The Cost of Sentimental Value

You know what guys? I think I’m going to change the name of this blog to because I just can’t stop sharing all these notes I keep getting!!! They’re so juicy!

And probably since I keep sharing them over and over, I keep getting more and more and thereby extending the circle of email life even further, haha… I LOVE IT! (Unless you guys aren’t anymore? Want me stop? Go back to hogging all the space for myself?? No? Yes? Maybe? WHICH IS IT, PEOPLE?!! ;))

But no stopping today’s post, where our new friend Barbara* from Arkansas stops by to share her experience with an unwanted inheritance, and the predicament it’s now put both her and her marriage/wallet in.

Take a read, and then let us know what ideas you have for Barbara here, as well as for her husband who is also stuck in the middle of it and not enjoying a single part.

After all, that’s what we like to do here at! “You email ’em, we advise on ’em!” And we’ve got a live one today, folks! ;)


Hey J$!

I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and am working extremely hard on my journey to FI. My husband is on the same journey with the exception of one (big) thing… an unwanted inheritance.

A few years ago my husband, Jim, was given a house in a tiny town in Montana from his Aunt. You may think “Wow, He’s lucky!” However it is a small two bedroom house that belonged to his Grandparents who passed away decades ago. The house has remained intact pretty much exactly as it was when they died, furnishings and all.

My husband’s uncle owns a farm near the town, and Jim visits twice a year. He rarely stays at this house that he’s inherited. His hunting buddies stay in the house, and Jim stays on his Uncle’s farm. So far it doesn’t sound too bad…

Except that the house costs us $1,000 a year for taxes and utilities and sits empty 358 days a year. So far costing us a total of $8,000.

It also needs a new roof, the plaster is falling off of a wall in of one of the bedrooms, and just yesterday Jim found that the pipes had frozen because his hunting buddies did not properly winterize it. It is a money pit that has a tax assessed value of $22,000, but would probably sell for $15,000 at the most.

Jim’s family has always had a lot of pride for the family name, and he is worried about letting go of the last Family owned property in this town. He feels guilty because he knows how I feel about it (I want it gone!), and guilty for letting down his relatives if he sells. It is tough for me to bite my tongue because when his Aunt offered him the house, I was against him taking it for all of the reasons I have addressed above.

He talked to his uncle about selling the house yesterday after the plumbing mishap. His uncle seemed disappointed. When he told me how it went with his uncle, I said that he should sign the house over to his uncle. Problem solved. Jim got upset after two frustrating days and didn’t want my input anymore as he already knows exactly how I feel.

Jim restored his grandfather’s 1960 Chevy pickup, which he loves, and I am happy he has that. (Isn’t that sentimental enough?) We also have sons to carry on the family name. I don’t know why we need a house that sits empty and in need of major repair. We have family we stay with when we visit Montana anyways. If we had to stay in a hotel it would still be much cheaper than maintaining the house.

Am I being unreasonable for wanting Jim to let go of this unwise investment? I don’t want to be heartless, but it seems irrational to keep it.

I was wondering if you have heard from anyone who has been in a similar situation and what advice you and your readers would offer me?

His buddies will chip in a little to help with the costs, but I worry about the big expenses that will eventually need to be taken care of. I think he should either:

  1. Sell it (or give it) to his hunting buddies
  2. Put it on the market for anyone else to but it
  3. Give it to someone else in the family


PS: Here are a few more things from Jim’s perspective. The house has history. His Dad and siblings were born in that house. They held the funeral for his Grandma on the porch of the house. When his uncle passes, the farm will be passed along to his step daughter and husband leaving that house as the only Family homestead left in the town. He has been told since birth that he should be proud of the family name. He feels like me wanting to get rid of the property conflicts with the sentiment that was ingrained in him. I don’t want to pressure him. I want it to sit right in his gut. I guess it is worth the $1,000 a year if it means he will not resent me….


Whew – Tough spot to be in, right? Both sides of the equation, really!

To answer the question about how you feel about it all though, Barbara – no, of course it’s not unreasonable to feel that way! I have a feeling most of us reading this right now is shaking our heads in agreement with you!

However, just as it’s okay for you to feel this, the same goes for your husband who I’m sure is even having a *harder* time with juggling all these relationships in the mix, as well as figuring out his own personal feelings towards it. I’m sure he wants it resolved even more than you do, so it’s great y’all are reaching out for some (hopefully) good advice!

(And FYI – Jim is aware of Barbara reaching out today, which I just love instead of doing all this behind his back :) So all your tips/advice will be read by him too!)

All this said – yes, sentimentalism can be a bitch! And while we all have a ratty old college sweatshirt or jeans laying around, *ahem*, I can only imagine the burden of carrying around A HOUSE for solely that reason!

But here’s the thing – as much as we all LOVE our history and the things attached to it, none of it overrides the more important aspect of our lives which is living for TODAY.

We use the past to help guide us further, but the past is now gone and if we don’t harness it to *improve* our future vs detract, we’re doing a big disservice to both our selves and our closest loved ones.

And fortunately, unless you take on a lobotomy or something, you still get to keep all those wonderful memories no matter what future decisions you make in life! So it’s not like giving up a house or sweatshirt erases anything! It’s just not commanding as much of our attention as it once was.

One of my favorite lifestyle bloggers once said the following which I use time and time again in my life:

“When you’re holding stuff you don’t need, you’re keeping them from other people. You’re keeping them from being useful to other people.”- Bea Johnson

To me, it’s time to free up the house to serve it’s next purpose in life, while at the same time carving out new time and energy for the next project in YOUR lives as well. Perhaps another route to carry on the family name?

And with that in mind, I do actually have a few other options to consider :)

#1. Selling the house – BUT – using the profits towards creating new ways for the family name to live on!

Perhaps a nice memorial or bench or something? Or Maybe even a scholarship/fund in the grandparents honor? There’s nothing saying the property *has* to be a house for a name to live on, so any of the above would serve the purpose, only without the hassle and future cash infusions needed.

#2. Selling the house, but using the profit towards yearly family reunions or experiences!

$15,000 or so would be more than enough to do a handful of great get togethers as a family, and nothing would bring ME as much joy as a parent as seeing my kids spend good quality time together vs squabbling over my ancient worldly possessions…

Another reason I plan on continuing this minimalism path with each passing year! When it’s time for me to depart, all my family will get is a lifetime of memories and love! The only physical item I’ll be passing on if I can help it is cash money and/or my cherished coin collection, although even that might have to be disseminated if no one cares for them to avoid any potential bickering ;)

#3. Lastly, if Jim DOES still want to still keep the house, perhaps taking on another job to cover the costs associated with it could be a halfway win for everyone?

From what it sounds like it’s really only the money involved that upsets Barbara so much, so taking that out of the equation would allow Jim to still hold onto it, but also put things in better perspective knowing just how much time and energy it entails to keep it in everyone’s lives… I don’t like this option as much as the others because it means *being away from family* to make this extra income happen, but it is an option nonetheless if all others are not favorable.

So yeah, take from it what you will, but I do hope you get it figured out one way or the other so you can get back to your beautiful and happy marriage! :) Don’t let this continue on forever and never make a decision on it!!

Readers – what can you offer up today to help our friends out here? Have you ever been in a similar situation before? How did you overcome it? (Or are you still in the thick of things?)

This stuff isn’t always so black and white, but the more you talk about things the clearer it gets! So please do share all the tips and advice you can muster up today! I’m sure both Barbara and Jim appreciate it!

*Names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent…

**Image up top not the house in question, but if it indeed looked like that I could understand even more why you’d want to keep it around, haha… It’s so cozy, isn’t it?? :)

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  1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer April 18, 2018 at 5:58 AM

    I love the first idea-sell the cabin to stop the financial bleeding and do something more permanent to mark the family’s name in town. For fifteen grand you should be able to creat a nice, thoughtful memorial-like a bench, gazebo, or even playground-that will carry on the family name as well as bring enjoyment to many.

    1. Ramona @ Personal Finance Today April 18, 2018 at 8:25 AM

      It does make sense to get rid of it, if they don’t find any use for most of the year. We have bought a derelict house 2 years ago, but we are spending most of our weekends there and love it. It’s a huge money drain, but it’s also a huge pleasure to be in there and it’s our ‘vacation’ get away ever since. If they can spend more time there (at least few weeks/year), then it would make sense to keep it. Otherwise ..

      1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:39 PM

        Sound like a great bonding experience too!

  2. C April 18, 2018 at 6:11 AM

    This is my 1st time posting, but I very much identify with the want to save items of sentimental value vs decluttering so I am taking a go at it… Would it be possible to donate the property to a non-profit. (Possibly one devoted to nature, wild-life given the location.) This would relieve you of your financial obligations to the property, enable multitutdes to enjoy, you may ask for naming rights in his grandparents name, and you may go back and visit with your own family and depending on it’s end use, grandchildren can volunteer there. (The charitable contribution shouldn’t hurt either.) I wouldn’t know how to go about or the implications of any of this if at all possible, it’s just a thought. Selling the property and reducing it down to only a monetary value cheapens the sentiment even if you use the proceeds for good, but there is no reason you should be left with the monetary obligation.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 6:14 AM

      Oooh great idea! That hits a lot of the important areas!

  3. LJ April 18, 2018 at 6:22 AM

    Excellent idea! Although if the place is a money pit, a non-profit may not be able to afford the expense either. That being said, check with the local historical society!

    How about airbnb? Maybe there is a way to monetize the time the house is empty? Or how about go ahead and give it to next family member?

    I’d also like to say that Barbara probably needs to back off this and yes, 1000 bucks a year is worth her husband’s happiness. It’s his cabin to do with what he wants, and making him feel bad about wanting to keep it is probably not good for your relationship. If he gets rid of it due to pressure from you, he’ll likely always resent you for it.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 7:19 AM

      Good point on non-profits still needing to maintain and maybe not being interested in it… Plus I suppose they can just turn around and sell it and then use the cash for their programs too, eh? Unless there’s a clause built into it?

      (and you’re right – $1,000 a year to keep a marriage in tact is definitely worth it… provided Barbara can find a way to somehow avoid thinking about it? Maybe Jim takes care of every last item surrounding it if not doing so already?)

    2. S May 18, 2018 at 5:56 PM

      Late to the conversation here but I agree with LJ, some sort of Airbnb would be the perfect way to go. If Jim’s buddies are looking for a place to hunt/stay, then there are countless others who would do the same thing. (Totally thinking of my Dad and Brother in law – always traveling around to different states to hunt things that we don’t have in Iowa). Perhaps Jim could share a few of the profits with his uncle (Or other relative that lives Up there) if they could pop into the cabin every now and again to check on it?

  4. Prudence Debtfree April 18, 2018 at 6:45 AM

    I think that everyone who tries to better their finances runs up against what I’ll call “a false sacred”. Family is sacred, but that house isn’t. What makes this tough is not only Jim’s sentimentality (which is very natural) but the shadow of his uncle – who clearly burdens Jim with a sense of obligation. I think that without the uncle’s influence, Jim would choose to sell the house. I would encourage Jim not to give so much power to his uncle. That whole “family honor” thing can be a real form of bondage. I hope that Jim faces his fear of possibly disappointing a branch of his extended family – especially his uncle and those in the family who are influenced by him – and making the choice that he knows is best. After all, the house was left to him. He should own the power and right to do what he knows is best. I’m with you, Jay, in saying that there are better ways to maintain relationships and build connections in the extended family – and for the next generation of it – than to keep shoveling money into that vacant house.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 7:14 AM

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Prudence. Exactly why I wanted everyone’s input – you guys see things that I don’t!

    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life April 18, 2018 at 9:05 PM

      Prudence, you’re so right here! We give things more meaning than they warrant, and at what (literal) cost?

  5. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance April 18, 2018 at 6:54 AM

    Wow this is a tough spot. I wonder if anybody else in the family would want it. If nobody does, I don’t think you should feel guilty about selling it.

    Donating it as mentioned above is also a great idea. If you did that, maybe you can stipulate that it stays in tact. That would keep it there, memories and all for generations!

    1. Stevo April 18, 2018 at 8:16 AM

      I like this one. Offer it to someone else in the family and see if there are any other people that would be interested in maintaining the home for the costs that it entails. If none others are interested, then there’s no reason it should be Jim’s burden and his alone. Or at least find a way to share the costs with other siblings/family members. If no one else wants to pony up, then just goes to show it really isn’t that important to the remaining family.

      My wife’s family inherited 80 wooded acres and an old cabin from family (started with her great-grandparents I think). The cabin is just a shed with windows and a door (no utilities). Her uncle pays for the yearly taxes out of money that my wife’s grandmother left behind when she passed away (very smart woman). When that money runs out, we’ve agreed that we’ll split the costs between the family (my wife is one of 7 cousins with ties to the land).

      Similar situation though – no one ever uses the land. No one had been out there for 15 years until I started asking about it a couple of years ago. I’ve been out there 4 times and it’s the most use it’s gotten in probably 30 years. However, it is also timber land.. so it does make a little money every other decade or so…

  6. Menard Solve April 18, 2018 at 6:57 AM

    Why not list it on airbnb? It’s probably in remote Montana, but you wouldn’t really know until you list it. If not, I doubt that a nonprofit will be interested either without getting rid of it.

    Being sentimental myself (I just bought my old Apple IIc computer from eBay), I love keeping old stuff but not when it’s costing me $1000 a year.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 7:15 AM

      Hah!! Tell me you can still play it?? Or at least turn it into a work of art – say, an aquarium or something? ;)

      1. Menard Solve April 18, 2018 at 11:20 AM

        Yes, I can play vintage games on it. One is a millionaire stock market simulation with ‘blue-chip’ stocks, KMart and Sears, being featured. I actually downloaded a bunch of games from the web and transferred them to into the machine via the serial port.

        I also own an original 1984 Macintosh, which I took from the trash in one of the neighborhoods close to where I live. Had I not been able to restore it, I would have turned it into an aquarium like you suggested. I wrote about it on my blog :)

    2. Mr. Freaky Frugal April 18, 2018 at 7:49 AM

      Menard Solve – I like your airbnb idea! It was my first thought as well. Jim might have to invest more money to fix it up but it’s possible for it to become cash flow positive if it’s in a good hunting location.

      Another idea I have is for Jim to think about what he’s going to do with the house when he dies. Is he going to pass it on to one of his sons? Do they want it? If not, does he really want to burden one of his sons with the house like he was burdened?

    3. Sally April 18, 2018 at 10:29 AM

      My first thought was how can you monetize as well. If it’s not a great fit for vacation rental, perhaps renting out some space on the property for storage areas? Allowing clubs and groups that are close to have meetings there in return for a small fee? Reaching out to Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts troops who might live a retreat space for a weekend? Lots of options. Then, you can balance the desire to keep in the family with a desire to have it make financial sense.

      1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:45 PM

        Great idea getting organizations involved!

  7. BC Kowalski April 18, 2018 at 7:14 AM

    One thing I didn’t read s how thr uncle is willing to help with the costs. If it’s that important then he should be willing to pony up to help with the costs! Or take over the house himself. I was unclear why if Jim considered selling it, why he got so upset at her suggesting to turn it over to the uncle. It would still be in the family, right?

    I had a similar idea as C, except I wondered if it’s old enough to be historical. I wondered if a historical society might be interested in it. Alternative to that, there are companies that do deconstruction, selling the lumber to craftsmen who make new pieces out of them. Just a thought but it’s kind of cool to think wood from the old homestead lives on in handcrafted art!

    Otherwise, if they keep it, it’s only fair others involved start splitting the costs. If it’s so important to this uncle, for example, he can help pay the upkeep. And maybe these hunting buddies can pitch in a bit? Sometimes people say something is important to them until they’re asked to actually open their wallet.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 7:29 AM

      That would be cool knowing parts of your house are repurposed and parts of others now! Or even art projects!

      1. B.C Kowalski April 18, 2018 at 12:44 PM

        For sure! There’s someone up in this area who has turned it into a business. It’s cool walking into a place and seeing a table or wood accent that I now know was made from wood that’s more than 100 years old.

        And I get it’s tough. I tend to get sentimental too. But my growing sense of minimalism has slowly but surely overrode this instinct. Even on the smaller level, it’s a battle I have with my family, who wants to unload all kinds of passed down junk on my and is always surprised when I don’t want it. Even my boomer parents still have the mindset of, if it’s free, you take it; while they spend hours trying to manage and sort and clear the junk out of their house. Sigh.

  8. Chris April 18, 2018 at 7:26 AM

    This is another great article and a reality so many people face!
    We went through a similar but different experience when we downsized our home. My wife and I had boxes of things we felt sentimental about. Items from grandparents and loved ones who had died, etc. However, we were going smaller and had to make decisions. We decided to sell the vast majority of the items. The fascinating thing is that the opposite emotional reaction came out. We felt relief instead of regret. While the items held some sentimental value, we realized that the memories and experiences they represented could never be taken away. We didn’t dishonor our departed loved ones – they would have wanted the items to serve us in the best way possible, which they did! If the cabin burned in a fire tomorrow, none of the history and family legacy will be affected. I would offer to keep it in the family – if no one else wants the burden to assume the responsibility, then I think it says volumes.

  9. Jhonatan April 18, 2018 at 7:31 AM


    I think they should try restoring it and rent it on Airbnb or a tenant maybe.


  10. Lily | The Frugal Gene April 18, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    This is a toughy but ohhh yes have I definitely seen similar cases. It’s not with just money related (although boy if it just real estate, it’s a cabin of some sort). Sometimes the item provides NO value like a 25 year old car that are pretty hard to drive. But for cars it’s easier to keep since you don’t have to pay property taxes on it and $15k a year.

    Hmm… if it was me…I would KEEP it. It’s family, it’s legacy, it’s history!!! That’s rare history and not just sentimental.

  11. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 18, 2018 at 8:09 AM

    Wow that’s a tough spot to be in for both of you. The house is now more a liability than an asset.

    I totally agree with Barbara that the house should be sold. Family legacy is valuable but it shouldn’t drain us financially and emotionally. If anyone else in the family wants to keep the legacy, they should probably buy it and pay for the upkeep out of their own pocket.

  12. Sam April 18, 2018 at 8:16 AM

    Parents left my brother and me a beautiful condo on South Beach. Who wouldn’t want a condo in South Beach??!!! Me!!!

    He wanted to keep it for sentimental value (and fun). For $20,000/yr in assessments, insurance and taxes – not to mention every so often “special assessments” for balconies, pool, hurricane damage, etc.

    But hey, 20K rents a lot of condos all over the world! We kept it for a decade and finally he agreed to sell. Just covered expenses in the end, but so glad it’s gone, he still gets teary eyed about not having it…


    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:48 PM

      Oh man – that one would be harder for me to give up too, haha… prime locale! But you’re right on those assessments – they can be no joke.

  13. Leo T. Ly April 18, 2018 at 8:29 AM

    It really sucks being guilt into accepting something that you don’t really want to own. If it was me, I wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. Since this is already in the past I would offer to pass it on to another family members first. If no one is willing to accept it, I don’t think that I would feel guilty selling it since others in the family don’t want to inherit the property.

    I am definitely onboard with finding a different way to pass on the family legacy.

  14. Spudisimo April 18, 2018 at 8:30 AM

    The Airbnb idea is a good one.

    Look into converting its use to a hunting lodge that can be rented out. If his buddies keep returning to it for hunting purposes, perhaps others will too. There are groups that pool money and resources in order to purchase and support hunting lodges and their hunting grounds so that no one member is burdened with the full cost. Perhaps one of these would be willing to purchase or do a long term lease. The agreements tend to have stipulations on use and management and in the long run the contracts for the hunting lodges tend to look more like a timeshare (just don’t point that out to the hunters that buy in)

  15. Barbara April 18, 2018 at 8:37 AM

    Thanks for all of the awesome suggestions! Jim and I have discussed Airbnb. The problem is we live 8hrs away and winterization/housekeeping would be an issue. I am glad there is understanding for Jim’s position. I definitely do not want to push him to do something that does not sit well with him. It would be worth keeping it if he isn’t ready to let it go. Whatever the decision is, he needs to feel good about it. It is great to read all of these thoughtful replies and awesome suggestions. Hopefully he will read one that works well for him.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:49 PM

      I hope he’s reading this too, Barbara! LOTS of great insight here, and pretty well rounded too – I’m glad we’ve got people chiming in from both side of the picture here :)

  16. Jack @ Duke of Dollars April 18, 2018 at 8:41 AM

    Dear Reader –

    What a tough spot to be in. My family has let go of over $300k worth of sentimental value in the last 3 years. It has been gut wrenching. But we had no need for that stuff, and holding it came at enormous cost. We held on to many small items, digitized and archived all the media we could find, and even made a teddy bear out of the deceaseds’ clothing items. It’s hard, but letting go is a necessary part of inheritance. You can do it.

    I strongly recommend against renting in this scenario. Imagine how your husband would feel if a renter trashed the place.

    If you do sell, keep in mind that you must record a capital gain or loss based on the value of the house when it was inherited.

    Best wishes to you and your husband.

  17. Tonya April 18, 2018 at 8:44 AM

    The best solution seems to be to either give it to someone else in the family or ask the rest of the family to pitch in for taxes and repairs. It seems they all want to keep it in the family as long as they aren’t the ones who have to pay to maintain it. Why does this burden only fall to him? If the family wants to keep it so badly, let someone else in the family keep it.

  18. Martinus April 18, 2018 at 9:01 AM

    Proverbs of Hell
    William Blake, 1757 – 1827

    From “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.

    Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

  19. Greg Pohl April 18, 2018 at 9:07 AM

    Many great ideas out there! Here are my thoughts: Start with asking the uncle and the hunting friends to share in the expenses equally, that would drop it down to $333/yr after the repairs. If they don’t want to do that, then offer it to the uncle, as his heirs, per the article his step daughter and husband are in line for it. (DO they even want it?). If he doesn’t want it, sell it and split between the funds with the uncle (after Jim gets his holding costs back). As a last option I would consider renting it if possible, even if it doesn’t rent, the cost of keeping it up is still a deductible expense if you just try to rent it. Lastly, don’t let something small like this ruin a great marriage! Good Luck!

  20. Adam April 18, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    My paternal grandmother’s family owned a tobacco farm in New England since the 1700s. It was passed on to the firstborn for literal centuries… until my great uncle sold it, mostly on the advice of his wife. This caused a rift that took decades to heal; we’re all fortunate and relieved that it eventually did.

    I’ve got only photographs and stories from my dad of spending summers in the ’50s working on the farm (to escape the unairconditioned heat of DC). I’m fine with that, though. It must’ve been a heavy cross to bear, and not my place to judge.

    If it’s so important that your heirs perpetuate a particular legacy, it’s on you to have the foresight to provide a trust or fund or some sort of generational wealth to facilitate that.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:53 PM

      Oh man – since the 1700’s, what would be insanely hard to break the chain! I don’t know if I could do that no matter how much I wanted to… What a blessing that they’ve held onto it for so many years though up until that point.. And nothing saying someone can’t try and buy it back, right? I was just watching a show about a castle that’s been in the family for like 800 years (!!!) and then eventually had to sell due to $$$ constraints, and then 90 years later they were able to get it back! Amazing!

      1. Adam April 19, 2018 at 8:44 AM

        A castle?! Wow! Heh, ours was just some rolling fields and a 1800 square foot farmhouse. :) And so the circumstances are a bit different — the house was sold, disassembled piece-by-piece, and moved to a different state. It’s pretty much done; our legacy is just a couple of roads bearing the family name. Which is fine, really… none of us want the tobacco farm life. I’d prefer that my hypothetical end-of-life fortune be put toward giving back to the community.

        1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 9:41 AM

          Road names!! That’s pretty cool! I dream of seeing a “J. Money Blvd” one day, haha….

  21. Mark Reed April 18, 2018 at 9:32 AM

    I can relate. I am sole owner of just such a house, only mine has expenses of $4-5k per year. Here is a comment from the point of view of the man owning the house.

    This is the house in which I was born and grew up. The house is in a marginal neighborhood. Were I to sell, the proceeds would be minimal.

    My wonderful wife is gracious to allow me to keep it. She has an idea of the pain I would feel were I to sell it, and the comfort I receive from keeping it. We have been blessed financially such that we can afford the expense. In one sense, the house is my expensive hobby. I don’t golf, have a sports car, or own a boat: I have the house.

    We have bought a retirement condo four miles away, so we can use the house as a staging area, a storage unit, and a guest house should we have too many visitors.

    I agree 100% with the comment above concerning not renting the place. The potential mental anguish there is worse than if I were to sell.

    I know many will say I am off mentally for keeping the house, and perhaps that is true. However, I have provided a view from the other side.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 4:55 PM

      I’m really glad you’re chiming in here to help balance both of the sides more. Thanks for doing that (and glad it’s working out with your wife too!).

  22. Brian April 18, 2018 at 9:33 AM

    Tough spot. If they want to keep the house. I wonder if there are any other family member that could help pitch in for the cost. The house could be used for a getaway. You also mentioned it was used for his buddies to stay during hunting season. Could it be rented out during hunting season which usually lasts 4-6 weeks to cover yearly costs?

  23. Joe April 18, 2018 at 9:35 AM

    Wow, that’s a tough one. I am not sentimental at all so I don’t understand this. My family moved often when we were kids. We don’t have anything from my youth and that’s fine.

    $800/year is not bad at all. I say let him keep it and don’t spend much on repair. Put a budget on it. Maybe an additional $500/month or whatever he can side hustle. Just DIY when needed. Once the house falls down, just put in a cheap cabin.

  24. Cody Wheeler April 18, 2018 at 9:53 AM

    Definitely a tough situation. I have a friend who is hanging onto a property a parent left them that costs far more than $1,000 a year to maintain, and is several hours away. It’s used a handful of weekends a year. Great place honestly, and I really don’t know what I’d do in the same situation given all of the emotions involved, but it just seems like several hundred grand in the bank to appreciate for 15+ years would be a lot better than a huge liability that is rarely used.

  25. AW April 18, 2018 at 10:01 AM

    Growing up folks in my hometown hi ted wherever they wanted. No one cared so long as you didn’t shoot their livestock or damage their fences and property. Now people from all over buy thousands of dollars to buy hunting rights from these property owners. It’s more lucrative than farming. If his friends are using it to hunt others might too. People pay big money to get away from it all. Before you sell or pass it on to a family member check with some agents in the area. Look at the property from a city weary visitor’s eyes. You might be sitting on a portion if your financial independence and not be utilizing it.

  26. Michelle CT April 18, 2018 at 10:02 AM

    Jim, I suggest you go to this family home and actually stay in it for your trip. Have the Uncle and others family members over for dinner. Get a sense of how it feels and what it means to you and other family members, including Barbara.
    I have a cabin. Getting to it can be a pain. But once there I love everything about it. Ours costs much more than $1K a year. And selling it would end my escape from city life.
    So see how it feels and then act with clear emotions.

  27. G April 18, 2018 at 10:08 AM

    I have a similar situation coming at some point in the future. My grandfather has a farm, which he grew up on in the Great Depression and still lives on today. It’s hours away from where I live. At some point, it will belong to my mom and my uncle, and then me and my brother.

    Having a large contiguous piece of land is a difficult thing. When building a new power plant, utilities have to start buying up individual lots secretly so that people don’t artificially jack up the price, and they have to wait a long time for each one to go up for sale, because they can’t force anyone to sell. So, while a large piece of property can always been split up, if you get rid of it, good luck ever getting anything like it again.

    However, you can’t just let the farm sit empty. There are buildings that need maintenance, and you have to check with vandals or squatters. And being hours away, it would be a chore just to go by every few months.

    I don’t want to get rid of for sentimental reasons, and maybe my kids may want it.

    Thankfully, I have a while to figure it out. Maybe the answer will be obvious 20 years from now.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:00 PM

      what a blessing that would be if you/your kids ever wanted to move there! That would make decisions like this so much easier if they matched your desired lifestyle… I would love to inherit a piece of land where I’ll be eventually settling down, but sadly I’ll have to be the one to start the legacy coming from a military family :)

  28. Barbara April 18, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    It is a small home, on a small lot, in the local town. Population ~100. You could miss the town if you sneezed while driving through. My husband and his friends hunt on the family farmland. I am not sure how much public land is available for hunting as it is in a farming community.

    1. MB April 18, 2018 at 1:43 PM

      Hey Barbara, My family has a house in a similar situation of disuse and in need of repair. We have gone back and forth on selling it but we are similarly sentimental and are having a hard time taking the plunge. We waited so long that now my cousins and I are old enough that we are able to help with upkeep and want to use the house. I don’t know that this was a sound financial choice but it has worked out so far. I wonder if your husband could share the financial burden with his cousins/ other loved ones and transfer the house into all of their names. There might be a little more organization to do about who can use the house when etc. but it would keep the house in the family and you guys wouldn’t be shouldering a burden. Also just wanted you to know you’re not the only family with this problem!!! It’s really tough!

  29. Autumn April 18, 2018 at 10:49 AM

    Since the house is steeped in history, is there anyway to see if it can be procured by the Historical Preservation Society? I do not know all the particulars about years and so on, but I would think that could be an option.

  30. Peggey April 18, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    OK, small house on small lot inside the small town, last of the Family name property.
    How many cousins does Jim have from that branch of the family?
    Would any of them be interested in doing a “timeshare ownership” of the house, for Family sake?
    I know that given the chance to buy into a particular home owned by my (elderly) cousins, I would have jumped at it in a heartbeat. Alas, it was sold out of the family–for less than asking price–and all of my great-great-uncle’s handmade doors, etc, were ripped out and replaced by the new owners. It still saddens me. Unfortunately, none of my age-mate cousins could afford to buy the home outright, much less move into it….

  31. Charlie April 18, 2018 at 11:49 AM

    If the house holds sentimental value to the family, then Jim should sign it over to another family member willing to invest the time and money into making it a home. Isn’t there a second or third generation family member just “starting out” looking for a home as a starter? A young couple expecting a baby — perfect for a two bedroom. In lieu of a shower, the family renovates the house and there you have it! In essence, by keeping it in the family, no feelings are hurt.

  32. Steveark April 18, 2018 at 1:42 PM

    Offer first to family, if no takers then to non-related hunters. If still no offers then just sell it and invest the tiny amount of money. This isn’t even worth worrying about. If you have a solid functional family then it won’t cause a ripple. If you have a drama filled, dysfunctional family it will just be another routine opportunity for a drama show, but still won’t really change the dynamics. Inheritances are gifts that have no strings attached. Would you seriously have been upset if you aunt had just sold it and given the money to charity? Of course not, so why would you expect anyone else to get upset when it was clearly given to you to do what you want with. You are so overthinking this. I closed my parents estate three years ago and I know what that feels like but at the end of the day you do what is best for you and your spouse, period.

    1. Mary Blue April 18, 2018 at 4:17 PM

      Sometimes when it comes to family, there is no logic. So, you can’t really say “of course not” to a question that seems like a no brainer to YOU. C’mon now, every family I know has crazy stories in it of people who aren’t speaking or maybe even have generational grudges because of a pair of socks (or some like nonsense!!)

  33. M April 18, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    I was the husband in this scenario, having to face selling my childhood home. The house itself was nothing special, 1000 sq ft in a neighborhood in serious decline but its where I grew up and thats hard. My maternal grandparents bought it in the 70s, I lived in it with my mom and dad in the 80s before grandma moved back in when grandpa passed. Now the parents and grandparents are gone and I felt like the house was ALL I had left. Memories yes, always , but thats not always easy to see when you are grieving . Eventually, at pretty strong insistence from my husband, I sold the house. I wasn’t ready, I feel resentful sometimes but reality is we couldn’t afford to keep up 2 houses and we were happy where we lived. My advice to the wife is, if they can afford it, let him come to the conclusion on his own. Your thoughts are known on it and believe me he is considering it.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:02 PM

      Thanks for sharing, M – sounds like you went through a tough experience there :(

  34. SZV April 18, 2018 at 2:10 PM

    From sentimental side (!! ;) )
    1. I would ask very precisely who wants the family name to live further.
    1. a) The word ‘family’ is a too broad concept, who is it who insists on what?
    1. b) Personally I don’t like these pride stories, especially when they are a burden for the younger ones. As I saw in my past, these issues always originate from some hidden stories/very interesting motivations in the past. Actually tbh I feel it is a sort of psychoterror.

    2. As for the furniture, I find it horrible that they are intact. I can imagine why he doesn’t stay in that house when he’s in town. ;)

    From practical side
    1. I like the idea of signing the house over to the uncle. If the uncle is disappointed, than he has the chance to deal with the house, and demonstrate the right behaviour. ;))
    2. If it is a must to keep the house, perhaps it is not a bad idea to find an investor? if the house is not in that bad condition? and make a hotel from it. So they can still own it, it can be repaired and it is not kept from other people. Or turn it into some small business place somehow.

    Until they find out what to do with the house, I’d definitely start selling/getting rid of the old furniture, things there. If purging gains momentum, somehow new things can emerge, until that only the old structure is fixed.

  35. Karlene April 18, 2018 at 2:42 PM

    It’s been a while since I commented on any blog. Like the reader, I, too, read J$’s articles as time allows. Thank you for all the great articles J$.

    I agree with much of the comments posted. I don’t believe I am very sentimental. However, I can I understand how both wife & husband feel about this inheritance.

    As others have suggested, I would offer the house to other family members, especially the uncle. If it’s not accepted & if I was looking for approval or a sign that it’s okay to sell something that is now mine this would definitely free me up to sell it as soon as possible.

    I would consider some of the options provided by others about how to use the proceeds to honor the family name that would be a one-time expense. Since I like to do things anonymously the only name that would appear on any physical structure would be the person who gave me the gift, or the family’s last name.

    Money, regardless of the amount can create challenges in many relationships. It’s good that both of you are communicating your true feelings about this inheritance & honoring each other’s current stance on it. Best wishes to you both.


    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:04 PM

      Thanks for reading the blog and commenting, Karlene :)

  36. Christine Luken April 18, 2018 at 2:58 PM

    Could it be fixed up and rented out to groups of hunters or other nature-lovers? You might be able to find a reasonable property manager and turn it into a cash generator rather than a money pit!

  37. Mercedes April 18, 2018 at 3:54 PM

    Actually, I would err on the side of keeping the family cabin. We are in the same situation in my family, and have kept it. If the husband wants to keep it, I think they should. If he doesn’t really care, then go ahead and pass it on to another family member. Remember, once you let it go this is (unlike most things) one of those things you can never get back. And whoever buys it will probably tear it down. The cabin could be considered the One Thing they waste money on, and will tighten the belt for other categories.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:06 PM

      Good point on not being able to get it back later probably!

  38. Mary Blue April 18, 2018 at 4:11 PM

    It took me a LONG time to figure out that if I got rid of all my mom’s stuff…from furniture right down to the teacup she drank out of…it didn’t mean I loved her any less. Our relationships with the people we love who aren’t with us anymore are completely separate from all the stuff. So, I just kept telling myself that I loved her, I still love her, and having THINGS doesn’t make that any more or less true.

    (PS – I still have the teacup but I did get rid of everything else! ) : )

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:08 PM

      (I love that you kept that teacup so much!! haha… i use the same one every time I visit my mother-in-law, and some day decades from now I hope to own it as well to keep the memories flowing :) And luckily for us they don’t take up much space!)

  39. Leah Lamp April 18, 2018 at 4:13 PM

    Or….Fix the house up and rent it out either as a vacation rental or as a residential lease!
    My husband and I did this with our first house.
    So many pluses to this.
    Get to keep the house!
    Works as a second income that should at the least cover the cost of keeping and maintaining the house.
    Also helps to slowly cut the tie between the physical house and the cherished memories. What I mean is that our first house had so much sentimental value that it was hard to think about selling it and severing that tie. But as renters moved in and out, the feel of the place changed gradually. I still have the cherished memory of bringing my first son home there. Now that one room looks nothing like the nursery I decorated. Even so, the memory is still precious and not tarnished by all the changes. After renting that house out for 20+ years we are thinking about selling. It doesn’t bother me anymore because the house really stands independently of the memories now.

  40. C @ Working Optional April 18, 2018 at 4:42 PM

    Ah, this should have also been a poll (I hope that doesn’t sound insensitive) so it’d be easier for Barbara and Jim to see the “results”.

    On a more serious note, I think selling it and honoring the family name another way would make more sense. Maybe Jim, his uncle and others can help restore some of its former glory before that? Working together on a DIY project like that will help cement the bonds and make the gift more meaningful.

  41. Lynne April 18, 2018 at 4:48 PM

    I don’t own an extra log cabin. But I do own the bike my son got when he was 7 (the video of him getting it at Christmas 20 years ago is soooo cute!). I also own my clogs from college (heh, you never know when you might be invited to an 80’s party!), my grandmother’s silver (which has not seen the light of day since she died, also in the 80’s), The Newlywed Game (though I have now been married 30+ years)…I could go on. The point is I could substitute many of my belongings for the cabin in this story. Instead of “family name” I could substitute “fond memories” or “possible future usefulness.” Instead of “$1,000 a year” I could substitute “4 square feet of floor space” or “aggravation over the clutter.” I don’t know where Barbara and Jim are in their decluttering journey but my advice to them–and to myself if I will take it–is to start small so that when you get to the big items, they will hopefully be easier to handle. I suppose evidence of my own FI can be found in my ability in draw a comparison between clogs and a cabin.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2018 at 5:13 PM

      I agree it gets MUCH easier with this stuff the longer you’ve been practicing! I finally got rid of something I’ve been trying to do for yearrssss now – my childhood trophies! It helped that we had a small flood and it damaged half of them, but I gotta say – the only thing I felt once gone was relief over regret… And half of them were still perfectly fine, so I still get half the points for that one ;)

  42. Kelly April 18, 2018 at 6:23 PM

    Everything the cabin in the story experienced made me tear up.Funeral on the porch, family born in the cabin, such a strong emphasis on the family name. You can’t get these things back, and sadly I feel more and more people are letting go of family history in exchange for making their own memories(we have our own sons to carry on the family name. Isn’t that enough?” I don’t think it is enough. I’m sure more than anything Jim would like to take his sons to the cabin he has so many memories of.When people die, they take their memories and knowledge with them. I do understand Barbara’s concern regarding the money, and I also think Jim would resent her if she strongly encouraged him to sell the cabin. How would she feel if Jim wanted her to sell a family heirloom, like a ring that does nothing? I think the idea of Jim taking on an additional job to cover the cost of the cabin and repairs is a great idea. I think even better would be if they were somehow(Jim, Uncle and hunting buddies) able to get together and start making repairs to the cabin so it doesn’t go to waste. Then they could rent it out and charge people to stay there during hunting season. Charge people to stay there for a camping getaway. My dad talks about a cabin he and his dad built and took his sons to. I believe it was sold, and he truly regrets it. $15k is nothing to sneeze at, but is it worth your husband carrying resentment for the rest of his life and missing the cabin he has such fond memories of? Maybe he won’t be resentful, but he’ll feel like a piece of his life was yanked out from under him. $15k can buy a car, but it can’t buy memories. I don’t think he should only be able to hold onto things that Deborah finds “acceptable” like the restored truck. We’re taking about Jim’s history here. Can you imagine if they sold it and it was immediately torn down? Maybe Deborah should put herself in Jim’s shoes and imagine the home she brought her son’s home from the hospital in being torn down because someone was tired of owning it. Imagine her children’s souvenirs,report cards, school and baby pictures,sports memorabilia,etc being destroyed and what a punch in the gut that would be. I believe the cabin helped make Jim into who he is today.Everything that happens to us makes us who we are. What if Deborah passed away or her and Jim divorced and Jim disposed of everything they had together, home, photos, everything they shared in their home, as if they were never together. How would that make her feel? Maybe Deborah could go to the Cabin with Jim and they could do something together, come up with a plan they both agree on, while Jim tells her what is so important about the cabin to her.Maybe they can work on it and make it something for them so they can take their sons there and carry on more family memories. Please don’t think I’m bullying Deborah because I’m not. I understand her point. We’re spending $ monthly on something we never use. If Deborah had a dog, and it was ill and needed expensive treatment, and Jim was against it, dog is older, wants her to just let the dog go because it costs too much money, but Deborah has had the dog since 8 weeks old and has so many memories with him. I’m sure she would have some kind of resentment if Jim guilted her into getting rid of the dog. I feel it’s the same with the cabin. Maybe because where I come from, small town, things are passed down to family members and they stay in the family. A friend from K-12 grew up right next to her grandparents. Grandparents passed and the house was left to the family. Another friend lives in the home she grew up in from 74-present. Her sister passed away in that house when they were kids THEN her daughter passed away in the house while living with the grandparents, and my friend still lives there. The mom’s father passed it down to the mom, then the mom passed it to my friend. I don’t think anything positive will come from getting rid of the cabin. Jim was raised with the importance of family, family name passed down to him. That guilt won’t go away if he goes against his gut. I’m sorry for writing a book lol. If there’s any way Jim could make additional money just for the cabin repair and maintenance, and Deborah could go to the cabin with Jim while they make improvements together, I think Deborah would understand the connection Jim has to the cabin and she may like it more because she’s putting work into it and watching it transform from a money pit to a property her husband’s family has had for many years. I think there’s nothing more amazing than passing things down to family. I wish Jim and Deborah all the best, and hope they send in a follow up.

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 6:32 AM

      VERY thoughtful comment and insight – thank you!

  43. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life April 18, 2018 at 9:11 PM

    I was once Jim, upset at my family for letting go of international property that had so many memories for me, and some that didn’t but COULD HAVE if I’d ever had the chance to go there and now I won’t ever have a chance to go there!

    But in reality – if we’re throwing away money every year to maintain a place we could maybe only visit every 2 years, that’s money wasted that could go towards visiting that family more often. And it’s wasted keeping property out of the hands of people who could probably use it, and take better care of it. So today, I’ve morphed into Barbara with an understanding of what drives Jim’s feelings.

    I don’t know if my way of dealing with it is really all that helpful but I tend to think about the impermanence all around us – even when a family name is remembered, how is it really remembered? Rockefeller Plaza is a “historic landmark for dining and shopping in Manhattan”, it’s not a memorial for the Rockefeller family. We all die and things pass on. We truly die when no one remembers us anymore, so why not spend time and money on touching lives, rather than holding on to things? Do good with those dollars, share some love by giving someone a helping hand with their education, or getting food on the table so they can do better in the world too. That’s how I hope to be remembered, if I’m going to be remembered.

    That’s a far better legacy that my grandma left me than that old house that she lived in. In fact, I bet you that if I consulted her ghost, she’d bop me on the nose for caring that much about a building that had served its purpose!

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 6:34 AM

      Awww haha… I’ll always remember you for being one of my very first blog buddies a decade ago! A blog legacy! ;)

  44. Glen April 18, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    Hi J,

    Sorry, but there is a very obvious option of AirBNB or equivalent. My feeling is that if the place is good enough for hunters to use, then it is probably good enough to rent out for cost or cost + some profit. If cost + some profit is chosen, then it should be possible to turn this net deficit property in to a net income generator. One would only need about 10 weeks at $200 per week* rental to turn things around into net income. If it rents well enough, then the profits could be turned back into property improvements, which would likely increase the rental value. Eventually, what is currently valued at ~$15K might turn into $30K in a few years of upgrades (paid for by rental income and hopefully sweat equity–not sure if the owners are so inclined). Where can you invest and get 100%+ return on your investment these days? There are a lot of unknowns in this case, but my feeling is that this option is worth considering.


    * Average camping costs $235 per week, so $200 per week rental is very reasonable and potentially profitable. I just did a quick search of Airbnb in Montana and the cheapest rental that shows up initially is ~$49 per night. Lots of opportunity here–would also help defray cost of his yearly visit.

  45. [HCF] April 19, 2018 at 4:59 AM


    As a money nerd, I see the logic in the financial reasoning and selling the property. To be honest, motions do not play a big part in my financial decisions. Unless it is connected to the family. Also, the story resonates with me as I have been there and went through a similar situation. When my grandparents died I inherited their house when I was 17. The emotional trick was that they skipped my mother in the inheritance chain. This caused no problems between us, just made the situation more complicated as neither of us felt the right to make the decision. Long story short we were procrastinating the decision, for a period we used it occasionally, then found some tenants (a bad experience, but totally different story) and in the end we used (as we thought it is just hanging around) it as a collateral for a business loan which failed, so in the end we lost it. I had my share of memories with the place, so did my mother. Both of us spent our childhood (my grandparents were babysitting me all the time) between those walls. There is an important question in your story which was not answered. We did not want to sell it, but we were not in the financial situation to be able to keep it. Even if we wanted to. If we’re not to sell, the bank would have taken it, so had no options. If you are neither in that financial shape to keep it I would recommend what many said before. Try to pass on other family members or use otherwise. If you ARE (which I wish if I was back then) I would definitely keep it. I would invest money and/or sweat equity into the renovation. Taking account the financial perspective I would also think hard about monetizing it somehow to cover the expenses. If there would be a chance you are able to get into a zero-sum game while keeping the property I would try everything to achieve that. But in the end, the choice is yours, that’s my two cents :)

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 6:37 AM

      Very good point about whether they’re *able* to afford it – I didn’t even think to ask that. Just assumed they could since they have been for the past handful of years? Would you guys still own the house if the business ended up succeeding? What type of business was it?! :)

      1. [HCF] April 19, 2018 at 7:28 AM

        The fact that they can afford to keep it for that $1k/year taxes and to be able to afford a bigger renovation seems a different thing to me. I would see the latter one as an investment which can turn the property into an asset which would be able to become self-sufficient. In terms of our story, while I was not thinking much about that “what if” scenario (as it happened more than a decade ago), I think that the answer would be a yes, moreover maybe we would be living in that house with my family. But it is gone, lessons learned and we have to go on :) The business endeavor was an attempt for my father to turn his hobby (beekeeper/honey producer) into a family business. Unfortunately, nature interjected, there was an epidemic illness amongst honey bees in those years and 95% of them died in two years.

        1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 9:43 AM

          ACK!!! Was just reading something on bees and making a biz out of it… It was all blissful and “anyone can do it!” but didn’t see much on the downsides of starting it up… like nature and other things out of your control, ugh :( (Good for him for going after it though! Much better to fail than always wonder “what if”)

  46. Primal Prosperity April 19, 2018 at 11:24 AM

    Hmmmm… interesting. I personally don’t hold onto to much sentimental stuff, and also, I’m very far from a traditionalist, and I like to live my life in a way that feels authentic and purposeful to myself, so things like carrying on a family name, don’t matter to me.

    However, I do like real estate. Part of why I like real estate as an investment, is because everyone needs shelter, so I feel like I’m providing something that everyone would need anyway, as opposed to making money off selling useless trinkets. :)

    So, my thoughts are that they can turn it into a revenue stream. The $1k works out to less than $100/month. What if they let someone live there for free who has the skills to do the repairs. They would still have to pay for materials, but then they can rent it out later.

    Otherwise, what about using it for a greater good. I.e. a free place to let people stay if they are recovering from a downfall such as financial problems, homelessness, disability/medical, substance abuse, etc…. They might be able to find a non-profit who will do the legwork for them and take on the liability. All they would have to do is ‘donate’ the $83/month.

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 4:07 PM

      Never thought of real estate like that – so true!!! It’s MUCH better than making money hawking nonsense!! You’ve just upped my love of homes by a solid 5% – which is very hard to do as a diehard renter :) (But I need you home owners in my life or else I wouldn’t have a place to rent!! So we renters appreciate you too!!)

  47. mike April 19, 2018 at 12:13 PM

    I had a cabin in Big Bear, CA that I owned with 2 others. I got tired of the $1000/yr that I spent, plus the upkeep. Also I have allergies and the mold in the cabin would make it hard to breathe the next morning.

    Don’t regret selling one bit, and even though I could stay in it for free anytime, I haven’t used it once since I’ve sold.

  48. Kate@OnOurWayWorld April 19, 2018 at 1:53 PM

    What a tough situation! We live in Montana so I’m super familiar with these old farm properties – they are just everywhere, and yes… there’s not much to be done with them. I’d vote for getting rid of it, if nothing else than because they can save future “heirs” the obligation of being burdened with it. She mentioned they have sons – if they keep it, will they leave the sons feeling like they “have” to continue to own and maintain it as well?

    1. J. Money April 19, 2018 at 4:13 PM

      Very interesting about the sons – I wonder too? Would it change anything if the sons say they don’t want to take it over later? If they *do* – then that solves the problem as well… Would be a great lesson in ownership too if they’re old enough to understand (no idea of their age).

  49. Jane April 19, 2018 at 9:43 PM

    I would appeal the assessors value. That’s an incredibly high propert tax, if it’s really wortg what you say.

  50. Dave @ Let's Automate Your Money April 20, 2018 at 12:35 PM

    I would sell it… Real estate can be such a money pit. It’s not worth it if you’re not going to use it. Use that money for the something else that has value to you.

  51. Jane April 20, 2018 at 5:36 PM

    Hi, J$,

    So it seems to me that the underlying issue has not been addressed, or even, really, identified. So far the discussion is: she wants this, he wants that. Your suggestions, while all good, are still along the she wants/he wants compromise level. What is not addressed is: what is it about land that makes it the essence of legacy for him? It seems the issue is really legacy – family ownership of property. I am not overlooking the deep psychological impact of land ownership in our culture. (It was the difference between having a vote and not having it, between being aristocracy and being a commoner and it was so valuable to our culture that we were willing to commit any act of violence or genocide to get it.)

    But in modern days legacy has different meanings for us. Why doesn’t she start by inviting him to talk about his feelings about legacy? (And meanwhile, STOP talking about her feelings about spending money on the land. He already knows that.) Legacy and family wealth can take many forms. If she will let him explore ALL of his feelings about this, they may be able to see the humor in it. Maybe they need to talk to a spiritual medium to contact his ancestors to see if they really care about it or not. (We misjudge the desires of living people all the time. We can certainly misjudge the desires of the deceased. I have a reference for a really good medium if they are interested.) Maybe they need to see the humor of offering a legacy of a falling down money pit to their children. Whatever is going on, it not just this or that.

    When feelings are deep, it can take a while to sort them out, and isn’t that part of the fun of being married? Going deep with your best friend? And, really, being the one who enables your best friend to go deep by patiently listening? Maybe she should assume that it will cost another $1,000 or two to get to the root of the issue but the payoff will be huge in terms of their relationship.

    Just my view.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 6:28 AM

      Medium! Didn’t see that one coming! Haha… Thanks for the thoughtful (and interesting!) comment :) Great point about legacy and really trying to figure out what that means to you.

  52. lisa April 22, 2018 at 2:00 AM

    When I’m in a difficult situation, I always DO NOTHING. That gives me plenty of time to think and act when I feel ready. More shall be revealed. Eventually.

    When the time comes, there are many options. The home can be:
    Sold (fix it and cut your losses)
    Donated ( donate to a non-profit and you’ll get a tax deduction on the fair value of the home)
    Bargain Sale (donate to a charity at a discounted price and you can get a tax deduction as well)

    Consult a tax professional with the donations. Maybe put in the contract that you want it named “( Insert his last name here) House.” That way, the name lives on. Or make a plaque that describes the home and its history and it must stay on the wall of the home….Or something like that….

    Easy Peasy.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 6:29 AM

      That’s my go-to answer anytime coming across a ton of money :) Not only does it give you plenty of time to really think about things, but it’s FUN seeing all that cash in your account all the while! I think for these guys though it’s been a handful of years so prob good to make a decision once and for all :(

  53. Caroline April 22, 2018 at 3:34 PM

    How to keep the sentimental value without the money pit?

    I would get a portrait of the cabin for the wall at home and look for a feasible way to leave a lasting mark in the village like a gazebo, bench or park.

    Is there a village museum where you can donate a portrait and a few items of family history?

    To get over the emotional hump I would also have a reread of Half Broke Horses for a reminder of the harm that holding onto a sentimental property can do to a family, I would calculate out what could be earned and bought with that money – would it be better for the family to have this cabin or three hundred in the retirement account or two college degrees?, I would ask myself how long the ties to a place I’m not tied to any more will last, why there isn’t a similar tie to a piece of land in Europe or Africa or wherever your ancestral home is, and if this tie is a gift or a burden. Then I would remind myself of what my mother often said – that life is for the living.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 6:30 AM

      I like the portrait idea :) My parents have done that with each house they’ve owned, and it’s cool seeing them around the house as we’ve grown up… Excellent idea, and really for anyone!

  54. Rita April 24, 2018 at 7:06 AM

    Hi, I am European and totally understand why the husband insists on keeping the house. The house is the last thread to his hometown and maybe an opportunity for he or his descendants to move over in the future. I would keep it myself. They should lend it. If they find a tenant who will perform the renovation work, they can reduce the rental fee so much so that only cover the tax. if keeping of the house would not be so expensive, the tension between the couple would cease

  55. Marsha Dark April 30, 2018 at 9:00 AM

    Reminds me of when I sold my piano when moving home to Missouri from VA. I really wanted/needed to get home – needed to be back with my family and friends and do some emotional healing. However, I was stone broke. Made the decision to sell all but what I could fit in my 2012 Hyundai and make the drive home. Which meant, I had to sell my Steinway – the one I grew up with, the one my mother taught me on, the one I loved – ohhh, so dearly. Tough decision!! As it turned out, I was able to sell it to a young woman who had just graduated from music school and was going to teach from home, as I had done, and my mother before me. Made it a little easier to let it go, knowing the tradition would continue. And there was a lot of emotional “stuff” attached to it (both good and bad) which ultimately drifted away after it was gone from my home. And I needed to go home……and it was the only way to get there……and I am at peace with the decision, even today. I’m not one to normally place emotional value to “things”……but this one was a toughy! Thank you for letting me share!