Have you ever made a big purchase by mistake? When I use the word “mistake”, I mean have you ever bought anything without thoroughly thinking about it, on impulse?
Well, we almost bought a house on impulse, an ENTIRE house.
About 6 months ago, my husband stumbled across a house on the market that was absolutely stunning. Perfect for our family, placed in the right neighborhood and screaming “Buy Me!”. The kitchen was gorgeous and spacious, it had two sinks! Not that I’d know what we needed two sinks for, but hey, more is better right? (Enter sarcasm here, haha).
We checked out the house two separate times, talked to the realtor and even imagined how our furniture would be placed. Our girls fought over what room would be theirs and we daydreamed about summer nights in the backyard.
Making our decision
Then, as we always do, Mr. FC and I talked money. We sat down and asked the most repeated question in our household, “Can we afford it?”. Realizing that things would be a little tight, we knew it was nothing a budget revamp couldn’t fix. We just need to reallocate our expenses, or in this case, our priorities. Right?
But then, my husband uttered a phrase that changed everything. After calculating all of the figures (he’s an accountant by trade and by nature), he said “We could totally do this, but you’d have to retire about 5 years later than we planned”. That phrase made me rethink my entire financial trajectory.
Up until then, we’ve worked so hard paying off all our debt, making plans to pay off our current house in 10 years, and budgeting every aspect of our lives. We did everything to make our lives less stressed and more enjoyable.
Did I really want to take 5 major steps back?
So, I thought about the house in comparison to our current house. I thought about the rooms, the kitchen, the backyard life we daydreamed about. And then I thought about all the vacations we wouldn’t go on, the trips we would no longer afford, and the extra luxuries we’d have to give up.
So, I asked myself, “Is giving up your enjoyable lifestyle really worth a building?”
I mean, after all, a house at the end of the day is just a building that you take shelter in. Don’t we already have a perfectly good house now? Why is this new building so much more special than our current one?
The answer was simple.
It wasn’t, it was just new and fresh to us. It wouldn’t change much in our living arrangement. My kitchen was not much smaller than this kitchen. Our bedrooms were a bit smaller, but still pretty big and roomy compared to most houses in our area. The backyard dreaming? Well, let’s just say we’ve lived in our house for about 6 years, have a wonderful backyard, with a patio and great sitting area, and do we use it? I think we’ve probably used it a dozen times in 6 years.
So, coming back to reality, I realized that living in a new building wasn’t going to enhance my life that much more to be worth it. On the contrary, it was going to take 5 more years of my life than I expected. I don’t want to work an extra 5 years to pay for a building that probably won’t be that appealing to me as I get older anyway.
How many times do we purchase something and have regrets?
For me, it’s probably a good third of the time. But, I always have the option to return the item or at least think of how it would improve my lifestyle, if any.
But this house purchase was just another house. I already have one, a big one with good square footage, a layout that is practical, and all the amenities I’ve wanted. Why do I need to move to another one? And is it really worth me having to waste another 5 years of my senior life working when my current plan of paying off my house and retiring early is a much better deal?
In the end, as beautiful as the house was, I think we made the right decision. In the end, I love my current house and would be perfectly content living in it for the rest of my life. There isn’t anything I need or want more than what I already have. And that content feeling helped me make a good decision that saved me and my husband years of extra work and extra stress.
You know, the funny thing is that we, as a society, think that if we are making more money, then naturally we should be constantly upgrading everything from our cars to our homes to our lifestyles.
Is our life not great as it is? I understand that if you’ve always dreamed of living in your own house and get a sudden boost in income, then by all means buy your dream home. That’s a wonderful thing to be able to strive for. But, if apartment living or your current living arrangement makes you content and satisfied, why does a boost in income make you want to spend more money on making a change? Can’t you spend the extra money investing in your future, investing in yourself, or simply just saving it for a something you could use later?
We’ve become obsessed with wanting more and better at a constant rate. If we’re not upgrading regularly, than we’re not as successful as everyone else. We’re not growing fast enough. That’s all simply not true. Whatsoever. Your home does not have to be fancy or super upgraded to live a great life in it with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to have the state of the art kitchen for your family meals to come out crazy good to feed your family.
Your bedroom doesn’t have to have an en suite bathroom and walk-in closet to make you feel like you can relax and make it your sanctuary.
None of the things we view as luxuries determine whether we are successful in our life.
It’s all material, made up materialistic ideologies that marketers try to convince us we need. But at the end of the day, I would rather live in a shack with my loved ones next to me playing cards, than living in a mansion that makes me work 12 hours a day and stresses me out so much that I don’t have the energy to spend time with my kids or with my awesome mister.
A building is a building. At the end of the day, we need to know that all it is for us should be shelter. It’s not meant to consume all of our income. It’s not meant to add years of work and stress to our lives. And if this shelter choice is doing that, then we need to find a more practical place to lay our heads.
Looking back, I can remember that conversation with a huge smile on my face, instead of a gut wrenching feeling of regret. And I know that in 10 years’ time, I will be FI, with my house fully paid for, a decent sized investment and retirement portfolio, and a family that will share my life with me no matter where we live.