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My hunch is that most first-time homeowners buy their first place with the best of intentions. They imagine spending decades in their future abode, establishing roots, and engaging in their community.

But then life happens.

They have more kids than they originally thought they wanted (or discover they can’t have any kids), they get a job offer somewhere else, a loved one gets sick and needs constant care, or maybe they still love their house but hate their neighbors and decide to move. The statistics don’t lie, most people in their 20′s and 30′s, who buy homes, don’t live in said homes long enough to realize much of a financial benefit.

The average length of homeownership is hovering right around seven years.

Many of these homeowners kiss any potential profit goodbye when they pay nearly 10% in commissions and fees. At the end of the day, these homeowners were nothing more than glorified renters who could paint their walls.

So how can you determine if you’ll be able to make homeownership profitable?

Introducing my patent pending Vehicle Litmus Test.

Unless you live in the heart of a major metropolitan area (San Fran, LA, or NYC), I’m going to assume you own a car. (If you don’t, this whole post is pretty much a waste of your time). If you own a car, you should take the test below. If not, then this entire blog post is irrelevant.

/Begin Test

How long have you owned your current car? And how long did you own your previous car?

/End Test

It seems about 99% of people who buy new, or even new-to-them, cars always say something like “Oh, I’m going to drive this car in to the ground. I’ll have it at least 10 years.”

You probably said, or thought, something similar. Didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU!!!!!

But did you actually follow through with that promise?

How you answer that question says a lot. You bought a car thinking you would drive it in to the ground, but then made a total 180 and justified a change for something more fuel-efficient, more modern, larger, smaller, newer, cheaper, faster.

I get it.

Your priorities and desires changed. This is why the vehicle litmus test is so important.

Are you really going to stay in the house long enough to make buying worth it? You like to think you will, but does your track record say otherwise?

Drop a comment below with your answers to the litmus test. Be honest :)

My answers to the vehicle litmus test…

Car 1: Bought my Scion tC in 2006 brand new. Eight years later, still love it and have no plans to sell.

Car 2: Our 2006 Honda Pilot purchased in 2012 with 70k miles on it. Bought with intentions to drive to 150,000 miles.

Previous car: Girl Ninja’s 2005 Corolla she bought in 2006. Sold after six years so we could buy the Pilot. An upgrade that was totally unnecessary.

{ 31 comments }

Time to fess up

April 14, 2014 · 39 comments

A few years ago, I decided to make a blog post that mimicked a very popular website, PostSecret.com. If you aren’t familiar, PostSecret is website in which random people like you, mail in post cards containing deeply personal confessions. My first post like this, “Share your secret”, remains one of my most popular articles. Since it’s been a while since we’ve done this, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to run this little social experiment again as my readership is always changing.

Here are some PostSecret confessions that caught my eye…

You can’t help but be interested right? There is something about being vulnerable that just feels good. So, I’m hoping you will, once again, participate in Post Secret PDITF style.

The rules are simple. Drop a comment in the section below with one secret related to finances, money, family, life, etc that you haven’t shared with anyone. I recommend you comment anonymously or under an alias, but it’s really up to you how you want to be identified.

Here are some of the secrets shared by my readers last time I did this…

  • I’m contemplating losing one of my part-time jobs so I can be eligible for welfare
  • I think people who complain about money are too lazy and stupid to make more.
  • I resent my mom because she abused my child support money and doesn’t pay for any of my expenses now, leaving it all up to my dad.
  • I never told my parents that I was so in over my head during my first few years of college I donated plasma just to eat. I had too much pride to accept help from anyone, so I sold plasma to put a few bucks of gas in the car for a weekend trip home and used the rest to eat out of vending machines for a week. Until the next week, when I’d do it all over again.
  • I secretly loath stay-at-home moms. Nothing about being cooped up in a house all day with kids sounds appealing to me. Problem: my husband expects me to do that when we have kids.

This really is a great opportunity to not only share your secrets, but to understand that you are not alone. Who’s willing to get a little vulnerable and answer the question…

What’s your secret?

(you can comment anonymously if you prefer)

{ 39 comments }

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We are about two months away from welcoming Baby Ninja to the family and in case you were wondering, no I do not feel prepared to be a dad. I mean, I frequently forget to bathe and feed myself, how am I expected to take care of another human being? While I may be in way over my head, I can not wait to meet my little dude. What will he look like? How fat will he be (I was 10lbs)? What will it be like to come home from work and see him smile at his first sight of me?

During our premarital counseling, Girl Ninja expressed her desire to one day be a stay-at-home mom. Since then, we have been working and saving diligently. Trying to stabilize ourselves financially, so that when the time came for kiddos, we’d be ready to forfeit an income.

That time is now. 

I’d be lying if I said part of me wasn’t mourning the loss of $30,000 a year in cold hard cash. We could do a lot of great things with that money. Max out our retirement accounts. Go on a half-dozen nice vacations. Send an entire bus of kids to summer camp.

As nice as it would be to keep that income around a bit longer, I’m excited to drop down to a one income household because it means Girl Ninja and I are literally living our dream.

Four years ago we created a plan that would allow Girl Ninja to one day be a stay-at-home mom, and here we are just a few months shy of seeing that plan come to fruition.

If that’s not financial freedom, I don’t know what is. 

 

 

And just for clarification this is not a knock against dual income families. If Girl Ninja told me she wanted to continue working I’d be all for it.

{ 14 comments }

ikea

One of the primary selling points of our home was the awesome outdoor living space. We have a good sized patio just off our kitchen that overlooks our big lush backyard, flagstone fire pit area, and the Olympic mountains and Puget Sound. Our patio is awesome, but for the last nine months, it’s been naked. With summer quickly approaching,I had to change this.

We “needed” patio furniture.

As I began the process of patio furniture hunting , I realized I’m no longer as frugal as I once was. Dare I say, I’m starting to act more like I’m 30, and less like I’m 20. 

What’s the difference between a 30-year-old and a 20-year-old you ask?

It means my tastes have shifted from Ikea to West Elm, from thrift stores to Nordstrom, and  for a nice dinner out over fast food.

Quality, not price, is my primary concern.

Yes, I still looked at Ikea, Target, and Home Depot for patio furniture and learned I could get a five piece patio dining set for about $400 at one of these stores. But why would I pay $400 for crap? Okay maybe not crap, but the furniture is inferior to more expensive sets in terms of materials used and build quality.

We love our patio. We love to entertain. We plan on living in our house for many years.

It seemed only logical that we make  the right decision and invest in a high quality patio set that we love. I knew I wanted our set to include metal and wood, but hadn’t seen anything that tickled my fancy. Most patio furniture seems to be either made of all wood, all wicker, or all metal. Like this $900 set that screams “I’m 90 years old and like to have tea parties”

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After countless hours of searching in stores, online, and on Craigslist I finally found a patio set that I loved. It’s called the San Clemente and we found it at World Market. Check out this sexy piece of furniture…

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at Apr 8, 2014, 10.53.14 PM

The table was $400 which I thought was a pretty great price. The chairs, however, were quite expensive. The armless chairs run $120 each. the armed chairs run $130 each.

Ouch.

Multiply that by 6 chairs and things get expensive fast.

I considered buying just the table and trying to find cheaper chairs elsewhere, but then I had a 30-year-old moment, and thought to myself…

“Why the heck would I spend $400 on an awesome table and ruin it with less-than-awesome chairs?”

Not only did I end up buying six of those beautiful chairs you see above, but I bought six chairs WITH arms (the more expensive chair model) because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love having arm rests when they are sitting down?

Total damage for the set came out to $1,300 after finding a 10% off/free shipping coupon online. It’s not an uber fancy $5,000 set like Costco offers, but it’s a far cry from the $200 set I would have bought at Ikea five years ago. And it is by far the most expensive furniture piece we’ve ever purchased (next would be our $888 stainless steel refrigerator).

Growing up is expensive, and I kind of like it. 

Have you noticed yourself graduating up in certain categories as you get older? If so, which ones? In what areas of your life, do you still frugally? (we rent a room out in our house, sacrificing privacy for income)

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25 going on 60

April 6, 2014

One of my buddies, who works in finance for a major bank, told me he recently attended a small group with a few of his good friends from college. During the small group, one of the members began reflecting on his life. He has a good job. He and his wife bought a house in […]

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Net Worth: April 2014

April 2, 2014

We are in California for a Spring Break baby moon bonanza. We miss San Diego dearly and sometimes we wonder if we made the right choice in moving to Seattle. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up back down here one day…when we are millionaires and can afford it. Haha. I should be back with “non lazy” […]

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Taxable investing compared to saving

April 2, 2014

What would have taken me 1 year to earn in saving account interest was made in three weeks in my new taxable investment account. #happycamper

8 comments Read the full article →