Picking up Nickels

Friday, March 25, 2011

Crown moulding project complete

On a "home improvement high" after our panel moulding project, Mrs. Frugalson decided that she wanted to install crown moulding in pretty much all of our first floor and in the center hallway on our second floor.

Although this project (aka "The trail of tears") involved an large amount of labor, I think the end result was pretty good:

Once again, Mrs. Frugalson's inspiration came from Sarah at the Thrifty Decor Chick blog, although I would recommend checking out this video from Tom Silva of This Old House for a nice overview of the types of cuts required if you are considering a crown moulding project of your own. Be warned though, Tom is such a skilled carpenter that he makes putting up crown moulding look far simpler than it really is. There is a lot of measuring, cutting, fitting, and dealing with crooked moulding/walls/ceilings that can be a bit time-consuming and challenging to work through.

Materials-wise, this project was pretty basic:

  • (20) 12' pieces of pre-primed crown moulding from Lowes ($330.44 out of pocket (oop) after 10% off coupon)
  • (4) 8' pieces of pre-primed crown moulding from Lowes ($44.08 out of pocket (oop) after 10% off coupon)
  • Behr Ultra Pure White paint, paint brushes, nails, wood putty, painters caulk, sandpaper, etc. were "in stock" from prior projects.

Total cost: $374.52 out of pocket.

On to the tools list. Once again, this project can be done with a hammer, nails, hand saw, and miter box. However, you will get a much better result with far less work with power tools.

Here are the tools used:

Finally, helpful resources for this project:

  • How to Cut Crown Moulding (This Old House video)
  • How to Put In Crown Molding (This Old House How-To article)
  • 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)
  • Check ebay for Lowes/Home Depot coupons to reduce the cost of your tools and materials. I picked up a few Lowes 10% coupons for about a buck each that I used to save some money on this project.
  • 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 and be weary of plumbing waste and supply lines hiding in the walls.
  • 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.
Time-wise, I'd estimate that this project took about three full weekends for me to complete due to my inexperience with crown moulding. Mrs. Frugalson already has a new chair rail/panel moulding project in mind though, so I'm going to have to free up my weekends for that project some time soon. :)


Friday, March 11, 2011

March 2011 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on March 10th, 2011:

Asset Feb 2011 Mar 2011 Change
Checking 650 838 188
Money Market 42,319 43,066 747
Savings Bonds 36,743 36,808 65
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 96,936 97,312 376
Brokerage 106,659 102,781 -3,878
401k 102,674 100,727 -1,947
Roth IRA 51,453 50,882 -571
SEP IRA 250,363 249,317 -1,046
529 Savings 52,653 52,800 147
Total Assets $740,450 $734,531 -$5,919

The S&P 500 has trended down 2.02% since the last update as worry from political unrest in the Middle East, rising oil prices, and now a 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan create fear and uncertainty:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

The unemployment rate for February continued a slow decline as it fell to 8.9%. Oil prices have spiked during that time, gaining from about $87 per barrel to $101 per barrel and I've seen the cost for gasoline at one local station rise at a lesser rate from $3.15 to $3.43. I'm sure $4 per gallon gasoline isn't far away, but could we actually see it hit $5 during the summer driving season?

On the financial front, there's not too much to report. With rising food, oil, and other commodity prices, I'm looking toward a potential I Bond purchase again this spring, although that will likely happen in May 2011 at the earliest with the current 0% fixed and 0.74% composite rates available until then.

On the work front, I've been keeping busier than I have in quite some time. My contract with my largest client is up soon, and having a bunch of work to do is definitely a good sign. I've got my 2010 federal and state tax extensions filed for my S Corp, which should give me a bit more time to fully fund my 2010 SEP IRA contributions. My personal returns are in the works, and hopefully the tax bite won't be too bad considering the reduction in business revenue I've experienced over the past couple of years.