How to DIY with no money

There are eight hundred million (I checked, assuredly) blog posts about doing projects and reno’s on  a budget. And, also, for the record, we aren’t so desolate that we have NO money. With Schenny going back to school (sidenote: I AM SO PROUD OF THIS GUY I COULD BURST!! THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER! My wifely excitement is annoyingly splashing on everything I touch 🙂 🙂 :), we are looking more cost-effective ways to keep me from going insane. I self-finance all our projects with cash as we can afford them, and I definitely don’t want to get stuck on an endless loop of putting everything on a credit card that I can’t pay off. The blog has been pretty quiet lately, since we are locking down extra spending to see how our budget settles to an even keel. I have been thinking of ways I can still do/create/make things, and thought maybe someone else would be interested as well. Without further ado, here are the ways to save money on DIY:


Play the Menards rebate game: I shop almost exclusively at Menards for several reasons (which also explains why I have the entire store memorized- both Fargo and Moorhead) and one of them is they have an 11% rebate about every three weeks. This includes every single thing in the store, no exceptions. The annoying part is it’s a mail-in rebate, which  means it takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks to get your money back, which also can only be spent in the store. I dutifully send them in; and as they kept trickling in over the months, I would stick them to the fridge with the intent to use the latest one the next time I went and I always forgot. Well lo and behold, my stack actually fell from the magnet and I added them up and have over $200 ready and waiting for the next project. Here’s the thing- I could have easily used them as they came; “Awesome! I can apply the $8  to the faucet I am buying” but I would have forgotten what I used them for or not gotten the full effect. Now that I have a fistful, I can do an entire project for free. Bookcases-next-to-the- fireplace, I am looking at you. I have also trained my extended family and friends to automatically decide that Menards gift cards are the way to go if they are looking for a gift for me. Between that and the rebates, if there is a way to buy what you need at Menards, do it. The shed and the pergola were both done this way, and it directly contributed to having this amount available. Look for that bookshelf project happening in the next few months!



Buy a little at a time: Once we made-over the fireplace, it became very apparent the flooring in the room had to go. Ratty 90s shag was not doing the room any favors, and I had my heart set on wood laminate. However, I admit I am a terrible saver, and I have several jars of savings for various other projects.  The flooring with pad is going to be around $500 if we install it ourselves (which we will, of course). My solution is to buy a box of flooring every paycheck, I wont even notice the $20 gone every two weeks, and the pile is slowly growing. I made sure to find one I liked that was in stock and asked about their most popular style, to give myself a better chance of them not discontinuing it. With all the other projects I am saving for (blinds! chairs! end tables! nightstands! lights! rugs! art!) this little sacrifice a few times a month feels like nothing. It’s also something to look forward to in the dredges of winter, I figure sometime feb-march we will be installing:)

side by side

Hallway B&A

Do projects with impact: I have slowly been adding trim to all the doors and door casings in the house. The difference it makes is noticeable for days, and it gives me an inexpensive fix when I am feeling twitchy with boredom. Case in point: The door casing caps I make. Each one cost about $10 and about 15 min (not including paint drying time) and truly makes a difference in the feel of our home. I have done the entire upstairs so far, which leaves me about two and a half more floors to do. I also include doorways and windows, so there are plenty left. Little things like molding and door handles can change the feel of a space significantly.

Before and after



Paint: this is on every list all across pinterest, but for a reason. I have been painting (for days! miles! EONSSSSSS…)  all the trim, walls, and cabinets in the house and it doesn’t look like the same house any more. The basement living room wallpaper coverup of 2017 was probably the biggest impact, and I still look around and can hardly believe its the same room. Paint is cheap and easy to do, and it’s my weapon of choice when I’m feeling down or antsy for change.


If all else fails, phone a friend: My friends know when we get together, we inevitably start doing house projects. We just can’t help it! I’ve learned now to just pack all my tools and bring them with me, it saves time when we are in the thick of it and have to find a way around not having an air nailer handy. We even all plan ahead, as  in “the next time you come, we are going to redo all the shelving in the pantry, add molding to the dining room, I need a second hand with the outside lights, (and hopefully someday!!!) I NEED HELP TAKING DOWN THIS WALL,” etc. I still get to use my brain, see a fantastic before and after, see my friends, and get my DIY fix without spending any more than the gas it takes to get there.

Hopefully this helps not only save some money, but explain why we’ve been a little quiet around here. Trust that just because I am not doing projects currently, it doesn’t mean I haven’t mentally rearranged all the rooms at least 12 times. 🙂



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