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Most Crucial Home Fix-Up Tips for Bear Market

Times are tough no matter what's in your retirement portfolio, and some projects simply need to get done.

That kitchen you put off remodeling last year? The carpeting you were going to replace with the 2008 holiday bonus? Unfortunately, wear-and-tear on your house occurs no matter what the state of the economy or the real estate market. You can put it off for a while, but eventually you're going to have to deal with it.

Here are some money-saving tips for home fix-ups in a bear market.

Save it: It wasn't that long ago that using recycled building materials was considered a little strange. Why would you want to use someone else's kitchen sink or even their old toilet?

Then some designers picked up used, expensive fixtures, paneling, flooring, countertops, etc., and showed on TV that you could live very well with someone's old construction throwaways.

Most cities have at least one dealer who specializes in used materials, so go in and be ready for a treasure hunt. Amid the dented, chipped porcelain sinks you may find a perfect copper for your kitchen.

Re-do's: Hardwood floors scratch, stain and develop "character" over time. But when they get too worn, lots of people look longingly at flooring shops and want new planks installed. But before you get that far, think about having the floor refinished. At half the cost of a new floor, you can change the color of the wood or make it look like new.

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