You’ve heard of the "seven-year itch", right? I'm not so sure about its validity, but the struggle that is real in my marriage is what I will call the twelve-year break! Not of our relationship... of our stuff.
We’ve been married for 12.5 years, and moved into our same, current home at around that time. The past year or so has felt like a constant stream of replacing broken things: refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, hot water machine, blender… even my can opener!
This past weekend, we hosted 3 other couples at our house for adults-only dinner and I realized how functional our household is for everyday use, but how inadequate it is for a dinner party of 8! Of our original 10 place settings that we received as wedding gifts, my dishware on hand is now:
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it… but what if it is broke? What if it is incomplete? What if I’m broke?
I promote the idea of spending money on, first and foremost, what you want to spend money on. But what about socks or broken dish replacements or stucco repair or things that I absolutely have no interest in spending my money on? What about when saving money and DIY repairs and "making do" have reached their max? Have I cursed myself to frustration & disappointment by adopting a philosophy that is completely impractical?
Unexpected (or super lame) expenses are irritating, but I'm not going to let them get the best of me. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter...
I remember when my husband & I first started sharing finances, we were getting our feet under us, but it seemed like every month there was some kind of "unusual" expense that shot our credit card bill up higher than our "normal" expenses. One month there was some kind of annual fee for something, then another there would be several family birthdays, then the furnace & ducts were cleaned, etc. etc. "If only," I would think, "that XYZ thing wasn't an expense this month, we would have spent just the right amount."
Well, of course, it took me a while to finally come to terms that although each of these might have been "odd", "one-off", "unusual", or "infrequent" expenses in themselves, the reality of having some kind of extra, out-of-the-ordinary (and likely unplanned) expense was in fact not unusual at all. It seemed to be quite predictable, actually.
I just had to decide to roll with the punches a bit, and anticipate a $ buffer to account for the unaccountable. Because I am terrible at budgeting (more because of the tracking piece, not because of overspending), I don't have a specific dollar number that I assign to this. Sorry! #trueconfessions. More so for me, it's just trying to be aware, to restrain & anticipate rather than spend & stress.
What that looks like in this phase of life, compared to 10 years ago is different. Many of these projects and pieces — repairing & painting the house exterior, replacing furniture that has somehow not stood the test of a decade + 3 kids — are way more expensive! But, instead of pouting, I will just try to be a big girl, not resent my adult (& homeowning) responsibilities, and get on with preparing for it.
This is no new news; investing in quality pieces is certainly a way to curb the problem. I have a Le Creuset Dutch Oven pot-thing, and while I would be crushed for it to become unusable, I know that when that day comes, it will have logged many, many, many hours of use. Similarly, buying a new pair of snowboots after 3 kids of use seems less frustrating than a new pair every year, right?
It is also the kind of things we purchase that can make a big difference. I am a champion of repairs, so when I can, I tend to choose things that have the potential to be fixed, before turfing and buying new.
The truth is... I'm still not running to the store to buy new plates! But I also am trying to admit that expenses aren't exclusively things that I always feel wonderful about. I will continue to prioritize the best way to spend, by value & necessity, and just hope that it works out 80% of the time...
What expenses (regular or unusual) drive you crazy? Are you an immediate problem solver, or a wait-it-out-until-it-is-untenable person, kind of like me? Share in the comments below!