I thought it was time for me to address the cost of moving to our new rental house. We’ve had time to adjust and suck up the high costs associated with moving from movers to new appliances to starting up gas, trash, utilities and water. We’ve benefitted from this move in countless ways that I feel it’s well worth the extra cost, to the tune of doubling our previous rent. That’s right, doubling, while our income has stayed steady. Fortunately, a welcome flood of freelance income has taken the sting out of the increase but I know that at some point we have to re-evaluate our budget.
I’ve been playing with numbers for months and the most obvious hit is to our savings, which should become zero if we don’t want to spend more than we earn. However, I’m not cutting out the 401k contribution because it does reduce our tax bill and we do need to continue saving for retirement.
To be honest, our move into a nicer neighborhood has me feeling like the family in the TV Show “The Riches” starring Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard as crooks who assume the identity of an upper-middle-class suburban family. The funnier thing is that this new neighborhood is not fancy by any stretch of the imagination. It just has better schools and nicer parks than our old area. Both areas were / are safe and quiet. Both areas probably had the same median income and were / are middle-class, although this one seems to be a tad more solidly middle-class.
I think what really makes me feel “rich” is that the house itself is bigger and newly renovated. After many years in our old house, things get worn (naturally) and are not replaced. I’m sure that if we stay long enough, this house would also look more worn-down; however, it still has better basic fixtures overall than our previous rental. The old place had linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom, plus the cheapest windows you could possibly buy. The new place wins out just by having tiles and nicer, new windows. I guess I’m not too hard to please in the area of decor!
Truthfully, I don’t know how long we can manage on this higher rent. We may have to downgrade in a few years, hopefully not too soon, and find a townhouse or apartment. For now, we’re enjoying this new place.
I also have a feeling that I will really appreciate every day here… I’ve read that most people get used to their status/situation so happiness from things, including houses, diminishes over time. However, I think I might be able to appreciate this place and all its advantages for a long time. Here’s why and I hope you have the patience to read my washer/dryer story. For many years, my husband and I did not have a washer or dryer. We usually waited as long as possible before we hauled 4 – 6 loads of dirty clothes and linens, spending hours in a dingy, ugly laundromat on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, we killed time with books or web browsing but we generally didn’t trek too far and the other restaurants near the laudromat were equally dingy and depressing. At any rate, it certainly felt like we had to base our schedule that day around laundry, not the same as doing laundry at home. And while I have said how much I hate doing laundry, I should clarify it’s more than I feel the division of laundry should be equal and not all on one party. In spite of my dislike for this chore, I’ve always appreciated having our own washer or dryer. What I’m trying to say is that while I might get used to this house, years of living in a tiny space and enduring a long commute will likely make me appreciate this new living environment much longer and even forever!
Has A Comment Ever Changed Your Final Decision?
When you blog regularly, it’s common to ask readers for advice for everything from financial to purchases to travel decisions. Is crowdsourcing the term? I’m too lazy to look it up.
The reason I’m asking is that I am tempted to ask for advice from time to time. I hesitate only because I wonder if I or anyone ever follows advice from their readers. Oftentimes it seems like the person receives a lot of good advice but makes the opposite decision, or actually has their mind made up anyway. I believe there’s science behind this, too, called “confirmation bias” (scholars, correct me if I’m wrong!). From my understanding, this means in general people simply pay more attention to views that confirm their own beliefs. Example: If you think all Asians are good at math, you will notice if an Asian person wins a Nobel prize for mathematics. If you have an Asian friend who is bad at math, you’ll assume that’s an exception to the rule. I’m sure there are many more and better examples of this in the political arena, of which I stay far away from!
I still remember a debt-blogger who asked readers if she and her husband should join her family on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to Europe. They did not have ailing relatives. Everyone else in her family was financially stable but did not have enough to subsidize her tickets/travel expenses. They would probably have to spend on higher-end hotels than if they had gone on their own. I would say that the answers were sort of split. Many people said “go for it” which in my mind is very easy to do when it’s not your money! A lot of people also advised her not to do it until you’re out of debt. I felt that those who were against it made better arguments. After all she had racked up debt due to lifestyle choices, not education loans or medical debt. To me, they had spent to enjoy their early 20s and should pay for it before going into debt for another fun adventure. This is tough for me to say because I love traveling and I also believe travel is worth the money; however, paying off a trip for years didn’t make sense even to me. Of course you could say that she followed the advice since most people said to “go”; however it was pretty clear that she had made up her mind before even asking the question.
As for me, my question would have been about whether moving to another rental house that is out of our real budget range but closer to my work is worth the trade-off (the classic time vs. money). I haven’t written about the move yet because I’m tired and a bit embarrassed by my/our bad financial decision-making skills. If I had asked, I’m sure I would have gotten good advice and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have listened either. Maybe someone would have suggested a compromise that would save time and also reduce the hit on our budget. However, we made the decision based on “wants”. We wanted to save time, but also wanted a larger house with a yard. We didn’t want to share walls. In other words, I didn’t think that the best arguments in the world probably would have swayed me. Of course two years down the line I might regret this move! Once I’m recovered from moving, I may write more about it.
Have you ever asked readers for advice and actually read a comment or comments that truly affected your final decision? I’m especially interested if you changed your mind on BIG decisions, like a job choice, moving, finance etc…
Posted in Advice, random thoughts, travel
Tagged advice, blog, blog commenting, blogger, confirmation bias, decision making, finances, house, moving, readers, renting, travel