When I graduated college in 1982 I had just enough money to get an apartment, pay the first month’s rent, deposit, and turn on the utilities. I had just started a job in Quality Finishing Department for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. I married my high school sweetheart and thought “life was good”. Living in an apartment was not what I thought especially when you were working graveyard shift and sleeping during the day. It was hard to sleep when people are coming and going all day and noise from the traffic. Also, spending all day in the laundry mat was no fun either. It did not take long for me to figure out apartment living is not for me. So, I worked hard saved my money and within 6 months we saved enough to move into a duplex. It was located in a nice neighborhood and was the closest thing to owning a home. My wife and I moved in and the tenant next door was single and very polite and very quiet. “Life was good” again. We were able to establish a credit history and purchased a washer and dryer which was wonderful since I did not have to sit all day on Saturday washing clothes at the apartment laundry mat. We had enough furniture to furnish the duplex and only had to purchase a few items. I continued to work hard by working overtime and saving 10 % of my take home pay and in 6 months had enough saved for a down payment on a home. We had talked to the bank to understand how much house we could afford and found out we were eligible for a First Time Home Buyers low interest loan. It’s a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) low interest loan for young couples starting out that makes it easier to qualify for a loan. We began looking and found a nice home on a cul de sack and “BAM!” purchased our first home within the first year out of college. We had a 30-year mortgage and the payment was about the same we were paying for rent. But now we were building equity in our home and not giving to the landlord. So, after 6 months apartment renting and 6 months duplex renting and now a new home, “life was good”. As I look back over the years, buying my first home was the best move I ever made to reach my path to financial freedom.
After living in the home for 3 ½ years my marriage ended–it happens. People drift apart but no regrets. It was difficult to experience but I was able to recover and my life flourished. I was being recognized at work and promotions were coming along with salary increases which attributed more to my 401K and Cooper stock share purchases. After living in the house for 10 years I had accumulated a $400,000 nest egg due to Cooper stock splits and quite of bit of equity in the home. My equity in the home soared after my divorce due to paying extra on the payment to reduce interest owed on the loan and build equity quicker. After 10 years in the home I met the wife of my children and even though we had a 13-year age difference we were very much on the same page. After marrying in 1992, we sold the home for $64,000 and I received about $30,000 equity. We used $15,000 to purchase the lot to build my 2nd home and applied the remaining $15,000 to the loan to build the house. We built the 2nd home in 1994 for $95,000 which was the $15,000 applied to the loan and financed $80,000. We were able to pay the loan off in 7 years due to paying about extra $200 /month towards the principle. In 2001, at approximately 42 years old, I no longer had a mortgage payment, and this freed up about $ 1,100 per month of cash flow. It was a big relief to be free of having any debt since we had no mortgage, no car payment, and no debt. It’s the best feeling in the world and I made sure I never had any debt the rest of my life. So, I would highly recommend living life within your means– SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! Live within a budget, stay disciplined, establish and maintain good credit (750 or higher), make sound financial decisions or what makes Money Sense and life will treat you well. Life is not a smooth ride all the time, there will be bumps in the road. How you handle these hurdles and the decisions you make will determine if you reach financial freedom or not. So be smart and make good Money Sense decisions.
In 2005, I went through my 2nd divorce and I really did not see it coming until it was too late. It hit me hard especially since my daughters were approximately 8 and 10 years of age. I felt like a failure. If I failed at anything in life, it is marriage. So today I am a 60-year-old single, retired millionaire, dad and grandfather. Without a prenuptial agreement I was left unable to fully protect the assets I had grown prior to my 2nd marriage. I had to liquidate assets, pay her for equity in the home and Quadro part of my 401K plan, and pay child support for approximately 10 years. Even though this was a set back in my financial goals journey, my goal of being financially independent never changed. Actually, it was a blessing. My relationship with my daughters flourished, my 401K grew due share price increasing, and “life was good”, again. So, the lesson here is your going to have ups and downs in life. You must take a step back and get your mind wrapped around the situation, regroup and plow forward with your goals to reach financial freedom. It is not always easy or fun but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I can attest.
In summary, saving early in life for a down payment on a home is a smart Money Sense move that will get you the boost you need to meet your financial goals. Growing your equity instead of giving it away in rent is not smart Money Sense. So, remember, buy a home, don’t rent, and build equity because Life is Good.