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Don't overspend on home maintenance equipment

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File

(Read caption) In buying home maintenance equipment, like lawn mowers, a hardware store shouldn't be your first stop, according to Hamm. Instead, check Craigslist and local yard sales.

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When you first move into a home, you’re going to immediately be hit with a lot of little home maintenance tasks that need to be handled with some urgency. The lawn will need mowed. The bushes will need trimmed. The windows need cleaned. The gutters will need to be cleared of leaves. A few overhanging branches will need to be cut.

If you’re observant at all, you’ll find lots of little things that need your attention after you’re settled in.

If you’re moving into a house for the first time from an apartment, you likely don’t have much when it comes to home maintenance equipment. No lawnmower. No ladder. No hedge trimmers. No caulking gun. No leaf blower. No snowblower.

Right off the bat, you’re hit with a bunch of expenses. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be back-breaking.

When you see all of these needs around your new home, the first temptation is to head to the hardware store. That’s a mistake that will cost you.

Your first step should be to check Craigslist and local yard sales for used equipment. You need something cheap that will get the job done in the short term. Don’t worry about buying the perfect lawn mower right now. Just get something inexpensive that will trim your grass for the moment.

Our first lawn mower at our current home was a yard sale push mower that we literally pushed home from the yard sale that was several blocks away. The hedge trimmers we still have for trimming the bushes around our home were purchased at a yard sale.

Even if the first item you own turns out to only work for a year or so, that’s still time you have to save the money for a replacement and properly research it, both of which are financially in your favor.

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Another option is to check your social network. If you have friends who are homeowners nearby, they’ll often be very happy to lend you basic home maintenance items for a while.

In our case, some of our friends came over for a day right when we moved in and helped us with many little tasks, from unpacking and moving things around to mowing the yard and trimming things up.

If you have small needs, ask your neighbors. Few things begin to open the door to a good relationship with your neighbors like borrowing some hedge trimmers or a screwdriver shortly after you move in. You may even find that they volunteer to help, which means you’re well on your way to building a good relationship with them – something that will be very valuable, indeed.

Don’t just go on a buying spree when you move into a new home. Take your time and use some sense. You might find that you don’t have to spend as much money as you first thought.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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