Living in an old Austro-Hungarian style building can seem really charming. The high ceilings, large windows, concrete sculptures can all make you feel like a princess dwelling in her beautiful castle. At the same time, a home such as this one is an inexhaustible source of spending. Big and small repairs should be done all year around to keep it as appealing as it seems at first glance.
I remember sitting in my cozy rocker chair, with a cup of warm cinnamon tea in my hand, simply enjoying the view of the trees slowly swaying on windy days. Out of nowhere, I started noticing tiny cracks in the wooden frame of the window, or greenish patches of mildew in the corners where the drops of rain found their way in. For someone who used to earn more than a decent salary, it wasn’t a big deal to hire a professional cleaning service or buy all those fancy household appliances I saw in TV commercials that promised to solve any problem that a homeowner could think of. Still, for some house issues, they couldn’t help.
The game changed the moment I took my pregnancy, and later maternity, leave. During this period, I was paid a third of what I was before, as was the policy of the company I work for. My spouse and I had to learn to live by new rules — no more expensive restaurants and trips, extravagant clothes and furniture we don’t really need. The classy cosmetic brands were replaced with more down-to-earth, affordable natural products. It wasn’t demanding to give up on all those unnecessary habits, but we were truly challenged when the baby came. Apart from the capital things a baby requires (crib, stroller, car seat, etc.) there are daily expenses you’re only aware of once you become a parent.
To make things worse financially, as our income decreased, the means needed for home maintenance increased. There were more and more issues around the flat to deal with that required spending. And that is how I learned some tricks for quick inexpensive fixes:
1. How I deal with mold problems
See how “old” rhymes with “mold”? Every aging building has some mold issues. As the basements in many such buildings are made in an old-fashioned way, with muddy floors that are not properly maintained, it is inevitable to face some mold issues sooner or later. It would not be such a big deal if the mold stayed only in the basement, but its microparticles travel through air spores and easily find their way to the higher levels. That way they invade the air we breathe and impact our health. Besides, mold can attack our floors, ceilings, furniture, and destroy everything that crosses its way.
Before I was made frugal by the circumstances, I used to buy tons of DIY mold inspection and removal kits, and mess around the house trying to get rid of this unwanted visitor. Nevertheless, the results were always unsatisfying. Sometimes, I would succeed in temporarily solving mildew problems, but the mold would always come back, seemingly stronger than before. Not to mention the amounts of money I spent on doctors and medicines for my hay fever which, in fact, turned out to be an allergy to mold.
I decided that I should do something that would save me money in the long run — I called professional mold inspection service. I had my air and home tested for mold, and the mold removed once and for all. If you think that hiring professionals is costly, just compare it to the price you spend on different mold removal products you buy every couple of months. I did. I counted the figures and discovered that professional help cost much less and was far more effective.
2. How I lessened my high heating expenses
For all of us who use electrical heaters, every winter is the same — the electricity bill goes sky-high, and it’s still not warm enough. This is especially true for ancient buildings such as mine. The main problem is that the walls are not thick enough, and the timeworn wooden window frames let the cold inside. The isolation is not strong enough, and that’s why this problem requires complete window replacement which is exorbitant.
I found a solution for this as well. I took some blankets and sheets I don’t use and put them in between the two frames of each window. I chose patterns that match my interior design, so besides keeping my flat warm, they made a nice decoration. You can use old newspaper or sponge for this too, but using lively colored cloth will give a new colorful touch to your quarters.
3. The cheapest way of cleaning of dirty surfaces
This is one trick I learned from my grandma. For all the dirty surfaces around the house, you can use vinegar instead of pricey commercial cleaning supplies. It can be used for tiles in the bathroom, kitchen surfaces, stoves and floors with the same or even better results. It is very cheap and effective. Apart from that, it is eco-friendly and natural. You might have some problems with the strong smell, but if you mix it with some water and essential oils it may even smell nice.
4. Fixing wall cracks without the cost of painting
I’m not sure why, but in aging homes cracks on the walls appear out of nowhere. It may have to do with moisture once again, but once you notice a crack on your newly painted wall you don’t think about the reason, you just want to have it removed asap. Although you may paint the rupture with a small amount of paint on your own, that will always be visible.
What I do when this happens to me is put a decorative sticker over the fracture. You can buy one of those in home-decoration stores at a really affordable price. If you want to you can as well hang a poster or that beautiful painting you got for your wedding but never really had a chance to use. Anyway, the solution is to cover the crack and save yourself a buck or two until the next spring house painting. It is not only a money saver, but if you choose the right one, it can also refine the image of your place.
Learn to embrace modesty
If you live in abundance, and wake up one day only to discover that your budget has become pretty tight, as I did, the most important thing is to learn how to embrace this new chapter of your life. There is not a single money-saving solution that will completely help you if you’re not happy with it. Enjoy the life in your old home and master the ways to repair the problems it causes in such a way that you really feel like you have made a difference that matters to you.
Jessica is a freelance writer with a background in interior design. She loves to write tips and tricks about home improvement, interior design, all the stuff that is home and health-related. She is living in Canada.
Image via Unsplash