Moving and Shaking

Jonathan Clements

THE CLEMENTS household has been in turmoil since May. After weeks of shoehorning our life’s possessions into endless cardboard boxes, we moved home and then, three days later, headed off for 10 days of vacation. My wife and I aren’t quite sure how we settled on this crazy schedule (though we’re pretty sure the other spouse is responsible). But we’re painfully aware of the result: It’s been months since we’ve had anything that felt like an ordinary day.

That might sound fun, but it has a big downside. When you’re in a routine, it’s much easier to spend thoughtfully, eat right, exercise regularly and handle the day’s tasks efficiently.

As someone once told me, “The routine is liberating.” At home, you quickly make the morning coffee, shower, dress and get on with the day. When you’re staying with friends, you hunt through their kitchen for the coffee filters, puzzle over how the shower works and crawl through your suitcase for the shirt you never packed.

On vacation, you also end up spending far more than usual—and in ways you never would at home. You eat out meal after meal. You blithely pony up huge sums for guided tours, museums and amusement parks. You buy worthless trinkets at ridiculous prices—knowing you’re overpaying, but feeling they are worth the price because of the memories that accompany them.

Moving brings the same out-of-control spending. You’ll often need to carry two residences for at least a short while. You’ll toss out stuff that seems too old or too troublesome to move, only to buy replacements for your new home. And when you’re packing and moving, who has time to cook? That’s more meals out—and, for those of us lacking in discipline, more dubious food choices.

Make no mistake: Staying put is a lot cheaper than moving around. For 20 years, I lived in the same, easily affordable house in New Jersey. Looking back, I realize that was crucial to my portfolio’s growth, because it allowed me to save gobs of money. Now that we’re settled in our new home, my hope is that the only way I’ll leave is feet first—but preferably not too soon.

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