Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To build a house...

With much fanfare, I would like to point you to my profile, which has been gleefully updated.  Note that it no longer says "in a metal shed" but says "in a real damn house."  That's right, we've moved in.

I've mentioned, in not-so-much detail, that we were building a house.  And, more importantly that we had the intention of building it using a ridiculous never-done-ever method: using money.

While we were in progress, I hesitated to go into a lot of detail... partly because those sorts of details are hard for me to talk about sometimes... and, to be honest, because I wanted to know if I would succeed or not.  It's interesting either way -- failures often teach us as much as successes -- but it's often hard to know how to tell a story without knowing the ending.  Now, as the arterial rupture of money spilling on the ground trickles back to a mere mortal hemmorhage... it's time.

This might be longish... so I will be chopping it up as best I can.  There are a number of observations I'd like to point out along the way.

I shall start here with the dry, boring bits: the what and the why.

My goal (other than "Ellie gets a kitchen") was to build a nice house -- not a stripped down square box -- but something nice.  I didn't want something that looked like it was full of compromises and cutbacks (although, that was painfully a big part of the process).  We plan on being there a long time -- maybe forever -- though you never really know what curves life will throw you.  And even though I am a cheap ass bastard, we were willing to spend more in areas that we considered to be the bones of the house.  (For example, I'm willing to pay double for insulation if it pays off in 4 or 5 years.)

And, as a sworn member of the Tinkerer's Union: Sweat equity.  I like sweat equity for several reasons.  Obviously I like it because I am cheap.  But, maybe more importantly, I like it because it makes it mine.  There is a reason why Habitat for Humanity requires it for their charity work.  Getting physically and emotionally involved in the building process gives you more of a sense of ownership than writing a check.

As for "why" to do this: I have a desire to be financially independent.  Note: that doesn't mean "Bill Gates $100 bills leaking out of your pockets rich" (though this option is surely attractive).  What that means is being at a point in life where you work... or not... based on what you damn well want to do.  And by "work" I would include spending all day out in the shop at a lathe turning toothpicks out of oak trees.

FI is a mindset that seems rare these days, and sadly so.  Even in early stages of FI -- as you get closer to it, but still are not quite there -- it is a wildly empowering mindset.  Even if you're only partly there, you realize that the daily grind of your job isn't REQUIRED for everyday life.  You could quit (or get laid off) and still be okay for a long damn time.  You could discover the meaning of your life involved a master's degree in beaver orthodontia -- and have the resources to retool and pursue that goal.

And probably one of the most important tools (IMO) in becoming financially independent is: a paid off house.  There are still expenses: maintenance, utilities, taxes... but imagine all the cool stuff you could do if you didn't have a house payment.  Now imagine you DIDN'T do that stuff, but instead wisely invested that house payment for several're there.


Kari said...

Ahem. You chastised me for using an old picture of the house and then you used the same one much, much later.

Spork In the Eye said...

it's classy when I do it.