Hello, Mad Money Monster readers! Since we’re halfway through summer, I’m going to give you guys an update on what we’ve been up to. Here in PA, we’re battling some pretty hot and humid weather, but that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying a frugal DIY summer and crossing some extra annoying stuff off of our to-do list. I am always aghast at the length of our list and how it truly is never-ending. Mr. MMM and I have relegated ourselves to the idea that we will never be fully done with our household tasks – ahh the joys of home ownership.
Our current summer list was sporting tasks such as power wash the house, blow away the accumulated leaves and dried grass in various crevices around our property, and figure out a way to groom our cat without sending him to the spa at 70 bucks a pop. Eek! I am proud to announce that we can now say check, check, and check to all above tasks! And we did it with frugality at the forefront.
Cleaning Those Gutters
I tend to save the really annoying and labor intensive jobs for the hottest days of the year. Ridiculous yet true. Like the one year I decided to paint the entire garage (ceiling included) on a staycation week in July. Yeah. Not my finest decision. THIS is one of THOSE stories.
Last week afforded me 4 days off from the office, so Mr. MMM and I decided to tackle some chores on our list.
First up was the gray discoloration that had built up on the gutters over the last 7 years. Yes, I am embarrassed to say that I have never cleaned the outside of my gutters the entire time I have owned the house. Oops.
I really had no idea how to handle it and I probably didn’t go about it in the most efficient manner, but that aside, I still got it done.
After much delay and confusion, I started by doing ultra-scientific research on YouTube on how to clean gutters. I found a video talking about a product that you spray on and just wipe off. The results on the video were unbelievable! To my delight, our local home improvement store had said product for just $6/bottle. I snatched one up and headed home to try my hand at gutter cleaner for the day. Low and behold, said product worked just as advertised on the Information Superhighway! I spent the next few hours in the blazing, hot sun going up and down a ladder spraying and wiping and spraying and wiping some more.
Finally, after two strenuous days of this, my task was complete. Gutters clean and lookin’ good! It’s almost as if someone installed new ones when I wasn’t looking. #frugalwin
Dirty Vinyl Siding vs. The Power Washer
After beautifying our gutters, the next task at hand was power washing. I became increasingly disgusted by the state of our siding as I was taking care of gutter business. After all, I got to see just how filthy our siding was up close and personal.
I purchased the home new (before I even knew Mr. MMM existed!) in 2010 as a spec house. Obviously, it came with tons of stuff the builder speculated a new home buyer would desire, therefore, I didn’t have the luxury of choosing every nitty-gritty material or finish that made its way into the home. Needless to say, I would not have chosen to wrap the entire home in tan vinyl siding. Oh well. What’s done is done.
Initially, we had settled on hiring a professional to power wash our house, since we don’t actually own a power washer. But then our frugal senses kicked in. Damn you, frugality. Just kidding 😉
The last time I did a little power washing was a few years ago on the side of the house that was easily reachable. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a power washer at that time to complete my task. Unfortunately, this time, the entire house needed cleaned and we were not able to borrow a power washer. Well, truth be told, I’m sure we could’ve found someone to loan us one, but we hate doing that for something we will need to continuously use throughout our lives.
That said, we bit the bullet and purchased one. We opted for a less expensive, yet still effective electric power washer. It has more than enough power (2,000 PSI – for anyone who is interested) and we don’t have to worry about gas or oil or winterizing. You know, all the extras that minimalists try to avoid. And we’re super happy with our purchase.
When we arrived home with our newly purchased treasure, we acted like two kids on Christmas morning, tearing into the box and putting everything together. I must say, as much as I was dreading the task, there was something eerily satisfying about power washing. Who’s with me?
Once you start, it’s hard to stop before the job is done. We had only planned on doing a small section to see how this little gem would work, but we kept going, and going, and going, until the entire front of our house was amazingly clean. Later that night we walked out to admire the our handy work from the weekend. It is beautiful, I tell you. Just beautiful. The house looks like the day I moved in – only better – since it now has our personal stamp on it.
After spending our holiday weekend working our little butts off, we definitely understand the people in the RENT camp! In fact, I even joked to Mr. MMM at one point that we should just sell it all and rent an apartment!
Leaf Blowin’ Away
The last home improvement item we needed to make our home complete was a leaf blower. It sounds like one would be able to go without one of these tools and still have a nice home. And I think that’s probably true if you’re not surrounded by trees and you’re willing to sweep your sidewalk, patio, porch, and driveway.
Thankfully we’re surrounded by evergreens, but that doesn’t stop our hard surfaces from needing swept after mowing and general use. For years I had been sweeping until my arms nearly fell off. But there is really only so much sweeping one can do before the mere thought of grass-mowing season sends a shiver up your spine. I had reached that threshold and, after much debate, decided it was time to invest in a leaf blower.
Again, we purchased electric because we really value plug and play tools. As soon as the power washing was complete, we broke out the leaf blower and got all the little corners and crevices that needed tending. Hooray, for a productive holiday weekend!
But wait, there’s still more! Surely this post wouldn’t be complete without devoting a paragraph or two to the painstaking task of scrubbing our grout. Last year when we did our renovation instead of up-sizing our home, we decided on installing porcelain tile throughout the entirety of our main floor – 1300SF to be exact. And I must say, we absolutely LOVE it. I also must say that I grossly underestimated the amount of physical work it was going to require to keep our floors looking like they belong in a model home.
Granted, I do indeed mop and wipe up (by hand) each and every tile in our house every week. What a chore! I thought tile would be so much easier to keep clean than the nasty carpet we had removed. Let me tell you, I was wrong. And unfortunately, the dirt is much more visible than it was with our carpet.
I had the slap-in-the-face realization the other week that our grout was absolutely NOT the color it was when it was installed last October. In fact, it was quite a few shades darker than the light gray that had adorned our floors upon initial install. What to do? Scrub, I tell you. Scrub. I was down on my hands and knees for HOURS in order to get our grout back to perfect. Nothing a little (actually, a lot) baking soda and a scrub brush can’t fix! It was backbreaking work, but look at those results!
Grooming Mad Money Cat
One. More. Chore. Finally, we reach the most exciting frugal DIY summer task (that we will use all year ’round) of them all. We have successfully groomed our Mad Money Cat with reasonably-priced clippers.
In light of being open, we coexist with 2 Mad Money Cats. The one in most of our posts is not the one that needed the grooming set – she is, obviously, too awesome for that. The pussy cat that needed the grooming kit is our Maine Coon kitty. His hair is a bit wire-y and out of control, as you can see in this pic. We had been taking him to our local pet groomer to the tune of $70/trip. Yikes. After doing this a few times, we decided to explore a more frugal DIY option that can be sustainable over the course of his (potential) 20-year* life span.
First, I did a little research and found a “quiet” clipper set with great reviews. Cost: $27! I jumped at the price and within 48 hours the package was on our doorstep.
I heard from the pet spa that our little guy, and I use that term loosely, was a pleasure to groom. This gave me hope. Despite purchasing the quiet clipper set, I still wanted to take baby steps as to not scare him immediately and ruin the whole idea. So I started turning the clippers on and off randomly when he was within earshot. Eventually, I started handing him some treats while I had it on. Then I turned it on, put it on the floor, and put some cat treats right next to it. Wouldn’t ya know it, he went right up to it to get his treats – while it was buzzing away! After doing this a few times, I started giving him treats while I was stroking his back with it. Time invested in the habituation process: <1 day.
And I will tell you, he lied perfectly still as I shaved a few mats off of his back legs. In fact, he even allowed me to position him so I could more easily reach the troubled areas. Out of all of our frugal wins this summer, this is by far our most accomplished.