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Saving 100% Down for A Home: Part 4

A New Beginning

After three months of unemployment (which felt more like three years!), Jesse was offered a contract position at a large law firm in Kansas City. It was by no means an ideal job: the work was monotonous, the commute was long and there was no guarantee how long the position would last. But it was a job nonetheless, and we were very, very grateful and relieved.

As soon as his first paycheck came, we immediately began saving again — this time with the goal of having a six-month Emergency Fund in place. We were highly motivated after Jesse’s unexpected job loss to get this financial goal done as soon as we could!

Since we knew Jesse’s contract position was short-term (likely two years or less), we began praying about what God wanted us to do long-term. Both of us had been hoping since Jesse graduated from law school, that we could eventually move back to where we grew up and both of our families lived. It was hard to be a number of hours away — especially now that we had two young children.

The more we prayed about moving back, the more we felt that’s what we were supposed to do. How it would work out, we had no idea.

We continued scrimping and saving and working hard. By combining the extras we could squeeze out of Jesse’s budget and the increasing side income from MoneySavingMom.com, we were able to fully fund our Emergency Fund in March of 2008.

Reaching this financial goal in a fairly short amount of time gave us serious momentum, and after running a lot of numbers, we felt there was a good possibility we could actually save up enough to pay cash for a modest starter home in three to five years. We decided to go for it full-force!

Instead of focusing on this audacious goal though, we broke it down into baby-steps and set specific savings goals for each month. Jesse, being the numbers “nerd” he is, created a detailed spreadsheet outlining where we were and where we needed to go. We’d updated this spreadsheet every month and it was so encouraging to see our progress.

In the Summer of 2008, an attorney who owned his own law firm back in our hometown, offered Jesse the opportunity to office-share with him. Jesse had always wanted to start his own law firm, but we’d anticipated it would be a long time down the road, if ever.

Now that this door opened up though, we started seriously considering it, running numbers and praying about it. We knew Jesse’s contract job would likely be ending in the not-too-distant future and the more we prayed about it, opening our own law firm seemed like a very viable option for us.

We had enough in savings to live on for almost a year now, MoneySavingMom.com was bringing in a good income, and by office-sharing, Jesse could set up and run his law firm very inexpensively. Plus we were overjoyed at the thought of moving back home where most of our extended families and many lifelong friends lived.

At the same time though, it was a big jump. What if the law firm completely flopped? What if this turned out to be a big setback to us financially? What if we had to give up our big goal of paying cash for a house because we were just trying to put food on the table?

There were many, many unknowns, but we both felt a peace about moving forward. So we packed up our house (while I was in the middle of morning sickness with our third child. Morning sickness and moving seem to coincide frequently around here!), found a rental back home, moved back and Jesse opened his firm the beginning of October 2008.

We could have never guessed the miraculous surprise which would be right around the corner, allowing us to gain more financial traction in the next year than we could have ever imagined.

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186 Comments

  • Heather says:

    I don’t think that anyone should be offended by you Godly accomplishments. My husband and I wish that we were in your situation, debt free, paid cash for our house and were able to live withing our means. Our debt makes a lot of things difficult and I found it inspiring that it can be done to pay cash for everything you buy, a house, cars, and everything else. Thanks for you honest postings and your willingness to follow God publically!

  • Carrie says:

    Well, I apparently missed all the drama, but I just want to encourage you not to dwell on it. We all stick our feet deeply into our mouths (or, at least, I do!), but thankfully God not only forgives us, He grows us through the process and gives us the grace to forgive ourselves. It sounds like you’ve tried to make amends to those you hurt, and now all you can do is go forward. I know, all too well, that saying “I’m so sorry my size 7 fits so well in my mouth” doesn’t make the hurt go away, but neither does continuing to think about it or apologize over and over. May God give you the grace to move forward and the comfort to start over. Happy Thanksgiving – thanks for all of your posts!!

  • Betsy Durand says:

    “God gives grace to the humble…..” Thank you, Crystal, for your humility. I do not recall anything offensive in your original post, but I admire your willingness to respond to the conviction you felt on this matter and to seek to make amends. You’ve done so in a way that communicates far more than the words you have penned….although they are wonderful too! 🙂 Thank you for the wisdom you share. Looking forward to next Tuesday~

  • Letty says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I had read the original, and honestly wasn’t personally offended. I was feeling very bad about our own financial situation (a mortgage!), though, but I often compare myself with others, anyway! I do appreciate the added background information- you two really did have a unique start to this debt-free lifestyle. Unfortunately, my husband and I still have student loans. We can only start anew with our own children! Thanks!

  • KD says:

    It’s neat how God works differently in each person’s life! My husband and I met at and graduated from the same Christian college your husband transferred to for a year (though we weren’t there at the time he was). The Lord provided for us to be able to work our ways through undergrad and come out with zero debt; then we got married, and now are at a law school that has given my husband a full scholarship. So far, thanks to God’s provision and my husband’s hard work, we have managed to remain debt-free even while going through law school with children. One more year to go!

  • Amity says:

    Crystal – I never got the opportunity to read the post you spoke about cause it was taken down before I had the chance to read it. As an avid reader of your blog I know that you are a good person and bragging is not what you do. You and Jesse should be proud of your accomplishments and are an inspiration to so many so thank you.

    Im excited to read more of this series. thanks again girl…you rock!!!!

  • Heather Shaw says:

    I wish I had had good financial role models growing up. My parents have declared bankruptcy numerous times (really). My husband’s mom is very responsible with her money, but didn’t have much impact on her children in that respect because of a lot of other things going on in their family.

    We definitely have had to learn the hard way (and are still learning). I’m ashamed at many of the mistakes we’ve made, but what matters is that we are changing things now. So that our kids can speak of us, the way you speak of your parents and your husbands parents.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story again Crystal.

  • Carrie says:

    Crystal,
    While I do feel envious of you because you were in the poisition to be able to do that, and I may have been a tiny bit offended had I read the original post (mostly because I’ll never be in the position to do that), I would just like to say that you are probably the ONLY blogger of the multiple of blogs that I read that would apologize for offending people and truly mean it. That in it’s self takes massive amounts of humility and you are making the right wrong in the best way there is. While I said that I am envious, I am also sincerely happy for you — how could I not be? You are an amazing woman and your heart is in the right place (and when it’s not, you allow God to guide you back to the right).

  • Megan says:

    I really appreciate how this post demonstrates the importance of a legacy of financial responsibility. Even if we didn’t all have great financial models, this story shows how important it is to model financial stewardship for future generations. The wisdom of your parents and grandparents has shaped who you and Jesse are and given you the grounding needed to influence a whole slew of other people through your blog. What a great history lesson – thanks, Crystal!

  • Roxanne says:

    We too would not encourage anyone to do exactly what we did.

    We have always lived extremely frugally, even miserly in some areas. Hubby & I both worked and paid mostly cash for our bachelor & master degrees. Hubby had a small loan which he quickly paid off after graduating.

    We determined to pay cash for a house, and didn’t have any family help or a high income. I’m also a SAHM.

    This summer we had finally saved enough cash to purchase a very tiny condo.

    I consider buying this condo the biggest mistake of my life. It is much smaller than our previous residence and simply insufficient to meet our family’s needs. We bought the condo from a single lady…which is all this house is really suited for. Not for a family of four.

    I have tried so hard to be grateful for this home, but it is causing us so much misery it is a lesson that won’t be soon forgotten.

    The lesson to us is that “Paying Cash for a House” can be an issue of pride. Our family would have been so much better off waiting several more years until we had more money for a slightly larger house or just getting a small mortgage to make up the difference between what we had and what we needed to purchase a suitable home.

    We would not have failed the diligence, discipline, spirituality, frugality, or success competition if we were not able to pay cash for a house. We regret our pride about having to prove (to whom? I don’t know) that we could pay cash for a house.

    So there’s our story, and maybe someone else can learn from it 🙂

    • chris says:

      @Roxanne,
      I too have a paid for house that doesn’t really work for my family. My problem is about location. It was a great location for several years, but a job change rendered its location at a pain and a serious time suck. Anyway we decide this fall to rent another house and shortly after we did a solid tenant for our other house presented itself. Long story short we rent one house and rent out another. We really love it and enjoy having a family life again and being so close to work that we can both walk 🙂

      Long term I would love to sell it, but for now we have situation that works.

    • Amy Andrews says:

      @Roxanne, I just want to thank you for your transparency. This is very meaningful to me personally as I can relate. The details of our story are different, but I think the theme is very similar.

      I am so often given to pride…and then when I’m not busy being prideful, it seems I’m busy being envious! *smacks head*

      I’m realizing how occupied I keep myself between the two and therefore, how much less time I’m able to focus on the things that are eternally more significant. I’m like a pendulum gone crazy, reacting all over the place instead of maintaining a grateful and content heart. To “be content in all things” seems easy enough on paper, but boy is it a DAILY struggle for me.

      So again, thank you for your words.

    • Rochele says:

      Amen Roxanne! Sometimes we can make an idol out of being debt free and throw common sense out of the window. We have to prayerfully and carefully consider each step we make. I personally feel like paying cash for a house would be foolish for us {though we tried several times to down-size to pay cash, but God graciously closed every door each time} The house that we own is big enough for our family of five and it is almost paid for, and only costs us 607.00 a month which we would never find if we rented. And we NEED to keep our mortage at this low cost on our one income to be able to make it. So I could go rent a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment in a run down area for that price, or I can be in debt and pay extra to the principle, either way I am in debt, but at least with the mortage I have a bigger home in a nicer neighborhood, which I won’t have to move out of later. Being debt free is good, thinking you can’t ever have debt….that’s another story. Pray, keep God’s will first and you can’t go wrong. Thank you Roxanne for your humility and your prospective.

      • andrea says:

        @Rochele, I can relate to what you’re saying. I’d rather have the mortgage and live in a safe neighborhood also. In our case the mortgage is cheaper than rent would be. It matters too if you have children, to have them in a safe neighborhood. We lived for two years, rent-free as apartment managers, in a rotten neighborhood and the worry about your children growing up there is not worth it.

      • Susan Boice says:

        I am so glad that I opened this post today.. I feel the same way that if we sold our house I would be in the same situation.. paying more for a apt in a not so good area.. instead of a house that we got a good price on and that I could live in until the lord calls me home. It was just really nice to see someone else thinking the same way..
        Sue in NJ

    • Ginger says:

      @Roxanne, Excellent post, Roxanne! I have seriously been considering doing just what you did…. Probably won’t do that now.

    • anonymous says:

      @Roxanne, It depends too on the cost of living where you live. We used to live in Los Angeles (this was before the housing crisis). The cost of a small house averaged $250,000 in the area where we lived and this was an area that, while not the absolute worst of the worst, had a big problem with gangs, drive-by shootings, etc. Better neighborhoods were in the 400-500,000 and up range. (Unless you were willing to live 2 or 3 hours out of the city and commute to work.) I don’t know too many people who could save up that kind of money and pay cash for a home there. It takes up most of your income just to get by.

    • Marlene W. says:

      @Roxanne,

      Thanks for keepin’ it real! Our mortgage is less than rent would be, because my husband worked 2 jobs and I stayed at home and couponed and cloth diapered and did everything else to scrimp and save so we could buy a house that we could all comfortabley FIT in, when we prayerfully moved away from an expensive area in the country – which we did. After 3 1/2 years of renting God answered our prayers in a big way and moved us home, and we were able to buy a home because of God’s provision with enough of a down payment so we wouldn’t have to get Private Mortgage Insurance. Cheaper than renting, and better than we could have ever hoped for. I am thankful for my situation. Yes, we don’t own our home 100% – but we are working hard to make that a reality long before the bank has 30 years of interest on our loan! 🙂 And that is OKAY!

      Sometimes paying cash for a home just for the sake of paying cash for a home really isn’t in a family’s best interest. Every family and their needs are different!

  • Paige says:

    Hi, this has nothing to do with this post at all, but I just wanted to let you know that your posts haven’t come through my google reader since the beginning of November! I just realized today when I was thinking about Black Friday sales and went to see if you’d posting anything.

  • Donna says:

    I’m thankful that you’ve decided to once again tell the story. Your family has been an encouragement to us. We’re currently debt free except for the house and would like to sell this house and “buy down” so that we could be totally debt free. I’m sure there are things that I can learn from you, so keep telling the story. You’re right, you and Jesse started out in unique positions to jumpstart you in the right direction. Praise God!

  • Jennifer says:

    I have NEVER been insulted or hurt by your blogging if anything you inspire me. I think sometimes excitement over an accomplishment can come across as arogance to others and really that is sad. We should rejoice with you and lift you up as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Even though I do not believe the post being removed was necessary (my opinion only) I appreciate your willingness to make what you believed to be wrong a right. It is not easy being in the public eye and having everything picked over and you do it with such grace. Thanks for your testimony to others in all you do.

  • Becky says:

    I did not have the opportunity to read your original post, but it saddens me to hear that people took offense to your personal story of the sacrifices you and your family have made to create and meet your personal goals. I hope that your friends and readers can accept with grace the fact that they have their own personal stories to create and can choose to use yours as an inspiration, but not necessarily a model.

  • Corie says:

    I’ve been reading your blog daily for over a year. I’m sure I read the post you are referring to but I don’t remember it. I want to emphasize I don’t remember the post as being anything less than what you write on any given day. I sense what you’re saying is that people felt you were somehow bragging or self congratulatory about your accomplishments. All I can say is WOW, I’m really surprised people, including those close to you, took it that way. Let’s, for a moment, say you really did “stick your foot in it”. Crystal, it happens and I pray you can forgive yourself. We humans all do it….and God always, always forgives us just for the asking. Please lay your guilt and shame at His feet, it is energy wasting to carry it around on your back. You, I’m sure, have apologized to those who were offended and you are taking the time to make amends on your blog. Honestly, I wonder why those that did, judged you so harshly. Perhaps they have forgotten they have “stuck their foot in it” and unintentionally caused hurt for someone they cared about…..and please do not judge yourself so harshly about the early posts on your blog. If you think about it, it’s actually good that you have grown in your faith, as a wife, as a mother, and as a woman. Trust me, I feel the same way if I am faced with my view of the world a few years ago–even one year ago. Peace and God Bless

  • Teresa says:

    First off I must say I read the first post and was not offened. I realized that you must have had some type of financial extra funds to make this possible. We had a simular thing with us. Not enough for a house, but enough money was given to us to put a down payment down on both properties. We have been paying on that property for 14 year and for the last ten on our home we now live in. We always pay $300 extra a month (which is how much I figure we save couponing a month) so we can pay it off quick. No other debt:) What upsets me is we have never missed a payment in 14 years and always pay extra, have credit scores above 790 and still can not get a loan for the home addition we want to do. After ten years of living here I finally painted the livingroom and kitchen this weekend. We where waiting the last three years for the addition and didn’t want to have to redo what we had just done, but I finally realized with this economy my kids will be grown and gone and we wont need the addition before we ever get a loan.
    It’s us honest people that are hurt the most at times like these. I guess I should look at this another way, at least we will have our house paid in 8 years and the other duplex in 10. But like I said then some of the kids will be gone and we wont need all the room. Maybe good is looking out for us after all and we just can’t see it for the trees.

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Its so great to see what you’ve done and how you got there. Inspiring! Without reading your blog I would have never considered trying to become debt free. After all the world tells us to keep up with the jones and max out your limits! Sure common sense tells you to hold back some but the idea of living debt free was something I never thought possible! After many inspiring post on your blog and examples of how you and others have done it we made a REAL budget (gasp for the first time in 7 years of marriage) and have a plan!

  • Asmith says:

    I read the original post and I was not offended. I am truly happy for you and your family. I don’t recall it being w/o grace or humility . To my recollection it gave the glory to the Lord. If you feel convicted that is between you and the Lord. I do understand that we must give our testimony with gentleness and respect. Many that were offended may have been jealous and or convicted themselves about some of the financial decisions they may have made. I didn’t feel like
    you were judging others at all. We have made
    many financial mistakes along this journey and I
    am at peace with the consequences and the
    grace the Lord had shown my family. I am sure that their were some “Christians” in the group of offended but don’t be surprised at those who have no knowledge of God being offended . Let the Lord lead you in all things and leave it in his hands.

  • Rose says:

    I remember reading the original story and didn’t find it offensive. I really appreciate that you realize it’s not for everyone. We worked really hard and payed off our cars and student loans the month before we had our twin boys. We will never make the mistake of taking out loans again and hope to pay off our mortgage early too.

  • I’m pretty sure I read the original post, but don’t at all recall it being offensive in anyway! If anything, I remember it being filled with praise for how God had blessed you along the way. I think you and Jesse should be proud of what your hardwork has accomplished! My husband and I are working hard to pay off our mortgage (our only debt) early. Stories like yours are inspirational to me. Especially when everyone around us is saying it will never happen.

    God bless!

    Mary Ellen

  • rose says:

    Crystal,
    Thank YOu for this post. I think it was nice to have a background of your family and the position that you started out in.
    I am excited to read some more.

  • Challice says:

    Fantastic post. I hope this one stays up. 🙂

  • Becky says:

    I will admit to having a problem with your posts concerning paying cash for a house. The lesson seemed to be that “this is something everyone should do.” I don’t find that to be true. Not only do I believe that it’s unrealistic in many ways, I also believe that paying cash could be damaging in ways many don’t realize. The simple fact is, a mortgage is a significant part of your credit score. Without a mortgage, one could find themselves in a serious situation if one ever DID need to get credit for something. When I met my husband he was debt free. He and I both feel that this is the way things should be, however, when I found myself pregnant with our first child, things changed. His small apartment was not enough space, and his lack of debt was a real problem with mortgage agencies. He had no credit with which to base a mortgage on. Fortunately, he did manage his own business and they used that information to get our mortgage. We are now finding ourselves creating a small, easily managed debt load in order to increase his credit score.

    The unfortunate reality is that credit score matters in today’s society. And a credit score can’t be created without a certain amount of debt. I still believe that we should be as debt free as we can, and to that end we have managed to pay off both cars, and are working on the rest. But after our experience with our mortgage company, we realize that life is a series of balancing acts. A small, easily managed debt load along with an excellent credit score is both reasonable and doable.

    • Laura says:

      Even though it may have come across that way to some, I don’t think that was what Crystal was trying to convey. (I personally didn’t see it that way). What I admire about Crystal is that she showed humility by apologizing if she offended anyone, and most people would never do that.

    • Meyta says:

      @Becky, Hi Becky, A credit score is an indicator of your willingness/capacity to pay a debt. Based on Crystal’s set of beliefs which are influenced by Christian mandates to remain debt-free; the need for a credit score is a non-issue. The goal is to refrain from borrowing.

      How does this work?
      In theory a Christian places their trust in God’s provision and care and not in their own ability or credit score. It is up to us to make the hard decisions when it comes to having the discernment between a need and a want.

      Why does this not work most of the time?
      Given that our natural inclination as fallen creatures points us toward self preservation and not obedience I can totally understand how we are likely to rationalize the perceived need for a good credit score. We are proud and refuse to accept help from our churches and family, we are greedy and we desire to have stuff beyond our ability to pay. We are scared and wish to build a security nest via a house, or savings or a million other things.

      I pray God works in our hearts to allow us to fully rest in His goodness and trust in His promises.

      I too struggle with the same challenges and often manage my affairs in a horizontal fashion instead of looking up at my Creator and knowing that He is faithful.

      • Danielle says:

        @Meyta, Well said.

      • Sherri says:

        @Meyta, I don’t see how having a good credit score equals not trusting God. One can trust in their own ability (not God) with or without a credit score. I also have yet to find the Bible verse that says having a mortgage is a sin.

        There is a huge difference between needs and wants, and God will indeed supply all of your needs, often in amazing ways. Do I think that will entail maxing out your Visa? Most likely not, but I don’t presume to know everyone’s situation. Might it be with a house in a decent neighborhood with a mortgage the same as your rent? Why not?

        Over the past 12 years of homeownership (with mortgage, to be paid off within 2 more years), DH and I have paid out no more than if we had been renting. Sure, we’ve replaced a roof and paid extra toward principal, but our housing costs have stayed basically the same for 12 years instead of rising rents.

        And we totally believe that God has taken care of us. He put us in a position to buy a house before prices soared, then we were able to sell at a much higher price. We moved to another town just before their prices rose. Some may call that good luck, but we call it God’s provision. We didn’t have an inheritance or some major gift from our parents, but God has given us a safe, comfortable house at a price that still allows us to tithe and give to others. We entered the process of house buying with much prayer, and we feel we have been obedient to the path God has laid out for us.

      • Becky says:

        @Meyta,
        The bible is against usury, not borrowing. I’m unaware of any biblical principal against having a mortgage.

      • Esther says:

        Christian Mandates to remain debt free?

        Personal convictions should be held to – by those who hold them… not used to condem others who might have different convictions.

        I do trust God to take care of my needs (or at least strive to, and repent when I fail). And I have a mortgage. And a credit card.

        Being debt free is a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t be used to say that we are more Godly than others. God knows the details of our hearts and our bank accounts.

        I wasn’t offended at all by the original post, but am disturbed by the tone of some of these comments. I hope they don’t discourage those in bad financial situations even further.

      • Crystal says:

        @Meyta, Just to clarify, our desire to remain debt-free is a personal conviction. We do not see that it is a sin to get a mortgage (unless, of course, a person is going against God’s direct will, etc.).

        We do see that there is encouragement in the Bible to be wise with one’s finances and to seek to not be in bondage to debt… but nowhere do we find that debt is equated with sin.

        • Meyta says:

          @Crystal, Good Morning Ladies,
          In my note above I was careful not to place myself above anyone but instead made it clear that I too struggle with the same financial concerns and challenges.

          Note that I never used the word sin but instead made a reference to mandates. In making this reference I worked from my very own set of beliefs which embrace the inerrancy of scripture. 2nd Timothy 3:16 tells us this about His word: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

          The Bible tells us the following about debt:

          The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

          Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”Romans 13:8

          The majority of instances of debt described in the Bible relate directly with the very survival of the poor. Often the direction is for these loans to be handled at no interest or very low interest and even subject to jubilee or debt forgiveness. In our case we take debt not out of dire need but rather as convenience or our reaction to crunching the numbers (cost/benefit analysis).

          When we borrow we make assumptions about our ability to pay, those assumptions should always be carefully and humbly weighted against God’s will and word. Let’s not be quick to forget the advise given in James 4:
          “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.

          Finally as you consider a home purchase keep in mind the following:

          Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27

          It is my hope that our desire is not to live by the lowest common denominator by creating lists of what is sin and working around those lists to see how much we can get away with forgetting that the debt of sin is already paid. Instead I look for the day in which we are so thirsty to serve and love God everything else around us inclusive of the American dream of home ownership becomes but a dim light against the splendor of God’s plan for our lives.

          Finally, note that God’s mercy and love is the love of a Father. He will provide according to His will and not according to our Godliness or obedience. I pray I am never blinded to this truth by assuming His blessings are directly related to my behavior or merit.

          I hope this clarifies my stance.

          Have a gorgeous & blessed Thanksgiving!

    • Corie says:

      @Becky, Wow, I’m at a loss for words….We are in quite a bit of debt and about a quarter of what we owe went for things that didn’t make any impact on my life. I have been paying on a huge student loan for the last 10 years. I say all this only to try, as best I can, to show that I am not nor may ever be in a place where I can pay cash for a house. I’ve been following these responses all morning because I want to understand why this post was so controversial. I am going to explain what I see and it may cause more controversy but I really hope it makes those that need to, think about it.

      From what I’m reading, it seems that most of the people who were offended by the post took it as some kind of affront against them for having debt and not being able to save as Crystal and Jesse have. So we become angry, we become envious, and we make excuses for why we couldn’t attain that goal. I really and truly do not believe the intent of the post was to say ‘We paid cash for our house and you should too”. First, as a daily reader of the blog, I want to celebrate that accomplishment. I am so HAPPY for them! And in a world of living beyond your means, high credit card debts, and payday loans, we need a shining example of what can be accomplished when we are intentional with and good stewards of what we have been given. I will be the FIRST one to stand and say I have NOT been a good steward of what I have been given. I was NOT taught anything about money except how to spend it and then worship the god of Mastercard. I NEED people like Crystal to be an example of how to be intentional with my finances, make a budge, set small and large goals, and be generous in bringing forth my tithe. In her blog, I find HOPE that it can be done.

      Now what I say may offend some and you may leave detailed comments regarding why and how I’m wrong…..if it helps, go forth and do so. Just know that I will be praying for all of us who are in financial hell and see no way out.

    • Sam says:

      @Becky, I have to respectfully disagree regarding the mortgage/credit score issue. You can build up a good credit score without ever obtaining a mortgage. I have never had a mortgage and my score is in the low 800s and I’m under 30.

      That being said, I intend to get a mortgage once my husband and I have saved up enough for 20% down. Initially I was thinking I would pay 100% down similar to how Crystal has done but when I actually did the math, we will actually save about $50K getting a mortgage and applying extra principal payments every month.

      • Brittany says:

        @Sam, I’d be really interested to know how it will be cheaper for you and your husband to have a mortgage than to pay 100% down. It’s just something that my brain is having a hard time wrapping around. But to save $50K, that’s great! 🙂

        • Sam says:

          @Brittany, it didn’t make sense to me either at first 🙂 but when I crunched the numbers of how much we are paying for rent + rent insurance versus how much we would be paying for mortgage, annual property taxes, and home insurance, we would spend less on taking out a mortgage sooner rather than paying rent to save 100% down.

          I used several online mortgage, savings, and rent vs own calculators and came up with this. (We plan to buy a $125K or less home.)

          PLAN A
          Total spent renting for 9 years and saving $125K: $205,000

          Plan A Total: $205,000

          PLAN B
          Total spent renting for 2 years and saving $25K: $42,800

          Total spent paying off mortgage in 7 years (with interest): $113,410

          Plan B Total: $156,210

          Of course, this is what works best for us based on our area and the home price we’re comfortable with. Hope that helps!

          • Crystal says:

            You beat me to the punch! That’s what I’m going to encourage people to do in this series! To crunch the numbers over a ten-year period and see what the difference is of a mortgage vs. renting to pay 100% down. I think in many cases, renting for a short time and saving for at least a 20% down payment and then taking out a 15-year mortgage and paying it off early is going to land people more ahead than renting longterm while trying to save to pay the full amount down.

  • Carrie says:

    I’m sure most of us would cringe if we had to hear some of the dogmatic things we say when we are young. Luckily for most people there is not a published record of such — or there wasn’t until Facebook came along!
    For me, and I think for a lot of parents, I think I’d be embarrassed to hear my firm opinions about exactly how a child should be raised after spending only a few months raising a baby and reading a bunch of baby books. Three kids into it, I realize that the farther I go, the less I know.

    • @Carrie,

      Great point Carrie! I always say I’m so thankful fb wasn’t around when I was a newlywed because I’d be soooo embarrassed by the stuff I might have written. It drives me nuts to read the gushy, mushy stuff my sis-in-law writes about my brother and I eventually had to hide her because I felt it was so inappropriate for public viewing!
      I was a boring and long-winded blogger in the beginning and I regret many of the dogmatic things I wrote about too. We definitely learn as we go and never stop learning!

    • Crystal says:

      @Carrie, I used to think I knew everything about having children… and then I had my second and third children. 😉 The longer I live, the less I feel like I know about anything. 🙂

  • April says:

    Crystal, I’m going to go against the grain here, and admit that I actually was offended by the original post. I believed at the time (as I still do) that it was never at all your intention, but I found the post to be a little offensive nonetheless. HOWEVER, I my point in commenting now is not to rehash all that, but to say how much I admire your honesty and humility in this post. When you mentioned your old personal blog, I totally identified with you. I cringe when I look back at how dogmatic and unloving I was in things I wrote in the past–and I’ve now changed my views on many of those things! All of this is to say that even though I was offended, it didn’t cause me to judge you personally as a horribly offensive jerk. You’re human just like the rest of us, and we are all prone to say things we later regret. Most of us just aren’t as quick to apologize and rectify the situation as you were. So thank you. Apology definitely accepted. 🙂

    PS: I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! We don’t plan to follow in your exact footsteps, but we are working toward becoming totally debt free someday. You have been an inspiration to us!

    • Lauren says:

      @April,
      I’m with you, but have been afraid to say it, because everyone keeps saying how they weren’t offended. I read it and felt like a worthless piece of crud! It just made me feel like I don’t try hard enough, or I wouldn’t be in this situation.
      That being said, I was SOOOO happy to read this new post about buying a house with cash. I am very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

      • mindy says:

        @Lauren, I agree with both of you. I too read the article(s) and I just kept thinking “how many more times is she going to rub it in everyone’s faces”. I am mildly jealous I will admit but we don’t come close to making that kind of money. You have to have it to save it. I am perfectly happy with what I have and how we got it. It is more than we deserve. I do commend you for trying to make things right though. Sometimes, your posts do come across as gloating even though that is not how you intended them to be.

    • Meyta says:

      @April, Ladies, I am curious. What exactly offended you?

      • April says:

        @Meyta, I don’t want this to sound like a cop-out, but I really don’t want to bring all that back up, especially in light of Crystal’s heartfelt apology. It may be that she really didn’t say or do anything wrong, and some of us are just overly sensitive. Or she may have had a lapse in judgment and posted something that was better left unposted. It doesn’t really matter. But what matters is that she cares about her readers, and it mattered to her that people felt offended by her words, whether she was really wrong or not. That speaks volumes to me. When I commented just now that I was offended by the original post, I didn’t say that to make her feel bad. I said it to let her know that even though I was offended by one post, I don’t hold it against her personally, or judge her entire personhood on one blog post. I would like to encourage the other ladies that were offended to offer Crystal the kind of forgiving grace that we would all like to receive. She has deeply and sincerely apologized, and that takes a lot of courage and humility. I know some people felt like Crystal was coming off as though she was better than other people–if we continue to point out her faults and rub it in her face after she has apologized, aren’t we guilty of the same thing we felt offended by? I would also like to remind some of the other ladies that just because some of us were offended, that doesn’t mean that we are big meanie jerks, or Crystal-haters. I love my husband more than anything, but sometimes he says things that offend me. You can be offended by someone’s words without hating them as a person.

      • brookeb says:

        @Meyta, Different poster, here, but just based on an overall memory of comments, it’s along the lines of needing to consider that where someone starts from will make a huge difference in their ability to take the same financial steps in life. This includes savings from parents, teachings, earnings, etc. There are often assumptions out there (not saying these are Crystal’s) that people who aren’t in a good financial situation got there by being careless about their money, which is not always the case. However, there are always things that we can do to be better with our money, even if our overall goals and outcomes will differ.

      • Tonya says:

        @Meyta,

        I said it in that post and I’ll say it again here…I don’t think the message itself was offensive, but the literal words she chose to convey her message were. And I am not coming from any sort of place of jealousy or envy because we are a military family living in base housing and will continue to do so for the next 10 years or beyond – whenever my husband retires and by that point our goal is to have more than 50% down payment for a house – a goal that we feel is attainable for us with our current (and future projected) pay situation. Like Crystal says, it’s not possible for everyone to be able to achieve the goal of paying 100% cash for a house, but you have to set your goals to work with what you have available in conjunction with what you’re willing or not willing to give up. For example, we’re not willing to give up going on vacations (budget friendly vacations, might I add!) or our weekly dinners out (again, budget friendly establishments!) or buying a new gadget every now and then in order to contribute more to our house savings fund. But we are content to keep our current paid off (and 1 very close to being paid off) cars, couponing to keep the grocery budget under $200 monthly for a family of 3, rarely buying new clothes, skipping things like haircolor and pedicures, etc in order to keep other costs low. That’s what works for us. Others might balk at the potential money thrown away on the other”stuff” but it’s what works for us and I don’t expect it to work for everyone.

        I don’t know Crystal personally, but I’ve followed her blog for a long time and I know there’s probably no way her intention behind the post was to offend. All she did was put her foot in her mouth and yes, I was offended by the literal words she used, but not the inspirational message behind it.

        • Tammy says:

          @Tonya, Of all the comments and replies yours hits the best about Crystal and her blog.She has come along way in the years of her writing and teaching ladies of all ages.

          I enjoy reading how she and Jessie did all of the savings in able to pay cash for a house and stay out of debt while in law school.It is humbling for her to tell it all!

          Big thing I have to remember is she chose to live the way they did especially in the apartment rather being forced to all of a sudden have to live that way .Meaning that they could have been like many who are learn the hard way after being in debt and are now trying to get out of debt .

      • Meyta says:

        @Meyta, Thank you ladies for your honest and lively responses. Very much appreciated.

  • Jamie moore says:

    Thanks for this post. It is so nice to see others mention God publicly without fear, I look forward to reading the rest of your post. We too enjoy being debt free. I really enjoy your blog. Some of my girlfriends read novels in their spare time I like to search for penny pinching way in mine. Just wanted to say have a great day and God Bless you and your family.

  • Ashlee says:

    I read the original post and while I was in no way offended, I thought this can never be me! I’m very thankful that you decided to re-write this post.

    My husband is in his second year of law school and even with going to a very inexpensive law school and a 60% scholarship, we are heavy in student debt (probably near $150,000 once he is done for his undergrad and law school as well as my undergrad and grad school). I planned on working while he was in school, but when the baby came we decided me staying home was the best thing for our family even if not for our finances. Luckily my husband is doing very well in school and works harder than anyone I know. My goal is to have our student debt half paid in 2 years after law school, save for a down payment on a house and have the student loans paid in full within 5 years.

    Even though we will never be able to be 100% debt free, your stories still inspire me to do the best we can.

    • Lynette says:

      @Ashlee, I can totally relate Ashley. My husband just graduated from Law school in May from a private (very expensive) Christian school. During our second year I became pregnant and decided to stay home the 3L year. God has completely provided for us to stay at home, but yes we have alot of school debt. I just want to encourage you that you’re not alone in this!
      My husband is now working for the county (we passed the bar, yay!) and we’re going to be able to be a part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
      For anyone out there who is a teacher, works for a non-profit or is a city, county, state or federal employee you may qualify. Here’s the link. http://www.finaid.org/loans/publicservice.phtml
      I hope this helps someone out!
      Lynette

  • thanks for this post, crystal. i didn’t have a chance to read the first post but i am glad you’re sharing the background here now. my husband and i only have debt on our car lease (a big mistake that dates back to 2007) and his student loans. i’m in grad school & have it all paid for, a huge blessing. we hope to be able to put down a big down payment on a house when i’m done in a couple years, alot of which is inspired by your story, so thanks!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Great post, Crystal!
    The inspiration really is in the actual details. I remember your earlier attempt being very vauge and using lots of generalities that didn’t really explain how YOU did it. The real story is inspiring in a somewhat different way as it shows that what you’ve done is a reflection of generations of hard work in learning to use/save money wisely.

    You haven’t reached the part of paying cash for a house that I’ve not been convinced is prudent — paying more in rent than you would be in interest. Many people pay exorbitant amounts of interest on a mortagage covering the majority of the value of their home; but there is a point at which I think it smart to move from renting into owning with a mortgage — when your rent exceeds what your mortgage interest would be. That’s a bit simplistic as I know there are other factors to include such as property taxes and home insurance, but the point is that I don’t think saving 100% is the ideal situation financially.

    Anyhow, I look forward to hearing the rest of your story!

    • anonymous says:

      @Jennifer, I agree. We have a large house we were fortunate to get at a very reasonable price nearly 10 years ago. (We also have a large family—six kids and two adults.) We pay less than $400/month on the mortgage (that is principal and interest). Of course there are property taxes too. But to rent a place big enough for us? I am quite sure we would be paying more in rent, even if you figure the property taxes into it. And realistically, there are few places we could rent with a family our size. Landlords do (and have the right to) limit the number of people per bedroom—we could not rent a 2- or 3-bedroom place! I think the mortgage for us makes the most sense. Crystal, I did not think you were being mean in your original post but I did get the impression you thought everyone should do it that same way. I feel that God blessed us with this house and payments we can afford—we are a one-income family and even though my husband makes a bit more now than he has in the past, for most of our married life we barely scraped by on his income. We used to pay far more in rent for smaller places (when our family was smaller).

  • Elizabeth Kamm says:

    Crystal, I really appreciate your humility. I have known you since your biblical womanhood days and I am blessed to call you friend.

  • Blaire Ruch says:

    crystal, i love seeing God at work in your heart! it takes a very strong person to show “weakness”! it takes someone who knows how much they are loved! i am so glad you know that, and i hope others can know that love too!!!!!!

  • Beth says:

    Thank you for writting such a sweet post. I admit I was a bit hurt by the first post edition. My case is a little different in that despite all my savings I came out behind. I didn’t grow up in the best of situations (though I am so grateful that my parents did take me to church). I started saving for the future long before middle school! My parents were very strict and demanded I go to only a Christian school (which was not cheap). I was awarded a scholarship but a family member cashed the check and I got zippo of it! I worked 3 jobs and took 21 credit hrs. easch semester (so I could graduate early-less tuition) and still came out with some debt.

    I actually just paid it all off last month (5 yrs. early)!! 🙂

    Keep in mind there are some who really, really tried to save but circumstances beyond their control robbed them of all their savings. While I am very happy for those of you who somehow everything worked out that you graduated college totally debt free that doesn’t make you any better steward of money than someone who came out with debt. You never know someone’s full story.

    I truly appreciate your hummility Crystal. I’ve never thought of you as rude or anything. I would love to have been in the same situation as you and your husband but my start wasn’t a great start because of things I couldn’t control.

    • Roxanne says:

      @Beth,

      Virtual hugs to you Beth.

      I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. My husband & I have experienced that too. It’s hard enough getting started in life when no one has anything to give you to help you get on your feet, but when what you’ve earned yourself is taken, it *really* hurts.

      God is not limited to only using family gifts and inheritances to meet our needs and bless us. Just keep being a wise steward of what has been given to you and don’t compare yourself to others.

      • Beth says:

        @Roxanne, Thank you!! I am sorry that you and your husband had a similiar experience, but it is good to know that I am not alone.It’s so easy to compare (or have other friend’s compare their success to your “failure”).
        Thank you and a virtual hug back to you! 🙂

    • Jill says:

      And it is better that you went to college and are/were in debt then to not have gone to college at all.

  • Kathy says:

    I still don’t understand what was wrong with your original post. I was greatly inspired by it as our family is SUFFERING from consumer debt and the pain of that is tremendous. We are on a journey to debt freedom – primarily with Dave Ramsey’s FPU teachings and can’t wait for the freedom being debt free will bring. Be careful with responses you allow to register and resonate in you – not everyone will understand your message, but I know your intent was to instruct and inspire so that others could believe the possibility of your truth.
    Keep on keeping on 🙂
    Kathy

  • Ginny says:

    This is SO timely for me. I am new to your blog and have just been reading through your previous posts on buying your house in cash. My husband and I have been married 8 1/2 years with no debt.

    We recently moved and are really prayerfully considering whether or not to take out a small mortgage on a house because rent in the town he now works in is really pricey (even small places) and we have a sizable down payment for a 7 year loan.

    We’re trying not to jump on emotion or logic (Florida real estate is really down right now and our area is being built up- new hospitals under construction that will open within a year that could increase home values), but to follow God’s Word and His wisdom. Praying a lot. Really hard to know if it’s better to get a small loan and pay down quickly or wait.

    You’ve been one of the few places (and Dave Ramsey) to even make owning a home in cash seem possible and good. Looking forward to your posts as we prayerfully decide.

  • becca says:

    Just wanted to echo the postive thoughts on your repost. I do not think you were judged as harshly as it may have felt, but I do appriciate the more realistic start you have reposted here. It gives us room to not blame ourselves for our own situations, and allows us a glimpse inside your sweet soul. Truly grateful for all you do!

  • Crissy says:

    I love your sweet spirit! I never took offense to your post! I love your honesty and pray that people aren’t defensive when they read. If they are then prayer is in order. You have changed my life and my families dramatically and I am probably 15 years older than you! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Melissa says:

    Crystal,
    I read your original post and did not find it offensive, but I thank you for taking the time to share it with us again. You and your family have been such an inspiration to me and while I know that things I will accomplish may not be the EXACT way you have done, I am satisfied in knowing it is POSSIBLE! Recently my family and I took a vacation to Disney, this was literally our first ever family vacation in 7 years. After our vacation my husband and I had a huge discussion about what we wanted to do with our lives, where we could go to give our children the best possible chance in life and how we should be planning for our retirement NOW and not later. We have devised a plan to cut away our car payments in 3 years. With any big plan or decision it certainly takes inspiration, drive and the will to follow through. The reason I am sharing this brief story with you is that when the times get rough and I need a little bit of inspiration I look at what you and your family have accomplished and I smile because I know our dream will happen. Thank you for continuing to share the events in your life publicly and gracefully and allowing us readers to be inspired with all that you do.

  • Jeannine says:

    Crystal,
    I am another one that was not offended by what you wrote. It is YOUR STORY! Not mine. You did what you felt God was leading you to do. There is nothing wrong with following the Lord. I am VERY CAREFUL WHO I SHARE MY DEBT FREE LIFESTYLE WITH.

    I have been attacked by others for living this lifestyle. So, I am now very cautious about who and how I share with. I think you were very wise not to give exact numbers.

  • Sandy says:

    I want to say that I have never been offended in reading your posts. I am truly amazed at times how you got to the point you are at today. I may read things that do not apply to me, or things that I would not do myself, but each person is different and will apply suggestions in their own way. And that is what they are: suggestions.
    Sometimes, it seems that those of us that are frugal are judged by others in a negative way, even by our own families. I do not know anyone that saves money the way I do and I still have a long way to go. I want to say how much I appreciate your blog, it is one that I read on a daily basis.

  • Chelsea says:

    I missed the original post, but I’ve never been offended by your blog or methods, so I doubt the original would’ve been any different! Looking forward to reading this series!

    You’ve inspired me to start anew with my kids to set a good financial example. Unfortunately my parents did not show us kids how to manage our money well, and I am still reaping the consequences. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Ashley says:

    Crystal, I read your blog for MANY years at the old website. I want you to know that I attribute a lot of my feelings about some issues to your blog because I never had good role models for parents in living godly. When I found your website all those years ago, it was such a breath of fresh air in living feminine in a feminist world, child training, and being a good wife. I appreciate all the things you said – it really helped me, so please don’t be sorry for all those things you said! Yes, I might not have agreed with everything, but I still eat potatoes even if there are bad spots – just cut those off! Thanks again for all you did back then and all you are doing now! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  • Crystal says:

    Thank you for rewriting this post! I read and was not offended by the original post, but a lot of it left me wondering how in the world you and your husband did this! The back story of it that you have given fills in some of the gaps. I truly appreciate your good example. My husband is in law school and we are using student loans and have a mortgage. Our goal is to pay both those debts off as quickly as possible once he is out of school. Its nice to find a community of people who share those same goals, and also who share how they have been able to accomplish their goals.

  • A says:

    I think I viewed the original post as a rather exhausted-by-questions response. I also think many, many people claim to want to be debt-free, but we aren’t always willing to do what it takes (myself included) to actually make it work. I’ve seen the pics of your little apartments and girls rooms, etc., on the blog and wondered if I haven’t often considered cute bedspreads, home decor, etc., as “necessity” items rather than the luxuries they indeed are. I truly don’t know if I could have lived as humbly as you have, for many years, to achieve such dreams. Kudos to you.

    I also happen to have received the “gift” of college without student loans, and married a man who received the same gift. What a blessing it is to begin marriage without the chain of student loan debt!

    And like you, I had years of wise financial counsel from my parents, who lived a lovely life and yet delayed gratification on many things. They also worked harder than mules, honestly, building homes and a tax business from scratch. They are a wonder. When relatives, etc., seem envious of their financial success or remark at their ability to “set their own schedule” with regard to the business, I have to chuckle. They’ve worked an average of about 60 hours a week for years, and perhaps 70 during tax season. As for setting the schedule, owning the business means that they work harder than anyone I know. 😉 So, good fortune plays a role…but I’d venture to guess that really hard work trumps good fortune most of the time.

  • Erin says:

    Crystal – I, too, read the original post and definitely was not offended. I have to say though, that this more recent post clears up a lot of questions that I had. Although a majority of your monetary success in paying 100% for a home was through your frugality and resourcefulness, you did indeed have a big jump start that not a lot of others have had. I think when a person is given a head start like that, they are more inspired to keep it going. Whereas, some start out with nothing, or worse, in the hole and it is hard to break that cycle. Thank you for your wonderful insights!

  • Stephanie says:

    Everyone is different and starts from different places. Some people have college money, some don’t, some have savings, some don’t, some have inheritances, some don’t.
    My husband’s college and grad school were paid for- I have loans. We have a house because he bought it before we were married. We also live in an expensive part of the country so paying off the mortgage early is unlikely.
    You had a fair bit of luck AND you worked hard to get what you have. I don’t compare myself to others like that because situations are not the same. You took what you had and ran with it and that is wonderful.

  • PollyS says:

    Crystal,
    Thank you for this post. I have been so torn about writing you. I wasn’t offended by your original post. It just didn’t set well with me.
    We are (still) going through some tremendous financial difficulties and I just could not imagine how your family was able to accomplish all you did to get you to the point of paying 100% down for a house. I just knew there had to be more to the story ie having money set aside for your husband’s education. And, you never mentioned the lousy real estate market playing a role in finding a great house. Again, just didn’t set well. But, who was I to judge? So, I let it go.
    Thank you for sharing the background to your journey.

  • Amy says:

    Crystal-
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are changing the world with your Godly example! I have only been reading your blog for a little over a week… so I never saw the post in question. However, I can see why people would be envious to the God-pleasing decisions that you and Jesse have made. Chuck Swindoll once wrote, “When you compare yourself to others you ricochet between arrogance and defeat”. So… I try to have a teach-able heart, and simply learn from your great example. I was blessed to grow up in a wonderful, loving Christian home. My parents took the job of “training up a child in the way he should go…” very seriously. But, sadly, they rarely talked about finances (Other than teaching us it was important to tithe, and to pay off credit cards at the end of every month) When we took FPU we decided to change not just how we handled our finances, but also what we teach our children about money. I was reading your blog yesterday while my oldest son (17) was studying for his CLEP tests, and I said “WOW! This Crystal is AMAZING…after you graduate from college Debt Free… just think about the freedom that will give you to do His will!” Thanks for being a great example for all of us…and our kids 

  • Lisa says:

    I too, read the original post and although I wasn’t offended by it, I walked away from it very discouraged. I realize it wasn’t meant to put others down, but to offer up inspiration and let people see that dreaming and setting goals in life will lead to great things in the end. Maybe I felt envious of your accomplishments, of your knowing your purpose in life. I felt stuck in my own world without a clear plan and not being able to hear what God was trying to tell me, if anything at all. Your relationship with God is truly something to revel in and of that I am jealous. It seems like you ask prayerfully and are given the guidance you sought after and here I am not-so-patiently waiting for the big man to knock me upside the head with some kind of direction for my life…..

  • Rachel says:

    I am learning from this post about the importance of setting my kids up with a financial legacy they can learn from and be proud of. My parents are up to their necks in debt and spend like they are not. Its soooo hard to continue to stand by when I see them repeatedly making unwise decisions. I literally bite my tongue sometimes because they don’t really like it when I give advice. I’ve given them so many books on the subject and twice I’ve found the books in the Goodwill box or collecting dust in their storage room. They don’t see their bondage and it makes me so sad. Sometimes I even feel mad– like you are leaving me a huge mess to sort through when you are gone. I hate it. Anyway, your story would not be possible if it weren’t for the wisdom your parents imparted upon you, that is a blessing for me to know for my kids!

    • Lana says:

      @Rachel, We have close friends in the type financial situation your parents are in. I have come to the conclusion with them that it is in large part their personalities and it doesn’t help that they are both that way. They will ask us to pray for them to get out of debt while pulling out a credit card to pay for dinner out. Their roof on their house was in such disrepair that when it rained they had buckets all over the house but they always have the latest gadget and new expensive things that we would never think of buying. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot help them change and I am not responsible for their actions. I can only pray that God will change their hearts toward money. It does hurt to watch them make such bad choices. I just wanted to say to you that I know that this is a painful thing for you and I am sorry it is your parents you have to watch make choices like this. I am proud of you that you have broken the family cycle of debt and are teaching your children a better way.

  • Nancy says:

    As Thanksgiving is soon approaching us, this is a good time to finally take the time to write and say Thank You!!! I am a FPU graduate and therefore our thinking and way of conducting our life and financial decisions is very similar that is why I faithfully look at your blog at least 3 times a day so that I don’t miss anything. I have saved hundreds, probably thousands of dollars over this past year by taking advantage of some of the deals you’ve posted on this blog. I am VERY thankful for your time and effort with spreading these deals on to us who don’t have time to find them ourselves. Thanks for being such a blessing to me and our family:)

    • Yvonne says:

      @Nancy,

      My husband and I are also FPU grads. We have been working the plan for over three years and still have a ways to go before we can make the debt free scream. I was never offended by the original post. If anything, I found it very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story, Crystal! I am ever so grateful for all of the hard work you put into this blog.

  • holi says:

    I miss your post about home and children. Saving money and seeing your path to freedom has been my push to do the same. (although, I am not as great at it as you are!) I have never thought you to be ungraceful at all, ever. You are an inspiration to me and many others I believe.

  • Ellen says:

    I did not read the original post, but Crystal, I have always admired how respectful you are of everyone’s season of life and current situation. That is no small task! It takes an amazing amount of humility to retrace the steps that caused you pain and rewrite the blog entry. What an inspiring way to start your thanksgiving week!

  • Cora-Sue says:

    Crystal,
    I read the first post and did not find it in the least offensive.It must have only been in the minds of the ones who read it.
    I am a single mother of 4,( all grown now and out on their own).when my 2nd daughter was 7 months old I bought my first home. I was 23 yrs old.Of course that was in 1965 and it was a house that was being sold by the heirs of the couple who had owned it and had passed away. So I only paid $6,000.00. The owners took a $1000.00 2nd mortgage for the down payment,and I financed the other $5000.00 through the bank. I was the first single woman in my town that the bank had given a home loan too. Needless to say it sounds nice,I had a 3 bedroom,1 bath home,small yard,and it was mine.
    Move through the years,2 more children,job layoffs,and paying the house off and refinancing it again and again.Then 27 yrs after I bought it I refinanced it again for $25,000.00 to do improvements.Then comes the fun part.A year after refinancing I quit my job and ended up having the home repossessed. So actually you might as well say I rented for 27 yrs because I don’t have anything to show for it now. The only good part was 3 of my 4 children were already out of the house and my youngest was 16 1/2 yrs old.
    Guess what I am trying to say,it is great you did it without owing a single penny to the banks. And as improvements need done try to do them on your own too without any loans. That way you will always be able to keep it for yourself.

  • Shannon says:

    I am a daily reader of your blog and I can’t even remember the post at this point! I just remember being so proud of you and your husband for setting a very high goal and reaching it. Your prudent choices are how you achieved your dream! It would be a great feeling to purchase a house without having a mortgage! Congratulations on your determination to reach your dream and for keeping your readers close to your heart. You have a very wonderful blog.

  • Danielle says:

    Really appreciate the honesty here. Both myself and my husband come from generations of financial foolishness and lacks of frugality. Thankfully we’ve learned a lot from people like Dave Ramsey and yourself, and are beginning to pass that on to our children.
    As much as most of us would like, we don’t have time machines or magic wands to change the past, so we have to start from exactly where we are TODAY. Maybe you can’t clip 8 newspapers worth of coupons every week and go to 5 drug stores working 50 deals. Maybe you can’t feed your family of 5 on $40 per week, but can you just shave $10 off your bill per week? Could you just work deals at the drug store closest to you? Etc….
    Frugality and financial wisdom is learned one day at a time for most of us. Thank you for such a great blog that really does encourage, teach, and leave room for everyone with their unique situations to still be able to take something from here and apply it in their lives, in the way that best benefits their family.
    Keep it comin’! 🙂

  • Wendi Sisson says:

    One thing I have learned in the last few years is that I have a limited amount of time and energy, and I can choose to spend them worrying about or feeling guilty about what I have done, said, thought, etc. in the past, or I can spend the time and energy focusing on making changes going forward. It sounds so simple, but it has taken me awhile to realize this and really implement it. I used to think I should spend lots of time feeling bad for what I had done, or worrying about the aftermath; almost as if I was doing some kind of penance. But it is so freeing to let it go. Now I learned this lesson by making much bigger mistakes than putting my foot in my mouth, but I share this here hoping to encourage you as you move forward. When we make a mistake, we do the things that are in our power – apologize, ask for forgiveness, make amends, try to see the lesson in the situation — and then we give it over to God and let him work. And the giving it back to him is not a one-time act. Sometimes it is over, and over, and over again. God bless you, and thank you for what you do for SO MANY of us!

  • Jenn says:

    I loved reading your series, and while we can’t even begin to think of paying for a house with cash, it did inspire us in the ways that you originally hoped. We’ve set some big goals ourselves (including me being able to stay home full time with our son), and paying off our second mortgage. It’s so fun to dream big, and while it looks like it will be difficult and sacrificial, both my husband and I are ready to do what it takes. It’s also been great for our marriage to work as a team – US against our debt, sort of thing.

    Thanks for your Godly perspective and for being open about your convictions. This is one inspired girl!

  • trisha says:

    I read your original and I don’t remember anything that one could take as being offensive. You were/are good stewards of the money you had/have. You chose a huge goal, worked your tails off and did it! Just because your circumstances were different doesn’t make it offensive. Your goal was not easy even with your circumstances. You had to scrimp and save and even do without. You lived like no one else. You were creative and you didn’t give up on your dream. Not having school debt (or any debt) and making a better income from his profession does allow for greater savings to achieve your goal quicker, but it still wasn’t easy. How many “would” get by with one vehicle, eat beans and rice, eat brown sack lunches instead of eating out, not buy clothes galore, not get a cell phone, drive an old beater or not upgrade living conditions once income went up (I could go on) to achieve their goal?

    Last summer we COMMITTED to getting rid of our debt. I am amazed how things just happened once we made that commitment. It would have been easy to use that money for other things but we didn’t. We didn’t go and get cable once hubby got a raise, etc. Now our house, cars, farm and everything is paid for. This past year there have been very tempting things or actually even “Murphy” happen, but we decided to stay out of debt and with a little patience and hard work we have succeeded. Instead of ripping out the charge card we used some patience, thought about it, prayed about it and somehow God has brought them to us or we managed to fix them (or doing without). We truly have been blessed by committing and working hard to staying out of debt!

  • Emily says:

    Crystal-I have only been reading your blog for a few weeks. I read your original post and wasn’t offended. I do appreciate your apology. That shows your caring nature. I love your blog. It inspired me to start my own blog after thinking about it for a few months. Thank your for all you do with your blog!

  • Ami says:

    It is so hard to be humble way down to our deepest thoughts. I am working on that, and I suppose I always will be. Thanks for a good example in humility. I am inspired by your story!

  • Denise C. says:

    I adore this blog, for information on frugal living, cutting the grocery bill down (that goes down a bit every 2 weeks!). I enjoy your stories on finances (finances in shape 2008, get your finances in line 2009) it has inspired me to set some financial goals for 2011. 2010 for my husband & myself has been major setbacks, back-to-back & we wiped out our savings….that was worth it to us rather than to take on credit card debt, which we do not have. We live on the East Coast, in an area where housing is one of the priciest in the states. We are hoping in a year or so to begin applying more money to the principal balance. Thanks again for being an inspiration, you rock Crystal. 🙂

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  • Camille says:

    Ah, nothing like making a mistake in front of 10,000 people, huh? 🙂 It takes a really big person to admit it — a trait dearly missing in our society today!

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned from reading your blog is the lessons you learned from your parents. While neither my husband nor I were lucky enough to have such a wonderful example, we are determined to make sure that we set one for our children. In fact, my 11 year old step-daughter just told my husband the other day that she is the poorest kid in her school because she “only” has 1 Nintendo DS and “everyone” else has at least 5!! We were shocked and realized that it is time start being more open with her about finances.

    • anonymous says:

      @Camille, Oh, I can so relate!! My teenager thinks we are the meanest parents in the world and she is so poor because she doesn’t have one of those fancy cell phones with the internet plans (she has just a basic phone for emergencies).

  • Jeannine says:

    I noticed a common thread on some of the posts here, a desire to pass on a better legacy for our children. This starts today for each one of us. I have a book that has been a huge blessing in helping me to understand some of what can be accomplished in just one generation.

    “PREPARING SONS TO PROVIDE FOR A SINGLE-INCOME FAMILY,” by Steve and Terri Maxwell. The oldest 2 Maxwell boys saved up for a house BEFORE THEY GOT MARRIED. They scraped and saved every dime.

    http://www.titus2.com/ecommerce/products/prod_listing.php/1130

    I recognize we are not all at the same place, but we can catch a vision for passing on wise stewardship traits to our children.

  • Thanks for re-starting this series, Crystal! I love the tone and perspective…can’t wait to read more! 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Nothing wrong with your original post, may the Lord continue to bless your efforts as you lead your family and others to Him.

  • chris says:

    I read the original post and was not offended, I know it was hard work. The part of your re-written story that stood out to me, was that Jesse was 11 years old and lost his mother, that is how he had a sum of money to go to college. I can’t imagine what he and his family went through. My mom lost her mother at a young age also, and I know how this affected her, her siblings, my cousins, my siblings and me growing up. Thank you for trusting us enough to share something so personal.

  • Amber says:

    Crystal-

    I wasn’t offended either. Thank you for all you do to put up an amazing website that has saved me quite a few dollars and helped me in a ton of ways. I too appreciate that you bring God into your post and show that through him anything is possible. I am of the belief that God would have us debt free. But that requires quite a bit of restraint and sacrifice, to say the least. And I’m sure there a ton people out there who would say that isnt possible and what if, and what about blah blah blah. But I appreciate you showing that it can be done. Yes we all come from different situations me included. I had to pay for all my school and had some loans. But did everything I could to pay them all off while I was single and working and then my first year of marriage. I look forward to trying to pay cash for a house as well. I don’t believe in debt. We don’t “need it for a credit score”. We need a credit score to get more debt. That is all. If you believe you can you can. If you believe you can’t you can’t. You were a sweetheart to repost and apologize. Although you didn’t need to. You are going to have people who approve and disapprove. You can’t please everyone. You are kind enough to share your story and put yourself out there to the world so to speak. Those who took offense might not be so willing to do the same. Thanks Crystal for all you do!

  • Whitney says:

    Never saw the original post but I can guarantee I would not have been offended. No matter how much money you started out with, the key point is that you made a goal. A goal to live frugally and to pay cash for a house. Regardless of how you got there, you could never have achieved that goal if you hadn’t made it in the first place.

    I am saddened by those commenters who say “I will never be debt-free” because it truly means they won’t be because they’ll never even try. To me, the point of repeatedly calling paying cash for the house a “crazy idea” means you were well aware that the goal seemed unattainable but you still tried. Now look at the result. I hope everyone who reads this post or one like it sees it as a call to action for themselves because I think that is what it is.

  • Lynn Oyama says:

    Crystal:

    I am so sorry that people were offended by your story. I am so inspired by you and read your blog daily. You are a great inspiration on how to live humbly and trus that God will guide you. I have grown closer to God each year and know that He is always with me and that we, as His children, should be humble. God Bless You Crystal, and please keep blogging.

  • Jennifer says:

    I think you are being too hard on yourself. I didn’t see your original post, but I can’t even imagine you being the least bit cocky about all you have accomplished. You are such a gracious person, I think people are just jealous and think that they could never ever do what you and Jessie did. I’m sorry it affected you so deeply, but we ALL make mistakes, no one is perfect.

  • Hollaina says:

    I read the original post and was NEVER offended by it. Everyone’s financial situation and circumstances are different, and you were just sharing the steps you took and what worked for your family. Common sense dictates that this way is NOT for everyone. I am proud of you for what you have done though; Not many people can say that have done that. In fact, I found your original post to be very inspiring to me… Keep up the great work/inspiration.

  • michelle says:

    I read the original post and was glad that Crystal had paid for a house and was amazed at the dedication, perserverance and TONS and TONS of old fashioned hard work and dicipline involved in achieving that lofty goal. One thing that I am reminded of often by Crystal’s posts is that she is truly industrious and a very hard worker. She has inspired me!

  • Meagan says:

    I wasn’t offended by your original post either, rather I found it enlightening and encouraging that people can pay cash for a house. My parents have been following Dave Ramsey for decades so his mantra is drilled into my head. Acutally, until I became a working adult I didn’t realize how “normal” debt was to most Americans. I remember your original post and recall thinking how Dave would feel your story was awesome and how weird it was. And for those of you who don’t listen to Dave, it’s good to be weird! I don’t even know you and I’m proud of what you were able to do. Believe me, my husband and I will scream from the top of our lungs “We’re Debt Free” when we make that last mortgage payment.

  • Amanda says:

    I hadn’t been reading very long when you wrote the original post, and for me, that post set you apart from the other blogs I had been following to learn about couponing and keep informed about deals. It made me take a long look at the choices I was making and think about changes I could make. I found it to be convicting, not offensive. I’m looking forward the rest of this series

  • Hollie says:

    I love reading your blog! Don’t be worried about offending people. No one is ever going to agree with you 100% of the time. Most people are probably envious of your accomplishment. For the most part our society doesn’t value patience and waiting to purchase things. It’s inspiring to hear stories about how other people have paid off massive amounts of debt (or in your case, purchased a house!) because it gives hope to others (that’s one reason why my husband and I love to listen to Dave Ramsey).

  • Penny says:

    Quick note to say that I am sorry your original post created so much trouble for you, personally. I don’t technically know you or anything but I am confident assuming that you meant absolutely no ill-will. Anywho: onwards and upwards; we’re (still) all in this together

    ~Penny

  • Suzy says:

    I LOVED YOUR FIRST POST! I have talked about it over and over again to people and really wish I had a copy of it to share with my husband.

    I do not think there is a day that goes by that I do not think about it at some point. It really made a lasting impression on me!

    Your “I paid cash” series is THE reason I read your blog. I love it that people talk about paying cash for a house, car, and blender to a ring. Each family leads a different life and it has really opened up my eyes and helped me with my family.

    I was (before husband)/am (currently) debt free. When I met my husband, he has almost $75K in debt. We spent 2 1/2 years paying that off. I have always struggled to understand how he could have gotten himself into that situation and I was very resentful towards him because of it. This series has truly helped me and for that I am thankful. In some ways, this has saved our marriage from years of pain.

    Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Coletta says:

      @Suzy, When my husband and I got married, I had $50,000 in debt and he had ZERO! He loved me enough to still marry me but it didn’t come without alot of hard work on both our parts. I work 3 years to pay off that debt (my own money) and while doing so driving 90 minutes one way to work each day too! While he got up at 2:00 AM everyday developing a new product and taking care of our children when they came along.

      We decided from day one that we would live off of what his company was currently making at that time (around 25K a year) and every bit of what I made went to paying off my debt. I made roughly 25K before taxes and insurance. It took me roughly 3 years to pay off the debt. During those 3 years, any extra money that my husbands business made; we saved. Eight years and four kids later, we are still sticking to our original way of living. Only difference is that I no longer work outside the home, we live in a different home and his business make a little more money.

      My husband taught me that I can not just buy whatever I want whenever I want without having to pay a price for it. I am so thankful for what he has taught me because my parents never taught me those types of things. Instead they instilled the “gotta keep up with the Jones'” mentality from a very young age.

      • Suzy says:

        @Coletta,
        Coletta, I hope you two are proud of what you guys have accomplished. I know, it is a major undertaking. Both of you had to sacrifice a great deal in order to get your debt paid off.

        Thank you for telling me about your situation. I think it is wonderful that you and your husband came together and took care of the debt. We did the same and lived off one salary and used the other one to pay off his c/c’s. There were many tears on my end. I felt like I was giving up so much and he was making it out that he was the one doing all the work and paying everything off.

        It also pleases me to no end to hear that you guys are still living off of one salary and have learned you do not need everything. I wish we were doing the same! Some days I just feel he was not learned from his previous mistakes and then other days, I think “Wow, he gets it.” I just hope that we have more days of ‘getting it.’

        What I appreciate most about your note is how you talked about how you both sacrificed to make this happen because being on the other side, it is hard even to this day because you think what you could have done with that extra $50k or $75k if it hadn’t been used to pay off all the extra’s he just had to have.

        Thanks again for sharing and I wish all 6 of you the best. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • lauren says:

    Crystal! I never comment but I just wanted to let you know I LOVED this post. It was real and from your heart and you let Jesus shine through big time!! I wasn’t jealous of the first post, as quite honestly I know saving 100% for a home is not something we could do and honestly not something I would want to do in lieu of vacations and etc. However, I did feel that it could make some people upset and then make others feel better about themselves. As others mentioned being out of debt, or what is spent on grocries, vacations not taken, etc can be a source of pride for some (not implying this is the case with you as i TRULY don’t think it is!) We have been through some hard and learning times finically but Jesus has been so good to us and we have learned so much! We now hardly have any debt!! Praise Jesus!! I grew up with parents who have always made a decent income and who have precious hearts but I am the oldest and don’t think I got all their wisdom on where to start. My husband and I had to learn a lot on our own through Jesus and are so grateful for what we have learned though plan on doing things different with our children. Anyways, that was my long way around of saying I truly admire you and the sacrifices you are willing to make to get where you are. I do not think God calls everyone to do what you have and others are doing but I think he calls us all to a place to hear him and be wise with what we have and have giving hearts. More than your deals, and the amount you spend on groceries, I love your post like this and your true heart for Jesus. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the series and I loved how “personal” this post is. Makes you touchable as a person! Have a very blessed thanksgiving!!

  • Crystal says:

    I would like to thank you for telling us your story. I remember reading the original post, and I was not offended. I was more in awe of how it could be done. My husband and I have struggled financially and are really working on making things right so that its not such a day to day struggle.
    Thank you for being such an inspiration and such a Godly influence.
    I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

  • Jessica W says:

    Thank you for this post. It gives my family and I motivation and a “light at the end of the tunnel” in believing we can do the same with a car. Your posts and guests posts continues to motivate and inspire us. For anyone who are too narrow-minded, jealous and too envious that they could not and did not understand the reasoning of your post may have issues that may lie deep within them. Thank you.

  • Beth says:

    I’m glad your are revisiting this topic! I read the original post and have to admit I was a bit offended, although not enough to stop checking in every day! I think it will go a long way to explain exactly how you got where you are. I think what rubbed me the wrong way was that your original post made it seem like it was just hard work, but there has to also be many blessings along the way — like your blog taking off like it did or having Jesse’s undergrad paid for. I know that you are grateful for these blessings, and I can’t wait to hear you share more about them!! Thanks for all your work here and for giving God the glory!

  • I saw your original blog post in two lights. Very inspiring in ways to be more frugal for those who are beginners on the frugal living journey and not at all offensive to those readers who are looking for simple tips on ways to cut back. But for those who are doing most or all of the same things you were doing to be able to just make it on one income and yet don’t have an extra dime to spare, it was very discouraging and made us go, “How is it really possible to pay 100% on a house? There has got to be more to the story!” So much of it really does depend on the background circumstances, work-at-home spouse’s income, salary that a person makes, real estate market, etc. I know a huge part of your ability to buy a home is your very hard and consistent work on MSM and your husband’s wisdom in making good financial decisions even way back in his teens and then choosing a career that adequately provides for his family! What a blessing! I wish my folks had taught me more about the debt-free living in my teens! They gave me a pretty good foundation but advised me to get a small car loan for my first car and okayed student loans so long as they never got higher than what I could pay back in one year. It’s a blessing from God that my hubby and I got a combined total of $80,000 worth of education and only had a few thousand in school loans to pay back despite the fact that my parents were only able to give me 1/13th of the cost of college each year.

    It is so awesome to hear the background behind your buying a house with cash and to see your willingness to repair something you feel was a mistake by sharing your thoughts in this series. I have learned a lot from you and have saved a lot of money because of you! And I’ve forgotten the hardcore stuff from your early days and am mostly just impressed at how much you’ve grown and matured as a blogger over the years (I have the same hopes that my readers forget what I blogged about initially too!)

    For those who are struggling and wondering how they will ever afford a home, please know that I was there just six months ago! I thought owning a home was a far-off dream and that we’d very likely be living in an 800 sq. foot rental home for the rest of our days, even with 4 children! But God in His infinite way of providing brought along the most amazing deal we have ever seen in our town and gave us a beautiful, HUGE fixer-upper this summer. It is more than we could have ever asked for or imagined and such a blessing! Yes, we have a mortgage, which we pay extra on each month, but in just a few months here we’ve built up around $50,000 in equity and we hope to pay the house off as soon as we can and continue fixing it up.

    This series really caught my eye, due in large part to the fact that my in-laws are sooooo dogmatic about paying cash for a home and I feel so much judgement and condemnation from them regarding us having a mortgage. That’s why I’m anxious to hear why you think it’s not for everyone, even though paying cash is the best way if you can do it.

    This post was so well-written in fact, that I’m absolutely dying to read the next one in the series!

  • kat christensen says:

    I was inspired by your original story and decided to see if we could pay our mortgage off within the next 5 years. I do have to say that paying CASH for a house in a high cost of living area such as California or New York City is very different than in Kansas. A Condo in our CA neighborhood started at $300K. So saving for an actual older home that was in the $500K is very different than saving for a home that is under $200K and if you want to pay cash for a half a million dollar home you will be saving for well over a decade. Cost of living is a huge difference with paying cash for a home or even with couponing. I save way more than my sister that lives in Missouri because food costs twice as much there than where I live.

  • Catherine R. says:

    I did not read the original post but I have to say… Crystal it is so neat to see this. I am sure it was not the easiest process to go through, from your old blog (which I know of) to this post you’re referring to.

    Honestly, there have been times where I have come away from MSM feeling not so great. My husband and I are in a huge mess financially and have very little going for us to look at realistically straightening things out ever (hope I’m wrong). The thing is, people make choices, yes, some good and certainly some very bad. However, (like you admitted to) there is something to be said for priviledge/ the way a person was raised etc. My hubby and I both come from profoundly broken homes and neither of were taught much of anything good in the area of financial stewardship or other important areas like preparing to be in a marriage etc. We, and especially me, were set up to fail. Anything good we do is against the odds (and a glory to God only). And we *are* trying, but it is very much an uphill battle. Sin has consequences. This is not to advocate a victim mentality, however, if upringing doesn’t matter, none of us would need to properly guide our own children and we *know* how important that is.

    I am not trying to convince you, as I see your tender heart coming through, but maybe encourage someone who is in a similar position to me. There is a lot to learn from a site like this. But at the same time, people like me are reading. People who have lots of heavy odds stacked against them. But we do serve a God of hope and Matthew 6:19-21 applies to those who have both good finances *and* bad. It very much encourages me when the weight of our financial mess threatens to crush my heart.

    • Chris says:

      @Catherine R., ((HUGS!!)) I say this to try to encourage you. I was where you are four years ago, but I’m single and was going through it alone. I’d never been more scared and miserable. Through a change in circumstances that I never anticipated or sought, and a lot of grace, I found myself being able to get out of debt, then I received an inheritance a year after being debt-free. That, with the real estate crash, allowed me to pay for a condo with cash. I never would have imagined it in 2004-2006, when I got pits in my stomach at the thought of paying bills with money I didn’t have. I thought I had messed up so much I’d be facing the debt for the rest of my life because realistically, I didn’t have much going for me $-wise. But it is possible to get out of the mess. Half the struggle can be believing that you can get out of it.

      • Catherine R. says:

        @Chris,

        Awwww, thanks Chris : )

        Well, that certainly is an encouragement to hear a little about your story. One of the reasons I like this site is because, if I ever had an opportunity like you had, an inheiritance, I wouldn’t be dumb with it. I would pay off my debt in full without doing anything else first (okay maybe I’d go out to a non fast-food restaurant : P ). In the meantime, I know that pit in the stomach feeling. We are a one income family of four in a little apartment with barely enough $ coming in to cover the very basics. Thanks for encouraging me to believe things may change some day.

        • Delene says:

          @Catherine R., My husband and I have been where u have been. We spent 4+ years with less than a penny to rub together on a single income. We have finally come to a place that is better – thanks to God! I cannot count the amount of times I have said to my husband “When will it be our turn?” and “Why does God hate us so much?”

          God doesn’t hate us and we chose to get into debt when we had very little money to go around. I come from a family that doesn’t accept help, but they’re half a world away and they couldn’t help. We had to take care of things ourselves.

          When the recession hit last yr and everyone starting losing their jobs, we started seeing God do the amazing in our lives. My husband got a better job. I got a job (after looking for over 3 years) that allows me to work from home and still take care of my kids etc. God started to blow our minds.

          It has not been an easy road. I cannot count the amount of nights I CRIED over our financial situation or the amount of fights I had with my husband over him not being serious about it because I was “in charge” of paying all the bills while he just went and earned the money. Both are burdens, but mine seemed bigger because he couldn’t see the debt to income ratio that I had to face each week.

          My kids were on WIC which was a huge help (and I can’t say enough about what a great program that is) and their healthcare was state based (another huge blessing).

          These are things that I was too proud to be on before and I don’t care about it now. Those programs are there to help the people that need them and if you need them, there’s no shame in that and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed to be on them.

          One of my proudest days this year was being able to walk into the WIC and state health dept offices and ask to have my kids removed from their programs. It was a slow process but we were so thankful for the help they provided and were so glad in our hearts that we could now do it ourselves and the slots could be given to people who were more in need of them than us.

          I know you feel like you’ll never get out and you’re just drowning, but please hang in there. This too will get better and you’ll come out on the other side better than you thought possible. Just keep being faithful in the little things so that God (in His time) can give you the bigger things.

          You don’t need to have what everyone else has right now. You have exactly what God intended for you to have at this given moment in time and He is a good Father who only give good gifts to his children and what you have is good. (I’m not trying to be overly optimistic but some days that was all I had to go on – I had food to eat, a roof over my head, healthy children, and a wonderful husband and if that was all I had to be thankful for, it seemed my cup was full and I still think that way).

  • Carrie Beth says:

    Thanks for this. As a stay at home mom for the past 8 years with a husband who works for a non profit, we were in the situation many have mentioned: it was cheaper to have a mortagage than to rent, and if we had rented for our childrens’ entire time at home, we never could have saved up enough to buy with cash with his small income. Thanks for not judging us and trusting the Lord to lead each family. There are some things in life that are black and white, and there are others that are not. It is easy for all of us who feel strongly about something to misjudge which items should go into which of these two categories. Again, thanks.

  • Maggie says:

    I’m thankful you have inspired so many people to evaluate their lifestyle and to surrender their finances to the Lord. You are an inspiration and a blessing!

  • Ruth says:

    Crystal, your caring heart comes through in everything you write. I am happy for your accomplishments and have learned a lot from one so young. You love God and you love others–the two things we are suppose to do. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your sweet family!

    I haven’t read all these comments yet, but from the ones I have read, they are encouraging and well written. It is nice to see so much graciousness out there in blogland.

  • Leah says:

    Read it, rejoiced for you, moved on. I have no idea why your success would be “offensive” to anyone. It might provoke jealousy, but that’s an issue for your readers, not for you. Keep on keeping on.

  • Marie says:

    I did not catch the original post, but I admire your humble heart and ability to admit your mistakes.

    I read your blog daily and have been greatly inspired by what you write. My husband and I are debt-free and renting at the moment. While paying cash for a home certainly isn’t for everyone, it is something we are considering. Although we lightly discussed the idea before I found your blog, your stories inspired us to get serious about this possibility.

    We are still not sure whether we will pay cash for a home, but we are saving aggressively in the meantime. What we do will depend on a variety of factors, such as what part of the country we end up settling down in. If nothing else, we will at least have a large down payment in a few years.

    Thank you again for you inspiration!

  • nicole says:

    I read the first post. When it went *poof* I couldn’t understand why it would be gone. Life is not a competition, including being debt free.

  • Sarah says:

    Crystal,

    I find your posts (this one included) a breath of fresh air in a society where we are all too willing to consider the accumulation of debt a “necessity.” My father taught me a pretty simple lesson at a young age: Don’t buy what you don’t have the money in your wallet (or bank account) to pay for. Alas, sometimes the simplest lessons are the hardest learned. Although I did not read your original post, it makes me angry that you felt the need to apologize for it. Without getting into my own ideology, politics or religion, my thought is simply this: If we all spent less time whining about why its tough to do the right thing and actually got to doing it, this country and everyone in it would be in a much better place. Kuddos to you Crystal and many thanks for the inspiration. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  • Jean says:

    So I recently came across your blog through facebook. My husband and I have been very blessed not to have debt outside of our mortgage. We now have a baby and we are having to learn how to live within our means with the new adjustment that the cost of a child brings.
    So when I saw that you listed great coupons and deals that encourged me to find other ways to save. So I was quite surprised when I read your blog today about being debt free. My first thought was how dare someone judge you in the choices you have made to honor God with your money. Then as I continue to read your blog I was so proud of you as a believer. How you humbled yourself when in the worlds eyes you didn’t have too, but you did.
    So I came to blog to save money, but I will continue to read knowing that you are truly a God fearing woman that truly reflect Christ in all that you do rather is by your money or by bloging.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Liz says:

    I remember reading the original post and thinking that it offered some real, tangible, and specific advice. I knew that most of it wouldn’t work for my family, but I thought that the intent was good. I wasn’t offended by it all, but I think that it’s admirable for Crystal to follow her conscience if she feels that apologizing was the right thing to do.

  • Karen says:

    (((hugs))). Thank you for your kind, gracious, sweet spirit. Looking forward to the rest of the story!

  • Priscilla says:

    Two things we don’t talk about in the American culture: money and politics. However, in the Bible, the Lord has given us strict instructions regarding money. And having a mortgage is still debt.

    Kudos to you for sharing how the Lord placed in your hearts not to be in debt and for being blessed with a house.

    All Glory goes to God!!

  • Jennifer says:

    It drives me crazy that you feel like you have to come on YOUR blog and apologize to others for the way that you live YOUR life.

    It’s just jealousy, though and though.

    You have ALWAYS said “This works for me; it may not work for you” and anyone who thinks that they have to do things exactly the same way is putting more pressure on themselves and on you than either one deserves.

    People, really, get a thicker skin. Just because your circumstances are different doesn’t mean that you need to get upset when someone else succeeds.

    Like Nicole’s comment, life is not a competition. Including when it comes to being debt-free.

    Please, Crystal, stop apologizing.

    • April says:

      @Jennifer, I don’t believe Crystal is apologizing for the way she lives her life. The way her original post was worded made some people feel that Crystal was coming across as better than other people because she and Jesse made all the right decisions while others made wrong ones. I *know* that wasn’t her intention, but sometimes things don’t come across the way we mean to, and people’s feelings get hurt. I was one that was offended by the original post (not by Crystal herself, but by this particular blog post). It is not because I am jealous of her, or because I take issue with the way she lives her life, or because I’m a thin-skinned jerk. I was offended, because the post inadvertently left me feeling like if I wasn’t in as good of financial shape as Crystal and her husband, it was my own fault for making wrong choices. I was so pleased to see Crystal recognize that her word choices hurt some people, and to open her life to us and admit that both she and Jesse had so much going for them starting out. It inspires me, when we have children, to instill those values in them as well, so they can have a bright future. 🙂

  • Rhoda says:

    Reading through all the comments ahead of me if nothing else comes out of all of this–the discussion itself is good. Too often we think something, but never speak out. Those offended at the first post did. They had a right to. Just as the rest of us did. Now, the rest of us are finally giving our support. We should have supported from the first. Crystal, thank you for allowing the Lord to use the negative that occurred in order to make something beautiful out of it. Whatever our situations the important thing is to let the Lord have His way with us in order that HIS name be lifted up. And you have done that. Thank you.

  • kristen says:

    Thanks for this post, Crystal! I love all your “paying cash” posts! My husband and I are in debt up to our eyeballs and are little by little trying to make wise choices to slowly pay things off. So even though we’ll probably never be able to pay cash for a house your stories inspire me to try the best I can to live frugally!

  • Delene says:

    I have to wait till next tuesday to hear more???!!!

    My husband and I are looking for a house to buy. After much looking and a pretty good prequal, we decided to buy something less than 1/2 of what we qualified for and which meets our needs. Only prob is it’s a doublewide and we’ve been thinking and mulling. The conclusion we’ve come to is that it’s bigger than where we currently live. It’ll belong to us (which the current home doesn’t). And if WE are happy in a double wide and it doesn’t break the bank and we don’t have to kill ourselves paying for it, it might not be such a bad move. And if God decides to give us more money later on to invest in a stick built home, then so be it, but this seems a good move and I’m glad so have read about your family living in a trailer while your parents paid cash for their constructed home.

    I think God’s trying to show us (my husband and I) that there’s no shame in living in a place that u can afford, esp when He provides it for u. And hopefully in the long run my children will learn from our example – that living simple with what u can afford s better and less stressful than trying to please everyone else (who won’t be contributing to your debts) and trying to keep up with the Jones’.

    • Ms.M. says:

      @Delene, Overall, a sensible strategy. However, I’d just caution you that a mobile home is a depreciating asset (like a car), and it will be worth less when you eventually sell it (though more than renting, of course!). A stick built home will generally appreciate over time – unless you’re in a terrible housing market.

      • Delene says:

        @Ms.M., We considered that too. It’s brick underpinned so actually counts as stick built (according to our bank) and what we’re looking at is the land more than the mobile home, which is worth more than 1/2 of what they’re asking for it.
        We also considered the cost of a stick built home over time and based on the house we’re currently in, this saves us money on energy, tax, home repairs (since we’re constantly fixing the house we’re in), etc.
        We also thought about will our kids want to live in this home when we die and the answer was no. They would want their own homes, so basically, it makes more sense to invest in a mobile home and use the rest of the money to start a college fund and ensure my childrens’ futures.

  • Catherine R. says:

    There’s no rely button for some reason, but Delene, thanks for the encouragement! I can so relate. Sometimes I feel like “What are we doing wrong?! Is God giving us a never ending spanking? Are we just going to die broke and in debt? Am I always going to live in a crummy apartment with a half working stove?” Can relate to the marital conflict too. It really does feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel a lot of times. What do you do when you don’t have the income to make anything happen?

    I have been on WIC and our state health plan (we don’t have insurance) but went off for various reasons. WIC is very restrictive (at least in my state when I was on it. But maybe I need to take advantage of it again. Just feels like I am going to be on gov. assistance for my whole life. I hate the idea of gov. assistance but it’s there for a reason, yes. Anyway, blabbing on. thank you.

    • Crystal says:

      Have you read this post, Catherine? https://moneysavingmom.com/2010/10/qa-tuesday-is-it-possible-to-save-money-when-were-barely-keeping-our-head-above-water.html

      It might encourage you. Hang in there and I’ll pray that God gives you some encouragement this week!

    • Delene says:

      @Catherine R., I can TOTALLY relate to EVERYTHING you’re saying cos we HAVE BEEN THERE and IT SUCKS!!! But it does get better and it really takes a mind shift to being thankful for the little things. I even got into the habit of trying to find just 1 thing to be thankful for each day when things were REALLY BAD.

      When you don’t have the income to make things happen you cut back and EVERYTHING, even dollar tree runs (which was a major downfall for me because what’s a dollar. Well, all those dollars add up pretty fast).

      State programs – get on every single one that you qualify for so that it takes some of the edge off. That’ll leave u some wiggle room in terms of budget. If you get vouchers from WIC, it adds up to significant savings each month (I think $50 per child). And they give you so much food, get creative with what you make so it doesn’t go to waste and so you don’t have to buy the other stuff. The worst meal I ever made (using WIC stuff and which I don’t recommend) was chilli out of baby food. It was edible but completely gross cos of the baby food after taste! But you get eggs and milk, so make bread pudding for dessert. You get TONS of cereal, use those to crumb chicken or beef or even fish. If you qualify for food stamps, get those. They’ll take care of a LARGE part of your grocery bill including meat, so what WIC won’t get food stamps might.

      Pride is pointless when you have kids that need to be fed and clothed and who need a roof over their heads. Other people’s opinions are just that – their opinions. They’re not going through what you’re going through, they’re not experiencing the pure fear that you can taste each night when you go to bed not knowing how you’re going to pay the next bill or how long you’re going to be able to keep your head above water, so close your eyes and ears to what other people think and start doing what you need to do to get your family in a better place.

      My husband was working 60+ hours a week when we were barely surviving and really, how much can a man work before he drops down from either exhaustion or his body just plain gives up and he dies? You need to be realistic. If he can work more hours, then do (and same for you if you can and if you can’t, no biggy, have been there too and it’s almost impossible with 2 young kids).

      When I got my job (and I’m really grateful for it and love it), it meant I had to work nights and I do that happily cos it means my husband can watch the kids while I work. It’s a good compromise for us and besides him getting a better job, it also helps pay those bills and helped us start making some dents into our debt.

      When you get your tax refund, use 1/2 to pay off debt and put the other 1/2 into a money market or savings account that you can draw from in case of emergencies or in case you just need to treat yourself to some time out, cos when you’re in bad shape financially, you need a time out to stay sane. So while that may not be good financial advice, when you’re facing a “forever” debt, its good emotional advice.

      The other things we’ve learnt is when we don’t budget and account for every single cent we spend (I SO hate doing that), we end up spending way more than we intend and out come the credit cards. So set up an emergency fund (of at least $1000) when you get your next tax refund and don’t touch it. Then cut up the credit cards and pay them off. Even if you do $5 over minimum payments it’s better than just minimum payments.

      Whenever there’s extra money from overtime, bonus pay, etc, don’t use it. Put it towards your debt. We’ve had to learn delayed gratification – wait for the pay off and for what you want. It makes it that much sweeter when you achieve it.

      Oh, the other thing we learnt is do your taxes yourself! Those accounting companies are taking us all for a ride and eating into your tax refund. There’s plenty of ways to do it cheap or free online and some banks even offer help, not to mention the IRS themselves will help you if you go into one of their offices.

      Just remember, cleave to your hubby and get through it together. You have to be on the same page financially and that means sitting down together when each pay check comes in and deciding where it’s going. It even means telling each other each time you buy a soda or bag of chips. You have to hold each other accountable for what you spend and when one is weak the other HAS TO BE STRONG and SAY NO! I’ve even had to learn to say no to my kids, which is incredibly difficult but the fact is, we were spending money we dint have to give them everything they wanted and they weren’t appreciating it. It’s a bad precedent to set, so we stopped buying them stuff and even birthdays and christmas has been budgeted. One things I did learn with that is, if I’m not buying them something new every week just cos I want to and they want it, I have a lot more money to get them something REALLY cool for their birthday and christmas which they play with longer cos they had to wait for it longer – delayed gratification – its not a bad thing at all!

      Anyway, hang in there and remember God gives us good gifts, not snakes and scorpions (even if that good gift is the husband you want to smack and kiss all at the same time and/or the kids who drive you nuts every day – they’re GOOD gifts and I’m eternally thankful for mine). And yes, you will get out of the crummy apartment. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when you don’t feel like facing another day and especially when you don’t think you can go any further. You don’t know what’s waiting for you around the corner, but you HAVE TO believe it’s good.

      • brookeb says:

        @Delene, Those are great tips for so many people. Just a FYI — check around on college campuses to see if anyone does taxes. One of the tax return companies trains advanced students at my campus to handle free tax returns for low income individuals, so I’m sure that’s elsewhere too.

  • Kim N. says:

    Crystal…you are such an inspiration. I love this blog and just want to encourage you to keep posting as you do. You are an amazing woman who has inspired me so much to be a better wife, mom and household manager! I love to read about your financial accomplishments and praise God with you. Reading your posts gives me hope that one day we will be there too!

  • Traci says:

    Crystal,

    I appreciate your blog very much. I have been reading it since I was pregnant with my son and he is now 3 1/2. We started saving like crzay around that time and have continued. My dream is to also pay cash for a home, but living in So California, it is mostly a pipe dream. For now, as hard as it is for me, I have to be content with having to work and live in a tiny 2 bed 1 bath home and pay $1600 a month with NO utilities included. It makes me want to cry when I think of all the money that we have spent on rent but my older daughter goes to a good school, we live in a safe neighborhood, and my husband and I are close to work. I am also in the same town as my folks. I dream about moving to where the cost of living is less.. (The cheapest homes is my city are about $350k and need a TON of work) It’s hard to get a head and but I would have no idea where to start a new life with my family. I must admit, I am a bit envious of those who get to stay home with there kids but my husband makes 2k a month and our rent is $1600 so there is very little leg room. (Even with the stockpiling, garage sailing, couponing, etc!) We have talked about moving but securing a job first seems scary. I guess I might be rambling now but I am grateful for this blog. It has taught me a lot and I have to try and be happy being debt free, even if that doesn’t include a house that is mine.

  • Angie says:

    I believe I read the original post also and didn’t feel offended. You’ve always expressed how thankful you are to God and that’s so refreshing! I LOVE your “I paid cash for…” stories. They’re a wonderful reminder that waiting for something pays off. Please keep them coming!

  • Catherine R. says:

    Okay, one last try, having commenting issues but…

    Delene – thank you.

    I can so relate and your encouragement means a lot to me. I am ashamed to say it but sometimes do I think “Why does God hate us?”. It seems like there are so many closed doors everywhere I look. It is so frustrating. Debt and a low income and just so many things that make it seem like too much to think about, let alone do anything about when you’re just trying to get by day to day, in survival mode a lot of the time.

    Thanks for mentioning WIC too. I definitely qualify. I was on it for a while along with our state health plan (we don’t have insurance) but for some reason I went off. I think I was tired of being on gov. assistance and thought I could pretend I didn’t need it or something. Sort of having a tantrum about our situation because it’s been this way for so long. I gov. assistance is there for families like mine but it’s not always easy to be on it for month after month after month with no hope of ever getting off (it seems). But Moses was in the dessert for 40 years. Hope I’m not on WIC that long but still : )

    Thanks again : )

  • Julie Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I read your original ‘final installment’ post and wasn’t offended, but I am encouraged that you are stating that just because y’all put 100% down doesn’t mean everyone should do it. I am excited to read the rest of the series. We are working on paying off our debt now and will be looking to buy a house later next year, and you and your website are such an inspiration to me. Thanks!

  • Suzy says:

    I was in the same situation as Crystal and my college was paid for because I did not get new clothes or toys for birthday’s or Christmas and guess what; I never felt like I was missing out!

    If you would like your children to be in the same situation that Crystal was in, start this year with Xmas. If your parents give your child toys or clothes that you truly do not need, ask them to place the $10, $20 or $50 bucks they would have spent into a 529 Plan instead.

    My parents put money in a 529 plan for all of their grandchildren and they give a dollor store toy to open on Xmas. To this day, I have yet to see any grandchild cry about the inexpensive toy. (All are too young to truly understand the college account)

    My in-laws will not do this and my son gets junk he doesn’t play with and it junks up our home.

    The diffence between our two families due to being able to delay instant gratification is my parents are retired and traveling around the world and my husbands parents are still working and hoping someday they may retire.

    • Jeannine says:

      Let us look beyond our feelings and see Crystal’s work as what it is meant to be. INSPIRATIONAL!

    • brookeb says:

      @Suzy, This is part of the same idea, again, though. There are those who never got the new toys or clothes and also didn’t have college paid for. We need to stop seeing things as either/or and understand that small steps can help everyone, even if we start in different places (that may or may not be a result of our direct choices).

  • Emily says:

    Hello Crystal,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I just wanted to say that when I had read your original posting that you are upset about – I just saw someone who was totally giddy over finally buying their house. You really brought me back to that moment where we signed our own papers – I had forgotten the way I felt that day until I read your post. We didn’t pay cash for ours but – still I knew the feeling.
    Emily

  • Mindy says:

    I think the main thing we can take away from this is that we can read (multiple) blogs and use what works for us individually. I read several blogs on a regular basis and find some wisdom and help from all of them. Not everything is going to be appropriate for everyone, but take what makes sense for you and make it work for you. We all have different lives and circumstances and shouldn’t begrudge anyone for their success.

  • Tiffany says:

    Crystal, don’t read these posts! She apologized so there is no need to say “I forgive you, BUT you were discouraging.” No! Forgiveness does not include clause statements.

    Everyone who says they were offended obviously still reads your blog, so they’re captivated and encouraged on some level.

    If I were always discouraged in reading or hearing what someone else has to say I would stop visiting. Let that be encouragement that people are still curious about what you have to say.

  • Angel says:

    I have followed your blog for years and love it! I read your original post and was not offended at all. I think in part peoples reaction is a reflection of their own thoughts and disposition more than what you wrote. Congratulations Crystal and thank you for all the hard work you do and inspiration you provide for all of us!:) God Bless you!

  • Chelsea says:

    I did read the original post, and I have to admit I’m much more encouraged by the first post of the series than that entire post that was taken down. This one seems so much more relateable and loving and I’m very excited to read the rest of it! Thanks for facing this struggle in the face, and overcoming the desire to just ignore it, and giving your readers another great series to be encouraged by.

  • Marie says:

    I wanted to add that I was not offended the first time. We have not chosen to go as extreme as your family, but I have always realized that it was a choice YOU have made for YOUR family.

    When Devin and I started our Dave Ramsey plan we had cheerleaders galore. Everyone was so excited for us and could relate to us and wanted to see us succeed. Here we are, four years later, still chugging away at it, still not spending like so many of my friends and family, yet the attitudes of my former cheerleaders has changed from “I’m so proud of you!” to “You guys are a bunch of freaks” or “you’re still doing that?!” or even “do you think you’re better than me or something?” It actually kind of hurts. The truth is, we know it is worth it. Anyway God willing (and I really mean that….God willing we don’t have a car breakdown or house emergency, etc. etc) we will pay off $63,000 in a few short weeks.

    I do think us Dave-Ramsey-ites (and after four years I am certainly qualified to call myself that) can have a tendency to become a bit prideful, as if we have it all figured out, but I certainly also think many people are envious of the freedom that comes from being debt free (and more).

    Still–I wanted to add how much I appreciated your humility. This blog is truly a breath of fresh air.

  • Allison V. says:

    I’ve been following this blog for a year and a half, and I just want to say that I’m inspired to someday set my own Big Hairy Audacious Goal of paying cash (or mostly cash) for a house! I am not married to a lawyer, in fact I get paid $8/hr right now, barely enough to squeeze out rent and the bare-bones basics. But God is providing and I’ll get a better job and have a little wiggle room at some point.

    As far as buying a house, I won’t be able to buy one as big and beautiful as Crystal’s (nor would I need to). But I do have an idea of what I could afford within maybe the next five years. I used to own a $60K house, and it was foreclosed. It went for $34K at auction! Definitely doable! It all depends on what is available when the time comes. Right now it’s just a dream, but I’m hoping I can make it a goal someday!

  • Lana says:

    You have a business. Of course, this has allowed you to (overtime) work less and less and make more for working less. Of course, you worked for free for years, and barely scrapped it. I wish employees did not always get so jealous of this accomplishment. There are dozens and dozens of advantages of being an employee. I do not look down on this choice. Neither do I look down on your choice. Every family and personality is different. But a self-employed person did make more time sacrifices; I’m not jealous when they come out ahead.

    But like others, you are an amazing person, and your humility is amazing.

  • Heather says:

    I did read your original post. I don’t remember being offended, but I did feel very discouraged and upset with myself. I have so many goals that just seem so far out of reach. Comparison to others can lead me to feeling like a failure. Now, after reading your new post and some of the comments I have given much thought about what I would like to comment.

    Your back story is KEY! You are where you are today because of wise financial legacy passed on to you that you continued to live out in your adult life. We don’t all have that. However, it starts somewhere and my husband and I are “re-writing our family tree” (as Dave Ramsey says). Neither my husband or I grew up with financially wise parents. Neither of our parents are in a good financial place today. Compared to you, our family is so far behind, however, compared to where we have come from we are light years ahead.

    It starts with us. I pray that we continue to make wise choices and that we teach our children how to handle money wisely. I pray that my children will have the opportunities for debt free living that you have. As much as I would like to be in your shoes, I am so glad I am not in my parent’s!!!

    Keep up encouraging us to reach for financial freedom and thank you for being humble and willing to be genuine. I appreciate you very much.

  • Beth says:

    I don’t remember the post you’re referring to but I probably would have been one of the people offended by it. Maybe I didn’t even read it because of this! Ha ha.

    While I agree with many of the financial prinicples you (And Dave Ramsey) talk about I do not think that debt is always bad. Both my husband and I had student loans and we are still paying off one of mine as I’ve only beenout of school 8 years. I believe that *judicious* use of debt for education, housing, and sometimes a vehicle is sometimes necessary. That said we have never had a car payment so I could be completely wrong about that one. I would never go out and buy a new car or finance through a car dealership.

    However, I did not use debt judisciously when I was younger. I had very high credit card debt (75% of my income!) and because of this my student loans are higher than they should have been. Although I regret this it is a lessons I needed to learn the hard way. My parents set a good example for me but I was foolhearty and did not use my money the way they taught me. I have to say that I’m very glad I had the experience of feeling pinched by debt and how it traps you. I also thank God every day that this happened long before I was married so my children will never pay for my poor decisions.

    What I do realize is that your message is important for many, many people to hear because our society has gone seriously wrong with regard to our approach to debt. I’m shocked at how many parents at my son’s school casually mention that they are broke and in debt. It’s almost a status symbol which I find incredibly disturbing as we live in one of the more expensive neighborhoods in our city (not the high end place but for families) and many of these families spend tons of money taking trips to Disney and other things my husband and I would never dream of doing.

    Even if I have been offended on occasion by your writing I have to say your general attitude leaves me with a great deal of respect for you. The sincerity with which you wrote the above apology is only one example. We all have our moments and we all learn humility as we become older and more experienced. You are not unusual this way. But where you stand above the crowd is with the courage to admit when you are wrong and for that I salute you and hope to follow your example.

  • Shannon says:

    Crystal, I just want to say that what you and your spouse have achieved in paying for a home in cash, is just phenomenal! Although Jesse had $35, 000 invested toward college-that can get squandered at expensive overrated universities, brand-new vehicles (still with payments), vacations, home down-payments and other items that could be thrifted. When I first read your posts on financial success, I was more envious and taken aback than offended because honestly, it is counter-cultural-to actually pay cash for things instead of swipe a card. Even though I have a long ways to go in acquiring certain asserts, following sites such as yours are paying off. I now clip coupons, check sales and shop around for the best deal. I really am grateful for your website here and look always look forward to reading it!

  • Carol says:

    You all sound so young and earnest! I’m a 67 yr old grandmother of 12, mother of 3 and have 1 great grandson. One thing I’ve learned is that God deals with each of us differently. Perhaps it is a wonderful goal to be debt free including a mortgage..”owe no man…” but a much stronger goal would be to “love one another”…and I submit that that’s much harder! When I was a child I proclaimed my ultimate goal was to make peanut butter sandwiches this thick (hold fingers 3 inches apart! :))! Thank goodness goals can change!
    Then my goal was to be the perfect wife with a perfectly clean home, and then mother with perfectly behaved and intelligent kids, and then the perfect neighbor who helped everyone……how disappointing life became for me. I couldn’t even make the “perfect Christian” I promised to be in thanks for His Perfect Plan. I have found these things to be true:
    Only God and His plans are perfect.
    Give people a second chance; allow them to change.
    If you, your husband, your kids, your home, your finances, etc aren’t perfect…well, true friends don’t care and the others don’t count!
    You will always struggle to get Time, Money & Energy together at the same time because in youth you have time & energy; no money. Middle age you have money & energy: no time. In old age you have time & money & no energy.
    As soon as you think you have things figured out; they change!
    Your goals are yours and others can have perfectly good goals. (I know someone whose goal it was to live on 20% and give away 80%) Good for them!
    To those of you who have saved on mortgages in one way or another: Congrats to you. To those who have taken in the homeless or foster kids or abused animals or helped turn around the life of another hurting human: Big congrats to you. To those sending care pkgs to troops, serving in soup kitchens, being a secret Santa to a hurting neighbor…the Lord has seen your good heart. So maybe you have a mortgage, so what!

    Now I love to hear about all the ways you each save money. Some with coupons, some with homemade this and that, some with extra jobs, or no jobs but smart shopping, gardens, etc. All of it is so encouraging but I pick and choose what will work for me and what I’m willing to do.

    I think Crystal has done an excellent job in explaining what she did and acknowledging that it’s not for everyone. She’s given her humble apology in case she might have inadvertently hurt someone. So let’s move on as a ‘Thanksgiving Gift” to Crystal for this wonderful blog.
    What’s you biggest savings tip and what do you feel it allows you to splurge on?
    Here’s mine: I love ‘super-coupon’ shopping along with shopping sales all year AND it allows me to help two needy families, my church ministries and send care packages to military troops all year long.
    Blessings to all this wonderful time of the year,
    Carol

  • Julie says:

    This is my first ever post on MSM. My husband has been out of a job since March of this year and we are in the red with creditors at our doorstep. Thank you so much for what you do for moms Crystal! You provide a means of putting food on our table.

    God leads each of our lives differently and gives us different set of blessings. Live is not about seeing other people’s blessings and wishing we had them. It’s about seeing our own blessings and being grateful. I really think Dave Ramsey is right on about eliminating debt. The God of the bible is truly our ultimate personal financial planner. If we don’t follow His advice, it’s a law of nature that things go awry for us. Praise Jesus for giving Dave Ramsey to us!

  • Lizzy says:

    Thanks Crystal for this encouragement. It’s always been my dream to purchase a house debt free. Husband also had work issues last year and we ran down to zero, though praise God we have always been able to stay out of debt. Now we building up an emergency fund and saving for a motorbike for him to take to work, and then replacing our current family car which is starting to have issues.

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