Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Greatest Financial Desire

Currently, my greatest financial desire is to become a homeowner. Ever since I read The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, I have wanted to own my own place. At that time the goal seemed unfeasible. I was barely getting by in NYC with plans to move to the other side of the country in less than 2 years.

Since then I have gotten married (I can see why being married typically improves your finances) and we been able to save up a sizable down payment, but maybe not sizable enough for the bay area.

Things I have been thinking about recently:

How much can we adjust our tax witholdings in order to get more of our money back now?
It's harder to figure out the right withholding number when you're married without ready access to your partner's paychecks. I am going to try to get my husband to hand over the most recent copy of his paycheck this weekend so we can adjust our withholdings.

Should my husband and I ratchet down our 401k contributions in order to save more for our future home?
The answer here is probably yes. I am reluctant to not contribute the max to my retirement since I think I may exit the workforce or work part-time once we start a family. I didn't want to ask my husband to contribute less than the maximum while I still contributed the max. I talked with my husband about contributing less to our retirement accounts and he suggested contributing less to his account, while I could still contribute the full amount without me saying anything.

Should I try doing extreme budgeting by The Force?
We already budget by the force. I have my paycheck going into 5 different accounts. However, I allow myself a fairly large "cushion" in my checking account to cover my monthly expenses, allowing myself to never worry about not being able to pay the bills out of my checking account. When I was living in NYC with a much lower income to expense ratio, I had to really watch my spending since there wasn't a lot of money in my checking account. I could change the dynamics of our checking account so that we barely have the money to pay our bills, forcing me to be more mindful of the things I card to my credit card.

Somehow I want to substantially increase our home savings rate.


muckdog said...

FWIW, I like the idea of saving for the house, even if it means cutting down 401(k) savings for now.

Lenny Tumbarello said...

Your idea of saving for the home is good - however - you'll find that unless you place it in an investment vehicle like an index fund at Vanguard or somewhere that you can't touch it ... you may touch it.

Young people undertaking such a task sometimes tend to want to use the money or make it grow faster when they have easy access to it.

This isn't saying YOU WILL ... I'm just pointing out that many - oh so many - do that.

Lenny Tumbarello is the author of

No Balance Due:
Tired of Being In Debt Up to Your Eyeballs

Paul said...

You could still max the 401, then take a loan from it. That way you continue to keep the money in the 401 but you can't really touch the cash.

Not sure about your 401 options, but it may be something to try.

Good luck though!