Why “Go Big or Go Home” is Destroying Your Budget

In the U.S., we like our space and we like big. We drive big cars, we like big houses, and one of our favorite phrases is even “go big or go home.” We are obsessed with size in every way, shape, and form, and it is destroying our budgets. The greatest offenders to our larger than life attitudes include:

Your Home

In other countries, even the industrialized ones, it isn’t uncommon to see a family of 5 sharing a small apartment. In the U.S., however, we expect everyone to have their own large room and there to be adequate space for a large living room, dining room, great room, and kitchen – and it is costing us greatly. To save yourself some money, consider downsizing to a more appropriately sized home or even trying to search cheap apartments for something more affordable. You’ll save money on your mortgage, your private mortgage insurance, maintenance, and homeowners insurance.

Your Car

We love our SUVs, but they aren’t exactly cheap to upkeep or keep filled with gas. That gas-guzzler that can easy tow 8 people around may be beneficial if you do have a large family, but otherwise you are probably wasting nearly $300 in gas a month for no reason – not to mention larger vehicles also require more expensive oil changes, general maintenance, and tires. If you don’t need the space and have to commute regularly, consider switching out your SUV for a smaller vehicle with better gas mileage and lower maintenance costs.

Your Weight

The U.S. has one of the worst obesity epidemics of any other country in the world, and our large sizes are definitely costing us more. In addition to higher health care costs for all, if you are obese you can expect to pay higher insurance premiums as well as higher food bills. So if you are looking to save a couple extra dollars not, and thousands down the road in medical bills, consider shedding some weight.

Your Family

This may sound a bit harsh, but if you have a big family, there is a good chance that you are paying dearly for it. While there isn’t much that can be done once you have your family, if you are in the family planning stages, you may want to consider the cost of raising a child these days before you agree to have a larger family. While having kids is certainly the dream of many, choosing to have a larger family when you aren’t financially stable could literally lead you to financial ruin. To be a responsible parent, choose to only have as many children as you can afford.

Your Spending Habits

In the U.S., we don’t just buy one small thing in a store and then get out, we spend hours browsing and that box of Q-tips you went in to the store for quickly turns in to a shopping cart full of items totaling $100. When we consider dinner, we don’t just eat-in off that $5 casserole. We eat out and pay over $50 for the whole family to eat more than their calorie count for the day.  If you want to save yourself money, reconsider your spending habits on a typical day.  You don’t need the fancy coffee, when you could make your own at home.

If most Americans want to get their spending under control, then they are going to have to reconsider our typical “go big” mentality. While we all like our things, having too much of anything – whether it be space or clothes – is going to cost you, and has the potential to keep you in debt. So if you are looking to save yourself hundreds of dollars a year, consider downsizing – your life.

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6 Responses to “Why “Go Big or Go Home” is Destroying Your Budget”

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  1. Serena says:

    Love this post. See….this is why I thrift shop. Not only is it my hobby, but it’s the way to keep costs down for decorating. We moved into this house a year ago, and coming from a condo to a single family home is NOT cheap, for so many reasons (J. Money, Budgets are Sexy, just posted about this recently). I have bought so much from the thrift store, slapped on a coat of paint when needed, and voila, instant style. Check out my blog–that’s where I am tracking my progress. It’s a lot of work, but it feels good that we have been able to furnish our home without going into debt. All these rooms–could you imagine how much it would cost to furnish it at retail price?! UGH….. And thrifting is so much more rewarding when you find unique stuff! 🙂

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Right on Serena! You are so much more better off doing things the way you are doing them! Keep rocking your finances by prioritizing based on what’s important to you. My wife and I do the same. We don’t NEED brand new stuff to furnish our home and have done just fine. We bought a brand new bed last year but still spent less than most people probably do. We found a furniture store floor piece (headboard/frame) for $100 and spent about $1,000 on a nice King size mattress and bought the memory foam topper from Sam’s Club. We have really enjoyed our purchase but it could have been so much more. We couldn’t believe how much mattresses were when we first started shopping. LOL

  2. Suzanne says:

    Love this post! All of the above is true of our society and worst of all we are teaching our children to live this way–it’s time to downsize our lives and teach our kids bigger is not always better!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I know. Everything from food portions to square footage, society has been programmed into believing bigger/more is better. I actually like the saying LESS IS BETTER. 😀

  3. ib says:

    Bedrooms-
    The every kid has to have their own room is definitely over rated. I don’t understand why this is a requirement! We have 4 children in a 1000 sq ft house with 4 really small bedrooms. Needless to say some of our children have to share rooms. When we had our 3rd and then 4th child our friends just assumed we would be purchasing a bigger house, but we weren’t willing/able to pay for the extra mortgage, utilities, taxes, etc just to get a bigger house.

    We keep all the toys in one area of the living room, no toys in the bedrooms. This also promotes sharing of space and things between the children because there is no way for them to just “hide” in their room. Bedrooms are for sleeping and that’s it.

    Cars –
    Someone told me once to only buy a car that will meet your needs 90% of the time. For the other 10% of the time, borrow/rent another vehicle when you need it. We have a Mazda 5 which holds 6 people (us and 4 kids), unfortunately it has almost no storage space, plus it doesn’t tow. So when we need to cart stuff around (like going camping) or tow something, we either rent/borrow a larger vehicle or truck. I never go grocery shopping with all kids, because there is no room for them and the groceries, but it also means that it’s my time to be alone.

    SUV lovers – for off roading, can you just rent an SUV for a weekend once or twice a year?

  4. Jerry says:

    This is so true. We have been living a frugal lifestyle for years and want to remain well below our means regardless of what our net worth is. Living this way leads to peace of mind and is insurance we will always be able to provide for ourselves.

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