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Saving 100% Down for a Home: Part 3

A New Job in a New City

Jesse started his new job the beginning of 2007 with high hopes. 2006 had been a difficult year of finishing law school, preparing for the bar, taking the bar, waiting for the bar results, morning sickness and then spending a few months not knowing whether he was going to have a job at the beginning of the year or not.

We were very ready to get back into a “normal” routine after months of upheaval and uncertainty. And we were excited to start saving in earnest after years of depleting our savings.

But within the first month at his new job, Jesse realized this job was going to be a lot harder than he had anticipated. The learning curve was steep, the hours were long, the work was stressful and the office environment was tense.

It begin to wear on Jesse and within a few months, he was almost continually exhausted and stressed. More big projects arose and he had to put in longer hours. Jesse, the always easy-going, fun-loving guy, was so overloaded at work that he rarely smiled or enjoyed life anymore.

I knew it was becoming too much for him and I felt powerless to help him. I tried to make our home a welcoming haven for him, I tried to encourage him as best as I knew how, but the pressure he was dealing with at work was enormous.

He was working so many hours and was so focused on keeping up with his job that he wasn’t home much anymore. And when he was home, he wasn’t very “present.” It was a hard, hard time. He hated being “absent” from our family, but he also had to keep up with things at work lest his job be in jeopardy.

The stress trickled down to me and I began neglecting my own health. Soon I started experiencing issues in my pregnancy. I became very anemic and ended up in the hospital for five days when I was 34 weeks along. They were worried I was going to have to be induced early since my hemoglobin and platelet counts were so low. But God intervened and I was able to carry Kaitlynn to 38 weeks before being induced.

These health issues felt like the last thing Jesse needed to be dealing with. And I felt so bad that I was adding extra burdens to his already-overloaded plate. But God used it for good, because it was a wake-up call to both of us to realize something major needed to happen in Jesse’s job situation, or he needed to quit.

The thought of him quitting scared us though, as we desperately needed the insurance benefits from his job — especially now that I was having so many health issues. It was a vicious cycle and we felt trapped.

We prayed and talked about it a lot. More and more it felt like it was the right thing for Jesse to turn in his resignation. And yet at the same time, what about our financial goals and hopes and dreams? Wouldn’t it be completely shooting ourselves in the foot to voluntarily cut off most of our income?

And how would we survive if Jesse wasn’t able to get a new job right away? We had been working hard to try and save money, but after all the medical bills from my health problems, we only had enough in savings to live on for a few months. And my income from my online business was certainly not enough for us to survive on.

It seemed like it would be foolish to resign just because a job was too stressful, so we tried to come up with ways to restructure things in our home and lives to relieve as much stress as we could. We figured if we could just ride this out for a few more months, things would probably get a lot smoother.

But then very unexpectedly, Jesse was asked to resign. While this came as a complete shock to us because no one had any idea we were praying about him resigning, we took it as God’s clear direction for us. But we didn’t know what the next step might be, or how we were going to live if Jesse didn’t find a job very quickly.

So without much warning, we were left without our primary income source — in a new city with little support, few friends and even fewer business contacts.

At first, we were pretty confident finding a new job wouldn’t be too hard. After all, we were in a big city and Jesse had his law license. How hard could it really be to find something which would pay the bills?

Well, apparently it was a whole lot harder than we’d initially envisioned. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months.

We applied for just about every job under the sun. We prayed harder than we’d ever prayed before. We contacted anyone and everyone who might have a possible job lead. We followed up with every application and did our best to leave no stone unturned.

And yet, no one was even calling to offer Jesse an interview, let alone a job.

I wish I could say that I kept a cheerful attitude through all of this. On the contrary, I woke up every morning with a sick feeling in my stomach wondering how much longer things would go on like this. And I’m very ashamed to admit it, but I often found myself angry at my husband.

I felt alone, scared and stressed, and I took out my frustrations on my husband — which was the last thing he needed at one of the lowest points in his life. Our marriage started feeling the toll, and during those months of unemployment, there were times when it was only hanging on by a thread.

[Just a short side note: A few months after all of this took place, God really convicted me of how wrong my attitudes were during this whole experience and I went and humbly asked for my husband’s forgiveness — which he graciously gave to me, even though I didn’t deserve it. I’m thrilled to report that our marriage is much stronger today as a result of all of these trials and I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that I am married to the most wonderful man in the whole wide world! He has stuck by me through thick and thin and loved me no matter what. I’m so blessed to be Jesse’s wife!]

Gratefully, we didn’t have any debt and we were still living on a strict budget, so the job loss didn’t plunge us into complete financial ruin. I can’t even fathom what it would have been like had we piled up a bunch of debt in law school or followed the advice offered by many following law school: to go buy a house and live extravagantly now that my husband was officially a lawyer.

While our marriage was in bad shape, we did make one good decision — to be as creative and resourceful as we could in order to avoid dipping into our Emergency Fund unless we absolutely had to.

At this point, I had an online bookstore and a small personal blog which I’d slowly been growing. I had recently written a course on Supermarket Savings and we decided to experiment and run a big blow-out sale. We set up an affiliate program for the sale and notified as many of our online friends and companies about the sale.

By God’s grace, the three-day sale on our ebook package earned enough money for us to live on for a few months. We could hardly believe it! That was a huge bright spot in the midst of tremendous discouragement.

We started to really think outside the box when it came to our income: Jesse took on some contract jobs, we got a newspaper route and I continued to bring in some supplementary income through the online bookstore.

It was also during this time that the idea for was born. There weren’t any blogs listing weekly deal match-ups for drug stores at that point and many people who had purchased my Supermarket Savings ecourse were writing and asking for more help and counsel.

I’d learned a lot about blogging and monetizing a blog over the past few years and I figured starting a frugal, money-saving blog might be a great opportunity to test some of those ideas out. Jesse was excited about the idea, so we brain-stormed a name and set up the site.

At that point, I was hoping the site would provide a place for me to practically help people learn to live on less by sharing things which had allowed our family to stay out of debt and live on a beans-and-rice budget. Little could we have dreamed that would someday soon be earning a full-time income and help us be able to save and pay cash for a home!

Unbeknownst to us, while it seemed like we were getting nowhere in the job search, God was doing some pretty amazing things behind-the-scenes to lay things out for our lives to be turned upside-down — in a very wonderful way!

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  • Brittany K. says:

    I really appreciated this post. I went through this last year when my husband quit his job and I was angry too. I think sometimes we put bloggers on pedestals and think their lives are perfect. I especially find myself sometimes reading a blog and thinking “That’s easy for you to say…”. Then there is a post like this one that makes you realize that bloggers are real people with real struggles. Thanks for sharing…

  • Anna Espinoza says:

    Thank you so much!!!! I was SOOOO happy to see Part 3 was up today! Of course, you left us an awesmoe cliffhanger and I can’t wait to hear Part 4. You know what I absolutely LOVE about your story is that you and your husband were not swayed by what others said to you…like buying a house once he got a lawyer job. I WISH my husband and I had been as strong once we both had landed full time well paying jobs…if only we had stayed on course and been wise to not listen to the “majority”….I have so many regrets, but I pray that God can use our story someday for good, too!

    Thank you for your post!

  • momondealz says:

    Love this story! We recently began reading up on Dave Ramsey and are really pleased and hopeful about the goals we have made based on his plan. As a new blogger, I would love if you could write some posts about how you made your blog so successful! Thanks again!

  • Carrie says:

    This post was so encouraging to me, Crystal. Thank you! My hubby is currently without much work (he’s self-employed, in construction) and things are tight . . . but God is faithful! We have been in this spot before and I know He will get us through. Thanks for your transparency also about how God worked in your marriage–I can so relate to getting angry and frustrated with my husband when things are stressful, which is obviously the last thing he needs when times are difficult. This post was just a great reminder and encouragement, just what I needed today. 🙂

  • Diane L. says:

    Thank you for this inspiring post! You are so right–when things look very bleak, God is at work behind the scenes, planning something even more wonderful than we could ever imagine.

  • Vanessa says:

    Thank you for this post.You are a blessing.

  • Stacy says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I was just writing about how I found your blog for years ago and lost my comment…I don’t know if it was submitted before I was done,or what…any ways I wanted to say thanks for all your hard work and allowing God to use you and grow you. Im now pregnant with our fifth child and am searching for ways to really stretch our budget. I am new to couponing and stumbled on your new blog this way. I am not putting you on a pedestal, but I think you are a wonderful example of a Proverbs 31 woman. You work hard and bring your family a lot of comfort and joy, and encourage other women. I have seen through your posts how you have grown in Godly wisdom through the years. Thank you for being transparent and being online for many women to learn from.
    It seems that God has brought you through a time so you can “laugh at the days to come.”

  • Stacy says:

    Hi (again) Crystal,
    I don’t think my previous comment was submitted. I was writing that I really enjoyed your other blog too. I found it over four years ago when I quite work to be home at home full time and was pregnant with our third baby. It brought me a lot of encouragement. I was sad when it was no longer, but completely understood your reasoning. I was glad to find your new one. I really enjoy the content of this one as well.

  • Lisa says:

    Praising God for His goodness in your life! What a beautiful story! I, also, really appreciate your honesty, especially when things aren’t always “smiles and sunshine”!
    I’d love for you to share how many years it took you to save up for the house, and also did you determine a set percentage of your gross/net income to save each month?

    Best to you and your sweet family,

  • Annie says:

    It’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones who have picked up and moved for a job only to see it disappear months later. I just wish we’d known about Dave back then. We’d have avoided so much struggle and would be debt free by now.

  • Jeannie says:

    What a wonderful post; it’s amazing what we can go through when we set our minds to it (trust me, I know!). Kudos to you for keeping your faith through the hard times, I know it can be difficult. But it sounds like better times are right around the corner.

    I’ve got to say, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks now, and I’m really enjoying it. Keep up the great work!

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