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.