Here’s the thing … you need to know your renovating and building budget – your project budget – is real money.
We’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars. Usually hundreds of thousands of dollars. For some of you it’s even a million dollars or more.
It’s real. It’s debt that will have your name against it. A liability you are accountable for.
Maybe it’s because it’s lent by a bank … and in the end it all looks like zeros on a computer screen.
Or it’s because we don’t ever hold it in our hands … we manage it with plastic cards and key strokes and electronic transfers.
Or because it’s just SO much money, it’s impossible to wrap our brains around it.
Or perhaps because, if we did dwell on it, think about how much it actually is, how long it would take to earn an equivalent amount in our after-tax dollars, and how much extra it will cost us in interest payments for the privilege of borrowing it … we would never agree to having it.
Ultimately, though, it’s the precious amount standing between us, and the dream of a home – and a life – we can see, taste, imagine – sometimes completely desperately and passionately.
That can be huge … and overwhelming.
And often, in that overwhelm … Overwhelm at the sheer sum of money … Overwhelm that we might attain our dream … Overwhelm at the obligation of that money …
Whether we’re buying a home, building a new one, or renovating our current home, what this overwhelm can make us do is plough on with an energy, vigour and determination that can border on recklessness.
Like ripping off a bandaid … if we just make the decisions quickly, and spend it fast, maybe the pressure of that overwhelm can go away. Life can resume (or move on) to our new normal.
We make decisions with these huge chunks of money with greater haste than less costly ones. Yes – at some point you do have to choose and move forward. But how long did it take you to decide on that first car you bought as a couple? Your first baby’s pram? Where you’d send your kids to school? (well, that last one can cost more than a home build or reno!)
And the real money – it’s still there. It’s just that now, it sits on a different line in big red font.
I kind of wish that banks would actually hand us the money they lend us stuffed in suitcases. Big fat suitcases chock full of $20 bills.
A mate said once, when they sold a renovation project that made them a nice profit, (but had been a stressful journey), that he wanted to get the proceeds in $20 bills, throw it on a bed, and roll around in it – like from a Hollywood movie. He and his wife chucking $20 bills in the air. Just to feel like it was real, was his, before it got swallowed in another property and their next steps.
Homeowners can fall into the trap of seeing their renovating and building budget as an expenses tally.
They create a shopping list of all the things they want – be it the type of home, the number of rooms, the finishes, fixtures and furniture, the light fittings, the big bifold doors. The items and their cost gets added up and shifted around until it reaches a satisfactory total.
Usually there’s disappointment because there’s never enough money for all the things on the list. Compromise, sacrifice and substitutions are made. It feels frustrating and demoralising at times. It’s SO much money, and it’s not stretching far enough. How can it not buy more?
What if, instead, you pictured that suitcase stuffed with money sitting in front of you? Real money. Your money (or at least, money you’ll owe the bank for some time yet).
Do you think you would act differently if you had a suitcase in your cupboard, and you spent on your renovating or building budget from there? As well as using it to pay the interest you owe?
Would that change how you felt about the money? How quickly you’d make decisions? Who you’d speak to and what you’d do?
With the Australian median house price sitting at $658,000, there’s big sums at stake. That’s a big suitcase of cash. Whether you are building a home from scratch, or renovating a home you already own, chances are you’re putting a lot more at stake too. How you and your family will be living – both in, and beyond, the home. The way you spend your budget can impact the value of the outcome – both in financial and lifestyle terms. It is possible to spend your budget on a reno or build, and actually negatively impact the value of your home.
So what we you asked instead …
- What type of life do I want to lead?
- How do I really want to live in my home?
- What do I need to invest this money in to create a home that helps me live like I want to?
- Whose help do I need to make the best decisions about my investment?
- How strategic can I be about where I invest to get the best return and impact?
Your renovating and building budget is often seen as the thing that limits you having the home and life you want.
It’s not. It’s actually crucial in facilitating it.
This renovating or building budget is an important and useful tool. It provides the opportunity to strategically invest in the home, and life, you want.
Your budget doesn’t stand in your way. It IS your way.
It’s real money. We’re not pretending. It’s awesome we can access it – however much it is.
So what will you do with your suitcase of cash?