Solano Real Estate Scene: Teaching future homeowners taught me a thing or two

My daughter Lisa and I were honored to do a 90-minute financial and math seminar last week for 70 students at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School in Vacaville. Math teachers Sarah, Kristi and Brittany combined their three classes for this afternoon session. The theme of the class was financial education focusing on housing affordability, career options, credit scores, investing, the magic of compound interest and avoiding making the mistakes many young people make when starting out in life – like me and many people I know. I was impressed with these 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids and their responses to my questions. I was explaining housing affordability based on a Vacaville home for $400,000 – which is about what a starter home costs nowadays. I was telling these focused and polite young folks that a buyer would need to make around $96,000 per year to afford and qualify for a nice three-bedroom, two-bath home in Vacaville today. During this part of the event I was also talking about career options and what incomes to expect based on the many options they will have in the future. I explained that public school teachers after a couple of years on the job might make around $56,000 and asked the kids how this teacher might be able to buy a house in California. One of the funny young guys spurted out that he will “get a wife” who makes at least $40,000 per year. This cracked me up because of his quick wit. These young people are very smart and realize that in California, two incomes are often needed to afford a home. I shared with the kids that 52 percent of all Americans over 55 have no retirement other than Social Security. One of the young women in the crowd raised her hand and pointed out that this doesn’t apply to her and the kids in the room because she had heard that Social Security will not be there for her generation. It’s all about the math and many experts predict Social Security will be insolvent or “broke” by 2035. This young woman is sharp and is probably being mentored by her parents. I was trying to emphasize the importance of investing and the magic of compound interest and comparing an investment of $5 a day for 30 years at a 10 percent rate of return compounded daily versus buying a $5 cup of fancy coffee every day. If you buy a $5 cup of coffee every day for 30 years, you will spend $54,750 – assuming price of the cup stays the same for 30 years. (Yeah right, the cup will cost $20 at least in 20 years). If you invest $5 per day and pay yourself first every morning and you can get a 10 percent rate of return on your money you will have $348,356 to supplement your retirement. These kids will only be 48 in 30 years, so time is their friend versus all those folks that are 55. These kids inspired me with their sense of humor while being very mature and engaged in the subject matter. Buckingham Charter and these three exceptional math teachers are doing great things for our kids and the future of our middle-class community.