Who doesn't want a house? If one had a choice, and money was no object, wouldn't everyone choose to own a house rather than rent an apartment? But since we all know that for the majority of people, money is a huge concern how do you decide when the time is right to buy a house? And if you decide that you do want to buy a house, how does one decide how much one is willing to do without and how much one is willing to cut back in order to have said house? These are some of the decisions that Josh & I have been wrestling with over the past few weeks.
Josh wants a house...pure and simple. He wants it and according to him there is nothing that he would mind giving up or cutting back on to have a house. To him, now is the time to buy and if we wait we will never own a house. I would love a h0use...at some point. There are many things that I would mind giving up and cutting back on if that is the only way we can afford a house. I believe that if we are meant to have a house, we will...but that doesn't mean now. I am content in my circumstances, even if that means continuing to rent an apartment. So how we reconcile these two VERY different positions? We are married and thus we must come to some sort of compromise since neither of us is willing to settle.
We qualify for a good-sized loan and at this point in time there are a variety of homes available for that amount or less in the areas we are contemplating moving to. A few of the homes we saw looked a little familiar - one was my sister's house, just flipped; another two looked like my parent's house, one exact and the other flipped. So yesterday I asked my sister and my mom what they pay for utilities each month. We needed to come up with an estimate for what our costs would be if we bought a house and this was a pretty decent way to guess at utility prices. In our apartment we only pay for electricity, phone, internet and DVR - water, trash, gas, and cable are covered by our rent. However, in a house we would have to cover all of those bills in addition to the mortgage, insurance and taxes. The difference in utilities was about $300.
So, last night Josh & I sat down and crunched some numbers. Based on an estimate for mortgage, taxes and home insurance our realtor had given us, the utility costs for my parents home, our other bills, and other budget lines (food, fun, etc) we determined that in order to have a house we would need to trim at least $1,000 from our monthly budget. This is a large number and it would involve very difficult cut-backs that Josh was completely willing to make, but I was not quite as certain. Part of my uncertainty stems from the fact that at the moment we are completely comfortable. We make enough to provide a comfortable life that allows us to go out to eat when we'd like, buy things when we want or need to, take vacations that can be costly sometimes, and not stress too much about finances. Buying a house would mean constantly cutting back every month for at least one year, and possibly several years. Yes, we would have a house, but for me I'm not certain if that is comfort enough.
A second concern is the possibility of becoming pregnant. If we bought a house and tightened up our budget and then we became pregnant...how could we afford it? We know that neither of us can stay home, so daycare is a must. More money would be taken from my paychecks to cover the additional health insurance. Furniture, clothing, diapers, etc would need to be purchased as well. I know we could handle either buying a house or having a baby...but I don't know how we could handle both at the same time. One way to tackle this problem is to discover whether or not we are even capable of having children. There is a concern that we cannot, and so we are going to take steps to discover if this is true or not. Once we have that information we can determine if this is even a concern, and then move on from that point.
After much discussion, much arguing and yes, some yelling and crying...we came to a conclusion that we are both willing to stick to for now. We will table the decision of buying a house until March. First, because the holiday season is upon us and the only way we could seriously cut back would be to cut out all Christmas money we are both unwilling to do this. Second, we need to finish paying off Josh's dental bill before mid-March in order to pay no interest. Third, we want to see if home prices will continue to drop. And finally, we will discover whether or not we can get pregnant. However, starting in January when we create our new yearly budget, we will start gradually cutting back in as many areas as possible and putting that money away in savings. This will help us to have something set aside for a down payment and also prepare us for the cut-backs that will come with either owning a home or having a child.
We do not know what the future holds for us - perhaps we will buy a house next year, or maybe we will have a child. No matter what happens, we are prepared to deal with it together in prayer and thanksgiving. We know how blessed we are, and I am grateful every day for the amazing ways that the Lord takes care of us.