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The No. 1 Thing People With Fat Savings Accounts Scrimp on That You Likely Don’t

February 4, 2020

Man counting money


Housing may be the key to bigger savings.

Earlier this week, a Reddit post — from a 48-year-old woman claiming to be a millionaire despite having only low-paying jobs until about age 30 — went viral, and in it she details some extreme frugality. She says she saves tea bags so she can make multiple cups from one bag, only eats out a couple of times a year, dilutes her dish soap with half water so it lasts longer and almost exclusively wears dark clothes as light colors stain too easily.

But she says there are two things on her long list of frugal habits that research shows really are the key to getting rich: Buying a very affordable home (hers, she says, was just $135,000 and in an excellent neighborhood) and driving an old car (hers is a 12-year-old Subaru, she says).

Indeed, research from TD Ameritrade — which looks at people who save 20% or more of their incomes, called “super savers” — shows that the single biggest difference between what super savers spent less on, as compared with the rest of us, was housing. Super savers spent just 14% of their incomes on housing, while regular folks dropped 23%.

What’s more, research released Monday by The Principal found that more than four in 10 people who fully funded or were very close to fully funding their 401(k) accounts said that one of the sacrifices they made to save so much was that they lived in a modest home. This — along with owning older cars — was one of the two top answers.

One reason super savers may scrimp on housing? “They may see expensive mortgage payments as a liability. Our data shows that they value freedom to do what they want as well as financial security and peace of mind,” explains Dara Luber, senior manager of retirement at TD Ameritrade.

In some ways, it may be easier to cut housing or automotive costs than make smaller conscious choices all day to cut out the things you love, like those lattes. After all, you move once and buy a car infrequently, and your monthly mortgage, rent or auto payments are slashed every month following.

Meanwhile, making choices frequently can lead to something called decision fatigue, which research shows can impact our ability to make the “right” choices as the day goes on.

And because housing is the biggest part of most Americans’ budgets, it’s extra important to save on it. Indeed, the average American household spends a total of roughly $60,000 a year; nearly $20,000 of that spending is on housing, government data show.

Of course, it’s often easier said than done. Households often pay more for housing so they also get into a good school district or because an area is safer. And, it’s also possible that many of the savers interviewed in the TD Ameritrade study had lower housing costs because they put more down on their home when they bought.

Still, it’s important to note that there’s plenty of room to downsize: New homes built in America today on average have 1,000 more square feet than they did in the 1970s, and living space per person has doubled.

The post The No. 1 Thing People With Fat Savings Accounts Scrimp on That You Likely Don’t appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

What Is an A-Frame House? An Adorable Home That’s Spiked in Popularity

August 3, 2018


What is an A-frame house? True to its name, this type of home is shaped like the letter A, with walls that begin near the foundation and slope upward at a slant, meeting to form a triangle.

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a teepee, an A-frame may be the closest you’ll ever get. Sometimes quirky and quaint, sometimes sleek and modern, these triangle-shaped houses have spiked in popularity of late. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about A-frame homes.

What is an A-frame house? Key characteristics

While its triangular shape is its key characteristic, there are other features that make A-frame homes what they are, both inside and out. They typically include the following features:

  • High interior ceilings
  • Large windows
  • Open floor plans
  • Loft spaces
  • Deep eaves
  • Gables in the front and back
  • Wood siding


Where to find A-frame houses

From rustic cabins to modern masterpieces, the A-frame style can be seen across the country and around the world. They’re often the choice for vacation homes or second homes, particularly in snowy areas, as the snow slides easily from the roof.

“Here in the Los Angeles area, we see A-frame homes up in the mountains rather than in the city or the suburbs,” says Kathryn Bishop, a real estate agent in California. “I expect because the big windows in the A-frame are usually so fabulous to enjoy the views.”

While A-frames have existed for centuries, they rose to popularity in the United States during World War II and the years that followed. People had extra income for vacation homes, and A-frames were a popular choice.

Simple and inexpensive, build-your-own kits were sold through department stores and allowed people to construct their own A-frame homes.

You can still buy such kits today. For example, Avrame, a company out of Minnesota, offers kits that start as low as $35,900. You’ll have to provide the foundation, insulation, and a few other pieces, but the kits include most of the basics (e.g., the windows, doors, building accessories, and drawings) to help you put your A-frame home together.

Benefits of an A-frame house

Owen Boller, a real estate agent who covers a two-hour radius around Manhattan, says buyers love A-frame homes for a couple of reasons.

“A-frames have large windows so the natural light pours in,” he explains. Plus, “most desirable A-frames are near a lake or stream and are often built on a few acres of land, making them a private escape.”

John Nations, construction manager for New Pointe Communities in San Diego, says with A-frame homes, “it’s more of a tent, camping, outdoor nostalgic feel for the ‘outdoor’ types of people and families.”

The grandeur of the homes can vary widely though.

“A-frame homes can be ideal for first-time home buyers or investors, but that’s not to say this architectural type is not used in many multimillion-dollar, waterfront homes,” says Brad Cooke, a real estate agent with the Corcoran Group in Palm Beach, FL.

A-frames aren’t for everyone

While they’re a great option for some people, A-frame houses aren’t for all home buyers. For example, Cooke says, since A-frame homes  are typically made of wood, they’re not ideal in Florida for two reasons: termites and tropical storms.

Boller says while A-frames are often easy to maintain, they usually cost a little more to heat compared with similar-size homes due to the vaulted ceiling. He says space is also often limited in A-frame homes.

“Some bedrooms have low roofs, and there is often minimal storage,” he says.

The biggest downside to buying an A-frame home, however, may be not being able to find one.

“There are not many A-frames left on the market, due to high demand and low inventory,” Boller says. “The majority of A-frames were built in the late 1900s, and homeowners tend to hold onto them more so than other types of homes. Generally speaking, if a second home in the country is why you are purchasing a home, an A-frame might be a good option … if you can find one.”

You can search for A-frame homes at®; here are some A-frame listings to give you a sense of what’s available.

The post What Is an A-Frame House? An Adorable Home That’s Spiked in Popularity appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.