I don't know if it is my age that is making me wiser, the fact that I am currently taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class, or that I have been doing this long enough for things to come full circle... but I want to just reflect a minute on our perspectives in relation to our homes. When my husband and I got married, we rented a beautiful but very old home... it was dated cosmetically, had baseboard heat, you used a skeleton key to lock the front door (not kidding), and it was located right next to railroad tracks that were still used frequently (too frequently...). Our utility bills were out of control, we never had enough heat, and the carpet was horrible, but we were so happy there and the rent was well within our budget. We had no complaints and envisioned ourselves being there a very long time. Then, job changes, family dynamics, spats over pets, etc caused us to move. I don't know where we lost the contentment, but somewhere along the line we did. Our next home was a simple brick ranch that was fine, but we felt the need to do cosmetic updates, put in a heat pump, etc. Then, we moved into our current home, where we will be til we are taken by the clods or the clouds. It wasn't so much my husband as me, but we felt this intense drive to make it ours and started making changes immediately... some supposedly needed, but most were simply because we wanted them done.
How my perspective has changed. As I grow older and watch my 2 toddlers grow up, I no longer see the cosmetic deficits but the intrinsic value in having a payment we can afford (that we hope to get paid off very early!), room for our kids to play, and a great floor plan for our family. Would I LOVE to gut the kitchen and bring it out of the 1980s? YES. Would I LOVE to remove the brass fixtures and navy tile countertop in the bathroom? Double YES. Would I love to add a screened porch and convert the extra bedroom into a kicking master closet and bathroom? Oh, more than you know. But, until we can afford to do it in cash and have paid off all of our student loans, credit cards (that are now cut up), etc., we will just stay put as we are. Now the leaky roof... well, let's just hope we can save enough to pay for it in cash before it caves in!
I see it a lot in my profession... young folks who want first thing what it took their parents 30 years to have. Of course I want to sell you a nice home -- after all, the higher the price, the more I make! -- but I also know that if you buy "too much" home, you will be calling me in a couple of years to sell it not because you want to but because you have to. So, just because you qualify for a $200,000 home, does that really mean you should buy it? Especially in today's' market, you can get a lot of home for a good price that won't break your budget. Some things are just more important than keeping up with your buddies. Trust me -- I speak from experience!