Money Lessons from My Garden

My GardenWhile I’m a far cry from an expert gardener, it’s been a hobby of mine since I was little. And it’s always been a family affair. I can’t ever recall a summer where my dad and I weren’t trying our hands at a tomato plant or twelve. Not to mention the ill-fated encounter with a pumpkin vine and his riding lawn mower. When I was even younger, my grandma taught me how to grow moss roses from seed and then harvest them for seeds for next year’s gardens. Then there’s my mom. She has a remarkable eye and knack for landscaping that I wouldn’t put it past her to retire a second time and start working for a gardening center. Now that Mr. P and I have been living in our home for three years, he’s been roped into the gardening mix as well. We’ve had our share of successes and failures, but he’s equally enthusiastic about gardening.

While I still can’t really explain the difference between a brandywine or a beefsteak tomato, I can say that there are quite a few parallels between starting seeds and planting pennies. Here’s what my garden has taught me: Continue reading “Money Lessons from My Garden”

Money Lessons from My Garden

You Don’t Need to Buy a House…or a Dog

DogsTwo weeks ago, our neighbors announced they were moving and proceeded to list a leather couch, some knickknacks, and their adult cat on our neighborhood social networking site. They wanted money for the furniture. The cat? They’d give that away for free. In the fourteen days that have passed, they’ve everything is taken…except the twelve-year-old cat.

When I see people post on Facebook that they have “puppy fever” or will “just die” if they don’t get a kitten, I can’t help but cringe. It has nothing to do with a dislike for animals. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I love animals. I just can’t afford one – not because we don’t have the money, but because we don’t have the time. Continue reading “You Don’t Need to Buy a House…or a Dog”

You Don’t Need to Buy a House…or a Dog

A New Outlook on Our Mortgage

A New OutlookI hate our mortgage. And I probably always will. The fact that we own so little of our home yet foot all the repair bills was maddeningly frustrating last week when our furnace started acting up to the tune of $600. But after clicking through Tim Urban’s “The Tail End”, I realize that maybe I’ve been viewing my mortgage–and homeownership to a degree–all wrong.

Our Mortgage Takes Our Money

Every month, I am greeted with an email ping reminding me that we owe the bank something to tune of $900*. Since we are determined to pursue some form of financial independence and now Mr. P’s car loan is no more, we are trying to double those payments. Because we made a 30-year commitment to our bank, we are trying to be more aggressive with paying it off by adding my side hustle money to the debt-payoff pot as well.

It isn’t always possible to be so aggressive with our payments, but we are going to keep trying. There’s no denying the crushing feeling that comes with six figures worth of debt. As for those who classify a mortgage as good debt, I say no debt is good debt. I won’t be sorry to see it go.

Our Mortgage Buys Us Time

As much as I dislike our debt, it affords us the luxury of time. My commute lasts between 15-20 minutes and Mr. P’s is about five minutes longer. I can make it to and from work in the span of a single podcast. That’s pretty hard to beat. Sure, having no commute would be even nicer, but I’m not about to make that weird childhood misconception that teachers actually live in their classrooms a real thing. These short commutes allow us to maximize our time at home and our time with each other.

More than that, though, our mortgage buys us time with our families. My family is ten minutes away and Mr. P’s is just a stone’s throw farther. Tim Urban’s analysis of his time left with his parents was crippling to me. He writes, “When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.” His reality affords him about ten days per year with his parents. Tears rolled down my face when I looked at his chart that was almost completely filled with red Xs.

Once I pushed past that momentary existential crisis, I realized my chart would look dramatically different. Yes, my parents are in their 60s as well. No, I’m not kidding myself into thinking that they’re going to be the first couple to live to 120 together. Unlike Urban’s setup, however, our mortgage allows me to spend at least one or two days each week with my parents. Whether it’s me stopping over for tea and to go through the hoards of things they are still so generously storing in their basement or it’s us meeting up for dinner and running errands together, I can see my parents whenever I want. The same holds true for Mr. P and his family.

As easy as it is to get caught up in numbers, spreadsheets, payments, and account balances, I have to remember that life is so much more than a mortgage. In the moments that matter most, I’ve not given our mortgage a single thought. Money is not the most precious thing in the world. If leveraged correctly, money is nothing more than a tool that allows us access to the truly precious things in life: the people we love.

The next time my in-laws are over for a barbecue or my parents are crowded around the kitchen table, I like to think I’ll hate our mortgage a little less. In reality, I know that, as we pass plates, clink glasses, and laugh loudly, our mortgage won’t even cross my mind.

*It’s worth mentioning that apartments and rentals in our area are commensurate in cost, if not more expensive, than our mortgage. Just the other day, I learned of one friend who is paying $1700 for a two-bedroom apartment. I about peed myself.

So Tell Me…How are you leveraging your money to do the things you love or to spend time with the people who matter most?

A New Outlook on Our Mortgage

You Are Not Your Money or Your Debt

Be More than Your MoneyHave a six-figure bank account? Buried under six-figure debt? When money or debt enters the picture, it’s easy to lose sight of other things. But you are not your money, and you are not your debt. If you spend any length of time in the personal finance world, you’ll see people celebrating financial victories and setting monetary goals. Of course, money is a major talking point. But it is crucial to not lose sight of the fact that people are not numbers. Continue reading “You Are Not Your Money or Your Debt”

You Are Not Your Money or Your Debt