Cold weather is upon us! Are you looking for some free activities to keep your kids busy during the winter? As a mother of three little girls, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that bored kids = crazy kids and a frustrated mom! This year, I’m making it a point to keep them busy for the sake of ALL of our sanity!
Our New House: What We Want to Remodel
We just moved in three weeks ago, but there is already a long list of items that John and I want to update on our home. For any new readers, John is a general contractor/handyman. He owned his own handyman company here in Charlotte and he worked for himself when we lived in Phoenix as a sort of jack-of-all-trades. While I’m lucky that John can do a decent amount of updates himself, he can’t do everything and there are some areas where we’ll need to hire out (coughelecticalworkcough).
So, here’s what we’re planning on doing to our home over the next few years.
New House Remodel Checklist
Paint the entryway. This is something John will, thankfully, do on his own. The walls were a yellowy color (which you can see in the photo) and I wanted them to be a blue/grey like we had in our rental house. Yeah, the color I chose was a LOT darker and more blue than it looked in the store. Unfortunately, we purchased 5 gallons of this color and most likely won’t use any of it. We bought samples of two other colors this past weekend (both natural tans) that I hope will look good. John’s deadline for this project is the end of October (when my parent’s are visiting!). I’ll make sure to post an update once this is done.
Update: We chose a color and John painted over the blue!! Yay! The entryway looks good now, but we still have a long way to go. The ceilings are super high by the front door (which you can’t see), plus we’ll need to paint the upstairs foyer because all those walls are connected.
Fix the gas stove. We have a gas stove that I actually really like even though I thought I’d hate it. Unfortunately, about a week ago the electrical part blew out. John tried fixing it but just can’t get to the bottom of the problem. If you turn the stove on, gas comes out but it doesn’t light. So for now we’re using a lighter to light it when we need to cook. My dad might be able to fix this problem, but if not we will rely on Contractor Connection to hook us up with someone who can get the job done. Contractor Connection connects consumers to quality professionals for any of your home remodeling needs. Estimates are free and quality is guaranteed. You can’t beat that, especially for people like us who are new to the area.
Remodel the kitchen. This is a project that will be done within the next 2-3 years. Kitchen remodels are expensive and we need to save money before diving into this project. Luckily, I do like the layout of the kitchen, so all of the changes will be strictly cosmetic. We want to change the back splash, add granite countertops, remove the wallpaper, repaint the kitchen, and get new appliances (everything except the fridge). John can do some of the work (wallpaper, painting, and installing new appliances), but the rest we’ll have to hire out. While John technically could do it by himself, he really does not have the time with working FT and having the kids. I do not want to live in a construction zone (especially in the kitchen!) for any longer than I have to.
If you are also in need of a kitchen remodel, call Contractor Connection to get a free quote. Preferred contractors come with a 3-year workmanship warranty.
Paint every other area of the house. The paint colors in here aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not our taste. Eventually, this whole house will be painted. The entryway is first on the list because the yellowy color was just something that I couldn’t get on board with. Everything else will be completed within two years, hopefully. Again, John will do all of the painting but it’s just a matter of finding the time.
Furnish the house. Does this count as remodeling? I’m saying “yes” simply because it could probably cost us as much as a kitchen remodel (just kidding, sort of). Our house is furnished for the most part, with the exception of three rooms: the formal living area, the bedroom attached to the master, and the screened in porch. The screened in porch is our first priority and the only reason we don’t have it furnished now is because it’s really hard to find patio furniture this time of year in Charlotte. We will probably order something online from Home Depot within the next few weeks, though. Next up will be the formal living room. I want a simple couch, a rug and a coffee table. Finally, we’re turning the room attached to the master into a media room. The homeowner before us used this room as an office, but it has a tiny tiny window, is far from the rest of the house and there’s already a room I can use as an office downstairs (plus let’s be real, I work on the couch). So, after much debacle on what to do with that room, we finally agreed on a media room. Realistically, we probably won’t furnish this for 3-5 years as it’s definitely not a priority.
Redo the flooring. The carpet is brand new – yay! And I’m a weirdo who actually likes carpet in the bedrooms. It’s cozier to me and I kind of like vacuuming. The rest of the house is light hardwoods. While I don’t mind them, I prefer dark hardwood floors. This is something John can hopefully refinish instead of replace, which would save us a ton of money.
How to Save Money on Home Improvements
Insource whatever you can. Small projects and things like painting can normally be done by yourself. There’s no need to hire someone to do something you can do on your own, especially if you’re on a budget.
Outsource when needed and do so strategically. John worked in the construction business for more than 15 years and we can both tell you that it is HARD to find good, quality work. There are many contractors out there who will take significantly longer on a project than they originally told you, or they just won’t show up one day, or they’ll end up charging you a lot more than you originally thought. It can be a mess. If you have to outsource, interview a good amount of potential candidates before deciding. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals and use trusted sites like Contractor Connection to find the right contractor for the job.
Save up money and pay in cash. Unless the project is absolutely necessary (such as flood damage, mold, a foundation issue, etc), save up for it and pay in cash. John and I are currently rebuilding our emergency fund. Once that’s complete, we will save up for our remodeling projects. Going into debt for granite counters or new furniture is never a good idea. And if you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know I’m all about enjoying life! However, that doesn’t mean financing non-necessities that really won’t add that much happiness to your life.
In your current home, what is it that you want to update?!
This post was sponsored by Contractor Connection. However, all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting the frugal millionaire blog through posts like these!
Here’s Why We Upsized Our House
We recently purchased a house – a big, beautiful home in an awesome neighborhood with an incredible lot. We by no means maxed out our budget, but this was at the very high end of what we wanted to spend. We’ve been here roughly two weeks now, and I can honestly say that this was a great decision for our family.
When we first moved to Charlotte, our goal was to downsize and simplify our lives. All the talk nowadays seems to be on downsizing and living simply. Trust me, I can get on board with that and understand why people want less bills, less stuff and less to take care of. In just our two weekends here, we’ve been swamped with errands and chores. But honestly? I like that! I still relax, but I kind of enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle of working FT, freelancing on the side, being a mom and wife, taking care of the house and more. I’m never bored, and that is a huge blessing!
Starbucks Hacks from a Starbucks Fanatic
Fall is in the air! You guys, I’m excited. I decorated for fall right after we moved into our new house last weekend. I plan on doing a post on our house soon, but for now, just know that we love love love it and it was a great decision!
The holiday season tends to be when I stray from my normal tendency of saving every dollar we make. I don’t know what it is about fall that gets me, but I always go overboard year after year. I love to cook and bake during this time, I want my house to be decked out in all the latest holiday decor, I burn pumpkin candles like they’re going out of style, and I even resort back to my almost-daily Starbucks habit.
(Did I just lose all of my personal finance readers who actually do follow a budget?)
A little backstory on my relationship with Starbucks…
3 Tips for college students on managing their finances
College is supposed to be the time of your life. And for most people, it is. However, in between socializing, studying and dating, now is really the time to start paying attention to your finances. Mistakes you make now could have a huge effect on your future. I’m going to give you two honest examples of my husband and I’s college experience regarding our finances.
Financial tips for newlyweds
John and I are celebrating our four year wedding anniversary next week! In addition, my little sister is getting married a few days after our four year anniversary. In celebration of her new marriage and our upcoming anniversary, I thought I’d share my financial tips for newlyweds.
Treating money like a river and other ways my views are changing
While browsing books in Barnes and Noble the other day, I came across an inspirational book on various topics, including finances. The book stated that some people view money as a lake, meaning there’s a finite amount and once it’s out, it’s out, and other people view money as a river, or a constant stream of money coming in and going out. Of course, realistically, we ALL view money as a river – but is that how you’re living your life? That’s not to say you should live paycheck to paycheck, but instead use your money as a tool to give you the life you want. It’s constantly flowing in and out, just like a river, and there’s no need to stress about every dollar that goes out or comes in.
The only way to save money that actually works
CNN recently reported that more than three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck (survey done by Bankrate). I’ll admit – we live paycheck to paycheck, but it’s not because we’re broke. We save every month, have a huge cushion and are working towards having a solid down payment on a house.
What’s surprising, though, is that 50 percent of those surveyed have less than three months of living expenses saved up and 27 percent don’t have any savings at all. What were to happen if one of these people were to lose a job? This is one of the huge reasons why I recommend freelancing, no matter what industry you work in (if you want to read more on that, check out my latest post on become a freelance writer!).
What is your entertainment budget?
I’ve recently been thinking about entertainment budgets. While they aren’t necessary and they can actually be completely free (as the Frugalwoods have shown us!), entertainment does add value and fun to our lives. We all have different ideas of what entertainment is – but I think we can all agree that it’s spending money on an item or activity that will make you happy. Superficial? Sure, but sometimes you have to get out of your house and live a little (and maybe spend some money).
To me, entertainment means seeing movies (either in theaters or renting), going to concerts, traveling, shopping, visiting museums and I’m even going to take it one step further and say it can mean going out to eat or stopping for a coffee. While those expenses can be classified under “Food,” they’re more entertainment for me as I could easily eat at home or drink my coffee at home. It’s an “extra” and therefore – it’s entertainment.
Simple meal ideas on a budget
I will be the first to admit that coming up with healthy, creative dinner ideas is not my strong suit. I want to meal plan, I really do. But following through with it is a whole nother story. Lately, though, I’ve been better (Ok, I’ve been better since we moved into our new house a few weeks ago…I can’t let a kitchen like this go to waste!!). Meal planning saves time, it saves money and it’s a huge relief knowing that you have food for the week.
I went shopping late last week and got enough meals to last us through tomorrow. The girls and I have enjoyed our days at home without having to run errands every morning, we’ve gone on long walks, made cookies and I’ve had dinner going by the time my husband comes home each night. I’ve realized I actually do enjoy cooking, it’s just all the work that has to happen before the actual cooking takes place (meal planning, shopping, spending money, etc.).
So, what have I been making lately?!