I am absolutely in love with the house I live in…most of the time at least. There have been things I never realized I’d love so much and others that I wish I would have considered more thoroughly. Right now we’re planning to live here for quite some time, but I still wonder if we would do things differently if we had the opportunity to turn back time.
Hindsight is always 20/20 though, so in reality I’m lucky we had such great advice going into our purchase. If it hadn’t been for our parents and a great realtor, God only knows where we’d be living. So for those of you about to make this huge decision, here’s my best advice and some important things to consider:
Even for a person with a horrendous memory (me), I have vivid recollections of my pregnancy and the subsequent birth of my son. Ironically, one of the memories that still sticks with me the most was the total shock of realizing how much it costs just to be pregnant – and that’s with good health insurance (and a healthy pregnancy). Ultrasounds were considered elective, blood tests were extra, and of course there’s the deductible right off the bat. By the time we got to the hospital for delivery we had “luckily” reached our deductible and would only have to pay 10% of any additional costs…but as every other delivering parent knows, 10% of a whole lot is still a whole lot.
Luckily we were able to stomach the costs but it totally shifted how we managed our money and led to one of the best investments we’ve ever made – our Health Savings Account (HSA).
I know this sounds ridiculously corny, so I’m hesitant to even write an entire post about it, but I’m telling you – this one simple activity is how my husband and I have (and are) achieving all of our dreams in record timing. It’s why I’m able to stay at home with my son, how we bought two investment properties, are learning a second language, have spent our summer traveling, have become vegan, the list goes on and on…
So here’s the really simplistic, dumbed-down gist of how we’ve made it all happen: Every few months (if we’re lucky, weeks), we sit down and formally Goal Set. I’m emphasizing formally and capitalizing Goal Set on purpose – it’s that big of a deal and that big of an event for us…it’s better than a date night (actually, we love it so much that it basically is a date night). But most importantly, it consistently and reliably always works – sometimes it’s scary how much so.
So here’s what we do, and how you can (and should) do it too:
For the most part, the classic American dream includes home ownership. A comfortable job, a vacation once a year, and a place to call home. What’s funny is that the vast majority of us are relying on 30-year mortgages to “own” our homes. So, in some sense, we really aren’t owning them – we just feel like we are. And it’s so commonplace to have a mortgage that nobody really second-guesses it.
To be fair, there are some benefits of having a mortgage. But does that really mean that it’s a good idea for everyone? Should it be the norm? I’m not convinced. Here are some of the biggest reasons I think it’s a good idea to pay off your mortgage (and why we’re doing it):
Related post: How to Pay Off the Mortgage Early
Investing in real estate is an amazing way to diversify your portfolio and ironically it is much easier than most people think. In this day and age it can be nearly impossible to build wealth from a paycheck alone, so most of us need to think outside of the (career) box if we really want to live the comfortable lifestyle that we all dream of.
My husband and I purchased our first investment property 3 years ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We rarely even think about it nowadays, yet it is still making money for us behind the scenes. We aren’t handy-types or real estate experts, yet it still was a great investment choice. It is honestly something that anyone can do, as long as you make smart decisions in the beginning.
So here’s what we did to buy our first investment property:
I recently wrote about some quick and easy ways to pay off your mortgage early, but talking to everyone about that made me realize one important thing – paying off the mortgage is not necessarily a good idea for everyone. In fact, for some people paying off the mortgage may do more harm than good. And for lots of people hanging onto the mortgage may actually help to grow their bottom line.
Recently, I wrote about the plan my husband and I have to pay off our mortgage in the next 10 years. Hearing all of your comments and ideas got me sooooo excited that I started thinking about how we could get it paid off in 5 years instead of 10. So we started talking about all the different ways we could convert some of our expenses into making larger principal payments – easy ways that would at least cut $100 in expenses each month.
Well, we came up with some pretty exciting ideas! Here’s what we’ve got:
Now that I’ve officially left the “classic” work force, I’m in a position where I need to be really creative with how to contribute to our income. More specifically, how to contribute to our disposable income. One way to do that? Cut out the largest (by far) monthly expense and pay off the mortgage.
Related article: How to Pay Off the Mortgage Early
I know it sounds crazy. With such a massive loan, it just seems pointless to waste time trying to chip away at it. But none-the-less, my husband and I have gotten ourselves excited enough that we’re endeavoring to have it paid off in 10 years. This will obviously require us to make some pretty large payments here and there, but we also came up with some pretty quick and easy ways to bring it down without even trying. (If you’re interested in everything we’re doing to pay off our mortgage early, check out this post –> 10 Things I’m Doing to Pay Off My Mortgage Early (and the One Thing I Won’t Do)
So here’s what we’re doing and what you can try if you’re up for the same challenge:
Related article: 7 Important Reasons to Pay Off the Mortgage
I originally published this post last summer (if you can believe it, it was actually my FIRST EVER post!), but I feel like it’s really important to bring it back with everything I’m hearing in the news lately.
If you haven’t been keeping up, here’s what you’re missing: First, there’s the constant reminder that the projected cost of college for a child born in 2013 ranges from $150k to a whopping $400k. Then, there’s the pending reality that in one year 1% of the world’s population will own 50% of the world’s wealth. So if you’re not in that 1%, you’re actually more likely to get poorer than richer.
So why does this matter for college savings? Well, lots of reasons. And of course, I’ve written them all down for you. 🙂
So without further ado, here are the reasons why you need to start saving now for your kids to go to college. And more specifically, why you need to put that money in a 529 College Savings Plan.
Every stay-at-home mom knows that being on the outside of the traditional workforce does not exempt you from planning and managing your long-term financial future. In fact, it usually means you have to work even harder and know even more because you don’t have essential investments managed for you on behalf of your employer.
Even if you have a partner that regularly contributes to their own employer-sponsored investment opportunities, you may not be doing enough. You still need to take additional steps to ensure that you are financially secure now and in the future.
Here are the investments that every SAHM should have: (more…)