Our homes are more than the shelters that keeps us dry and warm. They’re the environments we strive to create to make our families feel safe and loved.
On top of that deep emotional connection is our sense of pride in our homes. And while pride motivates us to make the most of our home’s potential, it also leaves us vulnerable to the pressures of comparison. Who has the best-looking home? The best location? The best décor? The best kitchen appliances?
House pressure is real. So real that Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruze, who was raised in a debt-free household, was never tempted to borrow money . . . until it came to her home.
Perfect Home—Just Add Furniture
In her book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel admits that when she and Winston first got married, she didn’t want to invite anyone to their home. It was a nice house, but it was almost empty. They were slowly buying furniture as they had the cash to pay for it.
“I was so insecure about it that I’d ask Winston, ‘Can’t we just meet them somewhere for dinner?’” Rachel said.
House pressure actually comes from our tendency to use our homes as measuring sticks to judge whether or not we’re successful in life.
When they finally did invite friends over, Rachel battled with the knowledge that she could buy all the furniture she wanted that day—on credit—and impress her guests with a picture-perfect home. “That was one of the first times I understood why people go into debt,” she said.
In the end, she and Winston made do with their sparse furnishings, but she couldn’t keep herself from apologizing for their lack of stuff. Of course, her friends assured her that it didn’t matter, and, honestly, they didn’t mind.
“They weren’t putting that pressure on me—I was doing it to myself!” Rachel said. “I had certain expectations of what my home should be, and I thought they had the same expectations. But they just wanted to hang out with us.”
House pressure may be real, she discovered, but it comes from our own tendency to use our homes as measuring sticks to judge whether or not we’re successful in life. If our home isn’t as perfect as we think other peoples’ are, we don’t measure up either.
If our home isn’t as perfect as we think other peoples’ are, we don’t measure up either.
“But that only steals the joy we should have in spending time at home with our friends and family,” Rachel said. “Those comparisons end up stealing our paychecks too because someone will always have a larger home, a nicer home. You can’t spend enough money to keep up.”
Half Of America Has Trouble Paying for Their Homes
That’s a trap a lot of us fall into. The 2016 “How Housing Matters” survey shows that 53% of Americans struggle to make their rent or mortgage payments. They’re taking on extra jobs or overtime, not saving for retirement, racking up credit card debt, and even cutting back on healthy food choices to stay in the homes they have.
For some of those people, a temporary financial setback, like a job loss, is to blame for their current difficulties. But for others, it’s a way of life. They simply signed up for more home than they could afford, and now it’s catching up to them.
If that’s you, it’s probably tough to find any joy in homeownership right now. It may be time to make the tough decision to sell your home and downsize to something more affordable.
“When you’re talking about something you’re as emotionally connected to as your home, it’s not going to be an easy choice,” Rachel said. “But as perfect as your home may seem, if it doesn’t work for your family financially, it isn’t the perfect home for you.”
Downsize Without the Drama
If you’re considering downsizing your home, Rachel suggests you focus on these factors to make the transition as smooth—and financially beneficial—as possible:
1. The outcome will be worth it. It will be easier to follow through on your plan if you remember that the end result will be beneficial to your family. “I talked with a lady at an event in this exact situation,” Rachel explained. “She and her family moved for a job change, so downsizing was a little easier for them. But she told me that if she’d known the burden that would be lifted off their shoulders, they’d have sold their home so much sooner.”
2. Be wise with the income you’ll get to keep. “Sometimes I’m the worst about saying ‘Oh! Look at all this extra money we have!’” Rachel said. “If you’re downsizing so you can have that extra margin in your budget for vacations or other fun things, that’s fine. Just be intentional about your plan for that money, or it will disappear.”
3. You may be downsizing, but you can still have a home you love. Even if your new home isn’t exactly what you want, it should be one you know you’ll enjoy. “Just because you’re moving to a more affordable house doesn’t mean you have to give up all sense of pride in your home,” she said.
Most importantly, make sure the decision to downsize pays off, beginning with the sale of your current home. An experienced real estate agent will make sure your home sells quickly, netting you as much profit as possible so you and your family can move on to a brighter financial outlook.
We can help you prepare for the home sale process with one of our free Home Seller Guides. Learn how to spot an awesome real estate agent, impress potential buyers on a budget, set a winning price for your home, and more! It’s just one quick download away, so get your guide today!