My Reflections on House Buying

I know my posts have been a bit few and far between lately, but real life (getting engaged, and now looking at buying a house) has gotten in the way of my online ventures. In this post, I’d like to tell you my thoughts on the house-buying process from a frugal person’s perspective.

When Should I Buy a House?

The answer is: when it makes sense for your lifestyle, and you have enough money to support it. You shouldn’t buy a house unless you plan to stay in it long-term (meaning at least 7 years, generally) because of the money you lose in the initial house-buying transaction. “Lose money?” you ask. “I thought one of the main reasons to buy a house was to build capital, instead of throwing it away on rent!” While that’s partially true, you still incur closing costsĀ (this is stuff like origination fees to your mortgage lender, inspection fees for the property, and so on) which can be substantial, often 2-5% of the purchase price of the home. If you know you’ll be moving in the next couple years, a house is likely not for you. However, if you think the details of your situation might still justify homebuying, check out this awesome rent vs buy calculator. Children are another major lifestyle factor that can push people to buy a house–but did you realize you can also rent a house? If you have kids, and won’t be staying in one area for very long, use the aforementioned calculator to figure out if buying or renting is better for you financially. The answer may surprise you!

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My Experience with Personal Capital

I'm kind of a sucker for pretty user interfaces...
I’m kind of a sucker for pretty user interfaces…

Personal Capital is another of the great personal money management websites out there. It pulls information from all connected bank, investment, and credit card accounts to give you an easy-to-digest summary of all your financial activity. I just started using it two weeks ago, deciding whether to switch to it from Mint, and wanted to write a little about my experience with the tool. Being able to visualize the distribution of your money in colorful graphs–whether that’s income, spending, or investments–is a fantastic experience that will help make managing your money easier and more intuitive. With a great companion mobile app, Personal Capital could be a great option for you… but not for everyone!

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