Pondering the piggy

Mike and I watched The Money Pit the other night…he laughed a lot more than I did.

I’ve wondered for a long time if we’re making good decisions about the house. With all the crises du jour — mortgage crisis, Wall Street crisis, election crisis, war-in-Iraq crisis — will we ever see any ROI from all the money we’ve poured into it? Or will life in this old house in fixer-upperhood ultimately be a losing proposition?

Mike’s perspective — one he often conveys to his clients — is that as long as you have to live someplace, you might as well make it what you want to live in. Frankly, I don’t see how we could NOT do the things we’ve been doing. Nothing we’ve done has been over-the-top — no marble floors or gold-plated fixtures. Just much-needed updates and maintenance with some all-purpose beautification thrown in for good measure (because we’re both aesthetic-minded people who care about such things). Much of it done by our own four hands. Our downfall is that the house needed so many things because of long-time neglect…and still has many more to go. (Which confirms what I’ve always believed — you don’t deserve and shouldn’t have a house if you can’t or won’t take care of it.)

Maybe the housing market will never recover to its post-debacle days. Maybe we’ll have bought high only to have to sell low someday. It happens. Or it may happen that we never sell, that this is the only house we ever have, and so we will have been right to fix it up as best we can. The perfect retirement house it’s not — too many steps and too much maintenance — but it’s better than having no place to call our own at all. There are far worse places to spend one’s golden years (a phrase that I suspect will have a new meaning by then — referring to having to work at the golden arches until you’re 80 or so).

Sometimes, you’re wise to hold back, save your pennies, and endure the peeling paint and crumbling facade a while longer. Other times, you just have to say, “damn the torpedos.” I hope this is one of those times — we always seem to be going full steam ahead with projects. Largely because of my need to be in what I consider a beautiful environment, not surrounded by problems that need attention and other people’s poor workmanship or unappealing decor choices. I push for things a lot more than Mike would. I just can’t help it.

These are scary times. We both work in service-type industries — marketing and architecture. It’s easy for our clients to eliminate spending in these areas when money is tight. Makes me wonder if those new golden years won’t be happening sooner than I imagine. I really wish I had spent some time working retail or food service and learned to run a cash register — I’ve a feeling those are skills that will come in handy. Writing schmiting — how about some fries with that?

My old father used to have a saying:
If you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter.
~ Abraham Lincoln

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