Sunél's Blog | Do what’s right for you (not necessarily your money)

Sunél Veldtman, | 13 October 2023

A friend told me recently that he put his house on the market at a much-reduced price so that they could move. He reminded me that I gave this advice in a blog a few years ago. It seems I had forgotten my own advice because I was debating a similar decision with myself.

I have been pondering whether to buy a house and settle down in a particular area or rent for another year. It may be a good time to buy with house prices being depressed and interest rates making financing expensive for most buyers. The longer I rent, the longer I stay out of the housing market and the more money I contribute to a landlord’s investment rather than my own. Financially it makes sense to buy now.

However, right now a lot is happening for me. It’s been a tumultuous year. Furthermore, by the end of next year, my chicks will have flown the nest. I may want to live somewhere else and then I may be tied down by a fixed property I don’t necessarily want anymore.

While discussing my options with another industry friend on our weekly hike, she reminded me of that blog too. “Follow your own advice,” she said. She reminded me that I have always said that you should do what’s right for yourself first.

She also reminded me that we have previously agreed on the danger of making decisions when you have a lot on your plate. I have dished out this advice to many of my clients transitioning through divorce, retrenchment, or the death of a spouse. Yet, I had forgotten about it for myself.

Our brains, amazingly powerful as they are, have a limited capacity to deal with decisions. When you are preoccupied with a life transition, your brain tires from the load of your normal daily decisions. It will then cut off the energy you use to make other types of decisions, almost like load shedding. It will first shut off higher-order decision-making and then other non-essential functions, like emotional regulation until you are left with barely enough brain power to eat and dress yourself.

You may have witnessed this process after the death of a loved one. With multiple decisions to be made about arrangements, family members are often left with only enough energy to eat a sandwich.

Whilst I am not facing a life-threatening situation, I have enough on my plate to leave the decision to buy for another time. It isn’t the right decision for me now to tie myself down while I am uncertain about my future housing needs. Even though it may look like the right thing to do financially, for my life, buying a property just does not make sense.

In the long term, this life decision may work in my favour. Making a mistake in buying the wrong property or not being able to keep the property long enough to recoup the transaction costs, can be costly. 

So, after the timely reminders from friends, I am following my own advice. I’m renting for another year. Consider this when you make your next big life decision. Make the best decision for your life, not your money. The right life decision may end up being the best money decision anyway.

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Kind regards,