Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The thousand dollar question

Thank you everyone who responded to my question about how to spend $1,000. The reason I asked is because, well, I needed ideas. Dave gets regular bonuses at his current job and for the last year, we've saved that extra income or used it to pad ourselves for when we go over our regular budget. This time, though, we're going to save (and by save, I mean invest in the stock market) MOST of the bonus and then we're each getting our own little "allowance" to spend however we want.

My "allowance" is $1,000.

My first inclination was to save the money because that's just how I roll, but upon further discussion with my husband, I came to the understanding that if I go and invest the money? He'll get to spend HALF of whatever I earn on it, which basically means that I'll get HALF the return on my investment. Which is nice, right, because my husband is so FAIR and all, but still, I think I'd rather spend the money than to postpone my gratification for a lousy return.

By the way, it is nice that my husband and I share LITERALLY everything. We do our best to stick to our monthly budget, but anything, LITERALLY ANYTHING, that we want to buy or spend money on outside of our normal expenses is discussed. At length. We make completely joint decisions. The reason we've decided to give ourselves a little extra this time is that Dave's been at this job for over a year now and he could frankly USE a little fun money to spend. He works hard and it sucks for him that he never gets to buy any toys because there isn't money in the budget for them. So this is his chance. It makes working hard for extra money actually FUN, rather than just a boring way of padding the retirement account. Giving me an equal share to spend however I want was actually HIS idea.

So he's going to spend his portion on the judicious preservation of the second amendment by purchasing firearms. Hopefully this will lead to a hunting trip and a giant freezer full of meat, we'll see. Either way, he's spending the money 100% on himself.

My first inclination was to use the money to replace our center kitchen counter with a chopping block. I want one SO badly since I'm sick of all my pie crusts and pizzas having a square grid on the bottom. I really need a flat surface for all the cooking I do. So I did some research and decided on this one:
It's four-inch-thick American Black Walnut end grain and would match PERFECTLY with my dark hard wood floors. It's also thick enough that I could basically destroy the crap out of it, sand a layer of it off every year and never run out of fresh chopping block. But sadly, the size I need weighs 160 pounds and costs over $1500 NOT including shipping or installation.


Then I priced out getting a stainless steel center counter (honestly if I could remodel my kitchen I would have all stainless steel counter tops with a contiguous built in sink and a beautiful chopping block center counter. Like an industrial strength kitchen!), but YOWZA, it would cost even more than the chopping block. (I found this shocking!)

Then I started thinking that spending my share of the money on home improvements really isn't all that fair. It's not like Dave is spending his $1,000 on the landscaping he wants to get done or on upgrading the furniture in his office. Nope. He's spending the money ON HIMSELF.

What a novel concept!

Home improvements are one of things we're saving the REST of the bonus money for, so I decided I should really spend the money on ME. I loved reading all of your ideas. A lot of you had ideas worth considering.

The money came today and I STILL don't know what I'm going to do. I'm down to a few final ideas, though, so maybe you can help me choose.

1. Purchase a cheap sectional couch to replace our beat-up living room couch. Last night I punished Genoa for shoving a princess doll into the gaping hole on the side of it. The only downside is that it would definitely have to be fabric because we already have a nice leather chair and you can't match leather. And fabric + children = nastiness all over my couch which may or may not be worse than the current couch even with its lovely taped up arms.

2. Housekeeping. This is probably the idea I'm most leaning towards. I was vacuuming the floors the other day with the realization that I will never get that time back and how much BETTER my life would be if I wasn't always so concerned about the appearance of my house (and how it is either a TOTAL PIT or PERFECTLY CLEAN, depending on when I'm having guests over). Also? I haven't cleaned my own shower in so long that it could grow legs and walk out the front right now and I wouldn't bat an eyelash (no one ever sees my bathroom!).

3. A shopping spree of epic proportions. I was thinking it might be fun to call Rhiannon and ask her be my personal shopper at J. Crew. I need new boots and a new coat and it would be so fun to have my own little episode of What Not To Wear. I'm generally SO CHEAP about clothes that using the money to invest in a better wardrobe would bring me long(er)-lasting happiness. But I dunno, I can probably buy some boots and a jacket at JC Penney this month and still stay under budget.

4. Art for the house is another idea. At least one piece caught my eye when I was shopping in downtown Camas on Sunday. I also love the idea of having several of my own photographs printed onto canvas. Those run around $100 each, depending on size.

5. Part of me just wants to put the money in cash and carry it around with me (figuratively, not literally) until something catches my eye. It would fun to spend the next few months making the occasional rash purchase without worrying about the budget.

6. I could buy myself a Macbook.

7. Some combination of the above...

What do you think?


Joceline said...

I don't know what advice to give as far as the options you've listed go, but I do have advice on the countertops, should you ever decide to do something about it!

We were also shocked by the price of countertops when we redid our kitchen, and what we ended up putting in were wood countertops from Ikea. They were really cheap, they aren't as thick as the one you had pictured, but you could redo an island for under $200 probably (depending on the width). We get compliments on our countertops ALL THE TIME and we love them!

Have fun with your allowance money!

scissorbill said...

I listed my thoughts on your first post but here's my new idea: a personal chef that comes to your home with groceries and cooks meals for your fridge/freezer and leaves your kitchen spotless. I would love that!

Carrisa said...

Well I can't think of anyone better than Rhi to go shopping with. She is so much fun. I'm so excited for next weekend.

The macbook is also a good idea. But you can't do both that's for sure.

Peyton said...

I would do #3, and do the shopping spree, specially if you have someone great at shopping clothes and that would help you spend that money in great clothes for yourself....
I think the rest of the options fall more or less in the "for everyone" category, even though you want them... the shopping spree is for yourself only.

Rhiannon said...

You should obviously call Rhiannon. I mean me. And, also you should know that I NEVER pay full price.

LizP said...

Couch - not really for 'you'

House cleaning - not really for 'you' either but SO worth it!

Pie & Pizza crusts - have you thought about getting a marble board? I used to have a 2'x 2' one that I could haul out when I needed it and it slid nicely between the fridge & cabinet. They're great for pie crusts!

Shopping/art - always good choices for the 'you' aspect, especially with a friend who will act as personal shopper.

Waiting to find something that fills your mojo - a good conservative (in the accounting sense, not the conservative/liberal sense) approach

And if your husband needs a hunting buddy and a 14 tag along (who passed his hunter safety class w/100%!) let me know :-)

jonniker said...

Amanda, I'm going to try to say this gently because I like you very much:

Take the damn couch off of your list. It's not for you. A couch is not a fun present for YOU. IT IS A COUCH.

Other than that, I like all of the other ideas. The housekeeping really isn't for you either, but it is, because my God, the time it would save you to actually DO something for yourself.

But I have to say no to the couch.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Definitely the housecleaning. For the first time in our lives, we've been able to afford a housecleaner every two weeks. Even once a month would be fine. I am NOT into housecleaning and frankly, it would never get done if Tina didn't come by twice per month. She's a godsend. Love her. (Love your blog, too ... been reading for awhile but this is my first comment, I think.)

Laylabean said...

Definitely not the couch and I'm not sold on the art for the house either. Neither is completely, totally for you. I had the same decision last month with almost the same amount of money and I decided on the computer. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI.

We got a stainless steel kitchen island, perfect and gorgeous for $50 from a rest. that had just gone out of business. Keep an eye out and I bet you will find one that is closing near you and might have something you could use for super cheap.

Mandajuice said...

joceline, I priced out the IKEA counter tops as well, but their wood colors are all wrong. Too light for me. Also given the amount of abuse I plan to give it, they weren't really thick enough. Boo.

lizp, I've thought of that, but without some fancy way of automatically lifting the board out of a cabinet (my mom has a magic cabinet that lifts to reveal her Cuisinart), I would end up stacking stuff on top of a chopping block/marble slab and never use it. Gah. But YES on the hunting buddy front! Dave could really use a friend to take his butt out hunting!

jonniker, You're totally right. The couch is A COUCH. And Dave just told me we can buy one with his next bonus, early next year, so we're good on that front. (It's just DUDE OUR COUCH IS GROSS).

And thank you, anonymous, for the fab idea about looking for belly-up restaurant stuff! I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open for one!

LizP said...

marble board - this was just something that slid sideways between the fridge and cabinets. I pulled it out and put it on the counter to do stuff. When I was done it got put away. It was only about an inch thick and 2'x2'.

hunting - how does one decide about going? From what I've read they do tag lotteries earlier in the year. It seems to be one of those things where you have to be really organised way before you can actually go. In my poor brain it seems like a logistical nightmare so I just ignore it.

Beth said...

Marble will dull your knives as will granite (and stainless steel!). Wood or plastic is best. Corian is similar to plastic, and makes a good board, and can be sanded any time... it's harder than wood. When I got a Corian counter, I kept the piece cut out for the sink and used it for a cutting board. To keep it from sliding, I put it on top of one of those sort of waffle-weave rubberized placemats. I'll bet you can go to an independent counter place and get a left-over from them at a good price. There are TONS of Corian colors.

I've fantasized about a totally stainless steel kitchen for a long time. I used to work in restaurants. Sooooooooo great for clean up. But they use plastic boards for cutting on. They are inexpensive. When they are too badly scarred, just get new ones.

Anyway... I'd go for the Mac!! :-)

Erin said...

A friend of ours has stainless countertops and they're scratched all to hell and a TRIAL to keep clean. It's a cool look if you're willing to rubrubrubrubrubrub all day-- or if you have a house cleaner-- or if you never use your kitchen-- but they're honestly not very user friendly.

I vote housekeeper. A housekeeper is the only one of your options that reminds me of a spa day luxury, and that's what I was looking for. Something totally luxurious and unnecessary... the home equivalent of massages and facials.

Julie said...

If you're just worried about the squares on the bottom of your crusts, I've got a really easy solution (it worked for me - I use it every week): a non-stick rolling mat from King Arthur Flour for $34.50. It's got markings for pies from 4-14", which makes it really easy to roll out your crust to the right size. Cheaper than new countertops, probably!