I'll preface my remarks with the statement that my husband and I have made many a dumb financial mistake. When we sold our too expensive, high maintenance house 9 years ago and bought this one, we were determined to pay cash. We had foolishly not been maxing out our retirement accounts or even accumulating other savings. But---we both had an aversion to debt so we didn't have charge card balances and we had worked hard at paying down the mortgage on the previous house. We stuck to our guns, to the realtor's dismay, and only looked at houses that we had the cash equity to buy. Value of peace of mind living in a paid for house: priceless!We were also foolishly not adequately diversified in the market and took a big hit in 2000 with our retirement account. Being idiots at the time (we have since educated ourselves financially and reformed), had we put the money in the market rather than the house we would have lost a huge chunk of it. Instead, we have a paid for house. Not saying this is the right thing to do for everyone. It just worked out best for us. We started saving religiously after we moved into this house in 1998. FIRE is coming the summer of 2009.
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