A testimony from Julie from The Family CEO
When we bought our house 13 years ago, one of the things we liked best about it was the patio off the dining room. We loved the shape of the patio, the curved steps leading down to it, and the fact that it allowed us to enjoy our private back yard with a tree line running the length of it.
Fast forward ten years or so, and that same patio was shifting and settling and becoming less and less enjoyable, even a little bit dangerous.
We nursed the patio through another summer or two because we wanted to pay for the improvements in cash. Eventually we had the money to tear out the old patio and put in a new one without using any debt. We kept the same shape of the patio and the curved steps we loved. But we made it larger and including a seating wall and some outdoor lighting.
Now we’re enjoying not only the new patio, but the satisfaction of knowing that it was paid for in cash.
Here’s what helped us pull it off:
1. We’ve paid off a lot of debt.
Getting rid of a couple of car payments, some credit card balances, and a home equity loan in the last five years or so has meant that more of our cash flow each month is ours to keep. In the time leading up to the new patio construction, we were able to add to our savings most months and also set aside a bonus or two, which would have normally been applied to debt.
2. We delayed gratification.
We weren’t able to replace the patio at the first sign of an unsettled brick. We had to live through a few years of settling and even some exposed rebar before we felt ready to take on the expense of replacement.
3. We scaled back our expectations.
Our original plan was to build a deck off the kitchen that wrapped around the house and met up with the new patio off the dining room. We got several bids on that and realized that the cost of doing that – along with an easement complication – meant that plan wasn’t in the cards.
We adjusted our plan to include only the new patio off the dining room, with some terraced steps leading down to the lower part of the yard. It’s not quite what we had envisioned, but it’s still a lovely space. And we may someday do the deck in a scaled back “phase 2”.
Julie is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in personal finance and lifestyle topics. She blogs at The Family CEO.
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