The Grass Is Not Always Greener
Professional lawn-care services lure trusting homeowners with promises of a vibrant, lush carpet of soft grass. These services, however, can cost as much as a couple of hundred dollars per month for weekly trims, plus extra fees for various treatments. Save on expenses by making a modest investment in over-the-counter fertilizer, a good-quality mower, and weekend cuttings.
Related: Ultimate Lawn Care Guide—12 Steps to a Prize-Winning Yard
Don't Take the Plunge
Lounging in your own backyard swimming pool might sound like the ultimate luxury. But before you throw a lot of money into a big hole in the ground, be realistic about the true costs of installation and maintenance. Not only is there the cost of the water, but there's cleaning, chemicals, and heating to consider. What's more, a pool isn't a draw for all home buyers, so it won't add much resale value when it's time to sell.
Related: 10 Fun Ways to Turn Your Backyard into a Water Park
Zillow Digs home in Amagansett, NY
Not Too Bright
A sunroom makes a lovely place to kick back in an Adirondack chair with a refreshing drink. Yet homeowners who invest in this expensive addition can expect to recoup only half of their costs, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report.
Zillow Digs home in Wilmette, IL
For those who love backyard entertaining, an outdoor kitchen might seem like a no-brainer. But before you install a pricey new cooktop, brick pizza oven, or other major appliances on the patio, weigh the expense of the project against how much you'll truly use a second kitchen. If you're unsure, remember that a top-of-the-line gas grill offers a little luxury at a fraction of the cost of a full kitchen.
Related: Eating Out—10 Essentials for Alfresco Dining
Zillow Digs home in Santa Barbara, CA
Trust the Grid
It's great to be prepared for any kind of emergency, but buying a backup power generator may not be a necessary investment. An integrated backup generator costs a pretty penny but doesn't build much value when it's time to sell your home. If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood where power outages are rare, consider skipping the expense.
Related: The Power Outage Survival Guide
Don't Spend to Extend
When you're purchasing a new appliance, chances are the salesperson will try to upsell an extended warranty. But is it worth the extra cost? Most major appliances don’t break down during the extended warranty period, so you'll never collect any money. If you still feel like you need the extra coverage, review your credit card policy as many already offer a year of extended warranty protection on purchases.
Related: Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Appliance Care
Feel the Pain of PMI
When homeowners pay less than 20 percent on a down payment, they are often required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). This expense can add a substantial monthly cost on top of their mortgage payment. Try to get rid of the PMI as soon as possible by making a few extra mortgage payments during the first two years of ownership. Paying a little extra per month will also reduce the total amount of interest that you'll pay over the life of the mortgage.
Out the Window
No one would willingly throw money out the window, but with improperly insulated windows, you might be doing just that. Take control with a home energy audit; focus on the attic, doors, and windows to identify where you can improve efficiency. A little insulation and weatherstripping could save a lot on monthly energy costs.
Related: 9 Cutting-Edge Energy-Efficient Appliances
If you're interested in more about home improvements, consider:
8 Exterior Paint Colors to Help Sell Your House
Worth It: 8 Renovations That Pay You Back
7 "Money Pit" Home Improvements You Might Regret
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!