011, Enough Already

How much is enough?  Since a home and vehicles can be such a large part of your expenses, especially when you are young, let’s address that first. You surely don’t need the excessive stuff above. You may want it, but you don’t need it.

How much house is enough? Warren Buffet is a extremely rich guy. If you don’t know him, take a few minutes on google and check him out. He lives in house that’s .001 Percent of his Net Worth. Think about that for a second to let it sink in. For some perspective, if your net worth was $1,000,000 your house would be $10 ($1,000,000 X .00001). Yep, that’s ten dollars. The $10 represents how difficult it would be to purchase the house from your cash or investments. This house he bought in the 1950s is an insignificant part of his wealth. He could afford a way more expensive house if he wanted. He’s said he’s happy where he lives. If he felt he could be happier in another house, he would move. But he’s content. There’s no need for him to spend any more to chase a bigger house to keep up with others. He has what he needs and wants.

Granted, he’s worth $60-80 billion, so he’d need a massive house to even begin to approach 1% of his net worth. But that’s not the point necessarily. When you have enough, you don’t need more. When you are content, you don’t need more. When you are happy, you don’t need more. That’s my point.

You’ve often heard things like “your home is your biggest investment”. While your house is an appreciating asset, it doesn’t generate any income. Money is tied up in your house where you can’t spend it or truly invest it. Practically, that means that if your home is your biggest investment, more than half of your net worth isn’t going to generate income. Having that much of your net worth inaccessible and tied up means that you can’t spend it. It also means that it’s not generating income. So, you’ll have to work longer to build assets that can actually generate cash either now or in retirement. That’s the classic house rich, money poor scenario. You have an expensive house, but you don’t have much money for other things like properly investing for your future. Being house rich can severely limit your flexibility to get ahead financially.

This is really amplified when you are young. Your young years can have the most impact on your wealth in retirement when you invest efficiently. When you neglect your retirement in your early years, it’s much harder to catch up due to the time that has passed. The compounding interest from these early years really help to build up an investment nest egg of investments to carry you through your retirement years. Don’t become house rich and cash poor.

Here’s a great article looking at home ownership in total. Avoid the Dream House Trap. It talks about how an expensive house can strap you with large expenses. Those expenses, if not properly balanced against your income, will be felt financially a lot more. It will limit your ability to have flexibility to properly invest in other income generating assets to help you through retirement. The Average people in America frequently overlook how a house can trap you in the rat race just to stay afloat.

You need a roof over your head to shelter yourself from the elements. People do live in grass huts, modest homes and mansions. They all provide the basic requirements of shelter to keep you alive. People are also happy in each of those examples. Each example is also more costly. Grass huts are cheap, modest homes are reasonable, and mansions are extremely expensive. So, choose your housing carefully without overestimating your needs.

Next, let’s talk about cars.  We’ve touched on those before.  This is likely the second biggest expense that can cost lots of money if not done smartly. Since I’ve been into Choose FI a lot lately, here is an article about new cars and here’s a podcast if you listen to those.  The bottom line is that your transportation costs can eat up quite a bit of your income.

Over the course of your, at least 40 years of driving, decisions you make can literally cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you are not wise in your choices.  Those hundreds of thousands of dollars can either boost your income during retirement or drag you down.  The choice is yours. If you haven’t read my article about the brand new car I bought, please go back and read my post.  Buying a new car was not a good financial move for me.

You do need transportation. Most will drive cars or trucks versus mopeds or bicycles. Just as in houses, the choices vary widely. They will impact your finances one way or another. Make well informed decision on how your choices will impact your finances. A cheap used car can get you from point A to point B just as well as a brand new high dollar sports car. So, it’s truly up to you which path you choose. Choose wisely and position yourself for success in retirement.

These two major expenses can make or break your finances in the long run. They are the Big Rocks. So, make wise decisions based on facts and solid information that will meet your financial goals. Don’t overestimate your needs and max out your wants. Find the sweet spot that can work for you. If you have to have the cat’s pajamas, you’ll pay more for things at the expense of your financial security in your later years.

Make finding contentment a goal with whatever you have.

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