Saturday, April 4, 2009

When To Strive For More Or When To Accept What You've Got



I've been thinking about this subject for some time now. It's been on my mind a lot lately. Mainly because the tax refund we got is not going as far as I thought it would. We decided we absolutely need to get the house painted this summer. It's two stories and it has to be done by someone other than my husband (who did volunteer but I've heard too many stories about people falling off ladders and the consequences). So I'd rather pay professionals. Also, no sense in putting it off as deferred maintenance usually winds up costing you more in the end so might as well bite the bullet!


I had planned on doing other things with that money. More fun than having the outside of the house painted! Finally, doing some cosmetic things in our family room and fixing up my hall bath for one. Not that it's horrible. I've done what I could with it. Ten years ago I painted the cheap cabinets, worked with the aqua blue tile on the floor and bath area, framed my big mirror and used a nice long neutral shower curtain hung really high to keep the emphasis off those tiles.



I wasn't even planning on removing the tiles. I was still going to work around them but the vanity that's there just doesn't work for us, there are problems with the way the sink is mounted underneath the weird countertop material, the taps leak and make a honking noise when you turn them on and a few other small annoying things.


So my thoughts were that I can either forget doing it and just live with it, or change out the countertop and sink - keep everything else as is or I can tighten the belt some more and figure out a way to still be able to do most of what I had planned.



But part of me is asking why can't I just let it be and live with it as it is? It's not like it's not usable. A lot of people have worse. Some people don't even have their own bathroom let alone 3 bathrooms or even a house. So many people don't even have a home to call their own these days and would be thrilled with this bathroom. Why can't I just be satisfied with what I've got?


Is it really bad to want to improve on what you already have. Is it really bad to want more just because you want more?



I feel like some people do push that idea - that it's not good. Everybody should just be happy with where they are in life and that's it. I do feel that you should be grateful for what you have, you should strive to be content but to me that doesn't mean you shouldn't also strive for more if that's what you want.


Where would this country be if people didn't strive for a better life for their families. I'm sure some would say we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now!


If I just went ahead and decided I want what I want and even though I don't have the money I'm going to get what I want, I'll just charge it. Then yes, I'd just be contributing to the mess. But if I decided that I'm going to be even more frugal and try to save up to do whatever it is I want to do, well that's entirely different!


So that's what I've decided to do. No I'm not going to just live with the bathroom the way it is. I'm going to tighten our purse strings and think of some ways to generate some extra money and I'm going to do what I had planned on doing for both the bathroom and the family room (at least I'm going to try)!

I have to figure out how I'm going to keep track of the money I save/earn for these renovations and exactly how I'm going to do it. I figure posting on my progress would be a good motivator. So I think that's what I'll do - every other weekend I'll post on what I've done to either save or make money for my renovations (or how I'm not)!



45 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get you, I really do. We have a nice house that we had built that is 11 years old. Nothing needs done but we've been updating a bit and doing cosmetic changes as we can. Did we need to take down the big mirror in the master bath and replace brass fixtures? No, but it does look better. We're not planning on selling but I do think you need to keep things looking good and update when you can so that if for some reason you do sell, the house is updated. Or maybe that's just an excuse I use to justify??? LOL

Be thankful you got a refund. We pay. I used to be so bummed over that, but I have learned to be thankful. It's hard!

You do so many pretty crafty things, have you ever thought of an Etsy shop? I think you'd do great!

Keep us posted. I agree - no charging, save for it. That's the rule in our house too

tina

tinam61@yahoo.com

a King's daughter said...

Manuela,
I'm glad you're getting your changes. I've been building my private stash, hoping to replace some ugly furniture. Now that I have almost $400 saved for it, I don't want to spend the money. Isn't that something. Maybe I'll be inspired by what you're doing and be willing to let a little of my stash go out, and a new sofa and chair come in!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

I know, I think we all constantly deal with being content where we are. There are a bunch of things I'd change in my house, but really why to that when they are still working fine, I just have a different preference. So, I'll keep most things & change some things that we can afford to do.

I've missed a lot this week, it will take me forever to catch up. Missed the bunny party that everyone was joining & I see your bunny on a stick really got everyone motivated!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I understand what you are saying. Most of the things that need to be done around here are cosmetic. I just try to put them in "needs" and "wants" catagories, and go from there. The "needs" get first attention.
Glenda

Kelly said...

You have such a beautiful heart, Manuela. I totally see where you're coming from and I've been there, too. I admire how you're being prudent with your money in order to accomplish your desires, and I think that's a very wise lesson for everyone (especially in this economy). We don't need to forgo what makes us happy as long as we can afford it and are wise about when to embark upon it.

Have a super lovely weekend, mama!

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

Manuela - You are such a creative woman, I can't wait to see how your plans progress!

Ally0005 said...

I think you have the right idea, save for it. It may take a little long but in the end it's paid for and that is the best feeling.

Emily@remodelingthislife said...

Manuela, I wrote about this a couple weeks ago on my blog and got a lot of wonderful comments. So much of my life right now is consumed by finishing our fixer and working on improvements and sometimes I battle in my head about what that means for being a content person. The comments were all really supportive and eye-opening for me, as I realized that my home is my creative outlet, so the desire to make changes, work on it and improve it is natural. The way you are going about it is great - be creative, find your ways to find the money for it and then enjoy the project and results. It's how we've done our entire house and I know it can take longer and requires more creativity, but it's worth not going into debt over. Can't wait to follow your progress!

The Chatty Housewife said...

I'm at this point right now and I have to just be content with what I have. I would love to paint the walls as they are still the antique white they were when we moved in... BUT the house is new and the paint is fine so I should be content!

glorv1 said...

I admire you for your thoughts on this subject. I'm sure you will be fine in whatever you decide to finally do. I grew up with a saying that my dad had and it still is with me. In fact I can still here his voice when he used to say, "Always be thankful for what you have mijita (daughter)." He also used to say that if we really want something bad enough, somehow we always find a way.
Have a great Sunday Manuela.

Sheryl said...

Oh, do I understand! I had the same thoughts this morning as I was cleaning our bathroom sinks and once again noticing the crack thinking when are we going to replace our sinks, and how will we get the money? We don't use charge cards, so that means cash must be available. I'm not sure when that will happen! I'm just to improve what I can around the house that doesn't cost much for now. Hopefully later we can change things like sinks.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

I agree with what you are doing. Save the money and do what you want. There is nothing wrong with striving to make your home as you want it. That is the way we improve where we live. Can't wait to see the finished result.

Margaret

Gypsy aka Tam said...

Manuela,
I so much relate to your post. I often ask myself too why can't I just be content with what I have but I have come to the realization the day I stop striving for the next thing I may as well stop being me. See the 'striving' part is not just related to decorating items but to every other aspect in my life. Striving to improve my education, striving to learn as much as I can, striving to improve myself as a person, striving to create a warm, comfortable home for my family and so on. I no longer see it as a negative but embrace the fact that 'striving for the next best thing' is what improves me, my home, my life.
I'll be looking forward on how you make the changes you are planning on and will be cheering for you all the way.
Tam

Vee said...

I shudder to think what would happen to this country if we all settle for the lowest common denominator. Personally, I think that is what will get us into more trouble than we're already in. This wailing and wringing of hands really must stop. And the guilt issue needs to be dispensed with. Why do so many wish to be punitive and unkind?

So best wishes with getting that bathroom and the family room where you'd like it to be. And money spent on upkeep is a good thing...good for the economy... and just plain good sense stewardship.

june@craftyniche said...

I understand what you are saying. For me, it doesn't help to come to all the great decorating blogs and see the gorgeous homes all decorated. I want mine to look pretty too! I hate to say it, but I would get irritated when others around me (family and friends) get to do all sorts with renovations, and we weren't able to do anything to our home, but I realized they most likely took out loans or charged it. And they are going to have to pay it back with interest! I was trying to keep up with the Jones'. I got hit with the nesting/decorating bug right before my son was born and then I had/am having to wait on some projects. I used to want to get all new cabinets and countertops in my kitchen which would cost thousands of dollars. But I'm going to repaint them and I've found a technique on painting laminate countertops to make them look like granite. One day, I'll have to replace them as my home is 19 years old..but for now I'm pretty much doing cosmetic changes (mainly repainting and decorating). One thing we really have to replace is our kitchen floor. It's in bad shape, some places being held down with nails and we plan on getting a eco-friendly floor such as bamboo. We have money in our savings and hopefully with Hubby's summer bonus we will be able to do it this summer. And our bathroom, especially shower stall needs to be re-tiled after Hubby fixed some of the tiles by regluing it.

I read a post somewhere in blogland about making your home environment as warm and comfortable as possible for yourself..and that stuck with me. I want to do these things for me and my family, not to keep up with the Jones'.
All of these things are going to be paid with cash. So, it's definitely going to take time as we save up for the money to do these things. I really believe by paying with and saving up for it, it my home projects with be even more meaningful. :)

dana said...

What a great post, Manuela! Your thoughts about updating your bath really hit home with lots of us! We just built this home 4 years ago and I can tell you I'm already dreading the day that I start to think parts of it needs "updating"!! We're still paying for what we put into it four years back! :) Luckily, we don't have far to go before it's paid off---we've been working very hard at making aggressive payments, but that's because we're OLD and retirement is knocking on our door! SO it must be paid off before we let that guy in! Anyway, at our old house, where we lived for 26 years, I never really felt it was "up to date". It was 15 years old when we bought it--complete with orange and brown shag carpet in the family room! I can hear you screaming "yuk"! :) We did promptly rip that up because there was a finished hardwood floor under it and later we replaced the carpet in the rest of the house. BUT we only did that after we'd saved the money for it. It was hard to save cuz my husband had just started his business and I'd quit my job to stay home and raise our two little kiddos. BUT we scrimped and saved. The rest of what we did to the house over the years was paint or paper. But it never really looked updated--especially the kitchen. I did refinish the cabinets and we eventually put in new appliances and a new Formica counter (cheap!), but the wood paneling just held back the "look". Anyway, I feel your pain---and I imagine your pain is deeper cuz you are such a talented and creative gal. I just learned to live with it--but I didn't like it! :)
I am looking forward to your progress--I know you will make it happen in a way that works for your family financially. Thanks for your thoughtful posts--you're a real inspiration. Dana

Stitcher S said...

I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for that!

Accepting what one has is an interesting subject, and one I've thought about.

I'll be very frank regarding my own experiences with it. When I was a Stay at Home Mom (for 14 years) I thought about what I could improve constantly. We didn't have the extra income to do it, so projects were here and there. Now that I have a career that keeps me way too busy (I have to bring work home, also) we do have the money but I don't have the energy to put into projects very often.

Our house is 50 years old, and our kitchen screams 1985, by the way, but I love it and am thrilled to stand in it and cook.

I find a pleasure and joy in accepting what we have, and in not requiring perfection or what is 'up to date'. As for me, I often don't like things that are 'up to date'.

One of the saddest things I ever heard was when a friend of mine was divorcing and moving to a rental home and said, "I will just have to get used to a kitchen without granite counters." I could only wonder why the counters were so dear to her, and not her marriage.

Rue said...

Good morning Manuela :)

I understand, because there are things we want to do to this house to take it back to the way it was, but it's fine the way it is, just not "right" in our eyes. We take what little money we have left over without dipping into savings and work on it little by little, but sometimes I will spend it on something cute that makes me happy instead and the project goes on hold.

I think unless it's something like a leak in the bathroom or another disastrous thing and you aren't hurting anything by spending the extra money, you should do it if it improves your life and sometimes even if it just makes you smile.

I look forward to your posts on this subject.

Oh and thank you so much for the raised garden post! I'm hoping we can start one ourselves this year :)

hugs,
rue

Kelly said...

I understand how you feel about wanting too much. You have to decide what is right for you and your family and there is no need for an explination to others.

I can't wait to see the finished product. I'm sure it will be beautiful!

Christine said...

"True happiness, is being able to be content rather you have a little or
a lot. It’s being able to appreciate what you have and where you’re at
in life, even when your goal is to reach, or obtain something greater."
-- Kimberly Lily in "Happiness Begins and Ends in You"

Barb~Bella Vista said...

Manuela, there is nothing wrong with wanting more...when your 'motive is right.' What is your motive?

A dear friend taught me this many years ago. Is want you want right? Will it hurt others? Is it important to you? These are the questions one needs to ask.

Being content does not mean never improving your surroundings....to me, anyway.

Barb

kimmcl said...

Wow, what a great post. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. Why can't I just be happy with what I've got? I'm a stay-at-home mom, and that means making many sacrifices. In other words, making do with what I've got! But I've learned to be thrifty and creative and get the same results as if I'd spent alot of money! There are ways! Have you tried selling some of your stuff that you don't want anymore on Ebay? It's a great, fun way to earn a little extra money. Or what about Craig's List? Can't wait to see your progress!! Kim

Peggy. said...

I can so relate to your post! My kids and husband tell me I'm never satisfied...I always want to change things. I don't know what it is or why but I sometimes just have to have a change. We don't have lots of money but I'm always rearranging the furniture or making small changes. That seems to keep me satisfied for a little bit. But I still have a huge list of projects and upgrades I would like to eventually get to. I'm glad I'm not the only one wanting to better my home...on a budget.
Peggy

Martha said...

It's nice to get something done that you've wanted to do. It's taken time at Linderhof but I'm glad that we've finally gotten most everything done. (Remind me sometime to tell you how many times we've moved the furniture and appliances!)

Terri and Bob said...

Manuela, I am right where you are. I think our bathroom needs updating and thought so when we bought the house six years ago. It is now 14 years old and now it needs some really good updating. We are saving for the changes but we are also being very pragmatic about it: the changes we make will be lovely but not extravagant. We will do a lot of the labor ourselves and we will cut back in other areas to make sure we do not extend our credit. I am so glad you posted on this. It is reassuring that others are thinking like you.

Nancy said...

I agree with you! Save it...don't charge it!!!!!!! Yes...we should learn to live with the way things are, but there is nothing wrong with improvement if you can do it! Nancy

Kathleen Grace said...

I hear you Manuela, I have had to put up with a lot of things that needed to be changed, updated and fixed in this old home. We have done a lot but it is a process that doesnt end. The only thing I can say is, as long as you can do it without going into debt, as you plan to, I cant see anything wrong with that. A home is an investment and it has to be kept updated and in working order. Too often we update just before we sell and then someone else enjoys the effort and money. Why? You have your priorities straight in the way you handle money and the questions you ask before you spend it. Good for you!

salmagundi said...

I always struggle with wanting more than I have, but if the money isn't there - it just isn't there!! I usually juggle things around and save to get what I want eventually. Anxious to see how you manage in the next few weeks. Sally

Jen r. said...

I get that! I want all of the time, but i've learned the hard way, it's only good to want if you have the cold hard cash in hand! Sometimes it's hard, but it's so much better in the end! jEn

Susan said...

I agree with you 100%. If you have the cash then go ahead and don't feel an ounce of guilt! If you don't have the money, then be happy with what you have. Be happy till you have the money, then fix it!

sandra/tx said...

I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I'm sure you can put together a bathroom redo on a budget, and it'll look fabulous when it's done. :-)

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Great post! I think about this a lot too! I feel so blessed to be where I am in life, but then I'd like to change this or that, and I always think about others who don't even have this or that to change! I agree with you, there is nothing wrong with striving to make changes, as long as we are not over-extending our finances to do it. Good luck! laurie

Jen said...

The way I see it, is the Tradies need work too. If we, who can frugally aford it (meaning we have saved, not charged) stop doing these things to pinch pennies, they in turn have none to pinch. *shrug* Just a thought.

Jen said...

re reading that, I realise I may have come acros harsh. I did not mean it to be so! :) Amazing what a couple of well placed emotiocons could have done *grin*, wink*

Melanie said...

I don't see anything wrong with spending money smartly. I think its different from people who go overboard and end up with more debt than they can handle. People SHOULD spend money. It will get us out of this recession sooner rather than later! We are being careful, but we are also still spending (from our tax return). Our bath needs remodeling and I think its good for us, the value of our house and the economy in which we will spend the money.

And I hear you on the unexpected home expenses. A couple of days ago when I was out in my garden, I noticed material from our roof had washed out of our gutter! Time for a new roof (next years tax return).

Storybook Woods said...

You know dreaming, planning and figuring out how to do it with little money is what makes us creative and row and that has to be good. Can not wait to see what you do. Clarice

Charli and me said...

I like your post. I think most of us try to strive to do better and take care of the things we have. It's ok to want and save for something but I've never believed in the credit card thing. I don't understand how people run up thousands and thousands of dollars on them.

Susie Q said...

We own a small business, custcom cabinetry and furniture. Frankly, cash is the only way to do it. We run our business on a cash only basis and it has kept us from going under...according to the yellow pages, there are no longer any custom cabinet shops in Boulder, CO or Boulder County and 3 years ago there were 1/2 dozen. We've had clients put off jobs while they save the money & that's fine. We understand and do the same way in our personal lives.

Betsy said...

Oh, I so agree and I definitely can relate, as I think most of us can! I think you are being wise to safe up for a renovation that you want to do instead of going into debt for it! The money never goes as far as we want it to, does it!?

Linda's Blue Gate said...

Dear Manuela,
You have such a wonderful way to keep us all grounded...... I have a "want" problem...... and I really have to talk to myself.....
There are sooooo many things I WANT to do to our home....... and I am trying to use Blue Gate money to do just that but something always comes up and the money is needed else where...... I just refuse to go in to debt....... any more....
Hugs
Linda

Lyn said...

I think that it's one thing if people have the money to upgrade their home, that's great. Everyone wants to have a home that they enjoy and are comfortable in, no matter what kind of home that is. However, I'm not going to charge things and put my ability to stay at home on the line for that.

Like someone mentioned, sometimes the money is just not there and nothing can be done about that. When that happens we have to get creative with what we have, save our money long-term or just not upgrade and be okay with that.

There are many things in my home that I would love to change, but for me personally if I base my contentment on that I would not be a happy person.

Right now extra money goes to needs and to necessary repairs. We're still striving, but we're striving for necessities right now.

Lyn said...

Just wanted to add that I'm sure you'll use your abilities to get the most for your money.

Kimm at Reinvented said...

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think also that when you love the decorating process, it's not just that you're not content, it's that you just love the changing!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am enjoying your blog. I wanted to let you know that my husband and I painted our two story home by ourselves. We rented scafolding and it was easy to put up and take down.

Stacey said...

Hi Manuela. I really enjoyed this post because I've had the same thoughts. There are times when I just wish I could be completely content to not decorate, not purchase, etc. That's just not me though. We definitely need to tighten our purse strings. I'm enjoying reading all of your ideas.