You Can’t Make Me Move… Or Can You?

We can’t afford our house.

House

Perhaps on paper we can, but even then, just barely. We bought this house just nine short months ago, with less than a 20% downpayment and it should have been obvious to us then, with a new baby on the way, that we were biting off more than we could comfortably chew.

But correcting the mistake of buying a house is not an easy one. If we were to walk away now, we would likely have to bring money to the table at closing. But not walking away means a giant chunk of our budget is non-negotiable and we are barely making ends meet, much less paying off debt.

Which is an interesting position to place yourself in when what you really want to do is stay home. This house is standing in the way of our life.

Our Own Stupidity
We made a lot of missteps buying a house when we moved here about two years ago:

  1. First, we shouldn’t have bought a house here until we were sure we wanted to stay for at least three more years. I won’t go into the reasons here, but we have industry-related issues that could force a move as early as next year.
  2. We ended up buying a house 30 minutes from work, church, pediatrician, and gymnastics class (the class is funded by grandparents, so don’t roll your eyes at me). We couldn’t afford any houses closer – a giant red flag about the general cost of living here. So instead we traded a too-expensive mortgage for a manageable mortgage, plus extra gas and vehicle maintenance. I’m thinking we didn’t come out ahead.
  3. We were keeping up with the Joneses. We moved everything from our stuffed 2700 sq ft house in Texas and put it in a 1700 sq ft town home when we got here. We were tripping over each other, furniture, and dogs. We did not sell anything. Nope. Not one thing. We needed it all for a future house.

What Would Dave Do?
After our recent budgeting exercise had us so tight on vehicle maintenance, medical care, and groceries, I got nervous. I found a forum of Dave Ramsey believers and submitted my budget for review. You know what they said? They told me we needed to make more money.

Seems kinda crazy telling people whose combined income is well over six figures, but these folks couldn’t find too many areas to shave, considering we write four-figure student loan payments each month.

Due to the nature of our professions, we don’t have other viable employers in this area. If we want to make more money, that means we have to move or take on second jobs. We work 40 hours a week minimum, so with a long commute and small children, second jobs are hard to fit in.

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
Let’s say a new job opportunity presented itself to my husband. And let’s say it didn’t pay relocation, but the salary offered was good enough to entice us to move. We’d lose money on the sale of the house. We’d lose money moving. But isn’t it still the right call?

I think the answer is yes.

We are not ready to sell the house today, but I thought undoing our mistake might still be the best call. And then we could be prepared to quickly move if we needed to or wanted to. Andย whatย if we sold our house now for a fair price? We’d end up renting where we started out, which was across the street from our daycare and 5 minutes from work. Time is money. And location is money, especially with rising gas prices.

With that plan in mind, my husband and I decided to list our house on Zillow.com as a “Make Me Move”. “Make me move” is a premarket listing on Zillow, which some owners use it to see if their listing price is fair and some are using it to post a house that might need a few things before being placed on the actual market. The process is simple – it only took me about 15 minutes to do a thorough listing.

Next Steps
With the house (sort of) listed, we have a few things to start tackling. We want to be prepared for moving back into a 1700 sq ft place with an extra body (after all, we’ve had a baby since leaving the townhomes).

  1. We need to downsize. We have two couches, for example. And two washers and dryers. Craigslist, get ready!!!
  2. We need to minimize. We have too. Much. Stuff. My daughter has a playroom filled to the brim with toys. I have clothes in three closets (to be fair, one closet is maternity clothes, which I am still in, and the others contain various sizes I hope to one day be. Again.) I think I have something like 6 cake pans, which is a lot for someone who rarely makes a cake. Yard sale and consignment shops, here we come!

Anything we net from Craiglist and the yard sale will be set aside to help us bridge the gap at closing. If we get lucky and don’t have to bring money to closing, we’ll roll this money back into our debt.

What about you – have you ever had to lose money to put yourself in a better financial position?

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9 thoughts on “You Can’t Make Me Move… Or Can You?

  1. We JUST went through this last year. We bought a house when my husband and I were both working, and then when I stopped, we could just barely stay afloat… HALF of his income was going to our mortgage. After lots of prayer, we felt like our next step was to sell our house. Long story short, we thought we’d lose a LOT of money on the sale, since we had only been in the house 2 1/2 years, but since it would help us in the long run, we went with it. Miraculously we only had to bring $700 to close. Then with insurance and escrow closing out a few weeks later, we actually had a lot more money than we had expected, which helped us through the first few months in our smaller home and having a newborn. I think the key is to listen and act in obedience. If you’re trusting God, he won’t let you fail!!!

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    • I am so glad you shared your story this morning and thank you for reminding me to put my trust in God. Of course we are praying over the situation, but I think we have a lot of doubt weighing us down. And it’s hard not to doubt your financial decisions when every one of them seems to be wrong! But I don’t think we’ve ever put our full trust in God. We’ve been missing that link and it’s time for us to focus on letting go and letting God.

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      • Girl, I’m right there with you!! I’m a total control freak with our finances, and it’s so hard because I feel like a family’s survival is so tied up with money!! My husband’s favorite saying is “It’s gonna work out.” Drives me crazy when he says that to me, but he’s always right ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. We are in an apartment right now to avoid many of the things you mentioned–namely, we do not know how long we are going to be here. If the opportunity arises, we want nothing tying us down here (we moved last year). We went from a house in our former city to an apartment here–NOT the easiest thing with TWO toddlers. They share a room and the “living room” is always our play room, dining room, and den! We laugh often though, for the memories are beautiful and the stories will be remembered forever. Hope you are able to find a really good buyer! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • It definitely has it’s moments though, like when we can’t just go fill up the kiddy pool and splash around in the backyard. To go outside we actually have to really go somewhere. :-/

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      • Ah, yes, the other side of the coin which I remember from the townhouse days. And kids go stir crazy inside for too long. But, even though it’s sometimes hard, you made the right choice for your family and I can definitely learn from your restraint!

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    • Plans are good, right? We are also contemplating renting out the house – it’s not in an area where a lot of people rent, but IF we could find a renter, that would cover our payments.

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