I met with a house painter today.
It is not going to be cheap to get my behemoth of a house painted. Nope, not at all. And yet, I am oddly incredibly happy. ...why?
First of all, I like and respect the gentleman I am going to hire. I think that is an important factor when it comes to hiring someone to do a service for you. It shouldn't be the only thing, of course, (plenty of people have horror stories about hiring friends) but all things being equal in terms of service and quality, I'll take the person I will enjoy working with over someone who sets my teeth on edge every single time.
I met him when he stopped by a garage sale I held this summer with all my best gals. He and I got to chatting and it came out that he was painter (which was really pretty obvious by his clothes) and I told him that at some point I wanted to paint my place. Shortly thereafter he put together a quote for me. Even though his quote was very reasonable, I couldn't afford him at the time and told him so, but I promised that I'd keep him in mind when I was ready. Well, I'm as ready as I will ever be. I can't possibly hold out too much longer, the wood is starting to rot. I have never had to paint a house before, so I thought I would set up an appointment with him to talk over logistics. It went really well...
He and his lady live in my neighborhood, just around the corner, really, and he has worked on many homes like mine. This was really important to me. Not everyone knows how to deal with these Grand Old Dame Victorian houses. A house is not a house. These girls built in the 1800s have quirks and characteristics that modern homes don't have. My home is 3" clapboard and there are a few pieces already that will need replacing, among other things.
We met at a home he is in the process of remodeling and I was able to look at and see the quality of his interior work, then we drove about and he showed me several homes he painted. He also gave me a list of referrals and copies of his insurance. Overall I feel very confident he is the painter for me.
Now comes the question... how the hen am I going to pay for it?!?!?!
First of all I explained my situation to the painter. I told him where I was coming from and how much money I had. He and I worked out a deal where we can do the house quarter by quarter - basically, I can pay him by the side! This means I don't have to have all the money at once. I have set aside enough to handle the down payment and two sides. I don't have enough to do the other two. However, he said that we can do the two most public sides first and then follow up with the other two later this fall. That will give me time to get get the cash together.
Here's the truly funny part... I've been playing with my budget lately, trying to put together a new budget for June 09-10. From what I can see, if I add in all the extra income I am getting and then subtract all the things I have been able to save on and then I throw back in the cost of painting the house, the total that I need to get to make all this happen without taking on anymore debt is...... (drum roll please)
Ha! Actually, I might be able to do with a little less and it would better if I could come up with a little bit more. I still have to crunch a few numbers so I can get a hard number, but roughly, it looks like if I want to keep the emergency fund funded and get the house painted without going into additional debt, I need to stay on my $900 a month track. This will mean just doing exactly what I have been doing - continuing to look for ways to save, keep being frugal and picking up extra income any way I can. In fact, a friend just clued me in on where I could get some summer work. It was a great idea so I just emailed to see if there was anything open. (Keep your fingers crossed for me!)
There are some other options available that could work if the money doesn't come through - I could pay to get the two sides of the house done with cash and get a loan for the other half. That would make for more debt which I don't want, but comparatively, it would be a very small debt. My mother has also offered to loan me some money. Again, I would hate to go down that road, simply because I feel borrowing from family is generally a bad idea, but the option is there for an interest free loan and she is very sweet to offer it. Finally, worse came to worse, I could paint two sides now and do the other two next spring. That means the unpainted sides might accrue more winter damage, but it is a possibility.
Actually, what I really just need is to win the lotto. Anybody want to buy me a ticket?*
* I'm kidding! I don't have much faith in the lotto as a way to get ahead.
Photo by: Miss Kitty