/ By Kelsey Folmar
I never thought I’d be days away from becoming a homeowner just one year after our move out of Austin, Texas. Last November, we decided to move to Houston, Texas in hopes of better jobs with higher salaries. We had struggled for years, yet always somehow managed to stay above the water in the financial sea that we found ourselves drifting in.
Below is my story on how my husband and I paid off over $19,000 of debt in less than 18 months, and saved-up to purchase our first home with the help of Mint.
With the help of our new salaries, we paid off my husband’s student loans ($19,000 in 18 months) in April of this year and I was then able to set my eyes on yet another goal: saving up for a house. I had no idea how much it would actually cost to buy our first home, but with the help of Mint, we started saving within a week or two of paying down the student debt. I took the payments I was making on the student loans and instead sent them directly to the savings account, upwards of $1,500 a month!
We had been living with my husband’s cousin since moving to Houston and we were paying him rent for a room in his three-bedroom home, saving hundreds each month in rent alone. As we continued to live frugally and save what we could afford, we began to discuss the possibility of expanding our family. I knew it wasn’t the ideal time (where would we even put the baby?!), but we announced over the summer that we’d be expecting our first child, due in February 2015.
That’s when things started to get real. I soon became obsessed with saving, slashing our budgets even further to accommodate the growing savings account upwards of $2,700 a month. Every purchase was up for discussion between my husband and I. We now had a true deadline that even nature would not allow us to miss. I called our realtor and mortgage lender to find out just how much we’d need to save to purchase a home, and was shocked to find out it was nearly $15,000 for the price range we were looking in.
Our pennies were pinched even further and we continued to save, as I knew we had to move out by the end of December to allow us time to unpack the towers of boxes stacked in my parent’s garage and “nest” before the baby arrived in February. Following my strict guidelines I had created for how we handled our money, we continued to stay the course and adjust budgets as necessary. By mid-November, we had reached our goal and then some. We saved $16,000 to purchase our first home in seven months, which would cover closing costs and the down payment. We had cut it so close, but we did it!
During the first day of house hunting, and the seventh home we viewed, we put in an offer on a 1,650 square foot home (perfect for our minimalist lifestyle) and short commutes to our jobs. We can’t wait to make our new house a home for our baby, Eleanor Jane, to grow up and make memories in.
I credit my success to a lot of self-discipline as well as technology like Mint. So if you’re feeling the burden of student loans or other bills like I was, I would encourage you to sign-up for Mint, and get on the path to living a debt-free life. It’s truly life-changing.
Kelsey is the self-proclaimed financial guru of her household living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of paying down debt. She’s also a minimalist enthusiast, and founder of The Little Red Journal.