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How to Budget and Save on a Kitchen Renovation

How to Budget and Save on a Kitchen Renovation

Whether its a growing household with changing needs or dated décor in need of a refresh, there are many reasons homeowners might choose to renovate their kitchen. Like any big project, budgeting and planning before you start are key to creating a space youll love with a price tag you can afford.  

Budget for the Best Results 

A spreadsheet can help organize your thoughts around what you want to do in each area and track estimated costs. Put labor and material prices for everything you’ll need on it, from countertops to cabinet pulls, including:  

Flooring. Stone or hardwood can be expensive, especially with the labor costs added in, but high-quality porcelain or vinyl flooring can often achieve a similar look for less. 

Cabinets. From custom-built to prefab bases and cabinets, theres a wide range of price options. Extras like fancy moldings, inset doors, glass fronts and cabinet lights. Youll also need cabinet hardware such as knobs.

Countertops. High-end marble or other precious stone countertops can be a luxurious, signature look. But entry-level granite or a laminate thats a dead ringer for limestone or concrete can still make a great statement and help you save some of your budget for that gas range youve always wanted. 

Backsplash. Simple white subway tile is an affordable, classic look. But especially in smaller spaces, you might decide to splurge on glass or hand-painted ceramic tile to create a focal point right at eye level where people will notice it most. 

Appliances. Refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers all offer varying levels of features depending on price point. Shop based on your wants and needs, which may not be all the bells and whistles. Pick features like Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreens or a double oven that matter most to you and economize in other areas where you can. 

Lighting and plumbing fixtures. Whether you’re placing pendants over a kitchen island, installing recessed cans, adding undercabinet lighting or hanging a chandelier in the breakfast nook, you may need a number of fixtures in your new kitchen. Compare prices online and shop ahead for the best deals. Ditto for your faucets and sink.  

Paint and wallpaper. Whether youre freshening your white walls or adding a bold color you want to include supplies and labor for furnishing your walls. 

Décor. Once your kitchen is sparkling new, you may want to update your table, chairs, barstools, window treatments, artwork and accessoriesso dont forget to include these items in your budget. 

Footprint. Keeping the location of your existing electric and plumbing the same will help you save overall. Moving water lines and extensive rewiring can add substantially to labor costs. 

Permits and taxes. Its not the most enjoyable part of the project to consider, but youll have permitting and inspection costs, and your property taxes may increase so be sure to keep those expenses in mind as you plan your project. 

Project management. Consider whether you might need expert help. Hiring a general contractor to manage all your subcontractors or an interior designer to help you make selections may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the biggest price tag can come from costly, but avoidable, mistakes. However, you should only take this level of project on if youre experienced and have at least a 15% to 20% contingency budget for handling the unexpected. 


No matter the final cost of your kitchen renovation, deciding how to pay for it is a big part of the plan. No financing is always the cheapest financing, so the most economical way is to save up beforehand. If thats not feasible, you can consider a HELOC loan, refinancing your mortgage if the fees and mortgage rate make sense or even using credit cards, provided the interest rates are affordable.  

Its a good idea to consult with a financial professional to help assess your cash flow and savings targets so you can plan for the kitchen of your dreams without sacrificing your retirement security or other financial goals.  

Budgeting for an Engagement Ring

Budgeting for an Engagement Ring

You’ve found a quiet, secluded beach to pop the question, and picked out the perfect bottle of champagne for a celebratory toast. Most importantly, you’ve found that special someone who’s captured your heart — the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Now all that’s left is to find the right ring, a token of your eternal love, to seal the deal. 

While you want something beautiful that encapsulates your special love story, you also want to stay true to your financial aspirations as a couple as you begin the next chapter of your lives together. Here are tips to help you find the right ring for you and your partner, and for your budget, as you seek a symbol of your connection while honoring your commitment to a secure financial future together.  

Design Decisions Can Drive Cost 

The average cost of a diamond engagement ring is between $3,500 and $5,000. Opting for a different size or diamond cut can alter the price substantially, but so can the setting and the material for the ring itself. Using a vintage ring or a family heirloom, which can often be re-set into a new band, can be a great sentimental and cost-saving option.  

Think Outside the Rock 

Though many people think diamonds are synonymous with engagement rings, a mined diamond isn’t the only option available. Lab-created diamonds typically cost 50% to 70% less than mined diamonds. Other stones, such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds, can reduce your cost while giving a unique look that may even stand out more than a traditional diamond. And if you like the look of diamonds but not the cost, moissanite is a beautiful, clear, sparkling stone that mimics the look of diamonds at a fraction of the price typically around 1/10th the cost of a similar size diamond. 

Budget for the Ring You Want 

 Whether you plan to be frugal or more extravagant with your ring purchase, it’s important to budget in a way that supports your goals. Once you have the right ring picked out, spending-tracker apps and automatic savings deductions can help you set money aside. A ring that’s out of your immediate price range might be eligible for a payment plan, but be sure to check the financing terms carefully look over the interest rate, how often it’s compounded and any late payment penalties or other fees. Think realistically about your price range it’s best not to put a ring on a high-interest credit card, which will increase your cost even further. 

Your Journey Begins Here 

When you’re budgeting for a ring, put this significant purchase into perspective. Remember that you’ll need to balance the expense with the other costs you’ll incur as you begin your lives together, like buying a house or starting a family. And unless you plan on a low-key ceremony, small reception or a frugal honeymoon, when you budget for a ring, you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t cut into your wedding budget too much. Consider consulting a financial professional to help you plan for this expense, and remember that regardless of which engagement ring you choose or what it costs, what matters most is the one who’ll be wearing it.  


Big-Ticket Budgeting

Big-Ticket Budgeting

Saving for a big purchase can be a big challenge, whether it’s a brand-new car, a hot tub or even a 1959 Gibson Les Paul. But you can tackle your elephant-sized purchase with a similar strategy: Just take it one step at a time. Here are a few big-ticket budgeting tips that you won’t need a memory like an elephant to remember to use. 

1. Set a reasonable budget then pad it. It’s always wise to allow extra room in your budget for contingencies. There can be unexpected surprises, especially with larger purchases. And unfortunately, things often have a way of costing more than you expected. Consider allowing a minimum 10% overrun on your big-ticket budget. 

2. Find discounts and take advantage of them. If you’re traveling, for example, consider AAA or AARP discounts. Off-season travel can score you some savings, too. Many items and experiences cost more depending on when you buy or book them. Always look for coupons and other saving options when paying for routine purchases such as oil changes for your car, grocery shopping, dining out and ordering pizza. 

3. Comparison shop. Scour the web and Google Shopping for other retailers who offer the product or service you’re interested in. If you’re looking for a car, for example, don’t assume that the price at your local dealer is “the” price., and other online resources can provide options in your area that you can filter based on your needs and preferences. And be sure to check national franchises that can ship inventory from across the country to find the best deal.  

4. Ask a “friend.” Crowdsourcing consumer opinions has never been easier. Most products and services are reviewed, rated and compared and the results can be easily searched for online. Search the comments for keywords like discount, savings or cost less to see how others saved on their purchases. 

4. Set up a dedicated account. A great way to help organize your savings for a large purchase is to earmark the money intended for it by keeping the funds in a separate account. That way, you can more easily track your progress and you won’t be tempted to spend the money on anything else 

5. Boost your savings with offsets. Take a look in your garage, the back of your closets and the attic. See if there are things of value that you no longer use or want. Sell them on eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp or at a yard sale. On the flip side, a penny saved is a penny earned. Can you decrease nonessential spending until you reach your savings goal? 

6. Put time on your side. Start saving as early as possible. If you wait until the last minute, you may be faced with having to do some pretty extreme saving. The sooner you start, the less you’ll feel the impact on your day-to-day budget. 

Seek out Advice — and Save 

Family members, friends and co-workers might have their own experiences with the purchase you’re about to make and can share how they saved money on it. Ask for their advice but also consider bringing in an expert by speaking with a financial professional who can help you make a realistic, feasible plan for your purchase. 



Control Car Costs

Control Car Costs

There’s more to consider when buying a car than deciding on whether you want the upgraded sound system. Remember that your monthly payment will comprise more than just your car note. AAA reports that drivers can expect to spend about $750 a year on average for repairs and another $1,200 or so on insurance. And then there’s filling the tank, an occasional trip through the car wash and purchasing a pair of fuzzy dice. But with prudent planning, you can still own a car without breaking your budget. 

Keep up With Routine Maintenance. Even if you have a brand-new car with a full warranty, you’ll still have regular maintenance expenses like oil changes, air filter replacements and tire rotations. So, set aside money in your monthly budget to keep up with these routine costs. Skipping or delaying service can lead to more expensive repairs down the road. And especially if you have an older car, a membership with AAA or other roadside assistance program can avert a pricey tow should you break down far from home.
Curb Insurance Costs. Remember your high school driving class? Those lessons are just as relevant now. Don’t have a lead foot on the road. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs (legal or otherwise). Tickets can have lasting effects on your pocketbook. In some states, insurance rates can rise by as much as 30% after you get a ticket — and premium increases can last for years. 

Luxury or high-end vehicles can also jack up the price of insurance because of the typically higher repair costs for these cars. So buying a more moderately priced vehicle can help reduce your insurance bill as well as your loan payments. And there are other steps you can take to reduce the risk of a claim. Leaving a car parked in a driveway most of the time, instead of garaging it, can increase the risk of theft. This matters because even if you’re well-insured, you’ll be required to pay a deductible. 

Save on Gas. Use a mobile app to find the best price for gasoline in your area. And plan your errands to avoid zig-zagging all over town. Keeping tires properly inflated and not carrying excess cargo in your trunk can help maintain fuel efficiency — as does avoiding “riding the brakes” excessively. And don’t forget carpooling as a great strategy to save on gas and mileage.

Don’t Let Your Car Take You on a Financial Detour. The emotional benefits of owning a car you love can be as impactful as the practical ones, but don’t let an impulsive purchase derail you from your future financial priorities. An expensive car payment, high insurance rates, costly repairs and poor fuel efficiency can put the brakes on long-term goals like saving for a new home or investing for your dream retirement. Contact your WellCents financial professional for help analyzing your budget to find the ride that can keep you driving toward all the things that matter.  

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