One of the hardest parts about being “suddenly single” is finding yourself alone in the home you once shared with your spouse and, perhaps, children. Now, you’re left with memories—as well as more house, yard, and possessions than you need, all of which need tending to.
- Ask yourself: Is this how you want to spend the rest of your life?
- Try this fun (and thought-provoking) trick: Estimate the number of years you have left on this Earth. Turn those years into days, hours, and minutes. Now, ask yourself: how do I want to spend this precious time? Is your answer, “Cleaning house, mowing the lawn, and maintaining my stuff”? I didn’t think so.
A home, of course, especially if we’ve lived there for a long time, can be as much a sentimental object as a shelter. Memories fill every room, turning each into a cherished memento.
- But let’s be real: it’s the people who made those memories, not the wood, plaster and glass that make up the house. Who says you would not love another home—one more appropriate for your household size, lifestyle, and income—just as much or even more?
Maybe your house serves as a status symbol, reassuring you and others that you’ve “made it” in life. Perhaps you felt giddy when you first moved in, thinking, “Look at me now!”
Having a big, beautiful house is the essence of the American dream. Popular culture helps reinforce the notion that “we are what we own.”
- But houses cost money—the bigger the house, the higher the price. There’s always something, it seems: appliances break down, a storm damages the roof, squirrels nest in the attic, trees need pruning, the furnace needs replacing.
Large houses cost more to heat and cool. They cost more to insure. Their taxes are higher. Meanwhile, rooms languish, empty and unused. Is this the best use of your money?
Finding yourself, unexpectedly, alone is incredibly stressful. Why add to your worries with the endless list of chores and expenses a big house incurs? Selling your house and turning the proceeds into liquid investments means you can use your money whenever and however you wish, offering real peace of mind.
Here are 3 “Action Item” suggestions for getting started:
- Downsize. Purging your closets, drawers, shelves, and basement of items you don’t use or need can be liberating. You feel lighter somehow, as if bailing out a too-heavy vessel.
After you’ve finished, you’re left with things that you own, consciously and by choice, not things that own you.
- Test the waters. Check out some smaller homes for sale or rent, whether houses, condos, or apartments. Make a list of features that you love about your current home, or wish you had. A sunny breakfast nook? A shady yard? A modern kitchen? View only places that meet your criteria, and see if any excite you.
- Talk to a financial planner. Should you buy or rent? How much should you pay? Conventional wisdom says no more than 28 percent of monthly income should go to housing. If you reduce your costs, what might you do with the extra money? Invest, travel, give to your children, give to charity? All of the above? A financial planner can help you to use your funds wisely and live the life you truly want.
Change is difficult, and even more so when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly. You may feel out of control—but this feeling will pass. Once you’re ready to take the reins, asking how much house you need and want is a great first step.
Fulcrum Financial Planning is here to help you reclaim your life, and plan for your best future. Call today for your free consultation—we’re on your side!