Today while at a Christmas Eve dinner with some friends of ours, we shared our plans to sell our house and rent instead. I’ve been surprised how enthusiastic most people have been, overall. The most common reaction I’ve gotten is “I wish I could do that, but there’s no room for our kids in an apartment” (to which I think to myself, Ha ha, life without kids wins yet again!). This couple was a little more cautious, and had a lot of questions. “Doesn’t that mean that you’ll never live for free when your house is paid off?” “What if your rent goes up?” “Are you sure you trust the stock market?” “Aren’t you going to miss your house?”
Our answers to that were: No, but no-one ever does, even in their paid-off mortgage; Ontario regulates rent increases and caps them to inflation; Yep, or at least as much as I trust land values; and Nope.
We also discussed the details of our plans, including the fact that we were going to move out, get a little work done to the house, pay to stage it, and then list it. They’d never heard of staging, so I basically explained it as “paying someone else to put temporary furniture in our house that will make it look stylish and homey, unlike our furniture which makes it look like a crack house and would scare people off.” I was exaggerating, but maybe not by much. All of our furniture is second-hand, and while it’s still in good condition, it’s not pretty. Everything is various shades of beige (easiest colours to match with existing other beige furniture), and it’s starting to show wear.
A few minutes later, one woman asked me, “So you’re purchasing a new living room set?” I must have looked confused, because she added “Well, you were saying that you didn’t like your furniture earlier. I thought that meant that you’d be buying new stuff for the new place…” she trailed off, possibly because of the look of astonishment on my face*.
Unless you have no debt, a solid emergency fund, and are willing to work longer to pay for it, why on earth should “not liking the look of something” be a reason to replace it? I know I’m in the minority here, and that most people think the way she does, but it still blows my mind that people want to waste money like that. Perfectly functional things should not be replaced! Yes, I’m sure that for a few months it’s going to make you happy to look at new, pretty furniture, but eventually it just fades into the background of your life. It’s not a thrill that lasts.
A couple months ago a coworker renovated her kitchen. I don’t know her well enough to ask her detailed questions, but her house is less than 10 years old so I’m willing to bet that it’s not that it was a matter of functionality. I saw pictures on facebook of both the old and the new kitchens (similar layouts, but new cupboards, counter tops, and appliances), and I didn’t know which one was newer. I literally couldn’t tell which one was apparently so out-of-date that she couldn’t stand it in her house anymore. I’ve heard this same woman complain how ‘in this economy’ no one can get ahead. I can think of another reason, actually.
You want to save money? Keep your shit. Get as much use out of it as you possibly can. When you actually, truly need to replace it, buy used. It’s amazing how much furniture ends up on Kijiji that’s only a couple years old at a fraction of it’s ‘new’ price. If you’re ever embarrassed about how it looks, ask yourself why. If you think your friends are judging you, you need new friends. That money you saved is going to take serious time off the length of your working days, and bring that magical FIRE date even closer.
*I’m bad at hiding my true feelings. Makes me really popular at parties.