When my husband told me he wanted to buy a home with cash, I thought he was crazy.
I clearly remember thinking, “No one in this house, is paying cash for a house. It’s impossible!”
Yet here I am, 8 years later, eating crow because last month, we bought a house and paid cash.
I was almost hesitant to share this with you guys, for two main reasons.
- This is a frugal food and natural living blog, not a finance blog. But the reason we’re frugal and make things from scratch in the first place is because we were once in an obscene amount of debt… so while the blog contains much of one side, they are one and the same in our home.
- I didn’t want you to think I was bragging. You might never aspire to buy a home with cash. You might want to finish college or compete in an athletic event or even just climb out of debt. For us though, paying cash for a house was our “one day” dream. And the fact that we did this is a VERY BIG DEAL to us. There is not a single day that goes by that I am not in awe at the mere fact we did this, and it’s incredibly hard to convey this in words without sounding pompous or prideful.
On the flip side, I AM sharing this with you guys because:
You asked me to.
I first shared the news on Instagram and y’all wanted to know the story. So here I am, sharing.
Y’all inspire me.
You followed us across the country and offered your homes as a place of refuge along the way. When I had to come up with 3 meals a day using one pot, one skillet and a pair of tongs, you said “You can do it, and hang in there, because this too shall pass.”
I want to encourage you.
Eight years ago when my husband said we’d never have a mortgage I thought my dreams of one day owning a home were over. We were good at saving, but for a whole house?! There was no way. I was full of doubt and had no faith that we’d ever come remotely close.
But we tried anyway.
We sacrificed and saved. We worked hard and gave up so much in hopes of one day – ONE DAY – we might reach our incredibly big and seemingly impossible goal.
And we did it. Which means whatever your “one day“ dream is, you can reach it too.
I’m a very practical person, which means this is a very practical blog. I won’t ever tell you to do something without explaining how, and this post is no exception.
There’s no magical formula for how we saved up enough money to buy a home with cash, but we did use a few “strategies” along the way.
It’s important to note though, that not any one of these ideas can be attributed for meeting this goal. And none of them are a one-time use.
It was the culmination of all of these techniques, every week, for 8 years.
Of course there were obstacles and setbacks, but our eyes were on the prize. We were in it for the long haul.
Just a heads up – this is a long post. You might want to fill up your coffee mug now.
How We Saved Up Enough Money to Buy a Home with Cash
We got out of debt, and stayed out.
I’ve written about how we did this before. In short, we cut our expenses in half early on so we could live off of my husband’s income while I stayed home to raise my son. We stopped using our credit cards and every single last penny we had went towards debt.
Once the debt was gone, it was gone for good. There was no way we were going into debt again – not for a car, not for gifts, not even for flights to see family across the country. If there was something to pay for, we found a way to pay for it outright.
We increased our income.
A few months after we cut our expenses, it became clear that interest was compounding at a faster rate than we could pay it off. To bring in extra income, I started my own business making wooden nursery letters at home. I didn’t make much, but it was enough to turn the table so that the ball was rolling in our favor.
We lived below our means.
When my son was 8 months old, we moved from a 3 bedroom house in Texas to an 800 square foot apartment in California. We could have lived some place bigger, but that would mean paying more in rent and saving less.
We did the same thing when we moved to Georgia, choosing to live in a small one bedroom apartment while we found a house to rent.
Even while searching for a house, we could have chosen a house that was bigger with a nicer neighborhood, but we didn’t because that would mean saving less each month.
I learned to coupon to save more.
A couple of months before our second child was born, I stopped taking orders for letters and learned to coupon. It was about the time when extreme couponing was the trend and I was reading stories of people saving more than I was making, and they had tangible goods – food, shampoo, soap – to show for it.
My husband’s job brought money in, but I learned the drugstore game and made it my job to keep as much of that money as possible from leaving.
A few years later, I got tired of the game and the stress that came with it and quit couponing. I set aside what I thought we would use for one year and sold the rest.
Six months later, when I realized we weren’t going through soap and shampoo at the rate I thought we would, I set aside half and had another stockpile sale.
Profits from both sales went straight to the savings account.
We made sacrifices most families wouldn’t make.
We didn’t see a movie in the theater for over 5 years. There weren’t birthday, anniversary or Christmas gifts for each other unless we had a gift card to pay for them. We set a budget for every event, every gift and every single person for every single holiday.
When my husband realized he could carpool with a co-worker, we sold his car. When this co-worker went on vacation and we needed a back-up plan so my husband could get to work, he rode his bike.
For two years I carried every load of laundry ¼ mile and washed it at my dad’s house so we didn’t have to pay 75¢ per wash and per dry at the apartment’s facilities. When my pregnant belly made it hard to carry both laundry and my infant son at the same time, I rigged up a stroller to make it work.
If I wasn’t able to get the laundry done in time, or the weather didn’t cooperate, my husband did it when he got home from work.
We never took on additional expenses without additional income.
My daughter slept in my son’s hand-me-down pack-n-play in the living room of our 800 square foot apartment until she was 9 months old. When she started walking, we started looking for a bigger place to live.
We ended up moving into the cheapest 3 bedroom townhouse in town, setting us back an additional $600 more in rent each month.
To offset this, I taught two nights a week at a local college. We saved a little from my part-time job, but more importantly, we didn’t save any less, despite our expenses going up.
We never paid full price for anything.
Shoes, clothes, food, cars, bikes, toys – you name it. We searched high and low for coupons, deals and rebates in order to get the absolute most out of every purchase.
When we bought something it either on sale or we had a coupon or there was a rebate. The majority of the time, it was all three.
We accepted help and gifts.
When we first arrived in California, a neighbor gave us a 10 year old sofa, chair and ottoman. My parents bought a new dining room table and they gave us their old one. When they bought new bedroom furniture, their old furniture went to the guest room and the guest room furniture – including the mattress – became ours.
All of my kids’ furniture – from their cribs and changing table to their dressers and the bunk beds – were birthday and/or Christmas gifts.
My dad and step-mom hosted family dinner every Sunday night. I often brought dessert, but they intentionally cooked big so they could send us home with leftovers.
When the manager of our townhouse offered $300 off our rent in exchange for a few minor responsibilities each month, we happily said yes.
My step-mom and grandma gifted us a CSA subscription each year, which allowed us to save another $100 each month on groceries.
We sought out better jobs and took on more hours.
We were beyond thankful for my husband’s job that moved us from Texas to California, but we realized after a couple of years that there wasn’t room for long-term growth.
My husband used education reimbursement to take classes at the local college to qualify for more advanced positions. Job openings didn’t happen often in our small community, but when they did, he diligently applied. When he got an offer for a more advanced position, he took it.
When the college I was teaching at offered me additional classes that fit into the schedule I was already teaching, I said yes.
We made a minimum savings goal every month.
Just like we had spending caps on our groceries, we had saving minimums. Every expense and purchase was weighed against whether or not we would meet our saving goal for the month. If we couldn’t meet the goal, we postponed the purchase.
We saved 100% of every “extra” paycheck.
My husband got a paycheck every 2 weeks, and we built our monthly budget around those two Fridays. So then, when there was an “extra” paycheck every 3 months, we were able to save the whole thing.
We reviewed receipts and bills religiously.
In a time when every single penny counted, we always reviewed receipts and bills in case there were errors.
I once fought insurance and the hospital for 9 months because of a dispute over an ultrasound. That determination and perseverance saved us $5000.
I started a blog.
I started blogging while I was teaching as a way to share my frugal endeavors with other people. At the time, I had no idea you could even make money on the internet. Eighteen months later I used my first affiliate link and at the end of the month, I made $4.
Soon after this, I realized that the same amount of time I was spending away from my family, working for someone else, according to their schedule, could be spent at home with my family working for myself on my own schedule.
I also realized that with hard work, I could earn the same amount of money, if not more. On top of this, the long-term potential was much greater, the work was much more rewarding and the flexible hours meant I would be able to blog while homeschooling my kids too.
I quit teaching six months later.
I learned to cook and make things from scratch.
And this is how my blog evolved from a general brain dump into something that would actually help other families in a similar situation as ours. From homemade chicken stock to yogurt to dried beans to natural toothpaste to even ketchup. I spent my days in the kitchen, trying do as much as I could myself so that I didn’t have to spend money on it at the store.
We gave as generously as we could.
Most of our gifts were homemade, from a drugstore or goody baskets put together with products I already had at home. Despite the fact we didn’t have much money to spend on gifts, we gave generously from our hearts.
One of the reasons we left California was the cost of living. It was quite possibly one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made, but we knew that our dreams would never become a reality if we stayed.
I’m sure we did other things too, but these are the majority of them. Besides, it wasn’t necessarily the things we did that helped make our dream of paying cash for a house a reality, it was our state of minds.
Also remember that it took us 8 years to do this. That’s 96 monthly budget meetings, 208 paydays to divvy up between bills and the savings account, 2912 days where at least once we’d have to say no to something in order to say yes to our “one day” dream.
Was it hard? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because now that we’re on the other side, it feels so, SO good!!