How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 4

Here’s part 1 which lays the foundation and mindset stuff, here’s part 2 which is the start of all the practical steps, and here’s part 3 with some more steps and one which may be too woo-woo for you πŸ™‚

And now for the numbers. I’ll promise to keep this short just in case you feel like stabbing yourself in the eyes round about now πŸ™‚

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  1. Paying the bond

If you look at amortisation calculators on any of the banks’ or mortgage originators’ sites, you’ll be able to see that you’re basically paying off interest for much of those 20 years. Only a tiny amount of each of your repayments goes toward the capital while most of it pays interest.

I did a quick calculation. On R1 million, your monthly repayment is R9983 (at 10.5% interest). The majority of that payment only swings towards your capital in month 162 (13 and a half years into paying off your bond of 20 years).

Scary stuff.

So the quicker you can start paying off that interest, the better.

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How to do this

The minute your bond is registered, make a payment. Preferably the entire bond amount but any amount will do.

Our bond was registered on 5 July. I had some problems with them linking the new account to my profile but it was finally linked a week later and we paid the entire bond payment immediately even though the bank only required the first payment on 1 August. Those two weeks meant that the payment was applied mostly to interest.

If you’re paying off your existing bond, do your best to put aside as much money as you can and pay it on the 14th of every month. Right now things are a bit…. tight…. but we could afford a small extra payment (due to rounding up) so I put a scheduled transfer on my bank account for the 14th of every month for that amount.

If we do nothing else but this tiny extra payment, we cut 4 years off our bond.

Did you get that?

If we do nothing else but this tiny extra payment, we cut 4 years off our bond.

If we get to the point where we have half a bond payment extra every month, we reduce the term to 8 years, and if we work up to doubling our payment, we pay it off in 5 years.

I can’t wait for my next salary increase to increase that payment πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

This is the slow and steady way but that’s not really my style. I’m believing for much bigger results, like I shared in the last point of this post.

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If you’ve been paying only exactly what your bank requires, then here’s what you need to do:

Diarise to get a statement at least every 3 months.

If you do your main banking with the same bank who granted your loan, then make sure your profile is linked, and actually look at your statement at least every 3 months, and if you’re now obsessed because of my posts, then make it a part of your monthly review.

Here’s something else that is small but practical to do.

If your bond is R5678 (random number), make a quality decision to find R322 in your budget so that your total payment to X Bank is now R6000 per month. All I did was round up.

Now go to your bank’s website and set up a scheduled transfer/ payment to your bond for that amount on the 14th of every month (or 14 days from your scheduled debit order).

If you’re thinking, “how is this possibly going to make a difference?” let me tell you it will.

You’re developing the right mindset of single-minded focus.

You’re taking action in small steps now but those steps will grow soon.

These days we’re so fortunate to have technology (all the heart eye emojis); when I was obsessed with paying off our first home in the late 90’s, I’d walk to the bank in the CBD every 3 months and get an actual paper bank statement to encourage me in my efforts. Now I just log into the app and I can easily see the reducing balance.

How is all of this resonating with you? Does it feel like too much hard work? Do you feel overwhelmed? Let’s talk.

This is the final of the official posts. I so hope this was valuable to some of you out there. Please let me know to encourage me too.

Next time up I’m answering questions so let me have them.

10 favourite fiction authors

It’s no secret that I love reading and it’s even less of a secret that I adore Irish fiction.

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I sometimes get emails asking about my favourite authors so I thought I’d put it here on the blog for everyone to see.

  1. Maeve Binchy * – try Quentins or Tara Road
  2. Joanna Trollope – try Brother and Sister, or Daughters-in-Law
  3. Dorothy Koomson – any of them are good. Start at the beginning or with Marshmallows for Breakfast
  4. Sinead Moriarty * – In my sister’s shoes was my second, and favourite.
  5. Liane Moriarty (these two are not related!) – What Alice Forgot is her famous book; I loved The Husband’s Secret
  6. Marian Keyes * – of the latest books, I loved The Mystery of Mercy Close
  7. Sheila O’Flanagan * – read Yours Faithfully or Someone Special
  8. Patricia Scanlan * – Love and Marriage, and seeing as we’re coming up to Christmas, Coming Home for Christmas
  9. Cathy Kelly * – I liked The Honey Queen and Best of Friends
  10. Emily Giffin – Heart of the matter is my favourite, and then Something Borrowed

*All Irish authors πŸ™‚

For more favourite authors, check out my Goodreads account.

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Have you read my 3 own books yet?

  1. Live Organised
  2. 31 days of easy organising solutions
  3. 31 days of enough time

If not, I’d like to invite you to check them out.

On an interesting note, I can’t read crime novels any more since having kids. I tried… and realised I really don’t enjoy them anymore. Isn’t that strange? I was the biggest fan of all the famous crime novelists before (just check my Goodreads!)

So tell me two things: who are some of your favourite fiction authors? And is there any genre you used to read that you no longer do, for whatever reason?

PS If you’re on Goodreads, make friends with me and tell me you read the blog πŸ™‚

How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 3

Are you enjoying this series so far? Remember to let me know if you have any questions in the comments and if they require long answers, I will write a separate post at the end of the series.

Here’s part 1 which lays the foundation and mindset stuff, and here’s part 2 which is the start of all the practical steps.

Let’s move onto the next couple of steps:

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  1. Don’t subscribe to “I deserve it” thinking

I hear this so often – I work hard and I deserve to have a nice car, or whatever.

Let’s be honest – there are many people who work much harder than some of us but due to circumstances they were born into don’t have as much in the way of material possessions.

So I’m of the opinion that while we all deserve things, that doesn’t actually fly with justifying your desires for all the latest material possessions – cars, gadgets, clothes, etc. you want.

I like to say, “I deserve to have my bond paid off quickly because I’m working hard on that goal” πŸ™‚

Yes, by all means, treat yourself, but make it an appropriate treat. You can’t spend such a lot and still want to pay off a bond quickly. Unless you earn a fortune. In which case, this post won’t interest you at all.

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  1. Have no sacred cows

Dr Phil used to say (he might still say this – I haven’t watched his show since the twins were born), “you can’t have any sacred cows”. What that means is that nothing in your budget is untouchable.

“You can trim the grocery bill but I’m not giving up my big car”

The truth is if you want to make a big impact, then look at big expenses like cars, schooling (in some instances), holidays, and so on.

Sadly, one of our biggest line items on our budget in the last 6 months was water and electricity. How crazy is that?!

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  1. Step out in faith

With the last house we paid off, I remember going to work in the first week of January after about three weeks off from work. My boss, who knows all about my goal-setting behaviour, asked me if I’d set any interesting/ fun goals for the year ahead.

I took a deep breath because it was a big, scary goal, and said, “well, funny you should ask, but this year I plan to pay off that bond”.

It was way out of reach by normal standards but I had a sense that this was a stretch goal we could do.

Long story short but that’s exactly what happened.

Some hard saving from us, some unexpected monies here, a bonus there, a tax refund from SARS and it was done. In other words, a lot of smaller things helping us towards our goal.

It’s not magic, but there is something special with putting your intention out there, and believing (and receiving) answers from God as to how these big dreams will come to fruition. And let’s face it – had we not had this big goal we were working towards, those extra monies could very easily have been frittered away, or paid for holidays, furniture upgrades, newer cars, etc.

I have more to say on this subject but someone asked a great question which is now going into part 5 and will address a little bit more here.

Did point 7 feel too woo-woo for you?

What are your sacred cows? We all have them so don’t feel shy to share. Maybe it’s food, eating out, cars, gadgets, clothes…

If you’d like some coaching around these issues or for me to give you some customised ideas for your situation, email me for a confidential 30/ 60-minute session.

What’s no longer serving you, and what’s really going on?

I wrote another article with this same title a few years ago.

The focus then was mostlyΒ on organising spaces.

This time I want to talk about time.

true north | www.OrganisingQueen.com

One of the podcasts I listen to is Elise gets crafty and one of the more recent episodes was an episode on time.

During that episode she mentioned that since she’d stopped writing her own blog about 9 months ago, she’d also stopped reading a lot of blogs, but then she became aware that actually reading blogs wasn’t really adding to her happiness so she just stopped the whole blog reading thing. Just like that.

I found this radical for two reasons:

  1. she’s been blogging almost as long as I have, and to just cut it off seemed a bit sudden to me. But then I thought, “well, why not?” If it’s not going to #sparkjoy, then should it be in your life?
  2. it’s brave to make choices that are right for you yet don’t make sense to others

January goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

On another episode, she mentioned to a guest that she was scrolling through her instagram one day, saw a family frolicking on a foreign beach, and felt some envy. But then she stopped herself and said, “wait, I don’t even like travelling or being out of routine and being on the beach with two little ones is far from relaxing, so what’s going on?”

The answer was that she wanted more togetherness and fun with her own family, but she wasn’t attached to how it happened.

Isn’t that powerful?

If you’d like me to coach you and help you arrive at your own insights about things that are no longer serving you, send me an email for a half-hour session. I can’t wait to talk to you.

What are you envious of, and when you probe deeper, what’s really going on?

How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 2

If you missed part 1, you can catch up on reading it here.

Don’t worry; we’ll wait for you to finish reading that first part.

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  1. Keep your living standards small

Usually, when people get salary increases and/ or bonuses, the immediate reaction is to spend spend spend. We don’t. We do celebrate a little bit (after we tithe, of course!) usually by going out to a nice lunch. Last year I bought my gorgeous brown leather handbag.

But then, after adjusting the tithe in our budget, we increase our bond payment.

Bonuses are dealt with in exactly the same manner. Tithe and usually a good chunk is put into the bond. These days, now that I’m a bit older, I put a good chunk into my unit trusts too. But let’s ignore that for now because it’s a recent thing since I turned 40, and we’ve been paying off houses for years before that.

We have discretionary income in our budgets and for years and years we didn’t give ourselves increases because the money was enough for the odds and ends. Currently, I’m on the same “allowance” for about 2 – 3 years. Basically, we don’t increase our living standards unless absolutely necessary.

Everything goes into the bond. You were living on the smaller amount before the increase; continue living on that same amount.

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  1. Have a single-minded mindset

There’s nothing wrong with upgrading cars and such, but not if your goal is to pay off your bond early. Dion drives a 2008 car (that we bought in 2009) and my one is 11 years old this year (also bought when it was one year old).

Occasionally I have twitches when I think I might want a newer car but then I think of how lovely it is to not have a car payment πŸ™‚

When we bought our cars, we took shorter payment plans – mine was just two years.

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  1. Don’t buy too expensive a house

Estate agents will always try to sell you on the biggest house possible. I am a person who likes to eat well and go on holidays so we really don’t like to buy on the upper end of the range we qualify for. That also helps when the Reserve Bank increases the lending rate because then you can still afford your home comfortably, and you’re not panicking.

Ask yourself questions like this while you’re house-hunting:

  • is it worth that extra R10 000 or R20 000 a month in the bond payment for an extra room? I asked and answered this question no many times when I’d have an inkling to “upgrade”.
  • is a pool/ bigger entertainment area worth the extra R____________? Maybe/ maybe not.
  • is it really worth paying for an extra room/ garage to store things I don’t even care about? Often people tell me we have too many things so we need a bigger house. Hypothetically, if you were to sell all the kids’ toys/ your junk, would you even get R5000 for it? I’m saying probably not. So why go into more debt to pay for that stuff on a continual basis (20 – 30 years)?

Only you can answer that. But be brutally honest about your reasons for buying that house.

(I know thinking like this is not popular but then again, your different mindset is going to get your house paid off sooner than other people!)

Our newest house is only worth the extra R_______ because it answers yes to all but 1 question (which was easily fixable) on our Dream House list. Of course I had a list πŸ™‚ One day I’ll write a post about that.

Another reason to not buy at the very top of what you qualify for is transfer and bond costs. Also, your insurance, water and electricity will definitely increase. These are expenses we sometimes forget to take into account.

By the way, it is cheaper to take out underwritten life cover (through a proper insurer) than to take the bank’s credit life offering. The bank offered us credit life at 70% more expensive than the life cover we took through a traditional life insurer. Yes, it was a big schlep to phone around (I hate call centres!) but all that money saved is going into our bond!

What was the most surprising thing you learnt in today’s post?

Did I ruffle your feathers a bit? Be honest.

What makes a podcast fun, and when to listen to them

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I write about my 5 favourite podcasts recently but I want to talk a little more about this subject.

First, a few things that make a podcast a good one for me:

  • not too long – my commute is about 40 – 45 mins so that’s my preferred length. One hour just seems too long (mindset?) and then I always have these bits left over (I don’t mind if it’s Alec Baldwin, but then again, not everyone is Alec Baldwin!)
  • a great voice or great banter between the presenters
  • they need to get into their advertised subject within a minute or two. I stopped listening to two (I’m told) great podcasts because they take way too long to get into the topic. The one had ads/ filler for 7 minutes, and the other one I actually timed and took 19 minutes to get into the subject. No thanks, life is too short. Now I don’t mind Jess Lively’s one because her 5 mintues of advertising are at the end of her podcast, so I just stop the podcast at that point. The Simple Show asks filler-type questions at the end of the interview but those are interesting and fun, and not long at all (minutes at most).
  • Β an Irish accent won’t hurt πŸ™‚
  • For audio books, a good voice is key (I’ve returned books with annoying narrators) and I LOVE when the author narrates their own books.

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I think because I happen to have a commute where I’m in the car for about 40 – 45 minutes each way, three times a week, that you may think you need to also have a commute to enjoy a podcast (or audible book).

Not true.

So here are a few times to enjoy listening to a podcast/ audio book:

1. driving in the car, whether long distances or short, 5-minute drives

I won’t listen to a serious non-fiction book on a short trip, but I would listen to the Happier podcast during that time. The trick is to match the podcast to the type of drive. I love listening to books in the morning because I’m concentrating fairly well (!) but in the afternoons when I want to unwind, I listen to podcasts, nothing where I need to concentrate too hard though.

2. cooking/ baking/ kitchen stuff

There is nothing better than cooking and then tidying the kitchen while listening to a podcast. You don’t even notice the time passing while you’re getting things done. I listen to 1 – 1.5 podcasts and whip up that evening’s meal, plus one other, on at least 1 – 2 weeknight evenings.

For those that don’t like cooking, try listening to a podcast while you cook to distract you πŸ™‚ I used to always burn carrots but now I don’t leave the kitchen so no more burnt carrots.

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3. organising/ cleaning/ tidying

I re-listened to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in August (I’ll write a blog post about that process when I’m done), and then I listened to podcasts while I tweaked organising solutions and tossed out a few more things.

4. editing photos

When I’m editing photos, I want to be productive and not too reflective, so I do like listening to a podcast. I can get through 2 – 3 podcasts in a 90 – 120-minute editing session.

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5. general pottering

I tend to batch fun, creative pursuits like wrapping presents, so I always listen to a podcast while I do things like this. Also, pottering. Some don’t know what this means. Here’s the definition from the Cambridge dictionary:

to move around without hurrying, and in a relaxed and pleasant way:

I spent the afternoon pottering around the garden doing a few odd jobs.

Basically, I think pottering around my house is one of life’s great (uneventful) joys πŸ™‚ I can potter around for hours.

6. Running or walking

I don’t listen to podcasts while walking (you won’t catch me running, ever, unless I’m racing Connor for 100m) but I know many people (online!) who run or walk who use that time to listen to a podcast. This might work for you too.

When would be the best time for you to listen to podcasts or audio books?

If you’re already a podcast/ audiobook listener, what makes a good podcast/ audio book for you?

How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 1

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I’ve been promising to write this post for a few months, so if you’ve been waiting, thanks for your patience.

None of the things I’m about to share is so-called “rocket science” but I do believe that all of it added together is bond magic.

A little bit of background:

D and I have been married for 21 years. During that time we’ve lived in 5 places, 4 of them owned.

It’s also worth mentioning that we went house-hunting after two years of married life, discovered to our shock and horror that you needed a lot more money than we had saved, so we continued renting for another year to save up some more money and eventually bought after 3.5 years.

Interesting aside – that first move was done with the help of friends and D said then that in future we need to pay for professional movers because if we can’t afford to do that, we can’t afford to move πŸ™‚ So that’s what we’ve done ever since.

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On debt

Supposedly there’s good debt and bad debt. I say no debt is good debt but some debt is a tiny bit better than others.

In a nutshell, I hate having debt. I even hate owing a colleague R6 if they bought me a packet of chips at the vending machine. So when I see lots of zeros on a bank statement, I go into action and devise a plan to pay that off as quickly as possible.

Our plan is always to pay off a home comfortably in 8 years (we take bonds of 20 years), but my not-so-secret stretch plan is 5 years. We’ve done it twice, and we will do it again with this house.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

41 things

  1. Tithe on every bit of income

We are tithers and tithe 10% off the gross of every single bit of income. Salaries, bonuses, gifts from family for birthdays, proceeds from house sales, when I sell stuff around the house, everything. We’ve tithed for nearly 23 years and we will never not tithe.

I believe that when you give God the firstfruits of all your income, He blesses the rest and stretches it.

As with almost everything else, I like to be very intentional about my tithe. Once my salary hits my bank account, I don’t spend any money until I’ve paid my tithe (except for my one retirement annuity that takes their premium even before I’ve been paid some months…). I’ve automated payments to the nanny, the kids’ school, etc. but not my tithe because I want to physically go into my bank account, see my “abundance”, feel grateful to God, and consciously and intentionally tithe. Most months I tithe from the banking app on my phone so this doesn’t take much time at all but it is still very intentional and conscious.

I’m a big tithing enthusiast because I’ve firsthand seen the benefits over the years and there is nobody who can convince me otherwise.

Coaching challenge for the comments

Do you tithe?

On a scale of 1 – 10, how badly do you “hate” debt? 1 is “not much”; 10 is “I hate it as much as you do, Marcia”

I’m not intentionally making you wait for the whole series, but the whole thing was over 2000 words long, so I’m breaking it up into 4 posts, one on each Thursday for the rest of the month.

How to do an annual birthday review

Before we start today’s post, a quick announcement:

I’ve finally written the FOUR posts on how I paid off my bond in 5 years. I thought it would be one post but it was way too long and the information is too valuable to have you switch off halfway through reading πŸ™‚

So look out on all the Thursdays for the rest of this month. And please can you talk back even if to say I’m crazy? I feel quite vulnerable…

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Birthday reviews are a little harder to do than the standard annual, end-of-year reviews, but only because it’s no-oneΒ else’s birthday but your own, and there’s no end-of-year madness to pull you along.

However, I’d almost venture to say they’re even more important to do because this is a review that’s completely focussed on you, to be done in your own time.


Create mental and physical space

I like to dedicate an entire evening to this practice. It won’t need an entire evening but it’s nice to not feel like you need to rush because of other things.

I make a mug of tea and assemble my favourite notebook for these purposes (Piccadilly)Β and all my favourite pens.

Review the year that’s just passed

Some questions youΒ may want to ask are:

  1. what went well?
  2. what didn’t go well?
  3. what do I want to keep doing?
  4. what will I stop doing?
  5. what do I want for this next year?

Do a version of the core desired feelings

You are aiming atΒ answering the question, “how do I want to feel over this next year of my life?”

Think about all the categories like body, mind, spirit, relationships, work, etc.

If you want, ask God for a scripture

Mine is John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled πŸ™‚

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You can make it even more complicated than that, but I prefer not to, so that it actually gets done πŸ™‚

Have you done a birthday review recently? What was the most interesting insight?

If you would like coaching through your own birthday review, please email me to book your 30 or 60-minute session.

Happy Spring! And my September goals/ August review

Well, friends, it’s the 1st day of September, so Happy Spring!

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Spring always surprises me because even though we might feel like it’s still too cold or winter hasn’t properly passed, no one gave the trees that memo because they’re all blooming.

I only had my phone with me at the library the other day but I was overcome (in a good way!) at all the amazing and beautiful blooms in the grounds.

Just gorgeous.

It’s a reminder also that things change. Just when you think you can’t do another day of _____, a new season is right around the corner.

What is fascinating to me is how quickly things change. Just a few days ago I drove by a tree in our neighbourhood that still had magnificent winter branches and today, more than half of it is already green.

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Let’s review (some of) my goals for August:

  1. Sell old house (please pray – the pray without ceasing praying – for God to send people who will love that house and who can afford it)
  2. Organise handyman to put up shelves and get all our photo frames up The existing list of things was much too long and we could only afford a certain number of hours.
  3. Write the paying off the house post – this may be more than 1 post, depending on how much I have to say.
  4. Participate in #AugustBreak2016 on Instagram. I think this is my third year and I love it. I enjoy the prompts, the community and it’s a good time of year for me as I’m feeling reflective (it’s my birthday on Saturday!) and the weather is still cool enough to wander around getting nice photos.
    Yes, and it’s been SUPER fun. Go have a look at my Instagram.
  5. Organise July photos and select photos from Ballito holiday for printing.
  6. Write for 20 minutes a day. I did this but only during the week. There were a couple of days I missed due to headaches but I’m calling this done because I think it got me back into the habit of writing.

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

A few goals for September:

  1. Sell old house – this one is staying on the list until done. Please continue to pray for my peace of mind. The scripture I am clinging to is this one: John 14:27 My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. If you pray, I’d appreciate your prayers too.
  2. Take a weekly walk with the kids to explore our new neighbourhood. The “problem” with having a house we love so much is that we don’t want to leave it at all. But I dragged (bribed) the kids to go for a walk with me on the weekend and all 3 of us said it was one of the weekend highlights. It’s about creating a new habit and takes just 20 – 30 minutes. I’m all about making things super easy.
  3. Try the new barre class at least twice this month. I can only make it to the one weekly evening class but it is early so will require the effort of driving to work in my own car, and leaving early to get to the gym in time. I feel like I have to give it at least a good shot to know if I’ll like it because while I did ballet for 13 years, I kind of hate yoga and pilates.
  4. Survive at work with an under control inbox. Aug and Sept are some of my busiest months with lots of travel…
  5. Explore the possibility of hosting a Love Languages workshop.

That’s not all, but that’s all I’m sharing πŸ™‚

Would you like to share something on your list for September?

How did your August go?

PS I’ll be writing more about my monthly review process on Monday, so look out for that post.

{What’s making me happier?} 11 – a story about a bath

When we looked at this house, I loved almost everything even though it wasn’t all too my taste.

One thing I knew I couldn’t live with was the 70s brown bathroom, as I called it.

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However, renovating a bathroom is not something I have the energy for after this move, and more importantly, the money.

In the old house, we’d re-enamelled the bath when we first moved in and it still looks just fine, 11 years later.

So that’s what we decided to do.

When I was googling, I saw that they can re-enamel everything so we had the bath, basin, soap dish, toilet roll holder, bathroom vanity and shower done.

I can’t believe the change.

It’s like night and day πŸ™‚

Now I don’t have to think about it for the next couple of years!

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When I mentioned to a friend what we were planning to do, she told me she’d rather wait and get the bathroom redone properly in two years time, rather than do the quick-fix solution now.

My thinking was that if I have to look at that brown bathroom for two years, I’d go mad. So I preferred a good enough solution for now.

I think it’s what Gretchen Rubin calls maximiser vs satisficer, a concept I’ve written about before.

So tell me, what would you do about the bathroom situation?

Are you a maximiser or a satisficer?

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