Every year, I take on a big project for my house. By big, I tend to mean an outlay of money. Whenever possible, I like these to be home improvement projects, because they only improve the value of my home. In the past, I’ve done things like having the fence replaced, the landscaping reworked, and the driveway and sidewalk installed. So now I’m wondering what I should do this year. I’ve saved up a chunk of money, and there are a lot of options. Here are a few I’m tossing around.
Pave the driveway – I currently have a gravel driveway, and this would be a really nice option, especially since I’m constantly finding the rocks from the driveway all over the lawn. I’m not sure who to blame for that. Plus my front sidewalk is cracking terribly (it was not re-done when I had the other sidewalk put in), so I could have both of those things paved at the same time.
Replace some windows – I am well aware that I have some leaky windows in my house that could stand to be replaced.
Install a new floor in the basement – My basement is finished and carpeted.
But on the other hand, come this summer, I will have had my car for 11 years. It has served me well and still seems to run well, but there are some issues with it that are making me think it might be time to retire her and buy something new. A lot of the issues are just cosmetic, but in addition, the motor in one of the engines seems to be going, and that will be an expensive fix. I’m not sure how much money I want to pour in this car outside of normal maintenance. Of course, that’s a much bigger purchase than a new driveway.
Having owned my car for almost 11 years, I clearly no longer have a car payment. And that is awesome. What I should have been doing was putting aside money every month so that I could buy my next car without a payment as well. But I totally failed to do that. Lesson learned. I’m slowly trying to put away money so that I can at the very least have a smaller car payment when I do decide to buy a new vehicle.
So these are my current financial debates. If only I could win the lottery and do them all. Of course, that would require me to play the lottery. So for now, I’m just going to weigh my options. I’m taking my car into a mechanic I trust later this month to have the engine looked at and see how everything’s holding up and if I should be thinking about replacement sooner rather than later. If I could choose which of the things I would do, I think I would pick the basement flooring first, because it will make such a huge difference in that space. A homeowner’s work is never done.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.