I live in a fairly affluent area.
My little corner of it, however, is not so affluent.
Two years ago we bought this home, upgrading from a 1000 square foot house with a single bathroom in order to get a little more space for our family. Before we even started our home search, we had a list of things that were non-negotiable.
But we also had a budget. And in our area of the country with exploding real-estate values where it’s not unheard of to pay upwards of half a million dollars for a modest-sized cosmetic fixer, we knew that finding a home (and beating the frenzy of other potential buyers with our offer) was going to be a challenge.
Thankfully, the story ended happily with a 1600 square foot house (with the essential second bathroom) in a quiet neighborhood in a community that we loved.
The upgrade seems modest, but we ended up getting everything on our list and were absolutely in love with our new home.
Sometimes I walk my son to school. And the route takes us past larger homes and through neighborhoods with beautiful flowering trees and manicured front lawns. And I start to wish we had a little more.
A little more space.
A little more yard.
A little more money.
My perfect home is no longer good enough.
It’s a funny thing, contentment. It feels so amazing when you find it. Like you’ve finally “arrived” and life will forever be this incredible journey of gratitude for what you’ve been given. And then something happens and you realize that contentment isn’t a permanent state.
Instead, it’s a constant battle.
It takes work to stay content. It takes effort. It takes intention. It takes awareness. It takes gratitude.
When I became discontent with our last house, I quit watching HGTV. And it worked. When I stopped watching programs that showcased how inadequate my teeny home was in comparison to the ones on television, I was able to look around and be thankful for what I had.
But what’s the solution now? Do I stop walking my son to school? Take a longer route to avoid traipsing through the neighborhood with the $750,000 homes?
I’ve realized avoidance isn’t the solution. There will always be bigger and better. And I just have to combat that by focusing more on thankfulness and gratitude. And to fight for that contentment. Hard.
It wasn’t lost on me two years ago that as we spent every weekend for weeks going to multiple open houses that most of the other homebuyers touring the homes were young, single couples without kids. With our modest ‘forever-home’ budget we were competing with first-time homebuyers looking for their “starter house.”
And, if I’m being completely honest, most of our friends have homes that are much larger than ours.
But, it turns out, I’m okay with that. Our mortgage doesn’t break the bank. Our utilities are cheap, as are home repairs.
We have all we need.
In fact, just two short years ago we had absolutely everything we wanted.
So I’ll continue to wage the battle to find and maintain contentment. Because I know that it’s not a one-time endeavor. And if the alternative to contentment is to desperately long to live in that fancy neighborhood that we’ll never be able to afford, then no thank you.
Because that’s a battle I’ll never win.
Contentment is the first step to managing your money. Because if you’re constantly wanting more, your bank account will never keep up. Learn how to find contentment and practice Biblically-based financial management allmomdoes.com/money. Sponsored by Crown Financial Ministries.