Before you buy your next house, ask yourself – do you need all the house that you’re buying?
Hint: you probably don’t.
Is it possible that if you eliminated enough of your possessions, you could afford a smaller home and significantly reduce your bills every month? Kevin and Hannah Salwen, authors of The Power of Half, did just that. They sold their family home and moved to a house half the original size. The Salwens had a particular motive in mind: they gave the extra sale proceeds away to charity. Question: how much money do you pay, month after month, for things that you neither need nor use? Hint: it’s probably a lot more than you think.
Timothy Ferrriss, author of The Four-Hour Workweek, points out that most middle-class Americans design their lifestyles around false assumptions and artificial constraints. He shares a story of a personal friend of his who regularly worked 12-hour days at a job that he didn’t particularly like, estimating that if he kept up the routine for a number of years, he would make a seven-figure income. His friend’s only plan after that: to take a trip to Thailand. Ferriss highlights this as an extreme example of how millions of people think that the life of their dreams must inherently cost an enormous amount of money.
If your vision of being wealthy involves super-sizing your house, moving your car into a garage bigger than your first apartment, and travelling the world as a full-time tourist, Ferriss’s book suggests that you may find this lifestyle less satisfactory than you might imagine.
What if the path to living your dream life was not in amassing greater wealth, but in halving your lifestyle? The Salwens seemed to think this idea had potential, and they reported positive results from the experiment. They had to make tough decisions with regards to which items they would keep, donate, sell, or throw away. However, The Power of Half conveys a brief period of adjustment only. Reading their story, you get the sense that they really didn’t miss their stuff.
It seems that modern Americans believe that, given a big enough amount of money, they could live a problem-free lifestyle. This just doesn’t seem to be the case. Do you think that if you have a big enough house, it will contain the life you truly want to live? If so, you might be surprised at how big a house you can fill up.
Before you buy your next house, calculate how many years of your life you will have to work to pay for it. Is it worth it? You decide.