YNAB BLOG

On Contentment and Possessions and Airbnb

Airbnb ContentmentSo I have what you call “the travel bug”. I love it. I don’t see it as extravagant or indulgent because it’s a huge value of mine since it has changed me so much by adding such value to my life and the life of my family. But let me tell ya…I’m not staying at fancy resorts, either.

We’ve been doing the Airbnb* thing, and I have to tell you…it’s changing me.

Airbnb is a website that allows you find people that are renting out all sorts of spaces – extra rooms, entire homes, and unique accommodations from glamping to castles. You can then safely book through Airbnb, allowing you also to vet the owners.

The other side to Airbnb is that you can list your own space on there, which is what we’ve done. So when we book our house out for a week, we go on a vacation to a place that is cheaper than our house. See what we did there? Simple math. ;)

This, however, is not for everyone. If you want to stay somewhere that is totally predictable and simple and not have to interact with others, then this is not for you. On the other hand, if you want to live like a local, meet interesting people, and have unique experiences, then try it!

But the mind game that it’s playing on me is phenomenal in a good way. I’m learning things like contentment and relying on my skills and wits and not my stuff while staying at places that are cheaper than my house.

And a funny thing happened yesterday. The sweet girl that’s staying at my house with her family was kind enough to friend me on Instagram to help with trust and whatnot. So yesterday I saw two pictures. The first was of everyone in my pool. And the second was of her and her 5 year old nephew laying on my couch. I’ll be honest. It was weird. That was MY stuff. MY couch. MY throw pillow. MY pool. MY water.

It made me want to never rent my house out again. Then the interesting awakening happened. It’s just stuff.

I’m fortunate enough to have a house to rent out for a decent rate. I’m fortunate enough to have a good decorating eye so that my house looks pretty good, if I do say so. And my husband is so fortunate to have a flexible job so that we can spend a week on an organic gogi berry farm in New Mexico for a week. It’s just stuff.

Why do we have such a hard time sharing? Why is acquisition more important to us than community and generosity? (You could argue that true generosity doesn’t charge, but I digress.)

So why am I sharing all of this on a budgeting blog? I think it’s all linked, truly. Budgeting becomes so much easier when you don’t have an attachment to stuff. Your options are wide open when you’re not a slave to things. Contentment and goals are achievable. 

Whether you’re just starting out and facing the harsh reality of needing to cut some categories in order for everything to balance, or you’ve been YNABing for five years like me and want to find greater contentment and make long-term goals, it’s much easier when you’re not attached to stuff.

*Airbnb is not paying me for this. I just really like it. ;)

22 Responses to “On Contentment and Possessions and Airbnb”

  1. Marti

    Airbnb is a great program. Our son is having so much fun with it in Baltimore. They are meeting some interesting people from around the world. And staying in some great places in Europe.

  2. MrMcLargeHuge

    I’ve never used Airbnb, but I love the idea of it. That being said, a word of caution: some governments, usually City governments, are cracking down on the use of Airbnb, because of hotel regulations on the books (and probably more importantly, hotel taxes that aren’t being collected).

    • Brendan

      They can’t do anything to an individual renting out their own home.

      However there are cases where property owners have multiple dwellings, hire cleaners and run a hotel like service. These are the situations that local governments (namely New York) are cracking down on. This is because the revenue generated is very high and can be quantified in millions of dollars lost to hotels.

      If you are a landlord interesting in renting out 12 + of your apartments on AirBNB then yes you could be in a bit of trouble.

      Otherwise go for it.

      • Mary P

        Unfortunately that is not the case here in Charleston, SC. There is currently a controversy going on because individuals doing short-term (less than 30 days) rentals of their own homes are breaking the law and are being targeted and fined. There are only two small areas of the city that allow short term rentals of any kind. (The applicable law is a local one.) The beach areas here also keep a tight control on short-term rentals of any kind, requiring getting a special license and paying high accommodations taxes. Of course, you can get away with it if you stay under the radar, but officials are actively monitoring Airbnb and other websites to identify scofflaws.

  3. Diana

    We love airbnb, and we also use vrbo. Is amazing.

  4. Christy

    I love your perspective Annie! I definitely need to work on putting less stock into “stuff” and focus more on gratitude.

    My sister and her husband used Airbnb for the first time on a trip to London. It was a success! (Despite her London flat’s weird bathroom set up. ;) )

  5. Sarah

    We are using AirBnb for our trip to Europe later this year. We started out booking hotels for the 2.5 weeks and gasped at the cost so we switched gears to Airbnb, saving almost $2K by making that switch alone. We are slightly nervous about staying in someone else’s place, but they all look very clean and the folks are friendly.

  6. jeremypeyton

    Thanks, Annie. So far we’ve only had friends staying in our place, but even that can be challenging. The “stuff” part is definitely tricky; especially in the case of something getting damaged. I know life happens and stuff gets damaged, but it’s so much easier if I’m the one who did it! Stain on the carpet, damage to the deck, etc. These are the scars of community. :)

    • Karen J

      I love that line, Jeremy: “These are the scars of community. :)”
      So true! And probably no more damage than if you had a big party ~

  7. jcw3rd

    It’s also easier, when you are not attached to ‘stuff’, to sell everything, move into a 400 sqft motorhome and see the North American Continent. 8^)

    • Jesse

      YES. Our Quality Assurance expert, Vesna, did the motorhome thing with her husband and three boys. I should probably have her write up a blog post…

      We had our first airbnb experience over the fourth of July. It saved our large party (seven adults, five kids) about $50/room/night so across the group, I think it saved us about $400. Also, it was much larger than a hotel, and you could all hang out in one place with some privacy. I liked everything about it.

      • michaelh

        I’d love to read about that. Honestly whenever I pass a motorhome on the interstate I wonder why they’re burning so much gas to move their bed and shower. Is it economical? Is it worth it? Who would enjoy it?

  8. Stepan

    I have been playing in my head to use Airbnb for local european trips, but never got to it. This kicked me again :) and i will definately try it for my upcoming Venice trip.

    Also the “thing” reminded me of two videos that i really liked about “us and stuff”.
    Please have a look, i think they are worthwhile to watch (each 5 mins long)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

  9. Tom Bushaw

    We used airbnb for an 8-night stay in Sonoma, CA in June. Highly recommended! We plan to continue to use it in the future (next up, a likely couple-night stay in NYC in September).

    Your satisfaction will, of course, depend a lot on your travel preferences, level of pampering required, amenities, etc. However, I think that if you find something on airbnb that LOOKS good to you (taking all that stuff into account), chances are it WILL be good. One word of caution — even though it is ‘airbnb’ as in ‘air-bed-and-breakfast’, don’t assume breakfast is necessarily included. Read the property description on the airbnb web site and ask the hosts questions and there shouldn’t be any surprises when you arrive.

    • Karen J

      Thanks for the nuts-n-bolts reminder, Tom. :)

      Real live *communication*, between *real live people* can make everything so much smoother, yaknow?

  10. Krissy

    I’ve considered using it to find places, and may this summer on a cross country trip, but I could never rent out my own home. It’s not about “stuff” per se, though that does factor in. Stuff is replaceable. It’s about the fact that I view my home as my sanctuary. It’s a space I’ve taken great care to create and tailor to my physical and emotional needs (as well as my husband’s). People get welcomed in all the time, but they are people we know well. I doubt I could ever enjoy a vacation knowing someone else was in that space. But I totally appreciate the budgeting connection, and think if that works for people it’s fantastic.

  11. Faye

    Thank you so much for sharing about airbnb. It is an awesome concept and I will definitely be using it when I need to travel for workshops etc. I may even put my place on the recoup expenses and have someone coming and going when I am away for security. Great way to meet some wonderful people as well.

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