My husband and I have had a whirlwind year, we bought a house and had a baby. It has been a year of change, we decided to roll with these positive changes and focus on paying down our debt. Lucky for us we don’t have a lot of debt, outside of the house. A couple years of hardwork and focus and we can be debt free.
Once we decided together (because this would be impossible if we weren’t both on board) to do this, the research began. I read enough articles and blogs to make my head explode with information. In the end we chose the Dave Ramsey plan. I liked his snowball plan; focus on your smallest debt, pay it off as quickly as you can, then put the money you used to pay for that (now paid) debt and put it towards your next largest debt… and so on. He explains his this method keeps you motivated and I agree. We need small victories to keep us excited for our end goal – a debt free life.
With our basic plan and ultimate goal in place, it was time for the leg work. We put together a budget in excel (this was waaay easier than I was expecting!). Then we planned what we could afford to pay our bills, pay toward debt, and put in savings. I’m sure our budget will be adjusted more than once but it is a good starting point. We also made plans for some additional income, that will all go toward our debt. No vacations this year but it will be worth it to drop that debt!
After we finished the tedious work, I made us some fun visuals to help us. We bought cheap bottles of champagne 🍾, a bottle for each debt we plan to pay off. I printed some champagne Coloring sheets and labeled them with each debt goal. I included percentages 5%-100% along the side of the image, this way we can color in the bottle as we move toward our goal. Every time we “fill a bottle” or pay off a debt we get to pop a bottle of cheap champagne! 🍾🥂 Is this silly? Yes. Do I care? Nope! I like visuals, they help me stay on track, and I love having a celebratory moment to look forward to (even if it is an $8 bottle of bubbly).
We have kicked off our payment plan and can’t wait to see our baby steps move us closer to our debt free life!
Has anyone managed to get debt free? What worked for you?
I always thought that one day I would just magically feel like I was an adult. I first thought that it would be when I went to college (I was definitely not an adult in college), then I thought it would be when I graduated college (still not an adult), marriage was the next stepping stone (now I was just not an adult with another person), buying a house (nope), finally having a kid, I was so sure that having a child would finally make me feel like an adult… I’m now upper twenties, own my own home, have a career, and am married with a family, but some how I still don’t “feel” like a grown up. I do a lot of adult things like pay my bills on time, do yard work on the weekends, complain about being tired at 8pm, but internally I’m still just do my best to navigate life.
Don’t get me wrong I have had moments that make me re-analyze and see that I am an adult; the first time I had to make my own doctors appointment, the first time I was called ma’am, the first time I didn’t get ID’d buying alcohol and the other day was a big one! I went to pick up my son from daycare and a little girl asked, “Are you Max’s mom?” OH MY GOSH – I am someone’s mother. I am an adult. Bam! It hit me like a grand piano falling from the sky.
I always looked to my parents and my friends parents trusting that they knew what was best. They all seemed to have their lives completely put together. Now that I am at this stage I realize that they probably didn’t “feel” like adults either. I also realized that when I looked at adults as a child, they didn’t have all the answers either but they made it through and so will I.
Adulthood isn’t a feeling, it isn’t a change in your personality (you can still laugh at fart jokes), being an adult is made up of all the little moments of daily life. Every time you pay your car insurance bill, go grocery shopping (and don’t just buy soda and candy), when waking up early on a Saturday morning to spend time with your family means more to you then taking shots on a Friday night, that is being a grown up. You may not have all the answers to life but guess what? You are an adult.
Now that baby has arrived and we have survived the first 6 weeks, it is time to start house projects again. With our busy year, our projects will be small and on a budget. (Wouldn’t it be great to not have a budget!) The first project (post baby) on our new home will be our basement laundry room. It is the perfect choice because there is no rush and it is my test room before we do anything else to our dated, dark, basement. It is a no pressure project because, let’s be honest, no one cares what our laundry room looks like.
Pretty, isn’t it? Not. Blahhhh, I hate this room. It feels dingy and awful. I hate spending time in the room and I have to because of the washer and dryer.
Here’s the plan to make this room pleasant enough to do laundry in until we have the time and money for a real renovation.
Rip out the scary uneven and broken shelves. I am afraid of what we will find living in and behind that stuff. It’s gotta go! I told my husband I would use a folding table over the awful shelving. (Due to my fear of spiders, dead or alive, I volunteered by husband and his friends to do this!) The picture really doesn’t do it justice, it is much worse in person.
Paint the paneling. I’ve done my research and it’s time to test it out. I’m thinking a light grey or tan for the walls and an off white ceiling. I’m hoping the paint job alone will make this room feel more welcoming.
Get a nice sized carpet for the cement floor. Nothing makes a room less comfortable than a cold, cement floor. Since we are budget bound and rug it is! I’m thinking something light and colorful, and as large as I can get it. (Recommendations on places to get a rug and not break the bank are welcome.)
New curtain is in the line up. The one tiny window is all we have for natural light, it needs a good cleaning and a curtain that is pretty and can be opened and shut easily. I am hoping to draw the eye to our sliver of natural light. Also, a longer curtain may help it look more like a real window when we have it shut.
Update the light fixture. Since the light fixture is currently a light bulb, anything I choose will be an upgrade. I’m leaning toward something industrial since this room will always be a work room and it is currently such a popular design.
Down the road, I want to install cabinets, possibly a sink, a drying rack, dry wall, and seal the floor. I basically want to gut the whole thing… one step at a time!
More pics to come as we start the project. With a newborn at home this may be a slow process. 🤗
As always, let’s preface that I am not an expert on home improvement, but I am a first-time home buyer on a budget that wants to fix up our home. Our future nursery was a strange brownish/grayish color with white trim and it really needed a new coat of paint (the people before us weren’t the best DYI people…). I started with the trim and the windows, you can reference my windows project blog for more on that. Once the trim was done we moved onto the walls, goodbye brownish/grayish color!
Here are our “before” pictures. It is hard to tell the color on the walls, so you will just have to trust me when I say it needed to go. The corners and trim were a disaster. Here is my step by step on painting the nursery:
Step 1 – Pick a Color
Before you dive into taping and priming, select your color. Honestly, once I had my color
chosen it helped with my motivation to get everything done. I chose a neutral gray that I fell in love with. Go to your local home improvement store and pick up color swatches. Make sure you look at them in the day and in the evening, a paint color can look completely different in sunlight as it does in lamplight. Once you think you have your color picked out, purchase a small sample of the color and paint a small section of the wall you are planning to paint. Let it dry ALL THE WAY! Again, a color can look very different once it is up on a wall, especially if you are covering a previously painted wall.
Step 2 – Wipe Down the Walls
Yes, I know this seems like a waste but once you start cleaning the walls you realize how dirty they are. It helps the primer/paint coat nicely on the walls and you’re not sealing in old dirt and dust. This step doesn’t take too long and is worth it. You can use a rag or a Swiffer.
Step 3 – Fill in Nail Holes
(The people that lived in our house before us hung up a million things.) I bought a basic nail hole filler, it appears pink, so you can see what you are doing, and dries clear. I filled the holes and wiped the excess with a rag. It really helped hide those holes everywhere. I also sanded a few of the really awful nail holes.
Step 4 – Painter’s Tape
I despise this step… it is evil. I taped the trim and around the windows with blue painter’s tape. Taping in the room was difficult because the paint job before mine was terrible, there were no straight lines to follow and it was challenging to tape correctly. I took my time and use the flat edge of the paint scraper to push the tape into the crevasse between the trim and wall. I didn’t tape around the ceiling, we have the dreaded popcorn ceiling, so it was basically impossible. (Note: I also laid down a painter’s cloth to keep the carpet protected)
Step 6 – Painting
I am guilty of skipping the primer step. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be skipped but the walls were already painted and not in a dark color. Soooo I was lazy (I have no regrets!). Since our project was a nursery, I opted for a semi-gloss paint. Semi-gloss isn’t my favorite, it is a bit shiny, but it is much easier to clean! I started by cutting in with a paint brush around the trim and windows.
For the ceiling, I used a giant scraping tool, I pushed the flat edge in the crease between
the wall and ceiling and used a paint brush to cut in along the edge of the scraper. This worked surprising well! I was so pleased with the turnout. After I was done cutting in along all edges, I grabbed my roller and filled in the rest of the walls. Then I just repeated the cutting in and filling in process with my second coat.
Step 7 – Remove Painter’s Tape
I should have done this before the paint dried… but I didn’t. I learned the hard way that if you wait until it dries completely it can peel off the paint with the tape. I just did touch ups to fix my little mistake but trust me and don’t wait too long! I think I will stress this in every blog I ever write about home improvement. 🙂
My final product was exactly what I wanted (can’t wait for baby to be here to enjoy it, 6 weeks!) The nursery looks like a brand-new space. Amazing what a coat of paint can do to make you feel more at home.
Funny that the actually painting isn’t bad, prepping to paint is the toughest and most time-consuming part.
Let’s preface again that I am not an expert on home improvement, but I am a first-time home buyer, on a budget, that wants to fix up our home. We started our projects in our future nursery (7 weeks until baby joins us!), it really needed a good cleaning and new paint job before we could start moving in the furniture and decorations. I researched and made my shopping list to update baby’s future room.
Here is what I started with… seriously disgusting. The trim and window sill was covered in a layer of dirt that was not going to just be dusted away. Here was the process that I chose to do:
Step 1 – Vacuum Window Sill
Dirt, leaves, and bugs had all worked their way through the outside screen (pretty sure the previous owners didn’t have the screen up at all), there was no way I was touching that mess! I grabbed the vacuum and cleaned out the window sill. This was an immediate difference and a great starting place.
Step 2 – Scrape Chipped Paint
It had been awhile since these windows had received any TLC, leaving paint chipping by
the glass panes. I took a paint scrapper and chipped over the flaking paint to leave a smooth surface. Since my vacuum was still handy, I quick removed the flaky bits.
Step 3 – Sand Trim and Window Sill
Since I had to scrape paint there were now some rough areas showing the wood below. I took a sanding sponge and smooth out these areas. I ran the sanding sponge over all the trim and window sill, this helped remove the awful ingrained dirt (Seriously, sand sponges are miracle workers).
Step 4 – Wipe Down Trim and Window Sill
Now that the large debris was gone and I had a fine dust everywhere, I took a rag and basic cleaning product and scrubbed the window sill first and then cleaned all the trim. This step took surprising long because there are so many little corners to get to. (It also doesn’t hurt to wipe down your window panes)
Step 8 – Tape for Caulking
Best. Idea. Ever. I taped around the window pane and on the pane itself to give me a perfect caulking line. It worked like magic.
Step 9 – Caulking
Have your caulk and caulking gun ready to go. Ensure you choose caulk that you can paint on! Now if you have never caulked before be wary that it is not as easy as it looks. Watch a video on how to use a caulking gun. It moves much faster than I was expecting and made my first attempt messy. Luckily, I had taped the window because my lines still turned out almost perfect. I bought a scraping tool for the caulk but ended up using my finger because it gave a smoother line.
Cut the nozzle to the correct bead size and use a metal wire to puncture inner seal
Insert caulking tube into caulking gun
Use trigger with steady pressure to create a bead of caulk along whatever edge you are caulking
Wipe the excess caulk off with your finger or damp rag, do this is one wiping motion to keep your line smooth
Pull off painter’s tape – before the caulk dries!
Step 5 – Painter’s Tape
Once the caulk dried, I taped all the edges around the sill and the trim to prep for painting. I hate this step but it isn’t one to be skipped.
Step 6 – Painting
First coat was my all-purpose primer. I know a lot of people go straight to paint but I had
exposed wood from scraping, so I opted for a thick coat of primer first. Following the coat of primer, I did my first coat of semi-gloss white paint. I chose the semi-gloss because this is in the nursery and we wanted something that was easy to wipe down. Surprisingly, I didn’t need a second coat of paint, I got away with just doing touch ups in messy areas.
Step 7 – Remove Painter’s Tape
I should have done this before the paint dried… but I didn’t. I learned the hard way that if you wait until it dries completely it can peel off the paint with the tape. I just did touch ups to fix my little mistake but trust me and don’t wait too long!
I realize this is a lot of steps but most don’t take too long and the final product is amazing. The difference that cleaning up the windows made was shocking, the room felt clean and fresh. Plus, I was incredibly proud of doing this myself. Do your research before you get started, know what kind of paint and caulk you need and feel confident in your choices. If you need help with these decisions or products I recommend Lowe’s – the lovely staff there has gone above and beyond with helping me.
I touched on house hunting in my earlier blog but I wanted to spend a little more time on this subject. I genuinely thought that house hunting would be fun. On a Saturday afternoon, it is great to check out new listings. You get to pick what you like, what you dislike and talk about what you would change. Clearly this is a popular thing to do because HGTV does show after show about it (I can’t help but binge watch House Hunters). When you’re actually looking to buy, those things you dislike in home become blaring, and you think about the price tag that would come with changing those issues. House hunting with an unlimited budget would have made it a blast! But we are a young couple on a tight budget, so big renovations would be way down the line.
Then you get to deal with the reality that is what you want your mortgage to be. The reality of what fits in your mortgage budget never seems to be quite what you want and you admit to yourself that your house will not be perfect. This DOES NOT mean you can’t find a house you love! Your love of that home is what will make up for any concessions you may have to make.
Big Items to Discuss:
What area of your city/town?
Fixer Upper or Move in Ready?
How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
Is there maximum/minimum on square footage?
Carport? Garage? How large?
Large or small backyard? Fenced?
I could keep going but everyone has different “big items”. For me and my husband we landed on a fixer upper, (with more surface level work needed, no gutting a house!) more square footage, at least 3 bedrooms (for our family to grow), we wanted a larger fenced backyard (for kiddos and a future furry family member) and garage was obviously wanted but not a requirement. At first, we limited our area but ended up being a little more flexible on this because of how fast homes were selling, we didn’t want to miss our perfect home because it was 5 minutes outside our wanted area.
Location items that matter for us personally:
It had to be in town! If we lived out of town we would never leave… Yes, I realize that makes us lazy.
The school district. We have a little one on the way and in case we decide to stay in this home long term we wanted a good school system.
Proximity to work. Pretty self-explanatory.
Street curb appeal. This was a big one for us, we want our street to be clean and well maintained. We weren’t looking for fancy, we were looking for cared for.
We discussed our big items and made decisions on what we were willing to wiggle on and what we had to hold firm to. It helped so much! Sadly, we didn’t do this until after we started looking… I would recommend doing this before you step foot in a house. You may think you know what your significant other is thinking and you could be wrong, so take the time to sit down and make a plan.
Lastly, when you start looking at homes take your time; look for cracks, check closets and lighting. This could be your future home, it is worth taking an extra thirty seconds to examine that old furnace. We saw some very interesting things in homes we looked at; from a furnace that they used old doors linked together to block off (pretty sure that’s not to code!) to slanting floors (adorable house but we didn’t need our house to fall over) and we survived. Be ready for the good, bad and the ugly (seriously though, people’s choices in paint colors and wall paper blew my mind). Just don’t feel pressured to buy just because you have been looking for a while. Buying a home is most likely the biggest purchase of your life, your lender isn’t paying back that mortgage and your Realtor doesn’t have to live there, you and you alone should make the decision it is the right home for you. Don’t give up hope! The right home will come around, it certainly did for us.
Buying a house. Is there a more terrifying statement? For someone who likes knowing and understanding a process before beginning a project, it is about as scary as it can get. I’m an admitted control freak and buying a home leaves a lot out of your control. Is home-buying a stressful process? At times, yes. Is it worth the stress? Absolutely! Here are a few tips for starting the home buying process that I learned along the way. (Please note: I am NOT AN EXPERT, these are just my personal thoughts on the process.)
1. Assemble your team of experts.
I can honestly say our home buying process went as smoothly as it did because of the people we chose to work with. Recommendation – Always use a professional.
Finding a Lender: We spoke to a few different mortgage lenders, with each one we asked about the process of applying, what we qualified for, interest rates and how our loan would be handled post-closing on a house. From this conversation, we had important questions answered and we were also able to find a lender we felt personally comfortable with. Remember, this is a person that you need to be comfortable enough with that you won’t hesitate to ask questions when you have them. Once we chose a lender, we got our pre-qualified letter and could move on to our next step.
Finding a Realtor: First thing, don’t feel bad about interviewing a Realtor! You don’t have to agree to work with the first Realtor you meet. This is a person that you will be spending a lot of time with and you want to have a good rapport and trust in that person. Speak with a few different Realtors, maybe try a couple different offices and see where you feel most comfortable. When we were looking we already personally knew a lot of Realtors and so we chose a Realtor through a personal recommendation from a friend. I was looking for someone that I knew would be caring enough to get me through the stressful moments but also would be strong enough to fight for us during the deal. Our Realtor went above and beyond for us! She was patient with us when we struggled to find a home, walked us through each step of the paperwork process and then went to bat for us when we made our offer.
2. Begin the house hunt!
The house hunting portion looked a lot more fun on HGTV then it was in real life. We picked a time to buy when there was a shortage of houses in our area, especially in our price range. It was such a hot market that many times a house would come on the market and sell an hour or two later. We couldn’t even get in to see a house before it was sold! (I cried a little during this phase, pregnancy and house hunting are a terrible combo). We also struggled because my husband wanted a fixer upper with more square footage and I wanted a smaller home with little work needed. In the end, we found a compromise, a house with an upstairs that needed little work and the basement was/still is a work in progress.
Make a List: When you start looking make a list of your must haves and your wants. You may have to compromise a couple wants for a must have, this is just a reality of buying a home, so know your priorities. Be honest with yourself on what you can afford. Yes, I know that the price range right above yours always looks so much better than yours but hold firm to the top of your budget! You can do it!
Talk to your Employer: House hunting is far more time consuming than I would have expected, luckily by working with my employer and creatively using my lunch hour we were able to get into most houses the day they went on the market. If your employer is strict on scheduling, be sure to tell your Realtor when you are available to look at homes, evenings, weekends, etc.
Don’t get Let Down: Did you lose out on your “perfect home” because it sold too quickly or your offer wasn’t chosen? Remind yourself that there are new homes on the market every day. It takes time but you will find your right home. I was guilty of letting the disappointment overwhelm me at times but I don’t regret missing out on any house because we ended up right where we should be.
3. Writing an Offer.
I’m not sure why writing an offer terrified me so much, it’s probably because I had never done it before. In the end I’m not sure why I was so afraid of the process, it was quick and painless for us.
Consult with your Expert: With your Realtors guidance and expertise you can come up with an offer you are comfortable with.
Talk it Out: Talk to your significant other or a close family member and really think about what you want to offer and if there is anything in the home you want to ask for. You want to feel good about what you have offered, after all this is ultimately your money and your home.
4. Your Offer was Accepted!
Congratulations! Now the real fun begins.
Home Inspections: It is up to you if you asked for a contingency on a home inspection or not. We did and it was incredibly helpful for us, it opened up negotiations with the sellers. Now that we are in the home we are using the home inspection list to gradually fix up the house as well. It’s like a master to do list!
Negotiations: You may go back and forth with the seller working out those final details. That is totally dependent on your specific situation. Even better, maybe you have no negotiations because everything is exactly how you want it!
Home Insurance: During this time, you will be looking for who you would like to ensure your future home. I would talk to a few agents and get some different quotes. This allows you to make sure you are getting a good price for the coverage you want. We got a lot out of actually sitting down face to face with an agent and having the different options reviewed.
Work with your Lender: At this point your lender will start having you sign lots of documents. Get your sloppy signature ready! Your lender will help walk you through the bank process and get you ready for your closing.
5. Closing Day.
The day you thought would never get here. It is such an exciting feel be at the end of the
process. You sign document after document, that seem to all say basically the same thing, but it all needs your approval. Then the big moment… when you get that key! It’s finished! You are a homeowner!
I left out steps and just focused on the big points that impact us during our house hunt. Take what you will from our experience and good luck on the big purchase!! (Please note: I am NOT AN EXPERT, these are just my personal thoughts on the process.)
I am a planner, I like to know what is coming, I like to be prepared. I am always looking toward the future. It is an uncontrollable personality trait.
Now I realize that life doesn’t like to follow a plan, in fact most times that my life has hit a bump in the road it has led me somewhere better than I could have imagined – even with this knowledge I can’t help but attempt to be control my life anyway.
After college graduation I married my high school sweetheart. Before you roll your eyes at the idea of marrying a boy you dated in high school, let me say that my husband makes my life more fun and makes me feel more loved than I could possibly deserve. He is also not a planner, he is a roll with the punches guy – this is simultaneously frustrating for me and good for me. When you are looking toward the future you can miss the present, it is always good to find someone who pushes you to enjoy the moment.
We chose to spend a few years just being married rather than grow our family right away. These years of just us time was exactly what we needed. We were married young and wanted to enjoy a lifestyle that allowed us to go out with friends for drinks, eat out at restaurants and sleep in on the weekends. It was a fun point in our lives that we were able to enjoy guilt free. The “just us” years also gave us time to grow up. Settled in good jobs and ready to move forward in our lives I went into planning mode; the plan was to buy our first home, adopt a dog and then have a baby. The baby came sooner than planned.
There is no rush quite like the one you get when you look down at a positive pregnancy test. It is a rush that includes terror, joy, sadness, excitement and disbelief. I would like to tell you that I did a cute gift or announcement for my husband but I was in shock after I saw that test, all I managed to do was run into the bedroom and flip on the light at 7am (he wasn’t pleased at this point) then I held out the test and asked if that looked like 2 lines. It wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t planned but it is still one of the best moments of my life.
The baby revelation came before we had bought a house or adopted dog, the plan was dead. We knew we wanted to be out of our apartment before the baby arrived so now we were in full blown house hunting mode. Our heads were spinning with the news of the baby and now we were about to make the biggest purchase of our live – it was a stressful time but we survived! We are 3 months away from meeting our baby and just moved into our first house and that is where this blog begins. I am going to be writing about our marriage, the pregnancy and fixing up our new home (it was built in 1959 and we are DIY people!). Just to clarify, I am not an expert in any of these fields… not even a little. I am only documenting my adventures because my life is experiencing amazing changes and I don’t want to forget a second of it.