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SMART MONEY, A COLUMN BY BRUCE WILLIAMS

First home is a strain on bank account

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 10:37 am

Q.: I just purchased my first home in a nice, quiet neighborhood. It is a very modest home with a picture-perfect white fence. I paid $125,000 for the home.

How long do you have to live in a home, or how much do you have to pay on the mortgage, in order to qualify for a refinance? Now that I moved in, and the bills and repairs are milking my checking account, I am scared I won't be able to stay above water. – G.P., via email

A.: There is no magic time period. If the home goes up in value, then it's possible to refinance. Generally, it's going to be a couple of years before anyone will seriously consider you for refinancing, assuming the value of the home has increased.

What I am concerned about is your worry that you won't be able to stay above water on your mortgage, which means you paid more than you could afford. That's the simple reality. Let me suggest that you might wish to consider getting a part-time job. Even if you have to work for minimum wage in a hamburger joint for 25 hours a week, at $8 an hour, that is $200 a week.

I am certain that money, even after taxes, would go a long way toward taking the pressure off. You won't have as much time to enjoy the home, but you will be certain you won't be losing it.

Send questions to bruce@bruce williams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.