I Want To Live A Minimalist Life

I feel like I want to be a Minimalist right now :) I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but in theory it sounds awesome! Fewer things to worry about, less clutter in the house, less maintenance costs, less less less!

I’ve been thinking about this for over a week now since the Frugal Bachelor started hitting on it. And then even MORE when he linked over to The 100 Things Challenge by the Minimalist King himself – Leo @ Zen Habits. Damn that really got me thinking….what the hell am I doing collecting all this stuff?! Do I even *use* half of it? (answer: no)

Before I get into it all though, here’s a great explanation of what minimalism is by ecollo:

“When the term minimalism is used, it often refers to art that is stripped down so it only includes the bare necessities. That same principle applies to the minimalist lifestyle. The idea is to de-clutter the area around you and to avoid accumulating more by simply not buying things you don’t need.”

YES! I like, I like! Now, anyone who knows me in REAL LIFE would probably tell you that I represent the opposite of minimalism ;) I have frames & art all over my walls, drawers stuffed with trinkets, collections of things I can’t give up, boxes of 8th grade notes, etc etc…in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if people mistaken our place for an antique store! Or at least a thrift store. haha…So yeah, this would def. be a challenge for me. But like I said, in theory I’m all about it!
Minimalist Lifestyle = Fewer Things On Mind

As I get older, I’m realizing that the more stuff I have the more stuff I have to WORRY about. I really hate that. I could honestly say that I love 75% of the items I own, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth the mental price tag. I mean, how could I appreciate what I really own when I’m in front of the TV or laptop all the time anyways? I dunno…

The other side of me asks me what the hell I’m talking about ;) I LOVE all the artwork and pictures watching over us as we roam the halls. They scream LIFE, HAPPINESS, CREATIVITY – so what’s bad about that? Nothing I don’t think, as long as I keep and appreciate *those* belongings and instead rid myself of the other junk lying around. I guess that’s the first step here – dividing your stuff up into things you absolutely enjoy, and then all others under it. No real gray areas – either you love it or it’s “so-so” and it’s taking up space. (there’s probably a 3rd category of things you *need* like tools and such too, but not sure where that fits in with this lifestyle)

Minimalist Lifestyle = Less Clutter
If the brain power wasn’t enough, the physical part is. Every day we go through our front door, see 1,000+ things instantly, and then brush most of it away to concentrate on the items needed that very second. And that’s just the first level! If you have 2 more (like we do), the same thing occurs every time you walk through. It’s not the end of the world, but I bet your brain would feel a lot better seeing LESS stuff around the house. Or I guess less UNNECESSARY stuff as we have already determined (or at least I did with the art everywhere – if those aren’t important to you they go right into YOUR so-so bin).

And guess what? The fewer things you own the less maintenance/upkeep you have to shell out money on! No more fixing unimportant (to you) gadgets, toys, collections, etc etc. I’m telling you, if you could pull it off I bet you’d be a lot happier :)

And having less clutter around the house is just the first half of it all. If you can clean things out, and STICK to it, the desire to buy more and more stuff would diminish along with it. After all, if you keep buying things they’ll go right back on the shelves and drawers that you just worked so hard to freshen up, right? That means less money going out the door, and a fatter savings account. Or at least a house full of *must haves* if you subscribe to the “buy something – throw something else out” rule.

Buy Something – Throw Something Out
If you/I can pull this whole minimalist lifestyle off, I think this is a rule that would help us stay on track. Say, for example, you DO get all your belongings down to 500 (or whatever # you choose) and you want to pick up a new such & such. You have to then ask your self – “Will I enjoy, or need, this item more than any other of my 500 things?” If that answer is Yes, then go for it! And then sell/donate the item you want to replace it with. Simple :) If you were Mr/Mrs. Perfect of course.

So what do you take from all of this? Well, it all depends on how happy or not you are with your lifestyle. For me, I could use the de-cluttering. I don’t think I could get my life down to only 100 items or a liter bottle full (seriously, that’s hardcore), BUT I could certainly cut it in half. Perhaps a 1,000 items challenge? I dunno…I just find this whole minimalism stuff incredibly inspiring.

Source: Budgets Are Sexy

Yes Virginia, reverse mortgages are real

Reverse Mortgage Loan Blog had this post the other day:

As my mother told me: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I know this thought jumps into your head when you start to read about a reverse mortgage – ‘free’ money from my home with no monthly payment???? If you are 62 or over, you may have just found the goose that laid the golden egg.

A reverse mortgage is exactly what the name implies. Rather than you paying a monthly sum of money to a mortgage company, they pay you. The requirements are simple:

You must be at least 62, live in, and own your home and have a decent amount of equity in it. The lender will have your property appraised to determine its true market value and this will determine, along with your age, how much money you can receive from your house.

There are no income restrictions such as those imposed by Social Security and reverse mortgages are tax – free since they do not involve additional features like an annuity. They do not affect your social security benefits or your Medicare entitlements.

This tool called reverse mortgage is actually a loan,hence an interest rate. This means nothing is really ‘free’, it does however, allow senior citizens to convert part of their equity into cash without having to sell their home. Because it is a loan, you are receiving money and not paying a monthly payment, so long as you continue to live in your home as your primary residence. Interest is added to your balance and paid back at the end.

This loan must be repaid at some point. It is eventually repaid with interest should you sell, die, or no longer live there as your principal residence. You remain responsible to pay real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance expenses which, of course, you would have to pay with or without, any kind of a mortgage.

With this explanation, the picture becomes clearer, right? You enjoy a monthly sum, tax free and not repayable until a date sometime in the future, while remaining in your home. As close to a win-win situation as one can get in this day and age.

It is easy to see that anyone who is cash poor but house rich, should at least look into this program and see how it works for them. There is nothing to lose by asking questions.

The typical reverse mortgage is called a Home equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM (pronounced HEK-UM). The federal government insures these mortgages and they are backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They have no income or credit qualifications and can be used for any purpose.

HECMs also require all applicants to meet with an independent housing counselor from a government – approved housing counseling agency. An additional benefit of a HECM mortgage is the following: should a borrower have to move out of his or her home and into a nursing home or other medical facility, they have up to 12 months before the loan starts to become due. This enhances financial planning greatly. As always, make sure you check with your trusted advisors for more information.

Found here.

Advertising Changes Are Coming!

ReverseMortgageGuides.org had this post yesterday:
HUD announced that a new mortgagee letter will be coming in the next 60 days. The mortgagee letter is likely to do with advertising, as HUD is apparently not pleased with advertisements that promote borrowers using the proceeds from a reverse mortgage for a vacation or expensive personal items.
However, reverse mortgage proceeds are for the borrower to spend at their discretion. While HUD has been very suspicious of borrowers using reverse mortgage proceeds for annuities or other insurance products, there is nothing to keep them from doing so. Further, a recent article actually promoted seniors putting money from a reverse mortgage into life insurance policies so as to be able to pass the money to their heirs tax-free–an interesting way to use a reverse mortgage for estate planning.
Ads in other countries with similar reverse mortgage programs also use advertising focusing on a vacation or luxury item. The philosophy is that the money is the senior’s to use at their discretion. These are some ways a senior might choose to do so. As a result, it will be very interesting to see what (if any) guidelines on advertising HUD releases with the next round of mortgagee letters. While a reverse mortgage is a loan like any other and does need to be taken seriously as a financial investment, one hopes seniors are still free to take out a reverse mortgage– regardless of whether they take it out for something serious (medical expenses, home repairs) or something more luxurious (yacht, vacation, car).

Helping Boomers Move To The City

Saw this post at Reverse Mortgage Daily

Despite the media backlash from the Consumer Reports “investigation”, Silicon Valley’s Mercury News writes about how a couple recently used the HECM for purchase to buy a home in San Francisco.

Ann Tubbs and Ehtesham Majid used the new program to help purchase a $625,000 two-bedroom condominium located downtown near the city’s waterfront. “We like city living. We like to walk around at night and look in windows,” said Tubbs, who retired from a 30-year-career at Planned Parenthood. She and her husband moved into their new home in August.
“It’s a great program for people like us. We don’t have any children and want the urban lifestyle,” said Majid, a retired software engineer.

According to the article, the couple drew on an some inheritance money and savings to come up with the 40 percent down payment used to help buy their condo. “You have to make a significant down payment, twice the amount of a normal down payment,” said Tubbs.
“Then you are done,’ added Majid. Of course, there is still the matter of property taxes, homeowners dues and other expenses associated with owning a home