Helpless Millennial Series: From Helpless to Empowered

I wish there was a little fairy that sat on my shoulder when home-buying, whispering in my ear how much having a house that is over 100 years old (and not a well-remodeled one, mind you) was going to bring on some real life lessons.

I was quite blind back then, wanting a house so, so badly. At 27, I was ready to just have my own house, one that I could paint, hang stuff on, and garden (let’s never mind the fact that after a year and a half here, I’ve barely done any of that!) I will run the numbers someday about costs for repairs versus appreciation, because I do think that it’s something everyone needs to consider when buying a house. But do any first-time home buyers walk in with clear eyes? I doubt it. Maybe my experience can provide some insight, so helpless millennials like myself can walk into the home-buying process a little less helpless.

We’ve spent money on things that we didn’t need to in regards to our house, but didn’t have the time/energy/knowledge to make the fixes. We are not naturally handy; my husband is an electronics/computer dude (and a doctor), so his skill set doesn’t lie within home repairs. He literally spent about 11 years of his life in medical training. I am afraid of power tools. As in, I haven’t hung multiple things for weeks that needed a power drill because I don’t want to ‘mess up.’ I know this sounds so silly; I can’t be the only one, right?

We hired an electrician to install a chandelier; this was roughly 200 dollars. It was a simple install, as far as I can tell. But I was afraid of installing it incorrectly and blowing up the house. I don’t know if this is irrational or not. I do know that this could be learned on Youtube.

My husband also recently hired someone to clean our gutters. Our house does have a 2nd story, so this is understandable. It was 125.00. I am wondering if we could have done this ourselves, with the right equipment. After all, we are rock climbers. With the proper safety precautions, we are able to do something like this.

Now that summer is here, I have the time to dig into all this. So, I’m going to start something called “Helpless Millennial Series” in which I, a helpless millennial, tackles some things that I could do myself by watching Youtube, researching it on the Internet, and taking a good ol’ trip to Ace hardware. I’ll be tallying the costs (time and money) along the way, stacking it up against what it would have cost if I hired someone. Who’s with me?

Here are the projects I’ve got on my agenda:

  1. Retiling our entry way floor. Due to weathering (and presumably just crappy installation), the tiles flush against our entry door in the kitchen are completely loose. It’s quite embarrassing. It needs to be fairly warm outside for this to happen, so I’ve been waiting until it gets drier and warmer.
  2. Filling in holes in grout in bathroom. Due to another crappy recent installation (are you sensing a theme here?) there are holes in our tile grout in our bathroom. Needs to be fixed ASAP to avoid damage.
  3. Fixing carpet that has torn away from doorway. Our dog has severe separation anxiety and got trapped in my office twice and completely ripped the carpet up from the doorway where it meets the hardwood. It is possible we have to hire someone for this, but I’m looking at options.
  4. Replacing the storm door hinge. That thing is b-r-o-k-e and old. This should be fairly simple, right?
  5. Planting privacy trees and xeriscaping the front yard. Whoever thought it was a good idea to plant all grass and NO trees or shrubs (our former owners) and install a very expensive sprinkler system, should be charged with our fat water bill from July. It’s wasteful, not to mention expensive, and just irresponsible, to water grass you don’t use for play or dogs (our front yard backs up to a busy-ish street). We will be in the process of removing sod and planting Colorado-friendly plants this summer.

What have you learned to do yourself? What do you hold back from doing yourself? And if you’ve got resources, send ’em here please because I’ll be trying to read all I can (especially about the tiling) before diving in.

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Author: SB

After a year of self-reflection after a shift in focus on my career as a high school teacher, I've taken the time to examine a lot of things--mine and my husband's finances included. With over 600k in student loan and mortgage debt, we are working to pay it off and enjoy life along the way in our home of Colorado. The first step is choosing knowledge over ignorance, which is where this blog comes in. This blog is a place to share and learn, particularly about our path to financial independence. Thank you for stopping by!

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