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“And we had a really big mortgage to cover it.” She also wasn’t thrilled with the schools in the area — or with the idea of paying for private education. The De Bickes (who work as an engineer manager and software engineer, respectively, and make between 0,000 and 0,000 combined per year) put their house on the market and started looking for a smaller home that was zoned for better schools.

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Nicole and Keith De Bickes loved their house in Delray Beach, Fl., but with more than 3,500 square feet of living space, it was perhaps larger than they actually needed at the time.

“One day, I came to the realization that I had a 400-square-foot bathroom that I spent 20 minutes a day in, and we had this big formal dining room and formal living room that we never used,” says Nicole, 38.

“We wanted to buy with the idea that we’d have a much smaller mortgage and we wouldn’t have to pay for private school,” Nicole says.

“Then we could do things with our family like travel or retire earlier.” In 2007, they took out a mortgage for $110,000, and in 2009 they refinanced for $150,000 to redo their kitchen and upgrade their electrical work.

“With both of us working, we haven’t been able to spend as much time with the kids as we wanted,” Nicole says. I’m looking forward to spending time together as a family.” Magnify Money is an advertising-supported comparison service which receives compensation from some of the financial providers whose offers appear on our site.