What Have I Been Up To? (Winter 2022 Edition)

It’s no secret that I’ve been posting a lot less frequently this winter.  I’ve been way too busy and way too exhausted to find any time to write.  It’s a darn shame, because I really enjoy writing about personal finance and investing!

Unfortunately I just have way too many “high value” projects that are getting in the way of blogging right now.  Projects that are absolutely worth putting my time into from a financial ($$) perspective.  These are projects that are worth thousands of dollars to me to DIY them myself.  If I tried to hire a handyman or contractor to do these jobs, they’d typically charge around $100/hour.

With an hourly rate like that, it adds up fast.  So it makes sense for me to put the blog “on hold” for a little bit and get my hands dirty.

And what is driving all these projects?  The fact that we’re moving this summer!


Moving Summer 2022

Yep, we’re finally moving!  It’s happening this summer once the kids are out of school.  After years of thinking about where we might move, a lot of things suddenly came together in 2022 that made this possible.  For one, the city that we’re moving to is actually paying us to move there.  Yes, they’re paying us actual cash money, as well as airbnb credits, free internet, as well as a bunch other incentives that help make it worth our while.  The full incentive package is worth about $8,500.

You’ve probably read in the newspaper about different cities doing promotion programs like this.  Well, they really do exist, and real people can get them.  That’s exactly how I found out about it — one evening I was reading through a newspaper and saw a mention of the program.

We simply had to apply and meet several different income and eligibility criteria, but it really wasn’t hard.

Eventually we were selected for the program.  The only ‘hitch’ is that we have to live in the city an entire year before we can get the full payout.  (It won’t be a problem.)

The beauty of being selected for this incentive program is that we were thinking about moving there already.  The program just set our “moving” wheels in motion, and I now have a TON of projects to get done before this summer!


Exterior Painting

Along with selling our house and moving, I’ve been trying to find a painter to fix-up the outside of our house this summer before we list it.  I wish I had the time to paint the exterior of our house myself, but I just don’t have the time to complete it before our move date.  By my calculations it would take over a month and a half to do what a team of exterior painters can get done in a week.  (Yes, I’m much slower than they are!)

We have some peeling paint around the outside that needs to be fixed-up.  I’d like to get top dollar for our house, so fixing little flaws is necessary.  Frankly, we need every dollar we can get from our house sale!

peeling paint
We have a few areas of peeling paint around the house.

Hiring someone else to do all the work sounds easy, but it really isn’t.  Let me tell you how hard it is to find a decent contractor… nearly impossible!  I contacted nearly every house painter I could find that had reasonably online reviews or referrals from friends and neighbors.  Only about half of the painters called me back.  Of those that called me back, roughly half of those were either too busy or they couldn’t take the job due to our timeline.

This left just a small handful of house painters to give me actual estimates for the job!  It’s going to be expensive too!


Interior Painting

On top of the needed exterior painting, I’m doing a ton of patching and painting inside.  As you probably know, over time walls can get scraped, dinged, or chipped.  Eventually they need a fresh coat of paint.  This is a lot of what I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks.  There’s a lot of hole filling and painting touchup to do.

damaged wall

Another example, our bathroom cabinet was also looking pretty rough, and needed a fresh coat of paint.  Here’s the ‘before’ shot:

cabinet before

And here’s the ‘after’ shot.  I think it turned out OK.

after painting

As you probably noticed, the doors to the cabinet have been removed.  I’m still working on those.  The cabinet doors have nice decorative ridges that took forever to sand down properly.   After many hours of hand-sanding I’m finally ready for painting:

sanded cabinet doors

Another major repair and paint project was the garage door that had a giant hole in it.  This was where a dog-door used to be (the previous owners had a dog).  This hole looked really ugly and wouldn’t appeal to potential home buyers.  Rather than purchasing an expensive new door, I opted to carefully fix the mangled door instead.

dog door gone

Can you tell where the dog door was?  I think the repair turned out pretty good.  Most people probably won’t notice there was a giant hole in that door.


A New Kitchen Table

Long time readers of this blog know that about 90% of our household furniture is used.  We rarely buy new furniture, because used furniture is so cheap (often free) and easily available.  In this case, Mrs. Tako recently found a “new-to-us” oak kitchen table that was completely free, along with 6 wood chairs.

Unfortunately the word “free” sometimes means “it needs a little work”.  And let me tell you — this new kitchen table was in bad shape!  The previous owners seem to have completely mistreated it.  There was glue and paint of various sorts and all over it.  I literally spent an entire day removing paint/glue and scrubbing down this table and chairs.  It looks much better now!

new oak table

The chairs had also seen better days, and needed some repairs to the feet before they could be used on our hardwood floors.  Thankfully, I happen to own a 3d printer and printed off some new TPU feet for the chairs.

new tpu feet
New TPU feet for our new chair legs.  Felt pads go on these feet.

It turned out quite nice for a “free” solid oak table.  Cleaning and fixing is tedious work, but a new dining table set like this could easily cost over $1,000.

Ultimately I still need to sand and refinish the tabletop, and that’s honestly not a hard job.  I’ll do it once we’ve finished with our house move.


Replacing A Water Heater

After developing a slow leak over the last year, I’ve decided our water heater needed replacing before we attempt to sell the house.  Our water heater is 17 years old, so it was probably due for a changeout anyway.

I called around to find out how much a replacement was going to cost, and almost had a stroke on the phone.  The water heater company wanted nearly $3,000 to complete the job ($2,000 for install alone), which is just outrageous for a simple drop in replacement.

I’ve now ordered a new water heater from Home Depot (about $1000), and will be DIY’ing the replacement as soon as it arrives.

new water hater
If all goes well, I should save almost $2,000 installing my own water heater.

This will be my first time installing a new water heater, but I’m fairly confident I can get the job done and save a ton of money in the process.


Final Thoughts

Inevitably I’ll get folks in the comments who are going to say “Why would you do all this yourself?  Your time is worth XYZ per hour. You should totally just hire someone else to do this.”  Unfortunately I make far less than your average contractor (which generally have starting hourly rates at $100/hour).  Blogging itself is also a very low value activity (less than $2/hour).  For me, it makes perfect sense to do as many of these high value DIY jobs as I can.

That said, I’m sorry to all the readers who’ve been missing my posts!  I’ll certainly try my best to keep on posting during our move, but it’s likely posts will be arriving slower for the next couple of months while we pack-up and move house.

Thanks for reading everyone!


[Image Credit: Flickr]

24 thoughts on “What Have I Been Up To? (Winter 2022 Edition)

  • February 27, 2022 at 11:21 PM

    $2/hour blogging would be an incredible return haha. I need to learn more about this city incentive program! It reminds me of an in-state college offering free tuition if you stayed in the state (though the time horizon was somewhere in the neighborhood of a full decade). Sounds like a great opportunity!
    Impersonal Finance recently posted…Fun With Finance-Related Super Bowl Prop Bets

  • February 28, 2022 at 12:35 AM

    DIY is great, I like doing my own work, I get to learn things, save money, feel good to accomplish stuff, and typically spend more time and care and do a more thorough job in my repairs and improvements than hiring it out. Congrats!

  • February 28, 2022 at 5:30 AM

    Good luck on the move. It’s awesome that you and your family are able to just move.
    Also, $2/hr blogging, really? wow.

    • February 28, 2022 at 9:37 AM

      $2/hr might be exaggerating a little. I wasn’t trying to toot my own horn! 😉

  • February 28, 2022 at 6:48 AM

    It would be great to get a story on your move (after it happens). What precipitated it, the financial benefits, the drawbacks, the cost of moving, what you learned along the way, etc. Really good time to be selling, that’s for sure. Thanks for the latest update and putting something on our radar screen that is new and exciting (getting paid to move)!

  • February 28, 2022 at 7:29 AM

    Congrats and exciting times. May be worth exploring a sale / leaseback on your home until you’re ready to move. And it might save you from having to do all of the work 🙂 (from what I’ve heard, buyers are pretty forgiving right now…). Good luck!

    • February 28, 2022 at 9:39 AM

      I really hope they’re forgiving! When I consider all the fees, capital taxes, etc, we really need a top dollar sale to afford a new place these days.

  • February 28, 2022 at 8:08 AM

    Dang it! I was hoping you’d say where you’re moving to… leaving us readers hanging with curiosity! Well, wherever it is, I hope you guys love it.

    You’re really good at repairs, Mr. Tako – that’s an area where I can hold my own to a point, but you’re in a whole different league than I am. Nice work on the door to the garage! Very impressive!
    Jim @ Route to Retire recently posted…Companion Flies Free With the Southwest Credit Card for a Year!

    • February 28, 2022 at 9:40 AM

      Thanks Jim! At some point I’ll have a post about where we’re going, but I wanted to leave a little suspense for now.

  • February 28, 2022 at 8:24 AM

    Where are you moving to? Maybe this is a good future blog post.

    Try contacting realtors who manage a lot of rental property to help you get a painter. The incentive being that if they can come through, then you will list the property with them so they get the commission. Just a thought.

    • February 28, 2022 at 9:41 AM

      Yep, I’ll reveal the location (approximate location) in an upcoming blog post. Thanks for the realtor tip.

  • February 28, 2022 at 9:16 AM

    Hi It reminds me of a plumber I hired who said “ not a problem if it was easy everybody would be doing it”. DIY is a phenomenal asset to have as all are after tax dollars. You are raising your families standard of living even on an equal dollar for labour exchange. Much like the investment journey it too has a compounding component over many years. Congratulations & thank you for showing a way forward .

  • February 28, 2022 at 10:32 AM

    That’s awesome! Are you going to reveal what state you moved to eventually?

  • February 28, 2022 at 12:55 PM

    Thankfully, my father-in-law has helped me to replace my own water heater after failure, not once, but twice. I know the ropes pretty well, though some minor welding is involved. I recently completed my first water heater flush. That was easy and fun. Good luck!

  • February 28, 2022 at 2:46 PM

    Good luck with the move. Where about are you moving to? That’s amazing you’re getting such good incentives to move.

    Blogging certainly isn’t as lucrative as many people think.
    Tawcan recently posted…Be an owner

    • February 28, 2022 at 8:15 PM

      For now I’m keeping quiet on the exact city, but I’ll post about it soon!

  • February 28, 2022 at 5:28 PM

    Congrats dude! As you probably remember I did a whole post on a site that aggregates all of the cities paying folks to move to them, and there’s many. Hopefully you found your deal that way, that would make me stoked. Either way good luck with it and looking forward to seeing how it goes!

    • February 28, 2022 at 8:15 PM

      Thanks! It was actually a city that wasn’t on your page. Perhaps it’s a new program?

  • March 1, 2022 at 5:14 AM

    Congrats! on the planned move. Sometimes the universe has a way of speeding up our timelines. The table & chairs look great. And the garage door…wow! I put a cat door in an interior door. I know I’ll just need to replace it when I’m ready to move. Wishing you lots of success with all your tasks.

  • March 11, 2022 at 7:31 PM

    Incentive to move to a city in the US? That’s pretty wild! I saw you mention you’re keeping it a secret for now in other comments, but I’m quite curious as to where! I’ll also be taking a peak at Dave’s roundup.

    Good work on some of the DIY activities and I hope the water heater is going well. I’m not sure how confident I’d be to DIY that! Perhaps a tankless system…suppose that’s more work since it’s not a drop-in — but I wouldn’t be as worried about an explosive pressure vessel. 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing more about the move and, of course, more investing posts in the future. We’ve been behind in this winter period too, lots going on in life and the world. Cheers to you guys!
    Chris@TTL recently posted…Stopping Thieves in the Night (and Our January 2022 Budget)

  • March 14, 2022 at 4:23 PM

    I decided last week that I will be putting my home on the market next March so this next year will be spent doing all of the touching up, tidying and fixing all kinds of little things here. Best of luck with the sale!

  • March 20, 2022 at 4:40 PM

    Best of luck on your sale and relocation. Check out Jack’s Evergreen Painting. They did our house last year and did not disappoint. They’ve come highly recommended and the reviews online speak for themselves – https://www.jacksevergreenpainting.com/


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