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You can do a lot of little projects for $20 or less. For example, buy a can of paint. Sunlight light bulbs. Replace broken or cracked wall switch plates or outlet covers. (or just clean the ones you have). Floor mats near doors to collect tracked in dirt. Put down a pretty area rug. Upgrade drawer and cabinet pulls. Put shelf paper in cabinet drawers and under sinks. Replace the caulking in your shower/tub area. Buy a few small house plants and watch them grow. Put bulbs or perennials (the ones that come back every year) into your garden. If your windows have a lot of layered paint on the glass, get a scraper and clean them up. Use scented candles or air freshener (or just open a window). Get a throw for the couch to add some color. Replace pillow covers with new ones. Use a table cloth. Change the filter in your ventilation system.

But really, nothing improves a home like a good thorough cleaning.
 
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You can do a lot of little projects for $20 or less. For example, buy a can of paint. Sunlight light bulbs. Replace broken or cracked wall switch plates or outlet covers. (or just clean the ones you have). Floor mats near doors to collect tracked in dirt. Put down a pretty area rug. Upgrade drawer and cabinet pulls. Put shelf paper in cabinet drawers and under sinks. Replace the caulking in your shower/tub area. Buy a few small house plants and watch them grow. Put bulbs or perennials (the ones that come back every year) into your garden. If your windows have a lot of layered paint on the glass, get a scraper and clean them up. Use scented candles or air freshener (or just open a window). Get a throw for the couch to add some color. Replace pillow covers with new ones. Use a table cloth. Change the filter in your ventilation system.

But really, nothing improves a home like a good thorough cleaning.
I agree a good clean and declutter helps a lot. end of season clearance pillow covers update looks for a little money or redo picture frames update. repurpose.. I found a woven piece that one kid did in a class that was like a scarf but thicker ..now is a runner on my coffee table. the colours match the couch and give the room a little pop of colour.
 

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I want to add, for your car, the best thing you can do is maintenance. Put $20 a month aside for oil changes, filters, wipers, fluids etc. and the smaller repairs as needed. Nobody cares what your car looks like or how old it is. Someone will always have a newer car than you. You know that in the big city a new car never stays nice for long. Maintain it so it is reliable, that is what counts.
 
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I buy a small $5 can of paint and do touch-ups- doors/walls/steps/window sills.....It makes it look like new.

I have gotten a grout tube/pen that is squeezed over the grout in the shower. Let it dry. It seals itself and makes the shower look new.

I have replaced cabinet hardware for a few bucks.

I have gotten a plastic runner and used finishing nails to cover the carpeted stairs and protect it in the basement. It has done its job well for many years.
 

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Interesting question. The most bang for my buck has always been a good cleaning. I take a long time to pick out paint colors for rooms. We were in this house for 5 years before I finally chose a color for my bedroom and 6 years before I chose the living room color. I have yet to pick my kitchen color or color to paint my kitchen cabinets. My cabinets are painted yellow and white now so I am not in a big hurry. I have to love the color because I keep it for a long time. My sister had painted her bedroom, living room and kitchen 3 times in 6 years. That’s way too much work for me. I also redecorate my rooms for the seasons/holidays so I do not feel a need to change paint colors often. Small changes are good enough for me. I am a person who is content with what I have too. I do not follow the trends.
 
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