Coming off our kitchen makeover, I am a couple of things: exhausted and proud.
Missed the makeover? Check it out here. Sorry everyone! I meant to have our kitchen unveiling post done, but I’ve just been too busy! Will drop the link here when it’s done!}
For those of you that have DIY-ed a home renovation of any sort, laid tile, or even installed appliances themselves, I applaud you. The day we laid tile, I was down on my hands and knees scraping mortar, fiddling with spacers, and smearing every inch of my clothing with globs of even more mortar for nearly 14 hours.
The next morning, I woke up with muscles hurting that I didn’t even know I had.
But the way that tile looked….
I walked out into the kitchen the next morning and just stood there, looking for imperfections, and of course I saw every one. Inside, my emotions were waffling between proud and upset that I hadn’t taken more time for perfection. While no visitor would ever see those imperfections, I saw every. single. one.
But I had been up until 4 am laying tile, so the job I did had to be good enough.
That struggle for perfection doesn’t just apply to tile. Or hanging cabinets. Or placing very heave countertops. It applies to everything.
Let me explain….
Our kitchen cost us roughly $2,500. Just the month prior we bought our camper for $2,400. And in March we bought a used truck for $4,500.
And we paid cash for all of them.
We didn’t expect to redo our kitchen for another couple of years, but when the opportunity arose to purchase the cabinets, granite countertops, and even the appliances for $400 (plus what it would cost us to rip out 3 walls, lay new flooring, run new wiring, etc.) we jumped on it, because we knew our budget could handle it. We had been saving for a new kitchen before we moved out an our current home became a rental property. Our goal was $10,000, and we had $2,000 saved.
We were also saving for the camper, but didn’t think we would be able to purchase one so nice that cheaply. Our camper savings goal was $5,000, and we were $2,100 of the way there when the camper we bought came up for sale. We jumped on the deal because of a) what we had saved b) a budget that could easily handle a $300 unexpected expense and c) because we had a plan.
Finally, we bought the truck unexpectedly from a friend….and the same story as above applied.
Let’s just roughly average those expenses and say that we spent an un-budgeted $3,000 each month for the beginning of 2016.
It wasn’t in the budget, but it was planned. We were saving, so that when a good deal came along we could jump on it. These first few months may have been VERY unexpected, but the future lowered expenses + the increased returns in the future just made those extra expense some of the best investments we could have made.
Spending: Small financial victories or defeat?
3 years ago, when I started becoming interested in finances, months and purchases like these wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly as they did now.
The first $3,000 expense month would have about a 50% chance of being put on credit. We didn’t have huge credit limits, but we also only had $2,000 + in savings half of the time. Often, we fluctuated between saving aggressively and spending aggressively – usually on things that wouldn’t benefit us in the long-run.
The second $3,000 month would have absolutely been put on credit, as long as our card (yep, singular) wasn’t maxed out already. We would literally have been in a panic about how to pay it, and our issue wasn’t about income, it was about spending.
Third month wouldn’t have even happened, because if our credit card wasn’t maxed out by month 1, it definitely would have been by month 2. So therefore, we would have financed a (used) truck, which is an epic mistake, or we wouldn’t have bought it at all.
Even though it wouldl save us loads of money in car payments down the road.
We may not even have bought the kitchen, even though it just added about $15,000 of value to our home, and drastically increased the future income potential when we vacate and make income off of tenants.
Plus, granite countertops? Waaay more durable than some of the cheaper options, hopefully saving us money on future repairs/replacements.
I won’t rub out victory in your face anymore, but I do want to close with a few thoughts/takeaways:
No matter where you are now, just start.
Perhaps you’ve seen this quote about running?
“No matter how slow you go, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”
And while I want EVERYONE to get off the personal finance couch, if you’re just starting out, or feel like the small changes aren’t added up, remember this. We started our journey 3 years ago and are JUST NOW getting to this point. I’ll be honest, we don’t have another big spending month in us – especially if we want to hit our long-term goals – but we handled these three.
We did it by making small changes, and you can too!
In a few years, you’ll thank yourself.
Think about how you’ll feel in a few years if you don’t start today. Will you be kicking yourself? Regretting that you waited? Don’t let that be you!
Whether you’re struggling to keep from drowning financially, hustling to get out of debt, saving for big goals or retirement, or just trying to make healthy financial changes, my only advice is not to give up.
Searching for fresh sources of inspiration, rewarding the victories, and taking a step back to see how far you’ve come are all great ways to see how those long, small steps have added up to great big victories!
You should be proud!
How far have your money habits come? Share a victory, large or small, in the comments to celebrate!
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