From those who profess “Live your best life” to those whose motto is “Living well is the best revenge,” the end goal, no matter which saying one pledges allegiance to, is to enjoy this life. 

The enjoyment does not necessarily have to have a financial component to it. It might be sitting out on the lakefront and watching the sun rise. Or the simple pleasure of dining with friends. It might involve a hobby that takes all your concentration and thus you enter your own special world. Whatever it is, it is an individual’s choice and obligation to find the things that make them happy.

For me, it’s working on my house. The endless struggle to keep an almost 100-year-old home relevant is no easy feat. I’ve replaced windows. I’ve added storm windows. I’ve stripped woodwork. I’ve removed plaster walls and put in drywall. I’ve insulated walls where there had never been any ever before. The list goes on and on and it’s non-stop. But the joy of living in a home that is as nice as anything in Lincoln Park is my goal. Our bungalows are gems and they constantly need to be polished. But compared to the shoddy construction I’ve seen in some newer buildings, what we have in these old brick homes is to be cherished.

I have a summer kitchen in my basement. When I purchased my home in 1989, there was a vintage stove down there. That stove eventually gave out and a neighbor gave me one from their basement that they no longer used. That old stove eventually had to be replaced as well. The stove I ended up getting was used but basically still brand-new, having only been used to maybe make coffee and heat pizza. 

So imagine my dismay when I went one day to use it and the broiler no longer worked.  Also the interior window of the oven was busted. With only me and my son in the house — and I didn’t do it — the obvious culprit had to be him. Of course, he denied any knowledge. When I went to price a replacement piece of glass, it turns out that the inside window is an entire component. The cost was over $400. I’m sorry, but that’s just more money than I could ever spend on a stove that cost me $100 to begin with.

I found a similar used version of the stove for sale.  The $75 price tag was acceptable. With the help of my handyman, we began taking parts off the replacement stove to use on my existing stove. The reason I just didn’t just install the replacement is because I was familiar with my original stove. We replaced every component on the existing stove with ones from the replacement stove, including putting a third rack in the oven. I even replaced the flexible gas line along with the shut-off valve. I also took off parts to keep in case there were any problems in the future — like the thermostat and the other igniter.

The total repair cost came to around $125, a far cry from the $400 plus just for the glass. 

Living well does not mean having to spend a lot of money. 

It’s being smart in how you spend the dollars you have.