When Matt and I first got married, we had no money to our names and over $100,000 in student loan debt. Our monthly payments were so high that we lived in a 10 x 14 efficiency on my parents’ property while we were trying to make our payments. We bounced around after that, living in the cheapest places we could find. During this time the economy collapsed and our salaries dwindled. We worked multiple jobs and made do with free furniture and no decor. But those years were important – we learned to live within our resources, no matter how limited those resources were, and to have patience for the future. We knew that time would pass and our situation would change and we needed to move forward. These two lessons changed the way we live and impacted our design process.
Live Within Your Resources
When approaching any project, be sure to live within your resources. You have limited resources and going beyond those resources will be setting yourself up for trouble. Resources include everything from finances and income to time management and sanity. You should take note of four particular resources: Budget, Time, Resources, and Abilities. Only take on projects that work within those resources. Be wary of a project that is over budget or requires more time or ability than what you can give it. We recommend spending only cash on large projects and staying away from loans. If you are unsure of your abilities to do a project, take a shot at it but be prepared to bring a professional on board if it does not work out. There are so many amazing ways to make your living space beautiful without spending a fortune or having master carpentry skills. The goal is to remain happily married (or happily friends) after any project, and staying within your resources is an important part of that.
One of the most important traits to learn and practice now is to have patience: patience now will pay dividends in the end. Patience is both willing to wait to do a project if the time is not right and being prepared to redo something even if that means the final results will be delayed. If a major renovation is out of your budget today, do something minor to make your space livable while you save. If you make a mistake while working on a project, have patience and try again. A sub-par end product is not worth saving time. Have a project completed quickly is a wonderful idea, but some of the most beautiful houses I have seen have taken years to complete.
So as you consider upcoming projects this year, be sure to live within your resources and have patience. Home renovation is often a long journey with unforeseen ups and downs and you will be in a better place mentally and financially if you make these two rules your mantra.