Early in January, we reluctantly made the decision to purchase a gym membership. It’s not that we have not gotten the good out of the gym before, the problem is that our little local gym that was owned by the regional medical center (read: some physical therapy and lots of old people), sold last year to Gold’s Gym. So our two person membership that was costing us a total of $30 a month, included unlimited classes and was on a voluntary month-to-month basis is no longer an option. The outdated spaces but sufficient equipment and quiet, non-judgey atmosphere have been traded in for a brand new, high-tech renovation/expansion, sure to attract at least a few more protein pounding meatheads who won’t bat an eye at a two-year contract. It’s a necessary commitment to maintain the guns, brah.
One of our goals for the year is to pay off debt. I’m not even sure where January went so fast, but we’ve already knocked down one huge item (of four) on the debt list. Jesse officially made his very last student loan payment two days ago!! This is a BIG deal, you guys. It took about 7 years total on this one loan (still only half of the average payback time), but we’ve only been serious about our debt for the last 2 years. Up until then, we were separately paying on our loans, making the minimum monthly payments at best. Jesse started paying back his student loan in 2007, and took a break on it when he got laid off from his job sometime in 2008. I asked him, “what even happens when you just stop paying?”, because obviously that is not ideal. But the reality is, the U.S. has over $1 trillion borrowed in federal student loans. I don’t know about you but from my point of reference, a trillion might as well be a google (the number, not the search engine), because I can’t really comprehend how much money that actually is. In 2014, more than one in eight people with student loans were in legal default, meaning they were unable to make on time payments for nine consecutive months. So, there are a ton of people dealing with this, who either:
a. Aren’t in a financial situation to be able to make minimum payments, or
b. Don’t understand or don’t care about the negative impacts that ignoring a loan will have long term.
Jesse was a little bit of both. Here’s his story:
As the Northeast is hunkering down for Snowpocalypse 2015, we happened to have a rare (record?) two days in the mid 60s in Cheyenne. Jesse and I took advantage by sneaking out of work a half hour early yesterday to go for a run outside. It’s a race against daylight at this point in the year, but it was beautiful!
We ran one of our old familiar loops, which ended up being right at 4 miles. This felt like an achievement, since I have only been going about 3 miles at the gym since we got back into the swing of things three weeks ago. I am trying to ease back into a comfortable running level before adding any speed work or getting too carried away with mileage. This month I’ve made it 2-3 days a week, which I think is a fair start after taking a few months off completely.
If you read Part 1, you know the basic steps that we took to learn the rules, plan out our materials list, and estimate the costs of building our fence. Now for the fun part.
Part 2: Building a cedar fence
As I mentioned, to get the best price possible, we bought our materials at two different stores. Tools, concrete, posts, rails, and small pickets we purchased at Lowes. Our 6′ privacy pickets came from a local lumber yard. Here’s a super important tip: Pick out your lumber yourself!! You will inevitably have a couple posts or rails that are not 100% perfect, and some pickets that may be split or bent, but you will minimize your waste factor by physically going through the stock pile at the warehouse and choosing the best ones. It really doesn’t take too long to pick up each piece, close one eye and sight down the board. You will be surprised how easily you can spot the badly warped rails or pickets, which you can leave at the store.
The one major project that we tackled upon buying our house was to build a fence. The house itself was done, but there was no fence, which is a problem for Reagan (she is usually very good about staying near the house, but one time before we had the fence up, she disappeared when we let her out for a minute. We were on our way out to go to dog obedience school, no joke. The little shit must have sensed it. We got a couple of phone calls and found her making friends at the dry cleaners a couple blocks down the road). So even though we closed on the house and moved in mid-fall, we knew going in that this project was non-negotiable. Jesse used to have a little business where he and a friend put up vinyl fences, which it turns out is almost nothing like putting up a wooden fence. He is quite handy though, and we’re not afraid to dig in and figure out a solution. We also knew that paying for professional labor would cost us an arm and a leg, and we weren’t about to watch someone else put up our
white brown picket fence, only to nit-pick at how we could have done it better (“they didn’t install the damn screws straight!”). So here’s how we went about it.
Part 1: Planning a cedar fence