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I am changing my number one budgeting tip to pay yourself first. Partially because that is going to be my focus this year but also because it’s a habit we should all get into if we are going to fund our future dreams and goals. We have decided that over the next few years we want to simplify our lives a little bit.
Due to the two times we refinanced to avoid disaster, once when I left my job to stay home with our children and the other time my husband lost his job. We are using up 90% of the equity in our home. We have made improvements but this is still a major cause of concern for us.
Even though our mortgage payment is lower than when we first purchased our home, we want to start buying some of our equity back. We are going to start paying ourselves first by putting whatever money we can come up with toward the principal of our mortgage.
We want to sell our house in a couple of years and buy a smaller house. The more equity we can get back by then will mean a larger down payment and a lower mortgage in the smaller home. My children are still very young so having smaller rooms won’t make a difference to them. A smaller mortgage payment will mean more money can go to their educations and our retirement.
We are willing to make that trade off to have a better financial future. We came to this decision because we were looking at campers. We never went on a honeymoon and have not been on a vacation away by ourselves or with our children in all of this time.
We were thinking that the initial investment of the camper would be worth it and would enable us to take more vacations in the future. We wouldn’t have to pay to stay in a hotel and we could cook in it.
We also live near the beach and instead of camping out there in a tent like we had been doing some times on weekends, we could stay there weekends, which the kids love to do, and be much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground in a tent.
We would also be able to take showers whenever we want. As much as I love the beach, being full of sand when I sleep bothers me. It doesn’t bother the kids, but sometimes we leave sooner than the kids would like because my husband and I want real showers.
It amazed me how much space there actually was in some of them. We looked at one that had two sets of bunk beds, which would be great for our two children and my stepson, and a bedroom with a queen size bed in it.
While we were there we decided to look at RVs. They totally blew me away. There was so much more space in them than I ever imagined. While I would not want to live in one full time, I realized just how much emphasis I placed on things in my current home.
I guess you could say that I had a light bulb moment and realized just how wrong my priorities were. When space is at a premium, you learn to make the most out of the space you do have. I have foolishly at times thought that our current home was not big enough.
This little trip to look at campers, because we thought it was a cost effective way to enable us to take more vacations in the future and spend more time at the beach which we currently love to do, has totally changed our priorities for the future.
Our new focus is going to be getting back as much equity as we can and doing whatever improvements we can that will increase the resale value of our home. While many people who drive by have told us that the outside of our home is beautiful, we are now going to see what we can do to make improvements on the inside that will help to increase the resale value.
Seeing those campers and RVs made me realize that you can have a good looking functional home without all of the clutter. My house is also nice looking on the inside but I realize now how many things I have accumulated, that weren’t really necessary, just because I had the space to do it.
Looking around now I see furniture and knick knacks I really could have done without and would not have purchased if I did not have the space. I didn’t accumulate this amount of stuff when I was single because I lived in apartments and knew I didn’t have the space.
I always made my apartments look nice, but they did not have the cluttered look that I have only just realized that my house has, since I knew there was no more space available. We have over the last year and a half cut back a lot. I now realize though that we can do even better.
Buying new window treatments was something I had wanted to do this year. I now realize that what we have is good enough. They are attractive enough and improving the look of my dining room and living room is no longer as important to me as it was.
Now we will save for replacing some windows, because we are getting some drafts in the house, which caulking has not been able to stop. Updated windows, that keep the heat in and the drafts out, will do more for the resale value of our home.
We also had intended to replace the carpeting in our home. We have wall to wall carpeting throughout most of the house, which was in the house when we bought it. No amount of shampooing, which I do once a month, can completely get rid of the stains on this light gray carpeting from two small children.
Before we decided we were going to sell in the next few years, we were going to replace it with more carpeting for ourselves. Carpeting is less expensive than some of the other options. Now we will replace it with wood floors or laminated wood floors because that will increase the resale value too.
Any improvements we do over the next few years will only be with an eye toward increasing the value of our home and only replacing things that are really necessary as they break or wear out.
So make whatever effort you can to find that $5, $10, $25 or more a month to pay yourself first. That doesn’t mean that you have to save it at first. Put it toward your debt if you have a lot of debt. Put it in home improvements if you are thinking of selling in the near future. Put it toward your first vacation, if that is your primary goal.
Just make it a habit to fund at least one goal this year. You will never have the type of financial future you want to have if you don’t make paying yourself first and funding your goals a habit. Now matter how small you have to start, just promise yourself you will start now. Start with your pocket change if you have to.
Save it everyday and bank it once a month. It does add up.
My next tip for you for the New Year is to keep your eyes your mind and your heart open because you never know when or where you will come across the idea that will motivate you to start making and carrying out your plans for the future.
If anyone would have told me that shopping for a camper to vacation in could change my perspective and priorities, I would have laughed at them a week ago. You never really know where or when inspiration will strike you.