We did something brave this last weekend, folks. Ok, maybe it won’t seem brave to many of you. In fact, a fair number of you may think I’m a little crazy and maybe a tad pathetic for even calling this a brave act, but this weekend we did something that we have not done since moving into our current home more than two years ago. What did we do?
Before you write me off as a social outcast, let me explain.
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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, prior to moving to our current town in 2012, Mr. CMF and I were living in pretty nice digs. We bought a house that we could technically afford the payments on, but the house ended up costing us big time when we decided to move after only three years of living there.
We couldn’t sell it because of the dreadful market in that city in 2012. And, while we were able to rent it out, we were not able to generate enough rent from the property to cover the mortgage payment and property management fee (since we moved more than 1000 miles away, we pretty much had to have a property manager). So we lost about $100 per month while renting it. It was a ginormous pain in the a#% every day until we finally sold it in the fall of 2014.
Suffice it to say, when we moved to our new town in 2012, we were painfully aware of the pitfalls of buying the wrong house at the wrong time. We were even more painfully aware of the dangers of trying to SELL the wrong house at the wrong time. And we were determined not to make that mistake again.
We also wanted to have another rental property (one that would actually make money 🙂 ). So when we moved we decided to purchase a home that we would one day turn into a rental property when we were done living in it.
In a way, this decision made shopping for a home much easier. Since our primary focus was being able to rent the place and generate an income from it when we were done living in it, this meant that we were much more forgiving of any, shall we say, cosmetic defects that the house may have.
Nauseating orange paint on the walls leading down to the basement? Bring it on. 1950s kitchen? Why not. Weird smell? That’s why they invented air fresheners.
When we purchased our current home we were thinking primarily of the exit plan, our plan to move after a few years and keep the house as a rental. But what we neglected to spend as much time thinking about was the fact that we’d actually have to live in this house for all those years.
Within a few months of moving into the house, it started to dawn on us that most of our friends here have similar jobs and similar levels of income as us- and they all live in much nicer houses. So when they would invite us over for dinner or whatever, we would feel like we should reciprocate. But for nearly two years we’ve hesitated to do so because… well, because our house is really small, and it just isn’t as nice as the houses of our friends. And I guess we’ve been a little bit embarrassed by it.
But over the past few months, as we’ve really started to settle into parenthood, slowly our “embarrassment” about the house that we live in and the frugal way in which we live our life has been fading away. I think that parenthood has given us purpose beyond ourselves for living our most frugal existence. After all, we can’t waste money- we’re parents! We have loads of diapers, gymnastics classes, and glasses to pay for over the coming years- not to mention college (by the way- I’m not just being dramatic about diapers and glasses- the costs are real- and we did recently learn that our seven month old daughter needs glasses, which will probably be a lifelong deal. Ugh!)
So anyway, our daughter’s adoption was finalized last week, and we wanted to have an Adoption Day party to celebrate the special day. A few months ago when we had a baby shower and Mr. CMF turned 40 the same week, my in-laws hosted both events. But I just couldn’t ask them to do that this time, in part because my father-in-law would not even be in town when the Adoption Day party was going to take place.
In total, we had over 25 people in our very small house this past weekend. It was a little cramped, for sure. But I had cleaned like crazy beforehand, opened all the blinds as wide as they would go (to bring in more light- being an older home, the windows aren’t as big and there just isn’t as much natural light), and I even removed some furniture from the living room so there would be more room.
Learning to Wear Frugality with Pride
You know what? I realized that I really shouldn’t have been so nervous about having people over for so long. Yes, it was crowded. But absolutely none of our friends commented at all on our tiny 1950s house with the 1950s kitchen. By now we’ve been friends with most of them long enough that they understand that we have financial priorities, and that living in a super fabulous house is just not on the priority list at the moment.
I guess you could say that we’ve learned to wear frugality with pride. But I tend to see it as we’re becoming more comfortable in our own skin. We are choosing to spend our money purposefully, with an effort to make sure that expenditures are in line with our values. Everything we’ve been through over the last few years with our fertility issues, roller coaster adoption process, and my awful (and super adoption-unfriendly) former employer has taught us that happiness is so much more important than nice houses or anything that could be purchased at a store. And, as MasterCard says, that really is… priceless.
Do you wear your frugality with pride, or have you also been in the position of feeling uncomfortable because your financial priorities differ from others?
Suggested Reading: One of my favorite books about forgetting the Joneses and livin’ the “stealth wealth” lifestyle is The Millionaire Next Door. This book profiles numerous individuals and couples who are masters of frugality- and, as the title indicates, are often millionaires. If you have not yet read this book, I definitely recommend that you give it a read.
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