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We Paid Cash! :: We Built a Home

Testimonial submitted by reader, Michelle Thomas

My husband and I have been married for 12 ½ years. Unfortunately, we started out our marriage about $25,000 in debt. After our wedding, we immediately established a budget and started paying off debt. Within about 14 months, we were debt free and began to save for our home. Very early in our marriage, God spoke to my husband. He wanted us to commit never to go into debt again, for anything.

My husband is a public school teacher, and at this time I was working full-time for Christian Financial Concepts, founded by the late Larry Burkett. So, we had very average incomes.

Ways We Saved

We built our home with cashSo, we began to save to pay cash for our home. We owned a piece of land, and we began to make plans to build a home on it. Instead of continuing to rent an apartment, we decided to ask my grandparents if we could live in the upstairs of their home so we could save more money. We lived with them for a couple of years and were able to save tens of thousands of dollars toward our home.

We broke ground on our home in February 2000. We had decided to frame the entire house but finish the basement first and move into it while saving and finishing the remainder of the house. By doing it this way, the outside of the house would look complete, as we hoped not to annoy our neighbors with our lengthy building process.

We were able to move into the basement in August, 2001 (and we found out the day after we moved in that our first baby was on the way!).

We built our home with cash 2We did a lot of the work on our home ourselves, with much, much help from friends and family members. God perfectly orchestrated all of the circumstances of our financial path. It took us about 3 ½ years to complete our home and move upstairs, and we’ve continued to save for upgrades and finishing touches since we moved in.

What We Gained

God has been so faithful and so good to us through this entire journey, and hopefully we’ve encouraged others along the way. We lead a financial Bible study in our church periodically, and I’ve done budget counseling through the years also.

We continually praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us, and we wonder what our family would have been like had we continued on the widely traveled road of debt on which we began our marriage.

Watch more about our story and how we built our home debt-free in the video below:

Michelle Thomas lives with her husband Trevor and four small children in Gainesville, GA. She graduated as valedictorian from North Georgia College with a degree in Sociology. Michelle homeschools her children, handles the bookkeeping for their church, works part-time from home for Crown Financial Ministries and loves saving her family money.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • Ashley says:

    Michelle is a great lady – I have been to a coupon class she had for a small group of ladies she had at her home. She is a blessing, a beautiful example of Godly feminity, and a portrait of a way to handle your money God’s way! Thanks for posting this about someone who is the real deal!

  • cat says:

    I love hearing such inspiring stories. Thanks for the great post!

  • Anna says:

    I loved listening to Larry Burkett…I used to listen and read his stuff in college. What a great story!

  • kitchy says:

    This is a wonderful,wonderful story.Thank you for posting,you guys touched lives just by sharing.God bless you more.

  • Melonie K. says:

    Truly inspiring! What a neat read. 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    I too love larry burkett omeone from church suggested his book when we were contemplating my staying home without my husband being fulltime yet. God isawesome and does provide more than abundantly and it is so coo to be in that place and still give to others it makes me realize what a great dependance I have on the Lord and His provision. And how ruly blessed and fortunate we really are. Way to go Michelle.

  • Olathe Mom says:

    Oh wow! That was inspiring! I enjoyed her transparency about the engagement ring, also. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Our story is very much the same! We’ve been married for 12 years. We had about $18,000 in school debt when we got married. We worked to pay that off in a little over a year. We went through the book, Money Before Marriage by Larry Burkett which was a wonderful foundation! We are Crown Financial Small Group leaders and love doing the study over and over again. We learn something new each time we do the bible study. We had a mortgage for about 3 years from 2000-2003. When we paid that off, we decided we would no longer take on debt. We are now building a house debt free! I also homeschool and love being a stay at home mom! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Angela D. says:

    That was an awesome testimony! I know with great testimony there were great tests to go with it. So thank you for showing me that is always starts out with just small simple obedience. God Bless~

  • Stacie says:

    Very inspiring! God is good!

  • Elisha says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story of God’s faithfulness! Very encouraging. My husband and I are also hoping to build our home with cash. There is so much hope and safety in obedience!

  • Whitney says:

    Thank you for this encouraging post. My husband and I are currently living in a camping trailer. (A very nice one, but a trailer none the less) In hopes that we will one day be able to pay up front, and build a house without going into debt. We are blessed to be second generations christians, so we have much to stand upon. I can’t stress however how important it is to get out of debt, and to stay out. This post is a great encouragement.

  • jane says:

    my story is somewhat similar to this one. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. I worked full time as a dental assistant in the few years after our wedding. Since my husband works in construction we decided that it made sense to have him build our home in the 1/3 acre my father gave us shortly before he died. It took a little over a year to build and have mostly complete. We moved into the home in 2002 just a few weeks before our first child was born. Even in this market the home is still worth about $260,000 and we owe $117,000. We had to move across the state but instead of selling the home we chose to rent it out. Even thoughwe didnt pay cash for it, its been a great investment and we moved in with almost 100,000 in instant equity. In this economy the worst thing you can do is get into a home without a lot to put down. When your home is not worthas much and you have to sell you can easily be upside down in a mortgage very quickly.

    • Jenna says:

      @jane, Jane, I think it is wonderful that you kept your house. You have likely been a blessing to the people you rent to as well. I am so glad to see so very many people paying back as well those who helped them when they were building homes and finishing homes. When someone blesses you with time and skills we need to find some way of paying them.
      My home is currently rented for zero rent by a family that once upon a time blessed my family with their time. Two years ago they needed a roof over their heads. I live now in 400sq ft with my husband so that they could have our home. I also wish to applaud all the folks showing up on craigslist and blessing others with their uneeded items. The free sections are looking much nicer these days. We should all look each and every day to help others. My personal goal is to help three folks per day truly help them by digging deep myself to do so. We all expect to eat three meals per day so helping three people seems a reasonable goal to me each day. Let’s all dig deeper and by doing so we will all bring America and the American Dream back!

  • That is neat! I know alot of people here do that with the basement. One of our friends lived in the basement for over 12 years in a tiny 2 bedroom basement with at least 8 children before they had the money to even start on the upstairs.
    I live in quite an expensive area for housing, so am not blessed to be able to pay cash for our house, but we do pay cash for all our vehicles and other large purchases.

  • Marie says:

    Wow, and it’s such a beautiful home too.

  • That’s “my” house!!! We are trying to sell ours and I’m having a hard time finding anything I love. (We don’t want to move anymore)

    I just hate the houses in a subdivision that are all the same and want something that stands out.

    Oh I would to build one just like yours!!! I want a front porch to sit on! 🙂

  • robbie says:

    I appreciate these stories, but I’d love to hear from someone who was able to get past these financial times. My husband lost his job more than 2 years ago and we struggle badly. My paycheck pays for my mortgage (it was stay or walk away in our neighborhood), my vehicle (which we had to hang on to in order to get to work, as there was no bus service) and day care for when my husband goes to class or to work. That doesn’t count utilities, food, student loans or the credit cards we have used to get by on those expenses the last 2 years. If anyone has any brilliant ideas to see us through it, because I don’t see when this will end, I would be thrilled to hear it.

    • Jenna says:

      @robbie, Robbie,

      I am currently working with an entire group of folks in your very situation. My website is glossymoney if you are more than broke I suggest you join us. Living below your means when you have already cut everything and there is no where else to go can be an extremely difficult task to take on.

    • Ella says:

      @robbie, Robbie, your comment just stopped me in my tracks. My heart goes out to you and my mind is racing to think of a brilliant solution for you. I’m so drawing a blank, but I couldn’t just move past your comment without at least saying that if I was close and I knew you, I’d throw my arms around you and then invite you and your family over for dinner.

    • @robbie, Our situation is similar to yours, but we’re not past it yet; we’re still living in it, and have been since December of 2006.

      I am working on a page right now about building your food storage while you’re living on it (which we have been doing). It should be up sometime next week with some ideas on stocking your pantry when you can’t afford to go to the grocery store.

      But the most important thing that you can do is to LET OTHERS KNOW. When people know of your situation, they can help. There are many who might be willing to help, if you just let them know. Here are some ways that others have helped us:

      We’ve been given hand-me downs. What I can’t use, I have sold at resale shops and at a garage sale. In fact, I made a couple hundred dollars at a garage sale this year, selling items that people gave us who were planning to donate the items to a local thrift shop. We let people know that we were having a sale, and we had stuff from about 30 families to sell.

      Repurpose items. Some of the items that we have been given were old sheets. I have made skirts out of these for my girls, and I am going to make pajamas out of some of them as well. Remember, sheets are just giant pieces of fabric! I have made over clothing for my children using our old clothing as well.

      When someone at church mentioned that she had too much squash, I spoke up and said that I would gladly take some. Today she came by with about 6 zuchhini and yelow squash. Right now is a particularly good time to speak up about produce, as many can’t use all they have. Freeze what you can’t use right now, or can it. Many people have more zucchini than they can use, and they’ll give it to anyone. For you and I, it’s a real need–for them, it’s easy enough to give away! I have been desparate for zucchini before, and very grateful for it as well.

      Our own gardenis a particular blessing for us right now. It is our main source for fruits and vegetables.

      I follow this blog looking for freebies that will apply in my area (we don’t have double coupons here).

      I have also been able to get involved with a local group that picks up the about to expire/expired bread from a grocery store. This started for us in Febraury. It has been a huge blessing for us. We eat a lot more bread now; lately tomato basil sandwiches have been on the menu several times a week for lunch. I don’t even know the name of the group; I just knew someone who became involved with it, and because of her, we have had bread. Most grocery stores in our area donate to the food bank instead; however, you may find something near you.

      I have also been able to trade some things from my garden (carrot tops, broccoli leaves, etc.) in exchange for eggs with someone who has eggs.

      Because people know, we are called when people have leftovers from Scouting activities, or are moving and want to empty out the rest of their cupboard.

      We have also found ways to cut our utility expenses, even when it seemed impossible to cut them any more.

      I make gifts for my children as well, using what we have on hand.

      I also signed up for Pinecone research surveys. It’s not a lot of money, but every penny counts for us, and that goes to help pay our bills.

      I have hope that our situation will change soon, but for now, I am grateful to still be in our home.

      Come visit my site; perhaps I can give you some more ideas.

    • @robbie, I feel your pain. My husband has been in school our entire marriage. He works part time student jobs, but we’ve never had a real salary. While it’s inspiring to hear stories like these, it’s also discouraging to have an income so small that some days you wonder if you’re going to survive, let alone save enough to ever get ahead.

      Ideas keep coming to me, from many different sources, of ways that I can tighten the belt a little or save a few pennies. Sometimes I’m excited to learn a new money-saving tip, and sometimes my first reaction is, “Wow, that looks hard. I could never do that.” But when I feel God telling me, “This could help you and your family,” I have been blessed for doing it.

      I guess the only thing left to do is hope that someday things will be better.

  • Amy says:

    Wow! Your house is beautiful too. I love it. Way to go!

  • maria says:

    thats amazing! my husband and i are living in my parents home right now and trying to save up money for a house as well. we will probably buy one already made, but at least we’ll have something to call OURS. we are both young, and im still in college, but hopefully we plan to save enough and move out of this house up until my masters is done (3 1/2 years left)

  • Kristin says:

    Beautiful. I’m in tears, especially after the video. This is our goal too. We currently live in an old farmhouse that is provided as part of my husband’s salary. We’re working to get out of quite a bit of debt (most notably our student loans) and after that we want to build a house without incurring any more debt. We also plan to save some money for college for our kids so they don’t have to struggle with Sallie Mae like we are. Thanks for the encouraging post.

  • Kassandra Wood says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!

  • Ella says:

    That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard! Now you’re not caught in the trap that so many people are of being upside down in your mortgage. I’m sure the sacrifices must have been hard at times – but WOW! so worth it.

  • Katie Kerr says:

    So here is a question to all you ladies out there. I am looking at our fiances and where we live and the salary my husband makes it would take us 30 years to buy our first home. So in this circumstance would it be better to just rent our whole married lives?

    • Crystal says:

      Katie: I have a post planned on this which will go up soon, but here’s the quick answer:

      My advice is to look at a 10-year picture. If you were to save up for 1-2 years for a good down payment and buy a modest home on a 15-year mortgage would you be in a better position in 10 years than if you were to rent a small place and save up everything you could squeeze out of the budget for 10 years? Do the math, crunch the numbers and see what the results would be based upon your current financial situation.

      • Jen says:

        @Crystal, Crystal- I’m so excited to read that post as I was just wondering about that very thing! When you buy a home (especially if it’s a great deal) isn’t it better to go into debt as the house should (eventually) increase in value every year? We are a very long way from being able to put a huge down payment on a home. It feels like we would be renting forever rather than using that rent money to invest in something that will eventually give us equity. Thanks for the tips on how to work this out on paper. I will so look forward to reading that post!!

    • @Katie Kerr, Are you are saying it would take 30 years to buy a house with cash? Just because you can’t buy a house with cash – most people can’t – doesn’t mean you should not buy a house at all.

      Before you even decide to buy a house, you need to figure out if your location is going to be a long-term location. If it’s not, then continue to rent. If you are pretty certain that you will be there for the long run, then buying will probably be a better deal, but you need to do a cost comparison of renting versus buying costs, with regards to which is better financially. I’ll give you my example simplified:

      Where I live (suburban DC) a 3-4 bedroom home would cost about $2000-2500 per month to rent. Our goal when we moved here 10 years ago was that we would stay here and raise our family here – about 25 years. We had saved up a $70,000 down payment. We would have a $24,000-$30,000 per year expense in housing if we rented. In the long-term of 25 years, we would spend about $600,000-$750,000 in rent. Our initial down payment could have been invested for those 25 years. At a conservative 5%, it would have grown to about $250,000.

      Alternatively, we could have bought a 3-4 bedroom house for $300,000 10 years ago. With a $70,000 downpayment and a 15 year mortgage, our monthly payment would be about $2,300 per month (including taxes/insurance). After 15 years the mortgage part of that payment is done. And for the remaining 10 years, we would have $1700 per month available (still need to pay $600 per month in taxes.) That $1,700 per month would grow to a bit over $250,000 (assuming 5% interest) over 10 years plus we would own the house outright, whatever the value might be at the time.

      Clearly in my case, buying the house was the better choice, even if the house went down in value. Because rents are pretty high here. But that would not always be the case. It all depends on the market price of house, the cost of renting, the security of your job, and how likely you are to stay in the area long-term. If rents were only $1000 per month, that would likely be a better option (financially speaking only. Home ownership has other benefits as does renting).

      Our house is worth over $500,000 today and in 7 years our house will be paid off (we refinanced so it’s taking 17 years rather than 15). But even if the house is only worth $300,000 in 25 years, we still come out ahead.

      So basically, you need to do a rent versus buy analysis and figure out your long-term plans.

      That’s my two cents. I’d love to hear what others think!

      • Crystal says:

        Excellent points and real-life examples. Thanks for sharing, Michele!

      • ann says:

        @Michele @ Saving Money In Real Life, That example made it so clear…Thanks!

      • Brenda says:

        @Michele @ Saving Money In Real Life, I’m a big believer in home ownership, but let’s not forget the huge costs associated with owning: roof replacement, bath remodel, appliance replacement–costs that are in addition to the mortgage that you don’t have as a renter.

        • @Brenda, I agree that I didn’t illustrate every cost. I didn’t want to take over the comments section. Yes, there are other costs associated with home ownership. And there are also other costs associated with renting – rents increasing each year (I assumed constant rent in my example) and the likelihood of not being able to stay in the same place for 25 years, which would involve moving costs, deposits, etc. There are other non-financial benefits to both renting and home-ownership as well. Each person needs to examine both the financial and non-financial benefits of each to see which works best.

    • @Katie Kerr, Hi Katie, I’m no expert and not nearly as experienced with all this as Crystal, but for me, since I know I can’t do things exactly like other frugals, I try to think of other alternatives or ideas. what if you bought a house that needed work (but was basically liveable) and you could barter with friends or family on fixes? what if you got a house with a rentable basement for extra income? Just thoughts that come to mind. I would also do as crystal advises and crunch the numbers over a set time period. I’ve found I get overwhelmed if i think of “my whole life” finances. Instead I am trying to set short and long term goals. I try not to compare myself exactly to others but rather use their experiences as ideas and things to strive toward. 🙂 Believe me if I thought I could save to pay cash for a house in only 10 years I would have tried, but in California it would probably take me well over 40 years if I was also paying rent lol. So I’ll settle for working down the mortgage to pay it off early! 😛 If I had it to do over I would have tried to have a decent down payment, *we had NONE! @_@) but live and learn right? I’m moving forward and learning to do better with all this financial stuff. You’ll find out what works best for you, the important thing is to try and to set goals and do your best!

    • @Katie Kerr, The New York Times has this amazing rent v. buy calculator where you can plug in what the normal monthly rent would be for a place, and how much it would sell for, how much you put down, property taxes, even the average increase in value of your home over time in your area. Then, it crunches the numbers for you, and tells you at what point in time it would be better to buy v. rent. Sometimes, because of closing costs and other upfront expenses, renting is cheaper in the earlier years, while if you plan on being there for 20-30, it might be cheaper to buy.

      That said, for where we live in California (Bay Area), I plugged in how much we pay in rent for our 2 bedroom duplex and how much I think it would sell for, and guess what it told me? “It will never be better to buy than to rent.” At least I feel better for renting :).

      Here is the link:

    • shelly says:

      The best piece of advice given to my husband and I when we were looking for a home was this, whatever your montly payment on your mortgage turns out to be DOUBLE IT. When you own a home, there is ALWAYS something you have to pay for. Taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, homeowner’s association (if you live in a neighborhood with one), and then all of the curve balls life throws at you. For example, we had a brand new roof put on our home 2 1/2 years ago. We just recently had a terrible hailstorm at lost our new roof and had to have a new one put on. While we do have great homeowner’s insurance, there is still always the deductible. For us that deductible was $1,600. Because of the advice given to us early on we were able to take care of the roof and will replenish those funds in our emergency account. So when you’re crunching numbers to find out which is a better deal in the long run, be sure to take into account all that you may have to pay for with your house (including all the tools you’ll need to “set up house”.)
      A lot of times it truly is less expensive to rent, even in the long run.

    • Marlana says:

      @Katie Kerr,
      First off, there’s a lot of great advice going on here. Its important to keep your husband/family in the picture and trash my (or anyone else’s) advice that won’t work for you. I was homeschooled as a girl, and one of the biggest problems I observed growing up was everyone feeling the pressure that this or that was the godly way for a family to be. Don’t let someone else define what makes you “godly”; only Jesus can do that. You might enjoy this blog post entitled, “Whose wife am I?”

      Anyway, I did not want to just throw my advice out there since I’m *not* you and *not* your husband, and I know what I am going to say rocks the boat. Understand, I am *not* about to suggest people do what I am doing as I am *not* living in America. I only want to serve as an encouragement that God can direct families in different ways.

      I am a self-supported missionary, meaning that I work full-time in missions, have no job, and still have to pay bills and fund a ministry. Well guess what? In order to do this, I had to change my middle class thinking upside down. I had to be willing to learn to leverage my time in online business. I had to be willing to learn to make money when the stock market was going up or down (which meant I also had to learn to risk money and realize its a learning process; I always tell myself, “people spend thousands of dollars in education to learn to be employed. Its okay if I spend a few thousand to learn to be self-employed”). I had to be willing to buy real estate and other incoming-generating assets (on debt when needed) and *not* and I repeat *not* save my way overseas….because I couldn’t possibly save enough money to support myself, and the ministry I plan to build, without a job. (And btw, I have a college degree. I could use it, but that would hold my family and ministry back.)

      You see, a house is very big. Its hard to save your way to $200,000 on a small salary as you said. But what if you could take $20,000, invest it in real estate with a positive cashflow (even making $100 a month off $20,000 would still be okay, but I shoot for more since I need the cashflow), and then seven years pull out with $80,000 profit?*** If you had $40,000 originally, that would be $160,000.

      By *no* means am I supporting people go into blind debt. I grew up in a middle class family, I did not buy my first car on debt as my parents modeled good stewardship and not instant gratification (I got a car when I was 18) and my parents taught me to run my own business teaching art that was enough to pay my way through a Christian college. But when I knew God was calling me to the missions field to start a ministry overseas that could eventually cost me in the tens of thousands of dollars to fund (and more), I knew I had to change the way I thought about money. God has not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of love and of a sound mind, and therefore, never once have I said, “I can’t afford this?” but rather “how can I afford this?” And that question has made all the difference for me.

      I won’t go on about what I did as that is useless information to the rest of you. I’m still frugal as a nut cake, enjoy homeschooling, and continue to get over the fact that borrowing money for incoming-generating assets is my means of support.

      For a hands on visual of what I’m talking about, I cannot recommend the game Cashflow enough. In the game everyone starts out with a career, such as a lawyer, doctor, airplane pilot, janitor, that includes school loans, credit card loans, etc. as applicable. Your goal is to build up enough passive income to quit your job. Its always fun to see how the different people tackle the project. Some give up anytime they draw a card that gives them a huge expensive; others just go out and buy an asset to cover the expense. Everyone tackles their debt in different ways. Some people invest right in the stock markets; others save until they have enough to buy houses or businesses. But everyone eventually finds a way to afford everything, even the Janitor. The game has given me more valuable ideas into my finances and taught me to read cashflow statements more than any single tool out there. Its expensive. I recommend just sending an email out to your homeschool group or church; you will find someone who has it.

      Again, I am *Not* recommending people do what I am doing. I would just encourage people to keep their eyes open to how the Lord might lead. My parents have been debt free much of my entire life, they lived off a salary of $40,000, and my mother teaches coupon classes in her church. So I am very familiar with the middle class, conservative way of raising the family.

      ***(and the sophisticated investor could make $1,000,000 on a $20,000 investment in seven years. I am far from there, and I can’t invest in certain investments until I have cashflow statement of $250,000 annually, but its encouraging to know that in the investing world, there’s a way to move onto bigger challenges. That’s what keeps me going at least.)

  • Patty says:

    Such an inspirational story! It makes me wonder just how many other people, like you and the Thomas family, have reached such big goals. This is the type of story that should be in the national news instead of all the negative stories that are normally talked about.

  • April Lewis says:

    You have no idea how excited I am about this post and the Thomas’ testimony. On the way to pick up my stepdaughter today my husband and I were listening to Dave Ramsey and I shared with him that you and your husband were buying a house with cash. So excited that you are sharing others stories and testimonies with us – – truly inspirational. And I love that they lived in the basement first! Great idea!

  • jenn says:

    This is a nice story. I wish we had the opportunity to rely on family members to help us out with living arrangements while we save for our goals. It is such a blessing they have someone to give them this major boost.

  • I really love this series! I totally get that everyone’s situation is different, and that not everyone can afford cash for a house or are able to rely on help from family, but to me this isn’t the point, at least not to me. It’s not that these people are any “better” than anyone else, (I’ve gotten the impression some people feel this way, is all) it’s just that they set a goal and reached it. Personally I find it very inspiring, and would love to read more such stories. Also, I feel that in our society today it’s so NORMAL to have a ton of debt, that people don’t realize we’re living way beyond our means. I was just talking with someone about how I see people who work together with similar salaries, etc. influencing each other on things like cars, etc. What I mean is, if you work around 20 people who make around the same salary and have a similar size family, yet they’re all “buying” new cars every two years, it might make you feel abnormal or wonder why you shouldn’t do the same. It might sound shallow to think people are so easily influenced, but I’m including myself here, it’s easy to think, hey if they can do it, so can I! This is why I like this series so much, I want to have more GOOD examples like this to get more people in the mindset of “hey if they can pay cash or live within their means, so can I!” and make that more normal! 🙂 This is not to say we can all afford to pay cash for a house, but we can strive for other things, a bigger down pmt, a shorter mortgage term, etc. You should be proud of your accomplishments, and I hope people will be inspired by you and your efforts. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Karen says:

    We also built our house completely debt free. It is a wonderful feeling. I agree with the comment above. We should set a goal and try to reach it no matter what it is. Our second goal was to buy a new car debt free. We did! Just last week!!

  • Marlana says:

    Such an inspiring story! The house is very beautiful and it’s even more beautiful because of their faith God’s plan.

  • Jenn says:

    Our first all cash big-ticket item was a car for my husband. We had a few months to save the money (it helped that he got a year-end bonus!) and it felt SO GOOD to pay $5000 CASH for that car. It’s nothing spectacular, has some dings and dents, not a perfect paint job but it’s by no means a junker and it served his commuting needs so well. And now it’s nice to have a paid-for 2nd car so if anything ever goes wrong with our van we have something to fall back on.

  • Margaret says:

    The stories here are great..I know all these things are gifts from God we learn from each other.What a blessing to hear that you young people are living frugaly and trying to be debt free.. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to live by the bible and follow God in what he wants you to do and I believe he wants us to be free of debt and the burden it puts on us . So many people have no joy in there lives because they are burdened by debt, so easily acquired.. so hard to get rid of … I enjoyed every story and thank all of you for sharing..

  • Heather Spencer says:

    What Bible Study were you doing?? Thanks!

    • Michelle says:

      Our favorite is How to Manage Your Money. It’s an old VHS series with Larry Burkett teaching in front a group. Some of the stats are outdated, and the clothing/hairstyles are definitely outdated, but we love it because that’s the first one we ever did together. Larry was so down to earth and practical, and he really had a heart for people.

      There are newer Bible studies available on Crown’s Web site that are good, too.

      Hope that helps!

  • I would love to talk to her personally via email. We too are interested in doing accomplishing the same goal, but I don’t know anyone who is as crazy as us.

    How would I contact her?

    • Michelle says:

      Alison, I’d love to talk to you about this. I e-mailed Crystal and asked if she will pass along my e-mail address to you. Hopefully you’ll hear from her soon.

  • Denise C. says:

    First let me say, I am not Christian. I really am not into religion. I do applaud you and your husband for saving up-CASH- for your home. THAT IS JUST AWESOME!!! 🙂
    My husband and I are fortunate to be debt free. We purchased a townhome last fall, and though our mortgage is the same as what we were paying in rent, it still hurts to fork over that money every.single.month.

    I also want to add, that I am totally head-over-heels in love with your front porch! 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      How sweet, Denise! Thank you! We love rocking on the front porch….and the view from the back porch is even better! It is SO peaceful here! 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Just wanted to say that a person can still be happy without their beautiful dream home. If we go to bed at night with thoughts of our dream house someday becoming realized, we will be happy for a few moments. But if we go to bed at night with thoughts of God, how amazing our house will be in Heaven, and how good God is to us, then we will be truly, unshakably happy.
    I, too, would absolutely love to buy or build the house of my dreams, but my husband and I are missionaries overseas. We have 3 little girls of pre-school age. To save money for a simple house is certainly do-able, but to save money for an amazing house really isn’t possible. I have to constantly remind myself to be thankful for the home I’m living in and to set my hopes on Christ alone. I have a feeling most of the commenters already know this; I just wanted to offer a little variety to the posts. 🙂

  • Diana says:

    We are currently building our home….debt free…..we started in 2004 and are still building we plan to be moved in in 2 years. If anyone thinks this is a great idea please check with your building codes, then re check again and again. We had plans to move into the basement however, all the supervisors in the township didn’t know the codes. So after we had started, they then looked into the laws. They found out they were wrong and we were not allowed to live in the basement while we finished the rest of the house. Yes, our house will still be debt free…it is just taking longer than expect……a lot longer than expected.

  • Michelle says:

    Awesome, awesome story!

  • We are fans of Crown Financial Ministries as well, and completed the Money Before Marriage workbook while in premarital counseling many years ago. It has been such a blessing to us, and we’ve been married for nearly 11 years now. We purchased our home cash in 2007 and have paid cash for our vehicles, too. The principles laid out in God’s Word may not always be easy to follow, and others may not always understand or see things the way we do, but we have been tremendously blessed by heeding to convictions He has placed in our heart 🙂

  • Heather H says:

    Love the story and the inspiration! I know so many got so much from it. Keep up the good work!–Heather

  • Tammy says:

    We have been married 32 yrs and did almost the same thing. We bought property for cash, then used it as collateral to get a loan for $25,000, to build our home ourselves. We got it pretty liveable, just 28×40 feet and 2 bedrooms. I was 6 mo pregnant with our first, helping to nail boards and stand up walls. Paid that off, then borrowed a little more years later, to add more bedrooms for our growing household ( 5 children in total, two of which were twins). Paid that off, then with cash built on a huge 20×22 living room, and converted my then kitchen dining room combo to a huge kitchen, and the old living room to a dining room.Doing a little at a time by ourselves. Now we have around 4000 sq feet. paid for, and all our own.

  • nanasewn says:

    I would love to embed the video in my facebook page, but all that comes up is the hyperlink etc. Can anyone tell me what I need to have on my computor or do to get the video to show up? I copied and pasted the code that says “embed”, but it doesnt so something on my end of things must be missing. any help?

    • Michelle says:

      I’m not sure if this will work, but if you search for “Thomas Family Video Testimony” on You Tube, the video should pop up. It then gives you the option to “share” it on Facebook. Hopefully that will work.

  • Lindsay says:

    I have a question regarding this. We currently have a mortgage as our only debt. We would like to move out in the country sometime within the next few years. Would it be wiser to pay down our mortgage (which is 7.4 % interest) our save money for a down-payment in our savings (which earns 2-3% interest). Thanks in advance!

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! What an inspiration!

  • Aubrey says:

    We have three rental properties and still all mortgages on all of that. We are living in a condo in another state and are feeling the need live in a place with a yard. Housing is expensive in our area, and I have suggested to my husband that we sell the three investment properties and use that on a down payment for a home. He refuses to budge. He wants to take an equity line of credit it out on one of the houses and use that for a down payment. So basically we would be borrowing money tomorrow more money for another mortgage. I feel sick about the whole situation.

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