Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Home

I am looking back on the past few months, a little bit in awe of how far we have come, and how lucky we really are.

A few months ago, I was sitting at a dead end job at the Railroad, honestly hating it. I wasn't making good money, I spent too much time there, I had a lot of bad feelings towards people I worked with and I didn't feel like I was cared about.

Around the same time, we started looking at houses to rent. We had already decided to build with a program called "Self Help Homes" for low income families, and just needed a place to live, that wasn't tiny, or loud, or over saturated with the wrong kinds of people.  (The kind who drink half  naked in parking lots and carry knives around.)  <--True Story.

I put on Facebook that we were looking for a place to stay and we had a few people let us know about places that were available. One was a small home, on a busy road, but it was well kept, and a fair price. The second was a gorgeous home in a quiet, newer neighborhood.

As it turns out, the homeowner of the beautiful home told us that they couldn't rent after all-for tax reasons, and were actually looking to sell the home. They wanted to know if we would be interested in buying the home at a fair price, without realtor fees.

We were thrown for a giant, emotional loop.

Not only did we not consider just buying a home and financing it traditionally, we thought there was no way we could do it.

We started looking into options, and met with a mortgage broker. After years of living frugally and trying to keep our noses clean, plus working our butts off and never seeing each other-we actually qualified for a home. A traditional mortgage. No Joke.

The issue was that we were looking at high payments with no downpayment, in a variety of different circumstances.

Despite the fact that we were told we could afford the house, we didn't feel like we could. It felt like we would be feeling poor, and unhappy, and nervous that if anything happened we would be ruined. Essentially-HouseBroke.

We decided to hold off, go with something cheaper, and not make a commitment. I was not about to lose all my hard work on a bad decision.

We had made an initial offer on the house, and they owners had turned it town, so we were going to walk away.

This was right before fathers day. Well that evening, I went to the grocery store to get some things for fathers day, and I ran into the owner of the home. They are good friends of my families, and she was talking with my mom. She suggested the option that we live in the home, pay them money until we had a downpayment, and then buy the house from her.

It was an amazing offer. Still, after thinking it over, and really praying about it, we decided it wasn't going to work, after all was said and done it would be too expensive, and we would be HouseBroke.

We turned them down a second time.

It was around this time that I started looking into a new job. I had done my first interview, and was beyond excited about the company, the benefits, and the people who worked there-but I didn't get my hopes up. Not only was the pay a lot more (3 times what I was making) but there was a lot of people interviewing for the position. I knew it could be life changing, and didn't want to get my hopes up.

At this time, the owner of the house came back to us and said that they would accept our original offer, and allow us time to live in the home until we could get a downpayment.

Again, we were torn, and confused, and hesitant. We were being given a seriously amazing opportunity and it felt like something was telling us to jump.

And then I got offered the job. The free benefits, high paying, amazing co-workers, flexible schedule, family oriented job. Right down the street from the new house.

It seemed like everything had finally fallen into place in our favor, and we took it as a sign.

We said Yes. Heck Yes.

We got approved for the home, got the contracts together, and started making plans for a downpayment.

 Even though we were making more money, we decided to wait and put a chunk down on the home to make the payment lower long term-it was the difference between an $1100 mortgage and a $1700 mortgage-worth the wait in the long run.

We also wanted the loan to reflect our new income instead of our old which pushed the close off a few months.

We absolutely LOVE our new home. We feel so lucky, and so blessed to be where we are at 23.
In one year we went from low income, to qualifying for a home, and I feel like it was a big feat to accomplish.

For anyone who is trying to do it, especially at a young age, it is possible. But it wasn't easy. 

I've had a few people ask how we did it. It was mostly common sense, but here's what we focused on.

-We didn't buy new clothes, or furniture or go on big vacations. Almost every item of furniture in my house was free, or CHEAP.

-I went to 4 years of college without a student loan. We didn't take any loans out for unnecessary things. We sold a car, and I got rides with my mom to work everyday.

-We put all of our extra money on debt. Birthday money, Christmas Money, Wedding Money, Tax Money,  Overtime Money.

-We BOTH work full time jobs, including overtime when needed. We both worked a lot of Holidays. When things were tight there is nothing that got us on solid ground faster than me working. Does it suck? Sometimes. Do I miss my baby? Always. But did it give us the ability to stop stressing about money and start living, yes.

-We work opposite shifts and sacrifice never having days off together in order to make sure our little boy always is home with a family member-that means less money on daycare.

-We budgeted, did meal plans, called companies when a bill was $2 higher than normal. I laid out every ounce of debt that we had, and our income, and figured out where every single cent went every month. If Colton spent $3 at the gas station, I was calling to find out why. It sounds crazy, but you have to be accountable to yourself.

-I put together a home binder. It had every bill we paid, and the amount, for an entire year, so I knew what amounts to budget, and what to expect. I was almost never surprised by the amount of a bill. If I was-I was calling them immediately. Nothing slipped through the cracks. I check my bank account daily so I know what has gone through. It is also nice because I can take it to work easily and pay bills from there if needed.

-After a year of knowing exactly how much I would pay, I put things on auto pay. With working full time, I would come home tired and not want to sit on a computer and pay bills. This way, I would account for what days the bills would come out, and then just watch the account closely, checking off each bill as it goes through.

-We paid all of our bills on time, no matter what.

-CHECK YOUR CREDIT. I check mine all the time to make sure things look good and loans are showing paid off and our debt is to a minimum. It helps me to make sure that there are no bills going unpaid, or something has slipped under my radar. My advice: If you are late or can't pay something you see on your report, ask the bank for your options. It is NOT worth it to just let a bill go unpaid for months on end. When things do come together, it won't matter because your credit is shot. I was late on one payment, three years ago, that was for $25 dollars, and every time I see it, I get mad at myself. I could have paid it NO PROBLEM. I just forgot-how lame is that?

It really is freeing to have a place where I can laugh loud and not have the walls banged on, where I can paint my bathroom teal, and hang pictures on the walls and change things I don't like. A place where I can let my naughty almost 2 year old have a fit in his room, and not worry about making the neighbors upset.

Life feel really good right now, we are very blessed, we have worked hard, and it is paying off.