Housing

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

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

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 Away 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

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

Pay Ahead on Your Mortgage or Investing?

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 …

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 – …