Preparing to venture into life as homeowners

Published 9:38 am Friday, April 24, 2015

“We’re going to have to try really hard not to buy everything we want,” I told Sera as we walked through the furniture store. It was a statement I’ve been repeating a lot lately — and not just for the sake of my wife. I too have been tempted to neglect common sense and go on a spending spree over the past few weeks. What’s the reason? We’re about to become homeowners.

We’ve been renting our current townhouse for over a year, and in that time it became pretty apparent we could be making a house payment for the same price as what we have been paying for rent. After a few weeks of serious searching, an offer was made and accepted! The month of May will mark the beginning of our move and the end of a sizable portion of our savings. It’s an exciting and scary time.

Becoming a homeowner brings with it many more purchases than the home itself. We’ve already begun a shopping list, and we haven’t even moved in. A lawn mower is at the top of my list, and paint is at the top of Sera’s. We certainly have different priorities, but we both agree new couches are somewhere in our short-term plan. It was the desire for new couches that brought us to the furniture store (or should I say stores) last weekend.

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Walking around a furniture store brings about a myriad of emotions. Time and time again we found a couch that was so close, but not quite what we were searching for to take home with us. Color? Good. Design? Perfect. Comfortable? Not so much. We repeated our three-prong test multiple times and then reminded ourselves we didn’t intend to purchase anything until we were moved into the house anyway; ensuring we left the store empty-handed.

Beyond the basics, I’m growing excited about the prospect of creating a smart home. Maybe I’ll control the air conditioner from an application or program the garage door to open automatically when my phone is within a certain range. My research shows that I may be able to see how the water heater is working from my desk at work if I really wanted to know. It is these luxuries I’m having to remind myself are wants instead of needs.

Maybe my smart home will allow me to turn on the sprinkler to water our garden while we’re on an imaginary vacation to a tropical island. The garden, by the way, is another item on our want list, where we’re currently deferring purchases. As exciting as growing carrots and pumpkins might be, I have a feeling we’ll be busy enough this first year that the garden (and landscaping the rest of the yard) might become next year’s project.

It is hard not to buy it all at once. In a world where so many ideas are found online and purchasing the brilliant style on your screen is only a few clicks away, you really have to hold yourself back. Beyond the financial irresponsibility attached to buying everything we want for our new home right away, there’s also a fear in the back of my mind that we love now won’t be what we love in a few months.

Sure, choosing a paint color isn’t as permanent as a tattoo, but when your house has an open floor plan, it’s hard to stop once you paint one wall. If you don’t like it by the time you reach the end, there’s a lot more work to change it to a better color. It’s not a decision we should rush into making. The same can be said for many other items on our list.

Days, weeks and months will pass before we have everything on our list, though I suspect the list is never quite done for most of us. It’s hard to settle for what you have when you know something can be improved with a quick trip to the store. It’s the pursuit of “things” that Sera and I hope to avoid with our new home. Thus, my repeated, “We’re going to have to try really hard not to buy everything we want,” will likely not be a slogan for only our pre-home buying season.


Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.