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I'm not a money-focused person. And I know this shouldn't bother me. But really, everyone I know has a big, new or new-looking house!

I was so excited when we bought our first (1000 or so square foot) house (built in 1969) in 2001. Then I joined a SAH moms' club in town that had regular play groups at alternating homes. Everyone's house was big and fancy except one other mom's (whose house was still nicer than ours.) I was too embarrassed to have everyone over at my house (plus we didn't have the space for 12 kids and 6 adults.)

I've noticed the same thing now that we're homeschooling. Every house I've been invited to is big and nice. When I invite people over I feel anxious and stressed out. There's not enough space for the dining room table and chairs and there isn't enough comfortable seating for more than one or two guests. Our couch is stained and ratty. I just feel insecure about my house.

My husband thinks it's because we run in circles with people having incomes that are higher than ours ($100,000+/yr), while our income is more like $45,000/yr. Our educations are similar to the people we know, but not our income. Kind of like teachers are highly educated, but not well paid. It also seems like many of the people we know are older than us--like in their late 30s/early 40s, while we're in our early 30s.

Also, we spend $300 a month on minimum payments on (mostly old) credit card debt. That money could go toward savings and a bigger mortgage if we didn't have the credit card debt. I am disabled and get $250 a month in disability ( I became disabled while in college, when I hadn't earned much, so I don't qualify for much disability.) We spend $500 a month on medical insurance and another $300 or so average on co-pays.

So I guess there are a couple issues. One is the state of our finances. One is why I feel insecure about our house. I just need to talk this out, I guess.
 

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I think people with bigger houses often like to show them off. I know that, at least in a few groups I've been in, the people with bigger houses tend to have people over more often, since they have more room, while the people with older, smaller houses don't offer. Since we see the bigger houses, we think everyone has one.

My husband and I are in a house with our 2 kids that is 758 sq. ft. There's very little room. But we aren't in a mortgage we can't pay. We can do other things in life than worry about making sure our house is perfect. I know our house isn't fancy, but I'd rather have something small than be constantly stressed about paying for a showpiece.
 

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Its the whole Keeping up with the jones' thing. I feel ya. We live in a 1800sq home perfect size for us built in 1979. Its in a great school system. We bought our house about 15min furthur out then alot of our peers mainly because we could get more house for less money and have traditional mortgage without having an ARM. We got some "grief" from "friends" of ours because we wern't buying in the "in" Hood. Well fast forward 3 years and our mortgage is $1300 amonth to there $2000 a month. We very little debt and we are not snapping with our spouses on how we will make such and such payment.

I look at it this way. We bought our first home at 29 (dh) and 24(Me) We had a down payment of 15K We make decent money. Enough that I can stay home with our kids and got to college part time (without a student loan thought this will change once I am in the nursing program)..We are at a point where in 2-3 years we can buy a "TOY" (RV mostlikely) and pay cash.
My house isn't the biggest but I'm not in debt. My Home isn't the newest but its loved and cared for. My House is a house its where Our HOME IS. And I look at it this way If a person is going to judge me by how big my house is or if I have the newest "toys" then I don't need to know them.

JMTC
 

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You never know what the "big house" people are really thinking. We have a big house and I am constantly embarrassed by it. When I go to people's houses and they are a more reasonable size I find myself wishing I lived there instead. That way I could be living more in line with my values,which have changed since we bought the large home. I envy people with small houses and admire the fact that they made better decisions than I did. We hope to sell soon and move into a smaller place, but there are various forces keeping that from happening right now. In the meantime I'll admire my friends.
 

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I used to live in a really small house, too. It was difficult to have more than 3-4 people over because the living room was just too small, and there wasn't even a dining room - just a tiny eating space in the kitchen. Needless to say, we didn't have more than one person over for dinner at a time.

I understand the keeping up with the Joneses thing, but in your situation it sounds like your house really can't accommodate 18 people. I don't think making your house more "more functional" is going to help things. What I would suggest:

1. Host playdates in the spring and summer when you can have people go outside in the backyard/front yard or wherever the kids can play outside.

2. If you do have the dozen+ people come over, rearrange your furniture the night before. I used to host a group of moms and babies in my small house, and whenever they'd come over, I'd literally have to remove furniture from the living room to fit everyone. I'd take away the coffee table and end tables and put up a folding chairs in the room. Some of the moms would sit on the couch & folding chairs; the others would just sit on the rug with their babies.

And honestly, I don't think people judge you as much as you think they do. Good luck!
 

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Size isn't really the issue, though; it's mostly about the layout.

My new house is 2200 square feet above grade. My old house was 1200 above-grade, plus a finished basement. We used to have people over all the time; right now I can't even picture hosting a dinner party here. All my extra room is in bedrooms, not public space.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by avent View Post
You never know what the "big house" people are really thinking. We have a big house and I am constantly embarrassed by it.
I hear you there... We own a 2400sq foot house in suburbia with a 3 car garage and a landscaped lawn and the whole 9 yards. We rent it out and live in a 1000 sq foot apartment
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We are younger than almost everyone we know and I have a high paying job that I am a little embarased about because all my peer aged friends are recent college grads with no job or retail or at most elementary school teacher jobs. All our friends are struggling and living in apartments and stuff so it is really weird to be like... hey wanna come over to the palace for the weekend?

As for the people in the neighborhood, they are almost age 35+ 2 income families with big SUVs and biger debt.

It's funny we just always kinda assume the role of "struggling young parents" even though that is not true, it is how we prefer to be seen because we are not the rolex and caviar kind of people.
 

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Your situation reminds me of mine.

When DH and I bought our little house, I was so proud. I was pregnant and nesting and fell in love the the character and features. We didn't see all the negatives
.

I taught until I had my daughter, so we weren't really at home much. We lived in the house, but it wasn't unitl I was home all day with 2 and then 3 children that I began to see the negatives. Plus, I had joined MOMS Club, and most of the other moms had big, new, development houses. I didn't even have a dining room.

I think one of the turning points for me was when I had an art playdate at my house. The basement was fairly empty and not finished, so I didn't care about paint, playdoh, etc. 14 toddlers came and did art for almost two hours. Their moms told me they never really got to play with that stuff at home because it was so messy. I had moms whose homes were 3x the size of mine envying my setup. It opened my eyes.

In the two years since that playdate, I have come to love my home. True, some of my friends have big, beautiful homes, and there are lots of times I wish for more space or a bigger kitchen or even feel envy, but I've done a lot to make my surroundings more comfortable to me. Decluttered a ton. Done lots of painting. LOTS of painting. Kept only things around me that make me happy. Looked at the positives--hardwood floors, fireplace that works, all brick construction, small floor plan so I don't have to be in the same room with the kids to keep an eye on them. A nice size fenced in yard with a garden. We're about ten minutes from everything.

I also look at things from my children's perspective. Once, I mentioned to DS that we would probably someday move into a bigger home. He immediately burst into tears at the thought. When I start to feel dissatisfied with things, I look at my children and remind myself that this is the haven of their childhood. Where they took their first steps and played hide and seek . . . where we measure their heights on the door. I want them to remember their home with fondness and love and I want to teach them to appreciate what they have.

It's hard. I often fall into the "I wish . . . " but then remind myself how blessed we are. And now I just entertain and go with it. People know that when we have a party here, things may be cramped and crowded . . . but it hasn't stopped them coming. Also, when I go to others' houses, I go for the company and the companionship, not the surroundings. I hope it's the same for my friends. Oddly enough, I get compliments all the time on how organized and colorful everything is (many of the big beautiful homes of my friends have white walls and we have a color in every room . . . another plus to a boxy floorplan).

I'm rambling. My point is, I know how you feel because I'm there much of the time. I just keep trying to do little things here and there to make the house more of a home and work with its quirks the best I can. Maybe make a list of what you like about the house and what you don't and see how you can make what you like work for you. Maybe you can't have 18 people over, but you can have a family or two at a time or do things in nicer weather. I host a lot of playdates when the weather's nice.
 

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I understand not having a place where you feel comfortable entertaining... Our apt is little and whenever we have people over I feel like one of us is standing in the kitchen cooking while everyone else is somewhere else because there is just not enough room. Although 18 people is a lot of people...

The secret to living small and entertaining crowds is a nice outdoor space. A patio, a children's garden, maybe even a pond... you get the idea. One of the immense benefits to a swanky outdoor spot is you do not have to heat or cool it! If you are a family of three it seems outrageous to have a home that can accommodate 18 people. So look on craigslist for a couch or ebay for a slipcover and entertain smaller groups
away!
 

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I really hear ya. Just wanted to say that I think most people are more self-centered than we realize. So when we think someone is judging us/our home, most likely they are either not noticing at all or in fact thinking of something THEIR home lacks, lol.

I'm only one person, but for anecdote's sake - when I visit a home nicer than mine, I feel like you do (a little jealous, a little insecure). When a I visit a home equal to or not as nice as mine, I'm not thinking much of anything at all in terms of comparing houses or judging anyone. The only situation I think I would be thinking about it is if the house were in absolute squalor.
 

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Jess A said it so well!

I try to keep a little scale in my head when I start feeling like that. It comes up fairly often in my mind. We homeschool on an income very near yours
and most of our friends and acquaintances are well-to-do with the big house, the restaurants, the hemorrhaging of money.

I see my little brick ranch on one side of my mental scale, and our one-income, homeschooling lifestyle on the other. Balance.

If I put a mansion on one side, the other side would have to change dramatically. I would be working full-time so no homeschooling, and I would lose so much that I really love in my life just to gain a house.

I'm sure many people can afford the luxurious lifestyle, but it is also true that many people are up to their eyes in debt. The big house, the new SUV, the nice clothes, the eating out....all an illusion. I'd rather have a small house that we can truly afford, and be able to sleep at night instead of worrying about money!

About the couch: we've limped along for years with a Tightwad Gazette suggestion: use a blanket or discount fabric and "wrap" each cushion like you'd wrap a gift. Safety pin the four corners on the bottom. Throw a quilt over the back, sew some new cushions, and the couch just got much better!

It does look homemade, but it looks clean and cozy. Also, handy for families with little children because everything is washable.

Come talk about this anytime you want. It is a radical and uncomfortable thing to live within one's means, especially when you're already doing counter-cultural things like homeschooling and AP parenting!
But you are not alone!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
I'm not a money-focused person. And I know this shouldn't bother me. But really, everyone I know has a big, new or new-looking house!

snip
My husband thinks it's because we run in circles with people having incomes that are higher than ours ($100,000+/yr), while our income is more like $45,000/yr. Our educations are similar to the people we know, but not our income. Kind of like teachers are highly educated, but not well paid. It also seems like many of the people we know are older than us--like in their late 30s/early 40s, while we're in our early 30s.
snip

So I guess there are a couple issues. One is the state of our finances. One is why I feel insecure about our house. I just need to talk this out, I guess.

My dh is a college professor but he's a late bloomer so he only started working a decade ago and we both have student loans. The only people in our playgroup that have lived in houses like ours are renting. We're just thrilled to own. We're actually old too but like I said we're late bloomers and neither of us had careers before kids so we never bought a house or accumlated savings.
 

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Be proud of what you have. If it works for you that is awesome. I wouldnt even compare to what other people have.

We have two sets of friends that wont invite us over. One says "my house is too small" and one says "I hate my house, it's old." (For the record I've been there and there is NOTHING wrong with their homes! They are just being picky...I'd live in both!) Our house is just regular...basic 3 bedroom house...in a newer development but it makes me crazy that I always have to play "host" because of everyone's issues. My dh does that too..."our carpet has stains" WHO CARES...I'm not going to NOT invite people over because he is insecure about the carpet. Invite people over, have fun, live life....yk?

Growing up my favorite friends house was a dive....seriously...junk cars all over, junk bikes...but we were always there cause it was the most fun. The parents were easy going....if you spilled something it wasnt a big ordeal...be the fun family, not the uptight ones. LOL
 

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I can relate, we bought our first home 3 years ago, its a mid 18th century Victorian. We have plenty of room but have not been in a position to decorate due to many unexpected drains on our income. So from the outside it looks like we have this grand old home but the inside looks like a couple of college kids live here. With the exception of our bed and couch every piece of furniture is second hand. (typical mismatched stuff)

Now that dd is old enough to play with others and ds at almost 16 invites friends over I feel totally embarrased about it, I try not to but its hard especially when we go over someone's place and they have lovely matching furniture.

We did entertain over the summer in the yard but our yard is pretty small but at least I was not so self-conscious about that.

Suppose the bright side is everything in the place is paid for with cash, no bills
which when you have a 100K in student loans is a big deal.

Shay
 

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We live in 1800 square feet right now. We used to live in 650. I like both setups. I think you may just want to spruce up what you have. Paint and some clearance fabric can do a lot. Check out some blogs on living in small spaces.
 

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Anyone have the link for the poster with a 300+sf house?
 

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If you're in a siutation where you've got more time than money, Martha Stewart, oddly enough, always seems to have a ton of ways to take what would seem to be ordinary household articles and turn them into beautiful parts of your decor.
 

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Oh boy... this topic causes me conflict, too!

I prefer a small living space, although maybe something just a little bit bigger than where we are now
I enjoy the efficiency of a small home and feel it's the most responsible and sustainable choice for us. Honestly, when I see big houses, it's hard for me to get past the thought of energy and money used to keep it running. Blech.

Of course, none of this means I'm immune to pangs of desire when visiting


You might want to check out SmallestCoolest for some inspiration, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/scc.php , it always makes me feel better!
 
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