Housing

Avoid the Home Insurance Catch-22: Follow Through on Repairs

This is the second installment of The Simple Dollar writers’ personal stories. Take a look at Karla’s story about naming her baby the beneficiary of her life insurance policy over here. Today, I’m excited to share Randy Woods’ experience with home insurance claims and how much of a Catch-22 they can be. Be sure to …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Storage Space and Spring Cleaning

Storage space is one of the biggest money drains that people have. Think about it for a second. What do you do with storage space? You fill it up with stuff that you don’t have any consistent use for. If you had a consistent use for it, it wouldn’t be in storage. Most of the …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Picking the Right Spot for a Home

When Sarah and I first moved into the home that we currently live in, it made sense in a number of ways for us. Our jobs were in two different towns about forty minutes apart, so it seemed to make sense to live in a place that was halfway between the two so that neither …

Categories: Housing

Making a Housing Decision

Since before we were married, Sarah and I have discussed building a home in the country somewhere. We’d like to have a home with a small yard and plenty of woods nearby to explore, with neighbors that are friendly but are quite happy to leave us to our own ends, too. We want to wake …

Buying Less House Than You Can Afford

Recently, I was browsing through my journals from early 2007, the period when Sarah was pregnant with our second child and we realized that we needed a larger home. We spent a lot of our time in that period house-hunting. We had really turned our finances around over the previous year, and The Simple Dollar …

Should You Buy When Mortgage Rates Are at Record Lows?

This past week, mortgage rates hit a new record low, bottoming out at a 3.79% average for a 30 year loan. A fifteen year mortgage is now at 3.04%. This is compared to rates that were 4.64% and 3.82% a year ago, respectively. To put that in perspective, if you have a $200,000 home loan, …

APR, APY, and Mortgage Math: A Real World Example

I have lots of readers here in the central Iowa area, so it came as no surprise to me that when I began hearing an ad frequently on local radio advertising a particular mortgage product in terms that were a bit on the confusing side, I received an email about it. Jim writes in: I …

Categories: Debt, Housing

Why Not Walk Away from My Mortgage?

Kelli writes in: My husband and I are sitting on a thirty year mortgage (with twenty six years left to go). We still owe $330,000 on our home. A week ago, a very similar home to ours two blocks away sold for $220,000, so we’re under water by at least $100,000. We are thinking of …

Categories: Debt, Housing, Insurance

Raising Deductibles to Save Money on Insurance: Does It Work?

One common, painful bill that we all face is the insurance bill. Whether you’re talking renters insurance, home insurance, or car insurance, the bill feels painful because it’s not something we can often directly see the benefit from. It just comes in handy when something goes wrong. One of the most common tactics that you’ll …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Rent or Buy Is a Stickier Question When You Look at Real Lives

Howie writes in: My wife and I have been running our own home-based business for three years now. We rent and work out of a smallish 2-bedroom apartment in the very expensive SF Bay Area. One of those bedrooms is an office that we both share as an office. We spend day in/day out working …

Categories: Housing

Home Buying (and Other Big Purchases) as an Emotional Purchase

A few months before we bought our current home, my wife and I toured literally dozens of different houses, trying to find one that was right for us. We had come up with a budget for our purchase and knew what our firm spending cap was. On one bright spring day, my wife and I …

The Total Money Makeover: Pay Off the Home Mortgage

This is the tenth of twelve parts of a “book club” reading and discussion of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, where this book on debt reduction is teased apart and looked at in detail. This entry covers the eleventh chapter, finishing on page 202. The next entry, covering the twelfth chapter, will appear on …

How to Organize a “Working Party”

Eventually, every homeowner finds a sizable home improvement project that they’d like to tackle. Perhaps the project is rebuilding a deck. Maybe it involves putting new concrete in the driveway. Whatever it is, it’s big. You could tackle it yourself, but you’d be working on it after work for weeks, losing many, many hours that …

Bigger Dreams, Smaller Houses

A few years ago, there was a very widely circulated statistic from the National Association of Home Builders about the increase in home sizes over the last sixty years. According to their numbers, the average American home grew from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,434 square feet in 2005. I grew up in a …

Categories: Housing

New Year’s Resolution Workshop #3: Save for a Down Payment

Over the next few days, we’re going to take a look at five common New Year’s resolutions that people often adopt for their finances, evaluate some of the traps that people fall into with regards to that resolution, and come up with some real actions that can turn a challenging New Year’s resolution into a …

Categories: Housing

Are You Insuring the Irreplaceable?

A few weeks ago, I decided to spend a few hours looking carefully at all of our insurance policies. I knew in general how most of them worked, but in many cases I was a little fuzzy (or more than a little fuzzy) on the specifics. As I studied our homeowner’s insurance policy, I was …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Some Thoughts on the Small House Movement: Is It Something Worth Considering?

Over the last week, several readers have written to me with various comments, suggestions, and questions related to the so-called “small house movement.” Given that it’s a great way to save money (as I’ll discuss below), I thought it’d be worthwhile to investigate the movement in detail. What is the “small house movement”? From the …

Categories: Housing

A Guide to Winterizing Your House

Winter is approaching and in much of the United States, that means very cold temperatures, snow, and ice. Here in the upper Midwest, it gets particularly nasty: we had some amount of ice or snow on our driveway nonstop from October to April last winter. As a homeowner, this change in the season means one …

Categories: Housing

18 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money

So you’ve just moved into your nice new home. You’ve unloaded the boxes, unpacked most of your stuff, and are just starting to settle into your residence. Right now is the perfect time to walk through a checklist of ways to save money on your home. Starting on these things as early as possible will …

Categories: Frugality, Housing