There are about a million things I want to do with my house. I would like to update the kitchen and bath, refinish the floors, replace the windows, paint the exterior, and landscape the yard, just to name a few small projects. It’s not that the house is in bad shape; it’s not. It’s a trim little house with everything in order. But it’s an older home, and I like to dream big. It’s just how my brain works.
I don’t have the money right for new windows or refinished floors or climbing roses. Since I’ve been making the house a priority, my “Things I Want” account is at a minimum. I pretty much just got a Big Thing I Want (the house), and that’s it for a while. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t make any progress, or that my hands are tied until my next paycheck comes in, or that I have to sit around being grumpy because there’s an endless supply of things to spend money on.
So I made my dream to-do list and included everything on it. Everything.
Then I wrote another one, which only had things I could do for free.
Amazingly, there was a lot on that second list. And what was surprising (or maybe not so surprising) was that each item requires work. Some items require a LOT of work.
For example, my perfect future garden needs a compost pile– that doesn’t cost anything. But I’ve been too lazy to put my fruit and veggie trash in a separate pile, too busy to walk around my yard and decide on the best spot, too distracted to rake leaves into a pile.
My perfect future garden also has flowers. I haven’t decided on what kind yet, but flowers can be expensive. As a housewarming present to myself I even bought a huge bag of daffodil bulbs to plant, just so I can get started before the winter. But I had been too busy to plant bulbs, and it’s been a little chilly outside and I needed a nap.
And I can just imagine how nice the yard would look edged in a nice mulch where I want the future beds and paths to go– I could put a really nice bark up against the house and edge the walkway. But fall leaves, which make a wonderful mulch, are free for the taking and would nicely blanket all my trees, if only I raked them up. But raking leaves is not nearly as much fun as getting a truckload of bark, and they don’t always look as professional.
Inside the house it’s the same. I want built-in bookshelves, but haven’t found the time to unpack all my books on to the existing shelves, or the energy to piece together all my old cheap bookshelves. I want a guest bed and fresh new bedding, but I haven’t found time to do my laundry this week yet. I want new windows, but have yet to scrape off years of accumulated paint from the original tile windowsills.
I realized I have plenty to do and get excited about without spending a cent.
Once I made my new list, I realized that part of what is so exciting about spending money is that you can feel like you are making progress without actually doing a lot of work.
The daffodil bulbs were the prime example. Just by buying that big bag for myself, I felt like I already had put in an entire garden, without actually breaking a sweat. But of course, the bulbs sat there, in my kitchen, near the dirty dishes, nowhere particularly near my garden. The spending part of the fun was over, but I hadn’t actually accomplished what I was paying for when I bought them.
So last Saturday, I had time, and I had my daffodils. I spent the day planting the entire bag; one hundred and twenty five bulbs. Then I raked my lawn. And last night, I scraped the old paint off one single tile on my windowsill. It looks beautiful.
Some day, when I save enough, I can put in new windows. But not today. I’m too busy.
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