Ten tips for buying a house in the country

Buying a house in the country
Which country property is right for you?
Why even buy a house?

On the path to financial independence buying a house can have a huge impact, both positive and negative. There are major advantages to renting, and some bloggers advocate renting forever. But renting has its downsides. Being in a rental means you may not be able to modify your property to your liking. It also means that improving the property benefits someone else financially. Finally there is a major lack of control; if the owner decides to sell the property when the lease is up, you are now looking for a new place.

Tip 1. Avoiding societal programming when buying a house

There are a lot of ads that promote the idea that ‘owning your own home’ is a major life achievement. But let’s analyze this for a minute. First, why does the real estate industry use the word home instead of house? Are you buying a home or a house? If you buy a house and you put down 1%, do you really ‘own a home’? You have a mortgage and the rights to live in the house. If the house increases in value you will reap the rewards. But if the market is flat or it decreases in value you also suffer the consequences. If you buy the house outright with cash, clearly you are a ‘house-owner’. That’s it, you either own a house or you don’t. Make sure the emotion of a ‘home’ is distinct from a house.

Tip 2. Run the numbers

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Podcasts I like

Top five podcasts. Podcasts make chores more enjoyable
When you have a big job, podcasts make it much more enjoyable
Podcasts on the homestead

There are a lot of chores where I don’t need to concentrate; tilling the garden, mowing, spraying, snowblowing, building raised beds. Podcasts are great for that, I can educate myself and get stuff done at the same time. Earbuds work well for some chores, but for noisier ones I use earbuds with earmuffs.

My top five podcasts
  1. The Tim Ferriss show. Amazing guests who have a lot to share. Favorite podcast: “David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson: The Power of Being Outspoken”.
  2. Mad Fientist. FI podcast. Favorite podcast: “Lacking Ambition – Three Months After FI
  3. Masters in Business. Iconic guests. I’m going to pick 2 favorite podcasts for this one: “Interview With Jack Bogle” and “Interview With Mohamed El-Erian
  4. Hardcore History. Dan Carlin digs into history and brings it to life. Favorite podcast “Hardcore History 48 – Prophets of Doom
  5. Car Talk. Tom and Ray Magliozzi talk about cars. Tom passed away in 2014 but they have lots of archived material they continue to release. No favorite podcast: They are all fun.

Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Granite sculpture of cutthroat trout in downtown Santa Fe
Overview

This is a 5 night trip trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We used credit card points to cover ½ the flights (Spokane to Albuquerque), the rental car, and the Inn. Santa Fe has great hiking trails, eateries, art, and beer. It also has interesting Pueblo ruins nearby. We went in late August arriving on a Sunday and leaving on a Friday morning to avoid the weekend, and did not find it crowded. The temperatures were just right, highs around 80F.

Planning the flights

We used Alaska points to fly there, and our Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) $300 travel credit to pay for most of the return flight. We booked about 10 months in advance and unfortunately our convenient flight from Spokane to Albuquerque was changed for the worse. I called Alaska as soon as the flights were changed and asked for a better flight. The rep offered to refund my points. But I politely said that since I had booked so far in advance I did not want a refund, as there was now no availability to rebook using points. I requested a change to a specific flight which left at 6am. We were given that flight which now meant leaving the homestead at 3:30 am… This happens a lot to us when booking with points or cash far in advance. The flights are changed closer to the departure date, and it is usually less convenient. I suggest contacting the airline as soon as a flight is changed for the worse. But find a desired flight before you call, so you can ask for a change to the specific flight you want. For the return flight we found a convenient flight on Delta. Again the flight was changed to a longer layover (1h45min) in Salt Lake City after we booked it. I looked online and it was still the best flight so I did not request a change.

Booking the rental car with Chase UR points

For the car I like to use Chase UR points via the CSR card to take advantage of the primary insurance that comes with it. We don’t carry collision on our own older vehicles, so the primary insurance through the CSR card is important. I looked at the ratings of the car rental companies at the Albuquerque airport using Google maps and booked with Enterprise which had a high rating. Total cost to rent a compact from Enterprise for 5 days from the Albuquerque airport: 15,866 UR points taking advantage of the 1.5X value of points for travel using the CSR card.

Booking a place to stay using Chase UR points

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Getting started on the path to Financial Independence (FI)

It’s never too late to get started towards FI

In the Get FI article I outline the reasons to get FI, and 5 major steps to get there. Here are some steps to get you started.

Getting Started on Financial Independence
Be wise with your recurring expenses and investing costs
Evaluate recurring expenses and cut them mercilessly

Do you know all your recurring monthly expenses? Are they all necessary? If not, do they provide enough value to justify their cost? By thinking carefully about just 4 items; cable TV, cell phone, books and coffee I showed how to reduce expenses by $222 per month. What expenses can you reduce or eliminate? Do you need to buy the latest video games or can you play older titles that cost 1/3 as much? Are you using your gym membership? Everyone is different here. If you have a golf membership and use it twice a week that may provide good value, but if you have a gym membership and use it twice a month…. Be ruthless and think outside the box. If your hair style is a number 3 buzz cut, can your spouse cut your hair? How much would that save per month, year, and ten years? Keep going until you have gotten to a balance where you feel confident each monthly expense provides enough value compared to the freedom it would give you once you are FI if you cut it.

Take advantage of free money from your employer

Does your 401k or 403b provide a match? Contribute at least enough to capture the employer match. By cutting recurring expenses you might free up enough $ to allow you to match your employers contributions. Continue reading “Getting started on the path to Financial Independence (FI)”

Staying fit on a budget; mountain biking, hiking and working out at home

On the path to FI, keeping fit is a good investment

Everyone wants to keep in good shape but it’s a challenge to find workouts that can keep us motivated and interested. Today I am going to share how I keep in shape while staying frugal towards getting FI.

Mountain biking has major advantages

If you enjoy cycling but don’t enjoy riding in traffic and do enjoy the woods, mountain biking may be for you. One of the big advantages over running is the lack of impact on your knees. Riding up 1000 feet elevation getting your aerobic workout can be followed with a thrilling descent on trails. This is one reason why I enjoy mt biking over hiking. Once I’ve put in the effort to get to the top of and see the view, I am usually only a fun 25 minute quick descent back to the car. The downhill is the reward for the climb up. And everyone can pick their chosen approach in terms of how to descend. Nowadays people tend to think of downhill mountain bikes that bomb down steep inclines. But there are plenty of winding, smooth, banked trails around that allow for fun but controlled descents.

mountain biking in the Palouse
Fast flowing downhill, the way I like it

Mountain biking can be a low expense sport

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