Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zero Money = Think Outside the Box

Stepping away from the corporate world has given me the opportunity to learn how to think outside the box. When I was earning a good salary, I didn't think twice about spending money - if I saw something I wanted, I usually bought it (within reason).

Fast forward to today.....I'm a 57 year old college student with just a LITTLE income. My budget is very tight, especially since it's taken me longer than I planned to finish school (my mom needed more help from me in her last years than I had anticipated, but I have no regrets!). I tried to find a job this summer, but in this economy could find no matches. Rather than panic, I decided to spend quality time with those that I love, spending a blissful couple of weeks with my dear sister on her beautiful island in the San Juans, and time with my darling daughter and her young family - very different from the vacations I have taken in the past. Did I miss my European vacation time? You bet. Did I have a wonderful summer? You bet. Would I trade European time for my family time? Not in a million years.

Did I accomplish all that I wanted to this summer? No way! My little house, which was not in the best shape when I bought it, is in desperate need of some serious TLC. When I was working, other things took priority over my home.... raising my daughter, providing a home for my nephew and being successful in my career were at the top of my list. I got overwhelmed when I looked around and noted all the things that needed attention, and was immobilized by the sheer magnitude of what needs to be done. After stewing in my own mess for a bit, I decided to tackle my house, ONE ROOM AT A TIME~ so simple! I didn't know how to do much of anything regarding home repair, and Google became my best friend. I can still remember having to go to the library to get the information for reports for school - can I tell you how much I LOVE the internet?

I began with my bedroom and hallway and took the time to get actual samples of paint, bringing them home and trying them on the walls before I invested in the gallon size cans. I found JUST the color that I had envisioned! I ripped out all of the old baseboards and learned how to measure, cut and install new ones. It looks pretty good, and I feel proud of myself. (I still have to figure out how to rehang my louvered closed doors so that they will close though.....).

Next was my bathroom. This is a major project that is still in progress. Things are taking me lots longer than I thought. And some of of these things are harder than I thought they would be. That's OK.

Bathroom Round #1
I took down my shower enclosure and the weird ugly disintegrating laminate stuff off of the walls and was immediately immobilized once again. Back I went to Google, and spent a couple of days learning about tiling - they make it look SO easy! Found great tiles at a great price, and tiled my shower....then I had to put the shower enclosure back up.....I DID IT! It needs a little "tweaking", but each time that I get into my shower and admire the beautiful subway tiles, I get such a sense of accomplishment!

Bathroom Round #2
I really wanted to get a new bathroom vanity, mirror and cabinet. Found just the right ones. Can't afford them - I had no idea that this kind of stuff cost so much! Toned down my choices and found that it was STILL expensive! Stuck again, and madly trying to figure out how I could justify spending the money for just what I wanted...after all, I was doing all the work, and didn't I deserve just what I wanted? It finally dawned on my yesterday....why not just paint what you have? Back to Google, and guess what? It's doable! So now this is on my to-do list (but I will still buy a great mirror that I found online - that will be my reward for all of my hard work!).

Bathroom Round #3
Remember those little 1" square tiles that your grandparents had in their bathroom? That's what was on my floor. White. Ugly. Grout disintegrating. They're gone. My wonderful son in law did most of the removing - which has left me with what is underneath. I still haven't figured out what it all is....but I'm hacking and peeling it off, layer by layer. I found some of the original sub flooring today. I feel like I'm digging to China. But I'm actually getting there!

I'm finding that I am loving the changes that have come about in the way that I perceive things. Sure, I still get "frozen" when I realize that I can't do things the way that I used to; but with time, I have usually been able to figure out a way to accomplish what I want to do. Along the way, I'm also learning what matters most to me. Would I go back to my frenzied corporate existence? Don't think so! Going to school, expanding my world and thinking and working toward ultimately sharing what I've learned with my students is priceless. Having the ability to positively touch children's lives will be priceless. My family is priceless. I'm priceless. I'm a work in progress, and I love it.

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