I’ve spent $100,000 upgrading my life since lockdowns ended. It was really fun – here’s what I did with the money.

Headshot of a man standing in front of a wall of plaques
Joseph Richard Gutheinz, Jr. Courtesy of Joseph Richard Gutheinz, Jr.
  • Joseph Richard Gutheinz, Jr., 65, is a criminal-defense attorney in Friendswood, Texas.
  • Since March and after dealing with two health scares, he and his wife have moved.
  • They’ve splurged on furniture, cars, and amenities. Here’s his story, as told to Jamie Killin.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I’m a 65-year-old criminal defense attorney in Friendswood, Texas, and there’s no doubt that my spending has increased since we’ve been out of lockdown.

There were a lot of things that seemed to click right around March 1 – my health improved, and my law practice began to recover from the pandemic. It was the perfect buying storm.

I also sold my ranch in the country and moved to a new home with my wife and dog, Sport, for an easier life.

During the pandemic, I had a quadruple bypass surgery, and my wife had a heart attack. We lived out on a little ranch called the Mosquito Ranch, but we sold it and moved to Pearland, where we now have a nice, solid community. We wanted to upgrade our home and be closer to hospitals and family members.

In total, we’ve spent well over $US100,000 ($AU136,244), but it was actually really fun to do

I’m usually pretty prudent with money, but we just couldn’t wait to get out and start spending.

I also helped a lot of people close to me. I gave away my old car, a Hyundai Veloster, to a family member. I helped a couple of my sons make improvements to their homes, such as buying one an air conditioner as well as purchasing bedroom furniture for my grandchildren.

I like buying products that will help the economy. My wife and I were the first to return to our favorite restaurants to help them pay their bills. I give up to 50% tips to waitresses to help them get by with the reduced foot traffic.

When I went through college, I was a Pebble Beach gardener and a dishwasher with a family, so I know how hard people have to work to get by with little.

Now, we have actual running water

Before, we had a well. We also no longer have to rely on a septic tank and all those things you hate when you’re living out in the country.

After we bought the house, we started making improvements to it. Now that businesses are opening up you can get things again – we were waiting on doors, hardware, and things like that.

We bought all new furniture and a new refrigerator, washer, and dryer

We also had saloon doors made for the staircase so the dog can’t get upstairs.

We got a Murphy Door, too, that we’re about to put up, so when you walk upstairs, you’ll see what looks like a built-in bookcase, and there’s a secret knob that opens up into a private area. That’s my getaway from the family when they come over – I have six sons who visit with their wives and a whole army of grandchildren.

For the backyard, we bought a gazebo and put in a concrete slab for it along with a walkway. Then, we planted trees all around it.

My wife and I also bought a $US22,000 ($AU29,974) wrap-around generator for our house, so when our grid falls apart in Texas we have natural gas as a backup.

I also purchased a brand-new car: a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe that cost $US32,000 ($AU43,598)

The Veloster was a nightmare out in the country because it’s so close to the ground. The Santa Fe is way off the ground and it’s my baby – I even went and got a spa membership for my car, so I get to bring it in every day to wash it and vacuum it. I’m a nut about that. It’s pretty cheap, just $US45 ($AU61) per month for both cars.

We’re also planning on buying a Tesla Cybertruck once it becomes available. With the trimotor and full self-driving capabilities it will be $US79,000 ($AU107,633).

Work began to pick up for me around March

The dirty little secret is that during the pandemic the cops weren’t arresting people like they normally would. The courts also didn’t want people in jail, so for misdemeanors and felonies they were saying, “Come back in three months or five months and we’ll deal with your crime then.”

I’ve always liked work, so I was really bummed out – even when I was in the hospital for my quadruple bypass, I thought I’d jump out of bed and get to work, but I couldn’t do that. Not only was I recovering, but there was also really no work to do.

But now we’re back, and all of these guys that were committing crimes and being told to come back later – now they’re going to court. However, the whole process might take a while. I have one court that’s so backed up it’ll probably be three or four years before I can get a case that I’ve had for a long time to trial.