Four Years Later: Grateful To Be Way Better Off!
Both presidential candidates are frequently throwing out the question to their captive audiences on the campaign trail, asking if we are better off now than we were four years ago? I think it's hard to listen to canned phrases from politicians on the topic, knowing good and well that they are wealthy and aren't really living the typical middle America lifestyle (yes, the President included). Even though I constantly hear about the doom and gloom of our society and economy, I feel so grateful to be able to reflect upon how much better our lives are now than they were just four years ago.
Two years ago, we escaped the suburbs with cash in hand after the sale of our house. I have a couple of friends that are still upside down in the same community on their homes. Granted, we had never taken out second mortgages or home equity lines of credit, so I do think it's fair that we take credit for being so conservative during the time in our first house. One of our neighbors went into foreclosure and sold their house at a tremendous loss, during the exact same time. Even with years passing, I still find myself in reflection of how grateful I am for walking away with a profit on our home.
With the money we made on the sale of our house we were able to use it to invest in our new home, which has been the greatest investment we've made to date. Once again we had good fortune on our side and were able to purchase in the City of Boulder, below market value. Because we didn't have 20% to put down on our house, we secured a FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgage, as we did with our first home. The downside of a FHA Loan is that a chunk of the monthly mortgage payment is paid to a mortgage insurance premium to help protect the mortgage company if we were to default on our loan. This is the moment where I share, in 10 years, we have never missed a mortgage payment or even paid late. Once again, I feel very grateful for that fact. I also feel grateful that loans like the FHA exist, for it allowed us to be homeowners with out having a huge chunk of change, aka 20% cash saved in the bank.
The even better news? Our home has APPRECIATED so much in the past two years, that we are able to use that appreciation as equity in our home towards a refinance. We are doing a no cash out refinance, meaning we are only taking out a new loan for the amount that we owe on our mortgage. We are now 20% invested in our home, so we are able to move away from our FHA Loan into a fixed rate conventional loan. The interest rates are 1.5% lower on our new loan and our mortgage insurance is gone away, making our monthly payment drop $400 a month. To top it off, our house has appreciated more in two years in Boulder, than our old house did in eight years.
I haven't forgotten the other ways our lives have improved the last four years. I am working again, hours of my choosing. One of my jobs is teaching related, so I am paying into my retirement account again for the first time in nine years. My husband was given a salary increase, after seeing things like bonuses and pay raises disappear during a couple of lean years in his company. We have paid the lowest taxes to date even though our income level is the highest it's ever been. I've seen changes to our healthcare coverage, like no co-pays at well check ups, even at my Gynecologist. I no longer have to worry that my daughter's mild and very controlled health condition will block her from having access to health insurance later on in her life.
Have we made sacrifices over the past nine years? Absolutely. We are stronger as a family for them. We are in charge of our future and have set our sights on what is important to us. We live much less in the moment, like we did a decade ago, and that to me is one of the greatest gifts this economic depression has given us. Not a day passes where I am not grateful for the life we are now living just four short years later, something I could hardly dream for myself eight years ago.
Better off? Absolutely!