Re: please help improve the curb appeal
First and foremost, take care of your structural problems. If the stairs and porch are bad, they need to be repaired so that no one can be injured, which you would be liable for. A sound house is a sound investment.
Once the physical needs are addressed, then you can move to the cosmetics, which IMHO, are not all that bad. A fresh coat of paint on the trim, maybe something to put a little color in an otherwise drab facade, such as a teal green. The accent will liven up the body color nicely. You could also repaint the front of the house to perk it up a little too. I wouldn't change the body color, only the trim.
From there I'd focus on landscaping. Trim up the hedges a little bit, clearly define the beds with mulch, and at the very least, seed and fertilize the grass to get it green and growing again. It wouldn't be that expensive to install sod, which will give you an instant improvement to the curb appeal.
The primary cost is going to be dealing with the porch and steps, that will easily eat up your $5K budget and then some. The paint work will be less than $100 if you do it yourself, the yard you might put a few hundred into, depending on what you do with it.
I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!