Today we ascend to the summit of our series.
We purchase a new house with cash!
In case you missed the first four parts of my Living Debt Free series, you'll find:
Part 1 - The Early Years - here.
Part 2 - Mistakes We Made - here.
Part 3 - Paying Off Our First Home in FIVE Years - here.
Part 4 - Gazelle Intensity: Saving for Home #2 - here.
In January of 2009, we began our grand journey to save $30,000 in 24 months in order to pay cash for our next home. This mammoth task had to be accomplished while raising 4 boys on $40,000 a year. We would need to live on 52% of our income, while tithing 10% and saving 38%! Our nest egg grew as we bid adieu to every single superfluous item in our budget. We trimmed, and then trimmed again. Every single month I produced a spread sheet showing our rate of savings.
Open Houses: "Hits" and "Misses":
We went to open houses every Sunday afternoon. Some of you might find this a foolhardy idea. Why torment yourself with homes that you have no way of purchasing right now? However, we viewed these open houses as a way to keep our "eyes on the prize". They fueled our fire for continuing to save. We used them to establish a realistic idea of what we could expect to find in our price range. We parked and walked around various neighborhoods that we found interesting. You can find out a lot about a neighborhood just by walking around and talking to the folks you meet. We used our experiences to create a list of 24 items that we wanted in a new home. We prayed over our list and thanked God for preparing the perfect house for us at the perfect time.
At the end of 2009, we found that we had exceeded our goal, banking nearly $17,000 in one year! We had saved over 40% of our yearly income! We decided that we could buy as early as August of 2010 if the perfect house came across our path.
We found a realtor in May of 2010. We told him that we intended to purchase a home with cash. He listened intently, but he also asked questions about our income and saw us toting around all those boys. I was fairly certain that he thought we were "pulling his leg" with our proclamations of paying cash. As a city employee, Larry is restricted to living no more than 25 miles from the city hall. We grabbed a map and used a compass to make a circle around the city. All towns within the circle met our criteria. I wanted a 3 bedroom house, in a small town, on a acre lot, no more than ten miles from Peoria. The realtor showed us exactly what we asked him to show us. No homes above our price range and only in areas in which we were interested. It was a little discouraging. It seems that everyone wants an acre lot less than 10 miles from the city, and owners charge some hefty prices for these amenities.
In July, Larry was praying about our new home and he felt the Lord impress on him that we would buy a home in north Peoria. When he shared this with me I replied, "But I don't want to live in the city!" It seems that God had other ideas. One Sunday, just as we were seriously contemplating putting our house hunting on hold, Larry saw a listing for an open house in north Peoria. Although the price had been reduced, it was still significantly above our price range. Reluctantly, I gave into Larry's pleas and agreed to go look at it.
As we walked through the house, we mentally reviewed our checklist. It met nearly all of our criteria. It was a three bedroom, two bath, all brick ranch with hardwood floors, and a walk-out basement. The neighborhood was lovely and was just a 10 minute walk from a biking/hiking trail which traversed the city for miles and miles. We decided to make an offer. However, we told the realtor that it was a "1 bid deal". We weren't going to entertain any counter offers. It was "take it or leave it." Our offer was 30% below the original asking price for the house. I was pretty certain that the owner wouldn't agree to our terms.
Our Offer Accepted!
Just 24 hours later our realtor called to say that our offer had been accepted. After picking my jaw up off of the floor I blurted out, "You're kidding!!!" The realtor assured me that he was not joking.
As we neared the closing date, our realtor called to ask, "The closing for the new house will take place next Friday. The sale of your old home will not be completed by then. So, will you be taking out a bridge loan?" "No," I calmly replied. "We will just take the entire amount out of savings." There was dead silence on the other end of the line. He then hesitantly replied, "Okay, I'll tell them that you'll be ready for the closing next week."
The following Friday was August 26, 2010. We arrived at the meeting with a cashier's check for the entire amount. There is no way that I can adequately describe to you the feeling of absolute triumph that I felt in handing over that check! Our realtor's eyes met mine. He grinned warmly and quipped, "Cash is king!"
I want to thank you, my reader, for coming along on this journey down memory lane with me. It has been a real joy to recount for you the amazing blessings that God has bestowed on our family. I want to leave you with encouragement to reflect upon your own life's journey. Remember, write, and relate your own stories of God's amazing grace.
1 Samuel 7:12 says, "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” Samuel set up a series of stones to remember God's goodness and faithfulness. They remind us of the importance of telling these stories and passing down them down to future generations. When you do so, you are not only building the faith of your children, but also that of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. These tremendous stories of God's provision will become the cornerstones upon which the faith of future generations of your family will be built!
Remember, do all to the glory of God,