Creative Retirement: 7 Reasons to Sell Your Big House…Now!

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!

 

Trading a Big House for a Tiny House

This story about a company in Missouri that builds tiny houses has an interesting lede: a family is selling their big house and moving into a tiny house even though they can afford the big house. The reason? The big house eats up so much money that they haven’t been able to go on a vacation in seven years. They’ve decided to live debt-free and be able make memories instead of spending all their cash on a big, impressive home.

I get it. I used to live in a big house. It was a great place to raise our large family, but it cost a lot in upkeep, utilities and (especially) property taxes. So I understand where the woman in the article is coming from. I imagine that no matter how much you love your house, when it begins to keep you from doing other things you want to do, you start to fall out of love with it.

I suspect this woman may find her new digs to be a little constrained. She might be better off buying something a bit larger than a tiny house, but more affordable than her current large home. In any case, we’re seeing more and more of this sort of thing as people try to stay afloat financially and enjoy life at the same time.

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The Boring Sister Wins This Round

My sister is getting ready to sell her 6-bedroom mansion and downsize to a two-bedroom condo. For most people, this would mean spending weeks or even months going through everything, deciding what to donate, what to sell, what to pitch and what to allow in the new place. That’s how it was for me when I moved from our 5-bedroom house to a tiny ranch.

But that won’t happen to my sister. She has plenty of furniture in the home she’s about to sell, but she’ll sell most, if not all of it, without a backwards glance. As for the personal belongings, well, she doesn’t have that many.

You see, my sister is the opposite of a hoarder; she rarely keeps anything. This was predictable way back when we were kids sharing a bedroom. Her twin bed was always neatly made, with just one cute little doll or stuffed animal on the pillow as a decoration. Meanwhile, my bed had at least half-a-dozen dolls on it.

Her side of the dresser held a little ballerina statue and a hair brush. My side was covered with belongings and mementos of all sorts, starting at the imaginary line in the center and running out to the very edge. She often looked at my side of the dresser and said, “You’re such a slob!”

I disagreed; I just loved all my stuff, and I had lots of interests, which automatically translates into lots of stuff.

As a budding writer, I regularly used a toy typewriter I got for Christmas. It was parked on a card table in the corner of our room that I used it as a desk. Like most writers, I was also an avid reader; my Nancy Drew collection took up most of the space on our little bookshelf.

Of course, I had other toys besides the dolls on my bed. I had lots of Barbie dolls so they could talk to each other, and naturally they had lots of clothes, and they needed a furnished Barbie house, which I also had. Then there was my love of sewing, which let me to collect fabric remnants, sewing tools and a collection of patterns.

Meanwhile, my sister had very few belongings because she had very few interests. I don’t remember what she did back then besides fight with me over the sorry state of my side of the room. I do recall that she took ballet lessons, but other than that I think she mostly watched television. To her complaints about my being a slob, I usually retorted that she was boring.

She still is, to be honest. But she’s got the edge on me now, because her move from the mansion to the condo is going to be the smoothest downsizing ever, I just know it.

Life in One Box

This woman, who is a millionaire, says she can fit all her possessions in one box. She doesn’t even own a house or car. I guess I’m having a little trouble believing her because those kinds of large-ticket items can often be welcome tax deductions for those who make a lot of money.

But if she’s telling the truth, I have to admit I admire her. I have far fewer possessions than I had ten years ago, before we downsized our lives. But I still have more than enough and have to be very good about weeding things out from time to time. I can see where she might enjoy not having to do that. The decision-making is tiring, for sure.