You Can’t Make Me Move… Or Can You?

We can’t afford our house.

House

Perhaps on paper we can, but even then, just barely. We bought this house just nine short months ago, with less than a 20% downpayment and it should have been obvious to us then, with a new baby on the way, that we were biting off more than we could comfortably chew.

But correcting the mistake of buying a house is not an easy one. If we were to walk away now, we would likely have to bring money to the table at closing. But not walking away means a giant chunk of our budget is non-negotiable and we are barely making ends meet, much less paying off debt.

Which is an interesting position to place yourself in when what you really want to do is stay home. This house is standing in the way of our life.

Our Own Stupidity
We made a lot of missteps buying a house when we moved here about two years ago:

  1. First, we shouldn’t have bought a house here until we were sure we wanted to stay for at least three more years. I won’t go into the reasons here, but we have industry-related issues that could force a move as early as next year.
  2. We ended up buying a house 30 minutes from work, church, pediatrician, and gymnastics class (the class is funded by grandparents, so don’t roll your eyes at me). We couldn’t afford any houses closer – a giant red flag about the general cost of living here. So instead we traded a too-expensive mortgage for a manageable mortgage, plus extra gas and vehicle maintenance. I’m thinking we didn’t come out ahead.
  3. We were keeping up with the Joneses. We moved everything from our stuffed 2700 sq ft house in Texas and put it in a 1700 sq ft town home when we got here. We were tripping over each other, furniture, and dogs. We did not sell anything. Nope. Not one thing. We needed it all for a future house.

What Would Dave Do?
After our recent budgeting exercise had us so tight on vehicle maintenance, medical care, and groceries, I got nervous. I found a forum of Dave Ramsey believers and submitted my budget for review. You know what they said? They told me we needed to make more money.

Seems kinda crazy telling people whose combined income is well over six figures, but these folks couldn’t find too many areas to shave, considering we write four-figure student loan payments each month.

Due to the nature of our professions, we don’t have other viable employers in this area. If we want to make more money, that means we have to move or take on second jobs. We work 40 hours a week minimum, so with a long commute and small children, second jobs are hard to fit in.

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
Let’s say a new job opportunity presented itself to my husband. And let’s say it didn’t pay relocation, but the salary offered was good enough to entice us to move. We’d lose money on the sale of the house. We’d lose money moving. But isn’t it still the right call?

I think the answer is yes.

We are not ready to sell the house today, but I thought undoing our mistake might still be the best call. And then we could be prepared to quickly move if we needed to or wanted to. And what if we sold our house now for a fair price? We’d end up renting where we started out, which was across the street from our daycare and 5 minutes from work. Time is money. And location is money, especially with rising gas prices.

With that plan in mind, my husband and I decided to list our house on Zillow.com as a “Make Me Move”. “Make me move” is a premarket listing on Zillow, which some owners use it to see if their listing price is fair and some are using it to post a house that might need a few things before being placed on the actual market. The process is simple – it only took me about 15 minutes to do a thorough listing.

Next Steps
With the house (sort of) listed, we have a few things to start tackling. We want to be prepared for moving back into a 1700 sq ft place with an extra body (after all, we’ve had a baby since leaving the townhomes).

  1. We need to downsize. We have two couches, for example. And two washers and dryers. Craigslist, get ready!!!
  2. We need to minimize. We have too. Much. Stuff. My daughter has a playroom filled to the brim with toys. I have clothes in three closets (to be fair, one closet is maternity clothes, which I am still in, and the others contain various sizes I hope to one day be. Again.) I think I have something like 6 cake pans, which is a lot for someone who rarely makes a cake. Yard sale and consignment shops, here we come!

Anything we net from Craiglist and the yard sale will be set aside to help us bridge the gap at closing. If we get lucky and don’t have to bring money to closing, we’ll roll this money back into our debt.

What about you – have you ever had to lose money to put yourself in a better financial position?

Setting Goals

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NASB)

I’m in the process of moving my blog over to WordPress.org, where I’ll become simply indebtedmom.com. While that’s happening (and while I care for a sick baby), I decided to throw up a quickie post.

I’ve been mulling over what I want for our financial future. I don’t want to be rich, so let’s start there, but I decided I have some goals other than just getting out of debt and staying home with my girls. And since this blog is all about accountability, I wanted to share these goals and possibly check in on them time to time.

  1. DEBT: pay off three debts a year and be debt free in four years
  2. RETIREMENT: retire by 50. Tall order given that we will only have about 10 years after becoming debt free to save and we haven’t been doing a great job
  3. TOYS: buy Brian a plane before we retire
  4. TRAVEL: after becoming debt free, take family vacations once a year, including some international trips

I also fully intend to set aside some money for our daughters’ college and weddings, but that will be a balancing act. They will be expected to put some money on the table for these things, too.

And so you know that it’s not all about me – I’m toying with ideas on supporting others through this blog. I have a zillion ideas running through my head, so it will take some time to research the possibilities – but expect that it’s coming!

What are your post-debt financial goals?

Five Minute Friday: Messenger

Lisa Jo Baker runs a blog with a focus on encouraging moms. All moms. Stay-at-home moms, working moms. Single moms. Married moms. Moms who can’t keep their houses clean and feel weighed down by their imperfections. Moms who are frustrated and weary and wonder if they are doing “it” right. She lifts us up, holds our hands, and tells us we are doing great.

Each week Lisa Jo hosts a linkup called Five Minute Friday. The goal is to write for (just) five minutes on a one-word prompt she provides. Unedited and raw. Learning not to judge our writing too much. Learning not to judge ourselves too much. Letting it just be.

And so I join Lisa Jo’s linkup, because this blog reflects who I am as a mother, if through a lens colored by debt.

Today’s prompt is: MESSENGER

I’ve debated not writing anything at all for today. The prompt is all well and good and I’m sure plenty if other writers are taking it to really great, deep, spiritual places today. I tried to gather my thoughts and remembered phrases like “don’t kill the messenger” (yeah, I tend to be a little on the negative side) and

How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “H OW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” (Romans 10:15 NASB)

It would be easy to talk about Jesus being a messenger, but I don’t really feel that. Right or wrong, I think of messengers as being impartial bystanders who just pass along some information, and I suppose that’s why this prompt has me befuddled.

I’m not impartial or a bystander as a Christian, as a mom, or as someone figuring out my finances. I’m passionate and I have things to say. I want you to know what I have learned. I’m hoping some people are able to grow from my mistakes, to celebrate my victories with me – no matter how small, and to offer their own wisdoms in return.

I suppose I see myself as a mom who teaches her children (the best she can), as a Christian who practices (because I need to practice and make myself better), as a person studying her finances and hoping to learn. Teaching, practicing, and studying… But not passively listening to a message and certainly not impartially delivering one.

DONE

So, I actually debated not even doing the linkup today. I’ve felt like I didn’t have anything to say and this post wasn’t “good enough” and you know what? It’s not something I would write and post on just any other day, if only because the topic didn’t really bring out a strong opinion or a learning experience. It’s just is, and so no, I wouldn’t normally publish this. But remembering what Five a Minute a Friday is all about – I decided to submit a post anyway. If only so other people can see that someone else struggles to come up with words. If only so someone else can see where the mind wanders, even when you feel like there’s nothing to write about. So there you have it. May next week be better🙂 Happy Friday!