Free and fabulous

So this happened:
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That’s right! The orange geometric rug is G-O-N-E hallelujah. Rugs just make a place feel complete and put together. They ground a space and of course are functional: make it soft underfoot for little ones (and we big ones.)

The only teeny tiny smidge of a problem was the previous rug was orange. Burnt orange. And it brought out the burnt orange tones in the couch (which is loathe-worthy to me. But I digress because I need to choose gratitude over my attitude.)


Overall it just made the space feel bleh. So, I was driving in a snazzy neighborhood, because sometimes snazzy people decide they’ve tired of their perfectly snazzy things and they decide to set them free on the side of the road.

And wouldn’t you know what I came upon – a rug!

Now I know what you’re thinking: bad idea. But I have been there, done that, and I gave the thing a small test. When it passed the smell test, I decided that since it was such a huge rug, and judging by the high quality accessories the people in these high end neighborhoods invest in, this was probably a few hundred dollar rug to begin with. If I get it cleaned for $100 I’ve probably saved at least $100 – maybe way more. So I’m getting quotes and if it’s not insane and I can do it with my blow money savings – we’ll see!

Anyway the way I see it I’m rescuing it from certain death in a landfill and it can have a second life with me and my family.



I didn’t want my heavy stump table to crush the fibers or stain it so I turned it into a  little sidetable/ extra seating. Win win. That’s another free way to win with decor: move the stuff you’ve already got around.

And the orange geometric rug has found a new life in our bedroom. One step closer to looking like we live here and own the place and we’re not just squatters!

Anyone else fearless enough to take on a trash to treasure find? Have you snagged anything great lately? I’d love to know!

Affordable updates!

Well folks, I have come to learn the secret, and the secret is this:


Paint makes a huge, huge impact. For so little cashola!

I ran to the paint section at Lowe’s to hunt in the reject bin. Handsome Husband and I each get spending money (Money to just blow wherever we want – guilt free! That’s how you make a budget work for you.:-) ) and invariably I spend mine on home DIY stuff. 5% of the time, it’s shoes or clothes – the rest of the time it’s home decor.

In the Lowe’s cheapo treasure trove I found:

Pink test paint – 1$

Seafoam blue green, satin (quart) – 9$

Peacock blue chalkboard paint (quart) – $3.50

They were cheap because… they were in the reject section! I loaded those suckers up along with a gallon of white paint for the bathroom – $30 (I think it was satin, or maybe semi-gloss – either are good for bathrooms) and ended up spending around $50.00 – all of my spending money for a month plus a chunk that we carved out of the budget for updates. (we’re trying to keep paying off debt our #1 gazelle-intense goal so this kind of stuff rarely ever happens.)

But what did happen was FANTASTIC.

I used only half of the seafoamy green and painted the ceiling of our bathroom, inspired by the Petersik’s showhome office (remember – $3.00! or since I used only half the container, $1.50!)

Painted a wall in my kitchen for my kiddos who love it already just for the color and don’t yet know they can go to town chalkin’ it up ($9.50)

Painted both my grey/purple bathrooms CRISP BEAUTIFUL WHITE and now that pink tile can sing its song and not make me go insane.
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Plus I had enough paint leftover to paint two walls of my boring muddy blue grey kitchen white! It is not done yet but the part that has two coats looks awesome.

Then I came across another amazing idea via the Young House Love archives and I… painted our address in huge numbers on our painted brick. In my humble opinion, it’s splendiferous.

So that’s the secret. Paint- especially from the reject section. $50 for updates for days. Mama likey.

So what else would you do? We have tools, some scrap wood, some more random paint here and there – I’m thinking of sharpie-ing some walls for a faux wallpaper look, but I’m basically obsessed with finally making this place feel like ours. Plus I have that tiny bit of pink paint my daughter made a beeline for… not sure where it’s going yet. But between our seafoam ceiling, peacock blue kitchen chalk wall and pink something-or-other: Bold paint choices for us it is.

Oh and by the way, why is having a clean home after it exploded such a huge satisfaction?!?! Not sure but it was up there with a room reveal. And again- it’s free!!! What’s up in your world? Paint updates? Sharpie walls? Decorating with your scarves as you save your pennies and pay down that debt? Hey… my scarves would make great decor… gotta go try that! Let me know!

Paid off one more debt! (almost. ugh.)


At the beginning of this FIVE PAYCHECK MONTH (hallelujah) I realized we were going to be able to pay off one more debt. This was a $1300 Sallie Mae disbursement-turned-Navient that I am eager to rid ourselves of – it’s one of those loans the hubby co-signed with the in-laws. Oh, to have freedom from family in our finances! Or, to have freedom from financing in our family?! Either way, I’m GLAD TO SEE THIS SUCKER GO.

Until hubby said he needed:

New shoes.
To neuter the dog.
A new gun. (It’s a patrol shotgun for work – he’s a deputy.)
A gun safe.
And this and that and this and that and this and that and before you know it…

We’re $850 bucks into other non-debt paying off land. So nope. Only $913 went to  debt. Unggggg.

Out of frustration, I started feeling sorry for myself.

I may or may not have put all my spending money and some grocery money to Le Tote, a clothing rental service. (I LOVED skirt #1.)

But I feel guilty.

I probably won’t continue after this month (unless of course they credit me $25 bringing my after blow-money-budget to only $19 – then I’ll keep it around for one more month:-):-) :-))

DANG. That 5 paycheck month is GAWN.

Three new business ideas coming + one hopefully fortuitous meeting this month…???

So you’re thinking of selling?

Yesterday we had a GREAT lunch meeting with our awesome realtor who found us our current home. I had asked him to meet just to discuss the possibility of selling this place. Why, when we just bought it?

We bought our house only 5 months ago, and since then three or four houses on our street have sold, and one is listed currently around the block. We bought our 1015 sq ft place for $86,000, and the cheapest one next to that has been $120K. and the most expensive one was $159K! WHAT! That is almost double what we paid.

So I’m a gal on a mission to figure out how theirs sold for more and how to increase our value while putting the absolute lowest amount of dollars into it.

I can think of a few things in the kitchen right off the bat:


The countertop real estate is really limited. I’d like to extend it.

That rough shot (sometimes I’m good at photography…. sometimes I’m not!) shows pretty much all of our countertop space. We could add at least 25% more countertop space by extending the countertops to the wall where our washing machine sits. We decided to go with black concrete countertops so the kitchen will be black and white, and we’ll tile from the backsplash to the cabinets. The concrete + sealers cost $135, but I had an amazon gift card from work so it only cost us $85 out of pocket. Shazam!

Then, we have our washer in the kitchen and our dryer in the utility closet in our carport. That’s just silly to me and could be a turn-off to buyers. I’d like to know how much it would be to have a plumber add washing capability to our utility coset, and then our washer and dryer could be together.

So I’d like to have the plumbing moved to accommodate for a better place for the washer, and then we could extend the countertops AND install a dishwasher! Right?! The question is, how much would all of that cost… That’s part of figuring it all out. I’ll be asking around:-)

How we bought our house

I work in the real estate industry.  I’m constantly seeing listings of properties in the area, and usually, I just send links to a few of my buds who think they are “on the market” for a home. Well, lat summer, Handsome Hubby was really getting the “we need to move” vibe. He hated our apartment. I was convinced we could make it work – it was in a great neighborhood, was the right price, and was close to my bestie and my job. What’s not to love?!

For one, it was hella ugly no matter how much lipstick we put on it – although painting our brown trim white REALLY made a huge difference. And for two, it was just a little too snug. There was no storage, which is so embarrassing to me, since one day I’d love to live in a tiny house. To think, we need to move because of stuff! That’s insanity. We do have lots of musical instruments, hiking gear, and beer brewing stuff, so that brings the “stuff” level up.

I was convinced we could find a slightly larger apartment for the same, or near the same, price as our then-current apartment. Handsome wasn’t. So I was doing my darnedest to show him the ways we could make our pigsty work. I found this beautiful modern/industrial kitchen with a green wall that I thought we could play off of in our kitchen from a listing on, so I sent it to Hubby.

And HOUR later, he wrote me an email back:

“Our realtor says all we have to do is get pre-approved and then we can go look at it.”


I emptied my year’s worth of savings from my pension and we scraped together closing costs, and a month later, we were home slaves Imean home owners.

So here are the befores:










FULL BATH off of the hallway







A little setback

I enrolled in a FSA at work when I started. Turns out my incompetent HR Manager at that time didn’t actually deduct any of the money that was going into my account.

So I owe all that money back to work.  I didn’t re-enroll this year, so I was actually expecting a bump in my paycheck. How’s that for walking into your HR Manager’s office trying to figure out why your paycheck is smaller than you expect only to discover it’s going to only get even smaller over the year.

$2500 maybe doesn’t seem so much to you, but our context is that for the first time of our married adult lives, we owe on taxes. April had become an annual treat – a reveal of our forced savings.

I painted my bedroom grey with the free paint I got from being a new homeowner – one of those coupons you get in the mail. Guess it wasn’t trendy – it was prophetic.

House v. Renting Breakdown

So, funny story. This July, we were living in an apartment that suited me just fine. It was a two bed,  1 +1/2 bath that we rented for $750 plus utilities. It was ultra close to work and in a good part of town, so I was happy to live there. The place was crazy ugly but it was almost the cheapest we could afford. (The cheapest unfortunately had a reputation for housing meth cooks, so we weren’t interested in “the cheapest” place.) I tried to not let the ugliness bother me. I painted the trim and put other lipstick on that pig but still Handsome Hubby felt cramped and as though he was putting his kids in a place they didn’t deserve. I kept thinking, they deserve a place where one day we can send them to college! But I kept that to myself. Getting a nicer place for $100 a month – plus all of the application fees and deposits – was going to run us an extra least $1500 in a year so I was dragging my feet on moving to a bigger/nicer apartment.

So I was determined to show Handsome what a nice place our little cramped apartment could be – it was so strange. The full bath connected to the master AND the half bath, which also connected to the hallway. You and a friend could both be doing your business and keep up a face to face conversation!

In that determination to keep the budget as small as possible, I started looking at kitchens to see how we could decorate ours to make it a little more Hubby-friendly. Well, I work in a part of real estate so I see listings all the time. One listing had a great kitchen in it, so I sent it to Handsome to inspire him.

Less than an hour later we had a realtor “We have a realtor?!” and less than a month later we were homeowners. Consider me as shocked as you are. We bought this 1015 square foot house, built in the 60s, for $86,000.


The appraisal values it at $92,500, and we put 4 grand down. So “instant equity” of $11,500. People make such a huge deal of that – maybe I’ll change my tune.   It doesn’t feel like money in my pocket yo!

And there’s also the common conversation that owning is cheaper than renting – not always true. In fact, I bet in most cases it is not true. We got a dirt cheap house after renting the second dirt cheapest place we could find, and it still costs us more to own when you factor in all the costs required of home leaser-ship. We don’t own it yet anyway the bank does.😉

In April, we paid $907.17 for all of our housing costs:
-$750.00 Rent
-$111.17 for Utilities
-$36.00 for Internet/phone (darn bundle😉
-$10 for House Misc – our little cash fund for lightbulbs, cleaning supplies, maintenance stuff, ya know.

Contrast that with what we pay now – 970.37 for our housing costs!
-$701.98 Mortgage (15 year fixed)
-$47.61 for Internet/phone (long story but it did end up going up for us)
-$76.94 for Water (previously included in Rent)
-$133.84 for Utilities (no central heat or air at the moment. So maybe our space heaters are costing us? It’s also a bigger space to heat/cool.)
-$10 for House Misc as per usual

Wow! Only $63.20 to get on the path to homeownership compared to renting?!

Not so:
-We shelled out $3500 to have a dangerous tree that had already destroyed the neighbor’s house removed
-We had to get a new garbage disposal (~$100 I think)
-We had to go out and buy said space heaters (~$100 again I think)
-A yard needs a lawn mower despite my best efforts! We bought a reel mower in an attempt to save dough and an electric mower later when Handsome had had enough of that. Cue the angels singing: Ughhhhhh. (More than I want to admit.)
-We have terrible insurance due to the fact that we don’t have central heat and air. So just get it installed, right? Our first quote came in at $6500.


So sure, for us it’s only mildly more costly to be mortgaged than to be renting. But we have to pay for every cent of maintenance, of course, and you never know when that will happen. Good thing we had the savings for the tree!!!! Thank God!!!