Lets first focus on housing. You might be thinking that housing prices are so out of control, that you cannot have the home of your dreams. First, you must recognize that you do not have to live in a mega mansion or the Trump Tower to live rich. The size of your house does not have any correlation to your comfort or happiness.

I want you to think about the place you want to live…where would it be? Do you prefer the city and all that the city has to offer? The Country and the quiet lifestyle it offers? Perhaps you prefer the beach or the desert? On a golf course? Take a moment and really think about the place you would live if you could live anywhere. Perhaps you already live there. Or perhaps it is in another area…perhaps somewhere that real estate prices are more affordable. Remember that you can buy a nice home for $150,000 in parts of the country and in other parts, you would be hard pressed to find anything for less than $500,000. If you cannot find a home that you can afford in the area you currently live, you might consider looking in an area that is more affordable. Now think about the type of dwelling that you would choose. Remember there are no right or wrong answers.

Now think about what do you really need and want in your home. If you really think about it you may discover that you really do not need as much as you think. Some people live in their yards and enjoy mowing the grass and nurturing the plants while others cringe at the thought of spending a weekend puttering around the yard pulling weeds and trimming the hedge. Think about what you enjoy and prefer to do with your time. Others live to cook, so a chef’s kitchen is high on their list. While others never step foot in the galley. To some, a large room to entertain is at the top of their list while others list a large master bath with soaking tub as a must have.

What I am getting at here is to have what you desire and what fits your lifestyle. Having a large house with lots of rooms that you never use doesn’t really contribute to living rich. I suggest that you find a home that fits your budget and your desires. This might be a 1 bedroom condominium in the heart of the city with a million dollar view. Or it could be a farm house in the country with a large county kitchen – perfect for family and friends to gather. Or it may even be a shiny silver AirStream trailer…or a boat moored in the harbor…you see there are many options.I want you to think out side of the box and outside of the suburbs… To me, a perfect place to call home is a light bright condominium in the heart of the city (I don’t like yard work) where I can walk to all the city has to offer. To you the perfect home might be a cottage in the country with a large garden to tend. Remember, bigger isn’t always better. Bigger means more to take care of (more time spent cleaning the house, tending to the yard, etc), bigger means higher utility bills, and bigger repair bills (it costs more to paint a 3500 square foot home than it does to paint a 1500 square foot home). Think about it, you have to work a lot harder and earn a lot more money to maintain a larger home.

Think about how many rooms you and your family really use? I would bet that most of your time is spent in just two or three rooms regardless of how large your house is. Yes, it is nice to have a guest room for the 2 or 3 times a year you have overnight guests but it might be more cost effect for you to put your guests up in a hotel room instead of having the year round overhead associated with a “guest room”. Having a formal living and dining room is nice when you entertain a large group or have the whole family over but, realistically, how many times per year do you use these rooms? I know that when I entertain, most of the time we all end up gathered in the kitchen for the bulk of the evening.

I have decided that I have no real need for separate formal spaces (i.e. a formal living & dining room); instead, I find that a “great room” is more useful for my lifestyle. A “great room” is the living, dining, kitchen and family rooms all rolled into one space. Think of all of the things you could do if you did not have to spend every weekend mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and cleaning the house. With a smaller space, I find that I spend much less time on these activities.Some people wonder if they should make extra mortgage principle payments… I say “YES”. Paying off your mortgage early is a good thing. Not having a mortgage won’t reduce your monthly living expenses to zero but it really feels good to own your home outright.Now that you have created the perfect place to call home, let’s talk about what makes it home.

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