Should I spend some money? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When do you choose to spend vs. save?

Assuming you have no CC debt, but some "good" debt (mortgage/school loans), and a very good emergency fund (1yr expenses)...

Do you put any extra money toward "good" debt?

We live very frugally & it's not a "chore" for us to save. I enjoy NOT spending money.

Our house is an absolute disaster. We've partially remodeled but not quite finished (though we've already bought the materials to finish, it's just a matter of having time to do it)... almost everything in our house is second-hand/freecycled/etc. and some of it is OK but other things are a disaster -- the sofa is falling apart but still usable with a slipcover but even the slipcover is worn plus it looks messy since it doesn't fit right. We need to fence in the backyard so DS can play outside without me chasing him, but we don't have the time to do it ourselves. We have so much STUFF (left from the previous homeowners THREE YEARS AGO) and we've freecycled some of it but most of it is junk & I'm having trouble justifying the $300+ for a dumpster. The yard is a mess but I think if we fenced it in it would be more manageable to fix up. We also need new carpet or flooring in the bedroom and basement, they are smelly, stained, and probably moldy for all I know.

OK so I guess it's not as bad as I'm thinking... the four things that would make me feel better about our house (aside from finishing the unfinished rooms) would be:
1. new couch (~$700)
2. fence in the yard ($5000-$8000?)
3. dumpster ($300)
4. new carpets installed in 2 rooms ($1000?)
So max $10K... Which technically we could manage but I'm also concerned because DH has a 1-yr contract job so he *could* be unemployed by this time next year (though I could go back to full-time instead of part-time and we'd be OK).

But I am just so... cheap!! I hate buying things & especially buying NEW things, I hate paying someone else to do something I could technically do myself, and I REALLY hate paying to get rid of junk!! How do I rationalize this?

Thoughts??? Should I just keep putting everything in savings and hating my house? Should we splurge a bit and take care of those 4 things? I'm just not sure what to do!

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#2 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 01:02 PM
 
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Personally, I would spend the money. You are in a good position financially, aside from you DHs contract status. For me the point of being frugal is to be able to spend the money on things that are meaningful and important, and home falls under that category. Having a safe place for your son to play will allow you to relax and enjoy your time at home more. And nobody deserves stinky, potentially moldy carpets. I also have to remember the difference between things I "could" do myself and things I actually "will" do myself. Setting realistic goals helps me from getting stuck.

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#3 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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DH and I just went through this. And this is what I suggest. My new favorite saying is "this is your life...not a dress rehearsal." So, that being said we opted to finish up some stuff. I too am too cheap to rent a dumper.

#1 BUY THE SOFA!!!! Seriously, a nice sofa that *you* like change change the whole feel and look of your living room. This is the room you spend a lot of time in and also entertain in. Look for a deal...even Craig's list...I see many times people even say "just bought sofa a month ago and lost job and getting divorced...it's gotta go." It could help somebody and save you money.

#2 Fence. College is about to let out...could you hire some "un-official" fence people? And pay them green cash?

#3 JUNK/ Dumpster issue...currently I am doing a bit at a time. A car load to goodwill at a time. Every week I over stuff the trashcan with what I cannot recycle/ goodwill. I will keep this up until it is gone. It has also not been totally overwhelming this way too. Oh, van is full...gotta stop for a bit or the day.

#4 Do you know what is under the carpet? If the bedroom has wood under it you could sand it yourself and stain in a weekend. If not I know Home Depot/ Lowe's always have some deal with free or cheap instillation. The basement....what about pulling up the carpet and painting the floor? They make concrete paint. We did my Dh office RED. Then put a throw rug if you need a rug. Once again you could get a nice one second hand. And once again you could hire a college student.

That's my 2 cents. I am HAPPY we are spending the money as wisely as possible because it was driving me crazy and I was embarrassed. To myself...because I am a neat person by nature. Good luck.

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#4 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 09:29 PM
 
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I guess I am not clear about the purpose of the fence. If you want a fence primarily to keep kids in it is something that you will eventually outgrow. The other stuff are not going to get better on their own.

I guess I would have no hesitation about either the sofa (although find a sofa you like can take awhile) or the dumpster (I might ask if any other neighbors have a need and could split the cost).

I personally can't stand carpet and if I stay in my current house long enough the carpet will eventual be replaced with other flooring. I wouldn't put carpet in my basement, but I probabily would have thrown it out already even if I didn't replace it with anything.
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#5 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 09:50 PM
 
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Could you space these things out a little? Personally I would take care of smelly carpets first. Then in a month or two tackle another issue.
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#6 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 10:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm so I am not a fan of carpet either but it seemed easier in my mind to just re-carpet it, I guess I should consider other options! (Neither room has wood floors underneath, just subfloor in the bedroom & cement in the basement, it's a [partially] finished basement).

The fence would be partly to keep my DS in (he's only 14mos & we definitely plan to have other kids so I can't imagine outgrowing it anytime in the next 10+ years) and partly to keep other kids out & have some privacy (we have an apartment building on one side) and also to keep out excess leaves, trash, etc.

I think we can find a decent sofa, we've already seen a few we like, I'm just so used to getting hand-me-downs, we've had 3 sofas, 2 cost $4 each and the other was free, so spending $700 for the sofa we like seems outrageous to me!

I might try getting rid of the junk a little each week, although there are some large pieces that may require a dumpster anyway & I'd kind of like to just be done with it once & for all...

I have to balance the checkbook & pay some bills this week, maybe I'll feel better about spending the money after that.... (or worse )

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#7 of 16 Old 04-25-2010, 10:50 PM
 
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I'd start with the dumpster. Clearing out everything you KNOW you don't want will help you get clarity on what is most important to add. Chuck in the nasty old carpeting, the chunked-up sofa, etc.

Of all the things you listed, the sofa is the thing I'd be most inclined to get used. Your kids are going to trash a few more sofas before they get old enough to sit down like civilized people. New hard flooring in your living room is the think I'd be most likely to pay somebody to take care of immediately. And a fenced yard is something I would start a savings fund for.
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#8 of 16 Old 04-26-2010, 10:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
Of all the things you listed, the sofa is the thing I'd be most inclined to get used. Your kids are going to trash a few more sofas before they get old enough to sit down like civilized people.
VERY TRUE! I bought a house full of new furniture when my oldest was two. She is six now and I have a two year old as well and they have damaged most of the furniture. The couch has stains and the coffee table has scratches from the kids dragging toys across it. The other furniture is in similar shape and we bought good quality not cheap stuff. I wish I would have looked for some second hand items that were in good shape instead of spending so much on new items while we still have small children in the house. I do think you need a new sofa but think about it before deciding on how new you really need.

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#9 of 16 Old 04-28-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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We bought our couch for about $300 at Big Lots a couple years ago. (Maybe the loveseat was $300 and the couch was $330?) We got the chocolate brown so that it would somewhat hide whatever the kids did to it. You may be able to get a deal on a floor sample too.
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#10 of 16 Old 04-28-2010, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah I figure the $700 would be for either an L-shaped couch or a couch & a loveseat...

Hopefully I can get something that would hide stains, I can't imagine DS being worse than our dog was as a puppy but I'm sure I could be in for a surprise!!

Maybe I'll reconsider & get another cheap used sofa.

I have to call around for fence quotes but I think we really want/need the fence.

I am gonna hold off on the dumpster & see how much stuff we can freecyle and/or sneak into our weekly trash. We usually only have 1 bag of trash so we could fill the bin & the other 2 bins with stuff I think!

The carpet has to go but there are so many other things we need to work on that I may delay that just a little longer...

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#11 of 16 Old 04-28-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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If you're only allowed so much trash per week (like 2 full cans), maybe ask an elderly neighbor who throws out one small bag a week if you can put some of your trash at his/her curb.

This probably won't be a popular option, but how about just tossing everything that the former owners left? Its been there for 3 years, and you would have taken out the stuff you wanted by now. You've said that most of it is junk, and I'm sure the clutter is bothering you. Just start bagging it up and tossing it. Its nice to freecycle and donate to keep items out of the landfill, but again, most of this is junk. Just make it gone quickly(I've also had about a 50/50 show to no-show ratio from freecycle, so I'm somewhat negative about it.) Sorting through it will take time away from other things that need to be done at home or with your ds. Make a minimum goal of say 1 big garbage bag a week, but aim for 2.

As for the larger items, does your trash company either take 1 big item a week if you call? Or do they have some kind of special day once or twice a year that they'll take anything you have, big or small, to toss out? (Like "Spring Cleaning Trash Day?")
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#12 of 16 Old 04-28-2010, 10:43 PM
 
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Quote:
I'd start with the dumpster. Clearing out everything you KNOW you don't want will help you get clarity on what is most important to add. Chuck in the nasty old carpeting, the chunked-up sofa, etc.

Of all the things you listed, the sofa is the thing I'd be most inclined to get used. Your kids are going to trash a few more sofas before they get old enough to sit down like civilized people. New hard flooring in your living room is the think I'd be most likely to pay somebody to take care of immediately. And a fenced yard is something I would start a savings fund for.


Does your neighborhood not have heavy trash pick up? Everywhere we've ever lived they've had 1 day a week or month where the city would come by and pick up large items. Even refrigerators, etc... But usually someone else would get it off the curb first.
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#13 of 16 Old 04-29-2010, 08:20 AM
 
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You can also load up your own vehicle and take things directly to the dump yourself. You still need to pay, but you're not paying bin-rental and haulage AND dumping fees. It's usually quite cheap....even renting a u-haul trailer or borrowing one from a neighbour and dumping it yourself might be cheaper than a bin rental. We dumped the contents of our entire kitchen (walls, flooring, and everything in multiple trips) for about $30 at the end.

I'd ditch all of the carpet and buy a can of floor paint (or two) and paint the subfloors upstairs (painted plywood is better than yucky carpet, IMO) and then you can decide what direction you want to go in and do it at your own pace. I'd paint the basement floor too if you use it, otherwise there's no harm in leaving it just plain cement for now.

If you find a couch on the cheap, your budget could look something like:

-Dumping fees: ~$100
-Floor paint: ~$75
-couch: ~$300-$800 depeding on what you decide on.

What kind of fence are you set on? Chain link? wood? short white-picket? Does it need to go all around your yard? What's the price difference of planting bushes along the apt. building side? Would cheap wire/plastic garden-fencing work in your situation at all?

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#14 of 16 Old 04-29-2010, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have no limit (that I know of) on how much garbage we can throw out but it all has to be bagged & in bins (which is fine for the smaller items, not so much for the large ones!) and since we only have a bag of trash a week, I could fill the 3 cans we have up each week, it's just easier for me (mentally/physically) to get rid of everything all at once. We can drop stuff off at the dump twice a year but I think there's a limit and some of the items could not be transported except in a moving truck (though I'll have to look into that as an option!)

As far as the fence, we want a privacy fence (so 6' tall and solid, whether that's wood or vinyl or whatever). One side of the yard is fenced (but the fence needs repair & I believe it's the neighbors and no one lives there and the house is torn down). One side is a short stretch of woods with apartments behind it, so while I'd like to fence that in too, it's less important. The front side would only need a few short stretches of fence to block it off from the road, and that's the top priority for us. The fourth side has trees & bushes but we are still in full view of the apartment building and the tons of kids that are sometimes trying to get into our yard (which could be a liability for us if they got hurt etc.) so that's second priority. But, again, it would be easier & nicer to just fence in the whole thing at once if we could afford it. I need to at least call around for quotes so I know what numbers I'd be dealing with.

ETA: I love this forum, you are the only ones who could make me be even MORE cheap when I think I should finally 'splurge' a bit!!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#15 of 16 Old 04-29-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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How much are your student loans? What's the monthly payment? Are you paying them down (not just minimums)? 1yr savings is a lot when it's sitting there making nothing while your SLs are costing you money. 6mos savings is plenty. Is it likely your DH will find more work if he's laid off? Could you take half your savings to pay off the SLs?

Is your yard very large? Could you guys build the fence? My very non carpentry skilled DH built ours with a neighbor in a week and the hardest part was removing the old fence posts. We hired people for the other side and it was $1000 total. Shop around on that.

I think your purchases are very reasonable.

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#16 of 16 Old 04-29-2010, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well the student loans are at 1-2% interest & our savings WAS at 4% interest (though it's dropped considerably recently, I think it's now under 2% ) I definitely do want to keep the whole year of savings but any extra I think is unnecessary, maybe we could put more money on the mortgage (which is at 5%).

I'm leaning toward someone else building the fence, even though we could definitely do it, because we just don't have the time & too many other unfinished projects. Though maybe if I could hold out & wait a year on the fence we may be able to do it ourselves next spring if we finish everything else by then!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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