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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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  • Sandy says:

    Are you kidding? That’s not small progress but big one. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you saved that much $$. In order for you to reach your goal, you just need to save 5.58% every month. 3% may seem small, but it’s a percentage of big chunk. For example, 3% of $300 is only $9 but it is $9,000 if you want to buy a $300,000 worth of house. Wow, you are one amazing women. Wow, God is amazing…..

  • I love the idea of using % to measure your housing goal! Great idea. It makes it very easy to see your progress!

  • Sarah says:

    That is wonderful news! Good for you both to take matters into your own hands ahead of time! Very wise!!! We are doing a class through our church this year, starting this Wed night with our first lesson about how to pay off debt and invest. My husband and I are very anxious for what 2009 holds in the debt cleaning and move towards paying down our mortgage comes to reality! 🙂

  • Michele says:

    We had a lot of changes with my husband’s job this month and anticipate some more. So we are treading slowly and adjusting our budget as we learn more about what is in store for us!

    Crystal, you are fortunate to live in a low-cost area where it’s possible to pay 100% down. Here in Washington, DC, that would be unheard of. We were blessed to have enough of a down payment so we could do a 15-year mortgage and that was before real estate here went sky-high.

  • My wife and I wanted to find personal finance software that could help us track finances and also share data with each other. She is fortunate to have an iphone at work and I found a very cool and fun application she could use to track our budget. I don’t have an iphone, but since I’m on the computer I just use the website. So far Mint has been a tremendous help to us and we’ve saved over $500 and maybe even $600 by tracking our expenses each day. It’s almost like a game to see how much I can save each month.

  • Em. says:

    Congrats on the 3% increase!! That’s huge business in an economy that isn’t doing well and a nation with a consumerism mindset. You’re rockstars for sure. Keep up the great work!

  • You are very inspiring, Crystal! I commend you for saving up for a home in full, I truly wish we would have done that as well.
    I love your how you are tracking it percentage wise..really gives a better perspective. You’ll be done in no time flat!

  • Marie says:

    You should be so very proud of yourselves! You are doing great! I know what it feels like to be debt free and it is wonderful! It gives you so much freedom. 3% savings in a month is terrific!

    I don’t believe that the housing market has bottomed out yet either, so by waiting and paying cash, you are more likely to be paying the real value of the house instead of an inflated value!

  • Becky says:

    Good job! We are doing the same thing. I may save up at least 50-60 %. We are in Dallas area which the ave medium house cost about 15-20k.

    Let’s all do it!

  • michelle says:

    Hey Crystal! I have a few questions. As others have mentioned, it sounds like the cost of living where you live is much lower than the majority of the country,but your household income a little higher. I’m interested in how expensive the houses you are looking at are, and for how big/new? Also, how much is it to rent a home? Where I live in Fl, even with the market as low as it is, an inexpensive house in a “liveable” area is still around 180-200k (for about 1400-1800 sf). Rent for a house is minimum $1200 a month. My huspand and I own, but it seems inpossible where we are to ever put 100% down unless you were making 150-200k a year, and saving as much as possible.

    Money Saving Mom here: Cost of living is lower here than many parts of the country but the average wages are also lower, too. However, our economy is still pretty good which is good but it also means housing prices haven’t bottomed out by any means–which is a good thing, in our case as we’re hoping by the time we’re ready, it will very much be a buyer’s market.

    You can get a decent average-sized house here in a decent part of town for around $110-$160k. As always, there are less-expensive options and if you’re willing to be creative and look for a deal, they are to be found.

    Rent for a decent house is around $1000-$1300, on average, I’d say. Though, again, you can get something for less-expensive if you’re willing to go with something small or old or in a bad part of town. I’m sure you know how that goes!

  • Jamie says:

    3% in one month’s time is amazing. Bravo! I’m still trying hard to get back on that financially sound wagon, but you sure provide great inspiration for that! Congrats!

  • Stephanie says:

    I am so impressed by your commitment, your discipline, and your dedication to managing your money wisely.

    My husband and I also did *crazy*, unconventional things. We graduated with our undergraduate degrees in three and two years (respectively), we got married in our final semester of undergrad, we both got through our masters degree programs debt-free, etc.

    Our goal is to pay off our mortgage completely. It’s similar to your goal. We’re just working toward that goal the other way around. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    Kudos to you, Crystal! I happen to believe that yours is a very wise goal; most people would never have the self contol or discipline to wait out purchasing a home. When the right time comes, you and your family will be so pleased and all your hard work and sacrifice were worth it.

    I’ll add that I believe it’s even more of a challenge to be frugal and live simply when you have a good income. It’s one thing to scrimp when it means you might not have enough money to last until the next paycheck, but another thing when you actively choose to live on a small fraction of your income. I call this my “faux poverty plan” On paydays we transfer a large chunk of our money to our savings and live on just a modest part of our income. Sure, I could probably have a brand new fancy-pants car and could spend hundreds of dollars a month eating out, but we’d rather live simply. For some it’s a house free and clear, for us it’s financial security with plans to travel in the future. Whatever your motive, it’s worth it. Hang in there; you’re so inspiring to all of us!

    Kim from Philadelphia

  • Trixie says:

    Hi Crystal!

    I love hearing how well you are progressing towards your goals. Congratulations!! It is so encouraging to see others on this “no debt” track.

    My husband and I are very frugal people. We believe in spending much less than we earn and saving for the things we need. Generally this type of lifestyle means we are saving, saving and saving some more — and rarely spending on big ticket items.

    However, last week was a monumentous occassion for us. Through lots of discipline and creativity to earn extra money were were able to purchase 2 low mileage, late model — new to us vehicles with only one small auto loan that will be paid off in one year. (The loan wasn’t really nesecary, but we have a figure that we do not want our savings acccount to dip below. )

    This was a huge accomplishment for us and we are just so excited about it!

    It took lots of work, but it felt so good to be able to do this.



  • kym says:

    I found your site at a time in our lives where our income has been cut more than half. We did not save and now we are having trouble even paying what we owe. Eating is optional!! ha. We have seen God’s hand bringing us through this time and again. In finding your site, in realizing that we can do this, in people helping, and on and on. I just wanted to encourage you that all you do in blogging and posting really does help! Thank you, thank you!

  • mistyG says:

    i love how you are so honest about your goals. it is inspiring. i want you to know that you inspired my husband and i to set financial goals for the first time in our marriage. we are graduates of fpu and did very well. but we now have our dreams on paper. there is something about dreaming together and putting the steps to get there on paper. we waited to buy a home until we were debt free. we were married ten years before we achieved that goal. many people thought we were crazy for renting. we put down 20% on a brand new home, more than we ever dreamed. we also plan on paying off our mortgage early. thank you for sharing your goals! msityG

  • Jennifer says:

    That is great! I am so impressed by your dedication (and your husband’s) to be responsible stewards of your money. You are an inspiration for my husband and I as we start out our marriage!

  • Jennifer Kaiser says:

    I doubt that the people that think you’re crazywill still think that when you get to buy your house in a year 🙂 Keep going strong!

  • mary bailey says:

    Good for you! What is sensible for some people might not make a lot of sense to others, but that doesn’t matter. Your plan sounds great—thanks for sharing!

  • I think that is amazing! I wish I could do that, but I am a single mom who already lives almost completely bare bones (I do pay for internet $14.99 a month plus tax.)

    I am debt free (PTL!!!) Not even a car payment. My used car is paid in full. I even have $700 put aside for repairs.

    I also have about $10,000 saved for a home or retirement.

    I currently rent my grandmother’s house for $500 a month plus all utilities. This is a huge blessing as rent in my area is no less than $1,000 a month for a studio or one bedroom apartment. I have two boys so was paying $1,200 a month for our apartment before we moved here. I live in a middle class area. Probably lower middle class, but still a safe area.
    A house even in my neighborhod is no less than $160,00, even for a small starter home.
    Seeing as I make about $20,000 a year including child support (I do childcare as to be with my kids as much as possible, also saving me daycare costs.) I save about $3,000 or $4,000 a year (my tax refund.) I use this for emergencies and for the future. But at that rate I will need about 50 years to save for a house paying in cash. I think if I was married I would work part time just for savings and would put that $20,000 a year away for a house and then would be able to buy one in about 8 years, which would be way better. Except I can only live here 5 more years, at which time if I rent it will go back up to $1,200 or more a month.
    I applaud you for all your sacrificing!!! It will be so worth it.
    Thanks for your blog!!!

  • marisa says:

    Good for you! We just bought our first home 2 months ago and it was alot of saving and sacrificing for all 7 of us! It was worth it and here we are! I know you can do it! Great goals!!

  • Lisa H says:

    Great jobs, Crystal and Jesse!
    It’s so fun to read of your progress and so encouraging to know there are other “weirdos” out there who avoid debt.

    Saying that, we live in SoCal, where one would have to save for probably 30 years to buy a median priced home in a safe area, and rent is more like $1800 for a three-bed apartment. So, I’ll also say that I really appreciate your gracious spirit in not knocking those of us who have to have mortgages!

    Continued blessings to your growing family!

  • Angel says:

    Great job. As a former Realtor I can’t tell you how often a sale has fallen through due to the buyers needing more of a down payment. You will definatly not have that problem. One thing I want to make sure you are aware of just in case you did not know is that you need to make sure you have a pretty good credit score for insurance purposes. If you do everything in cash it may be hurting you a bit. No I’m not saying run up a Visa so keep reading. It can be done. No credit is worse than bad sometimes. If you have a checking account and savings account great. If you have car insurance already, have a cell phone or cable bill. Those establish credit. If not consider a gas card. Make 1 purchase a month and pay it off in full. Then when you get homeowners insurance & they run your score (why they so this is beyond me) the better (higher) it is the cheaper the rate. Now it will be cheaper anyway as you don’t have any liens on it but if it could be lower who wouldn’t want that. One more thing. Once you buy the house, go to the bank and set up a revolving line of credit. You don’t have to use it and some banks charge a yearly nominal fee for the use of it. The reason why is, in case something major happened, (accident or large hospital bills) you would have a way set up already to tap into your home’s equity if an emergency arised. Its easier to set it up & not need it than need it and wait the month it sometimes takes. This might be something to talk to your financial planner about. I just wanted to give you something to think over. God Bless and great job.

    Money Saving Mom here: We actually have perfect credit–thanks to renting and having no credit card debt, etc. 🙂

    Since we hope to avoid debt of all kinds in the future–if at all possible, we have an emergency fund in place of six months’ worth of expenses and good health, disability, and life insurance in place in case of some major life crisis. My husband is very great about planning ahead for just about every possible scenario that could happen, for which I am very thankful!

  • Rita says:

    We have a paid for house and it is a great feeling especially right now with the economy like it is. I worked hard while in college and was debt free too.

  • Melissa says:

    It is soooo inspiring to hear that someone can stick to their goals in this poor economic time. You and your websites are a great inspiration to me. I have gotten back into couponing and have gotten friends into it. Keep up the good work, but never forget who is in control of it all. That is where we mess up, when we think WE did so good and “by myself”. God bless your family, keep the inspiration coming!!

    Melissa from VA

    Money Saving Mom here: Absolutely, without the grace of God and His provisions, we are truly nothing. We want to do our best to be stewards of the resources He has given us ultimately remembering that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

  • libby says:

    Love your story. Very inspirational. Your faith is amazing too. Debit free since 2008 and loving it…….

  • Heather says:

    Thank you so much for your inspiring blog! I have caught your enthusiasm and we have set a couple of “reach for the stars” type of goals this year. I am amazed how that has provided the motivation to accomplish it and figure out a way to make it work! Thanks!!

  • Alaina says:

    Wow…you are inspirational! I fell off the bandwagon of setting a budget months ago. I plan on starting this month.
    If you could squeeze some extra prayers in for us, I would greatly appreciate it!

  • Liz says:

    That you so much for your openness on your finances. It really helps me keep our financial goals in check.

    I can’t wait to read about the day when you purchase your brand new home!

  • Cathe says:

    Good for you! Another FPU graduate here, but still struggling to get into Babystep #1. I have been so blessed by your blog! 🙂

  • emily kate says:

    I am just FLOORED that you not only had a baby in law school but stayed out of debt. That is amazing. My husband is in medical school right now and we live in NYC and want to have a baby and we’re not sure how it’s possible, let alone to do it without debt! Has the story about this been written somewhere previously on your blog? I would LOVE to read it.

  • Lee says:

    Thank you for giving us the inspiration to get back to budgeting! 2 years ago we made a big move and then less than a year later found out our son was autistic. it sent us into a pretty low depression and we stopped living smart! But the last few months of couponing and a set of goals in hand has given me motivation. We have a budget a very tight one, but I hope to be debt free within 2 years and be able to get that house we want so desperatly!

  • Tina says:

    Way to go! My husband and I made the same commitment to be debt free. We paid cash for our first home a year ago. Granted it was very dilapidated. We have done most of the renovations ourselves, and hope to move into it within a month or two. The transformation is incredible–and we will completely own it, and be debt free!!!
    Those years saving up while renting were tough, and sometimes we wondered if we would ever get there, but it is truly worth it.
    Thanks for a great blog!

  • Ellie says:

    I’ve been reading your site for a few months now. Thank you for everything.

  • tara says:

    Wow! You guys are such an inspiration to me.

  • Jaime G says:

    Just a word of encouragement: YOU CAN DO IT! And I’m SURE that you will. We did it in July 2007… purchased a modest 1600 sq ft ranch for $140K and paid for it all cash!!! It felt wonderful, and in this economy we are so glad we did it this way rather than “over-buying.” I was 30 and my husband was 36! We intend to NEVER have a mortgage again! You go, girl! It CAN be done if you are disciplined and have gazelle intensity =) Yes, you can!!!

  • Mrs. C. says:

    Dear Crystal,

    This is so inspiring to read, and I am cheering you on! I remember back when you and Jesse were starry-eyed newlyweds with big dreams — and here you are seeing them come to fruition. THANK YOUR PARENTS! What a blessing it is to be brought up by wise parents who passed down money-saving skills. I had a great upbringing, too, but I blew it when I went to college and got sucked into the career mindset (with the “necessary” new car, new wardrobe, etc., etc. — all paid for with shiny new credit cards). I sobered up before I got married and paid it all back down except the last bit of the student loan that came when tuition went up but my scholarship didn’t. Ouch. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had “if only” moments wondering how much more financially stable I’d have been (and financially savvy) if I’d shut my ears to the two-income trap and the “oh, but you have to have something to fall back on” nonsense.

    If I’d started my home business four years earlier…
    If I’d stuck to the old, coughing 1975 Volvo…
    If I’d trimmed more corners from the budget to save more as a young wife…
    If I’d skipped the hiatus in mortgaged suburbia to save up to buy a house debt-free…

    Well, we can’t go back and re-do all the “if onlys,” but we sure can learn and PRESS ON! You inspire me to stay focused on our goals and not be distracted. We are so thankful we got out of mortgage-land and streamlined ourselves before the current crisis hit, but we still have a long ways to go. It can be done! I say this as a homeschooling mother of eight. Our grocery budget hasn’t been as tiny as yours since we had three children, but the principles are the same for all family sizes: cut out what you don’t need, tame the “want monster,” sell, give away, or throw out the “stuff” that encumbers, and keep running toward that goal!

    I look forward to the day you and Jesse have a bestseller on the New York Times list: “Marriage, Law School, Babies, and a House — If We Did It Debt-Free, So Can You!”

    Mrs. C.

  • Jane in Pa says:

    This is the type of thinking that helps me to feel inspired. We are starting out this year having filed for bankruptcy in November. So we are WAY behind the 8-ball. We dug ourselves in DEEP. Bankruptcy was a LAST resort and we sought much counsel to make our peace with the decision. It was not our finest hour. However, we are looking to the future. We have made many good changes and are looking to continue to manage our resources, save and make sacrifices. Our hope is to not only keep ourselves on a good path but to also be in a position to help others. It’s amazing how many “necessities” are not even missed in our household. In many ways, we are richer than we have ever been!

  • anonymous on purpose says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I popped in here today (as I don’t get much blog reading these days) and –wow– just wanted to congratulate you on a job well done. The timing of the market is going to work out well for you, as real estate is expected to go even lower.

    As for our own financial goals, we are set to be financially independent in the fall of this year if plans do not erupt with the economy. The Lord knows all these things. Being just a few years older than you, I can say that it won’t be long until you are looking forward to the same as well. The jump for us happened when I started thinking “big” investments as opposed to little ones, but you need these little ones (like on your blog) to have the money to start on the bigger ones. Seed money, if you will.

    I don’t coupon clip (very much anyway) anymore (due to very large household responsibilites/better pay off with the big things), but I commend you for your diligence. It will pay off. I enjoy reading your story because I see so much of myself in you.

    The key has always been to live dramatically below our means (not just a little, but a lot). The freedom from worry and to do what the Lord wants (so much more freedom when not encumbered by debt and decisions driven by money) is awesome. This is what the money “buys”; it has nothing to do with materialism.

  • Phoebe T. says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Crystal. My husband and I also have the goal of saving up to pay 100% down for a house. We’re still a long way off, it feels, from there, but know it will be worth it! And we get those “knowing” looks from those we tell (you know they’re thinking, “Are they THAT naive?!!”)

    Congratulations on having made such progress!!

  • Sarah says:

    My husband and I have been married just under 4 years, we have 1 on the way in 3 months and a daughter who just turned 2. Most people would call me crazy for not working, because in our financial situation nobody should be “making it”. But, God is faithful and I am thankful that I have been in the home to care for my daughter and become a good home manager. That said, last year was the first full year that I did not work or have any extra income via babysitting, home-party businesses etc… We just got my husband’s tax return in the mail a couple weeks ago and I was shocked….because I honestly thought there was a mistake with the number I saw on the W-2. I knew it was rough, and there were many times that he was temporarily layed off a couple days a week because of slow business…but I didn’t realize he made THAT little! Now, I am going to back track again…since we have been married our biggest goal was to not have credit cards. (which thankfully we have done) Well, debt-free living was not meant for us apparently…because when my daughter was born she went through multiple expensive tests over the next year that gave us quite a mountain of debt to climb. She was tested for downs syndrome: negative (thank you Lord), tested for Hydrocephalus (which is water) on the brain because her head grew so big, so quickly: negative (thank the LORD!), then had tubes put in her ears….after all these faith enhancing events, insurance denials, and sinfully ignoring some of the bills for far to long we were looking at over $12,000 in doctor bills/collections. Now, back to present time….I finally started taking the bull by the horns as far as our finances go around October of last year, since then God has been blessing our sorely needed discipline 🙂 So, although my husband only made just shy of $18,000 gross last year, I am going to explain to you how/why we are going to be able to pay off 1/2 our debt over the next month!!!
    First, I stopped ignoring our bills and started calling the collection agencies and hospitals. We were able to settle on a $5,000 bill for only $3500. We ended up taking a loan to pay it off…and as much as we hate borrowing it was going to be better for our credit to be paying a loan then to be sitting in collections for the next 3-5 years. Secondly, my husbands parents called out of the blue, and said they wanted to pay off our remaining balance on my husband’s car loan of $665!! Praise the Lord…again!
    Next, my husband came to me at the end of the year and said that he didn’t realize that his company had a money account saved up for us to help pay for what insurance doesn’t cover. I wasn’t super thrilled till I found out we were going to be getting over $3,000 from them!! (which actually showed up on my husband’s last check) Fourthly, when doing our taxes, I saw that we qualified for the earned income credit (eic) which boosted our refund by $2,000!!! So, instead of thinking we were going to squeek by with the $1,000 child tax credit….we are now getting almost $5,000 back from the government. So, needless to say we are going to be going from about $16,000 debt to less than 1/2 that in the next couple weeks. (and will be down to 1 loan vs 3) I am thankful that we were praising God when it was tough, and thankful that we can praise Him now with this blessing.
    If any of you actually read all the way through this…sorry it was so long! I just can’t believe all that has happened in the last few months 🙂 We still have a low income, and now apartment manage to get by, as well as receive some help from a couple government programs…but Lord willing a couple years from now we will be debt-free and on our way to my husbands dream of attending seminary. God Bless, and take hope if you are in a tough situation…be faithful with what you have and don’t give up!

  • Katie says:

    Your blog is such an inspiration to me. Keep us updated!

  • Mrs. Jo says:

    It will be exciting to see what God does in your life in providing you with a house in the not-so-far-off future!

    I think it’s great to live crazy! Everyone thought I was crazy for not dating and choosing courtship instead and waiting to kiss until marriage, etc. etc. Living debt-free may be crazy, but being crazy and counter-culture in order to follow God reaps lots of blessings.

    Thanks for being gracious in saying not every person should or can follow in your steps. A lot of my friends read your blog and we feel a little hopeless sometimes about ever paying cash for a house when we make less per year than you are able to save each year. I would like to pay cash for a house but we’ll see what happens and where God leads us!

  • Barbara says:

    That is wonderful progress and so inspirational!

    Thank you for continuing to share your progress. You’ve been inspiring my husband and I to do more and strive for more.

  • Jackie says:

    Does anyone know why i cant see the mr.linky? I have a MAC and use firefox, it used to work I dont know. But heres the link to mine: I would love to get anyones comments!!

  • Sarah D says:

    I am kind of shocked/amazed at what people are equating as a modest house. We have two boys, with more to come God-willing, and we live comfortably in our 1000 sq ft home. We don’t have a lot of room to spare, and we’ve had to get a little creative with some things and do without many more, but we’re cozy. I have found that you really don’t “need” as much as you think you do, and have been truly blessed by our home and its lack of strain on our budget. Now, if we have 5 or more children like I would like to, it may get a little too cozy in here, but we’re waiting until God decides to give us more and are grateful for what He has given us. Thank you for your inspiring blogging.

  • Becky Mason says:

    I am noticing -and personally gone through that too-Weird must be lingo/name given for folks trying to serve the Lord- We are Weird and proud!!!! Like you I am glad I am different and not following the norm, like a bank loan! Hang in there and the whole $10 week shopping trip is inspiring! NEEDS VS. WANTS….it attacks me everywhere. Thanks for the blog!

  • Laura Leigh says:

    Crystal and Jesse:
    Y’all are the right kind of “crazy” and “weird”! If more people had opted for your kind of craziness, the nation’s economy would not be where it is now! Congrats to you both and thank you for inspiring me to keep pressing on toward our family’s financial goals.

  • emily says:

    Awesome job! My goal right now is for my husband to start making enough money so I can stay at home when we have kids (I am also working on a photography business which I will supliment our income). I own a home in Washington DC and have a low mortgage payment and am considering trying to pay it off in a few years, but with baby plans in the near future, I am not sure if we can do it.

  • Alicia says:

    I really admire your efforts. I don’t think it’s crazy at all. Before I graduated college, we had enough money socked away to purchase our home outright. Of course, it’s not the fanciest house, but it’s ours. And, there have been a lot of struggles in the past few years when we might not have been able to continue a $1500 monthly house payment. Since we have no mortgage payment, we were able to afford dependable cars, which are now paid off, and we can start putting that amount towards saving for another 100% down home.

    The strangest thing is that we had entry level jobs while we saved for our house. Now, we both have higher level jobs, and don’t seem to have extra left over. I think it’s a convenience factor. You have it, you spend it. You don’t, you save it. In my case at least.

  • 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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