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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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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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