By Bill Melver
It’s been said, “Death and taxes – two things we can’t avoid in life”. While many of us spend time and effort to minimize the effect of taxes, how many of us spend much time about the other subject. Recently, there seems to be an increase in the media about discussions on preparing for that inevitable end. I decided to launch this column from a happier, more positive approach – how to make these the best years of our lives, thus the title. I hope to cover broad range of topics like managing your time and assets, to new ways of looking at your life style such as healthful eating and diets to not just physical exercises but mental as well, and relationship building to just enjoying and getting the most out of every day.
In today’s column, I’d like to share a new concept my wife and I recently came across by an architect, Sarah Susanka in a book she launched about a decade ago titled “Not So Big House” – a blueprint for the way we really live ISBN 1-56158-376-6. In this book, she approaches our home as an asset that needs to be evaluated from how to reap the most benefit, as we would any asset such as our savings or our precious free time. This evaluation begins by taking a personal inventory of what parts of our home we spend our time. As you may already guess, we spend most of our time in the kitchen, bedroom, family room and bathroom. Her point – gone are the days when most homes had a formal living room and dining room. This revelation has created a movement of new homes designed without those little used rooms in favor of larger kitchens, bathrooms and open spaces for rooms with multi functional use.
It was an eye opener for my wife and me. Coupled with another realization that soon, we may not be able to climb stairs to go to bed, we launched a search to find a smaller house with first floor master suite. It took a while but we finally found a cute little bungalow that met our needs. We will be making the big change and moving into our new, not so big house, soon.
As is true with anything in life, everything works out better through careful and comprehensive planning. Our planning process started after reading Sarah Susanka’s book and we slowly began putting the pieces together. We were fortunate that our current home was almost paid for. We started by going to our banker to discuss our plans and go over our finances to establish a budget and financing options to make sure we had a solid plan from the money angle. We also knew going in, exactly what we could afford to spend. Our banker recommended we first obtain a Home Owner Line of Credit (HLOC) to consolidate our current mortgage and several other debts to enhance our monthly cash flow. By doing so and armed with a pre-approved mortgage, this enabled us to negotiate any purchase from position of strength, This also enabled us to purchase our new home without selling our current home. Most buyers have to enter into agreement to purchase, “contingent” on selling their current home, adding an additional hurdle to close the deal. We funded the traditional 20% down payment from our IRA and plan to replace those funds, once our current home sells.
As I said, we just started this process. I hope by the time the readers read this article, we will have moved into our new home and I can share the rest of the story so please stay tuned.
Editor note: Bill Melver is 77 years young, lives in Akron Ohio with his wife, Ginny and an active community volunteer. He ran for mayor of Akron in 2015.