We love our new wood-burning stove and all, but it completely derailed our progress in the guest bedroom and office. We were getting thisclose to wrapping up the two rooms and moving upstairs. And then the stove happened. We demolished the dining room, yanked out carpet, sanded floors, and broke a window.
Then we freaked out about how much heat we were losing through the window, which made us freak out about how much heat we were losing through the attic. So we insulated the attic. Then we ordered insulation for the basement. Plus enough firewood to last us through the winter. And, while we were at it, we ordered new windows for the dining room. Our house feels enough like a shanty without the boarded-up windows.
Here’s the thing, though: all of this stuff costs money. A lot of money. We were visiting the hardware stores at least twice a weekend to pick up one thing or another. And each trip resulted in a tab of $500+. The fireplace was a $2300 purchase. $1600 for the chimney liner. $240 for firewood. $900 for a water heater. $400 for windows. $500 insulation. $200 lumber. It adds up fast. We were easily dropping $1000 to $2000 per weekend. Yipes!
We’re paying for our renovation in cash, so a couple of months of frivolous spending left our bank account a little lower than usual. We like to keep our account balance above a certain amount, and lately we’ve been hovering a few hundred bucks under our comfort zone. Whenever we drop below our buffer, we panic. There was a lot of nail-biting and hand-wringing and Advil going on. So we decided it’s time to give our debit card a break.
We’re declaring November & December our no-spending months. We’re not going to buy building materials, tools, appliances or any other big purchases until the end of December. This doesn’t mean we’re going to stop working. We have a huuuuge to-do list of things we’ve been putting off. We have supplies on hand to finish most jobs. Rest assured, we’ll be crazy-busy for the next two months.
We’re making two exceptions to our spending freeze. 1) If we run out of basics like nails, screws or Great Stuff, we’ll still buy those. But we’re not going to spend more than $50 on a trip to the hardware store. 2) If an emergency comes up, we’ll be flexible. We’re talking pipes-froze-and-burst type emergencies. Not OMG-SALE-AT-LOWE’S emergencies.
Not gonna lie: this will be tough. We have so many projects we want to do — building new (insulated!) walls in the dining room, for example. But we also have a bajillion small projects we need to wrap up before we can move on.
Here’s what we have planned for the rest of the year:
- Guest bedroom / Office / Upstairs Hallway
- Put up trim
- Paint the trim
- Hem and hang curtains
- Re-veneer the bed
- Make legs for the desk
- Install ceiling fan in guest BR
- Install guest BR closet
- Make custom shelves for the office closet
- Dining Room / Living Room / Stairs
- Remove all the staples from the staircase (there were stragglers)
- Remove carpet from the living room and entry hallway
- Replace two dining room windows
- Install ceiling fan in living room
- Prime the walls outside the master BR and down the stairs
- Install hot water heater
- Insulate rafters
- Install shelving system
- Demolish staircase
- Mildew-bomb the stinky corner
- Master Bedroom
- Move all the stuff from the attic to the garage
- Reorganize tools, toolboxes and bins (currently a hot mess)
- Move paints, paint supplies, hardware and electrical stuff for storage in basement
- Other Stuff
- Demolish hideous trellis outside laundry room
- Insulate the washer pipes
- Polyurethane the white dresser
- Book a dumpster for Thanksgiving weekend and empty out the garage (it’s completely full of trash from the dining room demo)
We definitely have our work cut out for us, but we think we’re up to the task. It’s going to be hard to totally stop spending after a few months of kid-in-a-candy-shop behavior, but we have plenty of supplies to get these jobs done. By the time January rolls around, we’ll be back in our comfort zone. Added bonus: all the odds & ends jobs we’ve been putting off will be scratched off our list!
We’ll keep you posted on how we’re coping with the spending freeze. So far, we’re avoiding Lowe’s like the plague. They’ve already starting the holiday sales and specials. It seems like everything we’ve been eyeballing for months is magically on sale the minute we put our debit card away. Boo! Hiss!
How about you other renovators out there? Made any big purchases lately? Ever put yourself on a spending freeze?