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Clarifying the Plan


I knew my plan would be met with some criticism. And that’s okay. But there are a few points that I thought might be worth clarifying….

  1. I have run the numbers every which way. All the time taking into consideration all I want to do with and for the kids over the next two years. With a firm commitment, tightening the belt and a few extra projects every year, I can do it.
  2. Paying off my mortgage is important for my peace of mind. I’ve been through 13 years of housing insecurity and several years of job insecurity. Getting to the point where I could literally work a fast food job and pay my daily bills would be amazing and is my ultimate goal! (But I will consider the recommendation of a money market account as I am completely ignorant as far as that goes.)
  3. Barn doors are my style…and my kids like them too. We’ve never been a family that needed locks on our doors and in many cases, with foster kids, it was discouraged for safety reasons. Closing the door offers plenty of privacy. Just like personal finance is personal, so is house design, I suppose.
  4. My financial outlook/plan for September remains unchanged. I have DIY supplies galore around here from all the work we’ve been doing. This weekend I plan to paint the window trim in the living room and hang 3 sets of new blinds (thanks, Habitat for Humanity thrift store) and complete the kitchen remodel, well mostly.

My DIY kitchen is almost done

I love, love, love my new dishwasher. It is the perfect size for my little household now. I even have a disposal now! Feel like I’m back in the modern world after YEARS without what I consider typical conveniences.

He installed my disposal, dishwasher, waterline to the refrigerator, countertops and even the new light over my sink. I am SO GRATEFUL!

After months of pricing countertops and reviewing materials and maintenance, I am thrilled with my super economic butcher block countertops. (This is before they were cut, connected and conditioned.)

My DIY kitchen (at least for the most part) is on the cusp of being complete. As I mentioned, I negotiated a really great rate for the finishing touches I needed help with, ie plumbing and electrical work.

Before anyone comments, Gymnast designed this kitchen. I love the style and open shelves. (I realize from my last post about my kitchen that this is a poor person’s kitchen, but I love it.) Gymnast and I are going to finish out the area under the sink and around the dishwasher this weekend.

I’ve still got to install the backsplash. This will have to wait until I have several free days in a row. I anticipate it will take about 3 days. I have the tile and spacers, although I still need to purchase the compound, grout and find a tile cutting tool to rent or borrow.

A decision the BAD community won’t like


I have made a decision the BAD community is not going to like. Rest assured that I did not make it lightly or without reason…the latter I will explain. But for the next four months, other than my car payment this month. I am going to pay the minimum on everything and spend money on my house.

I am not going to go crazy. I will still DIY a bunch of it. But I am going to buy some stuff and pay for help when I need it. But I am going to complete a bunch of small projects that will 1) make me happy, 2) add up in cost and 3) improve my day to day life.

My goal is to build a life I love and I am really getting there. The gratitude and pride in my day to day life is refreshing after years and years of struggle. The relief is palpable every single day. And I do not forget the hardships. I cherish every day of this new life I am living.

Home Projects to Complete in the Next 4 Months

Here a sample of the projects I plan to complete (this is not a complete list but it’s a good start):

  1. New blinds in the front windows – labor DIY
  2. Paint all the trim – labor DIY
  3. Trim out living room doorway which we expanded – labor DIY
  4. Install kitchen backsplash – labor DIY
  5. Center and install ceiling fan in kitchen – pay for help
  6. Change out dining room light fixture – labor DIY?
  7. Install kitchen light fixture – labor DIY?
  8. Paint existing switch covers and reinstall – labor DIY
  9. Upcycle existing 5 interior doors – labor DIY
  10. Create some focal walls – labor DIY (I priced out the stick on rustic wood look, whoa, that stuff is expensive so looking for more affordable alternatives other than just paint, ideas?)
  11. Clean, rearrange and decorate Princess’ room – labor DIY and will use existing furniture (she’s onboard with this plan)
  12. Furnish deck
  13. Upcycle some old doors that I’ve had for ages to use as decoration/cast iron storage hangers – labor DIY
  14. Build barn door for hall bath – labor DIY
  15. Hang new curtains in the living room – labor DIY
  16. Complete upgrades to hall bath & hang bar door – pay for help (already have a quote for this)
  17. Build myself a closet of sorts – labor DIY? (have a paid labor quote for this but may attempt myself)

Now I don’t think any single project is going to be that expensive. The deck furniture will probably be the biggest purchase, but I do want a table and chairs for out there. And some the project’s material cost will be in the hundreds. It will add up.

The Logic

First, if I can get my “house to dos” done, it will greatly free up my time. I seem to spend almost every weekend and evening doing something. Or being exhausted from doing something. I’ve cut back on my personal clients as a result which is weird for me and I truly miss designing and maintaining websites. But the house is my number one goal. If I can get the house to a state where I am satisfied, I can once again schedule time to work on paid projects = $$$

Second, the cooler weather is coming and that is the ideal time for me to do manual labor. This heat has about killed me. And several of these projects will help with the heat of summer next year – new blinds and curtains for sure! I can be much more efficient when I’m not poring sweat so feel like I can knock these out on weekends and after hours from my full time job.

Third, I’ve got my eye on the prize of being debt free AND having savings to get the kids through college debt free. But after YEARS of living in poverty and paycheck to paycheck, I need a breather. It’s time to do something for me. An investment in my own future. Getting this house right will pay off in the long run. And this will also lead to my next big challenge.

The Debt Free Goal

My goal for the next two years…while Gymnast is in high school is to become completely debt free. Yes, that includes not only my student loans and hearing aids but also my $98K mortgage. When he graduates, I want every paycheck to be 100% my own. And I know I won’t focus on that with these house projects hanging around my neck.

So for the next four months, I am going to spend money on my house. Not focus on debt.

But January 1, 2022, it’s a completely different story. I will tighten my belt so much that it will hurt to meet this final goal: When Gymnast walks the high school graduation stage in May, 2023, I fully intend to have absolutely $0 in debt. Every single dollar I earn will be mine from that day forward!

(By the way, I received a 5% raise effective yesterday. I would see it in my next paycheck, but have already bumped my 401K contribution up that much so nothing should change in my take home pay, I don’t believe. And I still anticipate a bonus payout in the not so distant future that should be at minimum $10,000 but not sure when or the amount.)