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Get Your Finances in Line in 2009: Monthly check-up (and some thoughts on why we’re saving to pay 100% cash down on our first home)

January is behind us already–wow! That means it's time for our monthly check-up to see how we're doing on our financial goals for

As you will recall, our big goal for this year is to save up enough to
pay 100% cash down on our first home.
This has been a long-time dream
of ours and we've been actively working the past year towards this. In
actuality, though, we've been dreaming and working towards this even before
we got married.

You see, six years ago when we go married, my husband and I both committed to stay out of debt during law school–something
we knew would be a challenge, something which is rarely done, but something we both felt was possible, by
the grace of God.

We made it through my husband's undergrad and three
years of law school without debt–which was our first goal. And once we
had done that, we had momentum and motivation to aim for our even bigger goal of paying cash for
our first home. Because we didn't have school loans, car loans, or credit card debt, we realized that with lots and lots of hard work,
lots of scrimping and careful sticking to our budget, and lots of perseverance, paying cash in full for our first home just might be possible.

So that's our big goal for this year. A lot of people look at us like we're crazy for attempting something like this–especially when we started out with almost no savings after law school. But we're pretty used to that since people thought we were nuts for getting married before law school, having a baby during law school, and staying out of debt during law school. I guess you could say that being weird has become our modus operandi!

At any rate, we're not just shooting after this to be weird; we've run a lot of figures and spent hours calculating the numbers and we realize that in our situation, waiting and saving for a few years–if it takes that!–to buy a home debt-free will allow us to be in a much better position financially than if we were to take the money we have saved and put it as a big down-payment on a home.

It would not only likely take us at least a few years longer to pay off that home than it will take us to save up to pay cash in full for a house, we also feel like we would lose some of our momentum in the process. We're highly motivated right now; we don't want to be renting any longer than we have to and we're willing to forego a lot of extras and luxuries which we could easily afford in our budget in order to sock away a much larger amount to savings.

In addition, we're learning a lot about patience and self-discipline. What you wait for and work for, you appreciate much more. Yes, we could go buy a home next week. Yes, we could put a good down payment on it. And yes, many folks would think we were being financially-savvy for doing so. But we wouldn't have the opportunity to learn all the perseverance we're learning right now.

We also know that there is a temptation to buy more than you can really afford when taking out a mortgage. (Which is one reason our country is having the housing crisis they are having right now–but don't get me started on that!)

In the past few years, we've experienced some total and unexpected financial setbacks. When my husband graduated from law school, it appeared he had a good and secure job that he'd hold for the next few years. Things outside of our control happened and within a few months, he was without a job. Another move, another job, and another eight months later, he was again without a job. God took care of us and provided for us very well during these times, but we learned that you can't put your security in a job or a paycheck.

Very quickly, we came to be so grateful we had waited to buy a home. It's quite simple and inexpensive to get out of a rental agreement and downsize to a small apartment compared to the headache and possible financial strain which could ensue if you have a house payment you can't pay in a house you can't sell.

So even if others think we're making a mistake to wait to buy a home until we can pay cash for it, we continue to press on, persevere, and save. Not everyone is in a financial position where they can save like we are blessed to be able to do right now. We have a good income, our expenses are low, and we don't have debt. Because of this, it's a no-brainer for us to do what we're doing.

We don't expect everyone to follow in our steps nor do we think everyone in every financial situation should. However, we do hope that we can be an inspiration to many of you out there–especially to those of you who are young and just getting started in life. Just because everyone tells you you can't, doesn't mean that you can't.

Be willing to dream big, aim high, and work hard. Don't let the naysayers get you down. Keep on, press on, persevere. And you just might be surprised at what can happen! I know we've certainly been!

And now for the monthly progress report:

We started out this year at 33% of our house savings goal. As of January 31, 2009, we're at 36%!

Only 64% left to go! Yes, it might seem like a small percentage step, but we are thrilled to
be making headway like this. It still seems impossible that we might
actually make 100% of our goal amount by the end of the year, but who
knows? We'll keep working, hoping, dreaming, and saving all we can.

And we'll see what February holds!

How did you do in January? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in January and, if you'd like, the areas
you hope to improve in February. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don't have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let's all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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  • Kimberly says:

    I wrote one post covering my financial goals as well as the personal ones, like you posted about on your other blog.

    In a nutshell, we have paid off 7 of our debts (the 7 smallest, according to Dave…) We are on our way. Thanks for helping me stay accountable!

  • Step says:

    Good for you! You’re doing the right thing. Young families out there, follow Crystal’s advice! Try to pay 100% for a house. My husband and I made the mistake 15 years ago with buying too much house, too soon (right after we were married). Now, we put a good amount down, hubby has a good paying job, and we’re able to pay the mortgage, BUT we’ve incurred too much debt in the process. We’d do things much differently in hindsight.

    The good news is that we’ve discovered the error of our ways a few years ago and we’ve been purposing to get out of debt. We’re doing much the same as you with saving as much as we can, doing without, and using a cash only system. This past year, we didn’t add a single dime to our debt and we didn’t put anything on credit. My husband feels that we will have our debt paid off in 3 years! This year’s goal is to really buckle down on the cash system — writing down where every penny of our money goes, saving even more in the process.

  • I read daily via email but rarely comment, but I had to click through today! My husband and i (inspired by Dave Ramsey) have determined in our hearts that we, too, want to pay 100% cash down on our first home. We’ve been married for 10 years and have accumulated enough credit card debt to buy a brand new vehicle (ick) so we have a long, long way to go. But we hate that feeling of debt hanging over us SO MUCH that we feel led to never, ever, ever have any kind of debt again, insomuchas we can help it. We’ve rented various apartments and houses our whole marriage. God has always provided exactly what we have needed (and more!) in the places we have rented. The world says, “Rening is stupid! You must BUY BUY BUY!” but we answer to a different call.

    THANK YOU for this encouragement. We feel totally weird, too, but we’re learning to love that.


  • Patty says:

    Crystal, I just wanted to thank you for being such an inspiration. Though I’m sure our income is quite a bit lower than yours, you have inspired me to strive for what to the world seems impossible. Because of your great example I am well on my way to paying off our debt and reaching my husbands dream of owning land in the country.

    God Bless!

  • Kristina says:

    Crystal… any chance you would elaborate on the lower cost of living and lower wages? It might help to put things in perspective. For example, in our town, average income is about 50K, but average house prices is well, well, over half million (there are a LOT of wealthy people that buy second homes here). We were very lucky to buy at the bottom of the housing price with a 300K house, and to put about 40% down. (my husband’s income is around the “average” range).

    In our old town, the average income was $35K, and the average home price was around $150-$200. So, not a huge difference in income in the two towns, but a tremendous difference in home price.

    Great job on the goal to put 100% down. We are working like mad to pay off our other 60%, and refinance we are doing next week at 4.75% will go a long way to meeting that goal. 🙂

  • andrea says:

    love to see how much people save!!

  • Morgan says:

    As a fellow Dave Ramsey follower…your plan to pay 100% down is not wierd to me at all 🙂 I hope you make your goal this year because I can’t imagine how incredibly secure and peaceful you will feel!

    We live in California, currently we are renting a VERY economical apartment and trying to pay down our credit card and car loan debt. After that, we are looking to move to a state where the cost of living is much lower so that we could afford a house.


  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for your inspiring blog. I love to read the updates on your life. My husband and I listened to the Dave Ramsey book just before we got married and I think that it is the best thing that we could have done for ourselves. We have been debt-free throughout our marriage and have managed to save plenty through having a baby and being in college. Our goal has been to save enough to pay 100% down on a home when that time comes, so it is great to be able to read your story of someone who has done it since we don’t know anyone else who has that goal. Thank you for sharing your progress with us. It has re-motivated my hubby and I to keep that as a long-term and accomplishable goal. Keep up the good work, I appreciate you sharing it with us.

  • auntie says:

    i’m very impressed with your goals and progress! i agree completely that paying cash for a house is the way to go – Dave Ramsey convinced me of that when i went through his FPU.

  • It sounds like you are doing great!

    Thanks for the pep talk on 100% down. That is our plan too, but we will not begin that savings for a few more months – right now we are building up a bigger emergency fund. We don’t live in a very affordable area, so it’s a big goal, but I am excited about it.

  • Stephanie says:

    We got out of a bad housing deal last year, and are currently renting. We have not debt and have eliminated our costs down to the essentials. Now we are living within our means but have no way to save a large chunk of money unless our income goes up. It would be nice for it to go up and we remain disciplined to save all the xtra! I am trying to find some creative ways to make that happen w/o working outside the home since I have 3 children that I homeschool which is a full time job! You have been an inspiration to me to stay motivated on this! It is obvious that you are being very blessed by the Lord for your obedience, faithfulness and good stewardship! I can’t wait to see the day you actually buy that home! We will have to give you a virtual house warming party!

  • Lorna says:

    I applaud you both!! I can’t wait to learn all I can here…hopefully I can eventually pass on what I learn elsewhere.

  • Kristy says:

    I have two sons in college and both will graduate debt free. One son is planning to attend Dental school and he would love to graduate debt free from there as well.

    When your husband was in Law School did you work? How did you pay for school?

    Thank you for all your tips and info.

  • Good luck with your 100% down goal Crystal! I belong to a forum which supports the teachings of Dave Ramsey and last year another member of the board and her husband bought their house for 100% down! They are a young couple in their 20s, one income with three small children, in NY! It can be done!

  • Kathryn Bircher says:

    Great job! We recently found Dave Ramsey and are working to get out of debt and pay cash for everything. I totally get the whole waiting thing. I am facing that on a much smaller scale in my babysteps right now, I missed out on a good flight deal to visit my parents because I didn’t have the money yet. I was almost completely sure that I’d have it with the extra shifts I’ve been working, but since I didn’t actually have the cash I didn’t buy them. It’s a hard learning process, but valuable. Keep up the good work!

  • Suzie says:

    I have recently started following your blog because some of my friends do, and you have such great tips on here. I really appreciate them! I am so excited for you and your progress toward your goal, and I encourage you to keep pressing forward for your dream to buy your house with 100% down! That is one of the best ideas I have heard in a while. : )

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