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Monthly Financial Check-up

It’s July and guess what that means? It’s time for our monthly financial check-up. How did you do in June?

We began June at 48.5% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 50%!

I cannot even begin to tell you how exciting it is for us to have reached the half-way point in our house savings. We had set the bar a little high in our savings goal so we’re getting very close to the point where we can actually start looking at houses.

We’re going to begin our house search by doing more research into what our options are, what areas we’d like to live in, and what features we’re looking for in a home. Once we’ve done that, enough time will likely have elapsed that we’ll be able to begin looking at homes–for real!–which are in the price range of what we have saved up.

It is amazing for us to look back over the last few years and realize how far we’ve come. What once seemed like a “big, hairy, audacious goal” is starting to become reality. The beans-and-rice budget is paying off and it feels weird to realize how close we are. Yet, just because we’re inching closer and closer to our goal, we don’t want to let our resolve slide or our frugality slip–something we’re having to guard against.

I’d really like to be at 55% of our goal by the end of July so that we will have saved over 20% towards our house savings goal this year so far. But we’ll see how the month goes!

Thanks so much for encouraging and cheering us along. It’s a huge help to have so much accountability in this! If you have recommendations for us when it comes to buying a home (books we should read, things we should consider, or any advice you’d like to give), please do pass it along. I feel like I have so much to learn and I want to be as well-researched as I possibly can be.

the way, if you’re new here, you can read more about our financial
goals for this year and our progress so far by scrolling down on this
page here. And if you’re wondering why we’re attempting to save to pay 100% down for a house, be sure to read this post.)

How did you do in June? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in June and, if you’d like, the areas
you hope to improve in July. 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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  • Betty Lewis says:

    I admire your loyalty and perseverence to reach your goal. I wish I could be debt free. I am a single mother of four children and your emails and money savings tips are a huge help to me. I appreciate all of the help you give to me and others.

  • Ashlei says:

    I am a former teacher turned Stay at home Mommy, and I live in your area, so if you have any questions about schools, just let me know and I will give you some insight or at least what I know. Congrats on your success! Have fun with the home buying experience!

  • Katherine says:

    Yay! Good job! What a great accomplishment and a testament of God’s grace and mercy to you and your family as you seek to honor Him with your finances. We are in the process of buying a foreclosure, and, if you decide to go that route, you can get a really great deal, but my advice is to expect delays and frustrations that are outside your control. Also, definitely shop around for the best deal on combined home and auto insurance. There’s a huge variation of coverage costs between various providers. I look forward to following your house hunt via the blog.

  • hillery potter says:

    An easy thing to do while looking at a house is to not only look at the large issues, but look at some of the details. Are their emergency shut off valves on all toilets and sinks? (Our house had zero which we found out about when a bathroom flooded in the middle of the night) Are the faucets a good heavy duty metal, or the cheap flimsy kind. Do the windows open and close right. Do all the light switches work for what they are supposed to work for. The reason these things matter is that it can give you a good idea of the level of quality of house. Like I said, our house had no shut off valves, no crawl space vents, light switches that do nothing, plastic handles on the faucets that have all broken off. This is reflected in the general construction of the house as well. Our whole neighborhood is the same way, wish I had talked to some neighbors first, and knew then what I know now, we would have NEVER bought this house.

    Congratulations, and prayers for you in the months to come.

  • Susan says:

    My biggest suggestion would be to start meeting with realtors. When I bought my condo in Chicago, my realtor made all the difference. She was knowledgeable, patient and explained things to me whenever I asked (even if it was the 10th time I needed clarification). Having a realtor who you trust is a big MUST-HAVE in house buying.

  • Some house-hunting tips that I haven’t heard mentioned:

    1. Walk the neighborhood. Don’t just drive through. It might give you a better feel for the community you’ll be moving to, and alert you to nearby parks or businesses that you might not have noticed. (We found out after the fact that there were THREE bars within the two blocks between our house and the school, for instance.)
    2. Look for old people. (and talk to them!) I was very comforted by the sight of older folks sitting out on their front steps talking to one another; it gave us the sense that people in the neighborhood look out for one another.
    3. Ask yourself (or the potential neighbors when you’re on your walk) where the nearest grocery store, bank, and post office is. It is wonderful to be walking distance from those resources–especially when weather is snowy or transportation limited. (Being close to public transportation is also good to consider.)

    Thanks for being an encouragement to me to keep going and sticking to the plan. We are all so grateful for the way God has used you that it gives us great delight to watch you stay focussed and reach your goals–and to cheer you on!

  • Jessica says:

    We bought our home 5 years ago. Hindsight is 20/20. Here is my advice:
    *buy LESS than what you think you can afford. Even if you have saved 100%. Things come up. Within 6 months of purchasing our home, we had to: repair the furnace (transformer blew); install steel beams in the basement $5400; sewer line got clogged $300; carpenter ants came to visit $400; garbage disposal malfunction $100; roof leak $500…
    *Get a home inspection as well as a pest inspection (see above!!!)
    *Do an internet search to locate parolees, wanted criminals and sex offenders for any address you are considering moving to. My personal experience– when we bought our house, there were none within 6 blocks of us. Then a convicted rapist moved back in with his wife when I was 7 months pregnant, into the house caty-corner from mine. Then a convicted murderer and aggravated robber moved in next door to me. There was nothing to prevent any of them from moving into a family neighborhood, and we already owned the house.
    *Consider what changes you may want to make, and factor that in to your purchase price. We had a fence installed when our daughter was an infant, and that cost $2000.
    *incidentals- if you have never been responsible for things like lawn care, you’ll need access to a mower, trimmers, clippers… you may have to purchase garbage bins, recycle bins, a mail box, light fixtures
    *security system if you want or need one

    Also, consider the energy costs of the home you are looking at. Are the appliances effcient? Enough insulation? Old drafty windows? No trees to shade from summer sun? Damp basement that will require a full time dehumidifier?

  • nydia says:

    I love reading your financial update, and everyone elses who post in the mr linky. We will be completely debt free including our current house in or before November, and we want to begin saving to build our dream home on land that we own. We want to pay cash too. It seems like it may take 5 years to reach that goal, but that seems better to us than a 15-30 year mortgage. We are able to keep our living expenses low currently since we own our home, so maybe we can aim to get to our goal sooner. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Amy Lloyd says:

    Congrats! What an accomplishment! Your site has been of great inspiration and benefit to me and my family and I have read almost everday for over a year! I do have some questions about your future home purchase. Since you and your family are so budget conscience, are you going to take into consideration how your new or new to you home will impact your family finances in terms of things like: Cost of utilities, quality and type of materials used (i.e. hardie siding vs. vinyl, single pane windows vs. triple pane low-e windows) , energy star appliances, energy efficient furnance, insulation in walls/ attic, etc? I could go on, but I am just curious if any of these things are on your radar in terms of how they will impact your future budget once you purchase the home? If these things are of importance to you, I would highly recommend a home energy audit prior to purchasing the home. An energy audit will help determine what types of improvements you could make and what type of payback they will have (life-cycle cost). You can check out our website to see pictures of a sample energy audit and blower door test. This would be a great starting place for purchasing a new or existing home and very budget friendly (approx. $300).

  • Linda says:

    I love to read your updates. I talk to my dh every day about working our way up to saving 100% for a house.
    Keep up the good work.
    I am linking to you from facebook if you don’t mind. = )
    I am always giving people your url so they can be inspired and save money too.

  • JvW says:

    Halfway mark! That is fantastic!! You are an inspiration.

  • Jennifer says:

    We paid off our car this month! Our car was our debt with the highest interest rate and we just sent in the final check a week or so ago. I’m very excited to get the pink slip soon. We are a 1 car family and have worked very hard to get it paid off even though our first child is 14 months old and we’ve had to add $800-1k/month in daycare costs to our budget every month. It is the best feeling to know we own that car. We paid it off 1 1/2 years before the loan was scheduled to end.

    Congrats on your major milestone!

  • Katie says:

    Congratulations that’s amazing news. It must be so exciting to be able to buy a house that you own completely. I wish I knew what I know now. We have paid most of our debts and are saving like mad. We have a car loan which we are aiming to pay off completely by end of this year. After that we will be tackling the mortgage.

    Its hard to keep in the mindset of saving and paying off debts – this site is a great inspiration and I thank you for all your encouragement. Your advice has made a BIG difference to my family.

  • Donna says:

    Learn from our mistake. Don’t buy a house from a family of smokers! We didn’t think it smelled so bad, until about 2 weeks later. I visited a friend and when I opened my suitcase, it smelled like an ashtray! that’s when I realized that everything in my house smelled that way. We had the entire house painted and/or wallpapered, the carpet cleaned, the ductwork cleaned, blinds replaced, etc. It was very expensive, but made it like a new house inside. It took all that to get rid of the lingering smoke damage. don’t buy a house from smokers!

  • Jessica says:

    Congrats, you guys are doing great!!!

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