And yes... to be honest, I did go out and spend some money on myself in celebration. I bought myself a nice new winter cycling jacket.
I was starting to feel like the kid in the movie "A Christmas Story" who is bundled in so many layers that he literally cannot move!
Anyhow, my new jacket is designed specifically for cycling - all the blue parts are wind-proof and waterproof with an extra layer of insulation where you need it most. The black parts, while still insulated are stretchy and breathable, so I'm hoping it will keep me warm without all of the bulk and sweat buildup.
In keeping with that theme, I also bought myself a Smartwool (merino wool) base layer.
This one was a bit of a sentimental purchase since my mom bought me one last Christmas that I ended up having to return because it was the wrong size. At the time I really, REALLY needed a new pair of bike shorts, so I got them instead of getting the Smartwool in my size, but ever since I've sorta regretted it, and found myself searching in vain for one at the thrift stores.
Guess I figured this was a good time to honor my mom's gift and buy one that actually fits.
Anyhow, I'm pretty psyched about having the mortgage paid off. I'll still have to pay taxes and insurance, but that works out to less than $125/month. And just the peace of mind of being out of the banking system is HUGE for me.
I know that home ownership often gets a bad rap in the minimalist/simplicity community, but I really think that buying my house was one of the best financial decisions I ever made.
Of course, I did luck out with the timing of it all. I bought right before the housing boom, and I shopped around for over a year until I found a great deal on a house with plenty of room for me and the kitties.
Within a year of the purchasing my home, the value tripled. My initial loan was at 9%, but when the rates fell I refinanced and put the monthly savings into extra principal payments.
Those payments, plus a few mortgage Christmas checks from my dad, allowed me to get the 30 year loan paid off in about 17 years. And even with the extra principal amount added in, my monthly payments were still less than what it would have cost to rent a studio apartment!
And while it's true that there are upkeep costs inherent in owning a home, it's not like those costs don't exist when you're renting - they're just built into your monthly payments, and you have no control over how and when those expenditures are made.
Since I've been willing to do most of the work myself, and have a high tolerance for things like avocado green shag carpeting and plastic bathroom tiles, I've been able to keep those costs relatively low.
I'm certainly not saying that everyone should go out and buy a house, but for me at least, it was one of the big keys to achieving financial freedom.
So what do you think? Is home ownership a good or bad thing for you?