Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

 

Stuff breaks down. It’s pretty inevitable especially with the way manufacturers aim for shorter shelf life and cheaper products. Whenever possible I try to buy something higher quality and spend a bit more so that it lasts longer. No matter what though electronics will always break since they have more parts. Printers only last a few years usually and computers are considered obsolete after a few years. It’s sad to just throw it out though so I try my best to fix it, and if its long gone then recycle it or donate it to Goodwill.

Even things like soap dispensers can be pretty complicated! I have two automatic soap dispensers for a couple of years now and so far they’ve both malfunctioned. One was just over the warranty period but was replaced because of the company’s excellent customer service. Another one I dismantled and fixed myself. Yay! I fixed it and now I don’t need to buy a new soap dispenser. Oh and by the way, I didn’t buy these two. My husband won them in a contest. I wouldn’t let him buy these at $40 each!

Admittedly my husband is usually the one who goes around fixing things. He’s pretty successful at it too! This time though he couldn’t figure out how to fix it and was ready to buy a new soap dispenser. I wasn’t ready to chuck the $40 dispenser though so I attempted to fix it too. Luckily it works now.

Not everything can be fixed though and it’s sad when I have to toss things. We usually try our best to make sure we buy items that last as long as possible.

Do the research and buy a good brand that’s higher quality
Our go to brand for house items is usually SimpleHuman. Their products are pricey but they are made to last. They also have warranties and make good on those warranties if you are diligent! In fact they even gave us a new soap dispenser even though it was just past the warranty period. They have tons of good reviews on Amazon too. We have a shower caddy, dish rack, two automatic soap dispensers, sink caddy, and two trash cans. It’s stayed with us through 2 moves and is lasting a lot longer than other products we had before.

The first thing we do before buying something is look at reviews about the product. If a product has absolutely no reviews most likely we’re not buying it. Our only exception is if it’s a really good discounted price and the previous model had great reviews.

Treat things like new
While cleaning out my kitchen I found an old George Foreman grill! Even though it was ten years old I kept such good care of it that it was still very clean and worked. I used to move around a lot and I always kept it packed away in the original box to keep it safe. I donated it in the hopes that someone else will have a use for it. For everything I own I try my best to take care of it to keep it as like new as possible. That means cleaning it and running maintenance when needed. The easiest way to throw away money is to not take care of things and let them break because of that.

Don’t toss it unless it’s really broken
I figure that it’s already broken so why not tinker with it a little to see if I can fix it? The worst that can happen is that it can stay broken. Our printer went on the fritz not too long ago and I was able to fix it enough to get it to hang on for a little longer. Lost the fight on that one though and ended up having to buy a new one. It was about 6 years old though so we were able to get more than our money’s worth. If I can actually get something working again it’s a great feeling to know I was able to fix it! There might be cursing involved before I get there but then I also save money in the end.

Toss it in the trash if it’s the last option
Goodwill takes all types of electronics and tries to fix them to sell them in their stores. Even though I couldn’t fix my printer, I donated it there just in case somewhere there can. If they can’t fix it then they make sure it is recycled. For other items I see if its perhaps recyclable.

For a little longer, or perhaps a lot longer, I get to enjoy my automatic soap dispenser. Pretty handy for when both my hands are dirty. It was a pretty easy fix too so if it malfunctions again I know what to do. The best part? I get to keep my mula.

Are you the type of person to try to fix something broken?


Photo Credit: Naralna via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Naralna via Compfight cc

Woohoo!!!! It’s an amazing feeling to finally cook a full homemade meal in my brand new kitchen! It’s been a long last month as things seemed to slowly make progress, but finally it was done! Then of course…we realized we had to clean the whole thing and put everything back together. Including most of the entire house of course since we had to move so many things around and there was that lovely construction dust that just gets everywhere. So thus it took us another week to put the kitchen back together and we’re still cleaning up the house!

It’s extremely satisfying being in my kitchen for sure now! We saved up for a long time for it, then sat on the decision to renovate. It’s a bit hard after amassing money to just spend it. But hey what’s money for than to make you happy in the end right? As long as you live within your means of course! It’s our last major renovation for a very long time so whoosh! Just gotta deal with minor house repairs and cosmetic updates. Fingers crossed!

The best part about this renovation is that I have so much space to put everything! We have quite a few empty drawers and cabinets and it feels good knowing that. We even spaced out everything nicely and didn’t cram as much as possible into all the spaces we had. Now the challenge for us is to resist buying a ton of new stuff to fill that space.

Looking at this entirely objectively though our old kitchen really needed upgrading but wasn’t in disrepair technically. The placement of the oven across the fridge wasn’t ideal for cooking and for safety since it’s right next to the doorway. Since we’re planning on kids one day then that’s not safe at all since they could run right into a hot oven door pretty quickly. The dishwasher was old and not that usable since it was 5 feet away and we moved it where it should be. Other than that some of the drawers were falling apart. So we could’ve saved our money and not done anything if we were willing to live with those things.

On the real estate side we won’t know if it boosted the value of our home unless we sell it. This won’t be for quite a while but research says that a kitchen renovation is a sure way to make your home have a higher value.

From an emotional and personal point of view heck yes it was worth it! My husband and I love to cook and having a nice updated kitchen is one thing we’ve never had before. We had some really old appliances before and a dishwasher that was so old and far away from the sink we couldn’t use it. For the two of us we definitely spend so much time in there that we will be making good use of it.

How important is the kitchen to you?

 


Photo Credit: _venusinfurs_ via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: _venusinfurs_ via Compfight cc

Before our kitchen renovation started we of course had to empty out everything and pack it up into boxes. Our whole house has been upended and is pretty crazy right now with kitchen stuff everywhere! Who knew we had so much stuff? We went from cabinet to cabinet unearthing more and more and more items! We were astonished to realize that many things we thought we has thrown or donated were still lurking in the lesser used cabinets. We gave away a few boxes for donation but I think we might try to pare it down some more.

For two people we had an amazing amount of well…stuff. A lot that we weren’t using very much at all or were keeping just in case we needed it. We found a George Foreman grill that was so old the grill plates aren’t removable. The newer ones all have removable grill plated for easier cleaning. Mine was about 10 years old or more. A little bit of an emotional attachment since that’s what I used almost every day during college when I didn’t have a kitchen.

Keeping the old with the new
Oh darn, I do believe we fell into the pack rat mentality that frugal people generally end up falling into! Even if we get something new we tend to keep the old item “just in case” we need it. We don’t have a ton of those but we were definitely never going to use the Foreman grill anymore. For our wedding we received a ton of nice gifts and we weren’t entirely successful in being minimal. The most frugal people I know (my mom and dad) do exactly the same thing. Even if someone gives them a gift that’s better than they currently have they’ll still keep the old item. My parent’s home is filled with many duplicates of the same item. They probably have the inventory of a small store.

Comfort in knowing you have plenty
There’s something about having multiples of an item that’s pretty comforting since you know you won’t run out. I’m happiest when we have a full pantry and the fridge is full! Yet it doesn’t happen often since two people can’t eat that much food and it would all go waste. Of course the food part also plays into how much I like eating…but that’s another subject entirely. I’m thinking this has to do with an age old habit of building up a stash when there’s plenty and then being able to weather out tough times. It’s an ingrained instinct that we’ve converted to non-food items when we don’t need to worry about where our next meal is coming from.

Filling empty spaces
After living in college dorms and small apartments this house is the most space I’ve had ever! Where there is space then it tends to get filled somehow. We resist buying new items as much as possible but hey we’re only human. Those empty spaces are just crying out to be filled! The fun thing is that even though we donated a lot before the reno, it’s going to be very very hard to not buy a ton of new stuff after the kitchen is finished. We’re going to have even more cabinet space than before! This will be a pretty big test of will power…

 

It’s going to be an amazing feeling when we finally get our house back to normal. We’re definitely going to have a lot of empty cabinet space that we’ll have to try to resist filling right away. Over time we’ll get gifts and buy some items for sure anyhow. Not looking forward to the cleaning part though.

Are you the type of person who tends to keep all your old stuff even when you get something new? How full are your closets and cabinets?

 


 

 Photo Credit: Pannell via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Pannell via Compfight cc

I’ve watched countless tv episodes of houses being renovated and the one scene that always looks fun is the first sledgehammer swing! I was hoping to be able to swing my own when my kitchen renovation started but it was just not to be. First of all I’m not handy enough to do a kitchen renovation on my own, and there weren’t any sledgehammers in use.

Still, it’s pretty interesting seeing my kitchen transform day to day as more work gets done. It’s only a few days in but a lot of work has already been completed! Demolition happened in less than a day and almost everything was taken out. Contractors have been in and out and we have our kitchen blocked off to keep it clean in the rest of the house. We’ve been using a Ninja slow cooker for most of our cooking and the handy dandy microwave. One pot meals and ready to eat foods will be on our menu for sure.

Refinishing or new?
Our old kitchen was made of very solid wood construction that just doesn’t exist these days. At first we wanted to try refinishing instead of new to keep that construction, with all the oddities we found about the sizing of the cabinets and counters though, refinishing almost came out to the same price as new construction. None of the old cabinets were of standard size to fit appliances today. Dishwashers are now 2 inched deeper which meant that it would jut out from the sink. Everything would need to be custom made to fit and later down the line anything additional would have to be adjusted. We were sad to see it go but at least now new appliances will fit without major adjustments.

Raises house value
The two things that raise a house value are definitely a kitchen or bathroom upgrade. While our kitchen was in pretty good shape for being 60 years old, it definitely isn’t updated and there were drawers falling apart and a very old unusable dishwasher set 5 feet from the sink. A newer kitchen will definitely raise the house value in case we ever want to sell it. We’re not planning to move anytime soon, but if we do it’ll pay off later.

Perks of a homeowner
After apartment living for years it’s great to be able to do whatever I want in my own place. Each month my money isn’t going into a big black hole with no value. Technically a mortgage is well…a money sucker and it’s going to take years to pay off, but at least I’m building equity. Where I used to rent an apartment people are paying the same in rent each month for what I pay for mortgage! They get a one bedroom apartment and I get a 3 bedroom standalone house. The kitchen is the last big thing we wanted to upgrade and we finally are doing it after saving up for it. After this there won’t be much major updates. Just the usual minor fixes and cosmetic updates. After a few more weeks I get to enjoy a brand new kitchen.

Less than the price of our wedding
The saddest part about doing this renovation is realizing that it’s going to cost us less than we spent on one day! We certainly didn’t try to spend a lot of money but we did on our wedding. Less than the average wedding in LA but an amount not to scoff at. More than two years later it’s crazy to think of where that money could have been used instead. So if I wanted to really compare then I guess I could say I can enjoy a new kitchen for years and years whereas the wedding I had one day!

Not for the fainthearted frugal heart
Spending tons of money totally goes against what I usually do! I’m the bargain hunter who likes to find t’s for $3! Now I’m shelling out a ton of money for this. Gotta admit it makes me uncomfortable. Rest assured we did our homework to find the best price with good contractors. One thing we’ve learned is that a good contractor who stands behind their work is worth the money. We’ve all dealt with shoddy contractors who did the job cheaply but then disappeared when things went wrong. We’ve also gone for more inexpensive materials like subway tile and quartz. Nothing too fancy. Our appliances we snagged on sale for almost 50% off over the July 4th weekend. Still it’s a ton of money but at least we saved up for it. It’s just not easy spending it when I worked so hard to save it.

It’s going to be a long haul but it’ll be worth it in the end! I’m not one of those people who can stay away for the entire time and be surprised by the transformation when it’s completed though. Wish I could! Would be fun to see it all completed instead of the mess it is now.

What’s your latest home project?


It’s been a rare weekend in California because it’s been raining all weekend! Smack in the middle of summer in a long drought, this is very much needed water. I’ve been trying to save as much water as possible in so many different ways. Indoors and outdoors we’ve cut back on a ton of water. The yard only gets watered twice a week which works since we had replaced all our plants with water-friendly ones and our lawn is this strange thatchy drought resistant type. Indoors we try to reuse all the water from washing vegetables and take shorter showers. We’re definitely trying our best to save water. Having rain over the weekend really does make me want to go dance out there! Free water!!!! And hopefully will help the drought a bit.

Water is really precious – tried and true quote!
Born and raised in the Midwest I’ve never realized how precious water is. Then of course I move out to LA and water used here is piped in from miles away. It’s a big eye opener to how really precious water is. After becoming a homeowner I’ve really become more conscious of how much water I use. Renting usually has water included so you don’t see the bill. Now I pay every utility bill myself and can see the breakdown. Definitely a good motivator to save water because it saves money.

Changing habits
I’ve had to definitely adjust my habits a bit to not use as much water. I didn’t even realize to what extent I had done this until my family came to visit from the Midwest and Seattle. Both are water rich areas. I had some big eye opener moments watching them turn on the faucet full blast and leaving it running much longer than I would’ve. I couldn’t resist saying something every now and then and their response was that they weren’t using that much water. When you live in an area where you don’t have to worry about running out of water, it’s a lot easier to overlook how precious it is.

Climate correct plants
Most of the lawns on my street are pretty brown by now. There are still a few that are pretty green and they don’t have the drought-friendly grass for sure. Pretty sure they are still watering their lawns a good bit. Many others though have plants like ours and some have even ripped out all their grass entirely. There are a lot of beautiful desert landscapes that are appropriate for this climate. For us there are plenty of plants we don’t bother watering that are still alive and thriving.

Lack of clean water
Even though I’m in an area with a drought I still have plenty of water on hand. Clean water that I can drink and use for food and for showers. No matter what I still have water. It’s crazy how a lot of people around the world don’t have access to clean water! Since my awareness of this has increased I’ve also learned a lot more about that. One of my favorite charity is Charity Water because their mission is to fix that. They use all donated funds for projects that create a way for people to get clean water in their area.

 

It’s supposed to rain all night and tomorrow! It’ll be a great Monday and I can take a few breaks and go dance in the rain.That and I’ll check the buckets I left outside to catch some drops. A rainwater barrel crossed my mind, but then I realized I need gutters to do that (a lot of houses in LA don’t have gutters since it doesn’t rain much here).

What kind of climate do you live in? Do you have plenty of water or you have to preserve it?