How It Feels To Spend $44,000
I am a very frugal person. I always have been. Before I purchased my home, the most expensive purchase I’d ever made was a plane ticket. Otherwise, I buy my clothes at Goodwill and I cook my own meals. I don’t live a luxurious lifestyle.
BY TAYLOR FRASER | ADVENTURES OF A FIRST TIME HOMEOWNER
When I was 14 years old I got my first job as a waitress. My high school was hosting a trip to Europe, and I was determined to be on it. When you’re 14 years old, you don’t have tons of money up your sleeve, but I had been raised on the teachings of the financial guru, Dave Ramsey. In a nutshell, Dave believes that you should work hard to earn money to pay for whatever you want in cash, and he preaches that you should NEVER go into debt of any kind.
I got to work, and I earned the money to go on my trip. I visited 5 countries that year, and it changed my life.
Throughout the years, I continued to put money away without really knowing what I was saving up for. I put so much pressure on myself to work and save up cash that I went to school full time in college and still worked 3 jobs simultaneously. It was a sort of a strange obsession, but I knew money meant freedom. It meant independence. It meant having opportunities. I kept earning money. I seldom spent any of it.
Recently, I looked at my bank account and realized the fruits of my labor. Over the course of many years, I had built up a very significant chunk of change. I knew the money needed to be put to better use, so I thought about my options. I could invest it, or I could buy a home. I am not a financial guru, but as far as I could determine there are a few things in life that a human being absolutely needs. One of them is a place to live.
When it came time to wire the downpayment and closing costs for my home I couldn’t breathe. It was time to spend some real money, and that felt very, very foreign to me.
I walked into my bank. The security guard looked at me suspiciously. I was sweating and breathing hard.
“How can we help you?” the woman at the front desk asked.
“I need to wire $44,000.”
“Great! Where’s the money headed?”
I handed over the name of the bank and their routing number. She filled out a form, and she told me the money would leave my account next week on Monday.
I started having a panic attack. I called my mom from the car.
“It’s going to be ok,” she said.
“But I just spent $44,000!” I said between difficult inhalations.
“You didn’t spend $44,000. You invested it. You moved it from a bank account where it sits making no money, and you moved it into an investment that will grow.”
She was right, but I was terrified. I walked into my office where my colleague was standing.
“Are you ok?” Lee asked.
I started to cry. “Lee, can I have a hug? I just spent $44,000.”
Lee smiled and said, “Taylor, I purchased my home 3 years ago, and it’s already gone up $90,000. Do you understand how much money $90,000 is? That’s enough money to change your life. If something happened, and I needed that money for my family, I’d sell the house, and then I’d have $90,000 worth of equity to get us through a rough patch. You didn’t just spend $44,000. You invested it.”
I went back to my desk and opened my online banking account, and THE MONEY WAS ALREADY GONE! I thought I’d have until Monday to psychologically prepare myself for this.
I looked at my accounts. $44,000 smaller. My life savings were gone… and then I remembered, this is an investment. That money isn’t gone. It’s a house. It’s a home that I will live in for years to come. It’s a home where I will create memories and host dinner parties and laugh and cry and panic and love and sleep soundly.
I own something. For the first time, I own something significant… and I realized that my panic didn’t mean I was weak. It didn’t represent doubt or regret. It meant I was paying attention. It meant I was being present for one of the biggest decisions I will ever make in my entire life. I was letting myself feel it, and I was taking it seriously.
I’m still frugal. That’s never going to change. I am also smart- smart enough to know a good investment when I see one and smart enough to spend my own money wisely.
It doesn’t feel comfortable to spend $44,000. It feels like you’re changing your life… because you are. What kind of life leaves you feeling comfortable 100% of the time anyway? Sometimes you need to make big, smart decisions that will accelerate your life in the right direction. That’s what I did, and that’s how it feels to spend $44,000.
ABOUT TAYLOR FRASER
Taylor Fraser is the Marketing Coordinator at of The Gilbert Group. She is a creative explorer with a passion for all things real estate from architecture, to construction, to interior design, to DIY projects.
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