When it comes to remodeling your home, you may think you need thousands of dollars in extra cash (or an outrageous home equity line) to get the job done. This is absolutely not true, unless you’re shooting for the picture in the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. In reality, there are all kinds of ways to save on home upgrades if you just do a little legwork. And a recession is a great time to start because you can take advantage of bargain-priced products and merchants who are dying to get your business. So here are a few simple ways to cut your costs when remodeling your home.

1. Choose your projects wisely. Certain renovations will net you a big return on investments when you go to sell while others could leave you in the poorhouse with nothing to show for it. The most lucrative turnaround comes from upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, both of which can be expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, be choosy about what you fix, replace, or leave be. Sometimes a few cosmetic decorations can make a huge difference and you won’t be out the cost of a gutted bathroom.

2. Paint is your best friend. Nothing spruces up a dull room like a new coat of paint, and the same can be said for cabinets. If the stain is way too dark for your tiny space, pull down the doors, sand if necessary, paint them a bright, shiny white, and invest in some modern hardware. Nothing is more appealing in a kitchen than a crisp, clean feeling (and you can do it yourself!).

3. Become a bargain hunter. Check garage sales, Craig’s List, and companies that specialize in the renewable (as in used items). You can often find recycled, reclaimed, or even new(ish) surplus items at a fraction of the cost. You may have to do some minor restoration work or live with a few dings and dents, but there’s no cheaper way to get quality items for less.

4. Price check. With merchants willing to vie for your business, you can often convince them to price match or even offer bigger discounts (especially if you’re buying multiple items). If you like to haggle, the time is right. But if you’re too shy to ask, you’re probably going to miss out on the deal of your life. The worst they can do is say no.

5. Get estimates. Even the handiest of homeowners may not have the tools or the know-how for big projects like installing electrical components, placing a header, or welding new plumbing. For these specialized tasks, you will need a professional, or more likely, a contractor. While we’re in a buyer’s market and prices are almost guaranteed to be cheaper for goods and services, there’s always someone out there who will take you if you let them. So be smart, stick to your budget, and see if you can’t play your bids right to get a better price on labor.

Jennifer Kardish is a communications coordinator at Kitchen Cabinets. You can check out their free design tips for your kitchen and home.