Chapter 7

Tiny House Living-Is it for you?

Tiny houses (usually 400 square feet or less) have become popular with many people, as they offer these benefits:

  • quick access to a comfortable home with probably no mortgage payments.
  • you can learn from your home-building mistakes if you decide to build a larger home.
  • lower home ownership costs with the possibility of living off-grid.
  • an environmentally-friendly design with little or no toxins.
  • a simpler, less cluttered life with creative ideas to effectively use space.
  • potential for better communication with family members as a result of close quarters.

However, common drawbacks of buying and living in a tiny house include:

  • limited privacy, no place for solitude.
  • limited living space; little room for entertaining guests and family.
  • limited kitchen and storage space.
  • more trips to the store-no buying in bulk, and usually driving further to stores.
  • tiny houses may be on wheels or on a foundation, restrictions may exist as to where you may park or build.

For additional information on tiny houses:

Link #1

Link #2

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search for online videos about tiny house living to obtain additional information on benefits and drawbacks.
  • Have students design a tiny house that would fit their life situation.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What personal factors should be considered when building a tiny house?
  2. Describe life situations of people who might be appropriate for tiny house living.
Categories: Chapter 7, Home Buying | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

“Finding the right mortgage (and how to get the best mortgage rate can be a confusing process–especially for first time home-buyers.”

Buying a home is a huge financial commitment.  In this article, Deborah Kearns discusses the following six questions that can help you decide which is the right mortgage for you.

  1. Should I get a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage?
  2. Should I pay for points?
  3. How much should I expect to pay in closing costs?
  4. Do I qualify for any special programs?
  5. How much can and should I put down?
  6. Any other insights on how to get the best mortgage rate?

Each question provides detailed information to help you answer the question and find the right home mortgage financing needed to purchase the home of your dreams.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Help students understand the importance of purchasing a home they can afford after all other home ownership costs–taxes, utilities, repairs, etc. are considered.
  • Stress the necessity of “shopping” for a home mortgage and comparing both term of the mortgage and the effect of interest rates on total financing costs.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors affect the cost of financing a home that you would like to purchase?
  2. How important is good credit when purchasing a home? Does it really make a difference if you have a good credit score or a bad credit score?  Explain your answer.
  3. What steps can you take to make sure that you are getting the lowest interest rate when you finance your home?
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home, Home Buying | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Home Ownership Can Be A Financial Disaster

While home ownership is often promoted as part of the “American Dream” and a sound financial decision, another point of view might be considered.  Home ownership may not be for everyone when considering these drawbacks:

  • A home is not an investment. Over the past 120 years, the real return of the value of homes has been less than 0.5 percent a year,
  • Home ownership can be a money drain. Mortgage payments and other costs, such as property taxes, maintenance, repair, insurance, and utilities can add up to a significant portion of a household budget.
  • The mortgage tax deduction may not be worth it. If you do not itemize on your taxes, you will not get the benefit of this deduction.
  • Consider the “rent-price ratio.” This analysis is determined by dividing the average home sale price by the average annual rent.  A ratio of 1 to 15 is considered a range when it is better to buy than rent. Between 16 to 20, you are getting in to risky buy territory. Over 21, it may be better to rent than buy.  Be sure to also consider how much space you need. Homes are usually larger than apartments.
  • People often buy a larger house than needed, resulting in higher mortgage, insurance, energy, and maintenance costs as well as higher property taxes.

For additional information on the financial drawbacks of home ownership, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask homeowners for suggestions they would offer to people planning to buy.
  • Have students create a financial analysis comparing renting and buying for comparable housing.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors might you overlooked when deciding to buy a home?
  2. How you decide whether to rent or buy your housing?
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Comparing Renting vs. Buying Your Home

While more people are renting in recent years due to various economic and household situations, home ownership is still a financial goal for many.  A financial comparison between renting and buying often overlooks various factors.  An online calculator may be used to consider buying items such as the opportunity cost of investing your down payment (along with the taxes on capital gains), condo or home association fees, maintenance costs, and, of course, the tax benefits of property taxes and mortgage interest.  On the rental side, the calculator considers initial costs (such as a security deposit and any broker’s fee) along with the opportunity costs of the initial costs and recurring costs, such as renter’s insurance.

For additional information on calculating the renting vs. buying your home, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask people to describe factors that affected whether they own or rent their housing.
  • Have students conduct a personal financial analysis for renting and buying a place to live.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are benefits and drawbacks of renting and buying a place to live?
  2. Describe financial factors that might be overlooked when comparing renting and buying a place to live.
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home, Home Buying, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Home Mortgage Calculator

“Finally, simple mortgage calculators that anyone can use.”

The mortgage calculators on this website can help home buyers estimate how much their monthly payments will be when they purchase a home.  To use the calculator, enter the following information and then click “Calculate.”  It’s that simple.

  • Home Value
  • Loan Amount
  • Interest Rate
  • Loan Start Date
  • A Percentage for Property Tax
  • A Percentage for Private Mortgage Insurance

In addition, there is information to help homebuyers compare a 30-year and a 15-year mortgage, make a rent or buy decision, and valuable information about other home purchase decisions.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of finding the right mortgage when purchasing a home.
  • Calculate monthly home mortgage payments when different interest rates are chosen.
  • Illustrate the difference for the total repayment amount and monthly payment amount when the home buyer chooses a 15 year or 30 year mortgage.

Discussion Questions

  1. How important is choosing the right mortgage when you buy a home?
  2. Using the mortgage calculator at http://www.mortgagecalculator.org, determine the monthly payment for a 30-year loan for $180,000 if the interest rate is 5 percent. Assume the home purchase price is $210,000, property tax is 1.5 percent, and the PMI is 0.5 percent.
  3. What is the monthly payment for the above loan if the interest rate decreases to 4 percent? Over the 30-year period, how much did you save if the interest rate is 4 percent compared to 5 percent?
Categories: Chapter 7, Home Buying | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

New rules for Reverse Mortgages

The most popular reverse mortgage program is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is insured by Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

New rules from HUD add protections for certain surviving spouses after the death of a reverse mortgage borrower.   Until recently, if the non-borrower spouse was not on the loan, he or she was not entitled to remain in the property following the death of the borrower.  But under HUD’s new rules, non-borrowing, surviving spouse can remain in the home if specific conditions are met.  These changes apply to reverse mortgage loans in which the borrowing spouse applied for a reverse mortgage before August 2014.  In addition, the couple must have resided in the property as their principal residence throughout the duration of the HECM, and taxes, property insurance and any other special assessments that may be required by local or state law must have been paid.

The concern regarding non-borrowing spouses has been a source of many reverse mortgage issues.  Here’s why: The amount of money a reverse mortgage borrower can draw is based in part on the age of the youngest borrower—and unless all borrowers are 62 or over, they would not qualify for a reverse mortgage.

For more information:

Consumer Advisory

Reverse Mortgage Information

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to comment on the statement: “While a reverse mortgage can be used to supplement monthly income, some borrowers may face unintended obstacles and consequences”. What might be those consequences?
  • Are the new rules from HUD effective in protecting senior citizens? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions

  1. Why should you talk to a qualified professional before deciding to get a reverse mortgage?
  2. Where can you find HUD-approved HECM Counseling Agencies near you?
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home, Retirement Planning, Savings | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A Look at Reverse Mortgages

Every day, approximately 10,000 people in the United States turn age 62, according to the Census Bureau.  And if they are homeowners, they may be eligible to borrow against a portion of the equity in their house by using a loan called a “reverse mortgage.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is warning consumers about potentially misleading reverse mortgage advertising.  In June 2015, the CFPB issued a consumer advisory stating that many television, radio, print and Internet advertisements for reverse mortgages had “incomplete and inaccurate statements used to describe the loans”.  In addition, most of the important loan requirements were often buried in fine print if they were even mentioned at all.  These advertisements may leave older homeowners with the false impression that reverse mortgage loans are a risk-free solution to financial gaps in retirement.” For example, the CFPB said, “After looking at a variety of ads, many homeowners we spoke to didn’t realize reverse mortgage loans need to be repaid.”

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Visit the website of the American Association of Retired Person (AARP) at aarp.org. Locate the AARP Home Equity Information Center, which presents facts about reverse mortgages.  Then prepare a report on how reverse mortgages work.
  • Ask students to visit Fannie Mae’s website at fanniemae.com/homebuyer to find out who is eligible for reverse mortgages, and what other choices are available to borrowers.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why should you consult a qualified professional before you decide to get a reverse mortgage?
  2. Where can you find Housing and Urban Development-approved Home Equity Conversion Mortgage counseling agencies near you?
Categories: Chapter 7, Home Buying, Retirement Planning, Savings | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mortgage Calculator

“A house is the largest purchase most of us will ever make so it’s important to calculate what your mortgage payment will be and how much you can afford.” 

While technically not the usual article you expect to read on the Kapoor Money Minute blog, the information about this Bankrate mortgage calculator can help you determine how much your monthly home mortgage payment will be.  To use the calculator, you simply input the requested financial information in the boxes provided and the calculator will determine your monthly mortgage payment.  You can also access an amortization table that shows how much of each payment is for interest and how is used to reduce the unpaid balance on your home mortgage.

In addition to this calculator, the Bankrate.com site provides additional calculators and information on many personal financial topics.  Take a look and be surprised at the amount of useful information available on this site.

 For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Use the calculator to help students determine how much house they can afford.
  • Discuss other expenses that could increase the cost of home ownership.

Discussion Questions

  1. Take a look at the information that you must enter in order to use the mortgage calculator described in this article.  How do the amount of the mortgage, interest rate, and term of loan impact the monthly payment for your home mortgage?
  2. In addition to your monthly home mortgage payment, what other costs can you expect when you buy a home?
  3. Buying a home is a “big” financial decision. Are there additional factors besides mortgage payment and other home ownership expenses that you should consider before making a decision to buy a home?
Categories: Chapter 7, Home Buying | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

House Rich, Cash Poor: How One Couple’s “American Dream” Home Nearly Tanked Their Finances

“While our original $150,000–$170,000 price range would have put our housing costs at a manageable 30% of our total income, springing for a $200,000 loan shot that number up to just shy of 50%.

For many people, a logical step after completing college is often purchasing a home and inching closer to the American dream.  And yet, there are pitfalls to obtaining a home that can lead to financial stress and the inability to reach important short-term and long-term financial goals.

This article describes how one couple took all the right steps to prepare for a home purchase, but eventually decided to purchase a home that cost more than they planned to spend on housing.  The reason was simple:  They fell in love with a home that was too expensive when compared to their total income.  The article continues to describe what happens next in their attempt to regain their financial health.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the necessity of preparing a realistic budget that reflects mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc when purchasing a home.
  • Share the advantages and disadvantages of owning versus renting a home.

Discussion Questions

  1. Given your goals and lifestyle, how important is home ownership to you?
  2. What steps should you take to prepare for purchasing your dream home?
  3. Assume you have found your dream home and you can afford the payments, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc. What steps are necessary to negotiate the purchase and obtain financing?
Categories: Chapter 7, Home Buying, Purchasing Strategies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Is This Debt Collector Legitimate?

How can you verify whether or not a debt collector is legitimate?  Below are a few warning signs that signal a debt collection scam:

  • The debt collector threatens you. Legitimate debt collectors probably won’t claim that they will have you arrested or claim that they or their employee are law enforcement officers.
  • The debt collector refuses to give you information about your debt or trying to collect a debt you do not recognize.
  • The debt collector refuses to give a mailing address or phone number.
  • The debt collector asks you for sensitive personal financial information.

Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.”  This notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a description of certain rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

For additional information and to learn more on debt collection practices, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to draft a sample complaint letter explaining that the debt is not legitimate and demanding the debt collector stop contacting you.
  • Ask students to compile a list of governmental and nongovernmental agencies where consumers can send debt collection complaints.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do all states require debt collectors to be licensed?
  2. If the debt collector is licensed in your state and he/she is not acting properly, what are your remedies?
  3. Who enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and how this law protects consumers?
Categories: Chapter 7, Debt | Tags: | Leave a comment

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