Friday, June 20, 2008

How Much Wood....

Yesterday I took the day off work to spend some time up north at my cabin. My goal is still to get it "rent ready" and try to earn some income that way. As Tracey pointed out - if I can't get it rented the worst thing that could happen is I get the cabin cleaned inside and out and the yard looking great. Not a bad trade-off in my opinion!

My mother came up with me because I wanted her opinion. When I was a kid we used to regularly rent a cottage for a week in the summer. I thought she could help me walk through and see what might stand out to her as things I needed to do beforehand. She also volunteered to help me work on the yard and get things done.

In most ways having my mom up there was fantastic. She is great company and was a hard worker. She got tons and tons of raking done and helped trim a bunch of unruly bushes. The areas she worked on look so much better. There was one little thing that I found frustrating though... she wants to remodel the entire cabin. She may be right, but I can't afford it.

My mom has a great eye and is a marvelous interior decorator. She also is very good at quickly seeing what can be done to a room to make it more appealing. The thing is though, I just don't have the money (or time) right now for the projects she is proposing. As she walked through the cabin talking about replacing flooring and putting in new cupboards I had to remind her over and over that I wasn't looking to remodel this year - just get it "renter ready." It was like talking to a wall. I could see her looking around and replacing light fixtures in her head. Finally I had to burst out, "Mom, unless it is FREE I am not doing it. I can't. My goal is to make money - not spend it. I cannot afford to do anything else." She said something about helping me, but I just had to stop her. There are things I will need her to help me with, but frankly, replacing the kitchen cupboards is just not a priority.

It was hard for me on a couple of levels. Remember that whole Shame of Frugality thing I wrote about awhile back? Yeah.... there is also the Humiliation of Being Poor. I don't like admitting that I can't afford something. I hate having to say that I don't have money to spend - that my bank account is empty. (Even saying it to my mom stinks.) I doubt I am alone - it does help explain our fondness with credit cards, doesn't it? "Mastercard means never having to admit you are poor."*

The other thing is, to be perfectly honest, I don't think the cabin looks bad. Yes, there are things that could and should be done.... but it is a cabin in the woods. It isn't supposed to look ultra modern or have perfect rooms. People should feel like they can track dirt in and put their sandy feet up on the coffee table. I am okay with that. It is a place to kick back - not a showpiece. It is hard to explain to my mother though.

She and I concentrated on working on the yard while we were there. The weather was cool so it was just right for working outside. I decided to run the mower to make sure that there weren't any mice rebuilding homes inside of it, and while in the shed I heard an odd sound. It sounded like my propane grill was on. It hasn't worked in a long time so I knew it couldn't be. That's when I realized that bumblebees had built a nest in it. Oh yes, I need that now. I didn't have any bug-b-gone or anything like that, so I just concentrated on moving the mower out very carefully and not bumping the grill. Next time I go up I will bring some spray along. That should be exciting. Anyone got a HazMat suit I can borrow?

As I was blowing any forming mouse houses out the mower exhaust and trying to flatten the yard to a more presentable height, my neighbor came over to ask me if I wanted to go in with him on a log splitter. Last fall he and I had some trees taken down. I had the wood hauled away, but he kept the trunk of his. Back then he offered me as much of the wood as I wanted - the only condition was that I had to split it. I talked to my then husband, and he told me we could rent a log splitter. Well, time passed and the only thing that got split was my marriage. Those huge pieces of trunk were still piled up along I and the neighbor's property line.

So yesterday Justin, my neighbor, offered me the wood if I'd go in with him on the splitter. I agreed, little knowing what I was getting into!! I ended up spending hours loading red oak logs into a wheelbarrow and taking them over to my woodpile. I have no idea how many trips I made, but when all was done I had two stacks 12' long and 5' high. Believe me, my shoulders are feeling it today!!

Still - my half of the rental was $25. I am guessing that I got well over $100 worth of wood there. I will be loving it this fall! There is nothing like being quiet and cozy under a quilt with a nice fire going in the fireplace.

*I am getting better at admitting that I am broke. And you want to know something interesting? Once you start saying it - and do get comfortable with it, lots of other people feel comfortable saying, "Really?? Me too!" It can be freeing... when it doesn't completely stink.

Photo by humbolthead.


Ralph said...

Dawn, you are definitely not alone. I am fortunate that my parents are as frugal as I am. They raised me to be this way and I am eternally thankful for it.

However, my inlaws are not. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are single women who don't make a lot of money, but they spend it like it's going out of style. They also think that my wife and I are rich because we are a two-income household and because we live frugally. You'd think they would get the hint that we live frugally by choice, but they don't.

I never stop having to tell them we're broke even though we're not because if I say "we just don't want to spend the money", we never hear the end of it. The typical "it's not that much money" and "you only live once" are common replies for them. It's infuriating sometimes because they whine about how they're broke because they don't make enough money, yet they constantly buy things they don't need.

So, if telling people you're broke means avoiding arguments and/or spending money you don't want to, I'll take the broke route every time.

David Kolenda said...

You know how everybody keeps bugging me about my basement tiki bar? If I had the money, it would have been done a long time ago!

Dawn said...

Oh yes, I've heard (and even said in my less frugal days,)"you only live once." I think I finally figured out though that you may only live once - but you live for a long time. Spending that time in misery and worry over finances is no way to live. I hope I never put pressure on other people to spend money though.

My family has always bought the things they wanted without having to struggle too much. Not to say that we were rich by any means, but I don't remember much financial pinch - maybe it was there but my folks were really good at hiding it from me. I don't come by frugality naturally, but even once I get my finances on track, I don't think I will ever go back to casual spending again.

Dawn said...

Ugh. I think I might have bugged you about that a time or two myself!! That is a good reminder David!! Of course, now that we are taking all these home improvement classes together when you do get the funds, we can come over and help you build it!