I love to watch home remodeling television shows. They give me confidence that I really could remodel a kitchen, build a shed, or even install new windows all by myself. Usually, the feeling passes quickly, but I do find myself feeling comfortable around power tools, and I enjoy a good home improvement store.
Recently, the host of one of the more extreme house “rescue” shows said something so profound that I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget how he phrased it.
There he was on the roof of a house, totally exacerbated by one problem after another created by previous homeowners or contractors—problems he would have to rectify before the job could move forward. None of these problems on its own was serious enough to derail the job, but each problem, piled one on top of the other, was putting this job in danger of going way over budget.
He said, “Lots of minor things become major problems.” I got to thinking how that simple truth applies to other areas of life, not just home remodels and repairs.
Take knitting. Being off by as little as 1/8 of an inch in the beginning can grow into a finished project that would fit King Kong once you repeat that minor mistake row after row after row.
Want to know what happens when a quilter repeats a slightly crooked seam or a slightly not-square corner piece? It’s called a disaster, as master quilt maker Ami Simms can demonstrate. Years ago, she founded “The Worst Quilt in the World Contest” at her website, AmiSimms.com. I’ll admit it’s not nice to laugh at others’ mistakes, but in this case, the contestants asked for it by entering their work in Ami’s contest. My point is this: Every one of Ami’s storied winners ignored a tiny mistake that could have been fixed quickly. Either they didn’t even notice it or they chose to believe it wouldn’t matter in the long run.
Then, there are personal finance problems. One shopping binge 18 years ago is not likely to have sent you down the path to financial devastation, nor will that horrible auto lease you jumped into before you were financially mature enough to know better. But if those two small mistakes were followed by routine overspending, adding to growing credit card debt and multiple refinances of your home mortgage on top of more car leases—those minor problems grew into major problems.
The antidote is to correct the small mistakes as they occur.
Sure, it’s not the end of the world if you allow a small credit card balance to roll from one month to the next. The amount of interest for that minor problem could be just a couple of bucks. If you pay the balance in full the following month, you are back to $0, and that minor problem will be history. Case closed.
If you correct your gauge on that sweater you’re making before you take one more stitch, it’s going to be beautiful. That quilt? Do yourself a favor. Take out that first row of crooked stitching. Fix the mistake before you go any further, and you’ll be winning real quilt contests before you know it!
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Copyright 2020 Creators.com