We witness many misconceptions about our homes that negatively effect people’s finances and self esteem. Let’s be clear:
Your home is not you or a reflection of your value as a person. It should be a safe, efficient, comfortable place that fits the needs of your lifestyle. It does not have to be big and fancy for you to live an awesome and rich life!
We live in a very high cost of living region in terms of housing. If you do as well, then you must manage this reality as efficiently as possible in order to build wealth. Even if you live in a lower cost of living area, housing expenses must be managed carefully in order to build wealth. This is probably one of the main drivers of the trend to downsize or live in a tiny home. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
1. Strive for character, comfort and cleanliness
Notice the attributes mentioned above do not cost much. I did not say strive for the latest design trends, fanciest gold toilet, latest marble or granite style (that was so 2009) or largest house possible. There used to be some lousy advice floating around that you “stretch” yourself financially to get your “dream” home. I also think the concept of the “dream” home is a strange cultural thing. It’s just a house that serves a function. Are we all going to turn into princes and princesses someday and live in a castle? Surprisingly their level of happiness is probably about the same as ours.
Nice houses are great, but just take it easy on trying to achieve some level of perfection. No one really cares but you. When you go to someone’s house you are going to visit people, not the latest style of countertop or tile job. It’s about time together, and heck who needs a house if you have a camp fire and nature.
2. Limit exposure to commercial media
Many renovation shows are actually disguised commercials. You get the very picky couple that could never live in a house with ___________, fill in the blank with the issue. This is fairy tale thinking. If this is your thing, go for it, but realize it is a financial trap. These shows make me laugh with the over dramatized reaction to paint colors that were popular in 2015, oh the insanity of living with such outdated colors. This is right up there with other first world problems like fancy Starbucks orders gone wrong!
I do secretly find these shows entertaining, but use them for entertainment, not to go out and spend a bunch of money. I did use to enjoy the show that took the fancy remodel and mimicked it at a third of the cost.
3. Decorate with used furniture
You can save thousands of dollars by buying used furniture. And there is so much furniture for sale all the time on craigslist and in second hand stores. Your house will look more comfortable and inviting too. It may also reflect a more unique character.
4. Keep perspective
You most likely have nicer and better quality housing than a huge proportion of the world’s population. Some estimates claim there are about 1.5 billion people that lack adequate housing. Just keep this in mind next time you find yourself comparing your housing to others in your own neighborhood or worse yet to a show on TV that is clearly designed to separate you from your hard earned money.
I certainly like nice houses and there is nothing wrong with fixing up your home. It is also important as an asset to keep your home in good condition or it will lose value over time. That said, just try to find balance in all the home remodeling activity. Perhaps space out projects over time after you have actually saved the money instead of putting it on credit and paying interest. Make sure to shop around and gain multiple bids. You would be amazed at the different prices out there for the same job. Explore if the project is something you can complete yourself and put a little sweat equity into the property.