As I’ve told you before, I love houses. And really, I’ve been addicted to real estate for a long time.

Give me your primary residences, your rentals, and your condos yearning for a remodel. I don’t care if they’re 2-story, 3-story, or a ranch. I’ll take them all and turn them into my own projects of love.

Of course, playing the real estate game is expensive. And since we’re not in the market for a new house, I’ve tried to satisfy my cravings by checking out open houses near my home. Stick a sign in the yard, burn some vanilla candles, and put an obnoxiously happy salesperson at the door and I can’t resist.

I used to comb through the listings each week to see what’s on the market. Of course, I would tell the hubs I was just checking out home values in our neighborhood – you know – so we know what our own house is worth.

But finally, I realized my addiction to open houses was slightly dangerous – so dangerous that I’ve chosen to quit going altogether. Here’s why…..

Reason #1: They Make Me Want a Bigger House

Seeing the size of these starter castles makes me want to move. A queen bee like me needs a new kitchen, another bathroom, and a fully finished basement, right? I’d also love to get some nice new wood trim – without the nicks and scratches that come with having kids and a dog, of course. It’s all so tempting!

While I love our home, I still consider it as sloppy seconds. We actually wanted to purchase another house in the same neighborhood. It was our dream home, but our offer wasn’t accepted due to a contingent sale. Now, we walk by that house almost every day, wishing we had it.

Buuuuut… that house would have cost us almost $80,000 more than our current abode. Plus, we don’t need a bigger house. After remodeling, we actually love the house we have. Besides, our current location within our neighborhood is perfect. I love our street and our back yard, along with our proximity to the neighborhood pool.

Reason #2: I Fall in Love Pricey Upgrades

Because I enjoy interior design, I love checking out the type of upgrades people choose in houses similar to mine. It’s fun and it’s satisfying, but it also gives me some destructive ideas.

Honestly, seeing other people’s pricey upgrades brings out my inner JoAnna Gaines. Suddenly, I’m looking to tear down walls, replace all my floors, and cover my entire family room in shiplap. But let’s face it – Greg is no Chip in the construction department. That means we have to hire out most of the work, which is expensive.

Trust me, I don’t need any more remodeling ideas. I don’t think my wallet – or my husband – would approve.

Reason #3: Our House is Nearly Paid Off

I admit it. I have a problem. Honestly, I thought I could cure my addiction to real estate and save money by attending open houses. I was wrong.In December, we paid off our first rental house early… and it felt freakin’ great! That house is ours, free and clear from any obligation to a bank. We are legit home owners, and that extra rental income will help us in a gazillion different ways.

Without that mortgage on our plate, we’re using the rental income to pay down our other rental even faster. Hopefully, we’ll have our second income property paid off this summer. Then, we’ll focus on destroying the mortgage on our current home. Optimistically, we’ll have our primary residence paid off in 18 months. Worst case scenario, it will be paid off in 2-3 years.

Though I’d love to upgrade to a bigger and “better” house, the money conscious mama inside me knows keeping my current house is the best way to get ahead. Sure, we could “afford” to move up if we wanted to. And that’s what most people do; they put their house on credit, buy more than they can really afford, then wonder where all their money is going. By choosing to stay where we’re at, we’ll meet our dreams of early retirement and start slow traveling the world that much faster.

Final Thoughts

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there will always be something bigger and better out there. Somebody will always have more than I do – more money, more toys, more house. That’s what everybody is trying to sell, that bigger is better. It’s not.

When you don’t fall for the scheme, the only person that wins is you. Heck, I’m sure the bank would gladly loan us a million bucks or more. We can “afford” to buy a much bigger house if we wanted to… but can we really?

We choose not to. Had we made that decision in the past, we wouldn’t be able to travel like we do now. We definitely wouldn’t be able to save as much. Greg would probably still be at his job, slaving away to pay off a debt we didn’t really need in the first place. Instead, we’re able to live the life of our dreams right now and still save for the future. I believe we’ve made the right call.

Making good financial choices is what separates getting ahead from falling behind. Sure, I may have to cut back on the open houses, but I’m happy to do so if it means a better financial future for my family. What choices are you making to do the same?