I end up doing a lot of financial counseling as a therapist. Money is a pretty big topic for people, loaded with issues of power, control, and desires. The amount of debt the average American carries around is pretty staggering. When I suggest to people that they save and wait until they can pay for ______ (fill in the blank) with cash, the look on their faces is priceless. But then I would have to wait! And that is usually unacceptable.
Anyhow, this blog isn’t actually about money. It is about how Tim and I tried to manage our own selves and our finances. We started out with more debt that income. We set up a strict budget and also developed a wish list. We were always wanting to remodel something or other. I truly don’t think there is one part of our house or the property it sits on that hasn’t had some kind of makeover.
We kept our check register in Excel so I didn’t make any math mistakes. Underneath our balance, there was always a long list. We would discuss what we wanted to see happen and then prioritize what was most important to us. The most expensive items generally stayed on the bottom of the list.
In my conscious mind, I never really had some kind of mission to make all our dreams happen. As I reflect back though, it makes me feel tremendous inside that we accomplished so much. When Tim got sick, we discussed his bucket list. He didn’t have anything wild. I was pushing for an African Safari but he had much simpler goals. The summer he was diagnosed, we had already made arrangements to start remodeling the pool. It was a three-year plan we sorted out with the pool company so we could afford to pay for it. Tim wanted to finish it in one swoop. He wasn’t really thinking he only had one summer left, but just in case, he wanted to spend it looking at the finished project we had been waiting a decade to start. With the help of a whole ton of people, this was what happened.
Not bad, eh? We had a new concrete patio put in, resurfaced the pool surface, and did some other repairs. Some of the balance was paid by the proceeds of the benefit that was thrown in Tim’s honor. He was so proud of the home he made and wanted to leave us with something to enjoy. We certainly have and everyone knows they are welcome to swim here anytime. (And they do!)
A year after Tim died, I was suddenly hit with the idea of finishing the basement. Tim’s dream was to make it a sports’ bar after he retired. He could work on it slowly and use all the memorabilia he had built up over his lifetime. That became my mission on the year anniversary of him leaving us. It wasn’t very expensive to do, but I tried hard to imagine what he would have wanted it to look like and I think we did a pretty good job with it. It is now dubbed “Frankie’s Man Cave.”
Two years ago I got the house resided. Now that was ridiculously expensive. We found a super good crew and it looks beautiful. The trim got changed to gray and I made sure every spot had the vinyl product so I don’t have to keep hiring people to paint every few years. It is now maintenance free and Tim would have loved it. The irony is, I would have never been able to pay for it without his life insurance money. It is sad, but I try to look at it like he participated in it a different way than if he were still physically with us.
This year, I had a contractor redo the gazebo. The goal was to be maintenance free. Painting it was a horrible job and I am always trying to find ways to be more independent. Like any other job, once they started taking things apart, the job was bigger than anticipated. There was no shortage of rotted wood.
Isn’t it gorgeous? Who would have thought you could love a floor that much.
It hit me the other day. The gazebo was it. It was the very last thing on our wish list. So Tim, it has taken me almost six years without you here, but we have managed it. Our house is what we worked hard for and dreamed big on. I know there will be maintenance and repairs forever, but this was the last of our visions together now realized.
So come on over and take a dip in the pool and enjoy our hospitality. The goal was always to have a place where people would feel comfortable coming. We never wanted to be private or alone. It’s been hot so far so don’t suffer. Come jump in and celebrate with us. xoxo!