There are lots of things I love about being a new homeowner, namely anything that doesn’t cost me money. But sadly, those things are few and far between when you buy your first house. I am learning quickly that owning a home is, financially speaking, like being pecked to death by ducks – $50 here, $500 there, $250 for this, $75 for that. It sneaks up on you and before you know it, you’re having to take out a second mortgage to pay for the Orkin Man.
I think the reason this is more of an issue for new (and young) homeowners is because you don’t want to mess up. Its like when I buy a new pair of expensive shoes (something else that has been few and far between these days). I probably don’t have to keep them wrapped in tissue paper, in their correctly labeled shoe box on the very top shelf in a closet that is under lock and key, but why risk something messing them up? They’re brand new! That’s how I feel about my house. We don’t know yet what is a necessity and what we can really live without, so to keep our shiny new house safe, we just buy it all.
Take, for example, the tree service company. A few weeks ago I got a phone call from a tree treatment company who said they had treated the trees in our yard for years under the previous owners, and would we like to continue service? I asked the guy to hold on one minute and I covered the phone,
“Chris!” I whispered. “What’s a tree treatment company?”
“I don’t know,” he whispered back. “Ask them what they do.”
So I get back on the phone and ask the man what kind of treatment they do on the trees.
“Chris!” I whispered. “They protect the trees from ticks with lyme disease! The trees might rot and die without the treatment! This sounds really important!”
“Okay,” he whispers back. “Ask them to send us an estimate.”
So for the next day or two, we Google the crap out of tree treatment services. And I ask everyone over 30 in my office if they have a tree treatment service. I ask my neighbor if they use a tree treatment service. I talk to the grocery cashier about her tree treatment service. And I discover that no one has a tree treatment service. So I felt confident a few weeks later when the estimate arrived in the mail and I ripped it in half and threw it in the trash.
Now, imagine going through that for every service you may or may not need for a house. Its exhausting, and its getting expensive. We’ve had the Cable Man out here, the Terminex Man out here, the Central A/C Man out here, and today we’ll have the Orkin Man out here. And every one of these people sends us a bill when they leave! And even more frustrating is that everyone who comes out finds more things that need to be “updated” or “improved” or “fixed before your house falls down.” Now, we didn’t buy a junker of a house. We have a nice, clean, taken care of house so I know that there can’t be as many problems as they lead us to believe. So after every one of them leaves us with a list of things we need to take care of (“we can bill you later…”), Chris and I have to go into crisis mode until we can sort through to the real problems and cut out all the crap we don’t actually need.
Like being pecked to death by ducks. Ducks with meter readers and bug spray and cable wires and insulation. Expensive ducks.
Peck, peck, peck…