A funny thought occurred to me recently how I’ve aged and I think I’ve gotten wiser about certain issues in life. Oddly I feel part of being wiser is the recognition that I don’t know everything. I feel I understand much more about life than I did when I was 20, but at the same time I recognize now that 20 years from now I’ll look back at the ideas I have now and laugh at that.
I think it’s reasonable to take stock of some stuff I think I know now that I didn’t know 20 years ago. It’ll at least be worth a laugh 20 years from now.
You know the whole argument that home ownership is better than renting? I’ve heard arguments either way…some of the smartest people I know say it’s foolish to own. But some of the richest people I know own. So my wife and I bought. What did I learn? It’s actually kind of cool…with some aggressive payment strategy and some lucky timing with low interest rates, we’ve been able to pay down most of our mortgage and get the monthly payments lower than we would have if we were to rent.
Things got tricky when we later found termites in what was a “recently renovated kitchen”…so 3 years in we had to put in another $50k to completely overhaul the kitchen and bathrooms. The added monthly cost burden and stress wasn’t fun. But the byproduct of customizing our own home had an interesting effect — I got a LOT of new satisfaction and love for my home that I didn’t before renovation. I now feel truly vested and proud of my place such that I feel responsible for upkeep and continued improvements to the place regardless of additional cost.
Time will tell if the housing market will ever really improve to the point we’ll ever sell our place for a profit. So for the time being, my home has been a very expensive way to gain a satisfaction point.
As to whether I’d say you should own or rent at this point? For the time being, my thoughts are if you can afford it, do it. It hasn’t been as hard as I expected.
This one is a little tricky. As a parent it’s hard for me to ever say anything negative about child-rearing as it might come across as sounding like regret about my child and that’s not the case. My child is one of the best things to happen in my life if not THE best.
But I guess this issue is one of those cases where I never would have gained wisdom on the subject without experiencing it. If I had to one day give advice to my Kingston about having kids I think I’ll bring up these points for his consideration
- You’ll never be prepared. We had our child late in life where we were already reasonably financially prepared for the situation, but even then the result was still a challenge. Yet if we had waited till we were completely well-to-do, I think we’d still be waiting to have a kid.
- Before you have a kid, you might think you know that you have to make life sacrifices, but I don’t think you realize how much emotional impact some of these losses are until you face it. Just the little things like being able to make impulse date nights with the spouse, watching your favorite anticipated movie on opening night, or even just being able to take a lazy day doing nothing at home becomes SO much more important once it’s gone.
- Teaching a child is…something I’ll never get used to. You never feel like you’re doing it right. And the strategy is different each day. It gives you emotions of extreme frustration on some days, and on other days you feel a sense of immense pride.
End of the day though, I just need to stare into the happy face of my child and all those concerns get wiped away. So….have a child or not? I guess this decision is a deeply personal one that is different for everyone. But at this point in my life if I had to make the choice again knowing what I know now of course having my child in my life would override all the negatives.
Career & Business Ownership
I spent a good part of my life believing from my parents that owning my own business was the way to go. “You don’t have to deal with a boss, you can make all your own decisions” And you know what, to a certain degree they were right.
Owning my own business has been some of the most rewarding experiences in my life and certain aspects of it really surprised me. I ended up really loving the marketing and social networking aspect of owning a businesses.
But the negative?
- You don’t really get rid of a boss…your clients and customers become your bosses. So no longer do you have 1 boss, you have many.
- It’s really just another job. You created your own business yes, but it’s really just another job that earns you a paycheck in another form. Like any other job, the good comes with the bad. Bad clients, accounting, bills, bad hours, all come with the territory.
- The stress level is super high. Having to deal with a paycheck that only comes during “feasts” makes you live life differently so that you can handle the “famines”. Days spent playing with the child for instance becomes a day you feel like you aren’t earning a paycheck…and that part sucks. You start assessing that experience as an “opportunity cost” rather than simply an important life experience with a family member.
I think at some point, it’s worth experiencing business ownership. Like home ownership it gives you satisfaction, pride, and confidence like non-other. At this point, I could lose my full-time job today and feel like I could still take care of myself. At the same time, I’ve traded some of my time working on my own business to enter back into the workforce with a reliable paycheck….a place where I DO have a boss who is there to take care of doing all the things I didn’t like doing. And it isn’t all that bad either….
Other random things I’ve learned in life:
- Nobody makes you more frustrated than the people you love the most. By that virtue you might say that the person that frustrates you the most is the person you care most about.
- The more experienced you are, the more you can justify charging more with less effort.
- Public toilet seat covers work better with the lip in the front.