Monday, September 07, 2009

Trading Down

A few years back a book called Trading Up came out. I was taking a marketing class at the time, and while it was not required reading for the course, the professor suggested it as a "must-read." I have to admit that I did not read the book, but the title and the description always stuck with me.

The basic premise is that more and more people want luxury these days. And with more disposable income, (this was written before the current financial crisis) they are willing to spend more for perceived luxury. I certainly have seen this to be true for myself.

But today's economy has had its impact on all of us. In fact, it's the kind of economy that makes even the biggest spenders question their habits. It was the sudden and extreme drop in the stock market last fall that got me thinking more about simplicity. And it was the bad news that's been on the radio during my morning commute ever since, that has reinforced that this is the right way to go.

But it's really become more than that. Even if the economy were in tip-top condition, my mindset would stay the same. It goes to show that hard economic times can help us push the "reset button" and get in touch with some better ways of living our lives.

Borrowing the language of the book I mentioned above, I think that what my husband and I are doing now is "trading down."

We decided this past year that we wanted to sell our house. We didn't want to be slaves to a mortgage in such a challenging economy and we wanted to, once again, experience the flexibility of renting. Owning a house is a real time and money drain (although we thoroughly enjoyed it and will most likely own again). In addition to our full-time professions, we both have passions we are pursuing. For him, it's writing and for me, music. Renting would mean more time to do both.

Also, the opportunity to save money was very attractive. With the house, we have the mortgage (which is way more than we would ever pay for rent and very little of it is building equity) and then add to that the money we've put into the house over the past five years. We would continue to improve the house if we lived in it longer, so that would mean more money.

And then there is that little thing called freedom. At this point in our lives, we want to be free and flexibile to do what we want and/or need to, when we want and/or need to. To do this, we have to have a lot more saved that we do right now.

That desire for freedom is a big part of what motivates us to make our lives more simple. When you own a lot of things, you can be owned by those things. They can weigh you down.

One thing I haven't mentioned (but you probably know or have figured out) is that we don't have kids. This makes it really easy to make these kinds of choices. I'm sure it is more complicated when you have children, but I've heard plenty of stories that tell me anyone can simplify.

Our thinking is that we will rent for a few years and save as much as possible. We do have the idea of owning again, but we are talking about building a "green" house. That's the other piece of this equation-going green.

If I wrote this post well, it should communicate that there is not just one single thing that is motivating us to make this life change, but a perfect storm of things. I'm grateful for this storm, because it's helping us to make changes that we believe will result in a better quality of life in the years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Amy this is really exciting and I look forward to following your journey!