Over the past ten years or so, our country has seen an increase in homeless families. Some now live in their cars, even in traditionally affluent areas like Seattle. Avoiding this by being proactive is especially important if you’re not young anymore; younger people will (hopefully) have opportunities to bounce back in the future.
The only way to NOT end up living in your car (or worse, in a homeless shelter) is to secure affordable housing as soon as possible.
The first step is finding an affordable place to live (see last week’s post). There are many options for affordable housing. Renting may be OK if you can find a place where you’re pretty certain the rent won’t go up a lot. Living with someone else, like a friend or relative, with whom you can split costs is an excellent idea if you currently live alone.
The ideal is buying a small house with cash, something all on one level that can take you from your current age into old age without forcing you to move. Small houses have smaller-than-average utility bills, maintenance bills and property tax bills, so buying a small house is a good way to invest in your future retirement, helping you stay financially solvent even though you may not have a lot of retirement income coming in.
If you’re middle-age or approaching retirement age, dealing with long-term underemployment, or all of the above, you need to know how much money you have and how much money you spend each month so you can determine how much you can afford for housing. See the next post for details.