When I started taking (honest) stock of our spending and consuming habits, I very quickly realized that we spent a TON on "projects". Mostly house related and although I'd say for the most part since I'm married to a ridiculously handy person (and I'm not totally useless myself) we got a lot of bang for our buck, it was still a lot of buck. I know part of it is new homeownership and wanting to make our place "ours", but it's a slippery slope. The reality is that there is a lot that we can "live with" for now, and fix (the right way!) down the line when we have the money and time. And on top of that, I was in the bad habit of buying cool or funky house-related decor or storage or general kitsch that we just didn't need. Stuff that looked cool in a store or online, and looked cool in our house, but just added to a general feeling of clutter because it was purchased on a whim or without much of a plan.
All in all, we were spending money we didn't have on things we didn't need. I think it's a pretty well-told story. But we're project people, and summer is here (project time!) so what to do? Here are the two biggest things we've focused on:
ONE The first thing I did was make a list of "no-spend" projects. It's such a simple concept, and I am the queen of lists, but I had never made one of those! A lot of my lists were "budget projects", but those projects have notoriously crept way past whatever tiny budget we had put into place.
So instead, I walked around the house and made a no-spend list of things like painting trim (we had the paint, just hadn't gotten around to it), replacing the overhead light in our son's room (again, had the light, hadn't put it up yet!), taking all of the artwork and photos off the walls in our room and "cluster" hanging them to look nicer, putting the door back on between our kitchen and laundry room, cleaning and organizing our side door entrance, etc.
Random things that have just been half-finished or that I've thought of doing but haven't gotten around to. It's amazing how fast the list grew and how many things we could tick off quickly (and what a big difference they made!) Focusing on the smaller, no-spend projects makes our house feel more "done" and in many ways makes it easier to honestly assess the larger, more aspirational projects (like a bathroom renovation) when the rest of our spaces are feeling more complete.
TWO The second big thing we focused on this summer is yard work. We have almost an acre of land, and it's been in various stages of wild and tamed over the years.
This year, my husband rebuilt a garden for us using rocks already on our property and we unearthed tons of amazing things like blackberry bushes and wildflowers that we didn't even know we had! We've been slowly clearing the property in the back, getting to know it better in a lot of ways. And again, this type of work is letting us better imagine where we'd want to put a shed eventually and what size we might want it to be (so it's a win-win there!)
We also put a ton of sweat equity into the front of our house by redrawing our front flower beds and planting tons of perennials (mostly cuttings from our wonderful neighbors) and building some beautiful stone walkways with rocks my husband had been saving for years in a pile out back. Again, using what we had to improve and planning for what we want (like finishing the walkway when we have the money to buy the rest of the stone we need!)
These are just two things that have helped us minimize this summer, but keep doing what we love: projects!
Hi! I'm Erin.
I'm a working mama, wife, writer and owner of a little red house. I'm trying to sort through the noise and live a life that is genuine, happy and grounded in simplicity.