True Cost of Owning a House

Have you ever considered the true cost of owning a house?

I will be honest. When my wife and I bought our first house, we didn’t know.  We had no idea.

true cost of owning a houseSure, we knew all about taxes, mortgage, and insurance. And we heard about emergency funds and having a little extra set aside each month.

But, we didn’t know about everything else. You know what I mean.  The other little expenses that don’t show up on the mortgage documents at the closing table.
What am I referring to? Well, the basic costs of interior maintenance a home like paint, molding, and flooring.  Or the cost to keep it nice like mops, vacuums, or trash collection.

Then, there’s exterior maintenance with lawn mowers, trimmers, hoses, shovels, rakes, mulch, flowers, snow blowers, and pest control. And you can’t forget replacing things like the roof or garage door opener.

So, what are new, inexperienced home buyers supposed to do? Well, I have some tips for you to consider as you make your first home purchase.  Don’t do what we did.  Go in with more knowledge and preparation.

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Need Extra Money for the Family? These 5 Online Survey Sites Actually Pay!

You may recall that my wife became a stay-at-home for our son in 2016.  We were both on board with the idea, but it meant going down to one income.  She was a top real estate agent in our area at the time, so it was real shock to the budget.  It was one of the reasons we decided to ditch the expensive home in the expensive area.

online survey sites actually payWhile we could afford everything on my salary, we still wanted to have a little extra in the event of emergencies and to pad our savings.  To do this, we decided to start answering online surveys.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Dave, come on, those things are not legitimate.  And you would have a point.  Some online survey companies are not legitimate.  Don’t go paying somebody to take their surveys or expect to earn a full-time income filling out a couple surveys a week over your morning coffee.

No, this isn’t get rich quick.  But, it is a way for a stay-at-home mother or father looking to supplement the family’s income with a little extra income for a time.  It’s a go-to option when you’re in need of some money in a pinch.

Let’s be honest, though.  Couldn’t we all use an extra $100 or $200 a month?  Just an extra $100 that can be used for gifts for loved ones, a visit to the veterinarian, paying off debt, or padding the savings.  Well, that’s what you get with doing some surveys.  Extra money without a ton of effort that can help with life’s surprises and incidentals.  Hey, at least it offsets some costs!

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5 Key Takeaways from my first Half Marathon

Have you ever had the desire to prove something?

Maybe it was to yourself. Maybe it was to your friends or family.  Maybe it was to that coach or teacher who made you doubt your own abilities.

lessons from my first half marathonWhoever made you (or makes you) feel that way, their words stick with you. They creep in at unexpected times and you may even put yourself back in that situation where they told you that you were less than.

I am very introspective, so I find myself reevaluating past experiences a lot. Sometimes it’s healthy and sometime it’s not.

Well, in July 2014, I was in a read need to have a personal win. I was forced to go back to work after our real estate business had a tough winter.  I went from the high of leaving my job to the low of having to beg to return.

My wife suggested that I train for a half marathon as it would give me a goal to shoot for. I am the type of person that needs to look forward to things and needs to work toward something.  So, being a former runner as well, this was right up my alley.

I made the goal to run a half marathon by November, but I wanted to challenge myself to actually complete the full distance while running and walking beforehand. My wife even decided to join me.

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Frugal Fun: Taking the Entire Family to a Baseball Game for Cheap

Who doesn’t love going to a baseball game? A warm summer day.  A cold beer.  A hot dog.  Your favorite team.  Your friends and family.  Honestly, what could be better?

baseball game for cheapIt’s all great … until you see your empty wallet or your credit card bill. Major League Baseball games, along with the other major sports, are expensive and a real hit to a family’s budget.

You want to have a great (and carefree) time with the family on a Saturday afternoon. You want to give the kids some fun ballpark food – hot dog, soda, popcorn, pretzels, ice cream, and water ice.  And you want to get them a baseball, hat, shirt, and that giant foam finger that’s become a cliché.  Sure, it’s all part of the ballpark experience.

But, it comes at quite a hit to the wallet. That’s why I’ve compiled a few ideas here to help your family have that ballpark experience at a much more budget-friendly cost.

Attend a minor league baseball game instead of an MLB game.

I know it might be tough for you as an adult to sit through a minor league game. If you’re like me, you want to watch your favorite MLB team (Phillies for me) and that’s it.  However, I do appreciate baseball the game itself.  I can have any baseball game on TV and be completely happy.

For the family, go to a minor league game or an independent league game. Everything is much cheaper – from the tickets to the food and merchandise.

The caliber of play may not be the same as the MLB, but the caliber of fun will be. In the end, that is all that matters.  Plus, your budget will be happy too!

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House Poor: What it is and How to Avoid it

Have you ever felt like a complete and utter failure?  I am talking about a total breakdown, tail between your legs, wondering how life will go on from here … flat out FAILURE.  That’s how I felt on that fateful day in the stairwell at my auditing job while speaking with my wife. I had finally come to grips with the fact that we had to move because we were house poor.

That meant selling the house where we started our married life together in 2011.  Here we were, less than 5 years later, having to sell it.  We wouldn’t see the fifth year anniversary of our wedding or closing date in our home.

house poorIt was the realization of our EPIC FAILURE.

It was the house our first child (Davey Joe) came home from the hospital to. The home where my wife become a rock star real estate agent in the area and we spent countless nights scheming for her to continue her rise.  The neighborhood where we spent at least two summers planting countless miniature U.S. flags for July 4th.  The house and a community that we called home was now quickly going to become a place to visit.

The holidays around the dining room table that we got for free. We hauled the damn thing in a rented pickup truck for a half hour or so hoping that it wouldn’t tip over into traffic.

The blood, sweat and many tears that went into painting walls, laying floors, and hanging crown molding. My wife and in-laws did the majority of the work while I went to my job.

It was the home where we learned our pug had lymphoma. But, the little girl beat the odds and was cured.

We experienced ups and downs while we lived there for sure. That said, we loved that house.  We loved that neighborhood.  And we loved that town.

Unfortunately, we were the very cause of our own downfall. We created the circumstances that lead us to have to sell our first home and relocate.

Let me explain where we went wrong and how we bounced back.

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How I Paid Off $20,000 in Student Loan Debt

Remember when you just graduated college?  The very last thing you ever thought about was student loan debt.

After all, you were so excited to take on the world.  You thought you had a plan for your life and, if you were lucky, you had a job lined up before graduation.

paid off student loan debtNo, you didn’t worry about budgets.  You probably didn’t even know what debt was.  Wasn’t a bill something your parents paid?

Then, you get your first paycheck and it’s not as big as you would hoped.  Taxes and all other fun stuff rob you of that juicy gross income.  Further, you get smacked with a student loan bill that you may have not even realized existed.

When Anna and I were just starting out, we neglected to keep a budget.  We paid for the big television package that had all the interesting business channels that we enjoyed watching.  Yes, we are news and financial nerds.

One Saturday night, in particular, we sat down to watch some TV before bed and on came Dave Ramsey on the Fox Business Network.  His opening line was (which is all too familiar to us now) was about living like no one else, so that someday you can live like no one else.

That line really stuck with us.  And it lead to a big mindset shift for us.

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Growth Mindset: 3 Ways Running Provides Mental Toughness

Do you ever wonder how the world’s elite athletes do it?

They make it look so easy. Tom Brady executes a perfectly thrown ball for a touchdown.  Usain Bolt outruns the field yet again.  Clayton Kershaw throws a pitch with pinpoint accuracy on the black for strike 3.  Phil Mickelson sinks an unlikely 30-foot putt.

What’s the secret? Well, if you ask Darren Hardy of Success Magazine, it’s about the grind:

It’s the hours in the gym that you don’t see.

It’s the thousands of balls they hit on the practice green that is not filmed.

It is the hundreds of gigs they perform in small seedy clubs for no pay.

It is the thousands of calls they make that DON’T result in a sale.

It’s the years of two-a-days in the hot sun and grinding it out in the minor leagues and doing meetings where no one shows up.

All those moments, despite the boredom and the mundaneness, they keep GRINDING!

Do yourself a favor and read the full article.  It’s worth it and incredibly motivating.

You need to consider this when you start running. It’s not about race day.  It’s about your growth as a runner.  That growth is key and it comes first with a mindset of growth.  You see, it wasn’t until I started training for my first half marathon that I began to harness the mental toughness to do another half marathon and even fathom I could finish a marathon.

In my experience, the mental toughness that produces a growth mindset is inevitably drawn from the 3 key areas I discuss below. These are important to remember as you embark on any worthwhile endeavor.  You should keep them in mind as you begin your training.

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Have a Frugal Easter Holiday

With Easter right around the corner, do you find yourself waiting for just ONE MONTH without a holiday?

frugal easter holidayJust one month so you can play catch up and ACTUALLY SAVE your goal savings amount. I understand you and a lot of other people out there are with you.

As parents, we are constantly pulled in two directions. Do we save money?  Or do we buy our little one that extra gift or two?  You tell yourself it’s what your parents did for you.  You rationalize it by thinking it’s a holiday!

Again, I’m with you and I get it. My wife and I are navigating these waters as well with our young son.  It’s not an easy thing.  You see the little face and you just want to give them the world.

However, we all need to be role models for our children. To do that, we sometimes need to make the difficult, but necessary decisions.  Can you say adulting?   (Side note: I hate that term and my spell check doesn’t even recognize it).

That’s why I found some top blog posts from the last few years that I wanted to share as we prepare for Easter. I know Easter isn’t as expensive as Christmas or the child’s birthday, but candy, baskets, and presents can begin to break any well-intentioned parent’s budget very quickly.

Fear not. I found some great tips from other amazing bloggers that can keep you on budget this Easter holiday.

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Cultivating Discipline in All Areas of Your Life

I want to discuss a topic that may make you cringe.  Cultivating discipline.

cultivating disciplineNow, I know the word discipline itself has a bad connotation.  You hate hearing it. It harkens back to days where you were told to sit up straight in school or you would go to the principal’s (disciplinarian’s) office (at least in Catholic school).  Or your parents would discipline you by grounding you for not doing your chores or something.  Yes, discipline.

As individuals in our 20s, 30s, and 40s here, we are responsible for fostering our own discipline and mindset. Sure, our bosses could reprimand us or the cop that pulled us over can give us a ticket.  Those are forms of discipline.  But, true day in and day out responsibility and accountability comes down to cultivating discipline in ourselves and our daily routine.

Would you agree?

Here with Run The Money, I am focusing on cultivating discipline in the areas of financial health and physical health. All of these require a mature amount of discipline to not only invoke in our lives, but consistently apply to our lives.

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