If you’ve finished making your holiday gift list, don’t put the pen and paper away just yet. While the holidays take up a lot of attention right now, it’s also a great time to look a bit further into the future. With the new year just around the corner, planning for home improvement projects now can help you prioritize and budget.

Spending some time examining your home might bring potential projects to your attention. Maybe you’ve noticed fraying carpet under your toes, chipped paint on a window frame or a paint color that feels outdated — whatever needs to be addressed should get marked down on your fix-it list.


Give yourself a deadline for completing the list and then call a household meeting to start prioritizing. One of the most important things you can bring to that meeting is an idea of how much you can afford to spend. Given that the economy is still lagging — and many people are feeling that pull on their pocketbooks — it’s wisest to avoid going into debt to accomplish everything you want to do.

Setting a home improvement budget gives you parameters to work within as you weigh the importance of each project on your list. However, you should also come to the table with a reasonable idea of how much it will cost to complete each of the tasks you want to finish.

Armed with your list and your budgetary figures, go through each item, weighing the pros and cons of both doing it now and letting it wait. You’ll inevitably have a lot of options, including putting things off and saving more money throughout the year, or investing some money in repairs now and letting your savings grow for midyear projects. Naturally, you’ll also need to consider the constraints of weather on your projects — if you want to avoid working on it during the rainy season. Consider the fact that an outdoor project might feel a lot more necessary if you and your family like to spend time together outdoors.


Your long-term plans for your home should also come into play. If you’re planning on selling anytime soon, consider carefully whether the projects you plan on doing will pay off at sale time. Additionally, if you plan on catching a buyer’s eye, take an objective look at what might help you make the sale. If you’re working with a Realtor, you might even want to discuss with them the best fix-ups and repairs within your budget.