Guest Author: Rachel Rupert
Consumerism is all around us: payment plans, no-interest for the first year, all of these offers and “deals” that convince us to go out and purchase something that, when we look honestly at our bank account and (hopefully) our budget, we can’t really afford. Yet, so many of us buy into it and end up feeling overwhelmed as we face the consequences of an impulsive purchase.
The worst thing that can happen is you make a BIG purchase - like a home - and not really understand what you’re signing up for. Owning a home is on the checklist of so many - and it’s a great goal to have; I’m in the same boat!
We see shiny new countertops, beautiful hardwood flooring, and well-designed marketing that captures our attention and draws our eye to the beauty of a new place. Or, maybe you’ve been scoping out real estate website and browsing some of the beautifully renovated homes nearby -- I know I’m guilty!
All of these things have the potential to entice us to give in early - maybe not putting a down payment on a home or opting for a mortgage rate that is much steeper than one you would have with a little more savings. When you look at the “dream” versus the hard reality of your home now, it can really rob you of your joy and make you feel miserable where you are now.
Rudy and I are living in a small, 2-bedroom duplex that is in a less than desirable neighborhood. The neighborhood is lower-income, and not as kept up as it could be. Behind our home we have a run-down gas station and a train track that runs the TEXrail several times a day, with a second set of tracks that the Grapevine Tarantula uses on the weekends. Did I mention that we are having a baby in less than 2 months, and her room is directly facing all of these loud noises?
All this to say, we aren’t in love with where we are living. Is this where we want to raise a family? Heck, no! But we have made a commitment with ourselves that we are going to make the best out of it for the next few years so that we can properly save for a home.
Regardless of where you’re living, there’s a way to stay content with your current home until you are financially ready to move to the next step. The important piece to this is to wait until you are financially ready for the next step. Again, keyword: wait.
Here are a few things to remember when you battle with the consumerism mindset…
Find ways to be happy where you are
It may seem like there’s absolutely no way to feel comfortable when you keep envisioning that end goal and comparing it to where you are now. But, a little bit of refocusing your energy may be the answer you need to feel a new sense of contentment while you save:
Make an effort to add homey touches
You may not have a big space, but maximize the space you have to be inviting, comfortable, and relaxing for you. If you aren’t comfortable, you’re going to constantly think about moving and what’s WRONG with the place you’re in. There are a million ways to find inexpensive decor that makes ALL the difference.
For example - Rudy and I got a gear clock from WalMart for $20, and it became one of the foundational pieces for our style. The most important thing you can do is make your common space (i.e., your living room or any space you would invite guests) a priority. Sometimes, just having a living room you really love is all it takes to find sanctuary and comfort in the smallest homes.
Don’t go out and buy everything at once
The goal of being where you are now is to save for the next place, right? So, if you are going to purchase new furniture or other items to help improve where you are, do it gradually. When Rudy and I moved into the duplex, we spent a lot of time with our mattress on the floor. We didn’t rush out to buy all new furniture for our room; we actually took a few months to buy our night tables and bed frame.
The great thing about doing things this way is you will constantly have new, little improvements that bring you joy when you come home, and you’ll never have to compromise your savings. Add in a “housing expenses” category to your budget that is designed to give you the freedom to dream up ways to make your place a little homier. And, if you want to save for something bigger, save up for it within that budget category.
Keep clean and organized
It seems simple, but just keeping your home orderly and clean helps you see your little home for all of its potential. Organizing is the best way to maximize your space and help you stay content with the space you’re in. When you feel surrounded by clutter, it’s easy to think about how another home would better suit you. There’s also a great principle to learn here.
When you treat your less-than-ideal home with respect and care for it with excellence, you will carry that same pattern into any home you end up in. Being careless in the way you treat your home will just lead to a snowball of unhappiness wherever you are… clutter doesn’t disappear in a larger home :)
Set a goal for how long you will commit to being where you are, and what you want to accomplish while you are there.
No one wants to live in a tiny apartment or an outdated, rundown home/neighborhood. But, if you use the time focusing on a financial goal when you see your savings increase you’ll be encouraged and see the payoff of waiting it out - in exchange for the frustration and pressure of paying high mortgage and interest rates that you would with less money saved.
Make it count
Don’t let the time you have to spend in a small home or apartment be miserable, and don’t let it be for nothing. Remember your savings goal, and stick to it! Celebrate each milestone as you continue to save, and give yourself some budget to continue to improve your living space.
One of my favorite things about living in our duplex is being able to dream with Rudy. When we face a problem, we use it as an opportunity to think about what we want in a future home. We sit in our quaint but cozy little living room, and are thankful for the season we are in now, but excited for what the future holds for us and our growing family.
There’s nothing wrong with where we begin and where we are. As you are walking through financial decisions, especially big ones like purchasing a home, weigh the cost versus where you are now. Are you really ready to absorb the taxes, mortgage, and interest rates - not to mention the utilities that come with a larger place, and the cost of furnishing a larger home (if there will be more space than what you have)?
If not, that’s OK! Better to count the cost now and get started on a solid savings plan then to jump headfirst into something and realize later how deep that jump really is. You can always make the best out of your current situation… all it takes is a little attitude change and a few practical improvements, and you’ll be ready to tackle your savings plan with a new appreciation for where you are now.
about the author
Rachel Rupert is the daughter of financial coach, Leo Sabo. She is 25 years old and is married to Rudy Rupert. They have been married since September 2016, and are expecting a baby girl this August! She currently works at Gateway Church, in the Women's and Groups ministries. She has a passion for Jesus, writing, puppies, and coffee. She loves being able to share what God is doing in her life, and help people see His goodness, faithfulness, and love.
You can visit her website, rachel-rupert.com to view more of her writing!