Not the way we planned it. Our dining-room set joins the items to go on Kijiji.
John’s diet and planned “cheat”
I remember my friend and colleague John (who is featured at Fruclassity this week) telling me about a Sunday morning visit to the pancake house with his daughters. He had been following a strict diet for a prolonged period, and this pancake breakfast was a planned cheat. He was looking forward to the indulgence, and he ordered the option that had been his regular choice before he had started his diet. Yum! A stack of pancakes! So different from the apples and cucumbers I’d seen him munching at work.
He couldn’t make it through half of them. They made him feel gross.
Not a nice feeling, but a good sign! It meant that John’s “normal” was changing. The foods that had tempted him all through his life were not so tempting anymore. There wouldn’t be quite so much effort, so much “self-denial” required for him to continue his healthier diet.
Our ongoing (but almost finished) renovations have been the big deal around here lately. To give a bit of context, we’ve been on a focused mission of debt-reduction since June of 2012, and although we have wanted new furniture and new flooring since even before that time, we’ve been on a “diet” – of budgets, tracking, earning extra income, saving, and putting as much against our debt as possible. Our diet did not allow for new furniture and flooring . . . until June of 2015 – when we paid off the last of our $102,000 non-mortgage debt.
Having hit that milestone, we gave ourselves permission to “indulge” – in the form of renovating. DH had long since outgrown his home business office, and for at least a year we’d planned “some day” to switch things up and give him more space. But it wouldn’t just be a practical move to address needs; it would also be a move towards getting what we wanted. “Some day” had come!
Great! (at first)
Like John and his planned pancake house excursion, I looked forward to this “cheat”. Wooo-hoo! My initial endorphin rush was alarming, but I got it under control. We would go about everything without rush, taking frugal measures along the way. Yes, we would get what we wanted, but we wouldn’t go crazy.
The first several “bites” were delicious! After the practical work of moving DH’s home office to its larger space had been accomplished, we replaced the stained-beyond-reason carpet in his old office with hardwood, and bought furniture for a cozy new living-room (10′ x 10.5′). Here’s how it unfolded:
Stained-beyond-reason carpet from DH’s old office space.
Hardwood in same room.
Cozy little living-room.
The final step was the biggest. Our old family-room, a 17′ x 17′ space, was to become a combined dining-room and sitting room. Carpet was ripped up, hardwood installed, and we bought a new love-seat and two chairs along with an ottoman and tables for the sitting-room part. Here is how it went:
DH’s hardwood installation work in progress.
The problem with our dining-room set . . .
We put our dining-room table and chairs in the other half of the combined room . . . and realized it didn’t work. Our table was too wide for the space. The chairs were too fussy and big. Could we put up with it? Like good soldiers of frugality fighting for debt-freedom? No. After devoting so much effort and money (that we’d saved in advance) to this plan, we couldn’t stand the idea of it being not-quite-right. So we’re buying a new dining-room table. I know!
Our old table and chairs are in fine form, and will hopefully fetch a good price on Kijiji. We have picked out a new table – one that is thinner, more rustic, with simple chairs and a bench – and the price is better than we’d thought we’d find. But this is not how we had planned it. This move will bring up our renovation expenses another significant notch. I feel like John must have felt by the time he got to that 3rd or 4th pancake in the stack on his plate. Enough already.
Unlike John, however, I can’t say that I regret the indulgence, and I don’t think we’d do our renovations any differently if we could. The point is, I’m longing for apples and cucumbers again. I’m looking forward to switching our focus back to our mission – to finish saving up our emergency fund and to start our assault against our mortgage. I’m a bit shell-shocked by all of the decision-making we’ve done for big-expense furniture and flooring. I want to get back to things like figuring out ways to come under budget in our groceries.
This is a new sensation for me. And just as John was taken aback by his inability to stomach his “normal” pancake house breakfast, I’m surprised too. But I recognize it as a good sign. “Normal” has changed for me – just as it did for John – and I’m eager to slip back into the patterns of our healthy financial diet.
Have you ever felt gross about spending? Have you ever become aware of a new normal? Your comments are welcome.