At one of my previous churches, there was an older couple who owned a million+ dollar mansion in a rich area of Parker. This was years before house prices began to skyrocket in Colorado. It had several floors, an enormous atrium, an elevator, a spa, a half-court for basketball, some cool outdoor seating areas with great views, and it was just really, really nice.
So nice that it turned a lot of disapproving heads in the church. Do you really love God or the people around you if you are willing to spend so much on your house?
The story, as I heard it from several sources, was that the man had owned a very successful online business that he sold for $60 million. He tithed 10% – $6 million – to the church, which paid off their building and then some, then bought this house as a fixer-upper for around $1 million, not including the repairs. It had belonged to a former NBA player who ditched it when rules were set requiring the players to be within a certain distance of the arena, and so it fell into disrepair and was later finally sold.
So think about this. This man had $60 million dollars just from the sale of his business. Because he wasn’t greedy with it, he still tithed. Then he took 1/60th of his earnings (maybe 1/30th) and bought a really huge house. At various times several families lived there, and their house is pretty much always open to the church for the Super Bowl and various other occasions.
That’s pretty awesome.
Software developers don’t make that much money (unfortunately), but the for the past several years I’ve had the dream of someday owning a “Missionary House”, a place for returning missionaries to readjust to American life.
Here’s what I dream for it and each family that would stay in it:
- 4-bedroom with potential space for 5. It is not uncommon for missionary families to be this large. Beyond that, it’s free rent, so stop whining.
- 2.5 bath. This is kind of standard, but toilet options are generally appreciated by all
- One floor. For my own financial sake, this significantly reduces the cost of maintenance as more can be DIY’ed
- Smaller rooms, fewer miscellaneous spaces. Cuts down on heating/cooling, maintenance. Most people returning from the missions field are not bringing much with them, so this would be more cozy perhaps but would also require fewer furnishings, fewer things to break or require cleaning, etc. It’s also closer to how houses should be, IMO, and generally just costs less.
- 3 bicycles, 1 vehicle. Fix up an old minivan to good working condition. There might be a way to give one vehicle for each family to keep, but there could be something like an insurance stipend that could help them get insurance for it.
- Fully furnished, but nothing too fancy. Good tables, good beds with mattress covers, etc. A modest number of towels.
- Standard dining utensils, quality cooking pots and pans for the basics. Fewer electronic doodads, just the essentials, but quality essentials so they work well and last across different families. Definitely a water dispenser in the fridge, I did not have that in my apartment and love not using a filter jug where I am now.
- $2000 education stipend. There are tons of education opportunities around, especially at community colleges. This money would help the husband or wife to invest in new or refreshed skills if they were not practicing their vocations while overseas.
- Food stipend. Probably would be low and based on family size. It would encourage sticking to simpler meals. You’re being provided for, not being given a banquet every day.
- Monthly restaurant gift cards, just enough that the family can go to a restaurant once or twice a month.
- A huge-ass television, netflix. Hey, nothing wrong with some entertainment. I would probably throw in a gaming system and some family-friendly games that can survive from family to family (ok, well probably some Modern Warfare, too) [this is kind of funny because I’m not a fan of huge-ass televisions, but most people are, so I would want to take that into consideration]
- Books, board games. Not a huge selection. Probably some books on Financial Independence 😉 and of course several Bibles and maybe other cool things.
Ideally it would be situated in a place with good access to grocery stores and public transportation if need be.
The furnishings would not be so expensive as to temp theft or that an accidental destruction would cause me grief, but should be quality enough to be pleasing in function and durable enough to last a long time.
Also, it would all be done in such a way that hard feelings could be overlooked. This would basically require me to not need money (be financially independent) and to be in a good position to replace anything, no questions asked.
If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of home ownership, but this isn’t because there is anything wrong with home ownership. I’m simply focused on building an income-producing portfolio and not dealing with unexpected repairs or tenants. Besides, if I owned a house I would not be getting the sweet deal on rent that I am right now, which allows me to invest 50% of my income, as opposed to the 35% rate I had before I moved.
Because of my own life goals, I probably will not buy a house until I have upwards of $300k invested, but even then I’m kind of hoping to be chilling in the Himalayas (not literally…). But, however God directs my future, I really want to own an extra Missionary House someday.