I hope everyone had a safe, peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Holidays are often taxing-especially on our savings accounts and sanity; gifts, travel and holiday celebrations are expensive. Hopefully we all found ways to minimize the excess in our holidays and exchanged it with inexpensive and genuine ways of showing our holiday spirit. This holiday I utilized the skills I’ve developed over the past few years of balling on a budget and I’m happy with the results. I Grouponed, Goodwilled, selectively shopped (in terms of items and stores), budgeted, bartered clothes, negotiated prices and inventoried. Ideally I saved myself some money, but at the very least I did what is at the essence of Balling on a Budget: I participated in our marketplace a little bit more consciously while worrying about my money a little bit less. How did you minimize the financial stress of the holiday?
This weekend’s Question and Answer contributor tells us about the pro’s of owning a home and reminds us of how easily we can regret our financial choices.
What financial decision are you most proud of?
Buying our house. I know a lot of people think that houses are nothing but money pits, but a family of five renting a home in a good school district is an expensive prospect! Once we bought a place, it was wonderfully relaxing to know that all the time and maintenance we were spending was going to our own investment. While I know it costs me more money, the peace of mind that ownership has brought was well worth it. And in the long run, it’s an asset that won’t significantly devalue (although I know that it may do so in the short term) which means that I can potentially start to use the equity in the house as a way to fund things in the future (three kids through college for example!).
What is your biggest financial regret?
I moved from a small town in Canada to Denver, CO to take a job in a small company. I had to pay to move my whole family, along with costs of flights back to the UK in order to get visas for everyone to come to the USA. All in all it was close to $20,000, which was all of our savings. Three months later, the job didn’t work out and I got a role at a much bigger company in Seattle – they paid for my family to move out, and covered all the flights (including the extra ones related to visas and all the visa costs). I really regret thinking that covering the costs for all of those things was a worthwhile use of all my savings. If instead I had stopped to think and apply to the larger company first I would have kept all my cash. Big companies often come with better benefits and compensation, and while it may not be as exciting or rewarding as working for a smaller company (where maybe you can make a bigger impact) it was eye-opening to me that I could be looked after in this way.