I’ve read a number of posts over the last week that highlighted themes that bloggers have chosen for 2017. Our theme isn’t something I had to think too hard about. 2017 is going to be a year of big CHANGES in the Make Smarter Decisions household! (And for any David Bowie fans, it is fitting that on the first anniversary of his death, our theme honors one of his greatest songs!)
We are working to embrace change – when many people fear it. And it may be a challenge because we thrive on the status quo – a relatively quiet and consistent life. Even though we are busy, we live a life with little drama; it’s smooth sailing in our household most days. Boring might even be a good word 😉
But I doubt life will be boring in 2017! And as you might have already guessed, the big CHANGES ahead will be tied to a number of big DECISIONS. And the decisions all have important financial considerations for our future!
So what’s happening this year?
- My daughter is in her 3rd year of college but she’s finishing up her undergraduate degree in May! With lots of community college and AP credits from high school, she is saving a year of college costs (for her and us!) She is also graduating debt free! She’ll be deciding on a graduate program in a different state sometime in the next few months. And it’s likely she’ll live there for the next couple of years, rather than come home for the summers. I wrote a two-post series about her college search – How Do I Choose the Best College and How Do I Choose the Right College (by managing the information overload!)
- My son will be graduating from high school in June and he’ll be heading off to college in the fall too! He has a number of applications out and a few acceptances in! But we’re still waiting for a few colleges and for all of the financial aid packages too. Then comes his big decision. And a reminder for anyone looking at colleges – don’t assume public is cheaper than private or that in-state is cheaper than out-of-state. I wrote a post about making those assumptions and how they could have cost us thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars!
- We are deciding whether to sell our house and downsize into a rental property I purchased 24 years ago. There is a ton of work involved in getting a house ready to sell. But there’s even more work required to get our rental property ready, if we want to move in. We are used to doing this kind of work (we own and maintain 10 rental units), but timing is going to be key. I explain more about our $100,000 snowbird housing plan in this post – which has the most comments on the blog! Feel free to add more comments too if you haven’t read it! Downsizing will allow us to pay off another mortgage and increase our cash flow too.
- I will be deciding whether to go back to work for one more year. I started this blog soon after “downshifting” from full-time work as a college professor last spring and two months later, I was back to work full-time again. It made a lot of sense for me to work this year (with my son still in high school), but if I did it next year – I would have a serious case of one more year syndrome. But I’d be turning down what could add up to over $200,000 over my lifetime (salary and pension increase). What to do… Post with more details (and looking for your thoughts) on that soon!
There are a few more decisions too – but most depend on the what we decide to do in terms of my work and selling our home. The kids’ decisions and futures are exciting, but two kids off to college means an “empty nest” too! And we mixed emotions on that for sure!
For people who prefer smooth sailing, 2017 could bring some rough seas!
All of these decisions will bring about a lot of change. So we’re preparing for it now, and we have been for months. Making smart decisions takes time. It requires asking hard questions and prioritizing your goals. It requires data gathering and considering creative options. It requires comparisons and determining trade-offs. It requires asking for feedback and it requires reflection – and lots of it.
You might be thinking (or maybe you’ve heard) that it is not very smart to make too many changes at once. And that is certainly smart advice to consider.
Some of our decisions are also stacked. They are decisions that are related and “hinge” on other decisions. If I keep working, should we sell our house and move – or wait a year? We live a block from school and our other house is about 10-15 minutes away. Stacked decisions can really confuse you as you try to make one decision before another one.
We are going to let our end goals and our decision-making framework help lead the way. We can stay in our house. But should we? I can work another year. But do I need to? And where will the kids end up next year? Decisions, decisions… We’ll share all of our decisions and how we used the decision-framework as we make them over the next few months!
Is anyone else in a year of CHANGE? Are we crazy to consider making all of these changes in one year? Would you? Or are you the kind of person who would go for it and embrace the change like we are trying to do? Have you faced stacked decisions before – and did they create confusion or “paralysis” when you tried to do your analysis?
Photo credit: Gerault@Pixabay.com