Spendaphobia – I think I have it

by Sandy L on April 10, 2012

I’m house hunting. It’s clearly something that’s right for my family.  The thought of living in a bigger home that can house my mom on a little more land is SO appealing…but I’m going through sticker shock.   The good news is that having bought 2 fixers already, I can clearly see the potential in an older home that needs work.  I can reconfigure things in my head and imagine kitchens with shiny new appliances and different layouts. The downside is a little calculator in my head starts tabulating all the costs a new home will bring.  My brain is going click, click click, caching, caching..as it’s summing up all those new expenditures. In addition to my brain, my body gives me signals too.  I literally get nausea at the thought of paying a certain size mortgage payment every month (even if we can “afford” it). It seems like I also have an upper limit on the amount of property taxes I will pay as well.  Some towns have crazy high tax rates and one house I’m looking at has taxes that are more than the mortgage was on my house. Blech…can you hear me choking down that vomit yet?  Yes, it’s way over assessed and I’d have to file an abatement and all that, but  the thought of that really scares me..to be throwing that much money on taxes that I will never ever get back.

Most shrinks will tell you that most of these strange things are linked to some warped childhood experience. For me, I think it was this sense of being trapped because I was poor.  From the time I was able, I started earning money every chance I got so that I had more freedom.  The very first experience was when I started babysitting on a regular basis and could actually go to a mall and buy cute clothes (vs the boy clothes my mom sewed for me from 70’s polyester…oh and it was the 80’s now btw). So as you can see, the thought of willingly entrapping myself to a certain size house payment isn’t very palatable to me. Above all, I want to maintain my freedom, so the buying a home based on one income rule must be kept intact.

Speaking of phobias, Babci has a great fear of any kind of vermin.  When she sees a mouse, even if it’s a fake one, she jumps up on her tippy toes and screams. Well, I’m sure this is linked to her experience of sleeping in straw tick beds growing up with all of the neighborhood mice burrowing in her bed.  It must have been terrible.   Human hair not attached to anyone’s head also majorly grosses her out. When she sees a hair anywhere near food or in the kitchen she scrunches up her nose, shudders and removes it immediately.  As I take a shower every morning and see the miniature cousin it at the bottom of my tub, I think I understand that one as well.  Babci didn’t have running water, so none of the 11 people living in her one bedroom farmhouse got to shed their hair in a designated place every morning. I think people bathed maybe 1/week back then if they were lucky.  There must have been hair everywhere and on everything.  I think I get it now when before it always seemed like a weird thing to get all grossed out about.

So..back to my phobia.   I think in general, it’s a good thing to go into a buying situation with open eyes, but I also think it may hold me back from making the right decision. My biggest fear is not overspending on a house but underspending when we might just be at the bottom of the market right now.  Of course, the realtor is pushing the more expensive places as the best values relative to what they used to be worth, but my frugal side is rebelling even at homes that are less than 1/2 of what the bank says we can afford.  Plus, my frugal side is telling me that it will be easier to move a cheaper property someday vs an expensive one because it’ll be more affordable to a broader range of people.  I think house hunting will take a while and hopefully I’ll end up somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.  It may just be that the 150ish properties that are on the market now just aren’t that good and “our home” hasn’t come on the market yet.   I thought I got close last week with a tear down on a nice bit of land but then I found out there might be stuff I don’t want buried on the property.  Of course, I didn’t find this out from the listing agent (and I asked specifically about it), but a neighbor who lives around the corner that I know pretty well.  Yikes.

I can see now why some people fear change.  There are a lot of unknowns to making a big move like this. However that’s not to be feared.  There’s a lot you can do to educate yourself about a new place or a new opportunity with the main thing being, do your homework!  I think my gut will tell me when we’ve found our place, but for now, I’m trying to keep an open mind and looking at as many options as possible. How many of you knocked on the door of your neighbor’s house before you put an offer on the home you’re in now? Am I weird for doing that?  I mean I made sure I didn’t look like a bible salesman when I did it, but still.



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