Carpet the Color of Money

Long time readers may remember that back in 2009 and 2010, my sister, my mom and I wrote a blog about frugal living.

That was a different time for me.

Bart and I were both working full-time and we were working like dogs to pay off our student loans before Ella was born. We lived entirely on Bart’s salary and every dime I made went those loans.

Neither of us made a ton of money and living in Boston was expensive, and so we spent basically nothing extra that year. Virtually the only time we ate out that year was when we were traveling for Bart’s job and he had a food allowance.

My mom bought me a few maternity items and every other pregnancy item I wore was borrowed from friends.

Someone from church offered us their baby clothing hand-me-downs and we gratefully accepted it and didn’t buy a single piece of clothing for Ella until she was three months old (and then I bought something off the clearance rack at Old Navy with a coupon).

I distinctly remember one evening that Bart went back to the grocery store to have our receipt adjusted because they’d messed up the coupon deal and charged us an extra $7.

The three years that followed in Austin were also times where we were pretty tight. It was quite a bit less expensive to live in Texas, but now only Bart was working (I was making all of about $50 a month on my blog), and we also had a baby.

Plus, we knew an MBA was probably ahead, so we felt like it was only a matter of time before we dove back into no income for Bart and giant student loans.

I felt like basically anything I could do to save money was worth it, even if it took me an hour of phone calls to save five dollars.

Frankly, the two years of the MBA were probably our largest living years of our life – we lived in the nicest, biggest houses we ever had (thank you, cheap North Carolina rent), and we traveled like crazy because we knew we’d never have so much free time again. We were still pretty careful with our money, but we weren’t in the “don’t spend a single cent more than necessary.” And we were to the point in our life where sometimes saving money wasn’t worth the time it took – with my work and three little children, sometimes time was more precious than dollars.

In the two months between the MBA finishing up and Bart beginning his new job, we spent a lot of time talking about our financial future.

It’s fairly common for MBA students to start living high as soon as they graduate and are making some decent money again. They pay the minimum on their student loans and spend a lot.

We definitely didn’t want to do that – we wanted to pay off our student loans as quickly as possible and continue to live on my income and use Bart’s salary to pay off our loans, make progress on our mortgage, and make up for the two years when we hadn’t saved money at all.

Then, we moved into our new house.

And it is a great house, with a ton of space and lots of possibilities.

But it’s a ten year old house, and it has had previous owners with taste quite different from our own, and suddenly, it seemed like we probably ought to replace the green carpet that covers 75% of the house as soon as possible.

And if we were replacing the carpet, it made sense to repaint first (particularly the orange of our master bedroom, the eye-wateringly bright mint of Ani’s room and the strange blue stripes in Ella’s room). And if we were repainting, that was probably the time to get the semi-weird stone installations pulled out and new bookshelves built in.

Also, the kitchen island is granite, but the other counters are a non-matching laminate.

Within a week, we had a to-do list that was easily topping $30k. For a house that was basically already in good shape.

And we hadn’t even talked about the backyard.

On Friday night, after the girls went to bed, Bart and I sat down and had a serious talk about our financial priorities again.

We decided to put any major house projects on hold for at least a year. We’d DIY a few things if we were so inclined, spend some time figuring out exactly what we wanted to do with the house, and focus on our other financial goals.

To some extent, we’re going back to our “keep non-essential spending to a minimum” ways. Frugality has always been a pretty fundamental tenet of our marriage and our family, and neither of us feels comfortable abandoning that. We both hated the idea that we’d both finally be making money and have little to show for it in a year except some newly painted walls and some nicer carpet.

Later, when we hanging up some things in my office, I told Bart, “I already love this carpet more. Now I look at it and instead of thinking, ‘this is quite ugly,’ I think ‘this carpet is the color of the money we’re saving.'”

Then Star spit up all over the carpet and we thought, “Aren’t we glad this isn’t brand-new, expensive carpet?”

Sometimes, there’s nothing that feels better than being frugal. Even if that means having an orange bedroom.

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  • Reply Steve Finnell August 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

    The prevailing thought of many is that since the Bible was not canonized until sometime between 300 and 400 A.D. that the church of Christ did not have New Covenant Scriptures as their guide for faith and practice. That is simply factually incorrect.

    The Lord's church of the first 400 years did not rely on the man-made traditions of men for New Testament guidance.

    Jesus gave the terms for pardon 33 A.D. after His death and resurrecting. (Mark 16:16) All the words of Jesus were Scripture.Jesus did not have to wait for canonization of the New Testament in order for His word to be authorized.

    The terms for pardon were repeated by the apostle Peter 33 A.D. on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:22-42) The teachings of the apostles were Scripture. The words of the apostles were Scripture before they were canonized.

    The apostle Peter said the apostle Paul's words were Scripture. (2 Peter 3:15-16…just as also our beloved brother Paul , according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand,which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures…

    The apostle Paul's letters and words were Scriptures when he wrote and spoke them. Paul did not have to wait for canonization to authorize his doctrine.

    John 14:25-26 'These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all that I said to you.

    The words and writings of the apostles were Scripture and they did not have to wait for canonization to be deemed authoritative. The apostle did not use man-made creed books of the church or man-made oral traditions to teach the gospel of the New Covenant.

    Did the early church have written New testament Scriptures? Yes, and they were shared among the different congregations. (Colossians 4:16 When the letter is read among you, have it read in the church of the Laodiceans and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodica.) Paul's letters were Scripture and they were read in different churches.

    They were New Testament Scriptures long before they were canonized.


    Matthew A.D. 70
    Mark A.D. 55
    Luke between A.D. 59 and 63
    John A.D. 85
    Acts A.D. 63
    Romans A.D. 57
    1 Corinthians A.D. 55
    2 Corinthians A.D. 55
    Galatians A.D. 50
    Ephesians A.D. 60
    Philippians A.D. 61
    Colossians A. D. 60
    1 Thessalonians A.D. 51
    2 Thessalonians A.D. 51 or 52
    1 Timothy A.D. 64
    2 Timothy A.D. 66
    Titus A.D. 64
    Philemon A.D. 64
    Hebrews A.D. 70
    James A.D. 50
    1 Peter A.D. 64
    2 Peter A.D. 66
    1 John A.D. 90
    2 John A.d. 90
    3 John A.D. 90
    Jude A.D. 65
    Revelation A.D. 95

    All 27 books of the New Testament were Scripture when they were written. They did not have wait until they were canonized before they became God's word to mankind.

    Jesus told the eleven disciples make disciples and teach them all that He commanded. (Matthew 28:16-19) That was A.D. 33, They were teaching New Covenant Scripture from A.D. 33 forward. The apostles did not wait to preach the gospel until canonization occurred 300 to 400 years later.



    AS A MATTER OF FACT! When God said "Let Us make man in Our image, (Genesis 1:27) it was God's Word. God's creation of man was true before it was canonized 4450 years later. The book of Genesis was Scripture the moment it was written. Man-Made oral tradition was not, nor will it ever be Scripture.


    Posted by Steve Finnell at 2:37 PM 1 comment:
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  • Reply Fleurthefearless August 3, 2015 at 11:06 am

    I just love this post… And needed it!! You are such an inspiration.

  • Reply Paige Flamm August 3, 2015 at 11:33 am

    This is totally what Derek and I have been doing for the last year! And although our house is super old, sometimes smelly, and things break frequently, I keep telling myself the fact that we can pay off our debt, and Kinsley's medical bills is so incredibly worth it, which it is. And my heart hurts a little for you guys for how much work its going to be to take out all that stone!

  • Reply Kristin @ Going Country August 3, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Ugh, the monkey on your back that is student loans. I still wish we had paid more of my husband's loans off after law school when he had a really good-paying job and we had no children. Although I also appreciate having things like drinkable water in my home and an electrical system that is slightly less likely to burn the house down.

    Never, ever, ever move into an old house if you want to save money. The list of things to spend money on is never ending and a lot of it isn't really optional like carpeting. It's more things like floors that are about to literally buckle and send us all into the cellar. It's nice my children are the seventh generation of family to live here, but I hope they appreciate that enough to know why we don't have any money to go on vacations . . .

  • Reply Michelle August 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! We are exactly the same. My husband finished his grad work last year and we moved into a new (old) house and went through exactly the same thing. Some of the things that we initially thought we'd change turned out to be just fine! And with 3 kids, we are also glad we held off on replacing carpet. Plus we're halfway through paying off student loans, which feels way better than new kitchen counter tops. Congratulations! It looks like a great house.

  • Reply Amy Johnson August 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Oh I hear you! We bought a home last year (and it is sixty years old, so ten sounds quite new!), and there are SO MANY things we want to do to it. The most pressing (and expensive) is the roof, and so it feels like we're putting a lot of other things on hold until we can get that taken care of.

    (And maybe it looks different in real life, but I don't mind the color of your carpet one bit!)

  • Reply Michelle August 3, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Paying off loans is exactly what we're doing! Between my Master's program which was $35,000 and my husband's which is $25,000 we've had our fair share of loans. I graduated in May and my husband graduates next May, and we should have them paid off in April! Like you we live off my husband's income and everything I earn goes to loans. (He even pays my taxes, tithing and health insurance from his pay check). We don't go to movies or out to eat and our apartment is ugly, but it's only $450 a month. Occasionally people think we're crazy but it will be so with it to be debt free!

  • Reply Kelsey Clark August 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for such an honest, real post! My husband and I bought a house a year ago, and we have done very little to our early 1960s ranch style home (even though I want to do about 100 things). It's hard not to compare your home to others and to not want a perfect-to-you house. However, being financially responsible is so important. Plus, it'll be so exciting once you've waited for it!

  • Reply Kelsey Clark August 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for such an honest, real post! My husband and I bought a house a year ago, and we have done very little to our early 1960s ranch style home (even though I want to do about 100 things). It's hard not to compare your home to others and to not want a perfect-to-you house. However, being financially responsible is so important. Plus, it'll be so exciting once you've waited for it!

  • Reply Kelsey Clark August 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for such an honest, real post! My husband and I bought a house a year ago, and we have done very little to our early 1960s ranch style home (even though I want to do about 100 things). It's hard not to compare your home to others and to not want a perfect-to-you house. However, being financially responsible is so important. Plus, it'll be so exciting once you've waited for it!

  • Reply Grace Haynes August 3, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I love this post and found it very encouraging. Thank you!

  • Reply Lady Susan August 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Ahh. I miss that frugal blog! And really, it is sort of pointless to have really nice things when you have young kids. And I say that as a person who only has two, rather well-behaved kids. Save the money now, pay off the loans, and then invest in some nice carpet when you don't have to worry about someone spitting up on it.

  • Reply Stevie Storck August 3, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    LOVE THIS POST. As an interior designer and blogger, I feel pressure (aka put pressure on myself) to have a beautiful, magazine worthy home. By purchasing a foreclosed property, my husband and I were able to make our dreams of homeownership come true just a few weeks after we turned 24! We have just started reading Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" and I want to take the opportunity we have now to really get ahead with our financial goals for the future. But then I also want to upgrade to a king size bed (we currently sleep in a full), and get a new floor for the downstairs bathroom, and buy new chairs for our hand me down (but admittedly very cool!) dining table… I'm a self proclaimed DIY queen, but even with my thrifty ways, these things all cost money. I'm in the stage where I'm trying to find a balance between the two, but I know I should be prioritizing saving and paying off student loans first. Thanks for being so honest and sharing this post!

  • Reply Linda August 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    We have cheapo "this house used to be a rental" carpet, and it kind of drives us crazy, but I plan on waiting until the kids are potty trained to replace most of it. 🙂

  • Reply Lauren and Joe O'Brien August 3, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Your house is beautiful! I am a spender, but I am married to a big time saver so I appreciate your frugality. It is nice to save before you have to (out of choice) instead of spending all your money/getting into debt then having to eat beans and rice because there is no money in the bank. Back when we were both working, we saved my salary in anticipation of having children and lived in a tiny 2 bed house and were super frugal but I love looking back on those days!!

  • Reply Dee August 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    The house is beautiful. Congrats on having earned it, after all that hard work. Just enjoy and don't worry too much about making it perfect. I know it's easier said than done 🙂

  • Reply Kate Unger August 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Over time you stop noticing stuff like that. It just becomes the back drop of your life. I think you'll find that it bothers you less and less over time.

  • Reply brit August 3, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    This is a refreshing perspective to see in the blog world. We just moved into a new/old house and have been making similar decisions. I like home improvement but when you balance that with other areas of life satisfaction, it does not always come up on top. When we are making a financial decision, we often ask ourselves if the new carpet (or whatever) will be better/more satisfying than a fun family trip. If we would prefer the trip, we usually live with the old "carpet" for a while.

  • Reply Laura August 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Love this post. Thank you!

  • Reply Brie August 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I echo what most everyone else has already said: great post and so refreshing in this blogging (and instagram!) world. My husband and I are both very frugal too, and do not live above our means. We just bought a new house, in a new city, back in the spring, and while it's only 4.5 years old, aesthetically speaking, there are things we want to change. But change equals money and at the end of the day, some of the builder beige walls aren't going to kill me and we don't have to paint the whole house in one go. So, I totally know where you're coming from, and appreciate your honesty! And your home, despite the orange walls (haha!) looks lovely!

  • Reply Yessel Arevalo August 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    it's a beautiful home even with green carpets and orange walls. being frugal and paying off your debt is a wise choice and it's nice to see the good side of things and remain content. After all, not a lot of people are able to enjoy the luxury of owning a home. 🙂

  • Reply Operation Pink Herring August 3, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Well, you've managed to make an orange bedroom and green carpet look quite nice, so well done 🙂 I'm with you, though. I HATE the carpet in this house (cream-colored that shows every speck of dirt) and it was in rough shape when we moved in (think neon pink and green stains throughout the kids' rooms), but it just makes no sense to replace it with small kids and a cat who is prone to peeing on carpet and clawing up the stairs. Now, every time the kids grind play-doh into the carpet or have a potty accident I think, well at least it's not nice new carpet.

  • Reply Zandria August 3, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    You are doing this exactly right. I especially liked when you said, "We both hated the idea that we'd both finally be making money and have little to show for it in a year except some newly painted walls and some nicer carpet." There are SO many people who don't think that way, to the detriment of their bank account (and debt level).

    As for your husband going back to the store to save $7, I think that amount is totally worth it! Maybe not for a few dollars, but definitely for $7. My husband purchased a few bottles of steak seasoning last month to take on a camping trip, ended up not using them, so I took them back to the grocery store and got a refund — the total was about $5.50. I don't use prepared steak seasoning so I knew they'd go to waste otherwise.

    I just wrote a few days ago about my minimalist lifestyle, and how that ties into my mindset of frugality, with an ultimate goal of financial independence:

  • Reply Feisty Harriet August 3, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    I am soooooo over the warm Arizona paint colors. Uuuuugh. GIVE ME WHITE OR GIVE ME GRAY!


  • Reply Thais August 4, 2015 at 4:24 am

    This post made me so anxious. We're going to owe a ridiculous amount of money when I graduate NYU and while I love my degree and program and NYU I'm left feeling like this was in the end a really, really dumb financial move. We have had two babies (both girls) while I've been doing this graduate degree and I'm finally graduating next year. NY is even more expensive than Boston and I have no idea what to do when I graduate. My heart wants to stay in NYC forever, but my brain cells are screaming at me to move back to TX so we can hack away at these loans instead of me working full time simply to pay minimal on loans and for a nanny.

  • Reply Laura {a spoonful of joy} August 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I loved your frugal living blog!! 🙂
    Regardless of our financial situation at the time, I'm never one to spend more than I have to!
    Our home is a work in progress as well (even now, 4 years & 3 kids later!) but I like to have the perspective that the longer it takes for us to accomplish major decor projects, the longer I get to daydream about all the possibilities!

  • Reply This Confetti Life August 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH! The carpet in my bedroom is cobalt blue! I can't even begin to fathom what the previous owners were thinking. It would be expensive to replace so I've learned to live with it and, truth is, I barely notice it anymore.

  • Reply Allie @ Everyday Adventures August 5, 2015 at 1:30 am

    Hey, there are worse shades of orange for a bedroom to be! And I think (provided it's still in good shape) the carpet ain't half bad either. But I love love love the stone arches in your hallway! We just paid off my student loans in December, and for the first time in our married life we both have full-time jobs (husband was in grad school for the first few years), but sometimes it's still hard to do our budget and not get to go buck-wild with all the things we want to do. But it's worth it just to be on the same page and know we've got savings goals for the future.

  • Reply Lena August 5, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I found your frugal blog last year sitting at an airport and real all posts while waiting for my next flight!
    I'm also very frugal and we have jut bought a house. Unfortunately we have more to do than paint and get new carpets 😉 I hope though that we won't have to spend more that we planned (and I also hope that the house doesn't collapse when we take down two walls next week 😂) but I'm also very excited about this project as we will live VERY close to family (my parents live across the street ;))

  • Reply Jodi August 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    That looks like a super nice house! But green, what a weird carpet choice. This is exactly why for our first house we wanted something that was completely updated (since we were looking where the houses were 50 years old) since right now we did not have the money, time, or skills to do anything major. BUT, even still, yard projects, maintenance, and new furniture/decor has been so much work and money for me!

  • Reply Lauren August 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I love this! We bought a former rental that pretty much hadn't been touched in a decade. Way, way worse off than yours. The first week we ripped out carpet (lets just say lots of pets…), installed new flooring, and painted. And that's pretty much it – and we've been here a year. It's so smart to wait for the zillions of other projects though. We knew we'd have to gut our 35 year old kitchen at some point, but now that we will soon be in a place financially to do so, I feel so much more confident in knowing how I use it and what I need. I'm sure you'll feel the same benefits (in addition to the financial ones) when the time comes for you to make house decisions. As always, good things to think about.

  • Reply Holly Hoffman Spears August 8, 2015 at 4:41 am

    In the pictures, the carpet does not look green. I was expecting like 1991 hunter green. 🙂 The house looks super nice. And I actually really dig the rock work. 🙂

  • Reply melissa @ 1lbr August 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Ah, I loathe being in debt and feeling like every penny goes to the loans. But, it is satisfying to save and be free from debt too. Also, I swear I've never seen so many strange colored walls as I do here in Arizona 🙂

  • Reply jennie August 21, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Love this!

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