I am a planner. I don’t like wasting money on a not needed purchase or having to deal with returning it. I also do not like getting into a project and realizing I should have done it a different way. So the hour commute I have to and from work allows me to mull over the best way to approach any new project. Then it comes to Project Central to go on paper to rough out the project and develop a materials list. Once I see what I need and the cost to purchase, I can then develop a budget and time line to get the project done.
Project Central is my kitchen island. I have two stools and a lot of space to spread out notebooks, graph paper, the computer and catalogs if needed. Bruce, my black cat, is always supervising. I have a notebook that contains all the ideas and projects I am working on. Some I know are a distant project, others need done asap. I figure if I know what materials I need for any given project and watch the prices of the materials, I will know when I good deal comes around and take advantage of it. It does not matter how easy or difficult the project, it still goes in the notebook. My chicken nipple watering system was pretty much made with some PVC I had on hand. But I decided to purchase some Tee’s online to reduce chance of leaking and I still have to figure out how to get water into the system. The notebook allows me to track costs and develop ideas until a workable solution is found.
The next project I will complete is the dog pen now that the weather is nice. Spencer enjoys hanging out outside and watching the world go by. And, when he spends time outside, he is not so wound tight when I get home like he is after spending the day in his very large crate. I know I will need wire, posts and a gate. I have decided instead of all wood posts to use some T posts. That should reduce the cost of the pen without compromising it’s strength. The pen will be off the back of the chicken coop and run, under the Mesquite tree for some shade. It will also allow me to save some money not having to provide another side of fencing and I will have the back side of the run protected. Also, since I close up the chickens every night when I get home, I will be able to let him out at to take in the house as well.
For all projects I shop prices from several sources. I have of course Lowe’s and Home Depot. There is a Lowe’s just down the street from where I work so it is easy to spend a lunch break picking up some things. The Home Depot is about halfway between home and work and right on the way, so easy enough to stop on the way home.
I also have a Tractor Supply that is a few minutes out of my way when headed home. A weekend trip is only about 10 minutes as it is pretty close to where I live. I get their sales flyers when I am in shopping and look for things I might be needing in the future. I got my sunflower seeds on sale there a few weekends ago. Another place is MG Builders. It is difficult for me to get there but at times the pricing is worth it. I have to leave early from work or will not make it before they close due to the traffic in the city. It is a good 30 miles south of my route home so very out of the way. It is also a 45 minute drive from home if I were to go on the weekend.. so prefer to get off early from work and pick up my order then head home. I got a great deal on the half inch hardware cloth from there.. saved me several hundred dollars compared to what I had seen it priced elsewhere.
Then of course there is Craig’s list. I got a lot of my wood and pallets from Craig’s list for free. I knew what I needed and looked for ads that had those items for free. When I answered the ads I also picked up wood I did not need at the time figuring I would eventually use it. And eventually I did need and and have made use of it as we have gone alone. With the crazies you can meet with Craig’s list I do a few things to ensure my safety. My mother and I are close and talk almost every day. So I call and tell her the address I am headed to and we talk until I get there. I then make sure the ringer of the phone is turned up and she calls me back in about 15 minutes. We have a code for I’m in trouble and if everything checks out we will have a quick conversation then we hang up. She will call back again in 30 minutes just to make sure I am still OK. If I ever do not answer she will contact authorities. If she is out and about and I can not reach her I do not go. It really is not worth my safety just to get some free stuff, no matter how good the deal.
So once the plans are made and materials determined I look for prices. I have the prices of 4x4x6 treated from Lowe’s and round 4″ x 6′ round posts from Tractor Supply and MG Builders. I scored a few T posts from one of my Craig’s list runs and priced T posts as well. I know Tractor Supply has a good sale on the wire until the end of this month so will be picking the wire up from there next weekend. So far MG Builders has the best price on the posts, both wood and T. But I will have to analyze if the savings is worth taking time off from work and the out of my way drive it will entail. If I am not going to save $20 or more it probably will not be worth it and I will get the posts elsewhere. We are also watching Craig’s list for some.
Because I can get sidetracked with all the projects I have going on and all the things I need for them, I work everything out on paper then take a shopping list… and stick to it. After determining the cost I then determine when I can afford it and when I will actually do the project. If I am going to spend $100 on my project it will have to come out of some other area.. so I need to be prepared and adjust my budget to accommodate. The list will keep me on track and make sure I don’t spend any money on something I will not get to for several months. Unless it is on sale it will be a waste off money at that time. I will usually stray a bit from my list and budget at Lowe’s as I love to shop their Dead and Dying rack of plants they always have. But I only stray a few dollars off budget when I do that so all is not lost.
I think the best thing about keeping the notebook is looking back and seeing the projects completed. It takes me a while to get things done.. very often I have to get my materials a little here, then there.. and then doing everything myself turns a weekend project into a month long event. But seeing things getting done and knowing I got it at the best price and did it all my satisfaction in itself.