YNAB BLOG

Budgeting Lessons Learned from My Six-year-old Paper Blinds

Paper blinds with real staying power.

Paper blinds with real staying power.

Question: How long will a set of temporary paper blinds (the kind you first put up in a new home before you install the permanent window coverings) last?

Answer: At least six years. I’ll let you know when they fall down or disintegrate, but they appear to be going strong.

Sometimes YNAB slows consumption, which is great. Other times – at the right time – YNAB creates consumption.

In the case of the paper blinds hanging in my bedroom (that happen to be about a year older than my almost-kindergartner), a budget would have long ago given us permission to replace them.

Instead, we’ve had this conversation a couple dozen times as we’re headed to bed:

Kate: Do we have the money to get some permanent window coverings in here?

Mark: I don’t know – probably? How much do they cost?

Kate: They’re pretty expensive. $800 – maybe more.

Mark: Well, do what you have to do. That’s a pretty good chunk of cash – wouldn’t hurt to wait a while.

So, we waited a while.

And while we waited, $800 passed through our hands many times. But it never bought permanent window coverings.

All because we chose not to live Rules 1 and 2.

I don’t know about you, but purchases in the $200 to $1,000 range always trip me and Kate up. They seem too big to just run out and buy, but too small to save up for. So they get pushed off until we finally give up and just buy them. Or, in the case of the Longest Living Paper blinds, we stand our ground. Neither makes sense.

We’ve seen the light now, of course. I have a category called Home Repairs & Improvement under the master category of Rainy Day Funds. It’ll grow $50 at a time, and eventually we’ll have however much money we need to buy permanent window coverings.

Even better than having the money, we’ll have given ourselves permission to make the purchase.

That’s the freedom that comes from giving every dollar a job and saving for a rainy day.

25 Responses to “Budgeting Lessons Learned from My Six-year-old Paper Blinds”

  1. Tawnia

    I’ll tell you they last at least 10 . . . We bought them for the basement of our townhouse we lived in for 3 years, that we sold 7 years ago. Last time I drive by they were still there lol. But I agree with budgeting it – we call them sinking funds and they changed our lives!!!!

    • mark

      I sincerely hope ours don’t reach their 10th birthday!

  2. Debt RoundUp

    I feel ya on this one Mark. We tend to not pull the trigger on purchases like this, but never put them into a category in the budget, so they never get fulfilled. This is something that I have been working on changing because we have some things that need to be upgraded.

    • mark

      Yep – it’s all about making your wants/needs official by putting them in the budget.

    • mark

      That’s the problem – they might hang in there forever! Which makes for very annoyed wife. :)

  3. Mr. 1500

    Funny; I’ve used these things too! I thought I was the only one.

    • mark

      Apparently it’s more common than either of us thought. Maybe it’s just us PF bloggers…

  4. Susan

    Yes! One of the biggest thing budgeting taught us is that my husband overspends the home maintenance category like most people make entertainment or eating out category. Our biggest savings trick has been to simply create more days in between projects. And by delaying, we’re saving. A lot.

    • mark

      Your husband overspends in the home maintenance category? I think my wife would like your husband.

      That didn’t sound right.

    • Angela

      Susan – this is us as well! We find the delay tactic really helps.

  5. Ann

    We recently created a category called “Backlog” of things we’ve been meaning to do, but don’t come out of the normal expenses, and have been put on hold due to never seeming to have enough or wanting to spend on that kind of thing. It includes, new handles for kitchen cabinets ($100), painting the bathroom ($200), getting the dog’s teeth cleaned ($800) and a few other things. The plan is to prioritize the list and put some into the category every month (we are on a variable income, so the amount will vary) and as we accumulate enough for the most important, we’ll do that, then continue down the list. We are only just starting our 3rd month on YNAB and it has made a huge difference already.

    • mark

      That’s a great approach. Gotta love the flexibility of YNAB.

      ($800 to get a dog’s teeth cleaned??)

      • Ann

        No kidding. She’s old, so it requires a lot of pre-cleaning lab work. So we have to live with bad dog breath for a while.

  6. Bronwyn Brown

    The $200-$1000 range is an interesting range of expenditures. I think we tend to do the same thing about them! Thanks for the food for thought!

    • mark

      My (new) policy is if it’s less than $100, it can be spent out of my catch-call category called “Household Needs.” If it’s over $100, I’ll give it its own category and save up for it, YNAB style.

  7. Mmmkay

    I didn’t know those existed. If I did, I might not have an old bedspread tacked up over my side-facing bedroom window…

  8. Aimee

    I started budgeting to buy a house 3 months ago and already we’re buying the house and buying furniture (and new black out curtains). 3 years ago I couldn’t have done that. Thank you YNAB.

  9. My Money Design

    Wow, six years! Your wife must be really understanding :)

    We usually put aside a “special projects list” and budget each year where we attack small but wanted home improvements like this around the house. I figure as long as we are going to live in our house, we should make it special.

  10. The Frugal Path (@Thefrugalpath)

    We had a paper blind in our kitchen for about five years. We ended up buying a $9.00 Roman shade so that my wife could open the shades easier.
    You’re right though. We’ve got choices to make. Do we buy something that makes other people think you have money or do we actually have money and not care what other people think?

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