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How it All Began

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How it all began……

I was never good with credit. When I was 16, Lane Bryant sent me a credit card. I had ordered from there catalog for several years. I don’t remember filling out a credit application, just this very pretty purple piece of plastic coming in the mail, and I then could order clothes and pay a small $25 a month until they were paid off. Easy, right? I had my first charge off on my credit report at 18.

I was a single mother at the time, and on welfare. The next step was to go back to work, and I needed a car. But with a new job and a small awful credit file, I needed a co signer. I don’t know how I did it, but I talked my Dad into it. I bought a 1990 Ford and went to work 3rd shift.

I behaved at 1st, making payments on time, and then I moved out on my own. I lived in an apartment with my son, and my soon to be husband. (now my ex husband). Living on my own was hard, and things started to slide. First my car insurance didn’t get paid, then it was canceled. So the finance company added their insurance to the car. Then I fell behind in the payments. Eventually I had to give the car to my Dad, and borrow his paid off car to drive back and forth to work. He was nice about it, but swore he would never co sign for me again, and he never has. Not that I would ask.

When my ex and I got married, we moved south with the military. He then took over the bills. I had given my Dad his car back when we moved, so we were down to one vehicle. We decided to trade his truck in and buy 2 cars, one for each of us. His credit was good, so it was no problem.

Fast forward a few years, and we are out of the military and permanently living in the south. Thing are tight, and my ex and i fight about money a lot. Eventually we end up splitting the bills 50/50, and each of us have to pay out of our own paychecks. He doesn’t care about any credit cards, just that if they are in my name, I have to pay them myself. Me, having no self control with money, rack them up. We split in 2001, and he walked away with a paid off truck. I was left with 10,000 plus in credit card debt, student loans, and a single wide mobile home with a 20 year mortgage.

I then decided that I wanted a new car. The one I had was with a credit union, and I was upside down a lot. But it was in my ex husband’s name. So, I let it go back, and bought a car on my own. Took out more credit cards. Move to a rental house that was $250 more a month and let the single wide trailer go back to the bank.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Don’t get me wrong, I was making it, but by the skin of my nose. By then I was at my current job but a single mom of 2 kids. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have collection agencies call you at work, while you are a bill collector for your job? One time, they even faxed my boss about my debt. I blamed my ex husband, and prayed that they would stop one day.

Then the rental house caught fire. Thank goodness I had renters insurance. I had a ton of cash, and a spending habit that I had not fixed.I found a new place to live, a rent to own house. I had one year to rent, and I had to get the mortgage in my name. I did it in 6 months. That was the height of the housing bubble, and I got a 11.75 % variable APR mortgage on a $125,000 house. But I had a ton of money from the insurance, that made it easy. My spending habits didn’t change. My kids and I had more stuff then we knew what to do with.

I then met my current husband. He is 6 years younger than me, and still was living at home. We has a speedy courtship, 4 months from our 1st date to our marriage. The money from the fire had run out by then, and he didn’t have a well paying job, so I robbed Peter to pay Paul to pay for the big wedding we had. The mortgage company did the 1st loan modification on the mortgage within 6 months. They lowered my payment and my interest rate to 7.5 % fixed. I thought everything would work out.

Traded and bought a few vehicles, and racked up more debt. Was kinda of keeping my head above water, then my husband got sick. We then had huge medical bills that included a bill for a cornea transplant. Everything got past due, even the house again. We went and filled out the paperwork to file chapter 13 bankruptcy but didn’t have the filing fee until we got paid on Friday. Thursday, I went out my front door to goto work, and my car was gone. It had been repossessed in the middle of the night. So, I borrowed the filing fees to file a day early, and the next day, the lawyer got my car back from the bank.

Again, things were fine for about 6 months then hours were cut. My husband had to find a new job, and took a $2 an hour pay cut. That hurt. Our Chapter 13 payments were self pay, so we stopped them. And our plan was dismissed.

We went back to the attorney, and asked what to do. He said to keep the house, we would have to file chapter 13 again, but reduce what we were paying in the plan. We gave back my car, but kept my husbands truck. I went out and found a mini van on a buy here pay here lot and got that for transportation as our family by then had grown by our twins and we didn’t fit into the truck by then. This time my pay was garnished for the payments, and my take home was about $250 every two weeks. My husbands was about $600 every two weeks. Everything else went to bankruptcy. It was very tight. So tight, that I even went behind my husbands back and got 4 credit cards while in bankruptcy. See the trend.

Then the layoff. My health insurance at the time was 100% paid by my employer, but my husband carried the girls and himself. To add him and the kids to my heath insurance was $300 a paycheck. His unemployment was $115 a week, and I only was clearing $250 a paycheck. The bankruptcy payments had to stop. My attorney got the trustee to stop the garnishment, and I put everyone on my health insurance. We saved up and filed income taxes, and converted to a chapter 7. We bought 2 salvage titled cars, and let the truck and van go back to the banks. We did another modification that included stretching the mortgage to 40 years from 30 years, and kept the house. We were discharged from chapter 7 in July 2013.

Stay tuned for part two…


Creative Ways to Save Money when Moving

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If you’re anything like me, moving can be quite daunting. Besides the sheer volume of labor, there is a lot to figure out. What made our move more challenging was that our family is on a tight budget, we had some major time constraints such as only having the evening and weekends to get our packing done, and we had accumulated a lot of stuff over the years.Below are some of the major and minor saving steps we took.

Two Major Savings Steps

There were two major steps we took to move as inexpensively and efficiently as possible:

We opted for a professional moving company instead of renting a truck

There are a lot of things to take into consideration, and this definitely won’t be the case for everyone, but after running the numbers and the time saved, we opted to hire a moving company. In our case, it was North American Moving Services, but there are many options out there. Here is why opting this way saved us money.

  • First, I didn’t need to figure out how to drive a big truck across hundreds of miles of traffic and bad weather; their company would take care of all the logistics of our interstate move.
  • Second, we could do all the packing ourselves.
  • Third, we could just ask them to pack the fragile stuff.
  • Fourth, we could just ask them to do all the packing for us.

Although I was tempted to go for the full-service package, my inner cheapskate kicked in and I decided we would do our own packing. (My spouse agreed; the kids fussed.) I also decided to figure out how to pack the fragile items by doing an Internet search for packing tips.

However, when we booked our long distance move, we did take them up on their offer to help us with disassembling and assembling our furniture and getting our appliances installed. I didn’t know how, nor did I have the tools.

We decided that we didn’t need to transport all our stuff

The first thing we did was empty out the spare bedroom. Then we filled it up with all the stuff that we didn’t want anymore.

We created the following selection criteria on what to get rid of:

1. Good stuff that we had lost interest in it. Mainly, clothes, dishes, and DVDs.

2. Stuff that fallen apart that would be cheaper to buy than fix. Mainly, electronics and gadgets.

3. Stuff we had bought on a whim. Mainly, our bric-a-brac collection over the years and tchotchke baubles.

Once we had purged the house of everything we didn’t want anymore, then we sorted through the stuff in the “junk” room. We created the following piles:

1. Things to be sold.

2. Things to be donated.

3. Things to be recycled.

4. Things to be trashed.

However, we did come to a sticking point in this process–books. We love our books. Yes, we might not read them again and could get an electronic version, but we loved our books. I was pleased to discover our kids had become regular bookworms. Then my 9-year-old son asked why we didn’t just mail them to ourselves! From the mouth of babes! So that’s what we did. We used through USPS’s media mail to move our books, and save on the cost of adding the weight to our moving bill.

6 Minor Saving Steps

Figuring out how to transport our stuff and how to narrow down the weight saved us a lot of money.

Here are 6 other steps we took to save even more money:

1. We asked family, friends, and stores for boxes.

2. We borrowed or rented all the tools we needed rather than buy any.

3. We timed our utility shut down dates to get the most value.

4. We tracked everything we paid for during the move for tax deduction purposes.

5. We canceled all subscriptions ahead of time to avoid paying unnecessary membership fees.

6. We paid all our bills ahead of time so that we wouldn’t get stuck with any late payment fees.


And we are on the move again…

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Hello BAD Community and Happy 2017!  I hope your holiday season was fantastic and you were able to spend some down time with friends or family.  The kids and I have enjoyed a sabbatical (for lack of a better word) here in Georgia with a quick 10 day trip to Texas.  It was the first time we’d seen most of my siblings (there are 5 of us) in over two years.

We had a very frugal Christmas and loved every minute of it!  I didn’t decorate, I didn’t cook and I felt no stress to meet anyone’s expectations.  It was very freeing!  The kids were ecstatic with their “gift card’s for lunch with mom” and a variety of other small things like the $0.46 shorts.

Now for the bad news…we are still in Georgia, well beyond our expected return date. And the reason is that we have no where to return too.  While we were in Texas, I received a text from our hosts of our Glamping Adventure and where we have lived since April, 2016.  It read and I quote: “Bad news…a line broke on the camper. We had to totally winterize it to protect the rest of the plumbing.”  Yea, just a few days before Christmas we became officially homeless.

They did assure me it wasn’t something we had done (we left on Dec. 7th and this text was received Dec. 19th.)  So instead of returning to VA right after the New Year as anticipated, I have been frantically, FRANTICALLY trying to find us housing.  My original plan was to remain in VA at our free housing until April  and then move everything to GA and make my Grandmother’s our home base if I still hadn’t secure enough work or a full time job to get housing for us.

That has now been modified.  I have been able to secure temporary housing beginning Thursday at a home that will go on the market in March.  They have offered us housing through March 1st at no charge.  It is fully furnished and recently remodeled.

The plan now is to:

  • Return to VA on Tuesday (delayed from Monday due to snow storm.)  We will stay in a hotel for two nights.
  • Move into temporary housing on Thursday with absolute minimum necessary.
  • Spend the next two weeks packing our stuff at the camper.

Now I have to decided whether to:

  • Leave our stuff where it is (at the camper) until mid-February when we must return to GA for a gymnastics meet.  We would then load a moving truck and put everything in storage here in GA; or
  • Get a POD or U-pack or something similar and load everything in to put into storage until we know where we will land next.

A quick pricing check puts these two options within a $100 of each other.  I am leaning to the POD type storage because I am not certain when we will have housing and I am not certain, although I hope, that we will end up in GA.  Any words of wisdom from the BAD Community?

In additional to frantically seeking housing, I have SPAMMED everyone in my network with a plea to share my LinkedIn profile with their network.  I had a first interview on Friday afternoon and made it to the next round, but I’m not confident. 


Home Ownership: 1 Month Status

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We’ve now been in our new-to-us (1980s) house for just over a month. I haven’t talked much about the house since we closed, so I wanted to talk about some of the financials in the past month of home ownership.

Monthly Bills

The house is larger than our last home so although it’s too soon to tell true differences in heating and cooling costs, my guess is our new house will be a little more expensive on average. Relatedly, our home is now 100% electric (no natural gas) so that’s a bill we’ll be eliminating from our monthly budget. Our trash is now paid quarterly instead of monthly and even though we’re now receiving more service (our neighborhood does twice weekly trash pick-ups), our overall cost is actually less. We do, however, have HOA fees to pay.

Overall, our monthly bills will probably be a little bit higher than in our previous home.

One-Time/Set-Up Costs

The hidden costs of home-ownership! We knew when we bought the house we would have to purchase a refrigerator (we got ours at a great Black Friday deal because Lowes did their “Black Friday” prices for the entire month of November! Great time to buy a home!). What we had NOT realized until we moved in was that not a single window had any blinds on it. Not one. I’ve never bought blinds before. Even going the DIY-install/Home Depot purchase route, we still ended up paying over $1,000 on blinds! We also ended up needing a few smaller items (e.g., one extra bathroom = one extra trashcan, extra hand-towel set, etc.). We also bought 3 ceiling fans for rooms where they were not present (the living room + 2 bedrooms). The bedrooms were already pre-wired (but just had metal plates affixed to cover the wires), so hubs was able to install those on his own. But we had to hire an electrician to wire the living room because, living in Arizona, we HAVE to have a fan in the living room and it hadn’t been wired for one so that work needed to be done.

A great majority the walls in the house are bare. Some of the rooms, even, are bare. But I’m okay with that for now. I’m in no hurry to rush out and spend a lot more $$$ to decorate and furnish the entire home. We’re comfortable with what we’ve got and I prefer spending some time in the house to try to find a design style, etc. and to slowly build up decorative pieces vs. going to the nearest Home Goods and buying all.the.things. just for the sake of having everything immediately decorated.

All things included, we ended up spending nearly $4,000 for one-time/set-up costs (the “big ticket” items were the blinds, refrigerator, and fans/electrical wiring). Luckily, we’d been building up a stash of money for the downpayment and an extra slush fund so we had the cash on hand for these expenses. I’m thankful to YOU readers because I’d initially wanted to make a larger down payment (leaving us with less cash-on-hand), but many of you had commented that we really needed to have a good cash reserve when buying the house for just this type of situation. Having a later-than-expected closing date helped in that regard, too, because we had extra time to save the money up.

Mortgage

Our rent at our old house was $1200/month. Our current house has a mortgage payment of $950/month. When we set up the auto debit, however, we also asked for an additional $300/month to be applied toward principal. That will take our monthly payment to $1250/month. We can always change or amend the extra/surplus payment, but that’s how we’ve set it up to start. I thought it would be a nice way to build some equity in right from the start, without really “hurting” us since it’s comparable to the payment we’re already used to making.

Not having a mortgage payment due in the month of December was the greatest thing ever!! We ended up having extra money to put toward our debt payment (debt update coming Monday that I’m super excited about!!!).

So that’s how home ownership has impacted our finances on an immediate basis (i.e., initial one-time costs) and for the foreseeable future (i.e., monthly bills). Before we’d ever started house shopping I was hoping to find a place that would be somewhat similar in costs to our current standard-of-living. I didn’t want our expenses to all the sudden sky rocket. And I’m happy with our home. Although, yes, it will likely cost a bit more than our old place, it’s not so much more that it will slow down debt repayment. We won’t be “house poor” by any means. And we always have that $300 buffer on our monthly mortgage – if we find we need a little more wiggle room in the budget we can always make that auto-pay adjustment.

I’m busy baking today with the kiddos and getting laundry done and suitcases packed for our upcoming trip. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and I’ll see you on the other side from Texas! : )

Happy Holidays, y’all!


Dad’s House #2 is Under Contract!!!

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For long-time readers, you know that my Dad was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia in August 2015. By November 2015 we’d moved him out of his first home (in Utah) and down to his second home (in Texas) to be closer to family.

By February it was already apparent that he really shouldn’t be living independently. In March, we moved him into an independent living facility. It still allows him a bit of freedom and independence, but now all of his basic needs are being met (e.g., they serve 3 meals a day, they have staff that cleans residents’ apartments, etc.)

Meanwhile, we set to work on trying to fix up and sell his homes.

Home #1 sold almost immediately! We received multiple offers the first day it was on the market. All went smoothly and it was like a dream! That sale was complete in August.

Home #2 took longer to “fix up”. It’s been on the market for 3 months with very little action and it’s stood in stark contrast to the ease of selling home #1. Finally (finally!) we received an offer in early December…..for nearly $50k below our asking price. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement.

We grappled with negotiations. We aren’t huge fans of our realtor (we actually came THIS.CLOSE to firing him. Like, I literally sent an email saying “I need to speak with you – please give me a call.” I never received a call until 3 days later, when the realtor was calling with an offer. So we stuck it out just for the sake of closing this transaction.)

In the end, my mom (also a realtor – but we didn’t ask her to do the listing for this property due to the fact that it’s our father’s property and they had a messy divorce. To honor our father’s wishes we went with someone different) ended up doing ALL the work. She ran all the comparables, gave us advice, guided us with our counter offers, and – in the end – we signed a contract that was only $20k below our original asking price (and still quite fair for both parties involved).

Now I hold my breath and wait as the inspections are done. We’re currently set to close in January. This is a BIG deal to me because I have been the person to physically handle all of my father’s finances since August 2015. It has been a big burden to be responsible for 3 households (our own + my dad’s 2 houses). Not to mention I live out-of-state of either property. I’ve handled all the bill pay for utilities, mortgages, I’ve scheduled all the landscaping (and payment), all the repairs (and payment), etc. etc. etc. I CANNOT WAIT until I’m back down to only dealing with ONE home (our own).

At the same time, it’s a bit scary. We’ve sold off all our father’s assets. All of his earthly earnings are now sitting in different funds, being managed solely by me. (yikes! talk about pressure!)

The goal, obviously, is for his assets to last the rest of his lifetime. He’s not wealthy (in my opinion), but he does have a solid asset base that, if we are careful, should last the remainder of his life (fingers-crossed!!!)

I’ve already met with one financial advisor but decided not to go with the company after not liking the advice I was receiving. I was planning to meet with another advisor over the winter holidays, but given the imminent sale of this home I’m thinking it might be better to wait and meet after the return from this home has been liquified. So I’ll probably set something up for the mid-January timeframe. It’s interesting to be dealing with two such different financial planes. My own financial plane, characterized by loads of DEBT and working on strategies to reduce that debt. Compared to my Dad’s financial plane, which is all about investment strategies and ways to maximize available assets. I’m hoping to pick up a thing or two, as these lessons should be helpful to me down the road once our own debt mess is cleaned up.

At any rate – that’s all for today. The point of this post was just to share my excitement to FINALY be under contract! Let’s all hold our breath and cross our fingers and pray we get to closing day without any major set-backs. It would be a Christmas miracle! ; )


We Bought A House!!!!!

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We did it!

After endless back-and-forth negotiations, a variety of snags and snafus, and having to change our closing date not once but TWICE, we are officially home owners! YAY!!!!!

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Image source. Note – this is an image that came up in a search of “Arizona houses.” This is NOT our house. As I said before, I won’t be showing a picture of our actual house.

 

We actually closed about a week ago. It was nice because it was a couple days before our 6th wedding anniversary, so we joked that this year for our anniversary we bought ourselves a house! Lol! Go big or go home, right? : )

Shout out to our families who have been so helpful! My Mom helped us with a portion of our down payment and both of our moms have been here recently (first hubs’ mom came out, then my mom) so they have helped with packing, entertaining the girls, and getting everything ready for the move. Hubs has also done a ton. Funny story – this isn’t the first time that the bulk of moving duties have fallen to him. At least twice before I’ve been gone/out of town during moves. I have left with things in disarray and returned with everything moved into a new space! Ha! This time I wasn’t entirely absent (I haven’t gone out of town), but I’ve been pretty busy with work so hubs has definitely taken the lion’s share of packing and boxing and moving. He started with cleaning and moving pretty much immediately after closing but it didn’t become official (aka: we didn’t sleep in the new house) until this weekend. Now I can’t wait to get out the holiday decorations and go to town! : )

This is random but….does anyone remember this ancient blog post? The post (almost 2 years old at this point) was about the thought of having hubs get a vasectomy. GUESS WHAT’S HAPPENING TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!! ((insert giant grin here))

Sorry, let me try to contain my excitement (hehehe!)

Poor hubs – he’s not so excited. What a way to be rewarded for all of his hard work in the past week! But I, on the other hand, could not be more thrilled!!! We’ve known that we are done having kids for awhile, but having the little snip-snip is the last thing to make it really super-duper official and I can’t wait! I’m taking off early tomorrow so I can drive him to the appointment, as he’s got a prescription sedative to help him relax and he’s not supposed to drive on it (for a man whose usually cool as a cucumber, he’s pretty anxious over the whole thing). Then back to business as usual.

I’m really looking forward to the end of the semester! I feel like such good things are on the horizon – new house, hubs starting back to school, a new year, etc. It just feels like a fresh start or a re-set of some sort. Not that this year has been bad (in fact, there’s been a lot of good), but I did call summer 2016 the summer of death and I’m excited to see what new adventures lie ahead for us as a family.

On the financial front – I may have lied. I said I was going to refinance my student loans THE SECOND that the house deal went through. But now that I’ve been thinking about it, I’m not so sure. I still have 9 months left of interest-forgiveness for my subsidized student loans (through IBR), so now I’m thinking I might only consolidate the unsubsidized loans and leave the subsidized ones for the time being so I can get all 9-months worth of interest-forgiveness before I throw them into the consolidation? However, I have issues with Navient every time I turn around, so I’d love to rid them from my life. In the end, I think I’ll do nothing this month. Over the winter break I’ll start my investigation into student loan consolidations/interest rates/etc. and probably make a more concrete decision before the end of the year (because that will greatly impact our financial goals for 2017).

Anywho, I gotta jump back into work! I hope your Mondays are off to a good start (look at me actually blogging on a Monday – pat on my back) ; )

Talk soon!

~A


Hurry Up & Wait

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My experience with home-buying thus far can be summed up as follows:  hurry up & wait.

There have been a handful of times when I’ve received middle-of-the-day calls from the loan company like, “hey, we need X, Y, Z documents RIGHT NOW or else the world is going to explode!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

Okay, okay, maybe a bit of hyperbole there. But that’s how it’s felt. Like hair-on-fire emergency-status and they need these documents STAT!

But then I drop what I’m doing, find X, Y, Z documents, scan and send them over and….nothing. Crickets. A bunch of hurry up & wait.

We’ve already had our closing date pushed back once. Then we got this email on Monday (I’ve redacted identifying information):

I am waiting for the HOA to get me a copy of the Master Insurance Policy. I have been working with [insurance company] and they have to request a copy from the Servicing department. I have called a few times and they’re still working on it. My last call, [insurance representative] said they should have it by end of day on 10/26. It normally does not take this long to obtain this document. I have moved your closing date to 11/04 for now and once I receive the HOA document, we can look at closing earlier. I will call you once I have your loan back in Underwriting for final review.

Sigh.

So closing has been pushed back yet again. Thank GOODNESS we have a great relationship with our landlord and he’s cool with all of this! Our last month of our official lease was in August and we’ve been month-to-month since then (at no increased rate!!!) Our landlord knows we’re in the process of buying and has been so generous with allowing us to stay at our current rate until we are closed on the new house. It’s truly a blessing because otherwise we’d be homeless and living in an Extended Stay hotel right now!

I’ve had a couple people comment to ask about the house and the truth is that I’m feeling a little…not secretive…but maybe “private” is the right word?? I had a Tucson-local recognize me one day when I was out with my family (hi, friend!!!). It was fun to meet a reader but it was also a little….unsettling. I’ve posted lots of pictures and it’s not like I’ve bent over backward to hide my identity or be anonymous or anything (I’ve intentionally kept some things a little ambiguous, but I’ve mostly put myself out there). It was flattering and fun but also a little weird. I think I’m able to share so much personal information about myself so freely because I really feel like this is almost a journal. I love the readership and appreciate all your kind comments and constructive criticism but it still feels….kind of unreal. If that makes sense. Like I’m sending an email to a friend. Not like I’m really publishing information about our salary, our debts, our spending, etc. etc. etc. for the entire world to see and judge (though that’s exactly what I have done, heh).

Anywho ~ it freaked my hubs out a bit, too. And since then I’ve been posting fewer pics. Again – doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who I am – but I’ve been intentionally adding in a little extra layer of privacy, at least for my kiddos’ sake. Soooooo, I’m not going to be posting any pictures of the house and will leave many of the details private.

BUT, BUT, BUT –

that doesn’t mean I’m not going to share anything!

Let me tell you a little about the house.

It’s just under 2,000 square feet (we’re currently living in 1,500 square feet so it’s definitely an upgrade in size). It’s four bedrooms (up from 3!), has two living areas, a dining room (and small breakfast nook), 2.5 baths, and a decent sized yard. It’s in our same general area (we love our current rental’s location) in a mature neighborhood with lots of nearby parks, hiking/biking/jogging trails, good schools & charter schools, and friendly neighbors (we’ve already met a couple of them)!

The house is nearly 30 years old, but has had lots of renovations. The current “owners” are a company that does flips. They’ve put in new floors, bath tubs, retiled the shower, put in new toilets, kitchen countertops, kitchen appliances, ceiling fans and fixtures, new paint, new water lines (to get rid of the old polybutylene), and many other upgrades. As part of our negotiations we also got them to do a new HVAC unit and new duct work, and new section of plumbing (where tree roots had grown into a pipe – shout out to our readers, a couple of whom suggested this might be a problem given the home’s age). There has been a LOT of work on this home in the past few months. We also feel like we’ve gotten it for a great deal. We know what they paid, we know what our offer was that was accepted, and hubs (as a flooring contractor) has guesstimated the amount of work that has been done, etc. and we think the owners can’t be making much off the property. It’s been sitting on the market for several months at this point so they’re probably just cutting their losses and moving onto the next property. But it’s worked out well for us.

I love the house but, even before moving in, I know it’s not our “forever home.” It doesn’t have space for a home office like I’d wanted, is not walking-distance from a jogging trail (it’s close, but not walking distance like our current rental house), and it’s kitchen isn’t the best design or configuration. The yard is a hot mess (I’m talking chest-high weeds all around. Zero in the way of landscaping or maintenance), it’s not in our ideal neighborhood, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are all a bit on the small side.

Before we decided this was “the one” we looked at a LOT of houses. Some that were right around our target price range (mid 100’s) and some that were on the higher end (high 100’s/low 200’s). We talked about the trade-offs of buying a little bit cheaper home that doesn’t quite have everything we want versus buying a more expensive home with all the wish list items. Ultimately, we decided that this was best for our family. It suits all of our immediate needs and has lots of great perks plus some added bonuses we hadn’t even considered (e.g., it has a wood-burning fireplace, which will be fun in winter; and it’s in a gated community, which is nice for safety/security). But probably the biggest decision factor was the price-point of the home.

Our goal is to continue pushing forward with debt-payoff. But now my sights aren’t just solely focused on the student loan debts. Now I’m considering the possibility of paying off a home mortgage. Living fully debt free. Wild, right?

I’ve done some basic calculations and I think it could be possible….within 5 or 6 years time. Yeah.  100% debt freedom. For real.

I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves (we don’t even own this home yet and I’m already fantasizing about paying it off – what is wrong with me!? lol!). But blogging here has changed me. Working so hard toward this awesome goal has changed me. It’s changed us as a family. And it just seems so plain to me. The way to financial independence is by being fully debt-free. With a home in the high 100’s or low 200s that would be further from our reach. But this home makes it possible. We would be living within our means. Nay, we’d be living below our means, really. Our mortgage would be such a small percentage of our monthly income that it’d still be easy to continue making big debt payments. And after the student loan debt is gone, we would snowball that money into the mortgage payments. And then into savings and retirement. And into travel and gift-giving and charity work. And on and on and the sky is the limit!

We have some pretty big dreams. Pretty lofty goals. And we see this house as part of that puzzle. A piece that is going to help us live a comfortable lifestyle and continue making progress toward our larger goals.

And we’ve definitely fallen for it. So there’s that.

Now let’s just cross our fingers that nothing falls through and it becomes ours in…oh a week or so, I suppose. : )

How long was your home-buying process? Ours has been ridiculously long, but my mom (a real estate broker) thinks a lot of that has been due to our jobs. I’ve only been in my current position one year and, prior to that, hubs and I were both self-employed/working contract-based jobs. That’s caused us to need a LOT of extra paperwork to prove our income, show that deposits in our accounts were due to business transactions (and not drug money I guess? I don’t know!), etc. Plus the negotiations, themselves, took forever. Lots of back-and-forth initially and again after the home inspection. Almost walked away a couple times in the process and ended up sticking it out after coming to terms. It’s felt like a total roller coaster (and it’s been a solid 2 months at this point since our first offer was submitted). I hope it’s all worth it in the end!!! : )


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