About 15 years ago a friend of mine and her husband purchased a home in Woodbridge, ON.  One of the features that she loved the most about the home was a huge dining room with a big bay window, complete with a window seat.  As their closing date approached she visited furniture showrooms and found a beautiful dining room table that would be perfect for the space, the only catch was, the set cost nearly 10 thousand dollars and was well beyond their new homeowner budget.

When she expressed her frustration to her husband, he suggested they wait and save, and so they did, leaving their dining room empty, instead of putting the furniture on credit as they’d originally considered.  A year later, when they had saved up enough money to purchase the set she found out they were expecting their first child.

Knowing that they wouldn’t be entertaining many dinner parties in the foreseeable future, they decided to purchase cheap carpeting for the room and convert it into a playroom for their family, complete with the window reading nook for storytime.

A number of years, and two additional children later the bank account had filled up again (after being drained a few times for a roof repair, a broken air conditioner, the purchase of a minivan, and a new washer and dryer) and they finally had enough money to purchase the furniture.

Again, they thought about their lives, their priorities, and how the kids were still using the room to play in.  Instead of purchasing the set they used the money to take the family on vacation to Disney World and had a trip that they all still talk about.

Five years have passed since that trip, and their fund built up to be enough to cover the dining room set again (they had used the account a few times over the years to pay for another family car, top up some educational and retirement savings, as well as finance some repairs around the house and a trip to visit relatives overseas).

My friend went to the store to purchase her dining room table and realized that both her and her husband’s tastes had changed, they wanted something more basic, with removable leaves to accommodate other family guests.  They purchased a dining set for about half of the cost of the one that they had coveted a decade and a half ago.  The rest of the money they’re saving up for a rainy day, house repairs, and another big family trip, likely to celebrate their eldest son’s high school graduation.

New home owners can learn a lot from this story.  It shows the practical importance of an emergency fund that can be used for both household repairs and emergencies, along with bigger dream ticket items in time.  It also shows the value of patience.  New home owners should realize that their home doesn’t need to be perfect and showroom ready the moment you sign the papers.  Tastes and needs change, so think hard before you purchase a big-ticket item that you know you won’t be using every day, that money may be better used for something completely different.

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