Housing

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

Preventative mainentance is a phrase that makes many homeowners’ eyes glaze over. For many busy people, there’s nothing more boring than going around your house doing various tasks that seem to not really be fixing anything. On the other hand, look at the tale of my hot water heater. It’s about ready to go bad …

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

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

Maintenance Lessons I’ve Learned 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

30 Year vs. 15 Year Mortgage Income Tax Deduction

Earlier this week, I compared the real cost of 15 and 30 year mortgages of $200,000 at the current market rates, assuming 4% inflation on average over those years. It turned into an interesting discussion that’s well worth reading. The high point: The fifteen year mortgage is still cheaper, but by much less than before. …

A Down Payment Dilemma: Buy A Car Or Keep Saving For A House?

Jerry wrote in recently with the following problem: I and my wife are both graduate students; we recently paid off all our debts and started on a savings plan for the next few years that I am hoping will be our big downpayment on our first home. With our current salaries, we have been saving …

Fixed Rate Mortgage: 15 year or 30 year Mortgage?

I recently read an article at Finance is Personal entitled Why You Shouldn’t Get A 30 Year Mortgage. It presents a great argument for why one should get a 15 year mortgage and not a 30 year mortgage – you pay fewer dollars in the long run because of the lower interest rate and fewer …

The Lowdown On Private Mortgage Insurance

Note: I was informed by several readers that PMI traditionally stands for private mortgage insurance, so I updated the article to reflect that. Many first time homebuyers are daunted with the prospect of saving up six figures to afford that 20% down payment, so they often take out home mortgages for less than a 20% …

Using Mozilla Sunbird To Schedule Infrequent Home Maintenance Tasks – And Other Irregular Tasks

A while back, I posted an extensive checklist of monthly home maintenance tasks. There were some items on the list that didn’t need to be done every single month, but most of them are really quite useful to do each month if you want to keep your house in tip-top shape. There’s one big problem, …

Reflections On Being A New Homeowner

I moved into my new home almost a month ago and the period has given me time to reflect on my new status as a homeowner. This is a collection of some of these thoughts, which might give insight to a homeowner considering the move. My home makes me proud. I have significantly more pride …

Categories: Housing

Another Look At Renting To Get Richer: The Inflation Factor

A couple days ago, I wrote about the philosophy that one could rent and become richer over time. In that piece, I used a very simple description comparing the two: Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a home that is eating $1,200 a month in payments, $500 a year in insurance, $1,000 a year in …

Categories: Housing

Renting To Get Richer?

This MSN Money article argues quite vehemently that renting is cheaper than owning a home: I have something un-American to confess: I rent an apartment despite having enough money to buy a house. I plan to keep renting for as long as I can. I’m not just holding out for better prices. Renting will make …

Categories: Housing

Seven Tips For Your Next Big Move

Over the last week, my wife and I took on the challenge of moving from a small apartment to a nice family home. It turned out that we made some good moves and some bad ones during the move, and came up with some great ideas along the way that we weren’t necessarily able to …

Categories: Frugality, Housing

Building A Home Maintenance And Improvement Fund

Having lived in a house that needed constant upkeep when I was young, I know the value of having money on hand to take care of home maintenance. As a new homeowner, that means I’m going to christen a home maintenance and improvement fund so that when such issues appear, I can handle them. What’s …

Categories: Housing, Saving Money