Co-Authored by Matthew Monk
When we signed our lease last year, we decided that we wanted to get out of the vicious cycle of renting. Each month as we have paid rent, it is as if we just see our money going down a drain.
For those who are unaware of our situation, when our daughter was born premature, we were advised to do what we can to keep her out of daycare. Not to mention, since I was previously a Preschool Teacher myself, we would most likely barely break even to pay for her care with what I would make.
Being a one-income family is difficult and demands a lot of sacrificing from all parties. On the other hand, we have seen so much favor and have received provision when we needed it most. It is definitely a growth process. But something about making a decision and being faithful to follow-through with it is so satisfying. And to be honest, has added quality to our lives even though our finances on paper would argue the contrary. Being a one-income family has forced us to crunch our numbers and really wrestle with the questions: What do we really need? What do we really want? (And) What is most important to us?
As humans, we are called to be good stewards of our resources. Having been married for almost three years and having paid rent for almost all of those three years, we gradually began to realize that at a certain level, having a big chunk of our monthly income being thrown into the black hole of renting was preventing us from stewarding our resources at a level we desired. As our perspective shifted, renting seemed wasteful and buying a home became a necessity.
So we made a clear decision: We are going to buy a home even if it’s on only one income. Why?
1. We are already making ends meet on one income. In buying a home we put ourselves in a place of ownership, moving our mortgage payments into the realm of creating an asset for ourselves rather than someone else. In our experience, renting is a perpetual liability and is an investment that creates no value. Also, in buying we can potentially pay less per month to own a home than we currently pay in rent.
2. Part-time and extra income goes towards enjoyment, luxuries and paying off other debt. Since we already make it work on one income, we are not depending on other money to cover our monthly overhead. Any other money whether it be from side jobs, stipends or part-time work goes toward expenses not included in our normal monthly budget. The way we see it, even if we were a two-income household, we would not want to depend on the second income to cover our expenses. Being a one-income household also provides us the opportunity to have someone at home with Olive during her crucial developmental years.
We began discussing our future plans for buying a home nearly a month ago. While we were actively making plans, we had a mutual feeling of waiting until after our vacation to make any moves. It all began at our overnight stay at Stefanie’s family’s house. A short conversation with her grandmother about her and Stefanie’s grandfather’s first home really resonated with us. They were a young couple with a baby. They were trying to get out of the cycle of paying someone else and get into a home of their own, so they did what people of their generation did. They started small. They bought a two-room house that didn’t have a bathroom in the home (outhouse, anyone?).
Luckily, now days, there are much better options for starter homes, and we decided to cut our budget by over $50k- or roughly $300-$400 per month off of our would- be mortgage payment. Bringing it (hopefully) to a number lower than our rent payment. As far as homes go, in most cases, though, it also meant cutting down our wish list. Square footage, amount of bathrooms, yard size, age of home and possibly a garage, storage space and so on and so on.
Our next stop was Jackson, Mississippi to visit some friends. When we go visit, we typically stay in a much older home with one to two bedrooms and very small living spaces. The home we were staying in this particular time was probably less than 800 square feet. While it was definitely not our dream home, it had a lot of potential. Not to mention it was a home. When we left we had a whole new perspective on how much space we actually need in our home.
Matt and I both can look back on the homes we grew up in. They were modest. There wasn’t tons of space, but we weren’t uncomfortable. We grew up with secondhand furniture, or furniture that someone else helped our parents buy and generally if there was a something that broke and needed to be fixed, our moms and dads didn’t immediately call a repairman. They fixed it themselves. We didn’t grow up in homes with the latest features. But our homes were still that---they were homes. Our families bought what they could afford, lived within their means, invested in their home environment, and eventually upgraded. Neither set of our parents began in their “dream home.” What we realized throughout the course of our vacation was that we were okay with not buying a “dream home”.
We are always ready for a miracle in our finances, but until then, we want to be faithful in the small things, because it is the small things, that grow and mature and become what we dream of.