Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not Adding, Not Halving - Just Going Sideways

Let's face it - my cottage by the sea is a long-term plan. A 10 year plan, realistically.

In the meantime, my plan is to simply my things, cut back on expenses, live more lightly on the earth and have more time/money for fun.

These last few days have been confusing for me. We're trying to sell our house but we're in an awkward place in our local market. It's a large house - about 3300 square feet or so - five bedrooms, three baths, at the edge of one of the better sections of town. The problem is, it's not in the best section of town, and it's not new. While we've remodeled much of it, we haven't done some key areas - the kitchen floor, for one thing. It's not selling.

One reason we think it might not show very well is that our furniture....oh, how to put it

We have a couple nice pieces, but the rest are cast-offs, hand-me-downs and so forth. Perfect for a family trying to cut costs and live lightly on the earth. Not so great to sell a house on the upper end of the market.

Dh decided it was time to upgrade some of our stuff. So we spent Monday morning walking all over town looking at furniture stores. I must confess I felt of two minds about this. Aren't we supposed to be cutting back on things? Isn't our money supposed to be going toward experiences? Should I perhaps pick right now to tell dh about my halving plan?

I probably should have. But instead I bought a dining room set. In my defense, here's the table we've had for the past four years:

Note the orange! upholstery. Note the condition of the uphostery (okay - you can't see it. Believe me, it's in awful shape.) Note the pieces that are falling off. I consoled myself with that fact that as soon as the new set comes in, the old set is going out. We will sell it for small change - to be used on experiences, I swear!

But this extravagance raised a lot of questions for me that I'll address over the coming days. Are all things bad? Will the enjoyment I get out of hosting friends and family around our new table outway the expense of buying a "thing"? Should I be buying nothing in order to make my dream come true faster? Or should we be upgrading to a few "perfect" things that we love, and just get rid of all that we don't?

What is the correct balance between "things" and experiences?

BTW: Here's the set we're getting:


LCOG said...

Wow, that is a great concept and I am so impressed at how you have already put it to work. I understand the struggle, but in this housing market I've seen stories and watched friends so the upgrades to get the house to sell. That is what gets you to the next step in your plan.
I expect you will reduce (maybe even halve) your furniture when you move into the cottage which will balance this out some more.
Stay encouraged, it certainly sounds like you are stubborn enough to make it happen!

Jeanne said...

I find that when I'm surrounded by items I love, I don't need or want nearly as much. Enjoy your new table - you'll probably like it so much that you won't feel the desire to purchase a tablecloth to cover it up. :) See, you can automatically throw out half of your table cloths! Table-top centerpieces - yep, get rid of most of those, too.

Amy said...

I think we are living parallel (sp?) lives! I've been decluttering like mad for longer than I'd like to admit (several breaks in there for having babies, LOL) - we were about to put our house on the market, but we have changed our minds due to the horrible market here - because we have too much to upgrade. We're going furniture shopping this weekend. :) But I am of two minds on it also.

I was praying while I was weeding this afternoon, and it seemed like God was trying to tell me don't *worry* about the money it costs as long as you can afford it, what matters is the *love*. Will it help you be more hospitable? Will it help you get the house your family needs? Or maybe help you increase the love in other ways? It all boils down to that in the end. :)

BTW, the table is beautiful. I wish we could fit a square table in our dining room.