If you are not a homeowner....take a lesson from all of this, for future reference!
Disclaimer: After plans A through H fell apart for various reasons, we decided to take our tax return to do some home repairs and improvements. All of these projects were paid for in cash, no CC.
The Good: 1) Finished staining the fence! As much as I would have liked to replace the fence with a vinyl product, with the little lattice work on the top, that just wasn't in the budget. Our fence came with the house (we bought the house almost 9 years ago) and we never did anything with it. Over time, it became bare, weathered wood and I was getting concerned that it was all going to rot.
This year we repaired a few areas, powerwashed it, and stained it ourselves. Total cost for materials: Roughly $200 (replacement boards, screws, stain, and new paint brushes). We have 22 panels that go around 2 sides of the yard. Had we replaced the fence with what we really wanted....it would have been closer to $2,000. So for now, this will have to do. Next year I would like to add some little planters to dress it up, but it doesn't look too bad, right?
2) Staying on budget for plants. I decided to invest in some nice perennials this year. Better Homes and Gardens has an AWESOME website...for free.....that has hundreds of plans. I was able to pick out what I wanted by picture, and then it told me how much to buy, and how to plant it (design wise) to make it look like the picture. How cool is that??? For FREE! I bought $116 in plants (Budget was $110...but I forgot about tax). And while I was tempted to buy more to fill in the bed completely, I stayed on budget. I will see how much these plants spread and decide next year if they need to be move, if I need to buy more, etc. I know that the bed is sort of empty on the end.....I am deciding if that will have more plants eventually...or maybe a structure of some type (bird bath, gazing ball, etc).
And here are my free morning glories from last week, as a bonus pic. We will be getting some mulch to finish off the beds and around the pool and re-sealing the driveway in the coming weeks. That will conclude our outdoor projects for this season. The remainder of our money will go toward interior fixes.
The Bad: Ok, confession here. The aforementioned fence....would have been a little cheaper had the following things not happened: 1) G-man kicked over an entire gallon of stain. (trust me, I was less than happy about this) So instead of needing 5 gallons of stain, it turned into 6. Cost: $26. 2) We bought a big package of roller covers, figuring that we weren't going to try and save them. Turned out that the rollers didn't work well, and we sprayed and painted the fence instead. Cost: $7. While these mistakes aren't horrendous, they could have been avoided.
Additionally....we kind of sort of bought some hanging plants for the front porch. I say kind of sort of because G-man did buy them....I put them up and didn't like them, and we returned them. So, no money out, but not budgeted for either.
The Ugly: Once again....this wasn't a financial issue, but a mental one. Last week I reported that we bought a kitchen table for $50 on Craigslist, and I was afraid that this was going to open a can of worms. Well, the can isn't open per se, but there are some worms peeking out. I found a beautiful bookcase for the library nook on Craigslist (hand made by a retired carpenter, for $250). Actually, I found it 2 weeks ago, and it is still available. I really want it. I am holding fast that I am not buying it. G-man is of course in saying "the price isn't that bad for what we would be spending" and "if you really want it, just get it."But I am just getting sick of looking at our house and seeing furniture in disrepair, and not feeling like our house is a home.
I know that it might not seem to some that we are hitting our debt repayment at the gazelle intensity that we could. And maybe that is valid to some degree. Our salaries really do go to all the basic living expenses. Seriously....our financial adviser really was surprised we weren't MORE in debt. I only started back to work about 2 years ago, and my salary stopped the bleeding. It didn't really repair anything, just stopped the flow. We spent so long not making enough to support the basics, that we dug a huge hole for ourselves.
I am not proud of our debt. I am embarrassed the majority of it came from groceries, gas, repairs, diapers. It came from basic necessities. And yes, we did eat out some and once in awhile buy our kids a new toy. And we did a road trip to visit Grandma...but in our mind, these were all the small things that make life worth living.
We didn't buy new furniture or cars. We didn't take a "vacation." We didn't buy the latest gadgets or buy clothes and toys for ourselves. And while we could have taken our tax return and put it all toward debt, we decided that we needed to do some things around our house that would encourage to keep going.
I do have some thoughts on trying to find more money to send to debt repayment. That will be a separate post.....but it does include trying to use G-man's second job solely for debt repayment. More on all of this later.