Budgeting repairs and maintenance.

Rickety steps. Leaky faucets. Uneven flooring. And a million other things inside the house in need of repair or maintenance. Ugh!

There are two things that are crucial in fixing or maintaining something at home: a reliable professional and a sizable budget. Do you agree?

It all started when we are discussing about how to fix driveway interlocking before winter. My sisters and I want everything secure and safe at home more for the kids than for us. The discussion turned from the driveway to the garage door to the main door barrel bolt lock. After locks, CCTV made a grand entrance in our discussion. It was one topic after another, all related to securing our home.

Then, came the ceiling, faucets, flooring, and a million more items on our list of things in need of repair or maintenance in our house.

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When we moved into this house several years ago, it was already an old house. In good condition but old. We loved the house instantly because the neighbors were quiet, the house sitting along a wide road so there is not much interaction with annoying neighbors which we were very unfortunate to encounter in our old residence. The rickety old house was perfect for us!

Over the years, one by one, the things that need fixing made itself known. It started with the pipes in the laundry area. We fixed it by replacing the old pipes. Then, the leaky shower heads. All of it were replaced as well. Then, leaky faucets, a broken bathroom sink, and toilet flush acting up. All of it were replaced.

Truth be told, replacing the old fixtures is totally fine with us. The budget of fixing those things is quite sad. We are all earning good salaries but the bills and everything else together with the repairs and maintenance are putting a dent into our savings. My sisters and I were discussing setting aside a budget account in the bank so we can deposit to it every payday. Then, in summer, we will hire a good professional company to come fix whatever needs fixing and to maintain whatever needs some tender loving care in the house. No more sporadic repairs this time around. If it is a small repair, then it’s fine. We can dip into the budget account. If it will require time and money, then we need to schedule it when we have enough.

There are days when we scratch our heads in unison after huge sighs of frustration. Old house means lots of tender loving care needed. And TLC means budget needed most of the time. But we love this house! It saved us from that old neighborhood when we needed a dramatic rescue from it. This house has blessed us with so much more than we expected from it, and it continues to bless us in unexpected ways.

So, off we save for that summer repair scheduie.

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The family room.

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I was watching a reality show of a popular Korean pop group when an idea suddenly popped in my head. Tada! I will convert a spare room in the ground floor to a family room! It is the perfect time to get a new mattress in winter and the idea is to put it in that spare room so that when any member of the family just want to lay down to play, read or just sleep, there’s something to lay down on.

Our family is a large one. We live under one roof. I have four siblings and one is already married. His family, wife and two kids, are also living with us. It is one chaotic household but we have our fun moments. I guess it is my parents’ influence on us that we stick together no matter what. We are just fortunate that we have a large, three-storey house. My brother’s family lives in the third floor. The rest of us in the ground and second floors. We one spare room in the ground floor which used to be Dad’s room. He passed away in March of last year so that room has been unused for more than a year already. I think it’s time to make use of it again.

Here are three ideas that I have for that family room.

A big mattress on the corner floor. As I’ve said, it is for anybody in the family who just wants to lay down. I think it will be used mostly by me and our youngest sister who love to lay down and browse social media. In my case, I love watching clips of my favorite Kpop groups in Facebook.

A huge television on the wall facing the mattress. Netflix is a big thing in our home. We love watching series together. In the beginning of the pandemic, just after our Dad passed away, one way to divert our attention from the grief of losing our Dad was through watching popular Korean drama series. Crash Landing On You and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim were two of the first series we watched in Netflix. It really helped us lessen the grief we were going through that time.

Up until now, we still watch movies, series, and documentaries in that streaming app. It is a very effective tool in passing time especially when in lockdown.

A long fold-in-half table with two desktop computers. I have two nephews. One is turning eight next month, the other is turning four next month as well. The older one love playing Roblox with his schoolmates. My youngest sister also loves playing video games with her school friends. So, two desktops where both can play their video games is another idea that popped in my head while planning the family room.

I am also thinking of bean bag chairs, several throw pillows, blankets, and mellow lights. I will start transforming the room before the nephews’ birthdays next month. I can’t wait for it to be transformed into our family room!

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A useful housewarming gift.

A family friend and her whole family, husband and three kids, are finally moving to a house that they can call their own. It is a decent size house that they got outside the city. They are excited to move in it because they lightinghave been renting since the wedding.

We were one of the first ones to be told of the move. We live near each other so they thought it would be best to tell us they will be moving out in a month’s time. I talked to my siblings about it and we came up with the idea to give them a housewarming party. We are going to talk to the eldest kid so she can be our accomplice in the intimate party we are planning to throw for them. I also came up with the idea of asking common friends if they want to chip in so we can give the family something they can use for their new home. My suggestion is aesthetically great lighting. It came to me when the wife was asking me about appliance repair experts in Oshawa. They have a few items at home that they needs checking and repairing so I thought why not give them something that we all know they will find useful when they move in to their new home. Everything is in place and we already talked to some common friends who chipped in so we can buy lighting for their kitchen and dining area.

If you are also planning to throw a party or buy a gift for someone moving into their new home, here are two housewarming gift ideas if you are under budget constraints.

Rugs

There are different kinds of rugs you can get for the house. I am thinking about the ones you can use to wipe your feet on and the ones you can use to wipe surfaces in the kitchen. These household items are the ones you don’t think of when you go shopping but something that is most needed especially when there are visitors around. I am saying this based on experience. It is always handy to have a couple of rugs around the house.

Believe me, it may not be something grand to bring to a housewarming party but the rugs you will give are the items that will be most used on everyday normal life inside the house.

Plants

Indoor plants that clean the air are the best to bring to a housewarming party. It will be most appreciated, believe me. With so many people suffering from allergies, asthma, and other similar illnesses, it is best to have something inside the house that will clean and purify the air naturally.

There are snake plant, spider plant, peace lily, weeping fig, and so many others that you can buy for inside the house. You can ask your plant vendor the best one you can buy that doesn’t need to much care and sunlight.

There are other great housewarming gift ideas but the two I mentioned are the ones best for me.

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No to hoarding.

One of the realizations of old age is that there is so much wastage in one’s younger years. Do you agree with that? I am in my 40’s now. And I may not be old old yet, but when I look back to my 20’s and 30’s, yes, there was so much I could have saved. There was so much waste, literally and figuratively.

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I remember watching this reality show where people hoard different items to the point that their homes and lives are being destroyed by the items they cannot dispose of. One lady hoarded tons of books. She literally made a bed out of the books inside her house. It was a mess! The intervention team brought a rent a bin for junk removal to help her clean her home so they could give her back a semblance of life she once had. The lady refused to part with her books in the beginning. But when the intervention team pointed out that rats were living alongside her on those books, she reluctantly agreed.

After watching that show, I looked at my boxes and boxes of books and stuff realizing that I have wasted so much money hoarding books that looked really beautiful but I had no intention of reading. Book covers used to attract my attention a lot. So, even when I didn’t like the story, I’d still buy the book so I could display it. I also did this to notebooks and notepads and any kind of paper for that matter. My sister used to call me a hoarder because I was one. But that show opened my eyes to the waste around me. I sorted my books, separated the ones I haven’t read yet that I wasn’t too keen on reading, those books I already read that I didn’t want to keep anymore, and sold all of those books. I kept three boxes of books that I truly liked and wanted to read sometime in the future.

These days, I think a million times before I buy something. Not only books but also other personal stuff. I will add it to cart (because I now mostly buy my stuff online) but I’d keep the items there. After a few days, realization will come and I’d either check the items out or I’d empty my cart. A few years of life gave me a percentage of wisdom I need.

I used to dream of filling my room with books. Shelves and shelves of books that I could show off to my family, friends, and acquaintances. I visualize their eyes going wide with my bedroom looking like a library. It was a dream of mine. Not anymore, though. These days, a clean, clutter-free room is what I like to maintain. I use a Kindle e-book reader nowadays. Cheaper and space saver. Also, more environment-friendly.

I still dream of a house with a big library with all my favorite books displayed beautifully on it. It will remain a dream for me because I will not return to hoarding paper stuff anymore. Or any other item for that matter.

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Do not block the driveway.

There is a reason why majority of houses in this side of the world has a written reminder on their garage doors that says “Do not block the driveway”. Some car owners are careless on where they park their cars. In times when you are in a rush due to an emergency, you cannot take your car out because another car is blocking the garage door or driveway.

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Let me tell you of the same predicament we are always in. Our house is in a busy street. Our neighbor is a dentist and the front of his house is converted into a dental clinic. Naturally, when he has a number of regulars come in for their appointments, parking space becomes a problem. We often find a car parked in front of our driveway even when we already put a “no parking” sign and a “do not block the driveway” warning sign in front of the house. It is a lot of hassle when we need to go out. I have to go find the car owner for the car to be removed so we can go take our own SUV out.

When my Dad was alive, he was our guard. Since he always parked himself near the door, when he would hear a car parking, he’d go and check to make sure it’s not parking in front of the driveway. He’s very protective of our residence he was the one who put up the signs. He even went and get driveway sealing to make sure we are safe when our vehicles are being driven out of the garage.

It is a good thing that my Dad trained our dogs to bark when a car or a motorcycle is parking in front of our house. Now, we know when to go out to check. I already talked to the dentist next door. I told him to gently tell his regular patients to park somewhere else and not on our driveway. He already told his regulars but there are still some who would ignore the reminder on our garage door. I told the dentist next door that next time one of his patients would park on our driveway and the car is blocking our path when we need to go out, I’d call a towing company to get the car towed.

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Fixing things around the house.

handymanOne of the things I have always wanted to learn is to become a handywoman for the family. Someone who knows how to fix things around the house. Fixing leaking pipes, changing broken faucets. Just someone who can be called when something needs to be righted inside the house instead of calling someone else to do it.

These days, getting things done by yourselves can save a lot of money. Especially in these trying times when you are not sure when the company you are working for will close shop. And it is not a baseless fear because a lot of big companies are ceasing operations left and right. So, I am challenging myself to learn how to fix things around the house to save on repairs and maintenance cost. I have asked uncles and male cousins to teach me the basics and I will do the rest. Naturally, how to fix home appliances will be left to the professionals. I am a bit wary of anything related to electricals. I grew up with my Mom’s constant reminder not to touch anything that can electrocute me. It instilled in me a fear of electrical wires.

fixer-upperMy first project, a place for the two nephews to get their schoolwork done. A homework station for them. I already have the exact look in mind and how I would go about to do it. I just need to make sure I have all the tools on hand so when I start working on it, I don’t have to pause to get stuff. I am excited to do this because the kids are doing their work on their bed. What I have in mind is a long desk for them to work on and small storage spaces where they can keep their books, notebooks, pencils, crayons, and all the other stuff they have for school.

In some ways, I envy students these days. They have all the necessary tools they need to be better in school. They have Google! When I was a student, I needed to go to libraries in order to do research. Encyclopedias were a thing back then. Thick, old books were browsed and read in order to learn more about a certain subject. These days, all a student needs is Google and a discerning mind in order to do research properly. All those beautiful notebooks, pads, pens, highlighters… I can go on and on.

Well, on to learning the basics on repairs and maintenance, to expanding my hands on experience, and to the schoolwork station of my nephews.

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Those picture-perfect smiles!

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Growing up, it was a struggle to get all of us medical and dental treatments. Six kids, my Dad the only one working while my Mom stayed at home to take care of us all. It was always a tight budget, making ends meet, always prioritizing basic needs like food, clothing, education, shelter more than others. We made do with what we had, all of us kids. We did not complain, we were always grateful for whatever our parents could provide for us coming from their meager income.

We were happy. Dad, Mom, us kids. We grew up smiling a lot despite the hardships. We learned to smile amidst the difficulties. Our parents loved us the best way they knew how and it was more than enough for us.

One of the things that we took care of right away when life became a bit easy for the family was our dental health. It was taken for granted over more important needs like food and education so dental health took a back seat for the whole family. Yes, we went to the dentist when needed like for tooth extraction and cleaning but regular check-ups were close to none. When we started working, my siblings and I made sure that regular dental check-ups became a thing for our family. We all want those picture-perfect smiles, of course!

My siblings wore braces even when they were older. And it’s okay, I believe. As long as the dentist said that it was still applicable for them, I told them to go ahead and get it done. As for me, I want one of those secret smile aligners! I did not get braces because I felt it was too much of a hassle but these secret smile aligners are something that I consider getting as it is invisible and less of a hassle for people like me who loves to talk all the time. It is virtually invisible! It can even be worn while working and sleeping. Again, something very much to my liking.

Nowadays, we make sure that our two little ones at home, my nephews, know how important oral health is. I am regularly reminding my brother and my sister-in-law to keep a fund for braces and regular dental visits. Oral health is a priority for all of us especially now that we can afford it.

I have earmarked an amount from my savings for a project at home. We have a big wall on our second floor that is bare and in need of some hangings. I decided to get some of our photos framed and I will use that wall to showcase our family’s picture-perfect silly smiles. Oh, memories!

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