Do you feel “at home” in your home?
Your home is often the biggest financial purchase you’ll ever make, especially if you live in Southern California like I do. But is it also giving you the emotional payoffs you hope for?
Your home is an important part of your financial plan because we have to consider your rent or mortgage, utility bills, maintenance, and taxes as part of your monthly and long-term financial picture. But to get the best life possible with the money you have, your home should also be a safe place that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. It should bring improvement to your life, not stress.
Here are four things to consider when trying to make your residence feel more like home.
Your personal touches.
In this age of social media humblebrags and free two-day delivery, it’s never been more tempting to get sucked into “Keeping up with the Joneses.” But if you’re always trying to surpass your neighbor’s latest big splurge, you won’t be creating a space that’s truly yours. You’ll just be buying a copy of someone else’s idea of home.
Forget about the celebrity Instagram boards, and instead think about how to make your house reflect your family’s passions and stories. Turn an unused bedroom into a crafting workshop or personal study. Bring those old family photo boxes down to a framer and breathe new life into your walls. Brighten up shelves with mementos from favorite trips.
If you’re considering additions or backyard amenities, try thinking about these changes in terms of the experiences they can create for you and your loved ones. Sure, a swimming pool sounds nice (and who doesn't want a pool in San Diego?). But a new deck and some green space might be a more versatile and welcoming environment for family parties or friendly get togethers. There will always be trade-offs when you don't have the space or the budget for exactly what you want.
Your personal comfort.
Sometimes less flashy upgrades to your living space have the biggest impact. A brand-new mattress isn’t as exciting as a backyard hot tub, but you’re certainly not going to spend 8 hours every day soaking!
If you’ve been sleeping in the same bed and slumping on the same couch for close to a decade, do some furniture shopping. Get some new pillows and sheets, or an ergonomic computer chair. These improvements aren’t just cosmetic – they’ll help you rest better and feel better. Good sleep is one of the best investments you can make in your overall health and well-being.
Many of us also live with little quirks that have a negative impact on how we feel about our homes: that room in the back that gets too hot in the summer, a leaky faucet, a living room with enough lighting for TV but not enough to read by, that nightmare hallway closet that’s going to explode someday. Minor household repairs and good old-fashioned spring cleaning can bring some welcome calm to the clutter we all accumulate.
Your personal geography.
Real estate pros like to say the three most important qualities in a home are: location, location, location. But the perfect spot for your first home out of college might not be the perfect place to get married, raise kids, and start your own business. Once your kids move out of the house and have families of their own, your feelings about where you live might change yet again.
Your home city or state might become more or less appealing to you over time as well. Beloved businesses and restaurants close. New establishments take their place. Friends come and go. The cost of living can fluctuate. Living in a high cost of living area like Southern California or Chicago is worth it to some people, and not to others.
Think about the lifestyle you want to live. Do you want to spend time outside, be active, be near the water, and hike in the mountains? Or do you want to be in the thick of the social scene, with good food, entertainment, and social venues a short walk away?
If your community no longer provides you the same comfort, activities, social circle, and engagement that it once did, it might be time to consider a move. This could be a reason to explore saving for a second home for extended weekends closer to your family or vacations that allow you to explore your passions.
Your personal journey.
As your life changes, your experience of home will change along with it, especially as retirement nears. The big family homestead might become a difficult empty nest for you and your spouse to maintain as you age. The familiar comforts of home might start to create a restless sort of discomfort. You might feel drawn to new places, new people, and new experiences to keep your golden years fresh and stimulating.
Or, like more and more retirees, you might decide that your current home truly is where your heart is. You might “retire in place” and give your current home some TLC that will prepare it for the next phase of your life.
So what does “home” mean to you? Make an appointment to come in and talk to me about creating a financial plan that will provide you with as much comfort as your favorite reading nook.