Jul 31 2013

Would you rather be totally debt-free, or gain 25 lbs.?

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Would you rather have all your debts magically paid, but at a cost of gaining 25 lbs.?

Credit Karma issued an interesting press release and infographic (note to PR folks — normally I delete these! The fact that I’m writing about this is rare, ok?)

Harris Poll asked several questions, such as:

  • “How much I weigh is more important to me than how much debt I have” (25% strongly disagree, 32% somewhat disagree, 27% somewhat agree, 16% strongly agree)
  • “I would be willing to gain 25 pounds to get out of debt” (50% strongly disagree, 23% somewhat disagree, 16% somewhat agree, 12% strongly agree)

The pollsters concluded that 43% of people surveyed said their weight was more important to them than their debt.

Further, 72% of those polled said they’d rather keep their current debt, than gain 25 lbs. and be completely debt-free.

Though I wasn’t a part of the poll, I could be included in that 72%.

I have gained 25 lbs. lately. I’m 29+ weeks pregnant! And the extra weight on my frame just plain doesn’t feel good. I don’t need to keep 25 lbs. around just to have no mortgage.

The other thing — I’m not particularly bothered by my debt. Sure, it would be nice for the mortgage to be gone. But if we do nothing differently, it will still be gone in 14 years with not that much interest paid.

So yes, I’m putting my health as worth more than $120k. So what? I think it is! And I don’t consider it a vanity thing. If it was evenly distributed, 25 extra pounds on a non-pregnant me would look bigger, but not obese. But what would it mean for my blood pressure? Blood sugar? Heart? Bone health? Ugh I just ache thinking about it.

I’m struck by the pollster’s concluding language. It’s like they’re surprised and disappointed that people would rather have debt than be heavier. And it’s no surprise — it’s a financial company, not a health company.

Fortunately for us all, there’s no reality show that gives us this decision. There’s no one actually going around offering to pay off all debts if we’d just eat 5 Big Macs a day and wash it down with a case of Pepsi and chase it with a block of fudge.

I posed this question to my husband, Shane, and he had a different take. He wanted to know how long he’d have to hang onto those 25 lbs. If they were on him and boom, he could lose them as he pleased, then he’d rather take that option. He figured it would be easier for him to quickly lose 25 lbs. than it would to pay off the mortgage.

And, he’s right! He’s fit. He ran a marathon. His metabolism and healthy eating habits would have that weight gone in no time.

I find it noteworthy that he’d have more motivation to lose extra weight, than he has to ramp up the mortgage pay-off. Financially speaking, we just have other priorities right now. He’s highly motivated to meet those goals.

Interesting hypotheticals. Now I’m curious — how long would that 25 pounds have to be there? If it was a life-long thing, I’m sure Shane would say no thanks.

How about you? Which would you choose, if you could?

[If you’re interested, the full study and press release can be found here]


Jul 15 2013

The state of the kitchen project

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Now with paint! Sherwin Williams "Muslin." Ignore the color above the bulkhead. Cabinets are going to cover those.

Now with paint! Sherwin Williams “Muslin.” Needs one more coat. Ignore the color above the bulkhead. Cabinets are going to cover those. Also, this photo is a bit dark.

I’ve been busy with our kitchen project lately, and thought I’d share a little update.

We’re on the home stretch with our kitchen renovation. I think. I hope.

On the “done” list:

  • Primed kitchen, 2 coats
  • Painted kitchen and living room walls, 1 coat. We used Sherwin-Williams Muslin, but in Valspar and their no-VOC option.
  • Painted kitchen and living room ceiling (free! The previous owners left an unopened 5-gallon bucket of ceiling paint behind. So we used that and already had other paint supplies).
  • Painted kitchen baseboards, trim, pantry door
  • Installed new ceiling lights
  • Hired electrician to wire a wall for under-mount cabinet lights, and removed a section of cabinets so he could have access to that wall
  • Bought sink faucet
  • Bought new outlet covers

Our cabinets will be installed next week, and our counter tops the week after.

Still on the to-do list:

  • Purchase backsplash tile and decide on an installer. I don’t wanna install this myself. Nope. Don’t wanna. Not gunna do it.
  • Paint the kitchen and living room walls again. We’ll need one more coat to make sure everything is even and well-covered. Yay
  • Paint living room baseboards and fireplace trim
  • Select and purchase a garbage disposal (any strong opinions on this, anyone?)
  • Return outlet covers. Ugh. I bought the wrong size! I need a size up to cover it properly. It’ll be worth it — the ones we’re replacing are faded, or started out off-white. We’re doing a brighter white. Plus, they won’t have paint drips on them :)
  • Make a menu plan for the week we’ll be without water in the kitchen (so thinking about meal-prep…I want to make some meals ahead and plan things like sandwiches & salad)

Overall, my end of the work is wrapping up but I’m still feeling a little bit of stress about that whole painting/house in disarray thing. My husband has done much of the painting lately, as I don’t want to get up on ladders anymore. Plus, the repetitive motion of painting just doesn’t feel good for this third-trimester body of mine.

When I reflect on the project in terms of the budget, we’re spending way more than we originally anticipated back when we were daydreaming about a new kitchen.

For instance, we decided to add under-cabinet lighting. The lights themselves totaled around $70 which isn’t bad at all — but I had to pay an electrician so we can hard-wire the lights rather than have plugs dangling. And, we had to pay for an extra piece of lower-cabinet trim to help hide the light fixtures from view. Those two elements turned the under-mount lighting aspect into roughly $450 extra to the project.

And, though I had an ok guestimate of how much cabinets and counters might cost, I didn’t properly tally all the “extras” — the paint and supplies, the backsplash, the lighting, the designer, the hired labor. That stuff adds up.

We also had a few mini projects that weren’t a part of the original plan — painting the pantry door and exterior door, for one. Those are cheap projects, but still! An extra project! Also, I didn’t think about including outlet covers in the budget. Fortunately, the ones I purchased cost only $15 total for the kitchen and living room, so it’s a negligible expense.

Here's a shot of in-progress trim paintin

Here’s a shot of in-progress trim painting and why we had to paint the door. Our supposedly white door was pretty dingy looking with that bright white trim paint!

Even though we are spending more than we originally set out to spend, we have had time to save up the rest. I hope that we’ll increase our house’s value by a portion of the total amount spent. I doubt we’d get it all back, but surely we’ll get some when we sell (which hopefully isn’t for a long time anyway!). At worst, I think the updates will make it sell faster. And for what I can tell so far, we’re going to be a lot happier with more storage and a just plain nicer kitchen!

We’re repurposing some of the kitchen cabinets to garage cabinets for extra storage. The rest (along with the old light fixtures) will be donated to Habitat for Humanity…or I might end up selling some cabinets at a ¬†cheap price to the electrician who did my wiring.

I’ve caught myself grumbling here and there about painting, and just wanting the whole thing to be done already. And then I shush myself and remind myself that hey, at least I have a kitchen. At least I have a kitchen that I can make these changes to. And at least we can pay for it. We are very fortunate.


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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