Knucklehead Unplanned Expenses

by Sandy L on July 25, 2013

So, it’s official. We’re moved into our new to us old farmhouse.  I gave a tour to a colleague of mine a week before we moved in and he’s like “Wow..there is no way in hell my wife would ever move into a house in this state.”   He didn’t say it in a mean way, more in a “you’re pretty cool for being okay with all of this” way. 

Our closing on our previous home was postponed a couple of weeks due to bank paperwork issues on the buyer’s side. The issues were not the buyer’s fault but an issue with forms being rejected due to an automated service. Lesson learned. Small local banks will actually get a person involved to look over paperwork and push things through so you don’t miss your closing date.  Big national banks don’t do that. It actually happened to me as well when we bought my mom’s place, so I was sympathetic to the situation. (I will never use Wells Fargo again.)  I actually did learn my lesson and my latest mortgage was with a local bank. They did sell my loan 6 months after my closing, but at least the initial round of paperwork went through smoothly and without any hiccups.   Oh, and I started a brand new job after a reorg, my husband started a new job at a new company, and one of my kids moved up from daycare to pre-school.  It’s been all around insane around here.

Before Polyurethane

So, the next question is, where do you start first, when you’re house needs everything?  In our case, we did the structural stuff first. After 8 months, we have the following completed: Roof, foundation, heating system, grading the property, removing dumpsters of trash and miles of brush that were a big eyesore and fire hazard.   At the 11th hour I decided the kitchen appliances were too far gone to use and I have a pretty high tolerance for living with  crappy appliances. I cleaned the inside of the stove with 4 rounds of easy off. After the 4th round of removing grime, I realized that the last layer of crud was rust.  Darn it. Who knew that the charred layer of schmutz in the stove was actually the glue holding the stove together and a protective barrier layer against the rust.  The dishwasher sort of worked, but the drain was all messed up and we were doing some other plumbing in the area, so out it went as well.  The fridge is rusted on the outside and I thought it could work at first, because the inside is big and it functions. Once I put food in it, I realized there are some deli drawers missing from the fridge which makes it super hard to actually find stuff when you’re stacking layers upon layers of food on a shelf because 2 of the drawers that used to be there are gone.

Office After Poly

One of the previous owners did a really bad homemade job of trying to refinish our floors (big gouges and ruts from the floor sander being in one spot too long).  Our floor refinishing guy told us they were not salvageable but I decided I wanted to see what they’d look like with a light sand and a couple of coats of polyurethane on them.  We were going to live with them until we gutted those particular rooms, but I was motivated by my feet turning black every time I walked on them. I was also curious to see if I could make them look good enough to keep with a little TLC.  I’m pleased to say they look a lot better than expected.  They have a lot of “character” but with a 200 year old home, it’s kind of cool to see the big scratches in the floor.  Unfortunately, now that we’re already moved in, I couldn’t do all of the floors at once, so there are at least 2 more weekends of dirty, backbreaking work on the horizon before the whole house looks like this. There are also 4 rooms gutted at present, which also need time to get put back together. Oh and somewhere in all of this, I have to get babci’s house ready to put on the market.

Credit Card Oops and other Expensive Errors

So, with me running around refinishing floors and unpacking and traveling for my new job, I have totally broken all my own rules this month.  I actually had my card declined last week because I ran up against my credit limit, oh and my payments on both cards were due the week I moved and somehow missed them.  Capital One was cool about making a late payment and they didn’t charge me a late free so I still like them. If they were mean about my miss, I’d probably look at a site like NerdWallet for credit card comparisons

 So, after stupid mistake #1, I took my kids to the zoo and after our lunch break, I decided to save money by putting the mostly full Gatorade in my purse for later use. Well 5 minutes later, something was leaking on my leg. No, it can’t be. Yes, it is.  THE ENTIRE 16 ounce bottle of Gatorade had emptied into my purse and toasted my 9 month old i-phone and made my wallet, purse and all of it’s contents sticky.  (No, I didn’t put it in a bag of rice, I was at the zoo, 3 hours from my house).   That was a $250 mistake.

How to be less stupid

So after all this idiocy, I did a little self-evaluation to see what the heck was different that made me make all these knuckle-headed mistakes.  Here’s what I came up with.

1.      In times of change, don’t forget your routine.   Do I have a reminder in my calendar to pay my credit card on a certain date? Well, yes, but I ignored it. This resulted in a missed payment. I also haven’t been grocery shopping as much or spending time tackling my paper pile. This stuff requires constant vigilance and slacking off for a few weeks can cause major unplanned, expenses and disruptions.

2.      Get Plenty of Rest. After pulling way too many all nighters in college, I now get plenty of sleep. This last month, I haven’t. I can blame my i-phone mishap on my tiredness. Much of the things that made my schedule crazy have been self-imposed things that I did to try to make my house nicer faster.  I need to knock that stuff off and start working at a more sane pace.

3.      Comparison Shop. When you’re busy, it’s sometimes nice to throw money at a problem and just get the darned thing off your to-do list.  I recently had a contractor quote me $16,000 for a problem that didn’t exist. Before spending that kind of money, I got a second and third opinion. He ended up being a scammer. I suspected it right away when he came in and quoted me something different from what I brought him in for and didn’t seem the least bit interested in quoting what was bothering me.  Taking those extra steps saved time and money.

4.      Spend Money when you need to – Although we’re not getting new water in the basement, it is still extremely wet down there. We’ve been running a dehumidifier non-stop and it just can’t keep up. There is too much square footage for our little unit to handle.  I bit the bullet last week and bought an industrial sized one. I suppose I needed to verify that the other one wasn’t going to work first, but if it makes it dry enough to be able to store our tools down there, improves my allergies and the smell of our house, it’ll be well worth the money. Plus, wet basements are an excellent breeding ground for pests and with an old house, I definitely worry about pests. If the dehumidifier prevents all of these problems and gives me more usable space, I think it’ll be a wise investment.  Lastly, the bigger units are more energy efficient, so the higher upfront expense should yield electricity savings and a longer lifespan for the unit (I got one with a 5 year warranty. My home depot units generally only last a couple of years). I remember kicking myself at my last house for not installing water meters sooner. It had a 2 year payback and it was 8 years before we finally got around to changing them out.

5.      Learn from your Stupidity and Move on – So, I can’t undo what’s been done, but I can make changes to prevent the same mistake from happening in the future.  I painfully forked over the dough for a new phone and have moved on. I also spent $80 on one of those lifeproof cases that make your phone waterproof and more shock resistant. I still don’t like the idea of insurance but making the phone a little more durable seems like a good corrective action for my dumbness.

So, that’s all for now.  Make me feel better, have you done any stupid preventable things lately? If so, why do you think it happened?  PS. A coyote just trotted through my yard. Poor Babci. I don’t think her chickens have a chance at the new place.  I see a lot of fencing in my future.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

eemusings July 26, 2013 at 7:00 PM

ARRRGGGH! Sucky about the Gatorade leak (reminds me of a piece on XOJane I read about someone who sweated over her iPhone so much it died). Congrats on holding it together through all the craziness; enjoy the house and the new job. We just spent a week staying at an old farmhouse where the bathroom floor literally sagged like a bowl just inside the door, but hey, it’s a few hundred years old and it’s still pretty solid.


Sandy L August 7, 2013 at 4:07 AM

I did end up getting the lifeproof case. It was expensive but it was worth having the piece of mind. Can’t wait for your visit this fall.


Mutant July 29, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Wow that IS a lot of craziness. Congrats on all the good stuff and hey those mistakes are NOTHING.


frugalscholar August 14, 2013 at 4:29 PM

The people we bought our house from 20 years ago were related to some power people in town. They must have been bad with money because there was a contractor’s lien on the house. They took everything that wasn’t nailed down–hooks, brackets, shower curtain rods, towel racks etc. They also came into the house AFTER closing to retrieve a few things they had left in the dishwasher. (We were going to call them!)

BAD people.

By the way, we just visited the beautiful Berkshires. You are so lucky to live there.


Sandy L August 14, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Next time you are in town, email me. I’d be happy to be a tour guide. Yes, it’s awesome here. Removing everything from the house does leave a very bad image of the people doesn’t it. I really was tempted to take a few things, but I resisted.


The Finance Games April 30, 2016 at 10:20 PM

My oops expense this month was a parking ticket. Really frustrating. I basically added a line item to my budget for stupidity and just trying to cut it down…


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