April 9, 2015
Money Talks: Those Darn Joneses
Anytime I indulge in a little magazine devouring, Pinterest trolling, or blog reading, I see folks undertaking expensive renos, splashing out on pricey furniture, and/or shop-shop-shopping for lots of gorgeous accessories (or craft supplies, to make gorgeous home accessories) - and rarely, if ever, with the accompanying hand-wringing and stress I feel when spending money.
Renovating and decorating (or even crafting) can be frustrating because it seems like I never have enough money (or time). I try not to compare my life or spending to someone else's, but although budgeting and planning may be done in the logical part of my brain, the feelings about money do not originate from the same part. I remind myself that choices Hubby and I have made (that bring us so much joy), like buying a more expensive house so we can live lakeside, or paying cash for our truck, changed the game for us. If we had bought a small home somewhere else, kept our affordable car, didn't have our lovable Szuka (vet bills! food!), things could be different - but I wouldn't want to trade any part of my life. A part of my brain gets this. But the pang of, "oh hey, I want that," the whiny little voice complaining, "it looks so easy for them," or the creeping feeling of doubt: "am I doing something wrong if I can't afford this bath reno and a holiday?" aren't always easy to shake.
I figured that I can't be alone, so I wanted to be open and honest about how stressed I am about renovating the bathroom, and spending money on the house in general. I want to paint a more realistic picture of what's going on behind the scenes and just admit: sometimes I can't afford to do, buy or even make the things I want. Plain and simple - no shame.
This isn't a pity party for me at all, because I think that being able to chat about any of this - renovating, decorating, even budgeting - is a luxury, when many people are barely scraping by, or worse.
But you should know that embarking on this bath reno has definitely made me nervous, especially because the estimates we calculated were a little optimistic...
So, we're in a mini spending lock-down until the dust settles. We're scrimping and saving to top up our "bath reno fund" - now, instead of a Mustang in my wallet, I've got the photo above. We've already made a few larger purchases from our savings, like closet doors for the bedroom and some fabric for drapes, but it looks like other changes will have to be put on hold until we come out the other side of the bath reno. Meanwhile, I'm trimming our grocery budget a bit. I'm trying to avoid the Siren Song of the thrift stores. I'm finishing up neglected projects - and using supplies we have on hand. And, other than a quick trip to visit family, vacationing is out of the question for now.
Truthfully, it isn't just the bathroom reno that has me nervous about spending money. I started thinking about money differently, and re-prioritizing a bit, after the loss my family experienced. The funeral home created a photo slideshow for us, which had us pouring over dozens of photo albums. It made me think about my own life, and finding the right balance of fun and responsibility - especially when it comes to money. As we flipped through photo albums, no one said, "he had such a great home with a beautifully renovated bathroom," but instead they said, "man, he sure loved to be outside". Meanwhile, Hubs and I had a truckload full of cabinet samples for our impending bathroom renovation.
After the funeral, we returned the cabinet samples. Staring glumly at a stack of wood doors, I turned to Hubby and said, "I don't care about a bathroom reno. Let's use the money to travel instead. Let's do stuff". That night I got stuck inside our space portal shower, which is starting to fall apart and smells like a monkey's butt, no matter how thoroughly and vigorously I scrub it. Hubby freed me and, naked and freezing, I relented, "okay, maybe a renovation isn't such a stupid idea".
Hubby and I feel very privileged. Not only do we benefit from certain unearned societal privileges, we have a roof over our heads, warm stew in our bellies at night, our health, and the complete luxury of choosing how to spend our savings. Should we save the money instead? Should we blow it on a huge trip? Retire earlier? How much interest could we earn? Mortgage balloon payment? What if we die tomorrow? What will be important? What if we live to be 100? Man, I'll really hate our current bathroom by then... Should we spend more and get quality? Why do laminate counters get the cold shoulder?
ALL decadent choices. Still, I find it very stressful to think about spending a good chunk of change on our home, and yet I wish we had more to spend. I have a laundry list of things I'd like to change, update, switch up, and improve. I just have to be patient, and understand that while in some cases we have to wait, we might never have the money for certain things. That's just life. And it's a good life! What we have is enough, everything else is just icing.
I've been getting into the habit of taking some time each day to really appreciate my life, and my loved ones, and to just be grateful. Truly, I'm so grateful. And, to be honest, I feel it immediately when I just disconnect a bit: tear my eyes away from Instagram, power down the computer, and close the magazines - when I get away from the daily deluge of inspiring room makeovers, crafty projects, and the endless lists of things bloggers and magazines think we should buy. Right away I feel my priorities, and my brain relaxes.
I always think of that saying, "yesterday I didn't know it existed, today I can't live without it".
This post in my (very infrequent) Money Talks series is noticeably devoid of any meaningful money-saving tips or tricks but, with this reno looming, and talk of fancy walnut cabinets and quartzite counters, I just didn't want to contribute to any illusion that spending this money on renovations is easy (or necessary).
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