I am Unwell and I am Scared

I am going to be 37. I have an, on paper, great job where I’m earning a lot of money on my base plus bonus and stock. I just bought a house. And I’m a complete and utter disaster. I’m scared. I’m really fucking scared.

I’m scared because I’m not actually good at my job. Things were briefly going well, but again I’ve been reminded how not good at my job I am. I have improved, but not to the point where I actually have any idea what I’m doing or can be consistent in my work. I don’t think I’ll get fired before I have a kid unless I totally mess up–but I have 30 years of a giant mortgage weighing on me now. I have 1 and soon to be 2 kids. I am the breadwinner. I have to make this work.

My mother is spending down her assets too fast. She refuses to change her spending behavior. I am trying to help her. I don’t know if I’m helping. I found her a fee only CFP who is advising 60/40 split but even that won’t get her to hit her goals. Her “friend” is going hard at her saying she should get an annuity. She already has a sizable pension from my dad and a decent amount of social security. She needs to sell the family home–yesterday–and I can’t bring myself to push her to do that immediately. I was going to go back for a while this summer to help move things out, to say my goodbyes, but then COVID happened. — Even if I tell her she has to sell now, she won’t anyway. She wants to go back and spend too much time going through the hoarder house and moving things into a storage unit in a state she will probably never visit. I can’t emotionally handle advising on any of this. I just look at the analysis and see how she is going to run out of money if she lives as long as I hope she does. But she’s not exactly the healthiest person on earth. Should we be modeling to 85 instead of 100? Does she only have 20 years left, or less?

I can’t get fired from my job. I’m trying to catch up. Trying to dig myself out of the mess I’ve fallen into again. Too many people at work dislike me and throw me under the bus. It’s because I care too much, though. I’m not actually in it for myself or anything. I’m not chasing a promotion. I just want to do good work. And I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m at too high of a level to get any help. My boss liked me for a bit this year because I stopped asking for help and I pretended everything was ok. But then that all fell hard on my head like a pile of bricks. Why did I miss deadlines again? Oh, because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Still. Please don’t fire me. Please give me another chance. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make it work.

Some things are going well, but that’s all negated by everything that isn’t. This house purchase is exciting and feels good like I finally have made something meaningful of my life but it also feels like I just shackled myself and I’m not going to survive the next 30 years. I really don’t think I can do it. I am trying to take it one day at a time. Because maybe I can keep making enough income to pay a $5k or $7k mortgage. I have to. I don’t have a choice. I mean, I have some savings that I can use for a while if I can’t hold a job. But the longer I don’t hold a job, the harder it will be to get a job that pays enough to pay the mortgage. So I have to keep this job, and eventually get another job, and so on, until I’m 66, and have the mortgage paid off.

I don’t want to complain about any of this. Because I’m so fortunate to be where I am and to have this job and to have stock to sell off and I’ll probably be fine because somehow it all works out in the end. But I’ve also kept my living expenses so low and that’s granted me some breathing room even when things start looking really bad. Now I don’t have that breathing room. Not now, and not in the next 30 years. 30 years is a long time. I mean, I’m 36, so it’s not like, my whole life… but 30 years ago I was 6. So.

I wish I could talk to my husband about this stuff, but I can’t because he will just get frustrated with me and upset that I’m being so fickle again. It’s like with my job — things go well when I hide everything I’m scared of. When I try to hide the mess that I am and just pretend like everything is great. That’s how it works in my relationship as well. I mean, my husband can read my blog if he wanted to — but he doesn’t. Which is fine. I just need to write here because sometimes I need a  place to get things off my chest. My therapist doesn’t really help… I mean, she can help me figure out how to calm down in the moment. But that’s not going to help me get better at my job. Or be able to pay this mortgage for 30 years.

This is where I hit a wall over and over again. Why I end up so fucking depressed even if from the outside work I guess I “have it all” — a house, a husband, kids, a good job, etc. I mean, I made a plan and here I am hitting it. Second kid at 37. House. $X in my bank account before I buy a house. It’s like, it’s all going so great then why am I this sad and terrified? I try not to think about it. I’m not going to be happy but I try to just focus on the here and now and get through the day. Keep my job as long as possible. Keep pretending I got this.

But I don’t. I don’t got this at all.

DUI Depression 10 Years Later

The day I got my DUI seems like a million years ago. In fact, it was about 9 years and a month ago. While I don’t remember much of my 20s, I do remember that night all too clearly. All the bad decisions I made. The reckoning of my entire self identify as a “good girl” all lost in one evening of drinking too much wine at a networking event and, in the days before uber, driving home after waiting what I thought was long enough to sober up — when it clearly wasn’t.

What followed my DUI was deserved, but that doesn’t negate how horrible it was. A night at the jail handcuffed to a chair. Six weekends of “community service,” the classes, the  $10k+ in costs… or more, I stopped counting. Years later, I just want to forget about it. I made a commitment to myself that night that if I was ever to drink again, I would take public transport or uber to get home. And since then I haven’t received a DUI, nor have I had any reason to get one — because I don’t drive after drinking. Ever.

This doesn’t stop my past from haunting me. In applying for home insurance, it has come up that purchasing car insurance alongside it as a bundle could save on our total rate. Well–guess what? These companies immediately ask me if I had a DUI in the last 10 years. Sadly, my conviction was in November 2011, which is still under 10 years ago. Many companies said they won’t insure me at all. One said they might be able to get an override, but I wouldn’t qualify for a good driver discount.

Luckily I have car insurance now and it’s a fair rate so it’s not the end of the world, but it really feels like a sharp gutting of my heart in being reminded of the horrible mistake in my past. I don’t want to forget about it, but I also don’t want to be reminded of it anymore. I was 25 then. I’m 36 now. I’m just in a different place in my life.

The only good news is that this reminded me that in one year I won’t have the DUI on my motor vehicles report anymore. It will still show up when employers search my records — and will still make it hard to get into Canada — but at least, soon, I can kind of move on. I though I had moved on. But clearly I haven’t. So I’m a bit depressed this evening. Embarrassed of my former self. Acknowledging I am the same hot mess I was then, only a little better when it comes to decision making.

This comes on top of an incredible amount of stress (probably too much) in trying to figure out home insurance. I don’t get what we are supposed to be covered for and I don’t know how much we should be covered for. The replacement costs all the agencies are providing seem way too low given I’m told in the Bay Area it costs $500-$600+ per square foot to build. I thought the home insurance part of home buying would be straight forward (bank wants you to be covered for the cost of the loan, you get covered for the cost of the loan, and you’re good.)

I’m stressed out because I’m in the middle of this closing process and we’re still awaiting the appraisal and we’re still waiting to find out if we can get the property insured (or maybe we already have a policy we haven’t paid for — I’m confused) — and one company that was high rated said they may not insure us because there are galvanized pipes and every company is asking me how old the roof is and I don’t have any idea as the seller’s report does not say and our landlord doesn’t know. And this insurance agent I spoke with kind of freaked me out about the galvanized pipe issue. So there’s another thing we’ll have to fix when we move in, possibly. So many things.

I just want to be happy right now. I want to feel like this is an accomplishment and I want this opportunity to feel good just for a few minutes, you know? But at the moment I feel like absolute shit. Scared. Ashamed of my past. And just trying to get through this process to buy the house and figure out what really needs to be fixed and how much it will cost to make it safe and reduce risk as much as possible.

New pipes, huh?

6 Year Plan for 20% of Networth in Home Equity

Even though it seems impossible, my goal is to keep my family networth with 20% of total AFTER TAX networth in home equity. This means I need to carefully stick to contributions and growth in my other funds (after tax values) to hit my savings goals (my goal is $5M of after tax networth by 50.) This assumes an increase of 5% in home value per year for next 6 years. This does not make any assumptions for stock gains, it just notes how much I would need to have in each bucket to keep the target asset allocation.

The first chart before is of my after tax goals for the next 6 years. Below this chart are my current actuals (and gaps that need to be fixed by end of 2020.)

The below notes that in order to be on track for 2021, I need the following adjustments/additions:

  • $35k more saved (allocated based on goals)
  • US bond fund and developed market fund need more investment

*note, this does not include emergency fund cash or expenses

1 2 3 4 5 6
37 38 39 40 41 42
2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
Target Post Tax
Home Equity 20% $254,160 $303,036 $355,356 $411,292 $471,024 $534,743
Company Stock 10% $127,080 $151,518 $177,678 $205,646 $235,512 $267,372
Large Cap US 29% $368,532 $439,402 $515,266 $596,373 $682,985 $775,378
Small Cap US 4% $50,832 $60,607 $71,071 $82,258 $94,205 $106,949
Developed 24% $304,992 $363,643 $426,427 $493,550 $565,229 $641,692
Emerging 4% $50,832 $60,607 $71,071 $82,258 $94,205 $106,949
Bond US 6% $76,248 $90,911 $106,607 $123,387 $141,307 $160,423
Bond Int 3% $38,124 $45,455 $53,303 $61,694 $70,654 $80,212
$1,270,800 $1,515,180 $1,776,779 $2,056,458 $2,355,121 $2,673,717
Actual Post Tax
TARGET GAP TARGET V DIFF
Home Equity 20.00% $254,160 20% 0% $254,160 $0
Company Stock 12.35% $156,887 10% -2% $127,080 $29,807
Large Cap US 29.02% $368,845 29% 0% $368,532 $313
Small Cap US 4.30% $54,601 4% 0% $50,832 $3,769
Developed 21.48% $272,924 24% 3% $304,992 -$32,068
Emerging 4.96% $63,003 4% -1% $50,832 $12,171
Bond US 0.87% $11,074 6% 5% $76,248 -$65,174
Bond Int 4.22% $53,665 3% -1% $38,124 $15,541
Missing 2.80% $35,641 0 -2.80% $35,641
$1,270,800

Cash Needed for Buying a Million Dollar Home

We just purchased a $1.6M home. That isn’t a huge home here in the Bay Area, but it’s also not the cheapest home we could buy–especially of the 3 bedroom / 2 bath variety. But it was large in terms of square footage and with an oversized lot in a neighborhood we wanted to buy in (or, well, a block away) I ran all the variables in my head and decided while this isn’t the one now it definitely can be with some work. It’s also in an up-and-coming area and I think the value will hold in 5-10 years time, if we do decide to sell.

Rules for Buying a Million Dollar Home

I have a few home buying rules that are a little nutty but they work for my oddly conservative financial brain.

  • 20% down + 3% closing costs
  • 6 Months of home and rent expenses (we will have 1-2 months overlap on rent and house to make the move smooth)
  • 6 months of basic living expenses outside of housing
  • Any taxes due within the next 6 months
  • $50k-$100k “first year fixes” fund (try not to spend all of this, but have available if needed esp when buying an older house)
  • 6 months additional in emergency fund (all monthly costs)

My one additional rule that I am going to stick to (but will be harder) is:

  • No more than 20% of networth in equity at any one time.

Home Equity =

+ Downpayment
+ Principal Paid
+ Any Realistic Gain on Home Value (if sold today)
– Any Realistic Loss on Home Value (if sold today)
– 10% current value of home (cost to sell)
– .30% of any gain over $500k+home maintenance fees

This means that right now, my home equity is worth:

+ $322k
+ $0
+ $0
– $0
– $161k
– $0k
=======
$161k

This means that my remaining AFTER TAX cash & investments should be $805k to have 20% of my networth in my home.

Buying a Million Dollar Home Doesn’t Have to be That Scary

This is what makes buying a $1.6M home less scary, but it also means that before buying a $1.6M home you not only should save a large downpayment, but also an additional $1.1M. Not everyone can do this, or wants to do this before buying a house. It’s possible I should have purchased a house 10 years ago for $800k, where now my mortgage would be $3500 a month, vs $7000 a month (give or take) and I’d have 20 years left to pay it off. But then I wouldn’t have the $1.1M, and I would have definitely gone into home ownership with way too much of my networth in home equity.

I prefer to build up that larger cushion and know that a chunk of my money still has access to the markets, which will likely outperform my house after you factor in lost opportunity cost with the downpayment, etc.

How much of your networth is in home equity?

24 Days Close, 52 Days Until Move In: Buying a House While Pregnant During COVID is… uh… something else.

My emotions in the last 24 hours have ranged from extreme self satisfaction (I did it — I saved my ass off and bought a mudda f*cking house) to literally crying from the sheer stress of trying to do all the normal crazy things one has to do during closing on a new house–while 5 months pregnant — in the middle of a global pandemic — and wildfire air — and… and… and…

This is really hard folks. I know I can be a bit of a drama queen, but I think this would be hard for anyone.

My husband is my rock. My logic sounding board. Many great things. But I’m the CFO of the household. I’m the one who has saved enough to buy this home. He’s the one who has been there for me long enough to keep me semi sane and make it possible. We’ve both earned this.

That doesn’t make this any easier.

For starters, I want to ensure the home is SAFE when we move in.

Being that we bought in the Bay Area, we went in no contingencies and we (uh) gleefully dropped off a $50k escrow payment and said buh buh $50,000. We can still drop out of the deal for the next 24 days until close, but that $50k… we’re not getting it back.

The seller’s inspection report was rather light. There was a separate pest and roof report which noted repairs needed. I understand nothing of how serious things are and what is really required to fix them.

Seller wanted a 30 day rent back (in Bay Area a “rent back” basically means they get to stay for 30 days for free while we pay their mortgage) so I tried to negotiate credits for the major repairs. That somehow ended up being them giving us $5k towards the closing costs and us basically agreeing to $5k more over the life of the loan. I guess that’s a better deal than paying the $5k up front. But then we’re losing $7k on not being able to actually move in. Numbers, numbers.

So the sellers will fix the roof (out of the credit) before they move out, and supposedly will schedule tenting the week after they move out, or something. I don’t know.

We have other work we want to do. The most important is any safety stuff. There’s some electrical things that need to be fixed. That’s my #1 concern. We need a new electrical panel and some wiring.

My next concern is that the report mentioned that the chimney is separating from the house. Or maybe my next concern is the standing water in the crawl space. Hmm. Both seem concerning. But what to do about them? How urgent are they? Will a chimney fall on my son? We aren’t going to use the chimney… but the bricks are scary.

Other than that, the house seems… maybe ok to live in for a while?

We want to put in AC by next summer. It probably makes to do this before we move in. So we are looking into this option. I have a not-going-to-happen dream about getting a bathtub in the hall bath so I have a tub (which is important to me I’m a big bath person and my son also takes baths.)

But it’s a nightmare trying to get access to the house to get contractors in to quote…

Our initial plan was/is to bring contractors into the house over the next month (they are supposed give us access within 24 hours) and get quotes… but the sellers still live there so that’s proving rather difficult. They’re giving us one Saturday and my realtor has to be there and she’s only available for 3 hours or so. Initially we were trying to do this on a Sunday but I discovered all the contractors are off on Sundays. So now we’re aiming for next Saturday. And scheduling all these folks is a nightmare… plus they need to sign COVID forms to get in the house and we have limitations how many people can be inside at once and anyway it’s not fun.

We SHOULD probably just wait until we move in. But…

All construction work we do before moving in, ideally. Between normal construction dust and COVID and everything else, it seemed reasonable to say we’re going to select contractors now and then start work as soon as we have access to the house in November. We might pay 1-2 more months of rent in our apartment (about $3k per month) PLUS the $7k per month mortgage (yes, that’s $10k per month – forking A) just to get things done without us being in the house.

Outside of the whole $10k a month issue… let me remind all of you (because I certainly have not forgotten) that I’m super preggo and I shall be popping out one new baby sometime in January. Hopefully in January. God willing, January. I am not in the mood to be either living in a house with tons of construction going on in the last month of my pregnancy. But it’s extra complicated because…

We now live about 45 minutes from my in-laws and 30 minutes from my hospital.  That’s not a huge deal except when I go into labor, we need at least one of them to watch our son. Neither live in places where he can stay. Ah, but we have a house! And — isn’t grandpa supposed to be living with you?

Well, yes–this is all true.

If grandpa moves in Jan 1 (and I deliver close to my due date) then we can leave my son at home with him. We still would like to get my mother-in-law there, somehow… but I’m not quite sure how that will happen as my husband will need to drive me to the hospital then drive her back to the house then drive back to the hospital (that’s like 2 and a half hours total — he very well may miss the entire show.) Or… grandpa lives with us, my son stays there, I give birth, after that husband drives grandma to our house and then comes back. Or… I don’t know. I’m still not seeing how this works. And I’d like grandpa not to move in with us until Feb 1. so I can have access to the bathroom tub which is actually an amazingly nice tub (assuming it works) that has jacuzzi jets and everything. I’m not a fancy tub person (I just like deep soaking tubs) but I’m sure being super preggo it will feel good to be in the jacuzzi. Unfortunately the master bedroom doesn’t have a door separating its bathroom from the rest of the house. Bummer. So if he’s living with us, I can’t use that bathroom. I can’t use a bath at all. $7k a month, and I don’t even get a bath. Woe me and my first world problems.

So it probably makes the most sense for us to move in Dec 1 and grandpa to move in Jan 1 and all work to be done to be done between Nov 4 and Nov 30. Which is not a lot of time given thanksgiving is in there and from my understanding contractors can be booked up months out in advance. I’m not sure WHAT we’ll be able to get done by Nov 30. Sounds like prob roof and pest stuff. I’m hoping electrical. Everything else might have to wait.

Waiting– is also complicated. When grandpa moves in, and infant moves in, I don’t think any of us are going to feel good about having contractors in and out of the house for a while. This means that remodeling the bathroom will prob have to wait. AC work… if not done up front… may not happen in time for next summer (my husband is making it a priority to get that done now, and I do think electrical and AC are the 2 things that we should try to get done up front if we can.)

I’m trying to go into this house open minded. My husband gets so mad at me when I change my mind all the time. It’s not that I really have changed my mind, it’s just I have two ways of looking at this…

  1. Our mortgage is $7k a month, which is insane, and having his father live with us to pay $2k a month for a while really helps. This makes our cost more like $6k (mortgage minus deductions plus fixes) which is comparable to what it costs to rent a house, or maybe more by like $12k a year, which I can stomach. My frugal side says woohoo, I’ve bought a $1.6M 3 bedroom, 2 bath home for 2.625% 30 year fixed with 20% down and outside of semi minor repair work, it seems totally livable for a while. The master bedroom, which has a ridiculously large master bathroom (designed not to my taste but that can be fixed eventually and whatever, it’s still nice) will be all ours in prob 2-5 years when my FIL moves out. It is OUR house and I like the neighborhood overall (I think) and I like the schools and I think my kids will enjoy growing up there and maybe I can make friends and I got such a large lot and this will be good. This house isn’t near perfect but it has a lot of things I wanted and I will feel good pulling up to it and knowing it’s my house!
  2. I put $320,000 down and we’re paying $5k-$6k+ a month for this house. As the breadwinner, this is a lot of pressure on me to keep my job. While I feel better about my job stability at the moment than I have in the past, I know I could lose my job at any time. I also now am going to have to deal with a long commute if/when I go back to the office. I do LIKE this house… we looked at a ton of houses and this one checked most of the boxes. It’s missing a 4th bedroom, AC, and a bathroom I can use when FIL is living there, but otherwise, it’s good. It’s like… it’s fine. It’s nice. I knew to get something I really liked I would have to spend at least $2M. So I know this is $400k less than that. It feels like about $400k less than what I would really like. — BUT — man, I worked so hard to save up for this house and for the next 2-5 years of my life, including through the rest of this pregnancy, my healing, and probably one more pregnancy (though we may remodel some by then) I will be basically living in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with an in-law unit. It’s a nice house, don’t get me wrong, but the bedrooms (other than the master) are tiny. My husband and I will both be WFH for a while. The house is big but feels small because so much square footage is in the master bedroom. One day I’ll be able to enjoy that. You know, if the stress of home ownership doesn’t kill me before then.

That’s why I’m conflicted. And stressed. And freaking out. All the things. I’m grateful I’m off work this week. I couldn’t handle this stress while working FT. My realtor is SO ready to be done with me. She is always nice and responsive–at this point I know she’s just thinking how she has to grin and bear it for a few more weeks and hopefully we will write her some really nice reviews and she will feel like the last 6 months of putting up with us was worth it.

In the future, though, I’m going with a more experienced realtor. I mean, I’m sure there’s pros and cons to a noob vs someone who prob would have gotten tired of us a while back… but I realize how hard the final negotiations and contract part is, and I wish I had someone who just had more experience with all the ways it could go, and where we could really push back, etc. I’m sure no matter what there is some blindness that comes with the situation (you don’t know what the other offers are) so maybe this all went as well as it could have. We ended up buying for just a little over list, which is pretty much unheard of here, unless the house sucks, and I don’t think it sucks. It has issues, but the location is good, and nothing is unfixable.

Anyway. I’m going nutso. I think I just have to start packing to get my mind off of this insanity. And we’ll do one day at the house with contractors and see what we learn and then just wait until we can get in on Nov 4. Day of reckoning. We’ll be emotionally hungover from election night and certainly the drama that will come with Trump claiming Biden cheated even if Trump wins — seems like as good of day as any to move into a $1.6M house. Right? A democrat with a $1.6M house and no SALT deductions. Yea, that’s me.

I Think We Just Bought a House. OMFG.

It was bound to happen. After 2 years of on-and-off and very on and very off and very on again looking for a house to buy, we put an offer in and won. Or, at least I think we did. Our sellers supposedly picked us, and they’re signing their counter offer that we signed in the morning.

This is a huge deal. I’m so tired of the entire process that it just feels like a huge relief to be “done” with it (even though our home ownership journey is just beginning.) In order to not totally get in over our head in Bay Area real estate (which is so easy to do) I made some simple rules about buying…

  • NO crazy bidding wars or unethical negotiations
  • Keep mortgage to under ~$7000 / month with space for FIL (who also will contribute to mortgage for a few years)
  • Buy in a neighborhood I can see us living in for many years
  • Buy a big enough lot to be able to expand the house if we want to stay
  • Buy in an area that, if not super close to current job, is close to a strong job market with future options
  • Buy a house that isn’t a fixer upper (ie nothing clearly falling apart, everything generally livable for 5 years without changes)

I think we got most of the above. I feel like we have been dealing with HUMAN sellers, which is nice. They apparently picked our offer over a higher bid because they really liked the heartfelt letter I wrote. I had heard of people winning house buying bids with letters but I wasn’t sure that was a real thing. Apparently, they liked us, because we’re real people, who want a real house to raise our family in. I guess that struck a chord with them. Or maybe my realtor is lying to us. In any case, I feel like while we’re paying A FUDGE TON for this house — both buyer and seller are winners here.

The risk I’m taking is that I am placing a bet on being able to sustain my current job for 15 more months, which includes 5 months of maternity leave (I can get laid off during maternity leave but it’s less likely than if I were working and at risk due to any performance issues — which isn’t a problem right now anyway as I’m finally kicking ass and taking names at work.) So that’s basically 10 working months to vest all my stock. I’ll sell it on vest, which will help me hit my other goals for next year:

  • superfund 2 529 accounts $75k each ($140k total)
  • max out pre-tax 401k, husband’s solo 401k, AND my after-tax account (~94k towards retirement)
  • max out ESPP plan (~$21k)

By doing this, I also can move towards my continuous goal to fix my portfolio diversification — the retirement funds are getting a lot of bond funds and international funds to move away from being too heavy in large cap US stocks. It will take a few years to balance that out, but I’m getting there. Avoiding selling my large caps because they are like 75% cap gains right now and my cap gains rate at the moment is close to 35% with state and fed.

We’re trying to get to $450k cash in hand for down payment, close, and emergency fund. I think after I sell off my upcoming RSU vest this month we’ll be about there.

It’s crazy to think that this is possible… going from basically $0 in 2005 to where I am now. I really don’t know how I got here (well, I do, I tracked it all on this blog) but it still feels like a dream.

Buying this house is terrifying. We are going in no contingencies, as one must do around here to win a house — and giving the owners a 30 day “rent back” (ie live free for 30 days gift.) This would not be a huge deal except I’m due in mid January, and this puts our move in date around end of November. While my husband has promised to do all the hard parts of moving and I can just sit and point to things (and despite what my friends think we don’t have THAT much stuff since we live in a 1 bedroom) it still gets a bit scary thinking of moving in late Nov/ early Dec. It’s possibly at that point something could go wrong with my pregnancy, and that will make moving very difficult for my husband — having to manage moving, kid, and me potentially in the hospital. I’ll be 32 weeks or so at that point, so hopefully it won’t be an issue. But really it’s cutting it close.

Even though owning a home is NOT an investment and is NOT a financially wise decision in a HCOL area like the Bay Area, I feel really good about this purchase. I feel good that the home isn’t perfect and it’s under $1.7M. Anywhere else in the country this sounds like a lot but here it’s really… well… it’s a lot but it’s not much in terms of what you can buy in a house. I like that I’m compromising and getting a 3 bedroom and my FIL will live in the big room and we’ll be living in the smaller 2 rooms. I like that it has room for improvement and that I will enjoy going for walks in the cute neighborhood everyday and love how the neighbors say hi to each other and how in a big sprawling city it has a similar vibe to where I grew up on the east coast. Sort of. At least enough of one where I look forward to meeting my neighbors and maybe even, gasp, making some new friends.

I could have moved to the east bay and spent even less, but that didn’t make sense for many reasons. This price point makes sense to us. I opted out of the peninsula because bidding wars were insane and — when I saw a total fixer mess that we looked at a year ago (that sold for $1.5M) listed at $2.2M with a half-decent flip job, I knew it was time to give up on that city dream. At least for now. Probably forever (I’m really into this 2.65% 30 year fixed loan so it will be hard to find a reason to leave unless rates are this low again and I am super wealthy in a few years.) This is a good, solid house. It has its quirks. The chimney may be slowly detaching from it (ok, that is something I’m worried about and need to get looked at.) But overall, it’s solid. I will feel happy coming home to it everyday. I will feel happy looking out the window at the cute house across the street that reminds me a little bit of the house I grew up in.

I’m glad we didn’t settle on the things that matter the most.

I am so fucking terrified but also excited. I’m turning 37 and buying a house and having my second kid (of maybe 3 kids?) and I’ve kept this job for 3 years as of next month and overall–for me especially–things are going pretty darned well. Sure, the world is falling apart, we have a sociopath for a president and may end up in a civil war come election season, and COVID is still lurking in every corner of air where someone might cough or laugh or breathe, but I feel strangely hopeful. Like, maybe it’s going to be alright for a little while. Like I am not just working and surviving for mere survival.

Seeing my son light up about the “green grass” in the home’s yard — “need to run! need to run in the grass!” he exclaimed — I knew this was the one. I want him to not be stuck inside a tiny one bedroom apartment all day. I want him to be able to run around the yard safely fenced in. To have a little swing set in the backyard and to one day, post COVID, have friends over. To have a house of our own. Life is so fucking short. I’m ready to start living it. For $7k a month. Or, you know, whatever it costs.

 

 

 

Buying a House in the Bay Area Even Though It’s Probably Going to Burn Down

Anyone on the west coast at the moment is dealing with some ill effects of the insane wildfires raging up and down the coast. Many of us woke up to apocalypitc orange skies earlier this week, and have been coughing through the impact of that atmospheric ash slowly raining on us all weekend. COVID is still raging as well, as is the occasional heat wave, and we’re all stuck in our various apartments and homes that do not come standard with air conditioning.

Yet, I’m still planning on buying an overpriced home here. That will likely set a wildfire to my own FIRE journey. All logical signs point to RENT but I can’t get the buying dream out of my head. At the very least–when times get tough–this will force us to find a way to earn more. This is good for me (I won’t be able to give up) and good for my husband, who hasn’t changed jobs (one part time job) in over 15 years. He has the same home ownership dream I have, so in a way it gets us on the same page regarding finances a bit. I think that will be good. It’s not like I’m just saying we need to save more for retirement (no matter how hard I try, he doesn’t get it and thinks he can live cheap and be fine on his minimal savings.) But a house — he gets that. So at least he will be on board to earn more if (when) shit hits the fan.

I see my own financial life going one of two ways:

  • I get somewhat wealthy. A few years ago, I would have said you’re bonkers if you proposed this idea to me. I had been saving for years and while I had “a lot” in my accounts, it was still no where near the amount that would allow me to ever achieve “wealth”–that is a minimum of $5M in networth. The I joined a company with actual stock (not stock options) and it went up in value a lot. And my other stocks also went up. It showed me how in 4 years, I could increase my networth by $1M. From ~$500k in 2017 to ~$1.5M at the end fo this year. Now, that was a winning lotto ticket. But there’s also no reason to think, if I were a normal person, that I couldn’t keep moving up in my career and getting similar grants for the next 30 years of my career. They may not go up as much as this one did, but at some point I would hit the $5M goal. It doesn’t seem completely impossible–and I don’t even need my husband’s money to make it happen.
  • I can’t afford the mortgage. This is the other option. I know, these are two extremes– but I really see this being how my financial life plays out going forward. If I can figure out a career where I can every 4-5 years or so go to a new job and keep moving up, I should be ok. If I can continue to obtain mid-level/senior-level roles in large companies then I should be fine. But the other–very realistic potential–is that I let my mental health issues get the best of me–I stay at this job for a while longer, then move to a different role (in order to maintain the level of stock grant you have to switch companies usually) and then I bomb, and I spend the next many years working at low-paid startups with crazy CEOs who hire me to do the impossible as a one-woman shop because I can’t get another role at a public company again. I’ll burn out on that too, because I’m no longer in my 20s. So then I don’t know what happens. My one ask to my husband is if we buy a house, after our kids are in school (and he is no longer a part time SAHD), can he get a FT job (esp if this scenario plays out.) He seems open to it, but it’s hard not knowing what that looks like. It’s hard to commit to a very expensive 30 year mortgage when who the hell knows what will happen.

So why not rent?

I know, I know. Renting is a fine idea. We’ve looked at a few rentals. I’m the type of person who is mentally impacted by her living space. And the actual SPACE. I grew up in not only a reasonably large house with a big backyard, but also a large room. I tend to feel claustrophobic in small spaces. I understand if financially it’s the best thing to do, I can deal with tiny rooms. I can deal with a lot if we just don’t have the money to have a nicer life.

Then I look at my bank account. Between my husband and I, by the end of this year, we should be just shy of $2M, or perhaps quite shy of $2M if the markets keep dropping. I also watch as my total wealth drops $100k-$200k in a day or two, and at this point I don’t bat an eye (outside to check if I should tax loss harvest any dumb investments I’ve made before they drop further and rebalance into a better diversified portfolio.) I’ve trained myself to be ok about losing $200k in the stock market (on paper) yet I’m completely terrified of buying a $1.6M house and it being worth $1.4M after we live in it for a few years (I mean, I’m terrified of it being worth $800k after we live in it for a few years — but the stock market could also drop 50% in a few years and I’m not selling. So why NOT buy a house?)

I’ve also run the numbers. It appears with the limited tax write-offs, at some point it still makes sense to own. That $500k capital gains tax exclusion on homes helps a lot when you’re a high earner (which is dumb as I hate how most of the tax law benefits not only rich people more but people who consistently have high incomes, as it assumes if you make a lot one year you always will.) But–as a current high earner (which in CA means something different than the rest of the country, mind you) I feel like I have to take advantage of what’s left in the tax law that benefits higher earners, as long as it still exists.

Home Ownership Tax Benefits are Slim, But Still Exist

There’s Prop 13. For those of you who don’t know Prop 13, it basically locks your tax amount into the value of your home when you purchased it, plus inflation. I’m torn on how I feel about this law. On one hand, I think it’s necessary because it makes sure that people who buy homes that are affordable (to them at the time) don’t get priced out because suddenly a tech company moves in down the street and their house is worth a bazillion dollars, and their forever tax bill goes up so much they have to sell and move.

On the other hand, Prop 13 keeps people from moving when they should, making the housing inventory low. Worse, it also significantly reduces property tax, which means despite being a high tax state, public schools are chronically underfunded. It’s all pretty messed up.

Nonetheless, it is what it is. So, buying in my 30s and staying in that home for years can be quite fruitful, as long as Prop 13 stays intact. I would imagine they would probably have to grandfather current owners and phase it out over time, even if they realize it’s not sustainable — but who knows. In any case, it is the law now, which means even though we will have to be paying taxes forever, in 30 years we’d be paying taxes on a home “worth” $1.6M, even if the going market rate is $3M or more—even if our neighbors who just moved in are paying taxes on a $3M and we’re paying half what they’re paying. That makes retiring here possible.

I’ve been thinking a lot about old age lately–not because I’m old quite yet–but because I’m helping my 66 year old mother plan HER life. And that situation is a total cluster due to poor money management by my parents. My goal is to be wealthy to be able to help her out a bit (at least pay her back for college and my wedding, especially if she lives long enough to really need the money, which I hope she does.) BUT — for me, I think I want the option to stay in my home and have a live-in aide. Who the hell knows what I will want when I am 65/70/80 etc, but why not plan for that now? The worst that happens is I end up with way too much money to split between my kids and charity when I die. At the very least, that buys me options. Especially since my husband seems on the “I don’t want to think about retirement bandwagon” (I did convince him to set up a Solo 401k so we’re putting about $35k collective to that a year while we can to make up for many years of no retirement savings–but buying a house will def make that saving harder to do.)

Let’s Be Stupid and Buy a House in the Bay Area

Anyway, here we are, ready to do something maybe stupid. Maybe making the worse financial decision of my life. After looking at hundreds of houses all over the Bay Area, we’re ready to put our second offer in — and first one that’s actually AT list. I don’t know if that will get us anywhere, but I have a good feeling about this one. It’s not perfect at all, but I feel (somewhat) good about the compromises.

The major compromise is that it’s a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath that we will be sharing with my father-in-law for TBD years. FIL will pay $2k a month towards our mortgage and help with watching our son while we work. It isn’t full time childcare coverage, but it’s still a huge help. And my husband and I both feel strongly about keeping our kids out of daycare during the whole COVID mess for many reasons.

Our initial goal was to find a 3/2 with a separate living unit. We’ve looked at all sorts of places–homes with weird in-laws, detached ADUs were the ADU was modern and beautiful and the main house was decrepit, 5 bedroom houses with a downstairs master that was beautiful that could maybe work and 4 upstairs “bedrooms” that were barely bigger than my pinky, on lots with no real private outdoor space.

The conclusion I came to — in my semi logical state of thinking right now in a complete blur as a pregnant woman who has seen a thousand too many houses so far — is we must compromise to make it work here and not totally kill us financially.

I had to throw most of the “how much can you afford” rules at the window. Few people have $1M in taxable stocks at my age also. I can’t rely on the $1M in stocks because that could drop to half that or less, but it’s a different kind of cushion. I’m not selling right now because our capital gains tax in CA is so high — but if we hit a rough patch and need to sell stock, even if it’s gone down a bit, we’ll likely have a lower earning year and have lower cap gains tax. So it’s worth it to leave the stock and not put it into a larger down payment after losing 40% of it or so by selling it all, and let it ride and have it as a safety net.

Where I want to be is at 28% or less of our pre-tax income, before bonus and RSU. I wanted to do this after-tax, but if we did that the math shows we can afford to stay in our current 1br. I decided I need to be slightly less risk-averse here. The 2-3x salary rule doesn’t work. It tells use we can buy a $750k house. That doesn’t exist here. And that doesn’t take into account bonus or RSU which I prefer to ignore for planning purposes, but still doesn’t tell the whole story.

My banker said 32% is the DTI rule he prefers. I’m aiming for 28%.

I am assuming I can make $175k a year going forward, or my husband can eventually get a full time job and make up the difference (ie if I earn $150k, he can make $25k more, which is very realistic if he got a full time job.)

His income is a lot more consistent than mine is actually — so I’m locking him in at $90k a year. I feel good that even if he has to change jobs and get a FT entry level job in a tech company (which I think he could do), he could make at least $90k.

  • That gets us to $265k a year, or $22k a month, give or take.
  • 28% of that is about $6k a month.
  • I feel pretty good about $6k a month going to our housing costs.
  • I feel better about $5k a month going to housing costs.
  • If we do my banker’s 32%, that gets us to $7k a month. I don’t like $7k a month, but I’m ok with it knowing that we probably will earn MORE than the total comp I’m including in this plan (my last two startup jobs my base was in this range and that was years ago)

So $6k a month is our target, $7k is our stretch, $5k is our happy place.

Even though my FIL’s contribution won’t go on forever (esp if we buy a home with only 3 bedrooms), it will definitely help up front when our income is likely the lowest as inflation hasn’t kicked in to increase our income while our mortgage stays flat.

In terms of rentals, we can definitely do better short term. At the moment, WFH, we can move far into the south or east bay and get a house for $4500 – $5000 a month rent with more rooms and space. That is a thought as well.

But the tax savings on the interest for the first few years seems to equate to about $1k a month between federal and state taxes. Maybe less than that. But it’s significant enough that it makes up enough of the difference between a $5k rental and $6k home.

So $6k a month it is. That’s a scary number, since we’re paying $2500 a month in rent right now for our 1 bedroom. But if I’m ever going to feel ready for it, I feel ready for it now.

  • $1.6M home = $7000 PITI
  • $1.65M home = $7250 PITI
  • $1.7M home = $7500 PITI

Based on the above figures, $1.6M should be our absolute max, with my FIL. Unfortunately — anything worth buying here (that also works with my FIL) in the area we want to live is at least that.

Buying a Home and Compromises We’re Willing to Make

Here’s what I’ve decided are non compromises:

  • Under 1 hour drive to work: (I wanted 30 minutes, I gave up — hoping WFH is something I can maintain going forward, or eventually I get a job closer to the home we buy )
  • Larger lot (7500-10000 sq ft): Lot size is interesting here. You see $3M homes on 5000 sq ft lots. Some people don’t want large lots because they aren’t outside much in their own private spaces and don’t want to deal with maintaining a yard.  I get that — growing up on the east coast a yard was expensive to maintain, but it rained so the watering bit was usually covered, with the addition of occasional sprinklers. Still, a 5000-6000 sq ft lot seems limiting. We do (/would) spend a lot of time outside in our private space. A larger lot also means we have room to build onto the house should we ever have more money and want to make it bigger without going “up.”
  • A “vacation” in my house: Decent sized master bedroom suite with existing bath. This is definitely a luxury item. But my mental health is improved by privacy, space, and access to a soaking tub. If I’m going to be “house poor” I at least want to have a space at home that feels like the vacation I won’t be able to afford because I bought a house.
  • Nice street/neighborhood. We’re homebodies. On a good day, we make it to the neighborhood park, or a restaurant around the corner. There are a few neighborhoods I like, and I’ve decided it makes sense to focus our home search there.
  • Decent schools. School rankings don’t tell the whole story (they just tell you if non-native speakers go to the school), but I still find it concerning when non-native speakers are averaging a 2 on their state tests. So I’ve made the cutoff a 5 for school rankings in the area. My kids will be going to those schools. Not only do I not believe in private school, when we buy a house here we won’t be able to afford private school! Also, resale value is also impacted by the school ranking… so buying in an area with “better” schools helps later if we decide this house isn’t right for us and we want to move, or we want to move in retirement, or whenever we decide it is time to move on.
  • Enough Space Inside (1750+ sq ft): Can we live a perfectly happy live in a cozy 1300 sq ft house? Of course. But I don’t see the point in buying something so small– for us. We don’t need 2500 sq ft either. I’ve come the conclusion that 1750-2000 sq ft is perfect, especially with the plans to live with my father-in-law. It basically ends up being that we are living in about 1300-1500 square feet for a few years, and FIL gets 200-400 sq ft. But long term, FIL will move out, and we’ll have more space. That’s important to me as we’ll have at least 2 kids and possibly a third, if the stars align.
  • Family Room AND Living Room: having two main living areas is important to me. It’s a luxury, not a necessity. And it’s rather rare here. But with 2+ kids, having two living areas will be nice when my kids have friends over, and we want to be not all in the same space. Plus, having the extra room gives us flexibility long term (we can convert a family room to a bedroom if needed, instead of having to add on.)
  • Garage: we just need a place to store things (I’m tired of having my bike in the living room) and a spot to put a treadmill for my husband etc.
  • Nice to have — Laundry Room — this is a rarity here, but with 2+ kids, I want a laundry room (not laundry in the garage, or in the bathroom, etc)
  • Nice to have — 4+ bedrooms: This was a must have until I realized I really like big rooms and in a 1750-1900 square foot house with a good master bedroom, bigger master bath, and all of the above, a 4th bedroom is hard to find.
  • General good flow: some houses here… a lot of them… have very strange additions, poorly designed and unpermitted.

The house we are bidding on meets most of the requirement below.

  • $1.6M list
  • 1900 sq ft
  • 9000 sq ft lot
  • family room + living room
  • laundry room
  • giant master bedroom suite (they actually converted an existing bedroom into a bathroom, so you can imagine how giant it is. It’s a bit too big, but I can see long term changing the layout a bit and turning part of it into a home office
  • good neighborhood/street (close to restaurants and park)

What isn’t perfect about it?

  • It’s listed at $1.6M, they prob want $1.7M. I’m not sure they can get $1.7M — the neighborhood seems to go more $1.5-$1.6. A few houses are actually sitting for various reasons. That said, this house does have an oversized lot (for the area) so if anyone else has been waiting to snag a bigger lot in that general area, we may lose the house, or have to pay more for it. We are doing a preemptive offer before offers are due — which makes it hard to know if we’re over paying if they do accept the offer. What we have going for us is down the street there is a 2000 sq ft 5br/3ba listed at $1.7M that has been sitting. It’s a flip, and while it looks nice it was a poor flip job if you pay attention to the actual work done (they did it in a month — bought $1.25M and now it’s $1.7M!) But because that is sitting, I’m hoping a 3br/2ba house can go for $1.6M.
  • It has one giant master bedroom… and 2 teeny tiny bedrooms. That kind of sucks. It sucks most because our FIL will take the master bedroom for a few years, and we’ll be relegated to the two smaller bedrooms. BUT at least there’s the two living spaces. We’ve discussed putting our bed in the family room (it would be kind of like a studio apartment situation since it’s open to the kitchen and garage) and we’d put my son in one of the small rooms and my husband’s office (and possibly a guest bed–that I might occasionally sleep in) in the other small bedroom. Our baby would sleep in our room until s/he turns 1, and then baby either goes into my son’s room (they can share for a while) or my husband moves his office into the family room and we put baby in the other small bedroom. … … eventually, his dad moves out (it’s complicated but the plan is when my mother in law needs to move out of her house — which is owned by her 96 year old mother — she will buy a 3/2 near us, and my FIL will move in with her — they unmarried but friends) and we’ll get the master bedroom, my husband can probably put his office in the family room, or in the master bedroom (though I prefer he doesn’t have it in there, but there’s room if we need to make it work.)
  • While the lot is 9000 sq ft, it doesn’t actually look that large to me. I think that’s because it’s a wider yard and the houses next to it are 2 floors, so there isn’t a lot of privacy. I think we can add a little privacy, but we won’t be able to grow a tree big enough to block the neighbor from seeing into our yard. Which isn’t that big of a a deal, I just like having privacy and feeling like I’m in my own secluded little park. We can probably make it better, and at least there’s room for a swing set.

We probably won’t get this house. But we might. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth going up to $1.7M for it. If we can get it at $1.6M, I will feel good about the purchase. In the town we prefer to be in, we’ve decided not to bid on houses that have gone $1.7M. They weren’t as big or nice as this one, but if we have to pay $1.7M for a house 30 min further from my work, I start wondering if we should just go $1.8M to get something that works in the better area. But, no, I’ve run the numbers, and we really shouldn’t do more than $1.6. If we do $1.7 it’s over budget, but we can make it work.

So, what do you think we should do?

How the Hell am I Going to Pay for College?

The cost of college is, uh, fucking ridiculous.

My parents put my sister and I through college on $0 scholarships and while they prob should have made us take out loans, it was doable.

I make good money these days and I am still looking at future college costs thinking… how da fuck am I going to put 2-3 kids through college?

Now, I’m definitely in the camp that 2 years community college + 2 years public college is the way to go from a financial perspective. However, my parents never told me I couldn’t go to my dream school for an arts program, and I really want to be able to give that same gift to my children.

That’ll be $500k per child, thankyouverymuch.

Who in g-d’s earth can afford THAT?

Looking for advice? Here are 8 Tips How to Afford College

I even started investing in a 529 10 years BEFORE I had a child. This doesn’t seem to help much.

Current 529 Investments

Child 1 (16 years until college): $37,312
Child 2 (18 years until college): $30,000
Child 3 (20 years until college 🙂 ): $11,065

If I invest nothing more in these accounts, at 5% growth, they will be worth…

Child 1: $81,447.42
Child 2: $72,198.58
Child 3: $29,358.74

Let’s say I add $10,000 a year to each account. Does that help?

Child 1: $329,851.08
Child 2: $367,588.62
Child 3: $376,551.26

Well…

That’s… better. But that means putting in $30,000 a YEAR into the 529 for the next 16-20 years. That’s $2500 a MONTH.

And that still doesn’t pay for 4 years at a private school!!!

Cost of Average Private School for Each Kid

Child 1: $469k
Child 2: $520k
Child 3: $570k

Say what now?

Yes, the cost of sending 3 kids to an average private college will be $1.5M. I went to college, so I know that means $1,500,000.

Who is supposed to be able to afford this? I do not understand. This does not compute.

Public School Looks a LITTLE Better

Child 1: $206k
Child 2: $227k
Child 3: $251k

That’s only $684k. Suddenly spending over a half mil on sending 3 kids to college seems cheap. Is it cheap? Can I convince my children–including one-in-the-womb and one-yet-to-be-conceived–that state school is the way to go? Luckily California has great public school options. But that still requires getting into them. And what if my kid has their heart set on my alma mater, or any other private school with specialized programs? Then what?

I don’t want my kids to graduate with debt. But I also know my family won’t be eligible for financial aid because we will have too much saved.

Maybe by the time my kids go to college, it will be free. Isn’t that a fun thought? It’s unlikely, though. So I guess I must focus on saving $2500 a month for the next 20 years so my kids can maybe afford college?

I did want to buy a house, but maybe we should buy a college education(s) instead.

Journey to FIRE: 2021 Networth Goals By Account Type

Quick “after tax value goals” post for Jan 1, 2022

  • Home Equity: $456k
  • Cash: $311.8k
  • Stock: $811k
  • IRA: $201.5k
  • Roth: $147.1k
  • Husband’s Retirement: $108k
  • 529 (2 kids): $138.3k

NEW TOTAL AFTER TAX NETWORTH GOAL:
$2,065,832 (age 38)

I’ll be tracking this closely as this is a significant growth in networth, as well as assuming we own a $1.6-$1.8M home… if we ever buy one.

The Bay Area Home Buying Process (Spoiler Alert: We Haven’t Bought One)

Two years into our on-and-off again (now very on again) home search, we’ve looked at hundreds of homes, put an offer on one and just decided to pass on an other we came very close to attempting to get. Despite the strain of years of home searching getting to our heads, we both realized buying a polished-up fixer was the same as buying a fixer, and due to some serious permit issues possibly WORSE than buying a fixer. And so, we’re back to square one.

Our requirements make it pretty hard to find anything that works. I feel bad for my realtor. There is also nothing on the market right now, especially the area of the Bay that we’re looking (not to mention that everything around said area is currently on fire–why are we buying here again?) Sigh. It’s hard to leave. And I think many companies will still want employees back in the office when COVID is over… eventually.

So we started out with a budget of $1.5M… maybe $1.6M for the perfect house. I thought that was a healthy budget. Not so. Not for what we want. And while we can compromise — why should we? If we were going to compromise, we’d rent. At least… on certain things we can’t change like lot size, neighborhood, street noise, distance to public transit, shops, etc.

I decided I’m ok living with my father-in-law since it gives us some more wiggle room with budget — with his contribution, we can go up to $1.8M, maybe $1.9M. I thought that’s a HUGE amount and of course we can find something for $1.9M. Right?

Nah. With my FIL, we also need to find a place with an in-law, ADU, or two master suites. The home we almost bid on did have two masters (sort of) — the original master didn’t have an en suite, but at least it could fit our California King bed. Then the owners converted their garage into a bedroom and bathroom, with lovely French Doors to the backyard. So they started a permit on the doors… they never got the garage conversion permitted (because it’s not legal to convert a garage here unless it’s into an ADU following strict rules.) Oh, they didn’t file the permit about construction on the French doors being finished either. Guess they realized the building inspector would ask them about why their permitted French doors were installed on a very un-permitted garage conversion. Plus, there was a 300 sq ft un-permitted not-well-constructed sunroom that we were told would basically have to be ripped out and rebuilt if we ever wanted to do any legal permitted work on the house. Despite the “low” price for the neighborhood, the great street, the relatively great lot — we had to pass.

So back to the drawing board.

A few months ago we DID put an offer in on a house — a 3/2 with an in law downstairs. I didn’t love it because it was in the hills and I feel like being on flat or slightly hilly ground is important for my long-term health (I love to go for walks… but know myself that I wouldn’t on very hilly streets… and I’d never drive somewhere to walk.) We bit $1.65M on a house listed $1.8M. They said no, and we refused to go up. It ended up going $1.75M. Another house we considered, without an in-law, sold for $1.7M.

It seems insane to spend that much on a house. But we want to settle down and we’re ready. But the housing market isn’t ready for us I guess.

We’re looking in other areas nearby–but really I don’t see the point in buying a house unless I can be in the area I want to be in. Otherwise we can rent in that area and hopefully one day save up enough to buy. Like, by the time I’m 80?

It also happens that all the “how much house” can you afford calculators don’t really make sense when you make $170k a year ($250k family income) BUT you have RSUs that sometimes bump your income up to $300k-$800k at random. Which, I’m not complaining about, but it’s hard to figure out what we can really afford. It’s scary without having any idea what our future income will be–especially when my particular role can be paid anywhere from $80k to $800k a year (well, usually $150k-$200k.)

With our second child due in January, I am so ready to buy a home. We may end up moving into a larger rental, but I’m just done with renting. I’m almost 37. It feels like if we don’t buy now we never will. What in the point of getting a 30 year mortgage when our kids are 10??? It’s time to buy… if only there were houses on the market that made sense to buy.

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