Housing

Home Cycling as a Financial Strategy

Home cycling is a pretty nifty financial strategy. At its core, the idea revolves around buying a low-end home, fixing and upgrading it, and then selling it for a profit off the back of your own time and energy investment in that home. It bears some similarities with the idea of “home flipping” that was …

Sixteen Tricks for Maximizing a Small Home or Apartment

When Sarah and I were first married in 2003, we moved into a pretty small apartment. According to what I could find online about it, it measured in at about 550 square feet. We viewed it as a temporary solution. It was okay for just the two of us, but we wanted a family and …

Categories: Housing

The Air Conditioning Battle

Summer is approaching (though from the unseasonably cool temperatures here, you could have fooled me) and with the approach of summer means summer cooling bills. Many, many households across the United States will be trying to maximize the cooling they can get from their central air units, window air conditioning, and fans in order to …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Moving with Minimal Money: Nine Tactics for Frugal Relocation

The process of moving from an apartment to our home in 2007 was a big learning experience. We did some things right with that move – but some things we did quite poorly. Since then, we’ve had ample time to reflect on our own move as well as help others with their moving experiences and …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Reflections on a Tiny House

Over the past week, I’ve been fascinated by a number of articles describing tiny houses – those measuring 100 square feet or smaller. Here’s an example: This type of house is outside the realm of possibility of most families. It would work for many single people and some couples, but I can’t imagine the five …

Rent vs. Buy: Which is Better?

Is it better to rent a place to live or to buy one? It’s a question that I get asked multiple times per week in some form or another. Usually, it comes from young couples who are being pressured by older people in their life to get out of renting and buy a home or …

Categories: Debt, Housing

The “Cheap Neighborhood” Problem

Connie writes in: “Right now, we pay $1,000 a month in rent. About ten minutes away, there are houses available that are as low as $300 a month in rent and they’re perfectly fine houses. The problem is the neighborhood. The area is loaded with people on welfare and most of the yards are really …

How Much House Can I Afford?

Another common email I receive from readers concerns whether or not the sender can afford a particular house – or how much house they can afford. The stories vary a lot in detail – some people have a down payment, while others do not, and some people have other debts, while others are debt free. …

5 Simple Tactics to Reduce Heating Costs

It is cold here. Really, really cold. During the day, I usually turn the temperature in our house down fairly low. I work on the top floor, where it’s usually a few degrees warmer than other parts of the house, and I wear layers of clothes and warm socks. Because of that, I usually feel …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Is Home Ownership Worth It?

Megan writes in: “My husband and I are looking at purchasing a home next year. My parents and siblings think this is a great move and are giving me info on buying a home and how great the investment is. His family is adamantly opposed and they say that homes are a money pit that …

“House Poor” Versus Controlling Your Own Destiny

Anyone who’s been awake to watch the changes in the economy over the last five years is familiar with the burst of the housing bubble. Too many people were given mortgages that were bigger than their budgets could handle and when those people couldn’t pay, the banks that offered those mortgages were in serious trouble. …

Categories: Debt, Housing

Is the “American Dream” Dead?

Recently, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said, “Not everybody is going to be able to get a mortgage or buy a home. We need to recognize that as a country.” The argument he was making was that lenders simply can’t lend to everyone. People in poor financial shape received loans that they couldn’t …

Renting Isn’t a Throwaway

Kelly writes in: “Sometimes you encourage people to rent instead of buying a home ASAP. This seems like a giant waste of money to me. Renting doesn’t build equity or help with taxes.” When it comes to housing, I do not believe that either renting or buying living space is the right answer for people …

Want to Save Enormous Amounts of Money? Change Where You Live

One of the most mystifying things that readers write to me about is when they’re living in a very expensive urban area and struggling with a minimum wage job or just above it. I received a note not long ago from “Jenny,” who lived in San Francisco and made only $22,000 a year. She shared …

The Expensive Extra Room

The children move out, leaving a few empty bedrooms behind. You can’t sublease that extra room in your apartment, so it sits there empty. You buy a big house intending to have children, but then you decide to wait. Things like this happen to a lot of us, and they all wind up with the …

Categories: Housing

Setting Up a New House on a Tight Budget

You’re moving into a house or into a large apartment for the first time. You take all of your stuff there, unpack everything… and you quickly realize how spartan it is. There are lots of things you need… or you at least think you need. Silverware. Flatware. Tables. Furniture. Minor appliances. The list starts small …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Do Low Interest Loans Change the Rules For a Mortgage?

A lot of different “rules” are passed around regarding the size of a mortgage that a person or a family should take out in order to afford a home. One common one I see and hear repeated is that you should never take out a mortgage that has a value of more than twice your …

Categories: Debt, Housing

Doing the Math on Home Ownership

In 2007, Sarah and I made the decision to become homeowners. We had fixed our finances to the point where we were ready with a down payment on a modest home. We were also under the belief that home ownership was the sure-fire way to build equity. When we bought our home, we discovered that …

Categories: Housing

The House That Is Too Small

Once upon a time, Sarah and I lived in a two bedroom apartment. The two bedrooms were pretty small. When we had our first child, we made the second bedroom into a nursery and, eventually, into a little boy’s room. When our second child was about to arrive, we decided that the apartment was just …

Categories: Housing