Let me start by telling you a little about our family if you’re new here–Welcome! My name is Jenny and I write here at The Littlest Way. I’ve been blogging forever because, for an introvert, I seem to have a lot to say. I’ve been married to Chris for 24 years and we have seven children—whom I homeschool. We are a single, working class, one income family. And the title of this post, well it actually represents a small fail. Our original plan was to pay off our home in five years.
Six years ago we set the audacious goal to pay off our home in five years while raising seven children on one income. We knew the only this goal would work was to involve the entire family. We sat our children down and explained what we wanted to do and why. We told them it would require sacrifice. We also told them we would reward ourselves in a BIG way!
I have not been to the beach in about twenty-five years and the same for my husband. My children had never been. So in addition to setting the goal to pay off our home in five years, we also set the reward of a beach vacation when we met our goal! So we were all involved from the get-go–it didn’t make it easier at times.
There were times when we wondered if it was worth it. I mean almost everyone we knew had a mortgage and they seemed like they were having fun and enjoying life while we were saying “no” to meeting friends after church for breakfast. We were playing in our backyard while friends were arranging playdates at the zoo. It was hard but eventually worth it–we just had to keep the big picture in mind. On to ways we paid our house off in five years.
Our financial ideas either came from Dave Ramsey or were inspired by him. Years ago Chris found him on the radio and I happened to meet a woman who was a Financial Peace instructor. We had no time or money to attend the class so we bought the book and CD’s. Chris listened to the CD’s on the way to and from work while I read the books. Dave inspired us to set BIG goals with our money so we could live no one else.
Here are five ways we eventually met our goal:
- We Said “Yes” A Lot
Did that one surprise you? This was a total mind shift for us. If we were constantly telling ourselves “No,” we could very easily get discouraged. Instead, when faced with options on how to spend our money, we said “Yes” to our long term goal. By default, that meant we were saying “No” to temporary expenses that got us nowhere.
Early in our “Pay the House Off” journey, our friends would go to breakfast after church every Sunday. Although we really wanted to go, we wanted to pay off our house more. We decided we would rather go to the beach for a week of vacation rather than out to breakfast for an hour. This was hard in the moment! We didn’t totally deny ourselves though. Every once in a while we would grab some donuts on the way home to keep our courage up. You can always find alternative ideas. There were some times, instead of going out with friends after church, we’d invite them to our home and make it a potluck!
- We Involved Our Children
I already mentioned this but let me share how this looked. Our oldest daughters were taking piano lessons and playing soccer. We explained they needed to make a choice—soccer or piano. Two chose piano and one chose soccer. There just wasn’t enough money to do it all and reach our goal of paying off our house early. We were sensitive to their sacrifice and they were excited for the eventual reward.
- We Involved Our Children Part 2
Our daughter who chose soccer—she eventually began playing competitive soccer as well as high school soccer. The fees and travel expenses really started to add up. She knew this and understood the financial impact on the family budget. She began hand making rosaries and chaplets to help offset the additional costs. Let me tell you, this girl owns her soccer! She doesn’t ever get on the field half-hearted because she knows the value of her hard work on and off the field, physically and financially.
- Creative Ways to Save
My husband took any and all overtime he could. And when he was sent out of town for extended periods for his job, he saved his per diem. He took advantage of the free breakfast and or dinner the hotel offered. He used his min fridge to keep sandwich stuff for lunches. That daily allowance for meals really added up!
I looked for ways to save money on our largest expense, groceries. I’m not a coupon clipper, but my fifteen year old daughter loves to! She also helped us save on groceries by using Ibotta. For my part, I shopped at Wal-Mart and price matched. I also compared grocery store prices with Amazon Subscribe and Save prices. For example, it was regularly cheaper to order feminine products through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save than buy them at the store.
Since we homeschool, I also took advantage of “Buy, Sell, and Swap” groups on the internet to either sell our old curriculum or buy the books we needed.
And finally, we frequently shopped Goodwill…or “GW Boutique” as my girls and sister calls it. I am repeatedly amazed at the deals I find at Goodwill! Two summers ago I found a like new pair of BORN sandals regularly $125. I purchased them for $25!! We find Old Navy, GAP, Banana Republic, Coldwater Creek, Dockers, Abercrombie and Fitch…all with tags still on for $4.99 and if we go on half price days, $2.50 piece!! I can also find books there for 70% off retail price—devotionals, fiction, how-to, the latest cookbook, etc.
- We Made a Budget and Granted Ourselves Grace
Maybe this should have gone first? When we set this seemingly impossible goal, we knew we needed to know where our money was going. If our money was not assigned a specific place, we would blow it and never even know it. Now, we didn’t always do this perfectly—thus the need for grace.
When we made our budget, we included soul refreshers like date night. Little treats, fully budgeted in, helped us to keep our focus—just like the occasional stop for donuts after church and our monthly date night.
When we messed up…and we frequently messed up, we brushed ourselves off and recommitted to our long term goal. Mess ups were either surprise expenses we didn’t budget for, times when I would choose to take a struggling child out to dinner because I valued relationship over the $20 unbudgeted dollars I was going to spend, or a simple impulse buy that I regretted later.
So that’s how we paid off our home in six years. I just mentioned mess ups and the fact that our original goal was to pay off the house in five years but ended up being six, shows we made financial slips. I want to encourage you to set an audacious financial goal! I want to encourage you to think BIG and long term because the long term payoff is greater than any temporary pleasure. I want you to invest in yourself because you and your family are totally worth it!
And to read the follow up–Almost Debt Free and Close to Broke.