8 years ago, I put my house up for sale. I did “for sale by owner” and found a buyer within a week. I had decided that one, I would move back to Iowa, and two, I did not want to keep the house as a rental…I just wanted to be done with the memories that came with that home. It was hard to leave…we had been through a lot there. My daughter’s middle school and high school years, her high school graduation, my master’s degree graduation, numerous parties and get-togthers with friends, two hurricanes, and many redecorating experiences! It was the perfect house, the perfect yard, but carried just not so perfect memories.
I sold for exactly the purchase price. I knew I could have made money on the home, as the Houston housing market was beginning to shift,, but I certainly did not want to risk “drama” from my ex-husband, once he knew I made money (even though I paid for EVERYTHING in that home). I made a little money, considering that I lived there about 12 years. I took the money, packed my few belongings I wanted to keep, grabbed my Oakley and my daughter, and off we went, to a new life back in Iowa!
Boy, that experience was interesting! Reflecting on it now, I wonder how I became that girl that needed a man so badly that I sacrificed my money to keep not just one, but two around! The first one moved in with me (a rental to start), with a promise of a BIG, BEAUTIFUL life! Well….I am still single, so we know how that worked out! Another man who felt the need for me to pay for everything and take care of him. Well, that last about 6 months…and then I found another just like him! I guess I was a sucker for these beautiful…yes, they were both very nice looking :)…but both equally messy in their own lives and needed a woman to come in and pay for their life! And, sadly, I did it for another year…
Once I got back to Houston, I felt like I had finally got it together! I knew I was not going to get into another relationship with a man who needed me to finance them….and really, I am a school administrator….who am I to be financing anyone’s life! But, once I got back, my past continued to catch up to me. I ended up with a tax bill to the IRS that was going to cost me a lot of money…and I had to take on a payment plan, in addition to paying much more for rent, because as I mentioned, the Houston housing market was changing and rent was becoming much more expensive! And, on top of that, I had a health scare that cost me a year of payments to the hospital and doctors! Whew….I am exhausted to writing about all of that!
Well, as it turned out, I FINALLY, and I mean FINALLY, realized that if I was going to fix this and be able to live a stable life…one that includes travel, fun, and a home of my own, I was going to have to get it together! This was a year and a half ago. And here is how I did it!
- I started developing my vision. I did not know exactly what I wanted in the beginning of this journey. I knew I wanted to own a home again, but where and for how much, I had no idea. So, I started attending open houses. When I could find any of those, I started going to new neighborhoods and looking at their model homes. I needed something in my eyesight to keep my focus!
- I reviewed all of my finances and made a plan. I began paying off credit card balances. It was a slow process at first, as I struggled to discipline myself enough to really make a difference…but once I started to feel the success of seeing the balances go down, and my credit score go up, I was on fire! I did not really realize that part of my credit score was based on my revolving credit balance…thinking that it was fine to have a balance as long as I paid my bills on time (which I always did)…so it was also a bit of a learning curve.
- I started a savings plan. I had to convince myself that if I put more in savings each month than I thought I should, I could always transfer the money back, if ABSOLUTELY necessary. But, as I started to see my balance increase, it became harder and harder to justify what those absolute necessities were, and I discovered that I really didn’t need them! Besides, a 10 dollar bottle of wine helps one unwind and relax just as well as the 30 dollar bottle, right?
- Finally, I had to make a decision! My friends say I am afraid of commitment, and a house, of course, is a huge commitment! I was so worried that I would choose and then wish I had something different! I worried that if I decided on a new build, the next week, a great existing home in a better neighborhood would go on the market! It came down to me finally deciding, as I learned that literally ONE lot was left in my soon to be new neighborhood! I realized it was probably fate (yes, I am a bit hokey like that!). I put the earnest money down and the building began!
As I anxiously await my move in date…June 18 is the tentative closing…I have to continually remind myself, don’t spend money, don’t stop saving and paying extra on those bills, and don’t revert back to your old ways! I feel a little like I am in some kind of recovery program! But, really, it is just me, learning how to manage my own life and take charge (finally) of my own finances! Looking forward to what is next and sharing my home building process with you all!