Can you make your home pay?
What price do you put on your freedom to strut around your own home, fry bacon in the nude (not recommended), or bust out your best Pavarotti impression in the shower?
Maybe you decide it's worth $5000 a year. Perhaps even $10,000. But is having your own private residence really worth $140,000, and an extra decade of debt slavery?
If you've spent years flatting with others, finally getting a house to call your own comes as a huge relief.
But if you've got a spare room (or two) gathering dust, chances are you're neglecting a goldmine of extra earning potential.
The money magic of bringing in a couple of flatmates to help tackle the mortgage is compelling.
Recently several young-ish friends and colleagues have made the tough choice to open their doors to strangers in order to earn some extra cash on the side.
And what an enormous difference it makes.
Here's why it can be such a great idea to become a landlord in your own home:
If you rent a room at $150 a week, you've immediately given yourself almost an $8000 boost to your annual pre-tax income.
Bring in a couple of flatmates, and you're looking at more than $15,000 of extra cash, simply for forsaking the convenience of having your own space.
The real magic is the damage you can do to your mortgage by channelling all those bonus dollars into repaying the debt.
Let's say you have a $400,000 loan with a 20-year term.
Over that time, interest costs mean you'll end up paying the borrowed amount twice over.
But a single flatmate can knock six years off the loan, and save you more than $140,000 in wasted interest payments.
Two flatmates really puts you on the fast track to freedom, cutting nine years of debt drudgery from the mortgage, and saving you a small fortune.
Of course, this isn't realistic for most people.
If you have a young family, there's no way you're going to want strangers living in your house for the next 10 years.
Even if you're single there's a limit to the tolerance for dirty dishes in the sink, hairs in the plughole, and early morning drum lessons.
What the numbers do show is what a dramatic difference taking on a flatmate or boarder can make. Even if you only do it for a few years near the start of the mortgage, that's when it'll have the most impact anyway.
There's a trade-off between the luxury of having your own home, and securing your financial freedom.
If you're willing to put up with flatmates for a few years longer, you'll certainly reap the rewards.