When you can’t have it all

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Money is a scarce resource
AJ: Kirby and I have been a committed couple for almost eight years, but this year we did something that we’ve never done before, we made New Years resolutions together. We each made a list of individual resolutions, but we also made resolutions as a team (but Kirby’s not responsible for me staying at my ideal weight or learning to knit, obviously). It’s only April and some of our resolutions are already proving to be more difficult than we anticipated. One of our goals – to purchase an investment property and “flip” it – proved to be the most taxing of the goals we decided to pursue, but it led us to purchasing our next home which we’re already in love with, and it forced us to make different financial decisions than we sought out 2013 intending to make. That being said, we feel like we’re now in a position we didn’t plan for and made a leap we didn’t quite realize we would make but realistically, we wouldn’t have done so were we not ultimately comfortable with our choices and were we not prepared to take on a different kind of risk than we initially set out to make with a ‘flip.’

KJ: There have been a LOT of life decisions we’ve made recently and sometimes it gets overwhelming even if you are the best of planners and have the best support system to help you through it. Do we rent our house?, do we sell our house?, do we buy a “flip”?, do we buy a fixer-upper?, do we buy a move-in-ready?… Maybe the answer to these isn’t a yes/no, but sort-of.

Balancing a ‘want’ and a ‘need’
Even though we save for lots of things (retirement, vacations, down-payment on our next home, etc.), the goals sometimes fall very close together. We just moved into a new home this past week – something we weren’t even sure was happening a month ago – and we’re suddenly realizing that prioritizing our goals and ‘must have’ lists are ever more important. But now more than ever we are testing that boundary of a ‘want’ and a ‘need.’ Some questions I find us asking are:

    Do we need to redo the kitchen when we first move in?,
    How much of a downpayment do we need with interest rates this low versus how much we would want to put down?,
    Does the flooring really need to be replaced now or can it wait 6-12 months?,
    Do we really need windows that can lock? (the answer to this one is of course a resounding ‘yes’),
    Do we need a pool?,
    Do the hardwood floors need to be refinished? Yes, they do, but can it wait?

When we’ve put pen to paper, sometimes you’ll see that your list of ‘needs’ slowly dwindles when you realize that it may not be able to happen all at once. Is that really a bad thing though? Of course we don’t want to live in a permanent state of chaos as our home is being renovated for the next 5 years, but we also don’t want to be saddled with debt by taking on all the renovations at once. There’s got to be a healthy medium. We think we’ve found ours – a combination of DIY projects, cheap family labor (we love and thank you in advance!) and professional contractors when it really counts. With as thoughtful and strategic as both Angela and I are about every long-term decision, we’ve got the tools (our inquisitive & resourceful minds and generous family/friends) to help us get over the hurdles – whatever they may bring.

AJ: We’ve spent all of three nights in our new home and I already find myself caring less and less about some of the things I thought I would want to do immediately (that’s probably due in part to total exhaustion, but we’ll sleep in a few weeks). The older we get the more I care about making sure we’re comfortable and healthy, our pets are comfortable, well-fed, and entertained, and that I know where all of my kitchen stuff is, so I can make us a homemade meal at the end of each day. Projects can wait until a stable new plan is created that accommodates all of the unexpected expenses that suddenly have us thoughtfully examining our purchases more carefully.

    What decisions have you found yourself wondering why you can’t have it all?
    How did you get through that stage in your life?
    Share with us how you worked through distinguishing your wants and needs.

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2 thoughts on “When you can’t have it all

  1. Twyla and I have run into these types of questions a lot. There come times where your wants are so great they feel like they become “needs”. We had that when we landscaped our back yard. It was so awful and we were so ashamed of it that it become a need to get it looking nice. How many times have we sat back there since we did it, maybe 5? Now we’re presented with the option of selling our house in an extremely hot market and up-sizing to our “final” home. We’ve been back and forth on this. Does a hot selling market really work well for us when it’s also a hot buying market? Do we really NEED a bigger home? What are our plans that would warrant such a change? Can we really afford it, or will we be sacrificing too much to obtain it? Impulse often fills a void that makes you feel like it’s necessity, but the trick to reigning in impulse is to sit on it for a period of time. It can slowly become a fact finding adventure that makes you come to your final decision.

    • Really well put, Jonathan! Those are many of the same questions we asked ourselves in looking to purchase a new home. Time definitely helps you decide if it is something that you really need or if it is more of a ‘nice-to-have.’ We’ve been wanting a yard and some space to breathe, so weighing the pros/cons of selling our place and buying a new home was something we thought carefully about particularly as we progressed in the decision from buying a ‘flip’ to deciding to purchase a new home we would move to.

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