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Saving 100% Down for A Home: Part 4

A New Beginning

After three months of unemployment (which felt more like three years!), Jesse was offered a contract position at a large law firm in Kansas City. It was by no means an ideal job: the work was monotonous, the commute was long and there was no guarantee how long the position would last. But it was a job nonetheless, and we were very, very grateful and relieved.

As soon as his first paycheck came, we immediately began saving again — this time with the goal of having a six-month Emergency Fund in place. We were highly motivated after Jesse’s unexpected job loss to get this financial goal done as soon as we could!

Since we knew Jesse’s contract position was short-term (likely two years or less), we began praying about what God wanted us to do long-term. Both of us had been hoping since Jesse graduated from law school, that we could eventually move back to where we grew up and both of our families lived. It was hard to be a number of hours away — especially now that we had two young children.

The more we prayed about moving back, the more we felt that’s what we were supposed to do. How it would work out, we had no idea.

We continued scrimping and saving and working hard. By combining the extras we could squeeze out of Jesse’s budget and the increasing side income from, we were able to fully fund our Emergency Fund in March of 2008.

Reaching this financial goal in a fairly short amount of time gave us serious momentum, and after running a lot of numbers, we felt there was a good possibility we could actually save up enough to pay cash for a modest starter home in three to five years. We decided to go for it full-force!

Instead of focusing on this audacious goal though, we broke it down into baby-steps and set specific savings goals for each month. Jesse, being the numbers “nerd” he is, created a detailed spreadsheet outlining where we were and where we needed to go. We’d updated this spreadsheet every month and it was so encouraging to see our progress.

In the Summer of 2008, an attorney who owned his own law firm back in our hometown, offered Jesse the opportunity to office-share with him. Jesse had always wanted to start his own law firm, but we’d anticipated it would be a long time down the road, if ever.

Now that this door opened up though, we started seriously considering it, running numbers and praying about it. We knew Jesse’s contract job would likely be ending in the not-too-distant future and the more we prayed about it, opening our own law firm seemed like a very viable option for us.

We had enough in savings to live on for almost a year now, was bringing in a good income, and by office-sharing, Jesse could set up and run his law firm very inexpensively. Plus we were overjoyed at the thought of moving back home where most of our extended families and many lifelong friends lived.

At the same time though, it was a big jump. What if the law firm completely flopped? What if this turned out to be a big setback to us financially? What if we had to give up our big goal of paying cash for a house because we were just trying to put food on the table?

There were many, many unknowns, but we both felt a peace about moving forward. So we packed up our house (while I was in the middle of morning sickness with our third child. Morning sickness and moving seem to coincide frequently around here!), found a rental back home, moved back and Jesse opened his firm the beginning of October 2008.

We could have never guessed the miraculous surprise which would be right around the corner, allowing us to gain more financial traction in the next year than we could have ever imagined.

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  • Kim N. says:

    Crystal…you are such an inspiration. I love this blog and just want to encourage you to keep posting as you do. You are an amazing woman who has inspired me so much to be a better wife, mom and household manager! I love to read about your financial accomplishments and praise God with you. Reading your posts gives me hope that one day we will be there too!

  • Traci says:


    I appreciate your blog very much. I have been reading it since I was pregnant with my son and he is now 3 1/2. We started saving like crzay around that time and have continued. My dream is to also pay cash for a home, but living in So California, it is mostly a pipe dream. For now, as hard as it is for me, I have to be content with having to work and live in a tiny 2 bed 1 bath home and pay $1600 a month with NO utilities included. It makes me want to cry when I think of all the money that we have spent on rent but my older daughter goes to a good school, we live in a safe neighborhood, and my husband and I are close to work. I am also in the same town as my folks. I dream about moving to where the cost of living is less.. (The cheapest homes is my city are about $350k and need a TON of work) It’s hard to get a head and but I would have no idea where to start a new life with my family. I must admit, I am a bit envious of those who get to stay home with there kids but my husband makes 2k a month and our rent is $1600 so there is very little leg room. (Even with the stockpiling, garage sailing, couponing, etc!) We have talked about moving but securing a job first seems scary. I guess I might be rambling now but I am grateful for this blog. It has taught me a lot and I have to try and be happy being debt free, even if that doesn’t include a house that is mine.

  • Angie says:

    I believe I read the original post also and didn’t feel offended. You’ve always expressed how thankful you are to God and that’s so refreshing! I LOVE your “I paid cash for…” stories. They’re a wonderful reminder that waiting for something pays off. Please keep them coming!

  • Catherine R. says:

    Okay, one last try, having commenting issues but…

    Delene – thank you.

    I can so relate and your encouragement means a lot to me. I am ashamed to say it but sometimes do I think “Why does God hate us?”. It seems like there are so many closed doors everywhere I look. It is so frustrating. Debt and a low income and just so many things that make it seem like too much to think about, let alone do anything about when you’re just trying to get by day to day, in survival mode a lot of the time.

    Thanks for mentioning WIC too. I definitely qualify. I was on it for a while along with our state health plan (we don’t have insurance) but for some reason I went off. I think I was tired of being on gov. assistance and thought I could pretend I didn’t need it or something. Sort of having a tantrum about our situation because it’s been this way for so long. I gov. assistance is there for families like mine but it’s not always easy to be on it for month after month after month with no hope of ever getting off (it seems). But Moses was in the dessert for 40 years. Hope I’m not on WIC that long but still : )

    Thanks again : )

  • Julie Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I read your original ‘final installment’ post and wasn’t offended, but I am encouraged that you are stating that just because y’all put 100% down doesn’t mean everyone should do it. I am excited to read the rest of the series. We are working on paying off our debt now and will be looking to buy a house later next year, and you and your website are such an inspiration to me. Thanks!

  • Suzy says:

    I was in the same situation as Crystal and my college was paid for because I did not get new clothes or toys for birthday’s or Christmas and guess what; I never felt like I was missing out!

    If you would like your children to be in the same situation that Crystal was in, start this year with Xmas. If your parents give your child toys or clothes that you truly do not need, ask them to place the $10, $20 or $50 bucks they would have spent into a 529 Plan instead.

    My parents put money in a 529 plan for all of their grandchildren and they give a dollor store toy to open on Xmas. To this day, I have yet to see any grandchild cry about the inexpensive toy. (All are too young to truly understand the college account)

    My in-laws will not do this and my son gets junk he doesn’t play with and it junks up our home.

    The diffence between our two families due to being able to delay instant gratification is my parents are retired and traveling around the world and my husbands parents are still working and hoping someday they may retire.

    • Jeannine says:

      Let us look beyond our feelings and see Crystal’s work as what it is meant to be. INSPIRATIONAL!

    • brookeb says:

      @Suzy, This is part of the same idea, again, though. There are those who never got the new toys or clothes and also didn’t have college paid for. We need to stop seeing things as either/or and understand that small steps can help everyone, even if we start in different places (that may or may not be a result of our direct choices).

  • Emily says:

    Hello Crystal,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I just wanted to say that when I had read your original posting that you are upset about – I just saw someone who was totally giddy over finally buying their house. You really brought me back to that moment where we signed our own papers – I had forgotten the way I felt that day until I read your post. We didn’t pay cash for ours but – still I knew the feeling.

  • Mindy says:

    I think the main thing we can take away from this is that we can read (multiple) blogs and use what works for us individually. I read several blogs on a regular basis and find some wisdom and help from all of them. Not everything is going to be appropriate for everyone, but take what makes sense for you and make it work for you. We all have different lives and circumstances and shouldn’t begrudge anyone for their success.

  • Tiffany says:

    Crystal, don’t read these posts! She apologized so there is no need to say “I forgive you, BUT you were discouraging.” No! Forgiveness does not include clause statements.

    Everyone who says they were offended obviously still reads your blog, so they’re captivated and encouraged on some level.

    If I were always discouraged in reading or hearing what someone else has to say I would stop visiting. Let that be encouragement that people are still curious about what you have to say.

  • Angel says:

    I have followed your blog for years and love it! I read your original post and was not offended at all. I think in part peoples reaction is a reflection of their own thoughts and disposition more than what you wrote. Congratulations Crystal and thank you for all the hard work you do and inspiration you provide for all of us!:) God Bless you!

  • Chelsea says:

    I did read the original post, and I have to admit I’m much more encouraged by the first post of the series than that entire post that was taken down. This one seems so much more relateable and loving and I’m very excited to read the rest of it! Thanks for facing this struggle in the face, and overcoming the desire to just ignore it, and giving your readers another great series to be encouraged by.

  • Marie says:

    I wanted to add that I was not offended the first time. We have not chosen to go as extreme as your family, but I have always realized that it was a choice YOU have made for YOUR family.

    When Devin and I started our Dave Ramsey plan we had cheerleaders galore. Everyone was so excited for us and could relate to us and wanted to see us succeed. Here we are, four years later, still chugging away at it, still not spending like so many of my friends and family, yet the attitudes of my former cheerleaders has changed from “I’m so proud of you!” to “You guys are a bunch of freaks” or “you’re still doing that?!” or even “do you think you’re better than me or something?” It actually kind of hurts. The truth is, we know it is worth it. Anyway God willing (and I really mean that….God willing we don’t have a car breakdown or house emergency, etc. etc) we will pay off $63,000 in a few short weeks.

    I do think us Dave-Ramsey-ites (and after four years I am certainly qualified to call myself that) can have a tendency to become a bit prideful, as if we have it all figured out, but I certainly also think many people are envious of the freedom that comes from being debt free (and more).

    Still–I wanted to add how much I appreciated your humility. This blog is truly a breath of fresh air.

  • Allison V. says:

    I’ve been following this blog for a year and a half, and I just want to say that I’m inspired to someday set my own Big Hairy Audacious Goal of paying cash (or mostly cash) for a house! I am not married to a lawyer, in fact I get paid $8/hr right now, barely enough to squeeze out rent and the bare-bones basics. But God is providing and I’ll get a better job and have a little wiggle room at some point.

    As far as buying a house, I won’t be able to buy one as big and beautiful as Crystal’s (nor would I need to). But I do have an idea of what I could afford within maybe the next five years. I used to own a $60K house, and it was foreclosed. It went for $34K at auction! Definitely doable! It all depends on what is available when the time comes. Right now it’s just a dream, but I’m hoping I can make it a goal someday!

  • Lana says:

    You have a business. Of course, this has allowed you to (overtime) work less and less and make more for working less. Of course, you worked for free for years, and barely scrapped it. I wish employees did not always get so jealous of this accomplishment. There are dozens and dozens of advantages of being an employee. I do not look down on this choice. Neither do I look down on your choice. Every family and personality is different. But a self-employed person did make more time sacrifices; I’m not jealous when they come out ahead.

    But like others, you are an amazing person, and your humility is amazing.

  • Heather says:

    I did read your original post. I don’t remember being offended, but I did feel very discouraged and upset with myself. I have so many goals that just seem so far out of reach. Comparison to others can lead me to feeling like a failure. Now, after reading your new post and some of the comments I have given much thought about what I would like to comment.

    Your back story is KEY! You are where you are today because of wise financial legacy passed on to you that you continued to live out in your adult life. We don’t all have that. However, it starts somewhere and my husband and I are “re-writing our family tree” (as Dave Ramsey says). Neither my husband or I grew up with financially wise parents. Neither of our parents are in a good financial place today. Compared to you, our family is so far behind, however, compared to where we have come from we are light years ahead.

    It starts with us. I pray that we continue to make wise choices and that we teach our children how to handle money wisely. I pray that my children will have the opportunities for debt free living that you have. As much as I would like to be in your shoes, I am so glad I am not in my parent’s!!!

    Keep up encouraging us to reach for financial freedom and thank you for being humble and willing to be genuine. I appreciate you very much.

  • Beth says:

    I don’t remember the post you’re referring to but I probably would have been one of the people offended by it. Maybe I didn’t even read it because of this! Ha ha.

    While I agree with many of the financial prinicples you (And Dave Ramsey) talk about I do not think that debt is always bad. Both my husband and I had student loans and we are still paying off one of mine as I’ve only beenout of school 8 years. I believe that *judicious* use of debt for education, housing, and sometimes a vehicle is sometimes necessary. That said we have never had a car payment so I could be completely wrong about that one. I would never go out and buy a new car or finance through a car dealership.

    However, I did not use debt judisciously when I was younger. I had very high credit card debt (75% of my income!) and because of this my student loans are higher than they should have been. Although I regret this it is a lessons I needed to learn the hard way. My parents set a good example for me but I was foolhearty and did not use my money the way they taught me. I have to say that I’m very glad I had the experience of feeling pinched by debt and how it traps you. I also thank God every day that this happened long before I was married so my children will never pay for my poor decisions.

    What I do realize is that your message is important for many, many people to hear because our society has gone seriously wrong with regard to our approach to debt. I’m shocked at how many parents at my son’s school casually mention that they are broke and in debt. It’s almost a status symbol which I find incredibly disturbing as we live in one of the more expensive neighborhoods in our city (not the high end place but for families) and many of these families spend tons of money taking trips to Disney and other things my husband and I would never dream of doing.

    Even if I have been offended on occasion by your writing I have to say your general attitude leaves me with a great deal of respect for you. The sincerity with which you wrote the above apology is only one example. We all have our moments and we all learn humility as we become older and more experienced. You are not unusual this way. But where you stand above the crowd is with the courage to admit when you are wrong and for that I salute you and hope to follow your example.

  • Shannon says:

    Crystal, I just want to say that what you and your spouse have achieved in paying for a home in cash, is just phenomenal! Although Jesse had $35, 000 invested toward college-that can get squandered at expensive overrated universities, brand-new vehicles (still with payments), vacations, home down-payments and other items that could be thrifted. When I first read your posts on financial success, I was more envious and taken aback than offended because honestly, it is counter-cultural-to actually pay cash for things instead of swipe a card. Even though I have a long ways to go in acquiring certain asserts, following sites such as yours are paying off. I now clip coupons, check sales and shop around for the best deal. I really am grateful for your website here and look always look forward to reading it!

  • Carol says:

    You all sound so young and earnest! I’m a 67 yr old grandmother of 12, mother of 3 and have 1 great grandson. One thing I’ve learned is that God deals with each of us differently. Perhaps it is a wonderful goal to be debt free including a mortgage..”owe no man…” but a much stronger goal would be to “love one another”…and I submit that that’s much harder! When I was a child I proclaimed my ultimate goal was to make peanut butter sandwiches this thick (hold fingers 3 inches apart! :))! Thank goodness goals can change!
    Then my goal was to be the perfect wife with a perfectly clean home, and then mother with perfectly behaved and intelligent kids, and then the perfect neighbor who helped everyone……how disappointing life became for me. I couldn’t even make the “perfect Christian” I promised to be in thanks for His Perfect Plan. I have found these things to be true:
    Only God and His plans are perfect.
    Give people a second chance; allow them to change.
    If you, your husband, your kids, your home, your finances, etc aren’t perfect…well, true friends don’t care and the others don’t count!
    You will always struggle to get Time, Money & Energy together at the same time because in youth you have time & energy; no money. Middle age you have money & energy: no time. In old age you have time & money & no energy.
    As soon as you think you have things figured out; they change!
    Your goals are yours and others can have perfectly good goals. (I know someone whose goal it was to live on 20% and give away 80%) Good for them!
    To those of you who have saved on mortgages in one way or another: Congrats to you. To those who have taken in the homeless or foster kids or abused animals or helped turn around the life of another hurting human: Big congrats to you. To those sending care pkgs to troops, serving in soup kitchens, being a secret Santa to a hurting neighbor…the Lord has seen your good heart. So maybe you have a mortgage, so what!

    Now I love to hear about all the ways you each save money. Some with coupons, some with homemade this and that, some with extra jobs, or no jobs but smart shopping, gardens, etc. All of it is so encouraging but I pick and choose what will work for me and what I’m willing to do.

    I think Crystal has done an excellent job in explaining what she did and acknowledging that it’s not for everyone. She’s given her humble apology in case she might have inadvertently hurt someone. So let’s move on as a ‘Thanksgiving Gift” to Crystal for this wonderful blog.
    What’s you biggest savings tip and what do you feel it allows you to splurge on?
    Here’s mine: I love ‘super-coupon’ shopping along with shopping sales all year AND it allows me to help two needy families, my church ministries and send care packages to military troops all year long.
    Blessings to all this wonderful time of the year,

  • Julie says:

    This is my first ever post on MSM. My husband has been out of a job since March of this year and we are in the red with creditors at our doorstep. Thank you so much for what you do for moms Crystal! You provide a means of putting food on our table.

    God leads each of our lives differently and gives us different set of blessings. Live is not about seeing other people’s blessings and wishing we had them. It’s about seeing our own blessings and being grateful. I really think Dave Ramsey is right on about eliminating debt. The God of the bible is truly our ultimate personal financial planner. If we don’t follow His advice, it’s a law of nature that things go awry for us. Praise Jesus for giving Dave Ramsey to us!

  • Lizzy says:

    Thanks Crystal for this encouragement. It’s always been my dream to purchase a house debt free. Husband also had work issues last year and we ran down to zero, though praise God we have always been able to stay out of debt. Now we building up an emergency fund and saving for a motorbike for him to take to work, and then replacing our current family car which is starting to have issues.

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