Experiences instead of things

mommabirdFebruary 22, 2010

I'm in a debate with my mother. She feels we should spend our hard-earned $$ on "things" like a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, etc. Our house is fine, just 1950's style but everything works except the dishwasher, and I just do the dishes by hand.

I feel "experiences" are more important. I'd rather take my kids on a vacation than buy things. They don't care if the house is "vintage" and won't even remember it as adults. They will remember trips and vacations with their family!

What do you all think? Do you think experiences a waste of money, as my mom thinks?

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I think you are both right. To me, different people have different priorities and if someone else chooses to spend their money differently than you do, it's their privilege and right. Doesn't make them right/you wrong or you right/them wrong.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 4:53AM
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As lesterd pointed out, neither is right or wrong, BUT there is also a thing called balance in life. I bet your mother wants you to have a nice kitchen as much as you want to make sure your children travel. I'd also like to know if your husband has any input on the subject?

I DO disagree with you that your children won't care that you have a "vintage" kitchen. They'll notice they are living in a Leave It To Beaver era kitchen.

I'd also question your priorities. If you don't have enough money to replace a dishwasher, then you probably don't have enough to go on vacation. Another great lesson you can pass on to your children -- or not... Maybe a quick review of the parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper is in order.

As parents, we see our children through all kinds of learning experiences in life, which can include a new kitchen where the dishwasher works, as well as travel.

Our children learned valuable lessons helping us with do-it-yourself projects around the house (including gutting a kitchen), as they did on the day-trips, vacations and visits to zoos and museums. Those practical skills learned remodeling and working side-by-side with their parents on a large project will last them a lifetime, along with the boxes of pictures of all the trips we made.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 7:52AM
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I can't imagine being old enough to have children and still being concerned about what my mom thought about my spending priorities.

If you earn money, and pay all your bills, and save for your future, and then have money left over to spend on "wants", then you are entitled to spend it any way you choose. That is one of the benefits of being a responsible adult. You get the freedom to decide if you would like to spend your money on a fancy kitchen or extended vacation.

On the flip side, if you are spending more than you make, can't afford basic home repairs, or aren't saving for your (and your children's future), then you aren't being a responsible adult and don't deserve to be treated as such.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 10:06AM
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I believe experiences are what life is about. Doing things like travel, community groups, hobbies, church, Cub Scouts, etc. make us well rounded and better able to relate to others and, of course, happier. Some people love their work, but others work in order to have the rest of it (I'm in the latter category).

One of the great things about older stuff is that much of it can be fixed if broken or improved if desired. If someone is motivated to learn and try new things, they can experience a lot in life just by maintaining and/or improving the things they have. Doing stuff like this with the kids might also foster an interest that will turn into a job or career for them down the road.

Even replacing things can be a learning experience if one is intimately involved with the process. For example, we just got rid of an old analog T.V. and bought our first DTV. In order to get quality reception we needed an outdoor antenna installed. So I did some research online and bought one (the easy part). Then I had to decide how to install it as I have never done this before. I did some reading online about antenna aiming and mounting, looked at some You Tube videos of others doing it, and talked to my wife about location and best methods (She's not a cable girl, just has pretty good common sense). Finally, I found some suitable materials around the home and put it up. It works great and it was actually fun to do.

BTW, our kitchen counters and cabinets and electric stove and range are circa 1982 (when our home was built) and work fine. We don't plan on replacing them. I've fixed the stove elements several times over the years.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 11:28AM
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I think you need to have a combination of both. Play time is fun, but the work needs to get accomplished too.

Living in an older house without remodeling is fine if everything works and you can fix or replace what breaks and apply a new paint job here and there along with a few other cosmetic upgrades as needed. Your kids will notice that that others have newer houses, kitchens, or whatever, but as long as you treat your house with respect and keep it relatively neat and clean, it's a source of pride. If you you let it run down without fixing what needs fixing, then it's a detriment.

As a parent, you need to provide experiences for your kids, but they don't have expensive. As mentioned by another poster, an experience can be just about anything. It doesn't have to be expensive. I think an experience could be anything that teaches the kids about responsibility, family, finances, etc. A vacation could be a weekend camping out in the back yard, it doesn't have to be that once in a lifetime trip to Europe. An experience may be staying home to paint a room to save money instead of going to the movies.

In answer to your specific question, I don't think experiences are a waste of money if you are taking care of the other things that need care.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 12:36PM
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I hope your experiences are not just travel. I believe that spending time with your children is the best thing you can do for your kids. Berry picking, a walk, doing sports together, helping in the kitchen or dad's workshop, or any one of a hundred things, costs very little or nothing at all. Those things are what will be remembered by your kids. Not a new kitchen or travel per se, but the time you spent with them. The talks and laughs and just being with mom and dad with the attention focused on them.

Mind you when they are teens they want to live in a nice house that they can bring their friends to. They will also benifit from meeting people from other countries and travel.

What you have to do is what feels right for you and your husband and family. Your mother wants for you what you want for your kids--the very best, but it is not her decision.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:48AM
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I'm definetly a responsible adult - save about double what most people my age do & live drastically below our means so that we can save for college, retirement & philanthropy.

And yes, even though I'm 46, I do care what my mom says. She is far from silent on her opinions and never misses an opportunity to share her thoughts. It wears me down...

Except for the dishwasher, everything works fine. I honestly don't even miss the DW. I have realized it's no more work to do dishes in the sink than loading & unloading the DW. I'm thinking of just taking it out and having a cabinet made in its place to match the rest of the cabinets. My house is nothing for my kids to be ashamed of and no worse than their friends' homes. They invite their friends over - we live in a very "alternative" area where people take pride in their vintage 1920s to 1950s homes and preserving the character of the original structure, so lavish remodels are the exception among their friends.

And our vacations are not lavish - no trips to Bahamas, Disney or cruises. Once a year we go to Chicago to visit a friend, the rest of the time we take car trips to either state parks and camp or cities like St. Louis and stay in hotels we book cheap online.

Other experiences I spend $ on that my mom thinks is a waste are Broadway series tickets here in my city, other live theater, opera and the symphony. These are not cheap - with a family of 5 we spend several thousand dollars a year. BUT I have never felt one dollar was wasted. My husband is a behind the sceens worker in theater so he gets a preview of most local shows & we attend the "good" ones.

I recently told my mom, after you die everything is sold or given away. The only thing you can take with you is your memories. So why spend my $ on stuff that will be sold or given away, instead of what I can keep for eternity? She grudeingly agreed.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 8:04PM
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mommabird -

You really didn't want our opinions. From your last post it sounds like you wanted us to scold your mother for you and take your side of the issue. A nice passive/aggressive move on your part. You already had your mind made up and didn't require our input at all. The whole thread really has little to do with "Money Saving Tips". Next time try Dr.Phil.com.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:27AM
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I think most kids could care less about whether a house has or doesn't have a vintage look; I think it's more important that it looks clean and organized (from what you've said it sounds like it is) which gives them a sense of structure and they aren't embarrassed to have their friends over. Whether to remodel or not depends whether there are funds to do it and/or the overall condition. And if Mom is not on the mortgage she really has no say in what you do with your money. In that case she can only render her opinion and it is up to you to determine how the money is best spent.

However, perhaps the way to go is to strike a compromise by spending the bulk of the money on making memories for the kids and if the kitchen is in good shape putting a bit aside by giving it a facelift such a new coat of paint or refurbishing the countertops. This doesn't cost much and it may go along way in making both you & Mom happy and without breaking the bank. I do hope you and your Mom are able to work through this.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 2:33PM
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THS used to be a really fun group of people who hung out and exchanged ideas. I've noticed over the past 2 years it is becoming very negative and a place where people just hang out to attack others - case in point here!!! See you later - I'm out of here

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:40PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Calm down everybody! Grainlady, I do think you were uncommonly harsh here if perhaps on target. Who knows though? We all have lots of motivations and expectations when we post. And Mommabird, don't let one negative comment make you fly the coop! Chill out ...there's lots of good/interesting posts on this forum.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 7:14PM
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Apparently Grainlady was correct considering OP reaction. The OP is missing the idea that by keeping things updated and working,if and when the time comes and the children are gone the house could be easier to handle. A dishwasher that is not usable is an area to stash things. The children's friends probably don't think anything of it not working but might think it was funny if the house did not have a dishwasher. Fix or repair the dishwasher if you wish but just don't think your childrens friends have not mentioned it among themselves.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Seek balance.

Take trips while crude is still flowing,

keep up repairs while you still can.

You still have some valuable time left to prepare for what awaits you down the road.

We are in the 'Indian Summer' of a carbon based world. Don't wait until the winter sets in to start work on your preparedness efforts....Semper Paratus

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 9:15AM
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I think Mommabird's values are on target. She is saving for her kid's college, her retirement, etc. plus giving them life enriching experiences. That is vastly more important than having an updated kitchen.

Kids don't care about the style/vintage of the house as much as whether their friend's parents are welcoming and kind to them. Yes, keeping it clean helps, but that was not the issue.

I agree with Mommabird - some people on THS have gotten too critical. Let's try to say only what we would say to someone's face.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 4:51PM
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I believe expierences and "things" share a lot in common because they are both involved in our lives. help me create a new path for getting things to be expierences follow my link.
i am a design student


    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:18PM
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You are also a spammer

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:59PM
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I agree with what someone else said about needing BALANCE.

Your kids will notice and remember the 50's style kitchen - BUT that doesn't have to be a bad thing either. Growing up, we had a 50's style kitchen too. My parents couldn't afford to totally remodel it so they just enhanced it. They did all the needed repairs, bought new cabinet fronts that matched better (fronts are cheaper than entire cabinets!) and they replaced the old linoleum. They added cute accessories so that the kitchen looked like they meant for it to be 50's style - like a cute little diner.

As for vacations - I agree that vacations are very important. But you don't need to travel half way around the country (or the world!) to have a good vacation. Try seeing if your state has any interesting places to visit or even neighboring states. Day trips are fun too. The trips I remember the most were always the ones where we'd drive to the lake, grill some food, and swim. So fun, simple, and cheap.

Like I said, the key is balance. Kids will notice that their parents house is dated and that they drive older vehicles. They will think it's odd that they don't "have" things like most other kids, yet they go on vacations that they seemingly can't afford. Kids don't understand money or finances like adults do. And like someone else said, you also need to think of what you are teaching your kids about money. Are you teaching them that, even though you seemingly can't afford to spend money on a new, working dishwasher, it's okay to spend money on a vacation that you don't really need? Or are you teaching them that since you had to buy a new, inexpensive dishwasher you can't go on an expensive vacation but you can take a day trip to such-and-such and have fun that way instead? Remember that children learn most of their financial ideals and ways of life from their parents - not from school or friends.

And like others said, no one is right or wrong. It's all about balance! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 12:20PM
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Since many Americans consider their home to be their largest investment it's a very good idea to not treat it as a throw away commodity. I don't think it matters if you have a 1950s kitchen or a 1920s kitchen or a 2010 kitchen. But it does matter if the roof is missing shingles, the patio is cracked with weeds growing through, the ceiling water stain coming from the upstairs bathroom area keeps getting larger, and/or there is accumulation of dirt on the windowsills after a brisk wind. Those are maintenance items and should, of course, be taken care of before vacations. The lack of a modern dishwasher diminishes whatever value you have in your home & will be used against you should you ever find yourself wanting/needing to sell (especially for the foreseeable future in this economy). As a long time construction lender I can tell you that, on average, a house more than 20 years old will require at least 1-2% of its market value each year in overall maintenance. So, if you've got a lot of deferred maintenance then, yes, you should get busy on the house first before vacations. For instance, we needed a new roof six years ago. We have a small house (1,250 s.f.). In our area, the cost to tear off the existing roof, replace plywood, upgrade the waterproofing, and 40-year architectural shingles - $14,700. Have you been setting aside your annual maintenance funds so you'll not faint when your home requires a serious repair? The days of "easy money" to finance such repairs are over for a good long time (thank goodness).

The kids may, or may not, remember trips when they are adults. Ours don't remember half & each child has different memories of the same vacations. They each do remember time we spent together as a family doing stuff like boating, fishing, gardening, swimming, , etc. IMO, taking kids under the age of about 12 on expensive vacations is a photo op for the parents more than a life experience for the kids. They often just don't remember when they're grown that trip that cost you a month's salary.

The others are right...balance. It's probably past time to sit Mom down & have a little talk. Handling relationships is part of being a responsible adult. Show Mom you are capable by lovingly putting a stop to her meddling.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 4:13PM
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Not having a dishwasher can devalue a house. You may not be looking to sell anytime soon, but certainly will at some point in the future. Personally, I think replacing the dishwasher with a cabinet is a bad idea. If I were shopping for a home and found one that did not have a dishwasher, but had everything else that I wanted, I would lower my offer by several thousand dollars to cover the expense of having one installed. Obviously it does not cost that much to have one installed, but without being the homeowner yet, I would not know what kinds of things I may run into when I get ready to do it. Also, it would be a big aggravation for me and would be something I would have to pay for out of my savings in addition to the new mortgage and closing costs expenses. I would probably lower my offer by up to $5,000 on the home.

However, if you replace the dishwasher now, it does not have to be new. Keep an eye out on Craigslist for one and get your home repairs done.

I agree with what others have said ... it's all about balance in life. Your kids will not remember a LOT of your vacations. Also, they do know & care about their house and will remember it. We did not have much money growing up & I certainly remember that our house was not as nice. However, it was good enough and my mom did great with what we had. But also, I remember my friend on my block whose house was embarassing enough to her that she did not like to have us over. She never said so to us, but we knew that's what it was. Her parents did not know she felt that way & probably thought she didn't care about it.

The most important thing, I think is a home that is neat, tidy, organized, and clean can overcome the fact that it doesn't have the latest granite counters & stainless appliances. But what you do have should be clean & in good repair. No fingerprint smudges on the light switches & cabinet doors. No chips or worn places in the cabinets, or paint scuffs on the walls, etc, etc. (appliances that work). If things are dreary, they could look 100% different with a coat of paint or a new gel stain. Check out the kitchens forum on gardenweb for more ideas than you would even know what to do with. Some people are doing beautiful kitchen remodels for $50,000-100,000. And some are doing beautiful kitchen updates for under $1,000. The pictures and the differences in these kitchens are Amazing !!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 7:14AM
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