7 Budget Hacks that Do More Harm than Good

hand pouring chemicals into a sink drain

We all want to find ways to save a little money on our DIY projects, e.g., why buy new furniture when refurbishing the old can give you a fresh new look in your space? By all means, keep more dough in your pocket, but don’t be tempted to skimp when it matters, especially since you may actually be doing more harm than good.

1. Chemical Uncloggers

Chemical drain cleaners are inexpensive and work quickly, but bear in mind, these powerful chemicals can be damaging to your pipes. Reaching for these drain cleaners every time your drain slows down can lead to costly repairs that could have been avoided had you applied a little elbow grease instead.

Allow yourself to splurge on a couple of handy tools, namely a sink plunger and a hair-grabbing drain snake. Both are easy to use and relatively inexpensive, but in a pinch, you can always use other household items to help clear that drain. Once that's done, some monthly maintenance can help keep your drains clear so you won’t need those harsh chemicals.

2. Cheap Windows

Window replacement is not cheap, but it's necessary if you want to keep your house comfortable during the seasons of extreme heat and cold. Unfortunately, cost is the reason many homeowners choose to go with cheaper windows rather than pay extra for ones that provide quality performance. Keep the big picture in mind when making this purchase. Those cheaper options won’t have saved you all that much in the long run when you consider the energy costs involved.

3. Slapdash Cabinets

Repainting cabinets is a great money-saving project, but don’t even begin that journey unless you’re willing to follow all the steps to see it through. It’s a tedious and lengthy process of removing, cleaning, refinishing, priming, and painting. And don’t forget to mark them, so you know where each door belongs—'cuz yeah, we've done that before.

While it's certainly possible to paint them without following each step, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve a nice finish at the end of your project. After all that effort, you might just be rewarded with a sloppy look that'll never inspire you to invite the neighbors or in-laws over. Or was that your goal to begin with?

hand brushing stain onto a wood floor

4. Staining Your Floors

There are lots of floor projects DIYers are more than capable of doing. Staining your own floors? Let’s back up here. Working with stain can be tricky, especially when it comes to doing a large expanse like your living room. It's a time-sensitive job because once the stain dries, overlapping strokes show up darker than the surrounding areas. Try it. You'll see. Or rather, can we suggest some bamboo flooring instead?

5. Underwatering

If you live in areas where water rationing is commonplace, you may be tempted to let the garden fry in the hot summer sun. We applaud your desire to save water, but your neighbors and HOA might not be so pleased. Rather than ignoring your garden's hydration needs, consider reducing the size of your lawn or xeriscaping the entire garden. Both options will enable you to save water while keeping up the look and value of your home.

xeriscaped garden with grass and red flowers

6. Always Going with the Cheapest Quote

If you’ve decided you can’t DIY it, the smart thing to do is gather bids from at least three contractors. You probably know where we’re going with this, but we’ll say it anyway. Don’t base your decision on the final price. Take a closer look at those quotes and make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Due diligence is required to ensure you get the final look you want, so check those references and scour their reviews online.

7. Skipping Regular Maintenance

Sometimes adulting is just hard. Especially when other fun activities await you. Besides, you’ll get to whatever chore that’s waiting for you...eventually. The problem is that skimping on the maintenance can lead to some serious issues that will require even more adulting than you would have had to do if you’d not shirked your duties from the beginning.

Example—cleaning the gutters. You might think you’re saving yourself additional effort by just doing it once a year after all the leaves have fallen from the trees around your property. Not so fast. Clogged gutters overflow and drain into the foundation rather than being directed away from the house. It can lead to ice dams in the winter that leak water into the home, causing damage to the walls and roof. Maintenance, folks. Upkeep is much easier than repair.

By all means, do what you can to save money when DIYing, but think big picture before committing to the cheapest options.