Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Teachers: A rare & special breed, so is their money

I so admire educators. I've never met one who doesn't invest 150% into their students, and takes as much pride in their success as any parent. They're uniquely gifted, and so is their pay structure.

Understanding a few distinct elements about their pay and retirement structure can yield infinite options for wealth building:

1) Social Security is not a given. In 15 states and the District of Columbia, educators are not required to pay into the Social Security system since they qualify for government pensions. If this is true for you, it's very important to be sure that your pensions, 403b, and other retirement income will provide sufficient retirement income.

Educators, be very careful to monitor any social security contributions should you transfer from a state that pays into the system to one that does not. Any contributions are eligible for withdrawals at the applicable age and rate.

2) Special options exist for teachers buying homes. In addition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Teacher Next Door program, where educators get first crack at buying HUD owned homes, many states and localities have special down payment funds or options to purchase foreclosed homes before it's available to the general public. Check out your state's Department of Housing and Community Development for more information.

3) There are tons of opportunities to make additional money. Educators are notoriously underpaid. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to earn money outside of the classroom, including Teachers Pay Teachers (create lesson plans, work packets, etc for a fee), tutoring, kid sitting after school, and teaching online, abroad and/or summer school.

4) Take the 12 month pay option. Most school districts offer teachers the opportunity to be paid during the 10 months school is in session, or spread the pay over 12 months. It's far too easy to not budget properly for two unpaid months, so save yourself the summertime headache. You deserve it.

And so it is.