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5 Best Home Investments for Less than a New TV

by Jon Nunan

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According to the Consumer Electronics Association in Arlington Virginia, in 2003, the average price of a flat screen TV was about $3,200. This year, similar sets are closer to $1,800, but hidden costs that come with home entertainment upgrades can be significant. Mounting that flat screen TV on the wall averages about $400. Add that to the cables you need, the Blu-Ray player you want, and the HD channels you pay for, and the total cost of watching TV can get pricey pretty quickly (even if you don't opt for the 55 inch, $3,000 monitor).

Though we can't help but love our TVs, the fact is, there are quite a few things you can do with your home for under $3,000 that will enhance its function, improve your living space, and may even increase your property value. ServiceMagic.com, an online resource matching homeowners to pre-screened contractors, has provided these 5 fantastic improvements you can have for around the price of a TV upgrade!

Install a Masonry Fireplace $2,937
There's no doubt that a TV can provide hours of enjoyment, but how many TVs have you seen that won't be obsolete after 100 years? Installing a masonry fireplace is an investment that will increase your property value, enhance your gatherings (or even your relaxing nights at home), and will last as long as you own your house!

Refinish Cabinets $2,722
Remodeling shows have Americans in a hurry to create the space they've always wanted. Unfortunately, many of the remodels you see on TV are too much for many budgets to handle. For those who want a new look in their kitchen without spending tens of thousands of dollars, cabinet refinishing can provide a dramatic aesthetic boost at a fraction of the cost!

Solar Water Heater $2,475
How does an investment that helps the environment and saves you money on monthly bills sound? At an average cost of under $2,500, installing a solar water heater is an investment in the future that will not only reduce your "footprint," but can eventually pay for itself!

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Build a Closet $2,121
How many of us couldn't use a little more storage space? For the price of HD and surround sound you can reduce clutter, add marketability, and increase property value with this small home addition!

Wood Floor Refinishing $1705
When properly maintained, wood floors aren't just beautiful, but durable, too! Your hardwood can last a lifetime, and refinishing it can eliminate the damage created by years of traffic and abuse. Because this process actually exposes fresh wood, the results can literally make your floor look brand new!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.