Hi there, Mr. and Mrs. 1500 tag-teaming to ask today’s question, Are you a do-it-yourselfer? (The oldest little 1500 is reading this over my shoulder and just announced “yourselfer” isn’t a real word!)
So last week, I had a total brain fart, and didn’t even think about a question or posting until about 6:00 in the evening. So TWO weeks ago, I asked about Christmas presents, and how you handle them.
I received some really great responses. The very first one, from @mustachianpost, had some really great advice. He said “Budgeting helped a lot in removing emotions in Christmas expenses.” This is something I struggle with, because the people on my list need nothing, and in some cases actually don’t have any room for anything else. Removing emotions would help me handle the gift-giving to a particular family member.
Aunt Beulah wrote that she and her husband give their grandchildren “experiences” rather than adding one more gift to the pile. I love this idea, and my parents have actually done this for several years now. It works really well. You don’t really remember the “stuff” but you remember the time spent.
Dolver from The New York Budget also gives experiences rather than gifts. He tells of family dinners and beer tastings. (Mr. 1500 would happily accept an invitation to those beer tastings!) He also adds that a way to get rid of excess books is to add them on to another gift after you have read them. Great idea. I love re-gifting!
Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies bakes traditional family cookies as gifts. I LOVE this idea, and she should probably send me some so I can taste-test before she gives them to others.
Done by Forty‘s response made me laugh out loud! One year, they requested – with plenty of advance notice – no gifts. They also said they would be donating to charity instead of giving gifts to family. When the day came, they received a mountain of gifts, and their recipients were very upset about their “gifts”, which were notes that described the donation made on their behalf. Later in the year, Done by Forty found out that the recipients on his list thought Done by Forty had received tax deductions. ?!? “Anyway, that was the last time we tried breaking with tradition. Now, we give them what they ask for: gift cards. Merry flipping Christmas.” My sentiments exactly.
So what did I do this year? Since we are traveling, we just bought gift cards for everyone. Some people prefer this, and it makes it easy to pack. We have a full car, so every little bit of space is needed. Sigh.
Now on to this week’s question; Do you do home improvement projects yourselves? If so, which ones?
Home improvements have been consuming a bit of my time lately. This past weekend, I insulated a couple walls, installed drywall and then mudded them (mudding is finishing the drywall seams with tape and drywall compound).
Last week, we had a severe cold spell which threw our lives into chaos. Our washer and dryer were in an unconditioned space due to our ongoing home improvements. The pipes froze up. Arrrgh. Our temporary solution was to move the washing machine into the kitchen which meant that we had to move the pipes.
Let’s back up and take a trip down memory lane. A decade ago, I didn’t know how to do any home improvements. Then one weekend, someone showed me how to set tile. The work was incredibly gratifying, but most of all, we saved a lot of money. With almost any home improvement project, the labor costs far more than the materials*.
Since then, I’ve acquired many new skills. My skills include:
- hanging and finishing drywall
- setting tile including fancy stuff like granite and travertine
- minor framing
- installing doors and windows
- installing hardwood floors, both nail down and floating
I’m pretty sure I’ve save well over $100,000 with these skills. The truth is that none of it is hard either. Just read some books, watch some videos and take your time. You won’t do it as fast as a pro, but if you’re careful, the results will look just as good.
Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. My projects are a post for another day. However, I do want to know about projects. Tell me:
- what you’ve done
- how you learned your skills
- how the jobs turned out
*This is especially true with plumbing. A couple years back, we were selling a home and had to use the buyer’s plumber to rectify some inspection issues. Eight hours of work cost us $50 in PVC parts and over $900 (!!!) in labor. That day, I promised myself to do all plumbing work myself.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.