Nobody’s Perfect: Thoughts on Choosing the Right Path

The right financial decision is different for every family. How do you make those choices? In life, in parenting, in money management, in relationships, you name it: Nobody’s perfect. First, we play the hand that is dealt us. Then, our decisions don’t always lead to the result we wanted.

In my 36 years on this planet, I’ve learned that the best way we can go about our one and only life is to make the best decisions we can make, with the information we have at the time.

There is no one better equipped to make those decisions than yourself.

It is with that outlook that Mr. Stapler and I have decided to buy a modest house in my hometown. You know, the hometown that is very expensive. The one with the 2,000 square foot homes for $570,000. Except that the house we’re buying is only 1,500 square feet. And slightly more expensive.

I read everyone’s comments to my post Will We Regret Buying a House? and took them to heart. To say that I was in a funk for the rest of the week is an understatement! But I picked myself back up and started the housing search in other towns; towns that had lower-priced real estate and still had great schools.

We went to an open house of one such home, but I couldn’t see ourselves there for the long term. It was just enough house for our family right now, but I couldn’t picture two strapping young men living in tiny rooms with slanted ceilings (and one didn’t have a closet). With the property lines so close to the house, there was no place to expand and put a garage. The property was at its maximum capacity, and I could not pull the trigger.

There are several reasons why I want to stay in the same home for the next twenty years. First, there are significant transaction costs involved with selling your home and buying another — 5% commission, attorneys’ fees, inspection costs for the new house, and moving costs. Second, I want to make commitments with our furniture and decor; if I anticipate moving in the next decade, I know I would resist replacing that plastic “furniture” we have now. Lastly, I just hate to move.

Then a house in my hometown went back on the market. I had toured it weeks earlier and loved it, and it was the house I mourned after we started to look at other towns. It’s on an acre of land with mature trees. It’s nothing fancy or flashy, but it is in excellent shape — we could move right in. The kitchen is modest but modern. The bathrooms are small but clean. I could tell that the owners took good care of the house during their 30-year stint there.

When the house came back on the market, I couldn’t resist showing it to Mr. Stapler and crunching the numbers again. Although finances would be tight, we could make it work. Yes, we would have to withdraw our Roth IRA contributions, and that’s not awesome. But what better reason to withdraw them, than to buy the house that we see ourselves living in for 30 years?

Yes, finances will be tight during the first year, while we shell out for both daycare and preschool. But, as my mom loves to point out, being two miles from my parents will relieve some of the childcare burden when Little Stapler can get off the bus and see his grandmother waiting for him at home, ready to engage him in her latest art project. Or his grandfather, ready to explore the trees and rocks on our property.

View from the Top

It’s impossible, really, to know what the view will be like when we emerge from the trees at the peak of our journeys. But we will never know if we don’t take that first step. So, stay tuned for what could possibly be a spectacular disaster or a calculated risk that pays off long-term dividends. Most likely, it will be somewhere in-between.

Have you ever taken a big financial risk that paid off? Or didn’t? 

10 thoughts on “Nobody’s Perfect: Thoughts on Choosing the Right Path

  1. Congrats on the new home! Buying a house is not really an investment, it really is a personal decision. And no one can tell you what that right decision should be except you and your husband. You made great points about why this will be your “forever home” so I’m sure it’s the right decision. It’s something I think I’ll face in a few years. Do I buy a house in the neighborhood where I want to be…even though it’s just so expensive? I’m in the NYC metro area btw…not sure if you’ve mentioned it before, but do you mind sharing what part of the country you’re in?

    • We are also in the greater metro area of a major East Coast city, but it’s not as expensive as NYC (what else is?!).

  2. Congratulations on the new house (can we say that yet? Are you sure that you’re actually getting the house?) It sounds like you will be very happy there, and are willing to make the financial moves that are necessary to make it work. I hope it’s a good home for decades to come.

  3. Congrats on your housing decision. Honestly, only you can make that call. We live in a super cheap cost of living area but opted to move to the highest cost of living county in our state because of the schools. It’s still cheap here compared to other parts of central Indiana, but we pay more here for less. At least we don’t have to do private schools. There is a lot that goes into the decision of where we live with our families!

  4. Definitely not an easy decision. I’m sure you guys will work it out. The important thing is that you actually looked at the numbers before purchasing! You understand that it’ll be tight that first year and won’t go blowing money all over the place. 🙂

  5. Sounds very scary. I definitely hope it works out for you.

    I don’t know if I could stomach the risk. But you guys have clearly crunched the numbers, weighed the pros and cons, and made an informed decision. In the end, as you say, we can only do our best.

  6. Aw, congrats on the new home! I have to say, I have a tendency to make completely insane decisions… and they often work out. You really never know how life is going to turn out, all you can do is your best. And trust your gut instinct. And then plan for the worst too ;o)

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