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New and Improved

Richard Quinn

THE KITCHEN REMODEL is complete. It’s so new that we’re still trying to remember where we put the can opener. Truth be told, we haven’t quite learned how to work all the appliances, either.

Ready or not, our remodeled kitchen was recently put to the test by the visit of two of our children’s families—including five teenagers. There were ongoing warnings like “be careful how you close that drawer” and “don’t put that there, it will stain.” Happily, the kitchen survived. But only barely, according to my wife.

One outstanding issue: What would make an appropriate door between the kitchen and laundry room? We’re debating the issue. There is the door my wife envisions—and then there’s my idea of a door at a reasonable cost. It’s just a door, after all. I wish.

That isn’t the only surprise expense. A new kitchen makes the rest of the house look worn. The solution was to repaint everything. The woodwork and doors, last stained in the 1980s, were all painted white. “Watch the woodwork, it will chip if you hit it,” was heard frequently this summer. It turned out to cost $10,400 to update our look to 2021. I sure hope that white stays the “in” color.

In the fall, we will move the remodeling show outdoors. We plan to have the trim painted, the front stained, damaged facia boards replaced and new gutters hung. The price? To be determined. Then there are two bathrooms to be made new again, starting next January.

Why would a couple with an average age of 80 want to live in a construction zone? My wife says she wants the house up to snuff for the kids. I say… actually, I don’t say much.

How are we paying for all this? I never commit to spending before I know where the money is coming from. That’s true in this case, too. Since our ability to travel was restricted by COVID-19, we have unspent money in our travel fund. The fund was bolstered by the refund from our 2020 cruise disaster. We used to dedicate our Social Security payments to travel. Not these last 18 months. They’ve gone for remodeling, too. Then I’ve relented and stopped reinvesting some dividends. You guessed it—remodeling as well. Thinking ahead, I imagine my 2021 required minimum distributions will also be paying for those two new bathrooms.

Money well spent? You’ll need to ask my kids. Logical spending? To be determined.

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