Don’t Let Your Dream Home Ruin Your Life

To buy or rent. Isn’t that always the question? But isn’t there more than just that when it comes to where you live? It is the most common question I read about in articles all over the place and while a legitimate question it is not the right question.

Yes, it is important to decide what option works best for you and your situation. There isn’t one blank answer for everyone, but there is another option to consider whether or not you are happy in the home. Isn’t the question, “What makes me happy at home?”

I think someone can answer who is renting or buying.

Do you know what makes me happy? An affordable home and one I can pay off early.

When you look back on things later on will it really matter long-term that you had granite countertops? We spend so much time with the “add-ons” and “upgrades” of a house that we spend little time answering, “What makes me happy? What makes a home?”

So let’s finally get rid of the question of buying or renting. It’s like granite, it’s just one of the details but it doesn’t make the home. A big home with 7 bedrooms and thousands upon thousands of square feet don’t make a home instantly happy or successful. Isn’t it what happens in the home with the relationships we build that truly make a home a home?

So, if you pick the right rent or mortgage at the start that doesn’t financially cripple you for years then you have already done things right. That is the only thing you have to worry about to start your house. Pick the affordable payment. Without that, you will be headed in the wrong direction and will always be working and always broke. Is that how you want to live for the next 30 years?

House Poor

First, you cannot be house poor. That will kill you in so many ways. If you ever get to the point of the discussion where you say,

“We might be able to afford it.”

Nope, you can’t. Your home is your largest purchase, mess this up and you mess up almost everything else financially. “Might be able to” is not an option. That relies upon you somehow changing things dramatically down the road whether it’s a large raise or a second income. Chances are that you’ll also have something happen the other way as well with a major repair or family emergency that all of sudden puts a huge strain on the home finances. You have to have breathing room in your home.  If you can’t continue to save money, you can’t afford a home.

Your home is supposed to be a nice safe place to just relax and build relationships. It shouldn’t be the cause of stress other than having to do the occasional repairs. We need to stop asking the wrong questions and start focusing on the right ones.

I sat down and talked with a man who said he couldn’t afford his home. I asked him why he was still in it and he said he had to have a home that big.

Had to?

I don’t understand that mentality.

What do you have to do with home? You have to have an affordable mortgage or rent payment. Otherwise, you are in huge trouble. You will be behind on savings, you can’t even think of being an extreme saver, behind on investments, behind on vacations, behind on anything else you can list.

It all starts at home.

The Day It Clicked

So back to the man who couldn’t afford his home. Well, something changed one day. He saw a home in a neighborhood that was nearby and saw it was for sale. He stopped and pulled the little realtor paper out and noticed that it was 500 square feet smaller but $70,000 cheaper than what he was in. All of a sudden it clicked. They immediately put their home up for sale, bought the other home, and all of a sudden the worries went away. He could afford it and send his kid to college without having his kids cripple themselves with college debt and be under what he was paying before. The stress level instantly disappeared and the happiness in the home skyrocketed instantly. It is okay to start over!

There were no more arguments about money. No more late nights trying to figure out another income source. Everything about their happiness was contingent upon their home. Happiness was available, but only in the right home at the right price. See happiness doesn’t come from the house, it comes from not having to think about your monthly payment and even better the lack of payment down the road.

What We Did with Our House

I’ll be honest we lucked out on our current house. For my first townhouse, I got an amazing deal. I was single and took forever to decide where to live. My cousin was my realtor, and we went all over the place to several cities to check out where to live. I was tired of living downtown in the city and was ready to have something steady that was mine. The price was going to be the same as my rent downtown.

I bought my townhouse out in a nice little suburb. I was the first one in the new neighborhood and watched it develop around me. Then prices went way up and when we sold we made $100,000 within a few years which is a pretty great way to start things out.

However, we also bought high at the same time. Prices were skyrocketing so we decided we needed to buy before they got any higher. We had to move a little ways away, but the cost savings was over $100,000 for the house compared to the city we were currently in. An extra 10-mile drive wasn’t a big deal compared to the savings we would get on the house. We bought a modest home and didn’t pick all the upgrades inside. We just wanted something we could live in and play in and have fun with our kids.

Tempted to Move

When the market crashed in 2008 we thought we had made a major mistake, but then a couple of years later our neighborhood took off and now houses are going much higher than what we bought for. That started us thinking if it was time to look at getting something else. We looked around and even went through a few houses but then we sat back, relaxed, and slowed things down. Why did we want to move? Just because we could? That isn’t good enough. That is how you stay poor and broke forever.

If we stay in our current house, we’ll pay it off quickly. The payment is very affordable, and it will allow us to do even more things we would like to do down the road. Thank goodness we saw the big picture instead of rushing in to get something new. Again, the question to ask isn’t should we rent or buy, could we afford it and be able to save and invest and accomplish more? Plus, we love the neighbors and there are so many kids our daughter’s age. That is what matters. We have control of our finances, and we have our priorities in place.

So how about you, what lessons have you learned from your home?

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