Saving Money

Taking Care Of Bid-ness

That’s me these days. At least I like to think it is. Checking off those tedious and lingering to-do list items that I’ve been meaning to do forever, and taking names. So how about a Friday smorgasbord post? The funny thing is that just a few days ago we got a comment that said “hey I miss your Dude Get On That Already updates – will those ever come back?” Do you guys remember those? Where I’d finally get around to tackling something that had been sitting around waiting to get done (usually just painting or hanging something) and I’d share a little update – like this wall plaque, this box, this coat hook, and this high chair? Well, the funny thing about that comment is that as I read it I was thinking… I have actually gotten on a few things. What has come over me? Is this nesting? Has my body been snatched? So here are those details…

#1: Ding dong, the dining room table is cleared. You might remember this recent house-tour video which revealed that our dining room and guest room were looking chaotic and cluttered (it’s pretty much a promise that when we work on one room, another room nearby pays the price). Here’s a still shot from that video to refresh your memory:

Well, I finally got my act together and found better spots for stuff. It really helped to get a bunch of the craft stuff that had collected there into my newly organized craft closet upstairs. And I tucked the decorative items into the two bottom cabinets in the living room where I store other vases and cloches and stuff like that. It’s nice to see the wood of the table again. (I won’t tell you how dusty it was before I wiped it down for this shot.)

A few folks asked if I thought I’d use this table as a workspace if it were clear since I admitted to using the kitchen table until we get the office whipped into two-people-can-work-there shape. But I’ve found that even with the dining table cleared off I still prefer the kitchen table. I think it’s because I can see Clara playing in the living room more easily from there (the dining room is a lot more isolated due to its layout). But it’s nice to know I can run in there if I want a little more solitude. And that we can actually host people for some fancier-than-the-kitchen-table dinner if we’d like to throw a Downton Abbey-ish ball sometime.

The bad news is that the kitchen counter still pretty much looks like this (minus the crockpot full o’ stew), thanks to our in-progress pantry re-org (everything’s painted, so we’re just waiting for it to dry so we can load in some nice new systems). Sigh. It’s a vicious cycle.

#2: I hemmed Clara’s comically long curtains. You can sort of see them in this picture below (I usually tried to just curl them under so it wasn’t as noticeable) – but they were about 6″ too long and although I liked the drapey affect, they were borderline sloppy with so much extra fabric going on at the end.

So last weekend while Clara played with her dollhouse in the middle of the room and we listened to some tunes, I got to work hemming them with some Heat N Bond hem tape. It probably took me about a half an hour to cut them all and then hem them (I still left them drapey, so they skim the floor a little for that casual vibe) and it feels so GOOD to have that done. Seriously, I’ve asked myself if there’s something wrong with me that hemmed curtains make me feel so accomplished – but I think it’s just one of those things that I thought a million times in the last eight months (“I should really hem those curtains” would pop into my head each week as I put away Clara’s laundry), so it feels great to finally check that box.

#3: The extra pieces of our sectional have been sent to greener pastures. Remember how our full Karlstad sectional didn’t fit in our cozier living room, so “honey, we shrunk the sofa“?

Well, the random extra pieces that we we haven’t been using (the corner piece and the loveseat-sized end) have just been sitting in our attic under a drop cloth for the last eight months. I even mentioned that we thought about craigslisting them, but “we just figured selling the corner and loveseat to a sofa that’s incomplete without another end piece that someone would have to purchase might fetch us $20 tops” so I said we’d rather hold onto them and see if we had a use for them in the future. It was a completely surprise when someone emailed us months later, and offered to buy them for $250! We hadn’t so much as looked at them at all in the past eight months, so… sold!

The funny thing is that it wasn’t a blog reader who wanted them. A woman was just googling around to locate these exact Karlstad pieces (they don’t sell them separately, so she thought she’d never find them) and came across our old post about storing those in the attic. She’s not from around here (lives in Florida, actually) but she had items in a storage unit in New Jersey that she was going to be driving down to Florida in her SUV, so on her way down she swung through Richmond and (miraculously) fit them all into the back. So now we’ve got an extra $250 in our pockets and Karl – er, well the unused portion of Karl – is living a sunnier life in St. Augustine!

 

#4: I donated/gave back/handed down/consigned a bunch of Clara’s old clothes. There were four large bins in this video that I explained were being sent in a bunch of directions (some items were being returned to sweet friends who loaned things to us, some were being donated, some were getting handed down to other prego friends and relatives, and I wanted to try consigning some things as well).

So after they sat there for months, I finally got around to donating and passing along everything I had set aside, and I trekked the leftovers to Once Upon A Child (a little secondhand baby store here in town) just to give it a try. Forty five minutes after dropping them off I returned to get a nice little check for $141!

There were a few things they didn’t end up taking, so I swung by another donation box on the way home with the extras, and finally that Corner O’ Bins in the living room is no more. The funny thing is that I dragged those downstairs from the storage room at around 18 weeks pregnant (in anticipation of finding out if this was another girl or a boy, so I could sort through everything). Which means they sat in that corner for over 10 weeks just waiting to be dealt with. Better late than never, right?

#5: Clara’s birdcages are no longer birdless. That’s right, I put a bird on it. Make that six. I noticed that West Elm was having a huge ornament sale about a month ago and they had these gorgeous little colorful birds on clearance.

So for $20 I got six of them, and when they arrived I reenacted Snow White and put them all over my arms used their clips or their ornament loops to make them cozy in Clara’s birdcages. A few of you guys noticed them in this picture on Instagram/Facebook, and I promised an update, so there you go.

I even added a little wood dowel to the grey birdcage since it didn’t have one and I wanted to create a spot for one to perch and another one to hang. You can just barely make it out in this shot (the cut off bird on the right is sitting on it, and the flying bird under that one is hanging from it). That’s what I get for trying to be artsy with my photography.

Clara’s favorite is this one right here. She named him Prince Sam Bluebird, and we say goodnight to him every evening.

And in other update news, our new washer came bright and early on Saturday morning (some of you guys have been asking about it, which is beyond sweet) and it’s a HUGE relief that it’s finally here. I now sing and occasionally pirouette while doing laundry. I’m sure that won’t last for more than a week, but it truly is one of those “you don’t know how good you have it until an appliance conks out on you and you live without it for a while and then the new one comes and it’s broken so you have to wait another week and a half” things.

So those are a few of those “I actually got on them!” updates, along with a little Washer Status Report. I still have a bunch more should-have-done-that-yesterday things bouncing around in my brain, so maybe I should set a future check-in date with you guys to force myself to attend to them. Wanna get stuff done with me? And then we can all reconvene and attempt to hold ourselves accountable to the internet at large? What’s your “gotta get on that” list looking like these days?

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As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winner, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by WifeInProgress by rentalrevival
by HomeComing
by lorigrams

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What Do You Splurge On & What Do You Save On?

We get this question a ton, and although it’s completely one of those varies-by-every-scenario things (we might splurge on one mirror because we love it and can’t find anything like it for less, but then save on another mirror because we fall in love with it for $5 at a yard sale), we thought we could attempt to answer it as simply as we could. With a junkload of words and bullets and lists. You know how we do.

Of course the words “splurge” and “save” can have wildly different definitions according to the individual. For example, one person might consider a splurge to be hiring out some custom built-ins to the tune of $5,000 or embarking on a 50K kitchen renovation while we might consider a splurge to be buying hardwoods for our entire upstairs while laying them ourselves to save money, or creating $360 built-ins with retrofitted wooden drawer bases instead of getting a $50 thrift store dresser and calling it a day.

On the flip side, someone might think that saving means using only what you have or buying only secondhand items while we might consider a wider range of big-box offerings to be in the save category, so it really is one of those open-to-interpretation subjects. But without further ado, please allow me to get listy…

So far in our new house, we’ve splurged on:

Of course a few of these things fall on some sort of blurry line between saving and splurging. For example, we got our Restoration Hardware table for 70% off, so some people might put that in the “save column” along with the West Elm dresser that we bought using money we got from craigslisting other items instead of digging into our savings at all. Some projects also seem sort of hybrid, like the stair runner update (we splurged for a Dash & Albert runner, but installed it ourselves to save cash – and we hired someone to level our yard, but then we seeded all the grass ourselves, again to save in that arena). So it’s not all so cut and dry. And the same is true for the save list.

So far we’ve saved on:

Some things helped us splurge in other areas, like a home warranty that made our new furnace free – or our upgraded roof, which we got with money that we got back at closing. In general our saving or splurging method can roughly be summarized as our way of playing the long game in certain areas, while opting just to make some affordable in-the-meantime updates to rooms that were formerly extremely frown-inducing that we knew we could improve for a small amount of loot and elbow grease instead of living with them for years as-is. Like our master bathroom, which we eventually plan to expand into a separate sink-nook area, to create one big space in a few years after we have enough cash saved up for a full renovation.

It would probably make for more blog fodder if we went room to room doing Phase One and then redid each space with a Phase Two makeover, but we’re trying to invest time and money into more permanent solutions from the get-go in as many spaces as we can afford to do so, since we plan to be here long-term. So while we love easy & inexpensive Phase 1 updates for areas that are extra pricey to renovate (like kitchens and bathrooms, especially when we’re not sure what we want to do with their layouts just yet), if we know what we want and have the money on hand for a space like a nursery that we hope will grow into accommodating a much older child (or like our recently renovated sunroom) it’s exciting to work towards that end-vision from the start. Psst – Here’s a post with a bunch of info about how we approach Phase 1 changes so they’re not a waste of money and time.

And just because I like lists a little too much, I thought I’d pepper in a few possible future splurges and saves that are on our minds.

Possible future splurges:

Possible future saves:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things we’d like to do (you can check out one of those here), but we hope it sort of shows the balance going on in our minds. In other words, although we plan to be in this house for decades, we’re not splurging on everything. There are still a bunch of ways to make affordable choices that we’ll hopefully be really happy with for the long run. But when it comes to things that we might regret (or might have to buy twice if we’re not happy with the first purchase), we’re trying to relegate those to extremely small, low-risk things (like a $30 faucet or range hood that we can later craigslist for the same amount that we bought it for).

If you’re stuck wondering if you should splurge or save on something, asking yourself these four questions might help:

#1. How long will you live with it? We try to make what we spend relate to how long we’ll live with something. So for example, if we’re choosing something like hardwoods or tile, we’re a lot more likely to spend over a thousand dollars for that material. Meanwhile if we’re planning to renovate a bathroom or kitchen in a few years after we have more money saved up, we’d never sink 1K into that interim update, and we’re much more likely to save with simple inexpensive updates like paint, wallpaper removal, and a few new accessories. On the flip side, our sunroom update wasn’t interim – we were spending money in there and making big changes that we hope to enjoy for decades (tiling, lofting the ceiling, adding tongue and groove planks overhead, getting two fans installed to cool it more efficiently), so for the sake of that room we wanted to do it once and do it right. Same for the roof, and with our hardwoods, for example.

#2. How much will it affect my day and how I live? This is an example of how you might want to upgrade to a deep soaker tub if you’re a bath person but skip that splurge if you’re not. For us getting a Nest was a big indulgence, because we love the energy-saving aspect of it (which truly does save us money) but most of all we love that we can turn it up or down from bed on our phones if we’re hot or cold. It feels luxurious to us, and we use those extra features like auto-away and phone-adjustment very regularly. So it feels like a worthy splurge.

#3. How much wear will this take? If it will take a lot, a splurge, or at least a very well researched buy is important. You wouldn’t want a cheap rickety table in your kitchen if you have a busy family who eats three meals a day there, so you’d probably want to save for something more solid, reliable, and well constructed. Other examples of a splurge for something that gets a lot of daily wear might be a good toilet (we hear people rave about how their Toto changed their life) or an awesome oven if you bake every day. There can definitely be exceptions to this rule though. For example, we have loved our Karlstad sofa, and was a great deal (a lot cheaper than many of the splurge sofas that we compared it to). Doing research, like reading about others who had it, sitting on it multiple times, and picking their most durable cover, definitely helped to make it a purchase that had the best chance of sticking around.

#4. Does a certain visual effect rest heavily on this choice? Say you have an inspiration image of the dream master bedroom you’ve always wanted and two things that define that room are full gorgeous curtain panels and thick chunky curtain rods. In this case you could save on wall paint and inexpensive accessories like pillows and decorative objects but if you cheap out and get thin curtain rods and wimpy looking curtains you’ll probably never be happy with your “take” on the space. So in the case of coveting a room with very specific features, like an amazing rough-hewn coffee table, I would save on other less specific items in the room, and splurge on whatever makes (or could break) that space.

So there you have it. One big splurge vs. save brain-dump on a Wednesday morning. Have you guys noticed any pattern when it comes to what you save up for and where you try to cut corners in the name of DIY? Have you splurged and saved on the same item (bought one pricey dresser after finding a steal of a deal on craigslist for another room?). That can make for a nice balance, so we like to keep an open mind whenever we can.

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