The Accidental Kitchen Remodel
It sounds counter intuitive, right? Re-modelling a kitchen is a huge project. Not one you can exactly stumble into. Or so you thought. Unless, you are me.
Me, nine years ago. Me, the proud owner of my little starter home. Who set out to paint her kitchen cabinet doors and ended up with this..
I was a little late on the “before” picture front. At this point, we’d ripped down the hanging cabinets, re-drywalled, put in a new window, and destroyed a perfectly useless bar.
$10,000+ and a couple weeks (months?) of washing dishes in the bathtub hell later. Time has not dulled those memories by the way.
Whew. Isn’t that better?
It certainly looked better. The feeling though, of my first 5 figure credit card bill, that was much less better.
That’s why I’m dredging up ancient history today. Jumping aboard the way back machine to revisit this turning point in the Dogs or Dollars Financial Empire. In fact, its the inception of said empire, because prior to this, it was mostly rubble.
My spending habit musings earlier in the week got me thinking. There was a point in my life, where I just spent, and dealt with the aftermath. I had a decent job. No savings to speak of. A car note. A small amount of credit card debt. Never more than $5,000, but never much less either. An equally small student loan, I wasn’t too interested in paying off. I was all too familiar with the envelope that overdraft notices arrived in. I was a new adult, and my hobby was throwing my money around. It didn’t much matter on what.
Buying a house in my early 20′s was just an opportunity to toss more of that money. A lot more. I was going to love and DIY our little hovel into new found glory. So, I set out on a Saturday morning. After a trip to Big Box Hardware (when I still shopped there, that’s how long ago this was), I removed all the cabinet doors, rather The Husband did (who was then The Boyfriend), with my jug o’ Citri-Strip, sandpaper, primer, paint, and accoutrements in hand.
By Sunday evening, we were engaged in a kitchen remodel. Those cabinets were veneer, Dear Readers. Veneer don’t paint so well. Rather than be frustrated with the results or refine my technique, I jumped head first into an entirely different project. I wanted a new kitchen anyway. Why not now?
What was supposed to be a less than $100 beautification project, became a $10,000+ full blown gutting. In forty-eight hours. Operating like this there’s no time to save, with no existing savings to fall back on. I had vague thoughts about my work bonus, which had always saved my butt before. Worst case, work bonus plus tax return. No big.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Cabinets. Counter tops. Back Splashes. Appliances. Dump run after dump run after dump run. Every penny of it, on my credit card. I cringe to think of it now. There were no sales shopped, no quotes compared, no materials re-purposed. I didn’t even look for 0% interest deals or coupons. None of it. Not a frugal hack in sight.
My work bonus came, and it went. Rapidly. Sometime before we had purchased counter tops. Counter tops are kind of important. You need those.
This all happened so quickly. I will never forget looking at that first credit card bill with a balance over 10K. Needless to say, I had no idea how to pay for it. The feeling of “What the ffffff-rack did I do?” took more than a little shine off the new kitchen.
That’s how you accidentally remodel a kitchen. Not a method I recommend. As a catalyst for change, I got off easy. That big fat balance and the sense of associated dread was enough to inspire me to clean up my act. When I look at my current financial habits, there is such a distance between the now and the then. Now, I could remodel my kitchen tomorrow. Pay for it out of pocket even. I wouldn’t though. Because that’s not how I roll. Anymore.
How have your financial habits changed? What event(s) inspired that change?