Living Small for Big Gains

1371239358_6304_frugal living



Let’s be clear about one thing.  I love beautiful things.

I am not the kind of girl that would spend $400 on shoes.  Or $800+ on a fancy purse.  I know where to buy them, I know which ones are cool, the kind that would make women around me go “OmgItotallyloveyourbagomgomgwheredidyougetitgirl!!!”

I’m not that girl.  I sometimes wish I was though because there seem to be more of them, which means that I would have more opportunities at friendship (and more in common).  I am not.  I’m a pragmatist.   I dye my own hair because it saves me $50 per month and if I had the choice, I’d rather use that $50 to do something fun rather than waste it on frou frou, yanno?

But everyone has their priorities.  I don’t know many people that would spend $1,200 on a chihuahua either.  Told you Diego was a fancy bitch.  I digress…

What I love is a beautiful home.  I love a clean, pretty, well designed and well decorated peaceful home with bits of cool stuff here and there.  I’m not one for clutter and I tend to be spartan in my taste.  I like art.  I prefer real flowers over the dusty fake stuff.  I like pictures of family in different frames, and lot’s of flat screen televisions mounted to the wall.

Clean, neo-contemporary and easy to dust.   I like a kitchen that has lot’s of counter space and a large sink.  I like a traditional stove because I don’t think I should be trusted with a gas one.   I like a big BBQ out back and some comfortable patio furniture.   A veranda with some terracotta massive pots that I can grow cool things, like yellow cherry tomatoes, basil, rosemary, thyme and chives.  I love living green things around me and sitting in a quiet back yard while my dogs walk about sniffing and leg lifting, while I inhale the scent of rosemary.

See that?  Just visualizing it made my shoulders go down.  I’m one of those earthy Taurus types.  I like having flowers in the front (mostly red) and plants that butterflies, bees and hummingbirds will eat.  And a bird feeder.  And a squirrel feeder.

This is my happy thought.

The transition, the move, the wedding.  The living out of pocket on contract income while dueling with the woman formerly known as my Mother and trying to legally get out from under the mortgage I signed on for (yep… still wondering what the fuck I was thinking).  That all came at a steep financial cost to me.

When you move from Canada to the USA, you lose your credit history.  I had a good one, so naturally this pisses me off big time.  Nothing like working your whole life to have pristine credit (and two years to cut my debt by 60% in the last 24 months)… here I am in the USA with no credit.  To have to have my husband get me a cell phone?  Talk about a kick in the gut to a gals ego.

We’re getting ready to find a new house to live in, until my credit is established.  I have more than $30,000 locked into an investment that can be used to borrow against (ported into a 401k plan) as a first time homeowners bonus.  So (while I will have to pay my 401K back for 15 years) we have a great down payment.

Awesome!  But we won’t be able to buy for about two years.  I’ll be able to start establishing credit in December, and a couple resources have suggested that 24 months of establishing credit will be sufficient to buy a house (particularly with a $30k down payment).


Now here comes the pragmatist. I would love nothing more than to get into a house to rent for about $1,400 to $1,600 per month.  Houses that rent for that much in this area of Texas are gorgeous.  We’re talking granite counters (love), tile or hardwood floors (love love) 2-3 bathrooms (yes!) and cultivated yards with beautiful patios, walk in closets… fantasy homes.   Some even come with pools at the $1,800 per month mark.

And I want to be in them.  Those houses will probably be something similar to what we end up buying.  And I want to fast forward to having an impeccable home that I am proud to invite friends and family over to, not out of arrogance… just to feel like, settled.   Room to have a dinner party.  Room to have a big BBQ grill and patio furniture.   Room for all my pots and pans that are sitting in rubbermaid boxes right now.

The espresso machine is buried on the kitchen counter behind the Keurig and my utensil holder.  Totally impractical.  I can’t get at it, but the fact that it’s in my tiny current kitchen is an act of defiance. Someday… there will be room to make latte’s in my own kitchen.

And I am tempted to rent “that house”.  Put pictures up that make it seem like I am “living large” like everyone else seems to be by this age.    And I had almost convinced myself that this would be the right choice, you know?  I’d be “house proud” again.  Like I was in my tiny (but hip) apartment in Toronto.  Like I was in BOTH houses I owned in Pickering and Ajax Ontario, in another life by a big lake.

But this morning I found a house for $800 per month.  It is detached, with a fenced in back yard.  It has a car port (not a garage, although it has a big built in outdoor storage perfect for fishing rods, tools, kids outdoor stuff, lawnmower et al).


It has a fireplace and two bedrooms and bless… TWO bathrooms.  Two walk in closets.  A smallish kitchen that looks a little rough with hip melamine (fake wood) cabinetry.  But a massive huge open space living room (I love open space!) and a fireplace with an insert.   It also has a fenced yard and a sliding door for easy pooch access.

We may get this house.  We may not get this house.  We’ll see what happens.  Ideally we wanted a 3 bedroom to have a formal guest room but for $800 per month?  Come on now… the pragmatist will deal with the shitty kitchen for a couple years to save $300 – $500 per month on rent.  Money that will be applied to our secret goal to be debt free… (entirely with the exception of the vehicles) by the time we buy a house.

Pretty lofty huh?  At 41 and 36, we have a lot of catching up to do if we want to have a paid off house by the time I retire.  Not that I will ever retire… but that’s another discussion.

The pretty house can wait.  I know there are many people with pretty houses with financial problems.  Boy do I ever know that story *cough*Terri*cough.  I mean, thewomenformerlyknownasmymother and the step-beast had nice cars, a HUGE house, vacations, every pretty tool you could imagine, went out to dinner a lot, had a great deck and pool and bought the $25/each tomato plants.

I understand they are currently living in an apartment and insolvent.  So much for appearances.


I am not in love with appearances.  I am in love with stability and solvency.  Getting debt free and buying a house asap.  Starting a college fund for the twins.   Living small to gain the kind of freedom you feel when you have $1,000 then $2,000 then .. more sitting in a bank ready to go.  The security you feel knowing that you have the CASH to deal with most any problem or obstacle that gets thrown at you.

If we get this house, I will rock the melamine for 24 months on lease and not complain once.  I’ll be smiling as I save up for the granite counter tops I want so badly, paid for in cash (not credit) and balancing the books in the black, not the red.

Like my grandparents did.  They had no debt in their retirement and their house was paid off.  My grandpa stopped working when he was 55, but never stopped taking trips or having a garden, or eating well, or being generous with his family.  My inspiration and example of responsible financial management.

If we get it, I can promise the food will be great and the company will be awesome.  Just pardon the melamine, it’s a rental.