The one major goal most families in the USA have traditionally held is to buy a home. They have worked hard to achieve home ownership.
Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century.
My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.
It was Valentines Day. My husband was still working back in California, finishing off work projects and arranging for the placement of our belongings in a moving van. He would be joining me shortly.
Together, we had made the momentous decision to leave Southern California and move 2000 miles away to the State of Minnesota. As part of the move, we promised each other that we would buy a house.
I started my new job in Minneapolis and stayed with relatives. My responsibility was to view and visit those homes in our desired area. Few were for sale during the cold snow filled Minnesota winter. Fortunately, a Real Estate Agent/ friend of my cousin and another relative living nearby helped me in this venture.
We viewed those homes that were available and selected the one that matched our criteria (less than 10 years old, 3 bedrooms, well maintained neighborhood).
On a sunny February day I presented the signed documents and closed on the house. Standing before the house, I inserted the unfamiliar key, opened the red front door and walked through.
The house was nine years old and seemed sound. Looking out a window at the pleasant neighborhood, I wondered whether we would be happy here, if the house would prove sound over time, and whether this had been a good decision.
Minnesota prices were lower than those on the West Coast. This house was much larger than the place we had been renting in California. We knew we would have to buy more furniture and supplies. But, we couldn't have known how many items that would turn out to be.
As the first few months went along we needed equipment to care for the exterior and the interior of the house. We started buying snow equipment including snow shovels, and a snow blower and, eventually, as spring came, a lawn mower.
Looking around the interior we catelogued needs and made lists for furniture, cleaning supplies, and paint.
In terms of money, within months the honeymoon was over. We learned that it took money to equip and care for a home. It would require more time and effort than we had realized.
We split our responsibilities. My husband took over anything and everything having to do with the home's exterior. He worked very hard using his "do it yourself skills."
We watched for estate, yard, and rummage sales and dragged home a lot of furniture which needed refinishing. My husband turned out to be a master at that. Gradually the interior began looking like the eclectic home we had planned.
We have lived happily in our Minnesota home for the past 16 years.
We have ridden with the tide, learning to repair and provide those things that we needed to maintain the home.
Here are some of the projects we have funded and had replaced the:
- washer and drier
- furnace and air conditioner
- hot water heater
- garage door and opener
We have also funded:
- painting of the house
- trimming of three large trees
- pulling of stumps for 3 trees lost in storms
- replacement of 1 tree
- tear down of our chimney due to wood rot
- major repair of the area of the exterior of our home following the chimney tear down
We do have a current list of improvement goals. These include:
- fireplace replacement
- new carpet
- water softener
- shower repair
- window covering
- window replacement
- stove replacement
I think this is a very long list. We will need to plan the best possible schedule with attention to timing and cost.
What have we learned?
There is a great deal more to buying a house than the purchase. Suddenly you find that you have a new and possibly expensive responsibility.
As in life, we can't anticipate the unexpected. Appliances don't work properly, trees are blown down, exterior paint starts to peel.
Staging: what is it and why
We have learned the importance of preparing for home improvement.
We need to save, in advance, for home maintenance and repair and for any future emergencies
- Establish an emergency fund.
- List projects to be done.
- Look for the best possible home repair available in our area. Interview the repair personal and determine their cost.
- Consider the climate in planning. Some projects cannot be done in winter.
- Determine whether a repair is an emergency. If, so, break into the Emergency Fund, not a Credit Card.
- List those projects we can reasonably do ourselves.
Despite the planning, energy and work needed to maintain a home, there are many advantages.
I have discovered that anticipating and staging repairs can result in a much more pleasant life.
Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, writer, thrift advocate and retired nurse. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits.