Poor budget, rich imagination

The mortgage crisis may have made home owning a buyer’s market, but formany cash-strapped Canadians, that dwelling of their desire simplybecomes a fixer-upper that never gets fixed.


The mortgage crisis may have made home owning a buyer’s market, but for many cash-strapped Canadians, that dwelling of their desire simply becomes a fixer-upper that never gets fixed.
Even if the country is now post-recession on paper, the effect has yet to hit most individuals’ wallets, while jobs continue to be lost at about the same rate of hair loss from those worrying about losing their jobs. So, what’s the penny-pinching renovator to do?
Enter Suzanne Schultz, financial planner and co-host of the new program House Poor, which premieres Monday on HGTV.
The program sees Schultz along with contractor Frank di Leo help families in need of home renovation both understand the importance of advanced financial planning and receive the overhaul they can’t afford.
Those profiled also have a chance to win $10,000 to aid their financial future — $5,000 if they complete Schultz’ financial challenges, like creating a budget, and an additional $5,000 if they compromise during the renovation to stay on budget.
“There are no other shows on HGTV that talk about the personal finance element of doing the renovation, and go beyond that to talk about saving money in your day-to-day household,” said Schultz, who equates thrifty with trendy, due to the economic downturn.
She thinks House Poor will be popular among a cross-section of homeowners because of the variety of incomes and types of family that seem to find themselves in the same situation. Despite their differences, she said the common denominator is none of them really have a clue where they’re spending their money.
“They don’t track it. They just spend it and, at the end of the month, they all know there’s no money left over to do the renovation, but they’re not sure why. Tha’'s where I come in,” she said, “They’re usually really surprised to find out where the money is going.”
By understanding where you’re spending, Schultz said you can create a budget and more easily decide how to reallocate the funds, advice she recommends for viewers who see their circumstances reflected on the show.
Budgeting for the renovation itself is also essential, said Schultz, instead of haphazard buying, which often results in little long-term progress.
“If you start at the beginning with a set dollar figure you’re aiming toward, then shop around and do your research, you’ll be really surprised how you can complete your room on a strict budget.”

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