We would decide to try to move during the most difficult real estate market in recent memory.  It is depressing going to open houses just to find out the previous occupants have been evicted (or are in the process) – but the bank wants to make a quick deal, for a low, low price …

We've been trying to move "by owner" for a while now, and have been considering going with a real estate professional.  But when you do the math it just doesn't work out.  We're told to expect 10-20% off the house's value in this market, but that's just the start – expect 7% real estate commission(s), closing costs, and then expect to add 2% to our existing mortgage rate for the next house.

So basically write off $50,000ish in equity off the top and add $300/month in increased interest payments – so get only a little more house for a whole lot more money.  And, if we get into a 30-year fixed loan, I won't own the house until I'm almost 70. 

OR, stay where you are, make the same payments you were planning for on the new house but on the current mortgage and own this house outright in <5 years (which just so happens to be right about when the kids may decide to start going off to college (and/or driving)).

Kind of a math “no-brainer” but it means we need to be able to fit in our nice little house and make it work for us.  So we are in the middle of an effort to get rid of all the non-essentials (some selling off, some just throwing away (I’ll never use those notes from college – what was I thinking? – and I’ll never fit in that old suit (out of style anyway)).  We rented a storage unit to put all the stuff in that made our house “look cramped” – and we’ve done a really good job.  We removed boxes of books, winter clothes, furniture that didn’t fit, oversized kitchen items, etc.  Once we were done the house looked great and there was room to move and breathe again.  I think we realized that we could make the house work if we could get down to that level of “stuff” in our lives.  Now the trick is making that happen.

I’ve realized that “collections” is what kills you in the long run.  Collections (1) take up space (unless your collection is “digital” and then it is not a “real” collection anyway) and (2) cost money (generally).  Sure there are plenty of things you can collect that are free (e.g. stamps (if you get them in the mail), rocks, bugs, etc.) but if you are buying the items in your collection it adds up quick.  I had some old comic books and cards that I collected back when I was teaching.  I used my students as an excuse for collecting them at the time (and they were a negative influence on me), but in reality I think it was the first time I had access to “real money” to spend as I wished, and I never really spent much money on this type of thing as a child (probably wasn’t allowed to – or had better sense).

I sold off most my old comic books when their respective big-screen movies came out (e.g. Spiderman, X-Men, Batman, etc.) when there was a nice up-swing in their value on eBay – I likewise cleared out my Star Wars action figures right when Episode I came out (which was the right thing to do as they flooded the market with a billion figures and the new movies ended up being really not so great).  Just this week I sold off almost all my cards to a local eBay seller (he sells several hundred cards and lots every day so buys up whole lots of cards several times a week).  I didn’t get nearly back the money I had into them, but it was some non-trivial money (won’t embarrass myself with the details) and cleared out some boxes from my limited area of the house.  It is really freeing to have them basically all be gone – a really good feeling (don’t know why I didn’t do this long ago).

So if there is any wisdom in all of this (other than buy low, sell high, etc.) it is not to get too deeply into expensive collections if you can help it – even being given a collection “for free” can end up being the beginning of trouble.  I’m trying to get to the point that if my house got leveled by a tornado (and my family got out fine) that there wouldn’t be anything I would really, really miss.  And if I can figure out what those things would be (e.g. pictures, important documents, etc.) to protect them or “back them up” in some way now.

Anyway, my garage is filled with stuff that is “not allowed back in” right now – Laura is putting most of it on Craigslist.  It’ll be nice when it is all gone (one way or another) and we can see how well we did.