I recently leased office space for Get Rich Slowly.
For about a year, I'd been working out of an office I'd created in one of our spare bedrooms. This seemed like an ideal solution: I was able to work from home (with my cat companions!) while utilizing empty space.
In reality, this arrangement proved a blessing and a curse. Yes, it was convenient to have a home office. But I also found that the boundaries between Work and non-Work began to blur. I was working all the time. I wrote 10, 12, 18 hours a day — nearly every day. I love my work, but still…I had created a lifestyle that was anything but “rich”.
Last winter, Kris and I discussed the possibility of finding a writing space for me, but we never followed through. I thought it was crazy to spend a few hundred dollars per month to rent an office when we had plenty of room at home. It felt like a poor financial decision. So I continued to work long hours. This website consumed my life.
In February and March, I did a lot of soul-searching. I began to study George Kinder's notion of “life planning” and to develop my own philosophy about the stages of personal finance. I realized that although keeping a home office made me richer financially, it actually made me poorer in every other sense.
So, at the end of March, I gave in to my gut, and I leased a small office in a commercial building at the top of the hill. It was a mental struggle to move stuff up to the new space. I felt like I was kicking a grown child out of the house. (Part of the process was fun though: I used a little red wagon to haul books, and I carried a couple of the office chairs on my shoulders.)
Hard at work in my new office. I look old! Note the piggy bank watching over me.
I've been in the new office for two months now, and I have to say: this is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Yes, I'm spending $335 a month for 145 square feet of office space, but it's a business expense. (Translation: I'm not losing the entire $335 from my personal bottom-line.) Better yet, I'm much more productive here. When I come to the office, I come to work. I've created physical and mental space by moving out of the house.
Meanwhile, I've (mostly) been able to reclaim my time at home for other activities: reading, gardening, spending time with my wife. (I've done more pleasure reading in the past month than I had during the entire previous year, I think.) My life is much richer for having made this choice.
It's not always possible to know the outcome of a financial decision before you make it. Sometimes the option that looks best on paper is actually a poor choice. And sometimes it makes sense to spend a little extra money to obtain peace of mind.