by Vicky Monroe
My partner and I set aside money every month for the home and car repairs that inevitably pop up. But I don’t necessarily enjoy dipping into those savings. I try to do everything I can to avoid it and find alternatives when things break. For example, our dryer died a few months ago. We decided to use our wooden drying rack instead of spending several hundred dollars to replace it.
So far it’s been a minor inconvenience. Bigger, bulkier items like our comforter can take two or three days to fully dry, which I admit is a little annoying. And our towels come out kind of crunchy and scratchy, so I don’t love using them to dry off after a shower. But we put up with it to save money and simplify our lives.
I hate having lots of appliances and machines to maintain and repair. Plus, I’ve realized we don’t really need all the modern conveniences that are viewed as essential, such as dryers, dishwashers, and robot vacuums. All they do is make chores slightly easier to accomplish, but it doesn’t take that much more time to wash dishes by hand or hang clothes on the line.
Guests Changed Our Plans
With that being said, my parents are in between apartments and asked if they could come stay with us for a month. They have higher standards of cleanliness than my partner and I, so I had a feeling they wouldn’t be able to live without a dryer. When I told them ours was broken, they sheepishly admitted that they needed access to one.
Laundromats don’t feel clean to them, and there aren’t really any around here even if they felt comfortable using one. They felt really bad about inconveniencing us, and my dad even offered to pay for a new dryer… but I couldn’t let him do that. So we dipped into our home repair savings to replace our dryer, which cost us about $600 including delivery and installation.
Learning to Be Adaptable
This situation was a real learning moment for me. I could’ve stuck to my miserly debt payoff mindset, but I wanted my parents to feel at home while they’re here. I could blame them for having high standards or call them unreasonable and stick to my guns. But sometimes you have to loosen up a bit and meet people where they are. If you’re too gazelle-intense, you risk alienating the people you care about.
At the end of the day, going out to dinner with friends or attending a family member’s wedding is not going to set you back too far. Even though my partner and I splurge on things like this new dryer, visiting family, and the occasional concert, we’ve still managed to pay off $50,000 of mortgage debt in under three years. We’re not rich—we don’t make a whole lot more than the median household income. We just try our best to live frugally on a day-to-day basis, so occasional expenses like this don’t throw us off course too much.
Being adaptable and rolling with the punches hasn’t messed up our debt payoff plans. But what do you think—is it better to be gazelle-intense or a bit more flexible?
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.