Two years into our marriage, we were getting by…and two years into paying our landlords who wouldn’t fix the a/c or the moldy cupboards and bedroom(!), we were working multiple jobs, Joseph graduating with his associates degree and moving to full time at work, and a baby on the way!
Renting: We hadn’t thought about moving. We liked our little house and Dani worked out of the house with students coming there. But the summer months saw the house sit at 90-degrees while the a/c labored pointlessly, some kitchen cupboards were useless due to an ongoing mold issue (water leaking from the roof through the walls and windows down under the kitchen counters!), and the back bedroom that we’d planned to use as a nursery had a horrible mold problem in the closet.
Phone calls and letters with photos included did nothing. The landlord didn’t even acknowledge the problem. That’s when we finally stopped and asked ourselves how much were we paying?
All told, we’d paid our landlords about $15,000 (always on time!) over the time we’d lived there…and we had nothing to show for it.
We decided we needed to buy a house so that at least our payments would be building equity for us and not a landlord!
Homeownership: luckily, we went into it wanting to keep our payments the same or lower than our rent. We never asked the bank how much they’d approve us for, we calculated how much we could purchase and keep the payment where we wanted it, and we asked just for approval at that number.
We used an FHA loan which doesn’t require a down payment—good thing since we’d never built up our savings. We didn’t even have enough for closing costs and eventually negotiated for the sellers to cover closing costs.
We wanted a basement and old, cheap houses that have basements often have serious foundation issues. So when we walked into a basement that wasn’t actively falling in, we knew that was the house we wanted.
This wasn’t the beginning of FIRE, but it was the beginning of thinking for ourselves and making decisions to improve our finances. The house was small. The yard was big (good for kids and dogs). And we planned on living there for only five years.
That little house? It was never our dream house, but it’s been the house where all our dreams took shape. Three kids later, we’re still in the little house…no plans to move! The journey to FIRE is on!