Home improvement projects are almost always exciting. The project may involve making a pesky and necessary repair or transforming your home to look and work better. Either way, it’s an investment in the future that requires funding.

Sound financial advice holds that you should pay cash for home projects. Unless you happen to get an unexpected windfall, you will no doubt have to save up first. That means you’ll need to save more than you spend.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a DIYer who can tackle most of the work or if you’re hiring a contractor. Whatever you do will come with a price tag. Here are six tips for saving for your next home project.

1. Make Saving Automatic

It’s pretty easy to spend your entire paycheck and wait on the next one. Manually taking money from your check every pay period and putting it into a savings account can be cumbersome. The work required could spur you to use that money on more immediate purchases before you make the transfer.

But what if your debit card could do the work for you? Perhaps it rounds up to the nearest dollar every purchase and automatically deposits the change into a savings account. Or maybe it automatically holds an amount you specify from every paycheck deposited and puts it in your savings account. Today’s debit cards make it easy to save.

They say that “out of sight is out of mind.” If your savings account grows without the need to think about it, just think how much faster you’ll reach your goal. When you’re ready to use your savings on a home project, it will be ready and waiting for you.

2. Establish a Budget

Home projects are notorious for costing far more in the end than anticipated. To help keep a lid on overages, establish a line-item budget before you begin. That way, you’ll have a clear plan in place so you can save while still living your life.

There are some rules you should keep in mind. A general rule of thumb is to not invest more that you will be able to recoup later. For example, you should spend no more on a room than its percentage of the overall house value. You should also allot 20% of your budget for times when you go over your budget due to unexpected expenses.

If you stick to these rules, you’ll know how much money you need to save to complete the project. Stick to the budget and what you save should cover the bills. Manage to do both and you’ll stick the landing for sure.

3. Be a Savvy Shopper

If you think you’re a smart shopper, now is the time to flex that muscle. Shopping for home improvement projects is about more than finding the least expensive materials. You need to find the best materials for the money.

Consider the art of buying tile, which isn’t easy given the enormity of choices available. You can spend a buck on a 12” x 12” porcelain tile or $20 on a marble tile. The trick is finding materials that you love and that fit within your budget.

If you don’t know anything about the quality of materials, do your homework. Ask someone who does know for advice, and always read customer and contractor reviews. Get savvy and save some cash.

4. Don’t Rush Things

Only fools rush in, so don’t be one. The fact is that home projects are rarely completed on time, so don’t get ahead of yourself. Leave plenty of time and flexibility to plan and execute it. This also applies to working with contractors.

Push a contractor on the project, and they have to pay employees overtime. Rush materials delivery, and you’ll incur expedited shipping fees. These kinds of rush fees can add up quickly and gouge your budget.

If you’re doing the work yourself, make sure you give yourself extra time to complete it. You never know when you’ll need more time to do the job right. Or you might just need a little time to get away from it all. So, plan a cushion of time and prepare to be flexible with yourself and, if using one, your contractor.

5. Do What You Can and Leave the Rest to a Pro

If you have the DIY skills to do the work on your project, you can save a lot of money. Contractors charge upwards of $25 an hour for labor. Just remember that who executes your home project isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. You can do some of the work yourself while outsourcing the rest.

Outline project steps and figures out which ones you can handle, even if you’re new to the DIY scene. Virtually anyone can paint, for example, so unless it’s a huge or complicated job, do it yourself. And don’t forget that you can find a YouTube instructional video for just about anything.

Leave things like electrical, gas, and plumbing work to the professionals unless you’re licensed to do it. It will be worth the money you spend and you’ll save some, too. Just know when to pick your battles and when to leave them to someone else.

6. Pay as You Go

Some home projects are better done all at once. Others tend to be conducive to incremental progression if your budget or personal schedule requires a longer timeline. If so, you can save for the project and pay for it incrementally as well.

For example, in a kitchen remodel, you’ll need the flooring installed, cabinets set, and fixtures dropped in. These are essential if you want to be able to use the kitchen right away. If waiting another three months gives you time to save enough money for the countertops you really want, do it. You can live with plywood counters for a little while.

If you have storage space, go ahead and buy materials before you begin if they’re on sale. You can use the savings to bring in the project under budget or upgrade something else like appliances. Pay as you go, and you might save yourself a little sticker shock in the process.

As Warren Buffett says, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” This is particularly good advice when spending money on something as big as a home improvement. Saving up first, then building your project around what you have in the bank saves you from overspending. While not every home project is a must-do, many can be a wise investment and can improve your home’s value.

Whether you hire designers and contractors or do the work yourself, you’ll be spending your hard-earned cash. If you both save and spend wisely, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Then start saving for your next home project.