Sunday, October 25, 2015

Creative Housing

This topic presents itself to me many times as I meet with clients. Housing can be a huge chunk of our monthly expenses. "Rule of thumb" says housing costs should be about 30% of our income. For someone making $250,000 that's not usually a problem. Those making $35,000, it's a big problem especially if it means they must cut back on food, medicine or fun.

We tend to be a nation of independents - we drive solo instead of carpooling; we live alone rather than communally. With rent and housing costs rising, more and more people, especially single women, feel the financial strain. Also, if we believe what financial companies tell us, many folks have not saved enough for retirement. Where will these retirees live?

If housing cost concern you, here are a few ideas to consider:

- Try house sitting. Snow birds, avid travelers, professors on sabbatical all leave behind empty houses. These vacant homes beg for care, protection from burglaries and leaks.

- Become a live-in nanny. Many two income families could use help with the children after school and doing homework. You could live with the wealthy and get paid for it.

- Become an elderly companion. "Aging in place" is a concept that's taking hold nationwide. Often the elderly would prefer to live (and die) in their own home. You find one person living in large houses and multi-bedroom apartments. They would be happy to exchange a room for companionship and some care,

- Become a vagabond. If you can work from home and your only need is wifi, try wandering in an RV. Part time volunteer work can be found at National Parks, museums and fairs.

- House share. In many parts of the country, single women are buying houses together. They write a contract that covers costs, visitors, kitchen privileges, repairs, etc. Once all the components are put in writing, it's simple to follow the rules.

- Rent a room. Empty Nester's often have one or more bedrooms empty when their kids go off to college or get married. They may be eager to earn a few dollars to help pay for the mortgage or repairs. Such an arrangement might prove mutually beneficial.

Be $ Smart - review your housing costs and entertain ways to live creatively.