House Hunting

I recommend using a real estate agent to help you find an apartment.

Always view the actual apartment that is listed as being for rent.

You will pay the first month’s rent, a security deposit, and real estate office fee upfront all at once.

Refrain from telling the real estate agent that you collect SSI or SSDI as your sole income source. People have done that and were told that no apartments were for rent.

In a book I’m writing I go into this in detail.

The idea is to have eight months’ of living expenses socked away in an emergency fund.

If you ask me a person who owns a co-op or condo apartment should have at least $30K in an emergency fund. A person who owns an actual house should have at least $75K in an emergency fund.  A person who rents an apartment should have at least $10K in an emergency fund.

This makes sense because renters often have to change apartments. Thus you can use part of your emergency fund for the upfront housing costs.

How do you get an emergency fund? You “Pay yourself first” out of every paycheck or whatever kind of check you get each month to live on. The term “pay yourself first” signals that before you record any bill payment or other deduction in your account, you debit the amount of money you’re saving for an emergency.

If you have a job and get direct deposit, you can pay yourself first by automatically depositing a portion of your paycheck into a savings account. You can deposit the remainder into your checking account to live on.

The amount of money in an emergency fund should be linked to the cost of living where you live, how long it might take you to find another job if you’re laid off, and what your housing and other costs are each month. You should factor in the cost of COBRA health insurance premiums if you lose your job and have to buy into your health plan.

I’m amazed when I meet a person who hasn’t ever heard of having an emergency fund or what the term “pay yourself first” involves. Now you know if you didn’t already.

Bari Tessler recommends calling an emergency fund a “peace of mind fund.” I like the term peace of mind fund better.

This fund should be easily accessible and held in an FDIC-insured account so that you’re guaranteed access to the funds should there be a “run on the bank” or the bank fails.

I’ll talk next about creating a six-week action plan for finances.


I have numerous books I want to publish: some geared to mental health and other books that have everyone as a target market.

I’m also writing fiction that I want to publish too.

In this blog entry I’ll focus on one of the mental health books. I’d like to talk about housekeeping.

Really it’s OK to hire a house cleaner if you don’t like to do domestic chores. Round here $13/per hour is the going rate.

The secret is that if your apartment is neat and relatively dust-free no one will notice if it’s not clean.

You can send your laundry out to be picked up and cleaned and delivered back to you too. Yet I find though the clothes are returned neatly folded the clothes are actually wrinkled.

Doing laundry on your own in your building’s laundry room might be the way to dry your clothes without wrinkles. I take my clothes out of the dryer after 35 minutes and the clothes don’t have wrinkles.

You can go on the Goodmans Website to buy a travel steamer to steam out the wrinkles the clothes get after you wear them. You can also buy there the bottles of steamer cleaner to use to clean inside the steamer.

The Jiffy Travel Steamer is a miracle product that you can buy from Goodmans. Over 12 years ago I bought the travel steamer to use instead of an iron. The Jiffy model quickly steams out wrinkles on clothes. I’ve had mine over 12 years and it still works like a charm.

I take this steamer with me when I travel in the U.S. to steam the wrinkles out of clothes that have been in my suitcase.

I’m all for making it as convenient as possible to attend to housekeeping when you rent or own your own home.

In the coming blog entries I’ll talk about how to budget for shopping for food.

Home Sweet Home

Again our government is cutting funding of mental health. There’s been a paltry effort by those we elected to increase hospital beds and to increase supportive housing.

In one of my books I talk about housing. I’d like to talk about this now.

In New York State if you have a psychiatric diagnosis you can get a 4 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage to buy your first home or co-op or condo apartment.

You submit verification of your diagnosis. You attend a financial empowerment workshop. Then you can apply for a SONYMA Home of Your Own (HOYO) loan as a first-time home buyer.

The good thing is SONYMA gives you a closing costs loan that is forgiven if you stay in this home for 10 years. This can shave $2,000 to $3,000 dollars off your upfront costs.

If I remember the HOYO loan requires that you have a credit score of only 620 so it might be easier to get this kind of loan if you don’t have spotless credit.

I want to cry when I meet a person who says they’ve been institutionalized for 12 years or more. No one should have to live locked up on a ward long-term.

It can be a near-endless battle for a person with a mental health challenge to find suitable housing. We need to keep lobbying for increased funding for supportive housing for those of us who can’t afford to own our own homes.

Yet I write about the HOYO loan because we need to give a shout out to states that are progressive in addressing the needs of people with mental health challenges to have full inclusion in society.

Supportive housing would help do this for those of us who need cheaper housing. Often supportive housing rent is just one-third of your income.

It’s true: There’s No Place Like Home.

I’ll talk more about this in the coming blog entries.