• Planning Ahead For The Big Move – And Hoping To Save Money

    Our house closes in a little more than a month, so we’re already thinking about moving, and being the frugal types we are, we’re trying to move with minimal expense. Thankfully, we have one big advantage: we are moving locally, which basically means loading up a truck at one point, driving for an hour or …

  • 20 Essential Tools For Getting Started With A Home, Garage, and Garden

    From the day I left home shortly after my eighteenth birthday, I have never lived in any place that had a garage, had any reasonable storage space, or that didn’t have a landlord to fix problems. Thus, I never had much need for tools. I used to thoroughly enjoy doing small household tasks and working …

  • Navigating Origination Fees And Points

    When you go to purchase a home using a mortgage, one of the major expenses that you’ll have to pay at the close is the origination fee. Here’s a guide for navigating them and figuring out what the best deal is for you. What’s an origination fee? The origination fee is an amount that you …

  • Five Little Lessons Learned After The House-Buying Agreement Is Reached

    The last few days have been filled with lots of little lessons about the home-buying process. Here are five little anecdotes about things we learned: Home inspections typically aren’t part of the closing costs. I had just assumed that they were part of typical closing costs, but in our situation, a home inspection is done …

  • The Value of Networking and Friendship

    Eight days ago, I wrote a lengthy review of Never Eat Alone, a book about how exactly to network and maintain a large circle of friends and acquaintances, a skill that I myself often feel that I’m not good at. After writing it, a few readers wrote to me and asked what the point of …

  • Marriage and Mortgage: A Reader Wants To Know

    A reader wrote in recently asking whether or not wedding bells should be in his future. What do you think? My fiance and I are considering marriage. However, it seems like financially, marriage is a mistake. We both work full time and it seems like a greater proportion of our incomes would now go into …

  • Why I Want A Home: Six Frugal Things That Just Aren’t Convenient In Our Apartment

    As I’ve mentioned before, my family currently lives in a very small two bedroom apartment. We don’t have the room to do many of the things that I would love to do, frugal things that would save us a lot of money. Here are six things that having a home of our own will permit …

  • The Stress of Buying a Home

    As we progress through this home-buying experience (we’ve looked at tons of homes, found the right one, and are about to submit an offer), we’ve found out how truly stressful it is. Added into this is the fact that my wife is pregnant and we will be having our second child not long after moving …

  • The Furniture Dilemma

    My wife and son and I currently live in a tiny apartment. I mean tiny. It nominally has two bedrooms, but the second one (used as a nursery) is only slightly bigger than a closet, and our living room has a love seat in it – a love seat about to fall apart, no less. …

  • The Housing Panic Is Even Here In Iowa – An Update On The House Hunt

    So many readers have been emailing me about our house hunt and have questions about the details of it that I thought I’d write a quick update about how it’s going, mostly because it’s interesting. Housing prices in Iowa are very nice compared to other regions of the country. You can get a four bedroom …

  • Setting Up A House Buying Worksheet

    My wife and I are looking at about three houses per night this week (on average), and because of the sheer volume of houses, we’re concerned about recalling all of our reactions to the houses as well as their primary features. As a result, last night my wife designed a house buying worksheet in order …

  • Remembering The Flood of 1993 And What It Taught Me

    I grew up on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River; it was literally within eyeshot of my parents’ land. My father was a small-scale commercial fisherman, so I spent a lot of time on the river in my youth – and I really understood its amazing grace and power. We lived on a hill …

  • Dealing With The Stress of Buying a Home

    Right now, my wife and I are waist-deep in the house buying process and it is pretty stressful for both of us. Buying a house is a huge financial commitment and we’re both rather stressed out about the whole thing – it has been dominating our thoughts and our waking hours for the last several …

  • Finding Your Dream House – And Trying To Convince Yourself You Can’t Quite Afford It

    My wife and I have been doing some house hunting in our area lately. We have been watching the real estate fliers carefully and have been driving through nearby towns looking at homes with “For Sale” signs in front. Last night, we drove by a house that somehow just called out to both of us. …

  • Looking At 15 And 30 Year Mortgages: Which One Is Right For Me?

    My wife and I are buying a home this summer and we’re pretty confident on what we’re going to buy based on the local marketplace: a pre-owned four bedroom house. We’ve looked at several in our price range and we’re getting set to make a move. One major part in this decision is determining whether …

  • Money Merge Accounts: Are They A Good Deal For Home Borrowers?

    Yesterday, a reader wrote to me and asked about money merge accounts and whether or not they are a good deal for homebuyers. Of course, this means that I popped open my trusty spreadsheet and started doing some calculations. Hold on, what is a “money merge account”? A “money merge account” is a special home …

  • Renting Versus Buying: Are There Situations Where Renting Clearly Wins?

    Recently, several readers have contacted me arguing quite forcefully that renting gets a bad reputation and that in many cases renting is actually a better deal than buying a home. In order to break down this argument, I defined three distinct cases: rent exceeds total monthly mortgage payments, rent exceeds the interest portion of total …

  • An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 3: A Simple Mortgage Calculator

    Regular compound interest is (basically) the way most loans and savings accounts work, including home mortgages. Here, we’re going to use a spreadsheet to calculate a home mortgage payment estimator (and even a full payment schedule) using the principles of compound interest. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter the following information into cells: In A1, …

  • Borrowing Against A Retirement Plan To Make A 20% Down Payment

    My wife and I are currently contemplating an interesting question: should we borrow against our retirement plans in order to make a 20% down payment and avoid PMI or an adjustable rate mortgage? We’ve arrived at an answer to this question, but it’s not an answer that works for everyone, so let’s work through the …