Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Two years of home ownership

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This month I celebrate two years of home ownership. It’s been an interesting (sometimes overwhelming) journey that required years of research and saving up to make sure I was ready.

Although home ownership has definitely not been easy, I feel like I made a smart, calculated decision that I’m still really happy about.

Here’s why:

My mortgage is comfortable

When I decided I was ready to stop renting and become a homeowner, I knew the bank would approve me for much more than I was comfortable spending. And when I was pre-approved for close to $300,000, I had already gone over my finances and decided that I wasn’t going to take on a mortgage of more than $250,000.

Related: Take this quick and easy quiz to see if you’re ready to become a homeowner!

No matter how stable you might think your life is, things can change. Case in point, eight months into my home ownership adventure, I was faced with the opportunity to live in Germany for what turned out to be almost 11 months. Because my townhouse complex does not allow rentals, if I had taken on a bigger mortgage, there’s no way I could have afforded to go.

I can still save for everything else in my life

I ended up taking out a mortgage of just over $238,000 – which meant my monthly mortgage payments are approximately $1,070/month. I decided to increase my payments by 20% and opted for a bi-weekly payment option in order to pay off my mortgage faster. Had I chosen a more expensive home, I wouldn’t have the wiggle room in my budget to save for retirement, travel frequently, and pay down my mortgage faster.

The place feels like a home

It can be so tempting to head to a home improvement store and go on a renovation and decorating spree. But if you haven’t set aside money in your home buying budget for improvements, it’s likely better to hold off until you can afford to pay for your purchases in cash.

Part of my strategy to becoming a first time homeowner was to be able to make renovations or buy furniture and decorations as soon as I moved in. I wanted it to feel like home – so I saved $4,500 and spent the entire amount on new floors, fresh paint, and furniture (which I purchased off Craigslist to save more money).

I have all my finances in order

Buying my first home was the biggest, most important financial decision of my life. Not only am I single (so the “household” only has one income to support the mortgage), I also had to take in to consideration many different things – including my work history, credit scores, and cash savings. I knew that the cleaner my overall financial history was, the better chance I would have at snagging the best interest rate possible for my mortgage.

I started thinking about becoming a homeowner six years before I closed on my townhouse. In that time, I eliminated all of my debt, increased my net worth by over $80,000, created an emergency fund, and tucked money aside for closing costs, moving expenses, renovations, and furniture.

Doing my research well beforehand, and making sure I had enough money to cover every detail of the purchase made my home buying experience a lot less stressful.

Disclaimer: This post content is sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, however the views and opinions expressed herein represent my own and not those of Royal Bank of Canada or any other party and do not constitute financial, legal or other advice.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Great post! I think people tend to get a bit too much house, and honestly most of the time can’t afford it. They use the thought process of I will be able to afford it in the future as my salary grows.
    I have already calculated how much we can afford, and I will not budge. Thankfully, housing is rather affordable in Texas.

  2. Debt RoundUp says:

    This is exactly how it is supposed to be done, we did the same thing 7 years ago and were able to make it through the financial crisis with no problems. Many just see how much house the bank says they can afford and goes with it. You are instantly house poor.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Totally agree. If I had bought a house based on how much the bank said I could afford, I might have a $300k mortgage. Which is crazy for a single person in my income bracket.

  3. vanessasmoney says:

    Woooah, you aren’t allowed to rent out your condo?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah, when I bought my place I was happy about owners not being able to rent out units. And I still am glad I live in an owner-occupied building complex… but it sure did suck having to pay my mortgage AND rent in Germany for a year. :|

  4. Karla says:

    Well said! There is a big difference between “approved for” and “can afford”. A lot of people get in over their heads, good for you for being smart about your mortgage!

  5. Home buyers spending more than they should reminds me of all those TV shows like house hunters where people are approved for a certain mortgage and still want to spend more, because they can “get more house” and “grow into their house”. Congrats on the home owning anniversary and great choice on not taking on the extra mortgage I’m sure you’re happy with the choice

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yes, I completely agree! I always cringe when I see them going over their budget. And even when I bought my home and announced it on my blog (I was debating between the one I bought, and another one for $30k more that was bigger), people were saying they would have bought the bigger one because I would be able to grow into the house and stay there longer. $30k may not seem like a lot when rolled into a mortgage, but when I calculated how much extra interest it would cost me, it wasn’t worth it to me. I had to do the responsible thing and buy the smaller place.

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