Why I am Purging my House

Today I am going to begin the process of eliminating from my life the largest item that I will ever purge.  At 8:00, I am going to call up my mortgage company and discuss the process of doing deed in lieu.  I am giving the American Dream back to the bank.

It is not surprising to me, that this is the part of our journey that many people question.  Even some of my hardcore minimalist friends have wondered if this was a wise choice.  Why not sell?  Why not rent it out?  Its a shame that we are losing our equity.

The sad reality is that this house has been a millstone tied around my neck, keeping us tied to a situation that we don’t love.  It’s kept me in survival mode, and it’s caused me to feel physically ill whenever someone even said the word “lay-offs.”  This house has kept me attached to a larger paycheck, so that I feared losing it, if I lost my job.  Being tied to the payment has prevented me from taking risks, from trying new things, and from moving on when it was time to do so.

Houses do not sell quickly in our area, and we’ve seen them stay on the market for years. We would have to make more money than I will be making in my new job, in order to continue payments on this house, and pay for housing (a small apartment, then a slip fee) in Houston.  It simply does not make sense to be tied to that payment, when we are trying to require less income.

We did consider renting it out, but, again, that would keep us tied to it.  We would have the responsibilities as landlords, and have to pay contractors to make repairs on the house.  The house is also in need of a great deal of repairs, before it could be rented.  We had intended to fix it up, when we bought it, but life led us in other directions. 

We need to let it go.  It’s just a thing.  It’s just money.

Our attachment to this thing, and to the small amount of money that we could have possibly made on it, is standing between us and our dreams.  I’ve made enough sacrifices for this thing, and for the idea of “equity,” of the money that may or may not even exist.  There are more important things in life.

No amount of money is worth having to sell your soul in order to survive.

No amount of money is worth having a life that doesn’t work for you.

It’s all right.  What we’re doing is not a shame at all.  What we’re doing is letting a possession go, when it no longer makes our life better, when it causes us stress and stands in our way.  That is what minimalism is all about.

It is not a shame.  It is beautiful.

Pink And White Star Lily Stock Photo

25 thoughts on “Why I am Purging my House

  1. Hi Bethany…I just wanted you to know that I agree with you that it is wise to let go of your house and move on. While it might not be as popular a move where you live as where I do out west–there should be no shame in it for two big reasons. #1 Most of us have made at least one or two big financial mistakes or miscalculations in our lifetimes. No we didn’t have to give our house back this last cycle–but a time or two ago we too got caught in a crunch and had to make some really hard choices…as they say, the only real mistake any of us can make is not learning from what we go through. I recommend figuring out where you made some choices that you could do better next time–and just never do those again! Just consider this a “Masters Degree” in home ownership. #2 The second reason I feel you made the right choice is that you should not be held (IMHO) more accountable that the financial institutions of our country. Many of the banks in our country knowingly gave mortgages to people that they KNEW could not pay them back just to make money. Then when the going got tough they asked us–the American people–to bail them out and overlook what they did. While I believe in personal responsibility for our actions–the institutions and businesses of our country feel they are above such actions and that is indeed shameful. I could go on and on about this 🙂 and I know this isn’t the place–but I want you to know that in the big picture of life that although each of us is responsible for our own actions and must account for the repercussions of those actions–this move will not hurt any individuals in any way personally–so compared to the bankers and financial managers who DID personally touch millions of people–your choices are minor. Phew….thanks for letting me rant! ~Kathy

    • That’s a very interesting point, Kathy, and not one you see mentioned.

      I think it’s easier to judge a person, because they have a face, not a building or a logo. Of course, sometimes there is the reverse, where an entire organization is judged, and we forget about the people that are involved with it that may not actually subscribe to its views(A case where the majority “opinion” is made by a select minority).

  2. I have been through owning a condominium that was underwater (figuratively), and eventually poured additional money in to cover the negative equity when I sold. If I had done a straight-up analysis of the numbers, I think I would have been much better off to do what you are doing. I’m not sure that a credit rating was worth that much effort…

  3. Hi Bethany – don’t worry if other people wouldn’t make the same decision or don’t understand your choice. You know what’s best for you and your family, and if it brings you peace of mind to step away from your mortgage then it’s the right thing to do. No house is worth such stress! Enjoy your lighter life!

  4. Hope things went well talking to the bank. Society is so caught up in the dream of ownership, whether that be a house or the largest TV money can buy that they can’t accept someone else wanting to live life differently. I, for one, believe you are doing the right thing. You caved to peer pressure when you bought the house, why shouldn’t you walk away and live the life you wanted in the first place. The only mistake you could make, as I view it, would be to continue to live another person’s dream instead of your own.

  5. It doesn’t matter what other people think. It’s your life and so long as you and yours are at peace with it, that’s all that matters. We’ve sold houses that required us to bring a check to closing which really sucks. Best wishes to you. I hope you get good news.

  6. We have several times thought about selling our house. It was actually on the market for about a month several years back. It is a “thing” and things can be let go of with our without every one else’s consent. So glad to hear you’re doing what’s good for you!

  7. My journey to minimalism began with the return of my house to the bank. That one difficult decision freed me up to work less and live more. It has been 4 years now and I have zero regrets. My family told me hot to do it because it would ruin my credit. I laughed. Credit scores are arbitrary numbers that somebody (and who are these people really??) assigns to show your value as a borrower. Without the albatross called “home ownership” around my neck, I didn’t need to borrow anymore just to survive. What I own now is my time and that is more valuable than a house. I think you are making a wise decision and I hope it goes well.
    (PS – Thanks for the book! It was a very nice surprise.)

    • Yes, that’s what we thought as well–if we don’t borrow, why do we need to care about a credit score? It’s caused some stress while looking for an apartment, but it hasn’t been the big deal that we thought it was.

  8. WOW! I am so impressed by the strength of your decision making and taking the less popular, but more sensical, path.

    I have never owned a place, so I can’t say what I would do in your shoes, but I am impressed that you are making the best decision for you, and ignoring what everyone else would do.

  9. I think you are making the right decision. It’s just a house, wood and concrete, it does not love you. The way I feel is spend your money and time with the people you love doing things you love. I’ve tried to talk my hubby into giving the house back to the bank as we are upside down as well, he won’t listen. So, he can have it, I’m outta here.

  10. I think it’s the perfect decision for you, and my only concern would have been your credit(Which you and Melody squashed). I’m so glad you didn’t go the rental route. We’re doing it, and for a while it was costing us more than we were bringing in. We couldn’t charge what our mortgage payment was, and our first tenant was a nightmare. Things have gotten smoother, we’ve refinanced, and now we are at a point of breaking even, which is all we really want. We’re not doing it to make money, just to not lose it on a house we can’t sell right now. For what you and your family are choosing to do, holding on to(and especially renting) the house would have been a huge step backwards.

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