Just a pet-peeve alert - a laser produces collimated light. That is as close to the OPPOSITE of being focused as one can get. I know people use that term, but it's profoundly ignorant in my opinion. But I do understand your point.
I dunno about that.... a laser produces more focused light than a normal, uncollimated light. Especially at a distance. To keep abusing the metaphor, long distance (term) is just the kind of thing we personal finance buffs should be focused on.
And for my pet peeve... 1900 square feet is huge, especially in a high cost of living area! Not saying you should move, but don't act like it's a small house.
I think it is a bit foolish to base one's lifestyle on the cost of living in the area where they live. OK, well it sounds foolish not to do so now that I say it out loud. Nevertheless, a house is not neccesarily more or less "huge" just because of the area in which it happens to be located.
The only questions that should matter regarding that is: is Cicero's family comfortable in the space, or might they be just as happy in a smaller space? is paying for it crimping their other financial priorities (can they afford it)? It doesn't matter what nelson or ssarah thinks is a huge space or a huge interst cost; nor what I think, which FWIW is that 1900 is pretty decently sized but not huge, depending on how big his family is.
You definitely don't need to put money in your retirement account (yet)* except to get the company match, which you said they don't offer. Same thing with savings for the kids college. You can easily pay for their college if you didn't have debt. The interest rate for the debts easily will beat the interest rate for savings (and investments can go either way, but you're here to provide for your family, not gamble).
It depends. Ignore a company match at your peril. And you can't just contribute as much as you want to retirement plans and college savings plans later - there are annual limits.