having kids and making decisions

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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having kids and making decisions

Dad,

We are faced, as a family, with more life change. We have moved every year and even changed states three times in our short 5 year marriage. We are expecting our third child this summer, and we will have to figure out how to live in this little two bedroom apartment or upgrade to a bigger place. More changes, and we are getting accustomed to this constant state for flux, a little. It is tiring. we can feel the urge to not have to move around anymore and to find a level of comfort that can last and will allow us some room to grow. I think that we are not alone, and that this is the stage where many people look for a big house and try to find a comfort level that will work for them well into the future so that they can “settle down” a bit.

I know that the desire for that is strong, because I feel it myself. The problem comes at this stage, though, when we are tempted to live beyond our means to get a little bit of stability. That bigger house would allow us to grow into it a little and that bigger backyard would be nice for setting up a swing set and putting in a garden. Freedom. Elbow room.

This is the American dream. We have great credit an could buy a really nice house. The Realtor and the banker both would be happy to see us come through the door. Buying a house creates equity, so there is no real reason not to borrow money, since the investment justifies the risk of borrowing, right?

Perhaps, but as we begin this process of justifying spending an obscene amount of money, we forget that stability and freedom are what are at stake here. If we allow ourselves to be convinced that the more expensive house will go up in value and that the extra expense, though it will strain our budget, will be worth it in the long run, then we forsake the lifestyle that we have worked so hard for and we become slaves to the consequences of our decisions.

I want to move up, to gain equity, to have some degree of control over our destiny, but I have to be careful not to relinquish control of my life today and enslave myself until that destiny comes to fruition. We will probably buy a house in the next few years, but when we do we will be breaking our commitment to not use debt for anything. That will be a serious day in our house and we will have to make decisions that will minimize the impact on our lifestyle choices. This means that just because we have decided to borrow money, and just because we have agreed that a bigger place is necessary, that is not a license to put our values in the closet, take the advice of the real estate industry, and get the biggest, nicest house we can find.

We are approaching more change in our family and in our life, and it becomes even more critical that we evaluate our decisions and check them with our values so that we don’t end up sacrificing our intentional lifestyle for a market friendly version of security.

Bryan

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. I love your blog, but I have to admit that at times it feels intrusive to comment here. Almost like I am not allowed to comment on a private conversation of people I just happen to see at the coffee shop once in a while… but since the comments are open here you go.

    Buying a house is a big step that I took very lightly 3 different times. The second time was the best purchase ever and I should have stayed there but for job and other reasons I ended up moving. This place was the smallest out of them all but it had the best location and since it was an older house it was built way better.

    I tried the whole, bigger house elbow room thing and I encountered nothing but problems trying to live beyond my means at the time. It became stressful and not as utopian as I thought a bigger place would be.

    Kids at times want to have their own room but learn from having to share one… and they seem to remember that great vacation a lot more than the square footage of their room… heck every time I got to a place I used to live it seems to have shrunk exponentially.

    Just wanted to share one of my experiences with you.

  2. logtar,

    Thanks for commenting. The idea behind the fireside is that no one needs a reason to pull up a chair. Perhaps we should do more to make joining the conversation more inviting. As you said, the comment section is open, and encouraged.

    It is great to hear from someone who has been there. I have seen people who have been carried away with their home purchase, and they typically won’t admit that it is too much until they are having trouble with the car payments and the utilities, and then the water heater goes out. I am not against buying a house, but it is scary that there is so much room for bad decisions, and that they can cost you so much money.

    Again, thanks for joining in.

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