Monday, February 13, 2012

Enjoying a Bit of House Hunting

Ok, so we aren't officially looking to buy a home.  Well... maybe.  That is, if all goes well and according to plan.  Currently, we live in a really nice neighborhood with my husband's dad and grandfather.  I wouldn't mind staying in this neighborhood.  After all, it is a sought after area of town.  Houses don't really go up for sale often, which means people move in and stay.  When a house does go up for sale, let's just say, they don't last long on the market.

Today, Travis went off to work.  I was bored, so I took a drive around in this part of town.  I saw quite a few "For Sale" signs.  I grabbed a piece of paper, a pen, and I started jotting down the addresses and who was the realtor.  I came home and jumped onto my laptop.  I looked up each house.  Only 1 out of the 5 houses was not in our original budget.

A while back, Travis and I thought that we were going to buy a house in Bloomington.  Good thing we didn't.  We were racking up some serious medical debt, and our credit was far under par.  However, a good friend of mine is a broker in Bloomington.  She found out that we qualified for $70,000.  Yeah, that's not much - but we are first-time home buyers AND our credit was out of wack at the time.  Since then, we've used $70,000 as our budget for when we do decide to buy a home - regardless if we qualify for more.  It's good to have a number in mind, even if it isn't the actual number now.  Besides, we don't have to take out a loan for more than what we really should.  We're being frugal here.

So, $70,000 was my budget.  Only 1 was over that (and that was $99,900 - and trust me, the outside of the house didn't look like it was worth $99,900).  The other 4 houses were jaw droppers.  I was surprised how much they were after looking at them in person.  Granted, I'm sure they are going to be fix uppers.  But with a family of construction workers and DIY'ers, I'm not too worried about some fixing up.  I'd rather fix it up just the way I want it anyways.  All four houses were LESS that $70,000.  And here's why:

Most houses in this neighborhood were built in the 50's and 60's.  The families that built these homes stayed in them until they passed or moved into an elderly home.  Families don't leave this area.  But when a person passes away or moves into an elderly home - the children are desperate to get rid of the house.  Yes, the homes have some wear and tear on them - but they are very nice family homes.  They are great starter homes.  And after having friends move into this area previously, we can see that most homes are not money pits.  This area of town has a great reputation.  The prices on these homes drop quickly because the family members cannot afford to keep a second home that their parents' owned.

Here I am getting all excited.  Travis asked me the other day how I felt about buying a home instead of renting.  That's a huge step to take - and honestly, I'm scared because I don't know a thing about home buying.  But believe me, I would love to have a home to call our own - to have a place where we can settle ourselves down and live for years.  In this upcoming year, we made a promise to get established before the year ends.  We made a promise that living with family members is temporary.  In 2012, Travis and I will be getting careers.  Travis already has a pretty decent job.  I'm getting interviews.  Maybe buying a home is a step in the right direction.  I'm not talking about buying a home tomorrow or next week or next month.  But after I get a career and we establish ourselves with a decent income, maybe it wouldn't hurt to keep our eyes open for a home.  Maybe it wouldn't hurt to go to a broker and look around.  We can take our time.  We don't need to jump the gun.  But maybe now is the time to take that first step towards home buying.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saying No

The hardest part of our journey to getting out of debt and back on our feet is saying "no" to family and friends.  We want to spend time with everyone, but it's hard to say, "no, we can't go out and eat at that nice restaurant tonight" or saying, "no, we can't come visit this month."  It's so difficult.  It breaks my heart to tell those I love that we cannot go out and do fun things.  It hurts even worse to tell them I cannot see them.

When you are trying to get out of debt, and your biggest feat is a lack of income, you have to prioritize your time and money.  Soon, we'll be paying back my student loan debt.  We've just established Baby Step #1 in building a $1000 emergency fund.  Yes, we will have income coming in soon.  But we still have bills to pay and a savings to build up for a home.  We have to put money into maintenance on our car.  We have been very lucky that my parents have paid for the car insurance.  We would like that to end.  We also need to save up money so that we can have health insurance.  Gas is super expensive - so traveling is just not in the hand we've been dealt right now.

I know family and friends are not in our shoes, so they don't see it like we do.  I know they don't mean any harm.  But there comes a point in time where they get tired of hearing "sorry, no."  We've tried to balance everything the best we can.  It's just hard to please everyone.  I wish that people would give us a little more time.  It isn't like we don't appreciate our family and friends.  We want to spend as much time as possible with each and every one of them.  But we just cannot afford it.  Everyone else is established in their lives.  We've cut back drastically.  This year is dedicated to getting on our feet.  I know many people don't understand it completely.  I try to stay in touch through e-mails, Facebook, and phone calls. I try to explain that it isn't because I don't like them or that I'm not upset with them.  But here is the time where that brick wall hits.  They think we don't want them in our lives because we cannot afford to travel.  They think we don't want to spend time with them because we never go out with them.  And it's always the same reason:  we cannot afford it right now.  When that time comes, it's hard on everyone.  Others see this as an excuse.  We say will come see them as soon as we can afford it - but it comes across like broken, empty promises - even though it is genuine.  After all, how many times does it take before you get tired of hearing the same excuse?

I'm not upset with anyone because I understand how they feel.  At times, I'm at a loss for what to say.  Some individuals have been pretty harsh towards us.  Some have created a huge fiasco over it that I have officially pulled myself away.  It makes me feel bad when they refuse to see things from my point of view.  It isn't like debt is going to go away overnight.  It isn't like we'll have extra money to spend in a snap.  But here's a great perspective that I have....

My father once told me, "it's more convenient to see everyone else than it is for them to see you."  This is a sarcastic comment.  It means that some people expect YOU to go out of your way to see THEM.  Not once does it cross their minds to say, "I know they've hit a rough patch financially.  Maybe I'll go see them and we can do something that doesn't cost money."

Dave Ramsey talked about this on one of his talk shows.  He said that there comes a time where you have to start saying no if you want to get out of debt.  You have to learn how to say no to people.  It is easy to rack up debt and blow money when you go out with the people you enjoy being around.  Think about it.  A couple of close friends ask you to go out one night.  What happens?  You are more inclined to spend money you cannot risk spending.  You might buy an adult beverage to be social.  You might go to a nice restaurant and spend $12-15 on your meal.  You might feel more inclined to go out to see a movie.  That money adds up - especially when you have an "income problem."

Not everyone is going to understand.  It's a hard road to travel.  But you have to keep telling yourself, "this will all be worth it in the end."  Don't fall back into old habits.  Now is the time to keep pressing forward.  Later on, those who truly care will see where you have been and what you accomplished.  There will be a day where you won't have to worry about gas for traveling.  When that day comes, everyone will see it.  You won't have to say anything.  For those that don't get it when that day arrives... well, you can decide where the relationship will go from there.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baby Step #1: Accomplished.

After quite a hectic run around with my financial aid, I finally received my grant refund.  With that money, the Hubster and I put $1000 directly into our Emergency Fund.  That fulfills Baby Step #1 from Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps.  We are now working towards paying off our credit card debt.  Our credit card debt is very small.  It isn't even $1000, which is why we decided to pay these off.   That shouldn't take long at all!

After we pay off the credit cards, we need to get another car.  Some may say that is a ridiculous idea, but we cannot keep juggling one car.  Having that single car run constantly between the both of us is adding miles to the car and wearing down on it.  Already, we need to put some maintenance into it just to keep it running so much.  So, with the remaining amount after paying bills is going straight into fixing the car.  It's a great car.  It's been amazing.  But the poor car has been working way more than it should be.  And it's showing.

WOO HOO!  We made it through Baby Step #1!  On to Baby Step #2....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh My Golly Gee Wiz!

I must say that I really do love 2012!  Travis got the job he applied for, so right now, he is finishing up the mandatory tests, background check, la di da.  I had a bit of a run-in with my financial aid.  It still hasn't shown up in the mail yet, which is super frustrating.  In order to keep my financial aid, I had to register for 6 credit hours instead of only 4.  That means I would have to complete 300 hours at my internship.  I asked my supervisor, and she said that worked great for her!  I'm super happy it all worked out.  Plus, I freaking LOVE my job at the zoo.  Right now, I'm making training videos.  It is super fun because I get to see all the animals up close.  Sorry, I cannot post pictures.  It's against the policy.  But let me tell you, I've pretty much gotten over my fear of snakes. haha!

This has become a fantastic month as well.  Previously, I applied to 1 job here in town.  I was not expecting to get a call back.  Last week, I was offered an interview.  I just came back from it.  The job sounds great.  I know I would enjoy it.  I don't know if it is something I really want to do, but hey, it's a job!  I'd be an administrative/marketing assistant that helps with their social media sites.  Definitely a job that is in my niche.  The great thing about it was that out of 155 applicants, they only chose the top ten applicants they liked for an interview.  Yup, that's right kiddos.  I was one of them!  My interview blunder:  I totally under-sold myself.  They asked what I would expect in compensation on an hourly basis.  Uh... I probably should have thought about that.  I'm so used to being told how much I make.  I didn't take into consideration how much I expect to get paid hourly.  I figured for salary, maybe $30-$40,000.  Yeah.... ::cringes:: I said $10-$13/hour, but I would have to think about it more depending on the amount of work I would be doing.  YIKES!   I sold myself short by $10!  ::facepalm::  I feel like crawling under a rock.  But who knows, maybe they'll see that I am genuine.  Maybe they'll pay me a decent wage for my work if they hire me, not the low-ball price I said.  And who knows, maybe everyone else was asking for a much higher wage and the interviewers tuned them out.  I still cannot believe I did that.  I have to keep reminding myself... this is a big kid job!  Not some side, part-time gig to make ends meet.  GAH, I'm worth more than that!

However, I did get offered a job that might pay more.  I was invited to an interview with one of the top ten companies to work for in Fort Wayne, IN.  The position is a Recruiting Coordinator/Client Support position.  They found me through  We'll see where the wind takes me.  It would be nice to have options available.  Besides, I'm really blessed.  Two offers for an interview when I wasn't really trying to look for a job... that's pure blessings.  So many people out there are struggling to find a job.  My heart goes out to them.  It's such a scary position to be in.  Even if I do not get either of these jobs, I still remember to count my blessings.  I was offered TWO interviews.  Let's just say that I'm worth more than I originally thought I was.  That, my friends, makes all the difference.

So, to make me feel a little better, anyone want to share their greatest interview blunders? :P