Should I invest in a home or retirement?

Buying your first home and retiring from your career involves an abundance of planning, budgeting and saving money. Depending on where you are with your life, one could appear far more urgent than the other.

Saving for both a house and your retirement at the same time is a totally viable option, it may require more careful financial planning than if you picked only one, but you can put money into both over time. If you are young, saving a relatively large chunk for retirement should be the first priority, if you choose one over the other.

Tip: Additional savings or discretionary funds could be invested in the stock market, and with the help of an investment advisor that money could get a larger return while you work towards a house fund.

Tip: Some young people choose to pause their retirement savings to save for a house. But on a 401(k), you want to at least contribute enough to get the employer match if you have one.

What if I choose to invest in a down payment?

The biggest difference between retirement savings investments and buying a home is that the money you invest in a home goes into material goods, which you may not see a return on for many, many years — or not at all. But, you’ll also be building equity and strengthening your credit score by making your mortgage payments on time.


Let’s say Anne saves $6,000 a year for five years before turning 25. For the simplicity of this example, Anne tucked the money under her mattress and didn’t earn any interest during that time. Anne has $30,000 to use as a 20% down payment on a $150,000 home or invest in a retirement account that will earn an average of 7% annual returns over the next several decades.

If Anne Makes a Down Payment

Anne’s first home turns out to be ample for her needs, and she stays in her home for 25 years. According to Forbes, the average increase in real estate prices between 1980 and 2004 was 274%. Using this figure, Anne’s home would be worth $370,500 and the $30,000 she “invested” as her down payment would now be worth $74,100. (Obviously, she would have been making mortgage payments, building equity, and would make more of a profit on her home).

If Anne Saves for Retirement

Anne decides to pull the $30,000 out from under her mattress and invest. She works with an investment advisor to build a well-diversified portfolio and, together, they adjust it at least every year. (Although Anne continues to put money into her 401(k), she put this money into its own account and makes no more contributions). Her conservative but intelligent investing yields an average 7% annual return over 25 years meaning her $30,000 is now worth $162,823.

Do I Need 20%?

If you have been saving for retirement for a few years, have few other debts, and have a responsible concept of how much home you can afford, placing less than 20% down on your home shouldn’t be much of a dilemma.

You’ll need to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) for as long as you have less than 20% equity in your home, but over the long-run the gains your retirement account is making will make up for the money spent on PMI.

Using an IRA for Your Down Payment

It is worth mentioning that the IRS allows you to withdraw up to $10,000 from an IRA for a home purchase without paying the standard 10% early-withdrawal penalty. There are some rules:

  • the IRS treats a withdrawal from a traditional IRA as income and you must pay taxes.
  • Withdrawals from a Roth IRA for a home purchase are both tax- and penalty-free as long as the Roth is at least five years old.

Easy Meals for Post Move

Moving into a new home is always a hectic process. When you are swarmed by unpacked boxes and need to move furniture around the house, cooking a meal from scratch is probably the last thing on your mind. There’s no reason why you can’t celebrate your new home (or say cheers to your old one) with a real home-cooked meal!

As a thank you to everyone that made this year a success, download my go-to recipe book for some wholesome family cooking that are sure to wow your family or guests!

Tips to Help You Downsize

Downsizing can be a stressful and tolling process, both emotionally and physically. This process is not just for seniors; some may make the choice to downsize for a number of reasons: simplify life, cut costs, be closer to family, address medical needs, live in an area with higher cost of living, and more.

Within the past year, I helped to downsize my elderly parents and moved them into my new home. It took much more work than my family anticipated, however, it was definitely worth it for our quality of life.

Here are some tips to make downsizing easier.

Start early

Give yourself plenty of time for this process, because it will inevitably take longer than you expect. Take your time, and don’t try to sort through your entire house in one day or weekend. A couple of weeks to a month is a more realistic timeline. Take it one room at a time.

It sometimes helps to start planning your furniture and other large items first. Understand your needs. If you know you’re moving from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home, don’t move three beds, dressers, and bedside tables to your new place. It costs money to haul big furniture, and if there’s nowhere to put it, you’ll be forced to pay for a storage unit.

  • REALTOR TIP: In the event that an immediate home sale is needed, place items in multiple (short-term) storage units to divide and conquer. This will tidy up your space for buyers to see more of the property and give it an “uncluttered” feel. After a year (or even a few months), take inventory of items you haven’t looked for. What’s left can can be shared or donated.

Start small

You probably already things you want to get rid of in the kitchen or garage, but avoid diving into such a big room at the very beginning.

Start in an area with little emotional attachment. The laundry room or linen closet are good options. If you’re moving into a one-bedroom apartment, easy things to get rid of are excess bed sheets or even curtains. Some rooms or closets tend to accumulate all the old hobbies, boxes, old holiday decorations, and clutter.

  • REALTOR TIP: When was the last time you felt joy or spent time knitting or used craft items from a hobby? If they aren’t worth selling – find groups with these interests on Facebook in your area, list those items, box the up and opt for a no-contact porch pickup. Viola!

Eliminate rooms you won’t have in your new home

Look carefully at the floor plan of your new space or do a walk-through with a tape measure to really get a feel for where you can place your tables, chairs, and sofas. You may realize you can keep your sofa and a chair, but it’s time to give away your loveseat.

If you’re moving to an apartment or townhome, you might not have a garage or office space. Nearly everything in those spaces will need to be sold, donated, tossed, or relocated to other rooms. Working backwards is a great method. Pick out the stuff you don’t want and pack the rest.

Consider legacy gifts early.

Is there an antique clock in your foyer that you plan to one day leave to your son? Maybe a china collection your granddaughter adores? If there are certain heirlooms or pieces you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider giving those gifts now.

Your downsize doesn’t have to be stressful, sad, or scary. Stay positive and get excited about a simpler life in a new place with less clutter.

  • REALTOR TIP: Ask family members during the clean-out, what traditions did your parents and grandparents create or pass on to you? Items associated with these may hold sentimental value for others and they may take them off your hands – you may also recruit their help in the process.

Get rid of duplicates

You’ll find this is especially true in your kitchen. You have two or three spatulas and ladles, a couple of oversized stock pots, and four different sized cookie sheets.

If you’re feeling wary of handing off that second roasting pan because you use it every Christmas (but at no other time during the year), consider giving it to a child or grandchild who can bring it over for the holiday and take it home when they leave.

  • REALTOR TIP: Items that can be considered sentimental, can also be repurposed into unique décor. Your mother’s cracked or chipped wedding china can be turned into mosaic art, garden bird baths or outdoor planters.
    • DIY Art Instructions and Project Credit – Homelife
    • DIY Bird Bath Instructions and Project Credit – Patriciaspots

Only make ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ piles

Some things are going to tug at your heartstrings, and you’ll be tempted to make a third pile of things to keep if you have space. You could end up with a ‘Maybe’ pile that’s bigger than either of the other two.

When that happens, you haven’t really made any progress in sorting, just moved it across the room. If it’s placed in storage and you don’t find yourself looking for it, it’s just extra things you may not need.

  • REALTOR TIP: No one rents a storage unit thinking to themselves, “I plan to keep paying this rent for the next 10 years.” Yet that often happens. Remember the one-year rule: If you don’t use it over an entire year, you don’t really use it. That rule lets you keep seasonal clothes and decorations but doesn’t let you keep the fluff, the lint of life that slowly accumulates over time.

Don’t be afraid to sell things yourself.

With Facebook Marketplace, numerous smartphone apps, yard sales, and an abundance of consignment shops, selling your belongings is very simple. You probably won’t make a ton of money on most items, so consider how much time you want to invest. Yard sales are usually faster, but items won’t sell for as much.

  • REALTOR TIP: If you aren’t handy with a computer, identify a younger family member to help. If that all sounds like more than you care to deal with, hiring a firm to run an estate sale might be your best bet.

Maximize Vertical Space

50 pairs of shoes? These can be easily stacked vertically.  There are a lot of ways to maximize space. If you have a wide dresser, sell it and find a used tall, narrower bureau for the same amount. If you want to keep your wide dresser use it in other ways, for a substitute TV stand, where it doubles as storage space.

Old video cassettes, CDs, DVDs, photos, and crucial paper documents can be digitized and saved to the cloud or an external hard drive to free up space. You can fit your most important documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards, in a single folder.

The piece of paper a photo is printed on isn’t what’s valuable. It’s the photo itself, which doesn’t need to take up space collecting dust in an old album. Store it digitally to free up space without losing your fondest memories.

  • REALTOR TIP: It can be hard to let go of a lifetime collection of porcelain dolls or snow globes from all your vacations, but they will eat up a lot of space or end up stored in a box where you’ll never see them. Instead, pick a couple to keep and take high-resolution photos of the rest, then have them made into a photo book that can sit on your coffee table. You and guests will be able to enjoy them without the clutter.

Avoid Hidden Costs

When you downsize, don’t lose sight of the goal of saving money. It’s all too easy to go on a spending spree of new space-saving furniture. Aim to buy used whenever possible.

  • REALTOR TIP: If you move from a detached house into a condominium, beware of condo fees and assessments. A $250,000 condo may not be cheaper than a $300,000 house at the end of the year if the association hits you with hefty fees.
  • REALTOR TIP: Watch out for quaint little fixer-uppers, that could be a money pit if it needs new wiring, new plumbing, new fixtures, new appliances, or new anything (mechanical or structural).
  • REALTOR TIP: Don’t forget exterior maintenance and upkeep. A small house on a large plot could still need plenty of landscaping and grounds maintenance.

Preparing the Kids for a Move

It’s hard for anyone to say goodbye to their old home, but it can be particularly difficult for young children who don’t feel in control of the situation. Here’s some helpful tips for any family.

Inform Them as Early as Possible

The news of an imminent move can make them feel left out – and kids will feel more connected if you keep them in the loop sooner. Avoid waiting until the last minute to share the news. It’s best to tell toddlers about the move about a month ahead of time, while older children can know sooner. This shows consideration and allows them more time to prepare for any changes. This effects them more than you might think!

Remind Them About the Move

It’s natural for younger children to be forgetful, especially about moving plans. Say something to remind them about the move a few times a week. Any mentions of moving should be exciting, yet casual. With younger children, it’s also good to remind them what will stay the same. They may be concerned about their favorite toys, their neighborhood friends or the family pets. If they take part in activities (sports, dance, etc.) that will continue in your new location, remind them they get to keep doing these things.

Let Them Feel Sad

Moving to a new place can be bittersweet. Allow your children to be sad or angry about the move — it’s okay for them to be upset, and it won’t last forever. Even if their agitation seems to linger, they will eventually come around. Some studies say it takes about six months for a child to acclimate to a new lifestyle, so don’t worry if they are have a hard time.

Throw a “See You Later” Party

Plan to get together a week or two AFTER the move, so that no one believes they are seeing each other for the last time on or before moving day. Housewarming parties come in handy for this, as well.

Make a Plan for Staying in Touch

Talk with your kids about how they can maintain their current relationships. Social media and technology make continued communication simpler than ever! Practice video calls with friends to encourage children who are worried about staying in touch. Put it on a calendar where they can count down the days. Be sure that you DON’T make promises you can’t keep — if you aren’t sure that you will visit, don’t say that you will.

Help Them Visualize Their New Home

Prepare your kids for their surroundings by helping them picture it. Show them photos of their new home, school, and city. Find places they would love to visit — an ice cream shop, a great playground — and talk excitedly about when/where you can go and how fun it will be. If you can visit the school, city, or your new home ahead of time, do! This will make the actual day of the move feel less unknown and frightening.

Let Them Make Decisions

Give them some decision-making power. Plan their new room; let them pick out new bedding, a new rug, or a paint color for the walls. They’ll love getting to make their own choices! Older children can give some input on other home decor for other areas or invite them to go with you when checking out houses. Making packing an activity, make a moving buddy system by packing their favorite toys in a backpack or stored in an easy accessible area.

Pack and Donate While They are Asleep

You can imagine the scene: Your child notices you boxing up a toy that they rarely play with, but upon seeing it THEY NEED TO PLAY WITH IT RIGHT NOW. Kids tend to want something the moment they believe it’s out of reach, so if you are packing in front of them, you may find them unpacking everything right behind you! This goes for donations, too. You can expect a fit if your kids find out you’re ditching any of their stuff — even if you know that it’s only things they never use. Take donations to a drop-off at night after bedtime.

Ask for Help from Family and Friends

Enlist family and friends to babysit when you’re packing, visiting potential homes, or even for moving day. Your kids will love getting to spend time with the babysitter, and you’ll be able to get things done without running around after little ones!

Have a Moving Day Plan

If no one can watch your kids on moving day, create a simplified moving day plan to explain to them. Kids like to know what’s coming, so talk through the details of the day so they know what to expect. It’s also a good idea to pack up a moving day kit for each child with some of their favorite toys, some coloring books, or even a tablet loaded up with movies they can watch. Make sure they know what is happening and what is expected of them during the move.

Maintain as Much Routine as Possible

Do you always go out for ice cream on Fridays? Do you sit in the same spots for dinner each night? Try to find as many things as possible that can stay the same, including things like their bedroom set up, family dinners, bedtime rituals, and any traditions and common activities. Show them that even though they’re in a new place, their family is still the same.

Stay Positive

Even if you’re stressed, try to maintain a positive attitude. Children look to their parents for emotional cues, so if you seem stressed or upset, they will likely feel that way, too. And remember, it can take some time for your kids to get used to being in a new place. Eventually, they will learn to love it!

3 Mistakes Homeowners Make Before Moving

Moving can be hectic, if you make some mistakes. No matter how you approach it, transporting your life from one home to another can be a huge operation that comes with neatly packed boxes with a side of stress and disarray. 

With sufficient preparation and premeditation, moving homes can become simpler than you thought. In order to avert costly moving mistakes, here is a list of three common moving errors and how you can avoid them as closing day approaches!

Ask for Help 

Maybe you’re busy or perhaps you’ve just neglected to prepare the moving day plans. Whatever the situation, not asking for support is an all too common moving mistake and can cost you loads of time and energy.

Amy’s Advice:

You are on the right track already by reading this blog post! As soon as you’ve finished, give your friends, family, or a moving service a call/text and ask them to help you with the move. Make sure to provide them a heads up, with a time/date, and make sure to include some form of compensation (pizza, your favorite adult beverage, etc. are great choices!)

Donate Unused Items

Neglecting to purge before your move will cause you to load items you do not need — and may set you up for collecting more belongings at your new home.

Amy’s Advice:

Purge relentlessly! BONUS: You can prepare for this before you list your home. Declutter the duplicates and any items that seldom see the light of day. (You can even host a garage sale to help bring in funds for the moving assistants.) This will also make packing easier for you!

Cancel & Transition Utility Providers

You don’t want to still have your payment set up when new tenants move into your old place. You also want utilities in your new home, but connecting with any utility companies and alerting them of your move is one that many people neglect.

Amy’s Advice:

Call up the utility providers and notify them of your upcoming move. Tell them to forward the bill from your last month in your home to your new address and make sure that you call ahead to guarantee utility setup in your new home.


Reliable. Genuine. Devoted. Driven. These are just a few of the words that come to my mind when I think about the kind of real estate agent I strive to be each and every day.

After many years in education, my passion for building relationships, and for business has launched me into the world of real estate. As your agent, I will be there for you every step of the way. My service to you does not stop on closing day! My ambition is to make your vision of owning your dream home a reality.

I am truly an advocate for YOU, whether you are buying or selling. I’m just a phone call away in your future, if your needs every change!