Although financial experts urge us to think about retirement soon after we begin working as 20-somethings, most of us don’t think very much about retirement planning until we reach a certain age…you know, once we start feeling that age, with the usual aches, pains, and thoughts like, “They stopped recording good music in the 70s.”
The fact is that most people don’t like to think about planning for retirement. And with all the experts out there insisting we have to have at least $1 million saved up (right, that’ll happen for most of us), who can blame them?
But there’s one thing you can do right now that can only help your retirement plans: sell your big house.
A big house is nothing but a burden to anyone in their 40s or older. Here’s why you should sell, now:
- A big house requires many hours of your time paying for it and keeping it up, hours you could be spending on the golf course or reading good books.
- A big house usually means higher taxes, costing you dollars that you should really be putting away for retirement, especially if you have no pension or retirement account to speak of.
- A big house encourages your adult kids to move back home, or to never leave in the first place. Times are tough, I know, but how will they learn to cope if they have your basement to hide in?
- A big house lets you keep the clutter instead of dealing with it. One reason people postpone freedom in the form of downsizing their lives is that they don’t want to go through their possessions and make decisions about what to keep and what to give up. But if you don’t do it now, the job will just hang over your head until you (or your heirs) are finally forced to deal with it.
- Big houses aren’t as popular as they used to be, thanks to smaller families and a lousy economy. Sell now so you don’t take a bigger loss down the road.
- Big houses are often two-story or multi-level houses; at some point you’re not going to want to deal with stairs, or you may not be able to. So it’s unlikely that you’ll want to stay in the house in your old age.
- If you have enough equity in your big house, selling it and using the proceeds to buy a small house, townhouse or condo will let you face future retirement with a paid-for abode.
I think that last point is especially important if you don’t have a pension waiting for you. The biggest item in most budgets is the mortgage payment or rent. Imagine not having to pay that someday if you have only a modest retirement income to live on!