HOUSTON -

Finding the money to make home improvements can be tough, so the last thing you want is to lose that money to costly mistakes.

When it comes to paying people to work on your house, Angie Hicks, who founded Angie's List, told Local 2, the best bet may be to charge it.

"By using a credit card, you get extra protection because it takes longer for you to pay that bill," Hicks said.

Hicks said you can set a time for the payments and cancel the transactions if deadlines are not met.

The problem is that not every contractor will accept plastic so the next best thing is a check.

"Eighty percent of respondents to a recent Angie's List poll say they pay with a check for home improvements," Hicks said.

The same poll showed of the 12 percent of people who said they paid for the job upfront, only about half of the contractors finished the job.

Writing a check is good, just make sure you make yourself a copy and don't pay more than one-third of the total project cost at any one time.

Hicks said customers should can use that little space for memos in the corner of the check to make notes which will turn into records you can use later if there is a dispute.

Whether you go paper or plastic, Hicks said, never go cash.

"Consumers should avoid paying a contractor with cash because you have no paper trail," Hicks said.

And that paper trail is a way to protect yourself by having proof of not only the money paid, but the date it was delivered.