Refinancing and renovating my home taught me how to get a better deal from businesses and contractors—no intimidation required

Two people go over documents.
Two people go over documents.

I’m currently refinancing my home and in the process, I’m renovating to get a new roof, windows, and HVAC unit. Those are all BIG repairs with BIG price tags. But, I’ve learned that everything is negotiable. The kicker is, if you don’t ask you won’t get a discount. In the worst-case scenario, you are actually charged more because the seller knows they can get away with it.

You never want to be in that position.

Here are some tips I’ve had to learn quickly this month, that I think could help you too.

1. Get Multiple Bids

There are hundreds of companies that provide…


I picked a house in 10 days (no, I don’t recommend) and this is what I learned.

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When you’re looking to purchase a home, there are a million factors to consider. The state, city, type of home (one story, two story, condo, apartment), size of home, home layout, home age, home renovations, etc. The list goes on and on.

It is easy to become hyper focused on the home itself. You spend all of your day on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, looking for your dream house in your dream city.

As a result, you begin to lose sight of some of the factors which are critically important, but unrelated to the home itself.

Remember you can change…


And how I’m financially stable and happier without it

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If budgeting works for you, you absolutely should continue to do that. Whatever strategy helps you manage your personal finances and save money effectively is a good one.

But for me, I found that budgeting led to more stress and fewer results than not budgeting. Conventional wisdom on personal finance isn’t the only way to do things, and it’s certainly not the only way to be successful.

What I do instead is- do everything as cheaply as I can. This concept has put me in a better financial place than budgeting ever has.

What is a Budget?

According to Investopedia-

“A budget is an…


How I started actually crossing things off the to-do list, even when I wasn’t motivated.

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I don’t remember where I first heard the quote, “things don’t get done unless you do them.” I think it’s a knock-off of “dreams don’t work unless you do.” However, that quote never spoke to me. This one did.

I think it’s because I’m not a “dreamer.” I have goals most definitely, but the word “dreams” sounds too much like a fairy tale to me. I’m a practical person. I need my goals to be tangible. …


Healthy habits are great, but it’s also important to switch things up.

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Getting in a healthy routine, where you have healthy habits you don’t even need to think about each day, can be life-changing. It removes most of the mental energy required for health and allows you to act without planning ahead.

For example, I’m in a routine where I eat eggs and and a banana with peanut butter for breakfast every morning. I get a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Prior to this healthy habit, I ate oatmeal every single morning for about 5 years. …


How I got accepted into a top publication my first few weeks on Medium.

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Let’s face it, most ideas we have as humans are conventional. Someone somewhere has already provided the “novel” advice you had rushed to get down on paper.

I got that kind of feedback from publication editors my first dozen articles on Medium-

“Thanks, but we’ve heard that before.”

I was discouraged. I was pumping out so many articles and I thought they were GOOD, and none of them were catching.

Apparently, all of my ideas appeared to have been discussed before. The advice I was giving was common knowledge, and I was in a rut.

How is One Supposed to be Unique?

There’s only so many ways…


Yes, you read that right.

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Yes, you read the title right. And no, I’m not saying sweets will provide you the best nutritional benefit. But I am indeed saying it’s a healthy act to eat dessert.

Eating sweets will provide you balance that is necessary for not only physical health but mental health. Truthfully, I think there is still a misconception about the word “health.” It is not just physical. Mental health is equally as important as the functioning of your muscles or how far you can run.

However, eating sweets can provide physical benefits too. Let me explain.

Here are 5 reasons why I…


It was one of the most terrifying but most pivotal moments of my life

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Most people don’t really learn independence until it’s their only choice. Until they move away from home for the first time or they’re in a position where they have to act as the “adult,” true independence isn’t necessary. As a result, we don’t use it.

As I grew up I had many experiences where I learned the basics of independence, and going away to college was certainly a big moment of growth. However, even in college my mom was only a phone call away, there was a health center on campus, and I had easy access to any material thing…


It’s time to enjoy the home you’re living in and complete that project you’ve been putting off.

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There’s a huge misconception out there regarding the costs of home renovations. You don’t have to break the bank to transform your home into a more enjoyable environment.

If you are going to be living, sleeping, eating, and maybe even working in this location most days, you deserve a place that you enjoy.

I recently redid my backyard, creating a space of solace I didn’t have before. I was concerned it would cost me a lot because I knew I would need to hire people to do some of the work and I would need to purchase some new items…


Even when you’re not making much, it’s possible to save.

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  1. I’m working

To save money you first have to make money. I don’t just rely on my student PhD stipend. It’s enough to live, but not really enough to save. I have two writing jobs, I am a high school colorguard coach, and I am now writing for Medium. This money is my supplemental money. For me, that means that I live off of my stipend primarily, and can allocate my earned money for other things. Most frequently, I save it.

I’m not saying that you need to work 4 side hustles. But if one of your primary goals is…

Trudy Horsting

Frugal Traveler. Writer. PhD Student. Passionate about health, balance, and saving money.

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