BACK IN AUGUST, Adam Grossman wrote a thought-provoking article about regret. He offered six strategies to minimize the chances you’ll end up kicking yourself for a choice you made. That got me thinking about the financial decision I most regret.
I bought a timeshare.
I know this admission will generate strong reactions in the personal finance community. I’d like to claim the ignorance of youth, but I was in my early 50s. I’d like to blame my wife,
WE JUST STARTED remodeling our house. I knew it would be an expensive project. Indeed, my next-door neighbor warned me about the difficulty of controlling costs.
He said they netted $250,000 from the sale of their old house. Their plan was to remodel their current home and use the remaining proceeds to pay off the mortgage on their vacation property. But unfortunately, they blew through their remodeling budget and didn’t have enough left over to pay off the other mortgage.
I SOLD MY CONDO last month and the first thing I wanted to do was celebrate. It was such a relief to get rid of it, because owning a second home requires spending precious time maintaining it. At age 69, I can think of better ways to spend my time than looking after a vacation home.
At first, I was reluctant to put the condo up for sale. I had lived there for more than three decades.
MANY OF US DREAM of owning a second home near the sea, a lake or the mountains. For my wife and me, that dream location was the southern New Jersey Shore. We’d both spent many vacations there as children and then did the same with our own growing family. We had visions of taking grandkids to the beach and boardwalk.
In March 2012, we realized our dream by purchasing a three-bedroom condo in Ocean City,
I PURCHASED MY first house almost 30 years ago. To call it a “fixer” would have been an understatement. It was 800 square feet of neglected space in desperate need of repairs and updating. Being fresh out of college and working at a job that paid less than $20,000 a year, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on improvements. But I had the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
Over a five-year period,
I’VE BEEN LIVING with roommates since I graduated college two years ago. I decided it was time to buy my own place. I saved diligently and I figured I had enough for a down payment.
I also figured I could handle the monthly mortgage payment, which wouldn’t be much more than I was paying in rent. I was looking for a townhouse or condo, which might cost $250,000 to $300,000 where I live.
What I didn’t grasp,
THE SAGA IS FINALLY over—18 months and $50,000 later. That’s what my clever moving strategy cost, including taxes, interest, insurance, utilities and some maintenance on the house I hadn’t lived in for more than a year. My strategy was intended to lessen stress, but instead it did just the opposite.
This all started because our 1929 house became too much to cope with, the stairs became too much for my wife—and I resisted moving for too long.
I AM AGE 57 and I’m planning to move, so you might imagine I’d be interested in the best states to retire. On that score, there’s plenty of advice available.
Bankrate says the best option for retirees is Nebraska, followed by Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. Meanwhile, WalletHub gives the nod to Florida, with Colorado, New Hampshire, Utah and Wyoming rounding out the top five. Want a third opinion? Blacktower Financial Management puts Iowa at No.
I’M SAYING GOODBYE to an old friend I’ve known for 35 years. We had a special relationship that enriched my life in many ways. Although I’ll be moving to a new city and will never see my old friend again, I’ll always be grateful for our relationship, and how it helped me financially and emotionally.
You see, as I put my dear little friend—a one-bedroom, 789-square-foot condominium—up for sale, I’ve come to realize how important it was to have a home that helped me live below my means.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote this out of frustration, bordering on desperation.
More than a year ago, I bought a condo and took out what was supposed to be a short-term mortgage, which we’d pay off once we sold our home of 45 years. Silly me. You guessed it: I still have the mortgage and I still own the old house, with not even a single offer received. The No. 1 reason for buyers’ lack of interest: The kitchen is too small.
WE HIT THE renovation snooze button for years. We were put off by the hassle and the expense, plus we were concerned that as little as 50% of a remodeling project’s cost ends up reflected in a home’s value—and that assumes you sell within a year. On top of that, we rented out our house for three years, making renovations difficult.
The watershed moment: My wife indicated—very firmly—that she was through putting out pots and bowls to catch all the drips inside our house every time a heavy rain occurred.
ON JUNE 6, 2018, we closed on our new condo in a 55-plus community. The time had come to avoid the stairs in our three-story house. Moving after more than 40 years was quite a transition. Still, condo living is great—so much less house stuff to do or worry about. Eventually, our monthly expenses will be greatly reduced.
Notice I haven’t mentioned selling our house. That’s because we haven’t. The thought of cleaning out a house,
AMONG THE 16 MILLION who served during the Second World War, many returned home, started families and pursued what would become an integral part of the American dream: homeownership. It’s during this time that the term “starter home” was coined.
My grandfather was one of those proud vets. He and my grandmother bought a place in South Dakota, where they started our family.
In 1950, the average new single-family home was 983 square feet.
FOLKS USED TO SAY, “You can’t go wrong with real estate.” They sure don’t say that anymore. It’s been a rollercoaster dozen years for home prices—and some experts think another rough patch is in the offing.
Since mid-2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index first tumbled 27.4% and then bounced back 53.6%, for a cumulative 12-plus year gain of 11.5%, equal to 0.9% a year. Could we be facing another dip?
HOW DID MY HUSBAND and I get where we are today—early retirement in Spain? One of the most critical decisions concerned our biggest expense: housing. As the one in charge of the family’s financial planning, I wish I could say I planned this outcome all along, but I didn’t. We were just lucky—though I like to think it was “lucky” in the sense that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
When Jim and I got married in 2003—a second marriage for both of us—we needed a new place for our combined family of four,