Argh. We have made so much progress. We have been downsizing. We saved our money. We sold our house. We sold our car for Pete’s sake. Whoever Pete is.
But after sloshing and slopping our way through wettest winter in memory, the prospect of standing in cold rain waiting for one more train or bus is horrific. And I have ridden my bike in all weather conditions, including snow. But, as much as it pains me to say it, I am done. Why subject myself to cold and wet streets and incredibly inept, distracted and self-entitled drivers one day longer? So I caved and bought a used 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee for $28k off of Craigslist. Yep.
After all of our posts and discussions about saving money and the benefits of being car-free, this is what we did. Crazy, huh? It seems hypocritical, and maybe it is. But having our own car will mean no more waiting for the the damn bus or train, or cycling in the dreary, wet Portland winter. And no more paying $30-$60 per day for a rental car when we want to go on a trip. And, frankly, I had forgotten how good it feels to get in your own car!
Rethinking our American Dream
That’s not all. After almost two years of living as renters, we decided to jump back into the housing market. Yes, I know the blog has touted our house-free lifestyle and disparaged American Dream views that many people have, but sometimes things just happen. About two weeks ago we saw a newly listed 103 year-old house in the charming neighborhood near our apartment and, yada yada yada, we called our agents and made an offer. It is a beautiful house with a lot of potential.
Because of the high prices and low housing inventory, we were advised to submit an offer much higher than asking price, along with a letter pleading with the owner to sell to us. After about 4 days the offer was accepted. We extended ourselves beyond our comfort level price-wise, but certainly can afford the payments, especially if we modify some of our plans. Maybe there is a place for debt, as long as there is income to pay it.
Our plans, newly minted
We are actually kind of looking forward being homeowners again. Here are a few improvements and upgrades we want to do, and some needed maintenance items to address:
- Remodeling the basement- potential for a second bathroom and two bedrooms!
- Crown molding in the dining area
- Solar tubes for upper level
- Re-insulate the attic
- Sand and refinish hardwood floors
- Replace furnace and water heater
This will take time and cash flow, which I will explain in the next section. There are also rooms that require furniture*, so that’s on the slate for next weekend.
The Jeep is in great condition with low miles, and will be perfect for our house projects. We’ll also be able to use it for our vacations because I’m adding a Thule Roof Box and trailer hitch. Insurance is $1400 a year, which is higher than I expected, but what the heck. It’s worth it just for the peace of mind.
What does this mean for the Grumbys?
Regular readers, patient friends and family members know that we planned to retire mid year in 2018 and travel by bicycle for a few years. And we still might do a bike trip at some point. But for now, we will keep our jobs for a few more years in order to get a handle on the new abode and hopefully pay the mortgage balance down. We are both healthy, relatively young-ish, handsome, active and earn good incomes. Working a few more years will make things a bit easier in the long run, and we get to enjoy our new (to us) house and car!
Downsizing and aggressive savings has been a valuable learning experience, but ultimately we realized that life is too short to deprive ourselves of nice things, even at the expense of a few years of freedom. And to be perfectly honest, it became awkward that Mrs. G and I lived in an apartment (albeit a nice one) and rode the bus while our peers and colleagues enjoyed a higher standard, driving nice new cars and owning their own homes. So I guess we succumbed to peer pressure. To be perfectly honest, it became apparent that image and lifestyle were more important to both of us than we thought a year ago.
PT Barnum** said….
“…there’s a sucker born every minute.”.
Ha! Do you see what I did here? I filled this April Fools post with nothing but alternative facts! (also, I brilliantly posted before April 1! It’s hard to keep up with me. Right?) I hope your bullshit detector, or sarcasm detector for those of you with better breeding, was flashing and screeching the minute you read that we bought a $28,000 car. If not, I’m sure you figured it out when you saw that we bought a house that needed extensive remodeling…
The Grumbys have not lost their minds, despite what you might think. We barreling towards 2018 and retirement at 67,000 miles an hour.
Maybe someone who reads this will take this incredibly hilarious and original (?) April Fools sarcasm to heart. Get rid of unneeded crap, save some money and stop buying sh*t you don’t need. It is better to make decisions based on your priorities rather than how much vacation time you get and how much cash you have after all of the bills. If your mortgage payment is reasonable and short, and your car is paid for, then good for you. If you are in debt to your eyeballs due to lifestyle inflation, then get on the frugality wagon.
Back to Reality
Here is something to think about:
Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over my body.”
-Roger J. Corless, Vision of Buddhism: the Space Under the Tree
Please feel free to comment below. I would like to hear what your barriers to financial health are, or if you have been successful in getting a handle on your money and things, how did you do it? Or how you think all this is a bunch of crap and it won’t work in your life because you don’t want to be deprived and it’s just too hard and your bros like to have beers and that costs money. Are you making the same lame excuses and justifications I made above, like “It’s worth it just for the peace of mind”, or “life is too short to deprive ourselves of nice things”? If so, you need an intervention. Contact me immediately.
If you are seeking a full stomach by taping sandwiches all over your body, hopefully you’ll see something here that inspires you to stop. It is a ridiculous thing, taping sandwiches to yourself. Plus you’ll get disgusting, horrible gross mustard on your skin, which would be my own personal version of Hell.
Thanks for reading.
*Furniture shopping is one of the most horrific, mind-numbing and depressing voluntary activities I can imagine.
**Actually, that quote has been widely misattributed to Barnum. It was David Hannum. Look it up. Also, misattributed is a word, even though it looks weird.