Saving Strategy: Avoid Upgrading Your Housing
This is a lesson that I'm in the process of learning. If you plan on living a frugal life, it's much harder when building/buying a brand new house or upgrading your housing in general.
The Building Process
We had every intention to keeping our house simple and even hoping to keep our expenses below the builder allowances. That didn't happen.
Why? It's because in our heads, we were spending so much money already, why not spend a few more dollars and get the upgrades done NOW instead of later. The convenience factor is big for us, and getting the upgrades done initially meant that our lives wouldn't be disrupted later.
Not only are the upgrades killer on the wallet, new furniture is needed for the bigger home. No more sitting on empty beer boxes, now nice furniture is needed to go along with those new hardwood floors. Nice new furniture = not cheap.
As we moved into a fairly nice neighborhood, the curb appeal of the homes in the area are expected to be kept at a certain level. I guess it depends on what you consider nice, but keeping nice plants/grass/yard requires work and money. I guess it's time to figure out some frugal ways to keep a nice yard. Any ideas?
The Jones factor
Living in a nicer neighborhood means having neighbors with money. Even though I intentionally try not to compete with people with regards to material items, it's hard to avoid some influence when their walls are 10 feet away.
Our old neighborhood was much more conservative with mostly blue collar workers who work hard for their money. To be honest, I really liked my old neighbors and their conservative views on money.
Along with the upgrades and the bigger house comes higher energy costs and property tax. We expect our energy costs to be twice as much as our old place. Along with higher energy costs, if we decide to get a LCD/Plasma TV, we'll have to upgrade to the High Definition cable package to take advantage of the new technology.
In hindsight, staying in our old neighborhood would have saved us a TON of money. However, the new spot is a better place for the kids(s) to grow up. It's a trade off between money and quality of life. I guess I've found a weakness in my frugal armor.
The main point is that if you decide to take the leap and buy a brand new home or upgrade your housing, be prepared. It may cost more than you think.
photo credit: nancy hugo