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November Updates


Short sweet and to the point (I wish, more happened than I thought this month, how does 2000+ words sound?!). Slight recap, slight update. Slight amount of photos. Apologies in advance.

On visitors: Bryan’s parents came to visit this past weekend and we had a blast. Momma T and I hung out (after I worked on Saturday) while Bry and his dad trimmed out that window we replaced back in August. Yup. All those months ago this window has been bare, but there is finally a ready-to-finish inside. You know like caulk, spackle and paint. Wohoo. Maybe this winter we will actually do something with the office/library/study. Plus they took us out for a post birthday dinner which was a nice treat. Visits never last long enough, but they are so enjoyed.

New window installed:photo 3

Progress with the trim:

windowtrim

I love how this picture shows the nice wiggles in the walls that come with old houses. Just to show how little we have done with this space…that turquoise blue swatch on the wall? It was where one of the electric heaters used to be…we never filled the holes, painted, or got rid of the wiring. At least we have those wire nuts on the ends. Safety first and all. Unfortunately or fortunately this room is way down the totem pole in terms of importance. Sanity, inspiration, and budgets all need to be in line first. More on budgets later.

On trees: You know that last post I wrote, about how excited I was that the big tree behind our house was coming down? Well I should have probably waited to write until they were finished with their work. The tree didn’t come down, just the three massive branches that overhung our roof. So, while the tree is still there the big cantilever over our house is gone and with it the weight that would pull it on top of our house should it decide to fall, so that is a subconscious burden removed. As an added bonus no more squirrels can fall down the chimney so there won’t be a third animal in the house any time soon.

photo 5

On productivity: When Bryan and I were looking for a house last summer/early fall we had quite a few things on a list of ‘wants’. We wanted somewhere I could set up my art stuff without it being in the way every time we had people over, on display in the front room like our apartment, or in some dark grungy place like the warehouse in college. We also wanted a house that had a bedroom for us, one for guests (since we live 4 hours from home) and one for the probable, eventual child we may have one day. That eventual child room could easily be an art studio for now so we were looking for an affordable 3 bedroom house with a garage and air-conditioning somewhere in the zip code we were already renting. The commute was short for both of us and the proximity to the water and amenities were great.

When we finally decided to walk through this house (the one we bought) we were impressed. The photos did it no justice (not that it was all the great to look at anyways) and the layout is quirky, but there was not only a dedicated room for us, guests, and future possible baby, there was a fourth smaller room for an art studio. Hooray for that!Especially because if/when there is a little Bryan running around I can still have my paints.

photo 3

Of course the set-up for the art studio was minimal to start. Other living spaces and guest rooms were way more important. But finally, about a month ago we realized we’d done most of the spaces in the house enough to live with for a while but the art studio wasn’t a fun place to be. The window shutters were painted over a million times, the walls were a weird woven textured wallboard, to paint in the mornings (when I’d usually paint) meant taping up a curtain over the bottom half of the window to block the blinding sun, and it just looked pretty darn ghetto.

So I needed to remedy that, but I knew fixing it up alone wouldn’t really help the problem. Since I currently work normal hours part-time as well as two evenings a week and Saturdays until 2 I wasn’t really going to want to spend time that both of us were home up in my studio alone unless Bryan had something to do as well. By productive I don’t mean housework or yard work, I mean tinkering around with tools, aquariums, or electronics.

So Monday last week I went down to the basement to look around. There were 8 large wooden sliding doors closing up an awkward to use closet and the furnace /water heater closet. I ripped those down to open it up, and make the shelving in the closet more functional. This had the added bonus of making the room seem larger, about 5 feet of space is now visible, plus the large doors. Something could be done with those large doors.

Bryan has since worked his magic on four of them. Two became a double-tiered work bench under the window in the basement, perfect for large tool storage and a nice workspace. One became a Murphy bed type work bench coming straight out of the awkward closet to give more table space. One was moved upstairs and placed on top of the old dresser that was left behind in the house that holds a lot of my art supplies. And with that simple re-purpose of things we already had around the house Bryan has a really functional warm and toasty workspace, and I have a much less prison like, smaller studio upstairs. Perfect division of assets for our two very messy pursuits.

My textured wall board in the art studio is the perfect surface to pin things to, since it’s an art studio and rather than replace it with nice drywall, I might as well get some real use out of it. The carpet, though very very clean isn’t that pretty and would be replaced before we would use the room for anything else anyways, so I can paint in there not worrying about the occasional drip. The addition of a large palm plant (saving it from getting dug into by the cats) adds so much needed life up there, and the relocation of my computer from the office/library/den means I’m motivated to get up there and use the space.

So without further ado the ‘reveal’ of our two work spaces. Just in a brief snapshot each since they are literally works in progress, and hold works in progress. (That nifty white cord running along the ceiling of Bryan’s workspace is the clothes line. He’s got classy digs down there.)

basement workshop

biggerimage

On Goals: You may not be aware of this, but Bry and I are in a race to pay off our (his) college loans as soon as possible. Payoff started in November of 2011 when we were engaged and Bryan was living out in Waynesboro, PA. The loans at that time were around 54,000.00.  That winter he lived in an apartment with the heat barely on because he was manly. I think he mostly lived on chili and salad. (relatively cheap and healthy!) He certainly could have had the heat on higher, I know his mom and I both encouraged him, but he was saving up some money so we could go on a honeymoon, and he was determined. He was paying more than the minimum on the loans because he didn’t want to be stuck with them forever and that same payment slightly higher than minimum continued into our first months of marriage.

Not long into being married were we mentally over renting. So we started looking for a house, and bought this one. That winter, rather than living in a 55 degree apartment we turned the heat up (I’m not manly). Still while making payments on the loans, though we cut back to the minimum due since we really had no clue what the budget would need to be to cover house expenses.

The house came along, and with it a new budget. Within a few months the money we had for repairs around the house would be spent on improvements like new sliding doors, updating some out of code electrical, new hot water heater, furnace repair, new paint, furniture, lighting fixtures, new wood floor, etc. Rather than stop fixing things I elected to get a second job to bring in a little more income (both jobs together were less than 40 hours so don’t think I was overworking myself).

Around June, four months into home ownership we had finished all of those big major things and were down to smaller projects. That’s when we decided a financial change was in order. Rather than keeping on with the improvements to the house at light-speed we would instead do one small project a month (Plus we were out of concrete ideas we wanted to do for sure) and everything we had left over we would dump into college loans. Bryan had loans to three different organizations, and 9 loans together (4, 4, and 1). To more accurately tell what we actually had available to dump we switched from putting everything on the debit card to a credit card with awesome rewards. Paid off in full each month we know exactly what money we need to have on hand a full month in advance, all the more easy to dump exactly what we can afford.

We have a budget worked out until December of 2014. All known bills and expenses are taken out, along with designated fun money we can each spend on absolutely anything without feeling guilty that it isn’t going to the loans. In a spin-off of Dave Ramsey we are doing a debt snowball. But rather than tackling the loans from smallest monetary amount to largest, we are tackling the highest interest to low-interest loans. So far we are down several loans and should be completely out of all debt but the mortgage by November 2014. That’s not accounting for any pay raises, or a tax refund. It’s very exciting to think that a year from now all we owe would be the house.

It isn’t fun to click the loan pay-off button each month and know that money that could be spent on other more fun things is getting used for something practical, but it is fun to watch the numbers in red go down. Watching the numbers in red go down is almost fun enough to keep pushing that button. We have ways to go. But there are ways of keeping on. We have a huge carrot dangling in front of our nose, and that is a trip abroad that will happen once we’ve paid the loans off. The cherry on top? All of the expenses we’ve been putting on the credit card each month will cover the flights. And that will just be even sweeter.

The whipped cream on the cherry? Bryan just got promoted last week. We had just mentioned to our small group we were lookng for guidance about my second job. The hours were unfortunate when compared to when Bryan was home and we needed to reevaluate. The very next day Bryan was given a promotion and raise that balanced out what I had been making at the second job. So I gave my notice effective the end of the year, and will be back to one job. We are both much happier about this new change, and my boss at the second job is thankful for the notice. A win all the way around.

You may be thinking ‘but wait, you are aiming to pay off debts sooner wouldn’t it make sense to keep the second job?” Technically it does make better financial sense to keep it. We could pay the loans off three weeks sooner if I kept the job. But would 11 months of 14 hours a week be worth those three earlier weeks? Not really. The amount on interest at that point would only be on a loan with 2.5% interest and our time together is much more valuable than that.

So in an insane amount of words you have been fully caught up on things going on around here. More things are coming though, like I’ve actually been very busy in my studio and have several pieces in a show that opens this weekend, Christmas presents are being bought and worked on. Thanksgiving is around the corner and I’m so excited for family time and delicious food. What’s going on with you? I apologized if my word explosion has caught you off guard!

I’m so thankful for God’s provision and blessing in my life. The good friends and support system I haven’t left behind just because I live four hours away, the awesome family that has multiplied by two since our wedding and of course Bryan. What are you thankful for today?

Disclaimer: What has/is working for us is not a guide for others. I am not a financial planner nor do I play one on tv. Before you decide to put anything on a credit card be sure you have the ability to pay it off and not get sucked into debt.

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