I am building a house. This statement is often met with responses like "Congrats!", "This is your dream house!", "How great to be able to have exactly what you want.", "You can make it just like you want it". Look I know I am privileged by the fact that I am human and own property. It is a privilege to live in this country and be able to own a house, much less build one.
Make no mistake about it though this is not my dream house. This is a house that I hope will help me reach my dream of financial independence by age fifty. That's right my goal is not a dream house, my goal is to not to owe anyone and be debt free by fifty.
If I was single I would be selling my big suburban sprawling 1930's home and buying a little cabin on the lake. Instead I chose to get engaged to a Cowboy and you know what Cowboys have? Horses. Well now I have one too. We also have many other animals and are both animal lovers. When I met Cowboy I said "Where do you want to live?" and he said "It starts with a C and it ain't the city!". Got it. Living in the country on a ranch with beautiful views, animals and horses will be great, I'm down for it. I am not complaining but there have been many caveats I have given Cowboy in exchange for building. One I will not go into more debt to have it. When we move into our new place if all goes as planned (Please Lord let it go as planned) and my house sells we will owe less on the farm than we do on my current house in town. Jim has worked and saved (and sacrificed) and put in labor on the cabin. I have purchased upcycled materials and made sandwiches and study how to do things on our budget.
The choices, the choices are killing me. So many choices. Things I never knew about all of a sudden I get glazed over worrying that I am making some big mistake buying the $551 dollar soaker tub over the $1500 jetted tub. I'm stressing about should I have can lights over regular lights that were in my budget. I've had to look inward and give myself a shake and say "Courtney remember what your goals are! Wake up sister!" Okay compass guide me back. Yes my goal and Jim's goal is semi retirement in 4 years. As I write this we both work two jobs, sometimes three. In four years if we stay on track we can cut back to working one job a piece at about 20 hours a week or so. That with and taking care of a ranch will be plenty of work. I'll be fifty and Jim sixty three. A good time to owe nothing and have the freedom to do the things that matter more, spend time with family, animals, long walks, cozy fires, and enjoying life. I'm not waiting to enjoy life but I certainly don't want to wait until I can't before I retire.
How I find my compass when I feel lost in the financial abyss.
- I ask myself "What are my life goals?
- Is this a want or a need?
- If it's a want would I give up equal time in work to have it. For instance would I work three weeks to be paid in a bathtub over money? The answer was "No" by the way. The answer was "Yes" on the windows on the front of my house. Always equate your wants with how many hours you have to work to pay for it.
- Will buying this keep me from reaching my goals?
- Will buying this put me in debt?
- Can I live without it?
- Is it better than what I have now? Will that be good enough?
- Can I get creative and find a way to get something similar with upcycled materials or by finding a way to achieve a similar result. For me a soaker tub with a seat and a oversized window sill was a good compromise. Also easier for me to get in and out of.
- Can I give up something else to have this thing that I want?
- Will this house make me house poor? A beautiful house and no money for groceries is the pits. Trust me I've done this and it's awful. I'd rather go without the can lights.