OPINION: Home has been a mixed blessing

I marked a year of homeownership last week. This momentous occasion was celebrated by my doing a load of dishes and cleaning the garage.
In July 2008, I bought a 1908 Craftsman bungalow in downtown Tupelo. Friends and family warned me about what to expect, namely if something breaks, it’s my responsibility to fix it.
What no one warned me about was how much time everything takes. Every week, I have to choose whether to get caught up on indoor chores, outdoor chores or new projects.
There never seems to be enough time to do it all.
My friend bought a house about the same time I did so we commiserate together when we hit ownership bumps, such as replacing broken sewage lines or cleaning up storm damage.
It’s been interesting to see the national focus on first-time homeowners and how we fit into that group. We were renters for years and were looking for small, affordable homes to buy.
Last year, we found them and bought them without help from the first-time homeowners incentive.
After we got into our homes, we qualified for the first program – the one that is a no-interest loan, not the later freebie money. We wound up taking the incentive and using it for home expenses, savings and debt payoff.
There are mixed feelings in my social circles about programs like the first-time homeowners incentive and Cash for Clunkers. I don’t know how the finances will work out on a national scale, but in my life, the incentive helped.
It would have been nice to get the later one where I personally don’t have to pay the money back, but I keep telling myself I shouldn’t complain because at least I got something.
And I was able to use some of the money to help others, namely in the business arena.
I can see how a slow housing market affects everything else. From gardening supplies to painting equipment to window treatments, there are plenty of ways I stimulate the economy through household purchases.
These days I’m a lot smarter about how I shop. I wait for things to go on sale or I ask the salesperson if discounts are available. I’ve found independent stores have been open to making a deal if I get a few items. I’m also making do with older items and hand-me-downs. It lets me put money into other things.
It’s been stressful at times over the past year, but it’s been worth it. I love having my own space and not having to share a wall with an apartment neighbor. I get so much enjoyment out of having a garden in soil that I own.
But it is a learning process. Maybe next year I’ll be better at time management so I can get my lawn mowed before my grass gets knee high. We’ll see.

Contact Carlie Kollath at carlie.kollath@djournal.com or (662) 678-1598.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio