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HGTV vs. The Conservative Homemaker

By Nikki Willhite

I have to admit that when I have my television turned on, there is a good chance I will be viewing one of the programs on the Home and Garden channel. There are a lot of interesting programs on this network. I enjoy watching people when they buy, sell and fix up houses.

These programs can be a great resource when it comes to the understanding mortgages, home repairs, decorating, and other aspects of home ownership.

I still remember when we bought our first home. The first time I even heard the term "closing costs" was when we showed up to sign papers; and we didn't have them. My problem with a lot of the shows on the Home and Garden network is with the way many of the shows put so much importance on "things", and convey the message that if you don't have these "things", you are somehow inferior and out-of-date. It doesn't seem to matter how much money these "things" cost; only that you have them.

What are the latest "things"? At the present time they are wood floors and stainless steel appliances. If your floors are laminate, or your appliances white- you are made to feel that you should step outside your home and hang your head in shame!

These messages are being sent over and over on several shows. As a conservative homemaker, who does NOT define herself by her possessions, I worry about others who might be more vulnerable to these messages and take on debt.

Young people often haven't learned yet that "things" don't make you happy. Yet debt ALWAYS makes you miserable.

The truly sad thing is that all this materialism is so misguided. Most of us live in circumstances that are incredibly comfortable , especially when you look at housing conditions around the world or compare our circumstances to generations past.

A lot of these shows treat home improvement like fashion. Anything over 10 years is hopelessly outdated. What is really sad is when you see a home where the kitchen was renovated 10 years ago, and now, apparently, it needs it again. The information that should be coming across on these shows is that you can make your home very attractive without spending large amounts of money to replace things like cabinets, flooring, and appliances. HGTV- what are you trying to do to us? Stop bombarding us with messages that there is something wrong with our homes if they don't have stainless steel appliances or wood floors. How about showing a little more respect for money?

Do you realize how important it is to save money and not spend it? That $10,000 spent on a kitchen remodel cost much more than $10, 000. If it had been put in an investment vehicle for the last 10 years, at 8 percent interest, it would now be worth $15,000. What a waste!

Life can be hard. You need to save money for the times when it is truly needed. This means saving for both long term needs as well as short term emergencies.

Personally, I'd rather have a monster-sized savings account then the equivalent in a washer and dryer. Then, if I lose my income, I will still be able to pay the water bill to wash my clothes.

And what about all the people whose homes have depreciated in value and they can't sell them. Many of these people have lost their homes in foreclosure. I wonder how many of them were trying to pay home equity loans for costly remodeling jobs in addition to their rising mortgages ? The final irony to me is the line Iím always hearing when rooms from a decade or more ago are demolished- "What were they thinking?" Obviously, we are still not thinking. Case in point- stainless steel appliances. I remember the 70ís when stainless steel sinks were "the rage". They didnít last. They went out of style.

Stainless steel is not only hard to clean, but shows fingerprints, and is hard to keep clean. Remember when textured appliances were popular? At least they served a purpose. You couldnít see fingerprints on them.

My prediction- in a few years designers will be ripping stainless steel appliances out of kitchens like weeds out of a flower bed.

Again the words will be heard: "What were they thinking" as some newer designer colors are ushered into the empty spaces. Why would anyone put cold, steely gray against warm wood tones? "What were they thinking?"

Kudos to the shows on HGTV that show how to make minor fixups to our homes to make the spaces more pleasant. "Designed to Sell" is a good example of a show that teaches fiscal restraint. They makes good use of some of the easiest ways to make your home more pleasant- like paint, decluttering, and tearing out overgrown landscaping.

Donít be fooled. The vast majority of people do NOT follow the trends, and spend outrageous amounts of money on high end home appliances or furniture.

Save your money. Be conservative. If you find you canít handle the temptation of wanting things you canít afford, turn off the television.

You work hard for your money. It represents your time. It represents the hard work of both you and your spouse.

Respect your time. Respect yourself.

Be wise with your purchases, and donít fall prey to the advice of those who define themselves by their possessions.


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