First You Buy a House, Then You Cry

As Sam and I prepared to buy our first home last November, a friend told me, “Over the next two years, be prepared to spend ten to twenty thousand dollars buying stuff for your house.”

At first, I thought he was joking.  He assured me he wasn’t.

Then I thought, “No, not us.  We’re frugal.  I’ll bet we’ll only spend a few hundred on the house over the next year or two.”

All you experienced home owners out there are chuckling at my naïve fiscal overconfidence.  You know that houses don’t work like that.  The odds of spending that little on a house over the course of a year are worse than the odds of finding a five-year-old who’ll pass up a free bag of Skittles.  It just ain’t happening.

But I didn’t know that.  As I drove up to my new house with keys jingling in my pocket, I thought the financial hurt was over.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.


Remember that few hundred I was going to spend on my house over the first two years I owned it?  Guess how long it took me to spend that.

Try five hours.  That’s right.  I’d been a home owner less than a fourth of a day and I’d already blown my two-year budget getting my carpets cleaned.

And it didn’t stop there.  That night I spent another couple hundred on a bunch of random odds and ends for the house: things like garbage cans, brooms, and cleaning supplies.

Next up was the 2 cords of wood and 150 gallons of oil we bought to heat our house for the winter.

Then we had to buy a new dryer because the old dryer used natural gas and our new house only has electrical hook ups.

And, wouldn’t you know it, once we installed the old washing machine next to the new dryer, we discovered that the washing machine had been damaged beyond repair during the move.  Of course.  So we bought a new one of those too.

While we were at it, we figured we’d buy a new kitchen table because our old table didn’t fit in our new kitchen.

Once the new table was in place, I finally exhaled.  It had been an expensive couple of weeks, but we’d made it through.  Our house surely couldn’t cost us that much more.

And More Ouch

For a few months, it seemed I was right.  Winter was relatively inexpensive (unless you count the blown alternator in my car and the two trips to the emergency room, one for stitches and one for a swallowed marble).

Then spring came and things started growing in our yard.  Pretty soon, our grass was two feet tall, our bushes were wilder than Einstein’s hair, and our trees were invading our neighbor’s yard.  So we bit the bullet and bought yard stuff (which, by the way, ended up being way more expensive than I thought it would be).

And the yard wasn’t the only unplanned expense draining our bank account this spring.  After burning through all our wood and oil over the winter, we had to get our chimneys cleaned.  During the cleanings, we discovered that we’d had a chimney fire during the winter.  While we thank our lucky stars that our house didn’t burn down, we wish that said stars could have also done something about the cost of chimney fire repairs.  Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly cheap.

Things Will Get Better Some Day – Though Probably Not Today

The chimney repair wasn’t all bad though: coughing up that kind of money desensitized us to the cost of replacing our broken dishwasher this last week. Compared to the chimney, the dishwasher was chump change.

And now that we have a new dishwasher, we’re in the clear.  This house of ours isn’t going to cost us another dime . . . at least until we have to buy another two cords of wood and 150 gallons of oil for this winter.

But after that, we’ll be good.  Because we’re frugal.  And I’ll bet we can navigate the second year of home ownership dropping only a few hundred on our house.

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