Housing

Things I Wish I’d Done Differently While Buying a House

During the summer of 2007, my wife and I purchased our first home. We spent tons of time doing homework and we are still very happy with our purchase, but as first time home buyers, there were simply some things that we didn’t fully understand that fell through the cracks during the process. Hindsight is …

The Real Reason They Aren’t Homeowners: Different Goals

Categories: Goals, Housing

Twelve Tactics to Minimize Winter Heating Bills

Liz writes in with an interesting question: wonder if you have weighed the pros and cons of switching to pellet/wood stoves for heat this winter? I live in Montana and our heating bills are slated to rise 50%, yes 50% this winter, partially due to the sale of Montana Power to Northwest Energy. Our heating …

Categories: Housing

Is It Ethical to Walk Out on a Mortgage?

I may have just ruined a friendship from my college years by being honest. A few days ago, I received a long email from a friend I keep in occasional email contact with. That friend, who I’ll call Lindsay, is in an upside down mortgage – the current estimated value of the house is about …

Categories: Housing

Ceiling Fan Hacks: Save Big on Energy Use

A typical central air conditioning unit uses 3,500 watts of energy when running. A typical ceiling fan uses 60 watts of energy, even when running on high. Thus, if you ran your ceiling fan all day and it managed to decrease your home air conditioner use by just thirty minutes in a twenty four hour …

Update on the Flooding in Iowa … And Some Tips on Protecting Yourself

Hundreds of people have emailed me asking questions about the current flooding situation in Iowa. Has my home been affected? How bad is it really? Well, I’ll let the front page of the Des Moines Register speak for itself. Where I’m at (luckily), there’s been only minor ill effect. We’ve had some minor flash flooding …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Does It Make Financial Sense to Consider Moving?

My recent career change means that I now have the freedom to write from wherever I happen to be. Similarly, my wife can pretty easily find work in any sufficiently-sized town – her skill set and resume would make her an attractive candidate pretty much anywhere. Given that we currently live in one of the …

Categories: Family, Housing

The Nonsense of “Rent Vs. Buy Myths That Ruined the Housing Market”

Earlier today, I ran across an article at eFinanceDirectory entitled Rent vs. Buy Myths That Ruined the Housing Market. Amazingly, this article was being linked to by a number of reputable blogs – apparently ones who haven’t actually done the research and investigated the real scoop behind the issues in the housing market. First of …

The Why and How of a Household Inventory

One personal finance project that a lot of people overlook is the household inventory. It’s one of those “once in a great while” tasks that’s easy to overlook and forget about, but it’s not very hard and it can pay huge dividends if you’re carrying homeowners’ or renters’ insurance and something goes wrong with your …

Categories: Housing, Insurance

Investing Versus Paying Ahead on Your Mortgage: Which Makes More Sense?

Recently, I mentioned a Consumer Reports article that encouraged people to invest instead of paying ahead on their mortgage. It left me thinking quite a bit about debt repayment and how I should handle my mortgage. Our situation My wife and I are planning on eliminating our student loans in the next year to a …

Categories: Debt, Housing, Investing

The Finances and Interactions of Alternative Living Arrangements

Recently, there has been some talk in our house of inviting my wife’s sister to live with us on a permanent basis (in fact, my wife and I have already extended the invitation and she is thinking about it, though it is far far far from a done deal). We have the room to allow …

Eight Frugal Ways To Face An Iowa Winter

The northern Midwest often faces some very rough winters, often including periods of many days with temperatures below zero Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius). Since I’m about to face my first winter as a homeowner, I spent some time contacting many of the homeowners I know in the area and asking for tips on reducing winter heating …

Categories: Housing

The City Versus Rural Debate: Which Is The Better Place To Live?

In the past, I have made many references to my preference for living in a small town over living in an urban area. For me, there’s no question – the advantages of small town rural life far outweigh the advantages of city living. That’s not to say that I think city living is foolish – …

The One Hour Project: Do Some Preventative Maintenance

This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices. Preventative mainentance is a phrase that makes many homeowners’ eyes glaze over. For many busy people, there’s nothing more …

The Do-It-Yourself Dilemma: When Things Go Wrong

For the most part, I prefer doing home maintenance tasks myself rather than hire someone to do the tasks for me. It saves on labor costs and I often learn a new thing or two during the process. But I also know that different projects require varying levels of home repair experience — when do …

Categories: Housing

Is A Roommate Worth The Financial Benefit?

A new graduate is wondering about the financial benefits of having a roommate – are they worth the drawbacks? I’m finally at a place where I’m able to afford living alone – and though I much prefer the cost savings of having a roommate (about $400 a month) I’m heavily considering living alone. My only …

Categories: Housing

The Lawn Care Dilemma: How Much Time And Effort Should You Spend?

I had been considering writing a post about lawn care for a while now, but I had decided to wait until early spring to face the topic. That is, until a reader wrote to me with the following question: I am curious about your opinion concerning lawn care. The weather in Indiana was a killer …

Categories: Housing

Six Maintenance Lessons I’ve Learned During My First Month As A Homeowner

As a first-time homeowner, there are a lot of things going on in the house that were basically a mystery to me. Being the curious sort, I’ve wanted to understand why things are happening, how things work, and how I can keep them working well. This has resulted in a few interesting lessons that are …

Categories: Housing

Two Commenters Disagree: Why Risk Is Interesting

Recently, two commenters disagreed strongly in a thread about 15 year versus 30 year mortgages. I thought they both made a worthwhile point in a way because they are both looking at risk, but in completely different ways. Tristan wrote first: Mortage=Risk, No Mortgage=No Risk=No interest payments=you work for yourself not the bank. Debt is …

Categories: Housing, Investing