Housing

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. …

Categories: Housing, Money

15 or 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 …

Categories: Housing

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 …

Categories: Housing, Retirement

Digging Through The Comments: Readers Of The Simple Dollar Speak Out

Occasionally, I like to highlight comments about various articles on The Simple Dollar for several reasons. One, it lets me highlight some of my best readers and let them know that I really value their comments. Two, it lets everyone else know how integral comments are to The Simple Dollar. And three, after sifting through …

How Bad Of A Deal Is A 50 Year Mortgage?

Yesterday, I received an email from a friend who is moving into a new home that he’s financing with a fifty year mortgage. He was bragging about how low his payments were and he’s putting equity into his house. For regular readers of this site, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I quickly loaded up …

Categories: Housing

31 Days To Fix Your Finances, Day 21: Evaluating Your Expenses – Housing

The Simple Dollar offers a month-long plan for fixing your finances. All you need is an open mind and an hour each day. Most people, once they’re locked into a home mortgage or have moved into an apartment, feel as though that is an amount that they are simply down each month, with no real …

Categories: Housing, Money

5 Big Questions For First Time Home Buyers #5: What Are All These Closing Costs?

As I begin the process of locating and buying my first home, my mind is loaded with questions. This week, I’m answering the five biggest ones (for me, at least) in detail. I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories about the ridiculous items that mortgage lenders and other such nefarious fellows like to slip into …

Categories: Housing

5 Big Questions For First Time Home Buyers #4: How Do I Find A Good Home Inspector?

As I begin the process of locating and buying my first home, my mind is loaded with questions. This week, I’m answering the five biggest ones (for me, at least) in detail. Other questions involve a home buying gameplan, true home ownership costs, hiring an agent, and closing costs. To me, the home inspection process …

Categories: Housing

5 Big Questions For First Time Home Buyers #3: How Do I Find A Good Agent?

As I begin the process of locating and buying my first home, my mind is loaded with questions. This week, I’m answering the five biggest ones (for me, at least) in detail. Other questions involve a home buying gameplan, true home ownership costs, hiring a home inspector, and closing costs. Up to this point, my …

Categories: Housing

5 Big Questions For First Time Home Buyers #2: What Does It Really Cost?

As I begin the process of locating and buying my first home, my mind is loaded with questions. This week, I’m answering the five biggest ones (for me, at least) in detail. Other questions involve a home buying gameplan, hiring an agent, hiring a home inspector, and closing costs. Whenever I’ve talked to people about …

Categories: Housing

5 Big Questions For First Time Home Buyers #1: How Do I Get Started?

As I begin the process of locating and buying my first home, my mind is loaded with questions. This week, I’m answering the five biggest ones (for me, at least) in detail. Other questions involve true home ownership costs, hiring an agent, hiring a home inspector, and closing costs. My wife and I have casually …

Categories: Housing

Should You Overpay On Your Mortgage?

Recently, I had an email exchange with a reader about whether or not they should overpay on their home mortgage or take that overpayment and invest it. I spent some time with Excel and Bankrate.com’s mortgage calculator and I made a few interesting discoveries. I don’t want to bury you in numbers, so I’m going …

Categories: Housing, Investing

Gift Yourself An Extra Mortgage Payment!

Most people find themselves swimming in debt after spending too much on the holidays. Next year, you should do something to make that debt seem a little less insurmountable: make an extra mortgage payment so that you’ll own your house much quicker. Sounds hard? It’s not really all that hard at all if you do …

Categories: Housing, Money

Extra Mortgage Payment vs. Investments

As my wife and I begin the process of finding and buying a home, we repeatedly find ourselves investigating various aspects of home ownership. Right now, we’re in a situation where we are able to save and invest far more each month than we will be spending on a home mortgage in the price range …

Categories: Housing, Investing

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