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This is an excellent place to find a real estate agent who will work within your means.) 4. It seemed like all my coworkers and friends were driving shiny new cars, but we were still driving beater 15-year-old cars with LOTS of miles. (Except the whole slippery-slope-to-teddy-bear-wallpaper thing.) 5. We stretched every dollar, became crazy coupon people, and learned to tell ourselves “no” when we wanted something outside the budget.

When we had our first kid two years into owning the house, I went down to part-time work and cut my pay in half.

Then two years later, when we had kid #2, I was laid off and went down to making almost nothing.

We’re back to both of us working now – me on the blog and Andy on his new business – and making a moderate income, but we didn’t win the lottery and, to our knowledge, neither of us have any wealthy great-aunts who left us a giant inheritance. Freedom I was shocked to find that this whole process of budgeting led to Before we set a budget, I felt a tiny twinge of guilt whenever I wanted to spend money on clothes or decorations, but once we had a space for that in the budget – we have a small amount of money set aside for decorating each month – and money designated for the purchase of small brass animals, it was way.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey and his Endorsed Local Providers program for sponsoring this post and inspiring us MAJORLY. (And when I read Ashley’s post about the same thing a while ago, I was SUPER inspired.) Anyway, I’m nervous so be gentle! I may have gotten a speck or two of dust in my eye. ) We knew we’d eventually want some breathing room in our budget, and with no hope for Andy making substantiallly more money as a teacher, we thought the best way to do that would be to buy – and pay off – a house. If we didn’t have money for something, we waited until we did.

I’m REALLY nervous to tell you all this but I think paying off your mortgage relates pretty well to budget-friendly house talk, am I right? As in, no more mortgage payment for the rest of forever. Our initial goal was to pay off the house by my 30th birthday. On October 30, we sent in our last payment to the mortgage company and just looked at each other in silent disbelief. In order to do that, we had to be able to live on one income, so we just… All the before-and-after photos on my blog and all the projects were financed with cash, as we went along.

I’ve been thinking about this post and debating whether to write it for a long time. Even before Andy and I were married, we knew that when it came time to have kids, we would want one of us to stay home with them. While we were living on Andy’s income, we used mine to save for a down payment for a house, and when we bought that house, we kept living on one income and used all of my paychecks to pay cash for the improvements.

Everything extra we could scrounge went toward the mortgage, and this is what really fueled the DIY fire and pushed us to do our projects on the tiniest of budgets — because we knew our goal: be able to live comfortably on one income so one of us could stay home with the (still-unborn) kids. We bought less house than we could “afford.” The bank wanted to loan us more than double what we knew we could comfortably pay.

We sat down and made a written budget so we knew exactly what was a reasonable monthly payment for us, and we bought exactly that much house and not a cent more, on a 15-year mortgage so we could pay it off as soon as possible.

(This is where having a good real estate agent will come in handy!

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