Okay, we didn’t get nearly as close as we did last year to financial suicide. This time it was a fleeting thought that we entertained for a few hours. I am a real estate snob. Many of you already know this. So, yesterday, when Mr. MMM and I were having our weekly coffee date, he asked what was out there. By out there, he meant, what is currently on the market in our area for sale. I should mention, we’re coming up on the final decision of whether or not to move forward with our basement renovation. We have the final plans and quote in our hands. We just need to give the green light to our builder, and we’re off. I should also mention that Mr. MMM has received payment for some side hustle work he’s been doing. I should also mention that Mr. MMM is expecting to be coming into some hefty income from contracted work, as well. Now, before he asked that question, our goal was to use my income for our monthly expenses and his income, which is variable and unpredictable, to pay off debt and invest. Now that the money has started rolling in, he was questioning whether or not buying up would be a better use of his money than finishing the basement. Hmm…
The Dangers Of Lifestyle Inflation
Last year, Mr. MMM and I nearly committed financial suicide by purchasing a huge home to validate ourselves and prove to other people that we had arrived. Silly, I know. Forgive me for continuing to bring it up, but it truly was the worst anxiety I had felt and the relief of losing the house to mold gave rise to Mad Money Monster and our commitment to frugality. We would have been fine buying the house last year if Mr. MMM’s income had not fallen through, one contract at a time. We were even considering paying cash for the home at the time of our initial offer. Thank goodness the house turned out to be riddled with mold. As a microbiologist (by day), I was never so happy to hear about the presence of mold. I jumped for joy, we canceled our contract, and we both slept like babies for the first time in weeks.
We’re Not Immune
Although we are on the frugal bandwagon, we are NOT immune to falling into the lifestyle inflation trap. We have certainly demonstrated our ability to do it in the past. So, when Mr. MMM asked me yesterday what was on the market, I quickly pulled out my phone and opened my real estate apps (shame on me for still having them) and we started scouring our area. Granted, we were looking for homes in a reasonable price range. Reasonable is, of course, relative. We found several homes that we loved in the pictures. We decided to make a day of it and go on a self-guided tour. We ended up hitting three separate counties yesterday. Each home we saw looked spectacular from the outside. We even considered calling our realtor to set up some showings.
We sat down to dinner and started talking and justifying that moving could be a better option than finishing our basement because of x, y, and z-even if it would be a bit more money. A BIT MORE MONEY?! Even looking at homes that were slightly more expensive than our house (plus the basement remodel) means our monthly payment goes UP, our taxes go UP, and our utilities go UP. And let’s not forget the cost of selling our house and buying a new one. After considering all of the numbers, we had our answer. Basement or Bust! Quite literally.
Oh, The Anxiety
And then it happened, during our discussion I started to feel that all too familiar anxiety that I felt last year when we had locked ourselves into a contract for a home that would’ve been a stretch to pay for after Mr. MMM’s contracts had been canceled. How could I possibly continue to be Mrs. MMM, spouting about frugality and minimalism, when I’m buying a bigger, better house at the same time? Impossible. The best part is, I KNOW that I can make our current house look BETTER than the houses we were driving by yesterday. I love decorating and creating art. Our main floor is decorated perfectly to our tastes. Those other homes were not. Starting over equals MORE expense. True, our house will never be bigger than it is and we will never live on a wooded lot, which we would love. But, making a few tweaks to the outside of our home and finishing our basement will give our home the space we need and get it closer to the look we love.
In the end, we decided (again) that it would be ridiculous to buy UP and that it didn’t align with our long term financial goals. It turned out to be our entertainment for the day.
What can I say? After my humble beginnings, real estate is my kryptonite. What do you have to say? Is there anything that tempts you to throw frugality out the window?
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