Picking up Nickels

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Panel moulding project complete

Mrs. Frugalson (aka "Home Improvement Mom") and I finally finished the dining room panel moulding project that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think to take a pristine "before" picture, but these pictures should give you a good idea of what a difference this project made in our plain jane tan painted drywall dining room even after the recently installed wood moulding had been painted white:

Sarah at the Thrifty Decor Chick blog gives a nice primer on this type of project including design considerations, layout, materials, and installation. She makes it all sound so simple, but be warned that this is a labor intensive project! The materials aren't terribly expensive, but the design, prep (filling, sanding, priming), and installation (cutting, nailing, filling, caulking) can be very time consuming.

Let's begin with our materials list:

  • (6) 8' pieces of chair rail moulding from Lowes ($59.35 out of pocket (oop) after 10% off coupon)
  • (21) 8' pieces of accent moulding from Lowes ($95.80 oop after 10% off coupon)
  • (1) gal Behr Harvest Brown paint and (1) gal Ultra Pure White paint from Home Depot($59.98 oop)
  • (1) three pack of paint roller covers from Home Depot ($8.47 oop)
  • (5) white electrical outlets and covers to replace the tan ones from Home Depot ($4.30 oop)
  • White primer, paint brushes & rollers, nails, construction adhesive, wood putty, painters caulk, drywall spackle, sandpaper, etc. were "in stock" from prior projects.

Total cost: $227.90 oop

Next, on to the tools. This project can be done with a level, hammer, nails, hand saw, and miter box. However, you will get a much better result with far less work with power tools. This was particularly true with the 19 moulding panels, which were made out of 76 pieces of wood that required 152 total miter cuts!

Here's what I used:

Finally, some tips and techniques that I found helpful:

  • How to install molding (with videos, yikes!) (Thrifty Decor Chick blog)
  • How to cut crown molding inside corners (youtube)
  • How to cut a crown molding outside corner (youtube)
  • How to cut crown molding square dead ends (youtube)
  • Triangle Troubles (how to cut acute angles on a miter saw with a sub-fence)
  • Check ebay for Lowes/Home Depot coupons to reduce the cost of your materials. I picked up a few Lowes 10% coupons for about a buck each that I used for some of my materials.
  • Try to do as much painting as possible before installing any moulding. Trust me, it is much easier to neatly paint bare walls and uncut moulding. :)
  • Mark all wall studs before installing moulding.
  • If installing panel moulding on drywall, use construction adhesive on every piece and tack pieces into place with small brad nails (I used 1.25" brads) until the glue dries. For panels, try to sink nails into studs whenever possible, although that will not be possible for most vertical pieces.
  • Have extra pieces of moulding on hand. You are only one misfire or mental mistake away from not having enough material on hand to complete your project.
  • Recruit a helper for when you position, level, and fasten moulding. It will make getting a good result much easier.

And that's about it... Two weekends of work and ~$230 later our plain drywall dining room looks so much more finished. Now I just wonder what Mrs. Frugalson has in store for our next home improvement project!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 2010 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 10th, 2010:

Asset Jul 2010 Aug 2010 Change
Checking 657 609 -48
Money Market 33,043 33,099 56
Savings Bonds 36,080 36,186 106
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 115,991 116,418 427
Brokerage 81,976 84,348 2,372
401k 83,046 86,935 3,889
Roth IRA 38,826 40,324 1,498
SEP IRA 200,815 215,900 15,085
529 Savings 43,870 45,839 1,969
Total Assets $634,304 $659,658 $25,354

The S&P 500 has been on a nice roll over the past month despite recent economic worries, with the index rising 3.92% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

The unemployment rate for June remained at 9.5% as job growth continues to stagnate while oil prices have risen slightly to around $79 per barrel.

On the financial front, I finally finished funding my 2009 SEP IRA and that cash infusion helped boost my asset levels so they are now approaching my all time high from April 2010. I am a bit bummed that I have yet another Penfed 6% APY CD maturing next month though, considering the lack of options to find a productive home for that money. Ironically, it's looking like my home will be one likely recipient of that cash and I'm sure that we'll find a use for some of it with the home improvement and landscaping projects that we have in the pipeline. I'm also anticipating getting my health insurance renewal information soon and am already trying to prepare myself for the shocking price hike that it is sure to contain.

Other than that, we had a nice little vacation a couple of weeks ago and are trying to enjoy the rest of the summer before the Frugalson children head back to school.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blog alive four years and counting!

In some ways, it seems like a million years ago since I first posted here on August 10th, 2006. During those four years we've seen the bust of the housing bubble, a near collapse of financial markets, and the "Great Recession" that we're currently working our way through.

My activity here during that time has become somewhat (ahem) less prolific, as I've been involved with work and family and the current state of the economy has resulted in far fewer nice financial deals to get excited about. That being said, while my finances are somewhat on autopilot, I do like to document my thoughts and progress here while occasionally sharing my experiences with various topics that I hope others may find useful.

For example, the project du jour at the Frugalson household is a redo of our dining room by adding some chair rail moulding, picture frame moulding, and some paint. It is a relatively inexpensive project (~$200 for materials) that may sound simple enough, but since it's pretty labor intensive my quadriceps are still sore from all of the squatting I did on Sunday installing the chair rail and a few picture frames. :) While it's lacking some final filling, sanding, and paint, we're looking pretty good so far with about 120 more feet of picture frame moulding to install:

So thank you for stopping by and coming along for the ride. Here's to another good year!