, replace your microwave…or give you one if you don’t have one.  They will insulate your attic and caulk under sinks.  You can get support in replacing a frig too.  All you need is a pay stub and a bill that shows that you do reside there.  If you rent you need the landlord’s permission.  I love this program and we just had almost $300 dollars worth of LED lights installed for free!  And the lights aren’t that hideous fluorescent.  They actually give off a very warm and soft light.  We won’t qualify for insulation in the attic, however, because we have tube and knob wiring and it’s a fire hazard.  Not really, it’s some of the best wiring from the old days but companies don’t want to be liable.

I also found that you can go to the local landfill sites and get free compost and free mulch.  This can save a bundle.  There is a limit though and for our area, I was told 50 lbs and that ain’t much but it helps.  You can find free manure and soil on Craigslist, you just don’t always know how good the dirt is.

In some areas, the local gas or/and electric companies have free tree programs.  SMUD in Sacramento County will give you up to 10 trees for free!  We are in Sutter county with no such program.  Darn.

I’ve found free lumber and bricks on Craigslist.  There is another site FreeCycle where people give and trade all sorts of things.

As for the laundry line, as soon as I find where I packed that rope I will have one.




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