On one of our date nights, while walking the aisles at Lowes, sharing an iced coffee, Sam and realized that we each had our own ideas about what needed to be done around the house and how important each item was. So we decided to make a list with the expected costs and time frames of each project, as well as how important this project was to us.
Driving to church the next morning, out of the blue Sam exclaimed, "Side yard drainage!" and I responded with, "Mulch for gardens!". The children were convinced we had lost our minds, until we explained what we were doing. Then they began to chime in with their own project suggestions. While we won't be constructing a riding ring, a tree fort, might actually happen!
Later that week, we took all of our projects and put them into a spreadsheet form with estimated costs and estimated how much time we think it will take for us to complete the projects. Then we gave each item a level of priority based on need. Lastly, the projects were ranked for order of being done, based on the priority, money required, if Sam was required, and time needed to complete the project. For example, Cleaning the Windows (inside and out) was given a Low priority status, but being as it didn't require Sam to be home and only a few dollars for supplies, it was listed as the first project to be accomplished. Now, Back Pasture Fencing has a High priority rating, requires a couple hundred dollars and Sam to be home, so it was ranked third after Finishing Trim work in Bathroom, which had a Low priority and zero dollars, but required Sam. The patio is dead last on the list, despite the relatively low cost (we already have the patio bricks) and Medium priority rating, but it requires a lot of time and Sam's presence so it will have to wait.
I then got brave and had the program add up the costs and times for us to complete everything: $15,000 and one year. Now that one year would be if we worked on each project one right after the other, every day. So allowing for employment, weather, finances available, etc. we adjusted the time to be about five years.
Sam and I are now on the same page as to what needs to be done. The kids can see what is next on the list and because they were part of the planning, they feel some ownership in getting these projects finished. Because we know what project we are working on and which one will be next, I can be sure that we have all the supplies available for when the weather and Sam's availability align. This way we are not wasting time running around purchasing the items we need when we could be working on the project itself. The savings account now has concrete goals to be working towards, which is helping us to stay on budget. Whenever we want to spend money on something frivolous, we can redirect our spending towards completing the next project on the list.
The good news is we have already completed the first two on the list and started on the back pasture fencing. And who knows maybe, if we can stop adding items to the list, we could finish in less than five years!
Then again, maybe not...