It’s been a few years since my wife and I got our first home. It is a little place that was once a photo studio and lab. But it is big enough for us and our baby. The kitchen is smaller than some bathrooms in today’s hotels. The bathroom is even smaller – a room in which you could touch all four walls without stretching…with a sink and linen closet on the other side of a doorway. But it is ours, and that made all the difference. Sure, it took half my month’s take-home pay. And it meant Denise wouldn’t have the fancy dresses she swooned about every week on the internet. But it is ours, with space for the kids to grow and for us to live together without being atop one another. Now I use a Groupon to get tools and supplies for those “do-it-yourself” tasks I learned at the free instore DIY workshops they hold at Home Depot.
And the place needed serious work. Everything from basic painting to flooring to lawn care to new appliances to plumbing. So I started saving. Out of each paycheck at least $10 – $25 is set aside. It is treated just like regular living expenses, which meant it isn’t even considered part of our “spending change” money left over after we’d paid our bills. That “set aside” money is left alone until enough is available to put down on a major item or improvement. Then we’d start all over until we had enough for our next project. This often meant doing without or waiting longer than we’d like for certain improvements. But it also meant we appreciated them much more when we finally got them. I’ll never forget the glow on Denise’s face when Home Depot delivered our new washer and dryer set. We’d bought them at a major discount using a Groupon promo code that saved us nearly 65% off the list price. And the installation was free. We put them in the room the former owner used for his photo darkroom, since it already had plumbing fixtures in place. There is even space left over to put up the ironing board and store home maintenance and cleaning supplies.