So, you’re newly divorced, never want to marry or date again and decide it’s time to become that wonderful vision of a Single Independent Woman owning your own house? No more little Cinderella-waiting-for-the-prince for you. Here are some pointers to becoming a Single Independent Woman, from one who has done this for decades:
Do you realise when you buy your own house that besides the transfer costs, lawyer’s costs, insurance and all the other hidden costs, you have to consider the following:
Do you realise shopping will never be the same again? From now on hardware stores take preference over Woolies, shoe shops and boutiques. Tools and especially power tools, top your birthday present wish list, and believe me, you appreciate these much more than another bottle of bubble bath, especially if it’s lavender flavour.
Do you know you have to replace the batteries of the electric fence and alarm systems – so they remain activated when there is a power failure. Do you even know where these alarms are and how they work? Do you know if you have 5 remotes it will cost you a fortune to replace all and have all of them calibrated again, even if you lose just one? A handyman has to come to your house to calibrate them all again. Remember to replace the remotes’ batteries.
If the previous owners rewired the bar fridge themselves, you can’t get a normal electrician to fix it, it has to be a refrigerator man because it involves gas. Here’s a tip, look on the fridge for the manufacturer’s telephone number instead of paging through the yellow pages. Take his (and all other handymen’s) personal cell numbers, for often enough you have to call them back for a job half-done.
The electric cable of your electric garage door runs in a shaft and this needs to be greased regularly or the motor will burn out. Did you know that you need a special grease called Brana grease and that you cannot use normal car grease as it erodes the whole thing? You would have to pay to degrease it if you used the wrong grease and reinstall the remote. You can’t get Brana at hardware stores, only at manufacturers of garage door motors.
Do you know to replace that little fan belt of the electric garage door shaft costs a fortune because it is imported? Do you know you would not have to replace it if you used the right grease? It’s still cheaper than buying a new motor.
Do you know if you do not secure your electric gate motor with a huge round padlock costing a fortune then thieves will unscrew the motor and steal it? A new motor costs another fortune, and you can claim this motor back from the house-insurance at the bank, but you will pay for the vat and anti-theft bracket, which will cost you a fortune plus another fortune for the padlock and you have to take the day off work to go to the police station to make the statement about the theft before you can claim the insurance and you have to take another day off work and be at home when they install the new motor. So just buy the padlock for the fortune from the beginning.
Do you realise you don’t have a husband who can do all of this for you and there is no-one at home when you arrive after dark who could have switched on the lights, checked the pool’s the Creepy Crawly and the filters, changed the light bulbs, fed the cat and started dinner. If you arrive after sunset – you arrive at a dark house, an annoyed cat and risk being hi-jacked in your driveway.
Do you have your Security Company and Mr Delivery take-away’s numbers on speed dial on your phone? Some security companies are kind enough to wait for you in your driveway if you give them a call on your way home, but they won’t feed the cat.
Do you know you better stop for milk, bread and cold drink on your way home, for there is no secretary, no husband, housekeeper and no flatmate etc to buy this for you and your cat doesn’t do groceries. Do you know that Mr Delivery can deliver milk and cold drink, even alcohol as well, but not cat food?
Do you know if you do not regularly clean all three filters of the swimming pool and check the Creepy Crawly’s throat for pebbles, the motor can burn out and a new Creepy Crawly costs a fortune? Regular means every other day, so this is another reason why you want to be home before sunset. If the creepy is not working, clean the filters, check if a section in the pipe has a hole in it and replace only that section or replace the big round rubber flap instead of buying a new Creepy. I fixed a hole in the creepy with Pratley Putty – silicone doesn’t work.
Do you know once you made it home before sunset, attended to the garage door that makes an awful noise and refuses to close (if the springs on the side are worn out, they can be adjusted with a screwdriver instead of replacing them), checked the Creepy in the pool, changed the broken light bulbs, fed the cat and switched on the alarm system, you are allowed to watch soaps on television without disturbance and without answering your cell phone or feeling guilty about it. This is why you became single in the first place, right?
Do you realise when you get up in the middle of the night due to a strange noise and you have to check the property for burglars with a weapon in one hand and cell phone in the other and the car – and house keys dangling in between your fingers, that it is better to wear a dressing gown / track suit with pockets and not do this dressed in your underwear, shortie pajamas and bunny slippers, specially if you live next to a student commune or across a men’s hostel like I used to do.
Do you know if the previous owners rewired the irrigation system themselves, you have to have it rewired and have your lawn dug up in the process? And these guys are most likely to puncture a water pipe or the pool, as in my case.
Do you know if you have wooden floors it will cost you a fortune to have the termites checked and killed. If you ask nicely, they will do the lawn for you as well, but this does not kill big black ants.
Can you prune the roses, de-weed the garden and mow your own lawn without killing yourself? Do you own a lawnmower, weed-eater, garden hose, wheelbarrow, shears and garden tools?
Do you have a friend who is a fundi on computers? Get one. Anti-virus programmes need to be updated annually.
Do you know even a simple job such as changing a light bulb is a major effort? I had high ceilings and had to buy one of those fancy ladders that fold open, because there is no-one to hold a normal ladder for me. Also even the fancy ladder is so damn tight and difficult to open that I regularly break my nails. Spray-n-cook is not a good replacement for oil, no matter what people say.
Do you know that a woman’s hand is too small to open the anti-child proof swimming pool pod and that you can hold the bottle between your knees and struggle till you open it, but don’t do it with your teeth because it is poisonous. Also you will hurt your hand and break your fingernails every time you switch the pool motor from filter, to backwash, to rinse and when you clean that inside filter, so don’t expect not to get hurt.
Can you take your pool’s temperature and administer the right medicine if it is green after a thunderstorm?
Do you also strew lawn feed on your lawn during a thunderstorm, because if the chemicals don’t get enough water very soon they will burn the grass? Wear a raincoat and no bunny slippers when you do this.
Can you make a decent fire in the fireplace and have you discovered firelighters? Do your friends laugh when you add a bag of firewood to your birthday present wish list?
Do you know that it is your responsibility to check when your driver’s licence expires and that you have to take a day of work to stand in the queue to have it renewed and what it will cost you? Do you know they don’t accept colour photos although it says so on the notice boards, so you have to take off another day from work and come back the following day.
Do you check when your passport expires? What about your firearm licence?
Do you know how much it costs you to have a vehicle registered on your name and you still need to pay the insurance monthly?
Do you know you have to ask your vehicle tracking company to check you car every six months, else your insurance is invalid and they won’t pay out – check the small print.
Do you know besides checking oil, water and petrol you also have to check brake fluid and if the brake fluid is empty (and you have no brakes) you can’t just buy a bottle and pour it in, your brakes have to be bled by a professional. I don’t know how much this costs, but I have a friend who did it for me.
Do you take your car for regular services every 15 000 km as the booklet advises? You should. Your husband used to do this for you. You have to first phone the garage and make an appointment. Then you drive to the garage before 08h00 and hand in the car and the keys. Then get a cup of coffee, sit down and wait for one of the drivers to take you home or to your work. The same driver will fetch you at about 5 o’clock and make sure you have your chequebook ready. At least your car is washed when you fetch it, because who has time to wash it?
Do you know the number of a tow-in service or do you have such a sticker on your car?
Do you know that you are not allowed to touch those long shaped light bulbs/globes for the spotlights with your bare fingers and you have to use a clean rag, whilst balancing on the stepladder and biting the star screwdriver between your teeth. Don’t get up there with a normal flat screwdriver, you are just going to have to get down again and fetch a star screwdriver. You do know the difference, don’t you? If you lose (or accidently swallow) the screw, you can use one of those black plastic tie-thingies, but then you have to climb the ladder with the globe (held in a clean rag), scissors to cut the old black tie-thingie and a spare black tie-thingie all in your hands and beware that the glass pane does not slip out, because the rubber around it disintegrates, faster than cheese go bad in your fridge.
Do you know your house’s gutters have to be cleaned once a year before the rain season, at least? Invest in that ladder and plastic gloves.
Do you know the wooden window frames that look so expensive and all other wood have to be treated at least once every six months, else they will rot and that they are very expensive to replace.
Are you on first name terms with the shop assistants at the hardware store? Do you have a fully equipped toolbox and do you know you can get a fixture for screws, which fits on your electric drill like a bit and you don’t have to buy an electric screwdriver? You don’t have to have an electric screwdriver of course, but stock up on band-aids and expect tough blisters on your hands, if you don’t. Also invest in a Hilti.
Do you know a tube of silicone can fix the leak in your shower top, plug up a leak in the irrigation system and seal a hole in your roof? You can also get rubber stick-on strips to seal window frames from drafts.
Do you have your own lawyer, financial adviser, personal banker and auditor? Get them and remember their birthdays. Do you have a retirement plan and do you pay through your nose for premiums and would you rather eat sardines for a month than skip any of these payments, for you are now a single income family – you and your cat – and there is no second income salary or hubby to take care of you when you are old and decrepit?
Do you have a medical aid fund that costs you a fortune per month and do you have Professional Income Protection for if you dare to get sick and you are self employed, there is nobody to earn money to pay the bills at the end of the month and buy the cat’s food? You may send yourself flowers if you are sick and you can afford it.
Can you fill in a tax form? Do you keep all your slips, invoices etc and file them for your auditor and hand it in just after end of February?
Can you pay your accounts on the Internet and do you have all the security requirements updated as stipulated by the bank. Do you know about pin codes, passwords and extra security and do you check your bank statements every month, including cheque, credit, car, house bond, savings etc? Come again… savings – you think you can save? You’ve got be kidding!
Do you remember to refill the big gas bottle for the gas barbeque and make sure the gardener is there that day, for how the dickens do you think are you going to manage to off load that thing on your own? Keep the slip for the refill and remember to turn off the gas when you have finished the barbeque or become a vegetarian like me and leave the barbeque for your male friends.
A new tyre for your car costs a fortune or more and remember to stand in the queue again to renew your car registration every year, because they no longer send you reminders.
Do you remember your cell phone contract needs to be updated every 2 years and you need to take another day off work to do this?
If you ever think of DIY building, rather shoot yourself in the knee or chew off your left breast. It is less agonizing.
Do you have a contract for the tenant? Who fixes the geyser? Do you know that you cannot use a domestic violence interdict against a paying in-house tenant and an eviction order will cost you thousands and take months, so you have to screen very carefully whom you allow to live in your house? Beware of legal-wise old ladies, who work on your sympathy, move in with their dogs, drive into your car and cost you a fortune to evict. Check with your lawyer.
Do you know if someone shares your house and you do not charge him/her rent (and you have proved it with receipts, even if it is a minimum amount per month), they can claim a domestic relationship and move out with all your furniture, although you bought everything? This includes husbands, boyfriends, relatives and friends. Draw up a contract or get one at a stationary store. Check with your lawyer.
Can you replace a windowpane, putty and all? Can you replace a door lock, fix a leaking faucet and replace a floor tile?
Do you know the value of Clean Green?
Do you remember to put the garbage bin out on the evening before collections or else you have to do it early that morning, even though you are all prettily dressed up for work and smell like garbage once you have done it? Do you know they don’t remove garbage bags placed next to the bin? The bags have to be inside. And these guys still have the audacity to ask for Christmas boxes!
If your tv/ decoder blinks out, do you have your smart card number, do you know where the smart card is in the decoder and can you actually get a picture back on the screen without having to phone the emergency number, because everyone is phoning that number right then and you are going to wait in a long queue and miss your soaps. PS you should be watching international news – not soaps. You need to make an impression as an intelligent well-informed woman at that next dinner party and not sound like a spoiled housewife hooked on soaps.
Do you know where to take your decoder for an upgrade?
Do you realise if you work a full week you have no time to buy, fix, change and exchange all these things during the week and therefore you never get to tan next to your beautiful sparkling pool, because you spend the whole damn weekend driving around and fixing things.
Do you realise at least once a year, you deserve a hot rock massage? Forget the manicure – you have no nails left.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone opens a pub and install laundry machines and tumble dryers, so single women can have a drink, relax and get their laundry done on a Friday after work? Then we might have time to watch International News programmes on Sunday evenings and sound clever at work on Monday mornings.
Do you realise despite all this, you hope you have an understanding boss who does not expect you to work after dark; a regular salary increase; gay friends who double up as handymen and do not expect sex as payment; a sense of humour and in the end you still like to be a Single Independent Woman, because there is nothing like watching television at six o clock in the evening, bathed and dressed up in your Garfield jammies and bunny slippers, eating whatever you feel like and not having to please the whole family. Except of course your cat, who thinks you are the cat’s whiskers, because he just got fed that scrumptious imported expensive cat food, which you remembered to buy on your way home. Congratulations!
PS: If you happen to be a husband reading this, show it to your wife and she might appreciate you more. I know I would appreciate it.
Take me back to Break-Up And Divorce – Parenting Plans