Every path, every decision, comes its own set of advantages and disadvantages. This is what makes personal finance so tricky. There are no right answers. There is only what's right for you given what you want and what you're willing to sacrifice. Only by clearly defining those two things can you start making financial decisions that truly give you the freedom you want.
I've come to be slightly obsessed with the idea of learned afflictions. These are things that aren't inherently problems, but that we've learned to feel inconvenienced by through years of conditioning. We all have them, and some of them may even be preventing you from reaching the financial success and stability you crave.
The mortgage interest deduction, the property tax deduction, and the capital gains tax exclusion are all potential benefits of owning a home. But they are all often overstated, sometimes nonexistent, and in all cases not a reason to spend more on a home than you would have otherwise.
More than any paid job I've had, I'm still amazed at how much relentless stamina and in-the-moment focus it requires to parent young children. My mental "I gotta take care of that later" list just keeps snowballing. But sometimes, it literally pays to stop, pay attention, and get a little organized. Here's how doing just that saved me $12,000.