Paul and I are facing a monumental decision for us; whether to spend money. We have been married 23 years, as of today actually. Today is our anniversary. In the 24 years since we bought our house, we have always watched our spending.
There have been years when our income was up and years when it was down. Because he is a commissioned salesman we can't always count on Paul's income being the same from one quarter to the next. And because I am a realtor, also a commissioned income, we can have major fluctuations in our annual income and we have. If you have a good year you can't change your lifestyle to match because next year could be very different.
We drive nice cars but not luxury cars, and we usually keep them for several years. We have traveled. I love to travel, I would give up a lot of things to travel, and I have a rule: Every year I have to see somewhere new. It doesn't have to be exotic, just somewhere I have never been before. There have been some very nice vacations over the last few years, most out of the U.S. Although that may be coming to an end soon. It's gotten just too complicated and uncomfortable to fly internationally, and we talk about this next trip to Europe being our last out of the country. We'll see about that.
We still live in the same house that we bought 24 years ago. We don't buy expensive clothes or furniture. We eat out but seldom anywhere pricey. We have always been savers. We are not rich by anyone's definition but we don't worry about paying bills either. I think we are satisfied with the decisions we have made over the years.
Recently we have noticed that many of our friends and acquaintances are buying second, and in some cases third, homes. I often wonder "do that make that much more money than we do?" Although this sounds nice, Paul and I have always said..."that's not for us." The responsibility of maintaining a second home as well as the expense has just never tempted us. Until now.
Last fall while hunting Paul stayed at a relative's house in New Hampshire. It's about a three hour drive from us. Paul came home raving about the property saying how nice the house is and how gorgeous the view from the property is. He said it was a modest house, almost new, on a few acres of land, set back from the road surrounded by woods with frontage on a trout stream. Sounds nice I thought, how nice for them.
Two weeks ago I came home and Paul had a funny look on his face; funny happy, not stressed like he usually does. "You look like the cat that ate the canary," I said. He told me to sit, and said, "Diane is selling the house in New Hampshire!" Oh boy, I thought, here we go.
My husband, the man who hates to spend money more than just about anyone I know, thinks we should buy this property. And I'm not saying we shouldn't, but really, should we? It would require a small mortgage, taxes, insurance, you know the list. We all know the list. My question is not whether we can afford it, we can with a few adjustments, but will it be another burden? Will we say..."we haven't been to New Hampshire in three weeks, we need to go." Will it become an obligation rather than enjoyment.
It could be a place that the kids and grandkids would use. That would be nice. Maybe we could rent it to skier friends. That would help with the expenses. But are these good reasons to make this commitment? I just don't know. And it's keeping both of us awake at night thinking about it.
Then I think, we're not getting any younger. We all hear the stories, you shouldn't put things off that you want to do. You may never have the opportunity again....blah, blah, blah. But is it really blah, blah, blah? My father died suddenly at 68. Paul's mother did, too, at 72. You never know what's around the bend. See what I mean? I can't decide.
The plan is to go stay there for a weekend soon so I can see it. I've seen pictures, the location and view are really beautiful. Then we will have to make that decision: To spend or not to spend.
Do you own vacation property? Has it been a good experience or not? I could use some advice.