How to Save by Spending

For long-term investors, spending on stocks and homes could build wealth.

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"If you want to get your money's worth and have something for the future, renting would not be a good strategy," she says.

But Kirchenbauer also warns that an investment in the housing market should not be viewed as any different than an investment in securities or other products. The bursting of the housing bubble showed that all investments carry risk.

"In other parts of the world, owning real estate is just not that big of a deal. They save money in savings or investment accounts. Our culture was very different," she says. "Here, people still [want to own] a house and have something to show for where you're putting your money."

Owning a home can "still can be a wealth-builder," Kirchenbauer adds, "but it's no different than your investment account."