Friday, January 10, 2020

...this is not a post about a garden shed...

I thought this was going to be a post about sheds.

I have had a garden shed on my mind all week. I met with Connie at Hartwood Roses on Monday to hang out and to ask for shed advice and her inspiration for her greenhouse. She encouraged me to know what I wanted the shed to be and what I planned to keep in it. She also encouraged me to focus on the outside because we would spend more time looking at it than actually being in it. 

She's right. We have a front and a back porch that serve different purposes. I love to bundle up and sit in the rocking chair on our front porch in the winter. In the summer, the screened in back porch protecting us from the mosquitos is everything. I needed a place to store the seasonal yard art—our snowman and the pumpkin people that are made out of old propane tanks. They gather in the garage but I have wanted them to have their own place in a shed. Plus, a shed could store my excess pots and tools. What goes in a shed seemed easy enough. I also scoured through online searches for an inspiration of the right look. That also came relatively easily. The goal was to find a structure that was aesthetically attractive, that would hide a portion of our neighbor’s house that a fence is not high enough to do, and to store propane tank friends and pots.

On Wednesday, I headed out to shed companies to look at the prefabricated versions that were sold on their lots. No matter how many cute flower baskets I added to these sheds, they just did not appeal to me. I contacted our general contractor who has done amazing work on our house. I knew they would be more expensive than one of those sheds sold on lots but they were much more than I expected. Fortunately, the contractor was willing to work with my budget and deconstruct parts to make it meet my aesthetic without breaking the bank, which is important because that money is not in the bank. It’s sitting in the house in the form of 121 savings bonds.
Visitors will have to pass Brewster to arrive at the garden shed

In the U.S., the series EE Bond is an interest-bearing government savings bond that's guaranteed to at least double in value, over the typical 20-year initial term. They were marketed to teachers as a way to save long term to prepare for retirement. As a school teacher with a Masters of Arts in Education, I worked four jobs just to make ends meet so that I could pay my bills and my student loan. I purchased these bonds because I am an ant who has more often than not lived on fear. I grew up in a working-class home where my father always worked 60 hours a week to afford our family vacations. I have great memories of our old camper van breaking down in campgrounds. I’m not being sarcastic when I write that; my father could fix the van. So, it broke down; and, dad, who had hands of engineering magic, got it to run again. We saved; we put away; we bought used; we recycled to save money, not because it was trendy or good for the environment. My father’s expression, “Use it up; wear it out; make do” rings through my head.

The red brick will lead to the future garden shed.
Of course, when I started purchasing the EE bonds, the economy wasn’t great and the term period is now closer to 30 years. Some of my bonds from 2003 have earned less interest than those from 2006 because of a fluctuating interest rate that is super low. To make a long, complicated story short, if I wait until 2036 when I’m eligible to retire and my student loans are paid off, my savings bonds will be worth their full value plus a few dollars of interest. I don’t want to wait sixteen more years for approximately $3000 so I’m cashing them in now so that I can purchase my dream garden shed, which is completely impractical to the past-Me-girl who could have used that money but saved it for future-Me, or Me of 2020. Would she be okay with this? Could she comprehend that she would end up alright?

This week, I have been doing a great deal of soul-searching about spending the money. I am comforting myself through tears remembering those days I could not afford a Starbucks coffee without it breaking my budget. I remember a coworker doing the math when she bought a beer and noting the percentage of her annual salary. I have been remembering the luxury of buying fresh fruits and vegetables when twenty years ago I could not afford to shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  I eat the honey crisp apples now. They’re $2-3 apples depending on their size!

121 savings bonds
Today, just as I called our credit union to find out that they do not cash in savings bonds, I learned that the local bank will only accept ten bonds at a time. Tomorrow one branch promised me that they would cash in thirty. After that, I will spend the day going to as many banks as I can to cash in the money. Then, I will figure out a future day that I can do this same routine. It postpones the down payment and the shed construction but it does feel like a hurdle that I probably need to take. I have carried these with me through a dozen moves. Getting rid of them has been much harder than I thought- both emotionally and physically.


  1. Your post strikes a chord! I'm starting a kitchen remodel. Stock cabinets won't give me the look I want, but buying custom cabinets seems extravagant. And though I saved up money specifically for remodeling the kitchen, I still find it difficult to pull that money out of savings.

    Good luck with your bank visits. Perhaps treat yourself to a coffee between banks. ;) I look forward to seeing your shed.

    1. Thanks, Bane. One of the cost-saving approaches my contractor recommended was only using the wavy trim for the front and the regular, cheaper trim for the sides and back. That way, I get the look since I'm mostly going to be looking at the front but I save a bit of money. He was super helpful about deconstructing the budget without skimping on what is most important to me.

      I ended up going to the branch and having one super kind bank teller who took three hours of her time to cash in all my savings bonds. The first full moon of the year is today. I'm feeling like the universe is being extremely encouraging. That helps.

  2. Getting what you really want and paying more is so much smarter than buying the cheaper thing you don't love, then replacing it in a few years because you just can't stand to look at it anymore! IMHO. ;)

    1. I do think it's better to pay more for something that will be better quality and lasting but it has been super emotional. Thanks for the support and encouragement <3

  3. Your honesty and frankness regarding finances is hugely appreciated (and relatable) - and all the more so in this era of everyone not just striving to keep up with the Joneses, but in trying to entice them to follow one and believe that their life is more glam than a couture fashion show 24/7.

    I think you're making a sound decision and truly hope that you're able to find, and then immensely enjoy, your dream shed, my friend.

    🖤 Autumn