Photo: Robert Trachtenberg
Q: I'm a single mom living in Kentucky, making $60,000 a year as a registered nurse. My house is paid in full, and I have no other debt. In the fall my only child will start college locally, and I'd like to rent my house to her and her roommates from school and buy myself a home in Florida, using my $90,000 in home equity as the down payment. Is this a good idea?
Suze: Okay, nurse-mom, let's talk financial health. Right now you have no debt. You own your home outright. It's empowering to be in that position, and I'm confident it helps you sleep at night. And yet you're about to put all that stability on the line. Please reconsider.
I know how much you love your daughter and that you have the best intentions in offering her your home. But you're lying to her (and yourself) if you don't acknowledge the serious financial stress involved in those plans. Consider the maintenance costs alone: You'll have to manage the upkeep of the Kentucky house long-distance, while covering the maintenance bills of your new place in Florida. Also: Do you really want to be a landlord to your daughter? When you think about her as a tenant, along with her roommates, are you completely confident they'll pay the rent on time every month? They will be college kids, after all. Need I say more?
My advice is to sell the house in Kentucky. Your daughter can rent from someone else. You can use the money from the sale to buy your Florida dream home, hopefully without a mortgage, or at the very least with a small, manageable loan. And you'll stay in good financial shape.
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From the August 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine