While I was growing up, most of our big family functions took place at my grandparent's home. We only lived a few blocks away from my dad's parents, so their home - the house where my dad was raised - was like a second home to us.
Through a funny twist of fate, Chris and I ended up renting my grandparent's home when we got married. After we had lived there for about 8 years, my grandparents decided to sell the house - and there wasn't even a moment's hesitation about whether or not we wanted to buy it.
Now, I knew going into the purchase that we would have to do a lot of work on the house. Built in 1959, most of the house was original, and needed a lot of renovations. So much goes into buying your first home, but buying a 50 year old house carries a whole extra set of expenses!
We had already replaced the washer, dryer, hot water heater, stove, kitchen counters and sink and oven before buying the house. As soon as it was ours, we began making the serious investments: replacing the carpeting and tile with wood laminate, hiring Home Depot to install new hurricane-proof windows and french doors throughout the house, and then the talks began about remodeling the kitchen and bathroom.
Whatever you THINK you are going to spend when you buy a new house...triple it! We have owned our home for four years now, and we have yet to begin remodeling the kitchen or the bathroom. We have, however, brought the house up to code, legalized the carport and bedroom additions, replaced the electrical wiring throughout the house, had new smoke detectors installed, installed new insulation in the attic, had new ducts installed throughout the house and installed a new inside and outside AC unit.
All of that and we still haven't even begun saving for the updates we wanted to do in the first place.
One thing we have learned over the last four years is that no home improvement project can begin without a budget. We have been lucky enough to do what we've done so far without going into debt, and we hope that trend continues! Since we bought our home using a VA loan, we weren't required to purchase mortgage insurance...but as someone who worked with a financial advisor, I know better than to not buy mortgage insurance!
While we did great with our VA loan, you can actually take advantage of lower interest rates and lower down payments on your first home by buying mortgage insurance!
This mortgage insurance tool from Genworth Financial is a great tool to help you make a safe and smart decision when it comes time to purchase mortgage insurance for your new home!
The more time goes by, I realize more and more just how important it is to make wise financial decisions, not just about things concerning the house, but every aspect of our lives. You just never know what lies ahead of you!
I was reading this article on Yahoo about women becoming more financially savvy as they get older, and it's true; we really do learn the importance of budgeting, insurance and planning for the future as we get older. If Chris and I had bought this house in our 20s, I doubt we would have come as far as we have without incurring a mountain of debt along the way!
As much as I want a new kitchen, a new bathroom - and a pool out back - I've learned that slow and steady wins the race. We save up for each thing we do to the house, so that when things like his car breaking down happen, we aren't left struggling to find a way to pay for them!
While we are both young and healthy, you never really know what might happen. Sure, we are doing okay financially now, but if something were to happen to one of us, the other would be left struggling to make ends meet if we didn't plan ahead with life insurance and mortgage insurance. Those monthly expenses might seem like a waste of money to some, but once you really think about the big picture, it's better to be safe than sorry, should the unthinkable happen!