Stop The #HouseShaming, People!

by J. Money -

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Last week, 3 different people emailed me asking for advice because they keep getting pressured by friends and family (especially family) *to buy a home* when neither one of them wants to.

I got so riled up after the last message that I shot out which caused quite the hubbub for a hot minute or so:

house shaming tweet

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in this thinking.

Here were some of the messages and stories I got throughout the day:

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“Being already buried in ton of debt didn’t even shield me from the house shaming. It doesn’t stop. The stress of getting out of my existing debt has soured me on taking out a mortgage so I’ve developed Teflon skin about it now.” –

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“This is so true. Everyone wants you to buy a house. But guess what? Only YOU are paying for it. Your rent is the most you’ll pay per month for shelter while your mortgage payment is the least! Taxes, reno’s, repairs, taxes — homeowners have costs beyond a simple rent payment.” –

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“Please keep preaching this message. A house does not make you wealthy. Money and net worth makes you wealthy. Can a house purchase be a part of a good financial plan? Yes. Is it essential? No. You need a roof over your head. I know lots of winners who rent. Lifestyle choice!” –

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“We get so much about this from family and we own a large two bedroom condo in an expensive city! It’s not just rent shaming – it’s non-house shaming too.” –

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“We pay a shit ton for a furnished rental and we’re happy as larks. Amazing neighborhood, awesome landlord, amenities we’d never pay for on our own (saltwater pool, hot tub, prof home gym, chickens), and ZERO RESPONSIBILITY. Freeeeeeeeeedom!!!” –

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“I was totally #houseshamed into buying my house way back when…. now we live in an Airstream. Apparently we have thicker skin now ;)” –

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shame game of thrones gif

I get people wanting to help those they love, but after the first or second mention it’s time to back off and let them live their own lives! (Unless specifically asked!)

We all know what YOU would do in our shoes – but you’re not in our shoes, and you don’t fully know our situation/dreams/desires either. You see a sliver of it, but fortunately there are many different routes to happiness.

And for what it’s worth, I’m not even *against* home ownership at all! I actually think it’s an enormous benefit to people, and I give everyone mad respect for going after it if it’s what they truly want in their lives. And even more so, for paying it off early! The takeaway there though is “what you truly want in your life” – and spoiler alert, not everyone wants to own a house. Or have a car, bicycle, iPhone, video game, kids, wife, dog, TV.

There’s plenty of stuff to occupy and improve our lives, and thank GOD we live in a country that affords us such freedoms without fear or worry of incarceration! We should be so lucky!

So please, for the love all things holy, stop the shaming.

  • Stop shaming people into buying homes when they’re not ready
  • Stop shaming people into buying new cars if they don’t want them
  • Stop shaming people into going to college (or not going to college!)
  • Stop shaming people into saving instead of going out partying/traveling with you
  • Stop shaming people into early retirement if they’ve been smart enough to figure out how
  • And just overall stop shaming people into anything else they’ve consciously chosen to do in their lives, regardless of whether you approve of it or not

If you see someone making a mistake, say your piece and then let your loved ones figure it out on their own. If they choose wrong, you’ll be there for them when they come back asking for help, and if they choose right – then maybe consider re-assessing your own views and see it as an opportunity to grow yourself! We’re not always as smart as we like to think we are! ;))

A 4th message came in as I sat down to finish this post, and the last few lines of it just filled me with so much pride and lightened up my entire day:

At Easter my boyfriend’s aunt was asking me why we hadn’t yet moved in together yet, to which I responded “I want to pay off my loans first.” To my surprise, I found myself defending my decision to a table full of 50+ year olds about the possibility of financial independence. They responded with things like “there will always be something that comes up,” or “you’ll always be paying off something” – to which I confidently said “But why should that be the norm?” That made me feel so strong. It made me feel confident, like I had all the answers, which for once I’m okay accepting that stereotype of millennials – because in this instance I think it was warranted :)”

She went on to say that she’s never been so happy and confident with her decisions and conversations around money since finding $$$ blogs, and is now finally able to “really understand the meaning of financial stability” and the role it plays in both her life and relationships. And she’s certainly walking the talk too, just about killing $60,000 of student loans which will be cleared away completely next month – exactly 3 years after her graduation.

You do your thing, girl! Own that life of yours!!

And I hope all you reading this will also embrace your beliefs and strive for everything you want deep down inside. Only YOU know what you want most out of life (sorry, moms!), so stick with your heart, do your best, and then brush those shoulders off whenever you fall. Which you will, but better to fail doing something you want vs failing doing something others want.

This is your life!! Stay true to yourselves!!

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Accidental FIRE April 25, 2018 at 5:40 am

“Sorry Moms” Ha!

After seeing the title I thought this post was going to be about people like me who have a smaller modest-sized house. I’ve been shamed by people with McMansions – “you don’t have a garage!!!!?”

As long as we’re not hurting anyone then just be and let others be!

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2 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 6:14 am

The shaming goes all kinds of ways! It’s everywhere these days!

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3 Olivia April 25, 2018 at 5:51 am

I get this almost every year! At first the answer was “I’m in my early twenties, should I have enough for a down payment in NYC now?! Let me wait, guys!”. Now the answer is more like — I don’t want to live in NYC and want to settle down in a smaller LCOL city. The ROI isn’t worth it. Then they stop asking because they don’t want to debate ROI lol. And here I thought it was just an Asian thing!

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4 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 6:16 am

Ooooohhh good trick!! Nerd talk always shuts it down, haha..

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5 Slackerjo April 25, 2018 at 6:13 am

My family will always equate renting with poverty. Even if I won 50 million dollars in the lottery and continued to rent, I would somehow still be poor. Nothing will ever change their minds.

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6 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 7:06 am

Oh how I’d LOVE for that to happen though!! You have to rent at least for one year after becoming a multi-millionaire, promise me??? :)

(And also yes – that’s said :()

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7 the Budget Epicurean April 25, 2018 at 6:49 am

You hit it right on the head J! Why do we feel so entitled to others lives these days? I know we all have opinions and believe them to be right… but so does everyone else. As someone who has made lots of really great decisions and some not so great, and had to defend several of them for years, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s your life, your choices, your consequences. It could be problematic though in cases where someone is not sure what they want or when what they want changes. That’s when I think we’re most vulnerable to doubt and suggestion. I take solace in the fact that literally everyone, millionaires, tv stars, the guy from high school you hated who’s doing well now, are all just people. And they probably don’t know why they’re doing any more than you do. We’re all just trying to figure this life thing out and maybe enjoy it along the way :)

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8 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 7:23 am

Haha lots of truth in that for sure :) And very open to spreading beliefs and trying to help others of course (or else this blog would be pointless!), but it all comes down to people *keeping open minds* and more importantly, *wanting*, to hear other sides in order for any of this stuff to be productive… It kills me seeing people bash others in social media with politics or religion/etc, as if anyone’s ever logged on and said – “you know what? today I REALLY want my mind changed – please shame me into switching over, and the meaner you are the more I’ll be convinced!” Sometimes you just have to leave people alone until they’re ready to talk, and then be there for them 100%.

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9 Danny April 25, 2018 at 7:12 am

Preach it J.! I’m in a very similar situation to @LeighPerFin as we live in a co-op, and we still get non-house shamed Haha! In the past few months I’ve been asked questions like, “When do you plan on moving since your home is too small to start a family in?” or “It’s time you guys move on for your starter home”. To which my responses have respectfully been, “If our home is so small, why does a family of five live right below us then?” and “Our ‘starter home’ is paid off in full, how about you?”. Owning, renting, RV life…it doesn’t matter. As long as your happy in your current living situation, it’s just a place to eat and sleep.

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10 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 7:26 am

PAID OFF!! BAM!!! No way you could argue with that!

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11 Danny April 25, 2018 at 7:52 am

I beg to differ :) The reply to that was, “Oh wow…that’s great! That means you’ll have a bigger down payment when the time comes.”

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12 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:26 pm

What is wrong with people, haha…

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13 April 25, 2018 at 1:02 pm

There are families in our building! Someone with the same layout as us has two kids. I figure that we could probably happily have one kid in our space, but the house shaming also comes from a place of not agreeing with our plan to not have children (yes our parents all know AND talk about it to each other, ugh) and that then there is no guest room for parents to visit for months at a time for free. When friends ask when we are going to buy a house (because they are), then my husband has started telling them that we have a $100k mortgage and then they shut up, haha. Sorry they told you that you’ll have a bigger down payment when the time comes – a paid off place is amazing! Congrats on that!

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14 Danny April 25, 2018 at 7:57 pm

It’s all good regarding the bigger down payment comment. I actually got a good laugh out of it when that was initially said to me. Not sure if you and your husband are planning to pay off the mortgage quickly, but if you are I’d definitely recommend it. Our mortgage was about the same amount when we paid it off.

I am sorry you have to deal with house shaming from that perspective (never thought of it that way). It seems like from your comment you both know exactly what you want, and that’s awesome! If it’s any consolation from an internet stranger, I am happy that you’ve both made the decision that’s best for yourselves :) In any case, thanks so much for the congrats, and all the best Leigh!

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15 [email protected] April 25, 2018 at 7:31 am

Peer and family pressures are so dangerous. The truth is, many of the people shaming have no clue what they’re talking about. It’s quite possible that renting could be a better deal in any given area. If it’s not a better deal, it’s certainly more flexible. For those that don’t want to commit to spending the next 5+ years in the same home, renting is be better choice. Note that this comes from a homeowner.

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16 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Hah – true on that too! Everyone acts like an expert whether they are one or not :)

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17 Lily | The Frugal Gene April 25, 2018 at 7:46 am

Great advice as always J$! If it wasn’t for Airbnb we probably would have purchased a muchhhhh smaller house to simply live in orrrr a condo because….yeah the maintenance is no joke. The display pad on our microwave stopped working and that was half a hour of googling to figure out how to fix it. So much pesky little stuff.

“Stop shaming people into going to college (or not going to college!)”
Yessssssssssssssssss. Oh you can open that into a post right now. I think people college shame more than house because it’s so standard to go these days.

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18 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Fore sure.. especially as the costs keep going up and up for standard 4 years! Just praying that’s a bubble waiting to pop, but man – sometimes I wonder if it ever will?!

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19 Debbie April 28, 2018 at 7:05 am

2 weeks ago we hired a 15 year old kid to help spread some insulation in our attic (hubby has bad knees). Best $20 we ever spent, lol. He said he’s skipping college to become a plumber. In Oct. when he turns 16 he’s starting a part time apprenticeship with a local plumbing company (2 companies have already offered him this). He’s home schooled so his schedule is flexible. He’s been told he’ll always be busy & make as much money as he wants depending on how many days/hours he wants to work. He said “no way I want that college debt”! Very impressive young man who obviously won’t let anyone shame him into college!

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20 Codrut @ AboutStrollersBlog.com April 25, 2018 at 7:48 am

I like this quote..

‘Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.’

~ Carol Burnett

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21 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm

EXCELLENT one.

Not always so easy to remember, but excellent none the less :)

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22 [email protected] April 25, 2018 at 7:52 am

We bought the fancy, beautiful, big house. It sucked. It was literally the worst financial decision we’ve ever made, and it set us back a solid 3 years (minimum) in our FI journey. We’ll buy again, some day, but after what we went through all those people with their opinions on when to buy a house can just stuff it.

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23 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Ugh, sorry to hear :( There’s definitely a right and wrong place for it, and I’m sure we’ll go back to owning too if it ever does make more sense… Better for us to learn the hard way when we’re young vs later at least, eh? :)

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24 Leo T. Ly April 25, 2018 at 7:57 am

Our family often have good intentions and wants the best for us. Every since I can remember, my mom often asked me if I smoke or not. Every time my answer was no. This continued into my high school years and into my university years. Every single time I answered no.

I thought I would be off the hook once I am in my mid twenties. To my surprise, she still asked me in my mid thirties. I finally had to tell her to stop asking and explained that she can be at peace that I won’t smoke as I had stayed away from it for more than 30 years. I won’t start now. She hasn’t asked me for the last couple of years.

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25 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Awww haha…

I was kinda hoping you were going to play a trick on her and say “YES! I’m Finally smoking!!!” just to rile her up a bit, but probably a better route that you took to squash it once and for all ;)

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26 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 25, 2018 at 8:00 am

Sometimes I get so tired of older people giving me unsolicited advice.

I mean I respect them and all. But the fact that they think they know everything there is to know about life just because they are older than me is kinda irritating.

What they think is good might have been so decades ago. We evolve and have different mindsets nowadays. I wish people would stop telling me what is or isn’t good all the time. I have a brain, people.

End of an early morning rant.

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27 PaulM April 25, 2018 at 8:02 am

I’m a renter and proud of it. I owned once and yes the monthly mortgage/taxes were cheaper but not by that much and not being that handy, every repair really added up (and let’s not forget insurance, water bills…). I’ll gladly trade in the lack of home equity for not having to pay for expensive repairs and having to maintain and clean rooms we don’t need. When we retire, we are considering a condo in a lower COL area, which seems like a good compromise between renting and buying a single family home.

I don’t understand shaming at all. Why try to live another person’s life when you have your own?

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28 Chris April 25, 2018 at 8:10 am

Awesome – I love this topic.
Most people are frankly lacking in accurate knowledge when assessing the true cost of owning a home. For me, it is a lifestyle choice and nothing more. For every person who is dogmatic and bullish about buying a house, I can provide an example of a friend or family member who was destroyed financially because of the housing market collapse and being hopelessly underwater Here in Michigan, several areas have not fully recovered from the events of 10 years ago. Even in recovery, I have several clients who bought too much house, had no idea of the true cost of maintenance and repairs, and regret the decision daily.

My favorite example – I knew a gentleman who worked in the financial industry. He was very bright and an astute saver/investor. He NEVER owned a home in his life. He also retired a very wealthy man, moved to Florida and lived until he was 92 with plenty of assets to leave a legacy.

Can a house be an important part of a firm financial plan? Yes. Is it necessary to win with money? Never. Your personal residence is a roof over your head. If you want to make money on real estate, I know a lot of people who do it flipping houses, etc. Thank you J – this is a topic I feel extremely passionate about. Your personal residence to me is like a car – will it make you financially – highly unlikely. Can it break you financially – yes, very easily if you arent careful.

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29 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Ooooh very good analogy!! I’m stealing that!!!

And glad you’re so passionate about this as we need all the voicing we can do to help people realize there are TWO sides to this stuff and they’re both FINE! So long as you choose the one that best fits your own goals/life!

And really I have to thank you and the others who chimed in on Twitter which motivated me to expand on it a bit more as I hadn’t realized just how prevalent it actually was. So thanks!

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30 MK April 25, 2018 at 8:10 am

I’m in a different kind of house-shaming situation. I live in a 2,500sq ft house and my family (& some friends) keep on me about moving to “something smaller.” They say my house is too big for me, there’s too much upkeep, what if something happens, etc. I tell them that I can’t afford to move which isn’t quite the truth. My house payment incl taxes & insurance is less than an average car payment. I don’t want to move & take on a bigger payment. Let them think I’m stuck where I’m at – I’m smiling all the way to the bank!

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31 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm

HAH! You def. don’t see that side as much! :)

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32 Katie April 25, 2018 at 8:19 am

Yes! This is so great! I get so angry when I hear people constantly recommending buy a house to young people. The idea that buying a house is an investment is ridiculous! A house is a place to live and you can either buy it and take on all the expenses associated with it or you can rent one and have less liability.

My husband and I bought a house 2 years ago because we wanted to be able to fix up and remodel a place to our liking. There was no other reason for us to buy, we probably would have saved a lot of money (and frustrations) over the last 2 years by renting, but it would have never felt like our place, and that’s what we bought was to have our place and make it completely ours. I know in the long run it is probably a money pit, but it is providing a lot of joy now.

The American dream has changed significantly, and for a lot of people it no longer includes home ownership, and that is ok.

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33 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Thank you for chiming in here – and as a home owner at that! The Dream is definitely changing, but that’s okay! :)

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34 [email protected] April 25, 2018 at 8:26 am

Shaming happens about all kinds of things. There are lots of expectations in our culture and I think most people feel that at some or many points in life. Knowing why you’re making a decision is so important. Understanding your motivations can be a powerful game changer. All those people who disapprove will get over it anyway!

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35 FullTimeFinance April 25, 2018 at 8:39 am

Rewind about 15 years and I remember this happening to me. 25 and single and people were asking why I hadn’t bought a house. 2 years latter the housing market collapsed….it neither would have been a good deal nor as a single person pre my wife and kids could I have known the right house for me. Dodged a bullet by not listening.

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36 Paul April 25, 2018 at 8:42 am

Maybe people house shame to get validation that their own bad decisions weren’t so bad after all. As one of your comments above mentioned. Its not just house shaming but there are varying degrees. When we lived in a townhouse we were constantly looked down upon for having such a tiny house, even though we were young in our careers and that town home cost $350K… Once We actually outgrew the home (# of people, not possessions) we moved to a larger house that we live in now. I like it a lot. It has some draw backs but unless you have an unlimited budget you must make some trade offs. The thing is, house shaming is now so ingrained in our culture that people don’t even have to say anything anymore. Just the way people converse in general on the subject makes me feel like I’m looked down upon for not having at least 3000 sq ft, 10 ft ceilings and a completely finished basement… I moved to an area where that is the norm. I guess $600k is not a lot of money when it comes to housing…

It makes me mad actually, the house I have now is 20 times better than anything I grew up in. I never thought I would “own” something so nice and now because of the area it makes me feel like a loser at times.

I would rent, truly, but the DC metro area, if you are going to be here for a while I don’t think it makes sense. Rent is so high that its the same price as a mortgage…thus I would be able to save nothing and have nothing to show for it 30 years from now.

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37 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:07 pm

That is crazy right?? $600k would be a palace in some parts of the country (and especially the world!), but I guess no matter how big or small or where you live there’s always someone out there with “more” and ready to cloud our judgment :) I get caught up in the trap of always wanting a bigger/better blog too and often forget just how lucky I am to have stumbled across this community to begin with. I very well could have been in the blog cemetery just like thousands before me! But we’re still kicking! And I refuse to do all those gimmicks anyways to jack up my traffic, so I guess I’m perfectly fine where I am but still gotta be better about nixing the negative thoughts.

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38 Mr. Freaky Frugal April 25, 2018 at 8:43 am

Oh man, I’m with ya!

I’ve owned homes, but now we’ve FIREd and rent an apartment in fun downtown Philly. It’s way better for us!

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39 LilliesMimi April 25, 2018 at 8:49 am

On the flip side, we bought an inexpensive house and added my hubby’s dream garage on it. Now we get “Why do you need a garage like that?” “What were you thinking?” I’m thinking, he works hard everyday, we paid cash to build the thing and he plays in it almost everyday. You know the saying, happy wife, happy life? Works the same way, Happy Hubby, Happy wife! #StoptheShaming

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40 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:09 pm

HAH! Good for him!

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41 [email protected] and the Beach April 25, 2018 at 8:57 am

I feel like there is this stigma that you aren’t settled unless you own a home. Well, in most parts of the country. No one is at all surprised or judgey when you say you have to rent in LA. Everyone gets it, sadly.

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42 Money Beagle April 25, 2018 at 9:21 am

Everybody’s situation is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ advice that is going to be right or wrong universally. It’s very bothersome to me when people dispense money related advice as if everybody could fit into the same basket. Hopefully this post serves as a reminder to those who often fall into this trap.

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43 Karl. B April 25, 2018 at 9:32 am

I always like to read the other side of the equation! I’m a strong believer that owning your home (and eventually living rent free when it is paid off) is a great way to financial freedom. That is certainly the path I have chosen. I bought a modest home in a HCOL area (Toronto to be exact) that has appreciated substantially and am aiming to have it paid off in 4 years or so. I also am at a point now where I’ve been maxing out my tax sheltered accounts for a few years (TFSA and RRSP for us canucks).

That being said, I see a lot of people in their late 20’s/early 30’s renting and I totally understand why. In their situation, it actually is a sound financial decision. Houses have become unaffordable for them and in their position, I’m pretty sure I would be renting too. Or I would look at moving to a LCOL area if I really wanted to own. Purchasing a house for $250k? Sure, makes sense for me. Purchasing the same house 15 years later for $600k+? No thanks.

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44 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Appreciate you stopping by to share your views on it – thank you :) And congrats on KILLING it with your finances too, wow! Paid off home almost *and* maxed out retirement accounts?? Doesn’t get much better than that!

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45 Karl. B April 26, 2018 at 9:35 am

I should have probably stated I’m 42. It’s not that impressive really if you can keep lifestyle creep in check (i.e. not upgrade your home and increase your saving rate a bit as your salary goes up). The accumulation years are much easier if you live within your means and are happy with what you have.

Keep the good articles coming! I read religiously!

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46 J. Money April 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Still very amazing at 42!! Most people pay their homes off in their 60s, *if* they even pay it off! Def. gotta feel proud about that :) (And so glad you’re enjoying them – thank you!!)

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47 Primal Prosperity April 25, 2018 at 9:53 am

Holy cow.. I almost spit out my coffee laughing when I saw how you snuck in ‘wife’ on your list of things… hehe… that’s why you’re my favorite blogger… :)

Real estate has served me well financially, but sometimes I feel like just selling it all off and living in an island community where I don’t have to check email daily or turn on my phone, and I have no idea what day or time it is. :)

Also, real estate is NOT something to get into lightly. If someone is feeling the slightest bit hesitant… then they should seriously reconsider the purchase.

I agree about ownership and debt, in general…. it is not for everyone. I’m very much a minimalist, and for me, it goes way beyond just stuff. I hate paperwork and contracts. I hate oil changes and flat tires.

I’m very much a free spirit, and I just really don’t like to feel too attached or tethered… whether that is to a thing, place, idea, holiday, tradition, routine, schedule, etc… However, I would never shame someone for wanting the exact opposite. That is what makes people and relationships so much fun…. our differences and uniqueness!

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48 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm

(it’s funny you mention the “wife” part – I just got an email from someone who I’m pretty sure was upset with me for that line, haha… I didn’t mean it as a “possession” type thing – just a marriage one! – but I guess it came out the wrong way :))

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49 GJ April 25, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Yeah, “…not everyone wants to own a house. Or even a car, bicycle, iPhone, video game, kids, wife, dog, TV” definitely didn’t read well. ;)

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50 J. Money April 26, 2018 at 6:22 am

Just edited to “Or even *have* a car, bicycle… etc.” Definitely didn’t mean to imply ownership of anyone :)

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51 Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto April 25, 2018 at 10:07 am

Shame on you J$. You just #ShamedTheHouseShamers.

What a shame. ;)

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52 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm

It’s true – I am just as guilty at shaming! :)

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53 Lisa O April 25, 2018 at 10:10 am

This made me think of my moto I took on this year…..You do You!

We live a crazy world that has so many different rights and wrongs with people. I have decided that I do what makes me happy and with me being happy, I will pass that on to all. I do me…family, church, work, donate, volunteering and kindness.

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54 wealth well done April 25, 2018 at 10:15 am

Good advice, I own two homes, and have LOVED the experience of home ownership. But I actually recommend people to rent, until they’re ready, or they WANT to buy a home on their own. Doing something because you want to do it is so much more fun, and such a good experience for personal growth, than doing something because other people want you to do it.

Home ownership isn’t the most glamorous role. Stuff breaks, it gets expensive, and you get dirty fixing it. I personally just found out that I like getting dirty and working on a project occasionally more than I like having a boss and going to a job.

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55 brian @ singledadmoney April 25, 2018 at 10:20 am

I try my best to shame people (mostly family or co-workers) into NOT buying (new) cars.

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56 Joe April 25, 2018 at 10:40 am

I still think buying a house is a great financial move. But, I get that it’s not for everyone.
It’s probably a good time to buy, though. The interest rate is rising so you’ll pay more in mortgage in a few years.

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57 Mrwow April 25, 2018 at 10:44 am

We get this question all the time from friends and family. Seeing how we love in LA, my response is always something along the lines of:”if you wanna give me a million dollars I will, until then there’s other things I’d rather do with a million bucks” that usually shuts them up until we see them next time and we have the same conversation.

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58 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Brilliant :)

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59 B.C Kowalski April 25, 2018 at 11:03 am

I think people have to stop this “shaming” business all together. I posted a photo of my bicycle, after riding it after finally getting all the parts configured as I wanted them, and someone started commenting on the position of my handlebar, and telling me what I should do instead. Um, how about I decided what’s best for MY bicycle, that I’M riding!?

Housing is the same. Which is better, renting or buying? Yes. (This is my way of saying it depends.) Buying worked out for me because A) in my economic area, buying is WAY cheaper than renting, for a much better place to live. My 15-year mortgage payment is about the same as the crappiest apartment I could find in my area. B) I’m planning to stick around the area for awhile, and if I don’t, I will keep it and rent it out for extra income. C) I’m a light sleeper and after years of renting, had my fill of playing the neighbor lottery. The last one was so bad I was moving my sleeping mat to the kitchen to try to avoid the noise (first floor, second story didn’t extend above the kitchen). As I lay on the kitchen floor trying to sleep, I decided that was it.

Interestingly I never once had someone pressure me into buying a house, but I’ve definitely had this with other things. I’m really getting sick of being asked if I am married or have kids, especially the weird look I get when I say nope. And every time I write a story on some group or activity, I’m always asked, so when are you going to join? If I did this every time I wrote a story, I would go broke and never have a spare minute!

I think the takeaway is people like to pressure others into being into being similar to them. They assume because it’s the best for them, it’s the best for everyone. (And sometimes, it’s not even the best for them!) These pressures are annoying, but at the end of the day, we need to make our own decisions and use outside pressure to even further sharpen our blades of confidence in those decisions.

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60 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:21 pm

That’s crazy about the kitchen sleeping!! Man… I must be super lucky as I’ve never had anything too horrible happen – even with getting kicked out of our place last month! Just more proof that we all have different experiences and so no way you can dish out universal tips. Other than saving more and avoiding nasty debts :)

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61 B.C Kowalski April 25, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Well, I think housing is super divided because geography really dictates which one makes more sense. I’m sure I would rent if I lived on either coast or in a large city such as Chicago; I’ll never deal with suburban hell or ridiculous clown car commutes. But in the small city where I live, low house prices coupled with a lackluster rental market make the choice pretty easy. Not to mention my desire to step out of the neighbor lottery!

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62 Sarah April 25, 2018 at 11:11 am

I get a different kind of house shaming. My husband, my son & I live in a 900sqft 2 bedroom house. Apparently it is considered “small” in the US (I lived the first 28 years of my life in a tiny studio in Paris so to me the house is plenty).
If I ever mention the idea of having a 2nd kid and putting that kid in my son’s bedroom people shame me into how being in the same room and not having privacy will damage my kids psychologically. Seriously, some people would almost call social services over this even though it’s actually super fun for the kids. It’s ridiculous. And for some reason they associate kids sleeping in a same bedroom with “being poor”..
I LOVE my “tiny” house, it’s easy to clean, there is very little to fix and living in Los Angeles we spend 90% of our time in the yard or on the deck anyways. We’re really in the house just to sleep. I don’t know why people feel like everybody needs 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a gigantic garage.

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63 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:24 pm

YES!! LOVE!!!

We actually just moved both our boys into their own single room too (with bunk beds – the best!) and they are having the time of their lives :) They stay up way too long talking and giggling together, but hey – all a part of the kid experience!

Maybe we all need to live in a studio at some point in our lives to appreciate just how good we actually have it here in the States :) Don’t whole families stay together under one roof with kids and grandparents and all in many countries??? And have like the best relationships because of it? I would actually love to try that one day!

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64 B.C Kowalski April 25, 2018 at 5:54 pm

I think that’s a great size for a house! I wrote a story about a couple who wanted to build a “tiny” house at 700 square feet – they had a hard time finding a place to build it because zoning laws required at least 800 square feet! Here’s the article, in case you’re interested:

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65 J. Money April 26, 2018 at 6:18 am

Wowwww so pretty!!!

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66 Sarah April 26, 2018 at 10:40 am

Wow! I had no idea zoning laws required at least 800 square feet! That’s insane. Thanks for the article, I’ll have a look at it

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67 J. Money April 27, 2018 at 11:09 am

Me neither – so wild, right?

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68 lisa April 25, 2018 at 11:16 am

You’ve heard saying, ” People that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Put DOWN the stone!! Just tell these folks to do that and maybe they’ll shut up.

I thought this article was about the size of the home as well…Speaking of which, I’ll tell my tale.

My oldest was about 8 years old when a friend wanted to come over to play. So, him and his mom came over. His mom stood the whole time and stared out of the patio window while the other two played in my son’s bedroom. Half an hour later, the friend came to his mom and wanted to leave. So, they did. I wondered what happened. The friend had told my son, “Your house is too small and I’m never coming over again.” Nice.

I work hard to keep it immaculate and clutter free. The quiet and peacefulness is priceless. And it’s affordable.

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69 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Wowwwww…. that is horrible… I woudldn’t even know what to say in that situation?! Other than comfort the hell out of my son and tell him it’s perfectly fine to live the way you are!! Jeez!!

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70 Debbie April 28, 2018 at 7:22 am

How awful. What is that mother teaching her son? I grew up in a very wealthy town. My mother was a single Mom (father gone when I was 8) & we lived in my grandparents basement. It was tiny & I remember we crowded 10 girls in sleeping bags on the living room floor for a sleepover. Despite the small space, we had a blast. I feel lucky we never had anyone complain or shame my mother into buying something she couldn’t afford. In fact, kids always wanted to come to our home because my mother was one of the few that allowed kids to sit anywhere they wanted. Can’t tell you how many of my rich friends had furniture covered in plastic and no one was allowed to sit on them or they wouldn’t allow us to play indoors at all. Some people’s values are truly out of whack.

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71 cynthia cummins April 25, 2018 at 11:28 am

I agree wholeheartedly with your view (and I’m a Realtor who makes her living helping people buy houses)! The reasons for NOT buying are legion and sound (even though buying is sometimes a good idea). I wonder if the stigma about renting has something to do with the American wish for CONTROL? We fear what we can’t control? Hence, there’s all this pressure to buy one’s own personal (physical and financial) fortress. And don’t get me started on the soul-crushing effects of wanting more, more, more. I’ve written about this a bit on at Real Estate Therapy; here’s one post on the subject.

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72 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Could be! Which is ironic, since most of the stuff that ends up costing you money in your home is outside of your control haha… But overall yeah – there’s def. beauty in control where appropriate in your life :)

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73 Mrs. Sweetspot April 25, 2018 at 11:31 am

A little over a year ago we bought a heavily discounted piece of land. Going on a year May 1st, we’ve been boondocking there in a 200 square foot RV. It’s been awesome for many reasons- here’s just one: Once people learn you live in an RV, they stop trying to “fix” you.
Embrace you’re own living situation and be confident that you’re doing the best thing for YOU.

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74 Lisa O April 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

That is my husband dream life! We currently have a house with a mortgage that will be paid off at the ripe age of 62. He wants to sell it and travel in a Fifth Wheel for at least a year.

It appears that it is working for you! We have family and friends that just say “You are crazy what about all your stuff you have worked so hard for?” We have stopped by new things to upgrade and just started stashing cash for freedom not material possessions.

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75 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:29 pm

LOVE IT!!!! I dream of that too!!!!! As soon as all these kids of mine are out of the house! Haha… I know I could do it with just two of us, but don’t think I have the patience to bring 3 others along :) So beautiful to see you guys living out your dreams like that.

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76 Jessica G April 25, 2018 at 11:36 am

I’ve been engaged for over a year and I still get asked when the wedding is. I just don’t think it’s practical to spend all that money on one day when it could go to other, more important things.
I mean I know it’s possible to plan a frugal yet still memorable wedding, but most aren’t and cost over $20,000.

We don’t have any debt at the moment which is amazing! Still, we have talked about things we want in the future like: buying a house, my finance wants to go back to school for his MFA and I kinda want to get my Master’s too, raising a family, and travel to so many places… There’s so much we want to do and it’s great because I know financing the money isn’t the real problem. It’s determining what’s most important and the order you tackle your goals.

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77 Sarah April 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm

6 years ago my husband and I decided to use our “wedding money” for a down payment on a house instead of spending it all in one day. We had a very small, intimate & cheap wedding instead. Best thing we ever did! We now have a beautiful house with an affordable mortgage while most of our friends spent all their money (and more!) on their wedding day. Now they struggle paying rent (we live in L.A and prices keep going up every single year) and some are still paying off their wedding. I can’t tell you how much stress it puts on their marriage!
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a wedding don’t! Use that money for things that will fulfill you. The marriage and its longevity is much more important than the wedding day.

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78 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Love every part of this! :)

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79 Wise Money Tips April 25, 2018 at 11:37 am

There may be financial reasons to rent and not to buy a home, but it can also just be a personal preference. For example, maybe you don’t want the greater responsibility and maintenance obligations that come with owning a home. You want more flexibility, etc.

Also, great point about communicating what you think is a mistake to others. Make your point once politely and then let them figure it out. Their course of action may indeed end up working out better than your suggestion!

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80 Dr. Cory S. Fawcett April 25, 2018 at 11:39 am

This happens a lot to new physicians. The best choice for a new doctor, just out of training, tons of debt, new untested job, no savings, is to rent. There is a time to rent and a time to buy. Renting is best in temporary situations, like a new job until you figure out if you will be staying, or as a resident physician or student. Buying is best in long term situations, like two years into your job when you know you like the job and the town and plan to stay.
This is so important to new doctors that I spend time discussing it in both of my first two books, The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right and The Doctors Guide to Eliminating Debt.
Doctors are not only pressured to buy a house, even as a resident, but they are pressured to make it a big one, a Doctor McMansion. After all, doctors have an image to uphold. This coming at a time when they are deep in debt with minimal savings. Buying a house should not be considered at that point, but the pressure is on from everywhere. There is nothing wrong with renting. No it is not throwing away money!
Thanks for calling attention to the “House Shaming.” It’s time we stopped.

Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
Prescription for Financial Success

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81 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:32 pm

I believe it! And probably why there’s so many new $$$$ bloggers who are physicians cropping up! The niche has exploded in the past few years!

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82 Dave @ Let's Automate Your Money April 25, 2018 at 12:08 pm

This is ridiculous! What each person does with their finances is their business, not anybody elses. Each persons situation and what makes them happy is different. We can provide information but I would never shame somebody for their decision. Shame on the poeple shaming them.. :(

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83 Libby April 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Most of the readers of this blog are making the choice to live contrary to social norms. It’s one of the reasons we love having a community of like-minded individuals because it’s NOT EASY to choose the path less traveled.

If something is said once it is for information. If it is said more than once, then someone is trying to change, manage, manipulate the other person. I find saying, “you could be right” and walking away is one way to shut down the conversation.

My son is 21 and wants to buy a house before year end. I’m on the other end of the spectrum with some worry about him tying himself down at such a young age. However, I keep my concerns to myself as it isn’t MY LIFE. I want to support my kid with his dreams and help him think things through, so I ask questions such as “what are your goals for owning a house?” “how long do you think you’ll live there?” “What are the economic trends for your area?” “Are any of the towns you are looking at financially unstable?”

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84 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:34 pm

MOM OF THE YEAR right there!! I hope I’m as thoughtful and cognizant as you are when my kids are at that stage!

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85 Libby April 28, 2018 at 11:41 am

Blushing! But I have HUGE holes in my tongue from biting it so I won’t say anything to my son that I’ll regret LOL.

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86 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life April 25, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I feel like this is just like kid-shaming – tons of people feel like they should tell other people to have kids or buy a house either to feel like their own decisions are justified or so they don’t feel like your choices are judging theirs. My standard answer is: Are you going to pay for it/them or take care of them? Hand over the cash, then talk. I have yet to make any money from those people ;)

There are people who are pressuring their kids to buy because they know the kid’s just wasting their money on crap they’ll throw away anyway and they’d rather see that money going into equity. I can see why they think that’s a reasonable line of thought but I still think they’d be better off encouraging the kid to quit wasting money because buying a house and tying up their disposable income isn’t going to stop them from still buying crap. They’ll still have credit cards!

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87 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Haha…. Plus, making a stupid $300 mistake is much easier to overcome than a stupid $300,000 one :) Although it will be engrained more!

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88 April 25, 2018 at 1:09 pm

When my husband was single, he spent $1500/month on rent and his parents knew that. That’s why they spent so much energy trying to convince him to buy a house – they thought he was wasting his money spending that much on rent. Maybe in their area, but not here. Then he moved into my condo and they still asked him when he was going to buy a house! And now they ask both of us. The elephant in the room is that they don’t know that houses here start at $1M in our area and our condo is almost worth that. Houses where they are start at $100k for crappy ones, big difference! We don’t want to tell them that, because, you know we prefer to keep our stealth wealth.

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89 April 25, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Oh I meant to add that I love that that lady wanted to pay off her loans before moving in with her boyfriend! We got a surprising amount of flack for splitting the costs of my rings even though we bought them AFTER we got married, a piece which appeased most people who would have otherwise found it weird. It was very important to me though that I wasn’t being bought with a fancy ring!

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90 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

HAH! Awesome!! And yes to Stealth Wealth – you know we love that here! :)

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91 Janet April 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm

My mom wanted me to buy a house so badly that she forged my signature and signed a contract. I’m still paying for it! I totally agree, I don’t live n the house, I rent it out to tenants and I’m still renting as we speak (despite owning a house worth over 1.6M CAD)!

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92 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

WHAT??? GET OUT!!

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93 Carmen @ Make Real Cents April 25, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Everyone is playing the shame game and should just stay in their own lanes. Like you said, I get how people want to help but if you didn’t ask or say no the first time they should leave it alone. We’ve some how, as a society, managed to normalize this faulty 7 step American Dream regardless of how good or bad it is for an individual and their personal journey.

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94 Mrs. Picky Pincher April 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

I’ve heard the “you’ll always have debt” retort too many times! It’s like, why does my debt repayment offend you so? It’s obviously working, so why would I change my mind? Do I look like I want to do mandatory work forever?

On the flipside, I’ve seen people be judgmental for those of us who DID choose to buy homes. The theme of judgment comes up often in FIRE, and I think we can be quick to judge people on both sides. Let’s have everyone do what’s best for themselves. :)

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95 J. Money April 25, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Totally – the FIRE community can be just as guilty of this stuff.

In fact, literally just got an email addressing exactly that – here’s the first part of it:

“I have been on FI journey for a couple years now. In the beginning, I loved being involved in the FIRE community, being part of Facebook groups, meetups, and listening to podcasts. But over the past year, so much of it has shifted to mocking/shaming others who are not on our journey, it has been heartbreaking… you see them full of people posting criticisms and mean comments about their friends and family who are living a lifestyle we are not.”

Sad indeed :(

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96 Jason Butler April 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm

I eventually want to own a home, but getting out of this student loan debt is more important. My rent is very cheap, and I don’t have to worry about property taxes or yard work. I’ll be renting for the foreseeable future.

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97 Dude April 25, 2018 at 9:30 pm

I stopped caring when I realized that some of the people lecturing me about buying……

are renters.

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98 J. Money April 26, 2018 at 6:29 am

Reminds me of advice I once heard when looking to hire a financial advisor – always ask them where *their* money is parked and how it’s been performing!

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99 Christine @ The Pursuit of Green April 25, 2018 at 11:03 pm

And just overall stop shaming people into anything else they’ve consciously chosen to do in their lives, regardless of whether you approve of it or not.

So true and totally agree!!!! I’ve been fighting against this all my life, I especially have a hard time cause I’m the younger sister and the youngest on my paternal side. People love telling people what they should be doing based on their view.

Oh I do own a home…and while my mortgage is way less than rent, the upkeep and fixes cost a ton! Plus I have to live farther away from the city to afford this place. I love it, but it’s not for everyone.

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100 Bryan April 26, 2018 at 9:12 am

One of my personal favorites is Vacation Shaming. Every time it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a friend, any little social get together, or even during a 6 month dental checkup, the good old conversation filler of “taking any vacations this year/where are you going on vacation” is asked. I find it amusing that the average CONSUMER uses this line of questioning to gauge their level of success. My answer every time: “Every day is a vacation.” We have beautiful parks to hike and bike in and a beautiful lake to paddle board on. They are just sitting there, free, everyday to nurture your soul and they don’t ask for one dime in return. But please, continue to spend thousands each year to visit another place on this earth and remember when you’re lying on that beach or wherever looking up at the sky, know that I too am looking at the same exact beautiful sky and I didn’t have to spend anything to enjoy it.

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101 J. Money April 26, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Hah! It’s good to be you!! :)

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102 TJ May 8, 2018 at 11:47 pm

I love vacation. I love seeing different cultures. I love talking to people about their experiences and seeing amazing places, and having new and different experiences for myself. I love hiking and rafting in giant mountain ranges, trophy fishing, snow skiing, and swimming beneath giant waterfalls. If there is some great place you’ve been, I’d like to hear about it. Don’t know if that is shaming. If you happen to live in a place like Yosemite, I’d probably never leave either.

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103 Jody April 27, 2018 at 8:06 am

Holy comments section, Batman! You hit on a great topic people are passionate about! Way to be you!

So, a week or so ago I commented on another of your posts about how I was no longer eligible for a mortgage depsite doing everything right, and how it ultimately left me feeling relieved since I felt a lot of pressure to buy Buy BUY. I wanted to let you know how the story progressed (not ended, yet, just progressed!).

I let my extended friends/coworker network know my predicament and that I wanted an option that still allowed me to save money. Rent around here for a small, run-down 1 BR is around what a mortgage payment would be for a dated but decent 2-3 BR townhouse, so it was really painful to accept that I would probably have to pay a lot more monthly than I wanted for a good/safe place. I kind of put it out there that I was open to non-traditional options, too.

I mentioned to a couple in my yoga class who are nearing retirement that I was officially looking for a rental, and they said “Well, we have an extra house. And a MIL suite – why don’t you come by and look?” So I did, and long story short I’ll be moving into the extra house soon!!

The house is actually a really nice 2 BR 2 BA trailer with new everyting on 3/4 acre in the country 4 minutes from my workplace. Covered deck, I can put in a veggie garden and plant flower beds. There is a workshop already set up, pefect for jewelry making. Best of all, they are letting me live there in a house-sitting type of agreement for just the cost of utilities, so I just reimburse propane and electric, which works out to 1/3-1/2 of what I was expecting to pay each month JUST for rent. How did I get so lucky to fall into this??? Just ask, the universe will deliver!!

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104 J. Money April 27, 2018 at 11:15 am

HOLY $HIT!!!! What a happy ending/beginning indeed!!!! Way to put yourself out there like that!!! And because they know you (and presumably LIKE you), it’s such a great deal for them as well to have someone trustworthy around and to be able to help someone out like that…

Great great update – thank you so much :) And I want pics once you’re moved in!!

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105 Moses April 27, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Homeowner here. Ooooohhh man, this post is so real. I felt this pressure as soon as I graduated college, even though I was in debt with a brand new car and school loans (these were my PRE-sexy days). After 6 years of this, and even running around with a realtor a few times, I finally bit the bullet with my new wife and bought a house in a good neighborhood because, well, the deal was great and I was tired of hearing my neighbors, rent increases, and not being able to personalize a home. We were ready, the numbers were good, and more importantly, we were debt free. The owners were in a rush to leave, and they passed up multiple cash offers within 24 hours of listing to accept ours.

Turns out, I live in a suburb outside of Houston, and Harvey rolled through a month after our lease was up at the apartment. Our house was spared, but the apartment complex I lived in and the neighborhoods I was pressured to buy in were toast. We would’ve lost MUCH more by hastily making the decision than by making a personal judgment call when we were ready.

This is obviously not a common occurrence, but I just wanted to share to reinforce your statement that everything is PERSONAL and people just need to let everyone figure things out on their own. “Life pressure” is such a real thing these days, and it extends well beyond the topic of home ownership.

But that’s for another post on another blog :).

Great post J, love your work!

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106 J. Money April 27, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Hey, thanks man! So glad you’re enjoying it! And thanks for adding to the convo – glad to see there was a happy ending here (at least for you guys!).

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107 Patty Gale May 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm

My husband and I have owned two homes over the years and both experiences were nightmares, especially on the selling side. We now rent a house which we love. Would I buy this house if the landlord ever decided to sell it? Possibly. However, in the meantime, when the dryer breaks down, I call the landlord, when the garage door breaks, I call the landlord. I’m sure those repairs and property taxes are built into the rent somewhere. However, our rent on this house is $800 less per month than the mortgage payment on the most recent house we owned. Our daughter is one year from graduating high school and we want to do a lot more traveling. Financially, we’ll have more freedom to do that as renters than home owners. There is absolutely no shame in renting. You have to live somewhere.

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108 J. Money May 7, 2018 at 7:24 am

Oh man, you guys are going to feel sooooooo free when she’s gone! And good thing you’ll be traveling to keep your mind off missing her too much, haha… (my 4 and 5 y/o told me over the weekend they are living with us forever and never leaving, but if only it was true! ;))

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109 TJ May 8, 2018 at 11:29 pm

I love owning a home outright, no mortgage, but I don’t think I’d ever house shame someone else. I may not even recommend buying unless the following are true:

1. Buying long term is cheaper than renting, which is true in most places but not everywhere
2. You plan on never moving from your current location, at least for 5+ years, otherwise you are likely to lose all and maybe more of your equity to transaction fees
3. You got kids, particularly those in school, where apartment living is way less ideal
4. You never plan on requiring a bigger house, I.e. No more kids or need for extra bedrooms
5. You really want a yard and residence you can fashion to your own desires

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110 J. Money May 9, 2018 at 6:16 am

Great breakdown- yes!!

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111 Joe May 19, 2018 at 1:18 pm

This is why I can’t stand Mr. Money Moustache. The culture over there is mostly toxic middle-aged men who scoff at people who spend money and shame those who choose to marry and/or start a family. It’s really sickening.

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112 Bernard June 13, 2018 at 4:18 pm

It really depends on the circumstances.

My wife and I live in a nice part of California. There are very few rentals available. Those in the ghetto have hordes of low income people waiting to occupy a 2-bedroom home with 10 people. Thus, paying $2,600 rent is quite affordable. In the better parts of the region, the same house costs $3,000 rent. Buying it results in a $3,000 mortgage, all in. So renting costs the same as buying. Therefore, only people who have no money for a down payment or really bad credit rent instead of buying.

We bought our home for $555,000, which is a notch above entry level, but not much. Our neighbors bought their house, pretty similar to ours, 15 years ago for $199,000. It’s paid off.
Should they have rented instead?

Consequently, in most situations buying is a better financial situation than renting, and owning a home can be a substantial part of a financial plan. However, if I could rent my house for $1,500 instead of paying a $3,000 mortgage, I would rent as well and put the remaining $1,500 into retirement.

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113 J. Money June 14, 2018 at 9:35 am

Don’t forget about the personal preferences too :) Some people like the freedom of not owning and prefer to rent even if they can afford to buy, and vice versa with those who love the stability of buying. As long as you’re weighing both options for yourself though (emotional + financial) and doing what’s best for YOU, it’s all good in my books. It’s when outside parties keep trying to push you in directions that make you feel uncomfortable that it gets troublesome – whether they have good intentions or not.

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