How we paid cash for our first home

When my husband and I got married nine years ago, we had an audacious dream of paying cash for our first home. At that time, it was very much a far-off dream — we were just trying to survive the rigors and expenses of law school without going in debt. That alone was a seemingly gigantic feat.

But after three years of law school, my husband did graduate without debt, passed the bar, and we started planning for the future. Since we’d been renting for almost four years, my husband had a good job, and our second baby was on the way, pretty much everyone expected that buying a house would be in our immediate future.

I mean, after all, isn’t buying a house the responsible thing for a young couple to do? Well, maybe — or maybe not. We didn’t have much money in savings, and we weren’t sure how long we would be living in the town we were in, so we chose to go against conventional wisdom and continued renting.

Setting a Goal

Within the next six months, my husband lost his job, we relocated to another city so he could find work, I had some significant health problems in my pregnancy which resulted in numerous hospital and doctor’s bills, and we had our second baby. Needless to say, we were incredibly thankful that we hadn’t taken out a mortgage and then had to deal with the headache of trying to sell a house at the last minute — especially since the housing market was poor in our area.

It was around this time that we were first introduced to Dave Ramsey. While we didn’t have any debt and had always lived on a strict budget, going through his Financial Peace University Class fired us up to set big financial goals and work hard to accomplish them.

One of the big goals we decided to aim for was paying cash for our first home. We crunched a bunch of numbers and realized that, if we continued to live simply and frugally and worked hard to bring in extra money through side jobs, we could save enough over the course of five years to pay cash for a starter home.

It felt like a mammoth goal and we weren’t sure if we could do it, but we decided to go for it anyway. We figured that, even if we didn’t make our goal in five years, we’d at least be a lot closer to it than if we didn’t try at all! Plus, from our calculations, we’d be in a lot better position to wait to buy — even if it took seven years to save up enough for a house — than if we were to go ahead and get 15-year mortgage and pay it off early.

We knew that we could buy a decent starter home in the area where we were planning to move for around $100,000 to $110,000, so we divided $100,000 by 60 (since there are sixty months in five years) and set a goal to save $1700 every month. Because we didn’t have any debt or school loans, and because we lived simply and frugally, we were able to live on significantly less than we were making, thus freeing up a good chunk of money to put towards our house savings each month.

Gazelle-Like Intensity

Once we set this goal and I blogged about it publicly, we were incredibly motivated to work as hard as we could and delay every purchase we could in order to put as much as possible into our house savings fund. We used coupons, ate a lot of meatless meals, shopped at thrift stores, cooked from scratch, brown bagged it, continued to use our old and worn-down furniture, didn’t replace anything that wasn’t an absolute necessity, limited our going out to eat, only had one car, stayed home a lot, used gift cards from Swagbucks to buy any non-necessities, bought eye glasses from Zenni optical, learned to be content with what we had, and continued to live on a strict written budget.

Meanwhile, we also looked for ways to increase our income. I blogged, wrote ebooks, and took on freelance writing jobs. My husband did contract work, started his own law firm, and helped me running the blogging business.

That first year, we didn’t always make our monthly savings goals. We had some unexpected medical bills and car problems that ate up a portion of our savings. But we kept plugging away, throwing whatever extra we could squeeze out of our income toward savings.

The few years of long hours and hard work we’d put into blogging started to really pay big dividends and by the second year, we were meeting and exceeding our monthly savings goals every single month. As our house savings fund increased, we began to get so excited that we kind of went overboard and worked long, long hours in order to meet our savings goal even faster. I wouldn’t recommend putting in such long hours, missing so many social events, or sleeping so little, but the effort paid off because, at the end of two and a half years, we paid 100% down on our first home!

Even though I wish we had given ourselves a little more breathing room and margin while saving, it was thrilling, fulfilling, and exciting to achieve this goal — in half the time we had initially planned. And we are thankful we chose to take a counter-cultural route and pay cash for our house. Not having a mortgage payment has freed us to continue to save aggressively toward other goals, increase our spending in areas that really matter to us, and give generously to needs in our community and around the world.

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There are 268 comments to "How we paid cash for our first home".

  1. Drizzt says 23 January 2012 at 04:20

    just a strange thought why do you wnat to pay all with cash?

    • Becky says 23 January 2012 at 05:56

      If possible, it is always better to pay cash instead of borrowing. Some (most) people get hung up on “but I can use mortgage interest as a tax deduction”. The math of borrowing the money to purchase a house doesn’t make sense to use the interest for a deduction. It makes better sense to donate to a worthy cause and use that as a deduction instead. And, ever notice what the tallest buildings are in a city? Banks and insurance companies. . .

      • csdx says 23 January 2012 at 14:31

        Ah but there is that invisible thief, inflation to consider, when you have debt, it actually works in your favor. By having debt, you’re in effect getting something at today’s price while paying for it with your future dollars which are devalued due to inflation. Thus a mortgage can act as a hedge against high inflation.

        Also consider oppertunity cost of the money you plunked down. If instead you got to keep the money for 30 more years, you could continue earning on it. Typically you’d have to do something like invest in the stock market to earn a better return than the interest rate you pay, so there must be some risk tolerance there. However, there are also some fairly risk free ways to use that money, involving tax breaks and credits you could put that money towards instead (IRAs, education, charities). Caveat is that this requires definate financial discipline and money management skills to even attempt.

        Not to say that debt always is a good choice, but there is more to debt than just the mortgage tax deduction to weigh in it’s favor.

        • The Bargain Shopper Lady says 23 January 2012 at 17:16

          I agree to disagree. This is one way of thinking that is getting America in some serious debt. I believe cash is always better. Then you can use your future money to buy other things that you want! Rather than have to make a payment with it. It frees up your future.

        • Josh says 24 January 2012 at 12:14


          If everyone put as much thought and calculation into going into debt as you did in your post. Debt wouldn’t be near the problem that it is.

          The problem is that people go into debt without thinking about it.

          Paying cash for things requires you to be intentional about your financial decisions.

        • sarah says 24 January 2012 at 14:15

          You must have read the same Kiplinger article I read this month – they agree that a mortgage is a good investment when you consider inflation. Keep it, don’t overpay on it. Money saving mom lives in a very low cost of living area – the housing prices she lists are similar to down payments in our area.

        • Robert Platt Bell says 01 February 2012 at 16:14

          There are two flaws in your argument about opportunity cost and hedge against inflation. Actually three.

          1. Opportunity cost is a great argument for businesses to make, but a lousy one for individuals to use in their personal finances. Usually people trying to lend you money make this argument. Don’t listen to them. Why?

          2. Because comparing stock returns, which are very risky, with the guaranteed rate of return of not paying interest, is comparing apples to oranges. Not paying 4.5% interest on your mortgage is like getting 4.5% interest on a Certificate of Deposit – zero risk involved (ask your bank for a 4.5% CD and when they stop laughing, they will ask you politely to leave). Stocks CAN have a greater rate or return, or, like my GM stock, they can go down to NOTHING, which leads to…

          3. You can end up losing all your money – or a lot of it – in stocks, and at the same time, see your house decrease in value by half, while the mortgage debt remains the same. Suddenly, you are upside-down on a mortgage, and broke as well. Whereas you could have had a paid-for house that would be worth something.

          Far-fetched scenario? Not really, it happened to a lot of people in February of 2009. They lost their shirt in the stock market and foolishly sold out, locking in their losses. They owed more on their houses than they were worth.

          I could see someone making your argument in 2005. But today? We know better.

          Usually, for people who make these “opportunity cost” arguments, the point is moot. They are in debt up to their eyeballs and have no cash to buy a home. So they use these types of arguments to make themselves feel better about their situation.

          They aren’t flat broke – they are hedging for inflation! Right? Riiiiiight!

        • Moneybags says 28 November 2012 at 17:36

          Robert: you only responded to csdx’s mention of opportunity costs, and all you succeeded in saying is “people are bad at investing their money smartly.” If your argument is that most people just aren’t cut out to invest in something besides a house, then fair enough.

          Not only did you touch upon the inflation issue, but there are more reasons to hold a low-interest mortgage:

          Also keep in mind that in the event that interest rates go up, you will be able to get your higher interest CD while still getting to keep your low mortgage rate (unless you got an ARM). In that case, if you plunked all your money down on the house, you’d be missing out.

          No one can say that paying in cash is always right, or holding a mortgage is always right. You have to take into account the situation regarding present and projected costs.

        • Charlie says 20 June 2014 at 20:43

          The problem with paying for things with money that you don’t really have is that it creates a false sense of security and when the first financial hardship comes you essentially have built a house of cards. Paying cash for everything is the way smart people use their money. I started a business with the only use cash philosophy and have doubled my income every year for the past six years. Everytime I made money I used some of the funds to re-invest in my business thus creating more income potential and I run a completely debt free business.

          I rent right now too, but I agree with Dave Ramsey’s philosphy of paying for everything with cash 100% If you don’t have the money for something…DON’T BUY IT! If you want it really bad SAVE MONEY and then buy it when you actually have the money in your bank account!

          I learned this lesson the hard way when I financed my first car which was a Jeep Wrangler. It was an awesome car and mainly I bought it to impress the ladies, but what actually happened was I ended up hating that vehicle cause when I realized how much I was paying for it it made me sick. If I had gone all the way through the loan cycle I could’ve essentially bought TWO jeep wranglers for the same price!! That was a crappy feeling so since then I have paid for everything with cash. I bought my first work vehicle with cash. No monthly payments….BAM! All the money I made went right into the bank minus unavoidable expenses like gas/insurance. Credit is not your friend it is your slave master! Don’t believe the lies spread by our society which is currently drowning in debt. Be smart and like dave ramsey says, “live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later!”

        • Sam says 06 August 2014 at 21:00

          if interest is such a little thing then banks will invest money in stocks instead of lending and going through pain of foreclosures, paperwork, stupid law suits etc. You are saying banks are naive to make profits and you are the smartest on the planet.

        • johnny says 07 August 2014 at 06:34

          the only time a person should take out a mortgage is when they are doing it from a business minded perspective. if you have 150k saved and you plan on living in the place for 10 years, especially if you under 40 and semi healthy. if your comfortable taking risk in the stock market then its better to take a risk on yourself. to keep it short if lets save a 150 mortgage on a house in 10 years at 5.1 interest adds up to 60k on a 200k house. plus ability to negotiate 10% less than people paying mortage when home sales is slow. no matter what the profit margins you make you have to make a monthly 8000 after taxes yearly for 10 years to justify a mortgage. otherwise your hoping for a bubble. for your property to get over valued and you to sell before the bubble popped. while waiting your paying property tax, doing maintenance and paying for repairs. ill restate it only makes sense to act as a business. buying forclosed property every 4 years and fix up first one while living in it and getting tenants. once income stable buy second house an then increase amount purchasing based on market and financial health. you are using the money you didnt spend on on one property for a riskier investment. when its an investment its ok to pay interest to grow your money, but its unwise to buy a house as a consumers produc thatt that you are personally gonna use.

        • Paula says 07 August 2014 at 08:11

          Johnny, I wholeheartedly agree that too many people buy houses that are much too expensive on much too long a mortgage. But while having a mortgage for one’s residence may not be the perfect plan, I disagree that it is always bad. It is the only thing worth going into debt FOR.

          RENT is bad, and everybody has to live somewhere. My parents had two modest mortgages and had a paid for home in retirement. They never paid a single day’s rent in their lives. What do you ever have to show for rent? It is money down a rat hole!

          My husband and I have been married 41 years and are retired in a paid for home. When I see people our age still paying rent, now THAT is truly stupid.

          My parents taught me to fear rent. They did. They felt once you got started renting, it would be a trap you might never get out of; best to build equity on the way to owning.

      • cathleen says 23 January 2012 at 16:10

        This country is just too big and too varied for some of these situations to be applied so broadly.

        I live in the Bay Area. Had I tried to pay cash for a house I’m sure the FBI would have investigated me as a drug dealer! 🙂

        I paid $220,000 for my house 20 years ago and it’s now worth (market value today) $1.1 million. It’s not a mansion, it’s a 2 bed 2 bath house form 1926, in a nice neighborhood which is desirable for lots of reasons but mostly because it’s in the heart of Silicon Valley and this is where the jobs are.

        But I think the lessons definitely can apply to others in different situations!

        • Erin says 24 January 2012 at 10:05

          Haha, that’s similar to my comment. I saved $130K and that was 20% down in the bay area. For a 3/2, about 1200sf…

          Good for you but there are not many places (and none that I’d want to live) where you can buy a house cash for that.

      • Moneybags says 28 November 2012 at 17:28

        “it is always better to pay cash instead of borrowing”

        No, it’s not. This kind of blanket statement doesn’t work for everyone. It may be true for a lot of people who aren’t able or willing to invest their money in other areas, but it’s simply not the case that it is always better. For a significant number of people it is often not better, even for those who have the cash.

    • SB @ One cent at a time says 23 January 2012 at 06:31

      Its always better to save money for down payment and earn interest on it, in a stagnant market. If you get mortgage outright, you’ll have to pay interest on it.

      Crystal, yours is a hugely successful blog, because of all that hard work. Its great that you completed the goal in half the time you allocated.

      I have the same goal in mind and in my third year. Only a few months back I realized the potential of earning extra money through blogging. Now since some money started coming, I think I can go faster from now on.

      • Stephanie Sikorski says 23 January 2012 at 12:57

        great post! we too love Dave Ramsey and the debt we have is the last third of our mortgage. With 5 kids and hubby in college we know what it really means to “make ends meet” but I got a question….

        how can I earn money blogging? where can I find some good advice to that end?

        that would help tremendously!

      • Ann Chaney says 23 January 2012 at 16:14

        How do you make money, especially significant money, from blogging????????

        • The Bargain Shopper Lady says 23 January 2012 at 17:11

          You should read Crystal’s blog. She writes all about making money blogging. She is the expert after paying cash for her house!

        • Chase says 23 January 2012 at 17:33

          Blogging about blogging…

        • SB @ One cent at a time says 23 January 2012 at 18:58

          How do you think JD earning his living? Suppose you buy a land, you can earn money by leasing space to businesses , or by leasing space to put up business ads.

          Now replace that with web real estate. Your online real estate value depends on the traffic you get. More the traffic, more the value of advertisements.

          This is one of the ways bloggers make money. There are 100 other ways as well.

    • mike crosby says 23 January 2012 at 11:12

      Because I had bad credit, and was poor, I paid cash for my first place. And my second.

      What paying cash did is free me up to save oodles of money to buy other property.

      Today I’m financially secure, thanks to that first big decision. Some retired friends just bought a $1mill+ property. Good for them, but I find a lot of comfort that I will never have a house payment for the rest of my life.

    • Barbara says 23 January 2012 at 16:05

      Why have debt?

    • jack foley says 24 January 2012 at 04:08


      paying off your residence quick is a great idea..

      investment property no but your residence yea..

      u have to live somewhere so if you dont do it quickly, you will always have the expense..

      well done you..!


  2. Valeriu says 23 January 2012 at 04:29

    A good way to know if you can afford something is paying for it with cash. If that purchase influences your life so much that you have to change your life-style, you can’t afford it!

    • Amanda says 28 April 2012 at 20:21

      No one seems to be stating the point that I think is so obvious. If you live in a city with high rent then you are throwing your money away every month in a way that cripples your chances at saving meaningfully. Currently my rent for a studio apt in Wash, DC is $1475, and this is a bargain. High rent makes it difficult to save money. Home prices are also high in DC, even starter homes. So the idea of paying cash in DC is out of reach. Wouldn’t it be better to put that $1475/mo into a house payment where it’s serves me better than turning to dust in the wind with the landlord?

      • Elizabeth Barone says 05 August 2012 at 18:49

        Plus, the writer did change her lifestyle to save for enough cash for a house for several years. All power to her, but I’d much rather put the money I’d be paying rent with into owning my house than saving money and trying to pay rent at the same time.

  3. DA says 23 January 2012 at 04:39

    Maybe because being debt free is… freaking AWESOME?!!?!?!

    Geez…Why wouldn’t you want to own your home free and clear?

    • Cybrgeezer says 23 January 2012 at 09:27

      I didn’t do the 100% down, but the freedom that came with mailing in my final mortgage check felt like I’d just lost 100 pounds. And my mortgage was reasonable and well within my income. But it just felt so gooooood!

      • Sonja says 23 January 2012 at 18:10

        OMG, I love the name Cybrgeezer.

        • Cybrgeezer says 23 January 2012 at 20:43

          Aw, shucks, ma’am.

  4. Miser+Mom says 23 January 2012 at 04:52

    It’s great to be able to have a shared goal like that, where you both can pull together. My own husband plays the role of, um, balancing my gazelle-like intensity with his otter-like playfulness. That’s a good thing, but in a different way. Kudos to you both!

    • Rozann says 23 January 2012 at 09:01

      Like you, Miser Mom, I wish my husband and I could get on the same page financially. The synergy of two working TOGETHER is incredible, as evidenced in Crystal’s story.

  5. Rob says 23 January 2012 at 05:08


    My partner and I are considering doing the same. But … house prices in the UK are significant – usually around 6x your annual income. Saving for a couple of years and paying off your house doesn’t seem remotely possible. I assume your house prices are way, way lower?

    • Tom says 23 January 2012 at 08:05

      $100K is about 2x median household income in the US, so yeah, way cheaper than you are looking at. There are also areas of the country where $100k wouldn’t go very far.

      • brooklyn money says 23 January 2012 at 11:10

        Yeah, that’s a 20% downpayment for a low-end property in brooklyn/nyc. but what an amazing accomplishment this is!

    • Ru says 23 January 2012 at 12:51

      So true… houses are so expensive here, especially in the South East! Still, there are things you can do. I wish my parents had never scaled up to the bigger house they bought when I was 7. We literally moved round the corner, but from a semi-detached 3 bed with a manageable garden to a detached 4 bed house with a huge garden. We didn’t need to, we’re a family of four! Now my parents live in a house with a garden that’s too big to manage and all my mother does is whinge about it.
      “Wah, I’ll have to work til I’m 70 to pay off this house”. “Wah, this house needs so much cleaning”. “Wah, we own too much junk”.

      Of course, the house we moved to also had a shoddy back extension and tiny kitchen so they re-mortgaged to pay for a new extension. Yes, it’s nice, but now my father keeps talking about how his pension is going to be oh so much less than he thought etc etc.

      I’ve told them that when my brother and I move out for good (uh… we’re not called the boomerang generation for nothing) then they should split the house into an upstairs and a downstairs flat, live downstairs and have the upper flat income to support them in their old age. My mum is all for it, but I don’t know if my dad would go for it.

  6. javier says 23 January 2012 at 05:14

    I’d love to be able to do smething like that. But in Madrid with the current wages and home prices it is impossible in a reasonable amount of time (5 years). I think you need like 10, and considering you see your income going up and up.

    Last saturday in a house party (frugal fun) I met a friend’s friend who was fixing a house that belongs to his dad in downtown Madrid. I’d love to do that, but my parents do not own a home I can fix (and I don’t have time). But I liked the “thiking out of the box” perspective. I should try to find something like that I can do.

  7. Tony says 23 January 2012 at 05:26

    Ya definitely not worth it. Especially with rates so low. I’d rather eat meat and have a life for sure, oh and still get the house.

    • Lisa says 23 January 2012 at 11:50

      This reminds me of a quote (that I’ll likely misquote)…that has one man condemning the eating of lentils by saying, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to eat lentils.” and the man replies…”If I eat lentils I will not have to be subservient to the king.”

      Everyone picks their poison.

      • Des says 23 January 2012 at 12:15

        I keep this posted in my office:

        “The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.”

        Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”
        ― Anthony de Mello

        • Trish @ Finances With Funk says 23 January 2012 at 15:58

          AWESOME. Everyone’s “most important” is different and most of us changes what that is over time anyway.

        • Kristen says 23 January 2012 at 16:17

          Off topic, but I adore Anthony de Mello!

  8. Cheryl @ Heavenly Cent says 23 January 2012 at 05:33

    Very inspiring story. That is something that would be difficult for me to do, however. I’m a single mom. I work full time and make a middle class wage. If I took $1700 off my take home monthly salary this, month, I could pay my mortgage and possibly the heat bill. There would be nothing left for gas, food or any of the rest of my utilities! And those are my needs, not my wants!

    I think is something more do-able for a two earner household. However, I could use a similar principle to save for my next car in the same time frame. It’s also a strategy that would work for paying down a home faster, thus producing a substantial savings in interest.

    To the person who asked ‘why pay cash for a home’…the interest savings are huge, especially in the beginning. I’ve been paying on my low interest, 30 year mortgage for over 7 years and have only paid down about 10% of what I owe! In mathematical terms (rough calculations), I’ve paid over $60,000 and only paid down $10,000 on my debt. Mortgages are interest loaded on the front end, so you pay more in interest at the beginning.

    All in all, a good article; I just need to apply it a different way to my own life.

    • Jan says 23 January 2012 at 08:01

      I too am a single parent and have already managed to shave 5 years off of my mortgage by being frugal. The small extra payment towards the principal I send every month really makes a difference in the long run. It will take me 23 years instead of 30 to pay off my house. I’ll have a fighting chance for a decent retirement with those extra 7 years put towards savings. It’s the commitment that helps me be successful with goals. Excuses never seem to get me very far.

      • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 08:13

        Just out of curiosity, is it better to pay down the mortgage early or put more towards saving for retirement early?

        A lot of articles I’m reading warn that it’s better for retirement to save as much as possible as early as possible — yet people also keep telling me to save a little less for retirement for a few years so I can save more for a home.

        Needless to say, I’m confused! I’m interested in hearing people’s experiences. How do you make this decision?

        • Superheroes do overcome says 23 January 2012 at 08:52

          Beth, its a good question and there isn’t one-size-fits-all answer mainly because it depends on your psychological disposition towards being debt free on your home as well as your unique circumstances. Some people feel not having a mortgage is a huge weight off their shoulders and go in that direction, while with others its not as big of a deal, still some try to do a little of both paying down debt and saving for retirement. A big factor is also your income and mortgage size which may depend on your lifestlye and where you live. If I had a small mortgage I probably would pay it off very quickly to be free of the ball and chain but we bought in an up market and prices have now declined consequently while I am normally debt averse and pay everything off quickly I am choosing not to do that with the mortgage because we are barely treading water with home prices. I am putting as much into retirement accounts as possible due to protections (limited) from bankruptcy and creditors if worst case scenarios occur while paying our regular payment. My situation aside (as everyone is different) if you are saving for a home you could always put the money in a Roth IRA every year and the contributions (not earnings) can be taken out at anytime or not if you don’t need. If you are trying to decide between retirement and paying down mortgage that is a personal decision but try to atleast take advantage of all matching issues on 401ks if available. In my experience I’ve seen people put too much emphasis on home ownership as their main source of wealth instead of just a piece of their net worth pie. Many people I knew kept upgrading over the last 10+ years or refinancing to fuel their spending, so instead of owning their small original home they either don’t own now or still have a large mortgage. The key is making sure you have enough income for your expenses in your retirement as you can’t pay your bills with your home. Ideally, having no mortgage and a decent savings would be great, but I would rather have $2 million saved and no home if had a choice because my income stream would handle all my expenses. Diversification is great (a home being part of that) because typically not all of your assets move in the same direction. Compounding is also fun as you get to watch your dividends and gains grow exponetially over the years in your retirement accounts, the early you start saving the better shape you will be.A long answer and not a complete one and I could go on adding other caveats about the investing in the stock market, bonds, real estate, etc., from mistakes I’ve made and seen others make, but if you try to learn a little and tinker a bit you’ll probably be in good shape.

        • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 10:07

          @Superheroes — thanks for the reply! I’m in Canada, so the numbers are a bit different here. (No mortgage deductions, for instance.) Alas, no RRSP matches from employer either, and no company pension.

          I haven’t bought a place yet, and I’m finding it very hard to let go of the money I’ve saved for a down payment. I appreciate multiple points of view — I want to make sure I’ve got all the bases covered.

        • Superheroes do overcome says 23 January 2012 at 10:20

          Can’t really comment on the Canadian angle. But there should be Canadian cost-to-rent vs cost-to-own calculators and if you are break-even or much cheaper to rent and you are happy enough renting with your living space all the other factors that go into owning vs. renting, then hold onto your money, invest at your comfort level until you are ready to buy. Don’t know what real estate is like there but you can play the high-lows when you are ready, if it is cyclical like in U.S.

        • Debbie M says 23 January 2012 at 13:09

          It depends on what the markets are doing. I went for the retirement savings during a period when the stock market did not go up as high as my mortgage percentage, so I should have put more into my mortgage. I had no way of knowing that, and generally the market grows faster than 5.3%/year, so I’d make that choice again.

          Another option is to cover your bases and do both: make your minimum mortgage payments and put in a reasonable amount toward retirement and then, split your extra money and do some of each.

        • NIck in Mass says 15 February 2013 at 20:35

          Something to remember: TIME. Max out your retirement funds early and get a good chunk put away and let time compound your retirement funds. Then do what my friend did and saved just $50/wk from his check and added that $200 to his mortgage payment each month. The result? Paid off his 30yr mortgage in under 13 yrs. After that , he took that mortgage payment and threw it on his car payment each month and finished it off in 5 months. Good thing he did that as he got laid off from his job a month after the car was pd for….! Since he was now debt free , the unemployment covered all his expenses while he looked for a new job. Debt free is always the way to go. For an eyeopener, just add up all the interest on your house (or rent), car(s) ,credit cards , etc. you pay each month and imagine having that cash to spend any way you wanted to. You’ll definitely change your tune about debt !!!

    • Sandysue15 says 23 January 2012 at 16:00

      I’m with you, Cheryl. I could save all my income for the next 2.5 years and not come close to saving $100K. But, I like your idea of applying it to other lower ticket items, like cars. Something to think about. Thanks.

  9. Brian @ Progressive Transformation says 23 January 2012 at 05:44

    Dave Ramsey is great. He’s the epitome of working hard to succeed. I love that you took his program and made it work. I’m in the process of convincing my wife to do this. I’ve heard so many success stories and yours helps.



  10. mihai says 23 January 2012 at 05:49

    Congratulations. I imagine the feeling must be fantastic..
    That being said :
    Well for you Americans it is easy !
    Trust me.
    Here in Romania we had the worst real estate bubble in recent history.
    We still need 16.4 average annual NET incomes to buy a house.Not even a house an appartment.
    For you 3 (120.000 $ 3×40.000$) will do.
    I gain more than average. My wife was unemployed but she will start working in April.
    I know of actually nobody in recent years who managed to do it.
    Of course I expect the bubble to burst and prices to get back to 10 times the annual …
    Still extremely difficult to save.
    Imagine being forced to save 400.000 $ before buying a (small) apartment.
    I always aimed for being debt-free and loved “The total money makeover” . Still the goal seems so far away …

    • Sonja says 23 January 2012 at 06:13

      I’m curious as well as to how much house $100.000 will get you.

      Here $100.000 (or 75.000 euros) will get you a parking space. Not a carport, but just the space to park your car. The most expensive isn’t the real estate itself but the ground it’s located on.

      We’ve got a very small, very cheap flat in a run down area of a suburb. And it’s about $200.000. It’s the cheapest thing you can find so I wonder if it compares to the $100.000 one.

      • mihai says 23 January 2012 at 09:38

        The average income in Romania is 4800 Euro /net per year.
        I make more as a software engineer.
        Still a one bedroom apartment (which I rent) is 60.000 Euro.
        I received the parking spaces (2) for free during the period I rent but normally they are also 10.000 Euro each.
        As a family you need at least 2 bedrooms and maybe an office.
        The 2 bedroom apartments are 75.000 Euros.
        The 3 bedrooms – 90.000-100.000 Euros.
        Houses are 20 km away (12 miles) and the roads suck.
        just watch this index if you don’t believe me.
        Country index 15 and city Index (Bucharest ) 16.46
        So even New York is better (10.65).

        • Becky+P. says 05 February 2012 at 11:23

          I don’t know if you will see, this Sonja, but this is so true. When I tell Polish people that my family can buy a HOUSE with a yard for 60K in central FL, they are rather overwhelmed. Here in Poland, a typical apartment of about 50 square meters (500_square feet) is $100,000 in our area.

          If you want to have something cheaper, you have to go out to the villages but even then, things in the states can be cheaper, depending on the area of the country you are in.

      • Paula says 02 October 2013 at 13:18

        I live in the southern US. In 1993, we paid $53,000 for a standard three bedroom, 1 1/2 bath brick ranch on a little over two acres. It is paid off and listed by the county as having a market value of $84,000 now. It isn’t fancy, but it is comfortable and totally respectable. People think we have a nice place.

        The problem with a lot of people today is that they are not content to live in a normal house. They think they must have a half million dollar–or worse–McMansion and take on tremendous debt. I live within walking distance of new McMansions springing up like weeds. People in the know tell me most of the people living in them can’t afford them. We paid a fourth down on our house and paid it off in fifteen years.

        I did some checking around and found out one dessert mommy blogger claims to be so poor and won’t even buy hamburger and make her kids a freaking burger once in a while, but lives in a half million dollar house. I’ve decided no more sympathy from me. We could have bought a fancy house with a big mortgage and we wouldn’t be able to buy groceries, either.

        • johnny says 07 August 2014 at 09:06

          I agree you need a place to live. If not doing it from an investers stand point. Then do it from a an inteligent consumer stand point. If average time a person lives in a home after settling down is 25 years for this example. My example since I live in new york westchester is 1000 property tax, 300 average maintenance if handy, 550 average repair cost for a 4 bedroom single family. Paying water bill is about 100 and con ed is about 20 more than an apartment. That 1670*12mnths*25yrs=501000. If the initial cost is 270,000 on low interest of about 5% lets pretend in 25 years you only add 160000 in interest=270k+160k+501k=931000/25yrs=37240/12=3102. 3100 is a great 4 bedroom in have mobility also allowing you to make even a 3% daily compounding interest on any money not tied into property. There is no doubt that you are pretected in the long run from rent inflation and the price of property appreciates. But your opportunity to make more money decreases because you used the house as an impulse buy as apposed to an investment. Having a house is like having a child, it mostly puts your priorities in order to make the mature decision since unlike rent if you dont pay for 6 months it wont be eviction move to next place Its forcloser and horrible credit for 7 years. Last of this long opinion, is the stability of rent is actually as secure as a houses increases. The only difference is when you need to down size it takes 30 days notice in an apartment if want to do it the right way. With a house The goverment, con ed and contractor and service men can all decide their rates are going up. You can complain but since its your proerty youll make necessary adjustments to compensate. Using the house as an investment though is great because its lowers the expense and it raises revenue

    • Amanda says 23 January 2012 at 06:16

      For some Americans it is easy. In my zip code the median home price is $340,000. And I live in an inexpensive area for the metro area I live in.

      I just searched eight zip codes in my area, and you can buy a completely stripped, in bad shape, 40 year old condo in a crappy part of town for $100K.

      I couldn’t find a single stand-alone house for under $225K, and the one that was $225K doesn’t pass code and you can’t actually live in it.

      • JJ Bean says 23 January 2012 at 06:47

        A friend of mine looked at a real crack house when searching. It was 600K. It needed to be gutted to the brick to be made habitable for people who are not crack addicts.

        She bought something a little cheaper by about 100K. Still half a mill. And she was happy to get that. It was considered a deal. Her house has gone up 250K in meantime. So now, she couldn’t even get the crack house for 600K.

    • Laura says 23 January 2012 at 06:18

      Mihai, it depends completely on the area within the U.S. Not surprisingly, the most popular areas to live in are also the most expensive. In many regions, you CAN buy a house for less than $120,000; in many of those same regions, jobs are still relatively scarce. In other areas, $120,000 will not buy you a closet. We live just outside of Boston and our 1200 sq. ft. Cape cost $264,000. (I was told it would run about $80,000 in Arizona or about $110,000 somewhere like Cleveland.) And we got a great deal; the same house in another (higher class) surrounding town could cost as much as $350,000 to $400,000. I’ve seen purchase prices for apartments/condos in Boston or Cambridge for $500,000 and up.

      Cost, location, size: pick any two. (In our case we compromised on all three: a house more expensive than we’d wanted, in a location that wasn’t quite what we wanted, and a little smaller than what we’d wanted, but it works and we’ve grown to love it.)

      But I understand (well) your point: I would have adored saving up and paying 100% cash, but we would have had to have done it 20 years ago or in another region. (Long story made very short: we were supposed to inherit a house so we didn’t bother saving up to buy, and it went on a reverse mortgage instead.) We wouldn’t be able to pay rent and save like we’d need to in order to buy a house for over $250,000 before we died of old age.

      • Karen says 23 January 2012 at 07:05

        I live in Boston too and agree that 100% cash is very difficult to achieve in this market. Timing is also a factor; when I bought my condo in 2000 it cost $220K and I put just 10% down. Five years later units in my building were selling for $350K and today they’re selling for $450K (Cambridge, unlike most areas of the country, hasn’t seen a downturn in real estate prices). Had I waited until I had more cash, I’d have been priced out of the market. In the meantime I’ve paid the mortgage down significantly and saved enough that I could pay it off, but choose to keep the small balance and invest those funds elsewhere. I’m in much better financial shape having bought when I did than I would be if I had waited even a few years.

        • JC says 23 January 2012 at 08:51

          Great point!

      • Kate in NY says 24 January 2012 at 14:01

        Congratulations, Crystal. What a wonderful and inspirational achievement.

        I live in a far suburb of NYC where the most basic starter homes are upwards of 500,000 and the taxes for such a home would run about 10,000 on up. On the other hand, my husband is a lawyer (like Crystal’s dh) and he earns quite a hefty salary – comfortably into the six figures. So we would have to save 5X as much as Crystal did – but I am guessing that the salaries in a big metropolitan area like NYC would generally be pretty high compared to the rest of the country. For instance, my 13 year old daughter just started babysitting, and the going sitting rate for tweens around here is $15 an hour. Teacher salaries start at around 55,000. Of course, you have to actually find a job first . . .

    • Meg says 23 January 2012 at 06:52

      In America, all real estate is local. My parents are 3 hours south of me, and in a suburb of New York City, albeit a very distant one. A basic starter home there costs about $300,000. I don’t know that my husband and I would ever be able to buy a house living down there. However, I live in a small city outside of NY State’s capital, Albany. Around here, there are a lot of two family houses, where each floor is split into a three bedroom flat with a kitchen, bathroom and large living area. I rent the upstairs flat in one. The house across the street from me is selling for $124,000. Given that you can rent out one of the flats for $800/month and live in the other, it makes real estate look like a much more attractive purchase. $124,000 isn’t quite twice our annual gross income, so it’s a very doable goal, to buy a house in cash. We may consider it in a few years, if we want to stay in the area.

      • KAD says 23 January 2012 at 15:16

        I live in the Albany area, too. It is very moderately priced. I bought a four-bedroom, 1.5 bath house in move-in condition (nice woodwork, new roof, nice yard) in 2004 for 109,000. But the real estate taxes are lousy. I pay on this house as much tax as my parents pay on their $650K condo in Pasadena. So when I pay my mortgage off early (and I will!), the city and school taxes will still be a significant part of my monthly budget.

    • cc says 23 January 2012 at 08:56

      trying to get a house in nyc is laughable. got a couple mil? and that’s not even for something fancy, that’s a standard building. i know some folks that own their homes, all of them purchased back in the 70’s when the city was much more vicious. of course they’re sitting pretty on multi million dollar homes on tree lined streets now! lucky ducks 🙂
      i assume if we left nyc we could find a place, but why bother?
      i’m surprised that a friend my age already is mortgaging a place in nj. i think the root of my fear of owning is the paperwork- oh geez! i can barely read all the way through a lease, much less some crazy bill for a million dollars to be paid over 30 years. that’s just too big of a price/timeline for me. this month’s rent, due on the 1st, no dogs? i can handle that.
      plus home value fluctuations? i couldn’t deal with that, my head would explode from the stress.
      last point on this rambling comment: i am so shaky with the idea of buying houses, but we brought out an old “Life” board game which cleared up a lot of things for me. you buy it for $x, sell for $y a few years later and hope y is more than x. my husband says there’s more involved, but if that’s the basic idea i want none of it. it seems like a gambling situation, but with the largest amount of money you’ll ever deal with, and also your home. the stakes are too high and the rental market too good for me to take part in home ownership.

      • imelda says 23 January 2012 at 19:47

        You know, a few days ago I tried to price out a realistic plan for purchasing in NYC. I’m a great saver, but single and low-earner.

        I figured I could probably save $50k in the next 5 years or so, which should be a decent down payment. And I even projected that after 5 years, I could potentially bring in a $75k annual income.

        Using a mortgage calculator, those numbers would probably allow for a $300k home purchase. That’s enough for an apartment in somewhere like Inwood, or Queens, or Riverdale in the Bronx.

        But you know what? NYC is a co-op city. Monthly fees on most buildings run over $500 per month, often closer to $1,000. Which makes cost of ownership completely out of reach for me, probably forever. 🙁

        This is why I’ve considered moving to the Albany area… if there were any government jobs left!

        • bareheadedwoman says 24 January 2012 at 08:01

          Yeah, nothing like paying rent on a place you already own. Of course anywhere you own, you are going to pay the government rent for the privilege of living there. You’re $220k house might be payed-for free and clear but miss a yearly $6500 payment and Uncle Sam will take your house.

          Talk about paying for convenience…I rent/pay my landlord to think about all those things for me. Considering the headaches he talks about with the city on zoning, who fixes which sidewalk, inexplicable citations from sanitation, and tax re-assessments….

          oy, fergetaboutit….

      • Paula says 13 January 2014 at 14:00

        Our parents always stressed to us that it was so important to own a home free and clear by the time we retired, and we have found that to be some of the most valuable advice we ever received.

        Our fifteen year mortgage on this house was paid off right before my husband became disabled with Parkinson’s Disease and had to take early retirement. I had lost my job in the recession. We lost our insurance. He was uninsured for three years until he was on medicare. I will finally have insurance next month. If we had had a house payment or rent, we would have never been able to deal with paying our medical expenses. We made it through a very hard time because we owned our home.

        I grew up among people who considered people who were still renting in middle age shiftless and improvident. There is security in owning a home, however modest. There will never be security in renting, unless your crystal ball says you will be filthy rich and nothing bad will ever happen to you.

  11. A-L says 23 January 2012 at 05:51

    Congratulations on paying cash for your first home. That’s quite an accomplishment. While you were saving with your gazelle-like intensity, did you have separate retirement and/or emergency fund savings?

    • LauraElle says 23 January 2012 at 07:57

      Yes, that is my question as well. Did you also have a separate emergency fund? Or was the house fund your primary savings/

      • happywife says 24 January 2012 at 19:16

        Hi! I read Crystal’s blog regularly; and in case she doesn’t see your comment, I thought I’d chime in (although you can easily find the answer to your questions in her “Monthly Financial Checkups” on

        They keep 6 month’s worth of living expenses as an Emergency Fund and are currently (aggressively) saving in order to boost that to a year’s worth. Their IRA’s are fully funded, and they contribute 10% of their income to their retirement savings. They also give very generously to church & charity and are saving to purchase commercial real estate.

  12. Anne says 23 January 2012 at 06:03

    I don’t want to minimize the awesome achievement. (I wish we had taken your route and not bought.) I admire the fact that you were strong enough NOT to listen to family and friends. (We weren’t.)

    But houses where I want to move START at 500K. These aren’t mcmansions. These are small starter bungalows.

    Houses where my partner grew up are nearing a million dollars. (And he grew up in a modest new suburban home.)

    Houses in my city start at 250K in an iffy neighbourhood.

    • LauraElle says 23 January 2012 at 07:59

      I agree. Sure, we could have a $100,000 house. But it would be in a rural area, under served by doctors, with terrible schools.

      • Andrew says 23 January 2012 at 09:00

        Yes, we can’t all live in Petticoat Junction.

        • Heather says 23 January 2012 at 09:42

          Wow! You guys must be from a large city on the East or West coast. Not all low cost areas are tiny rural towns. Most of the center of our country is filled with small to large cities with affordable housing AND good jobs and schools. You may make a little less money, but it will certainly buy you more.

        • Des says 23 January 2012 at 12:24

          Its funny what people from very large cities think of even average cities 🙂 Its like you think you have to choose between NYC and backwoods. Really, you can’t picture anything in between?

        • schmei says 23 January 2012 at 20:06

          I’m a little surprised about the hostility here. Obviously buying something in Manhattan isn’t going to work the same way, but there’s a whole lotta world that ain’t Manhattan (this may be news to New Yorkers, it seems).

          For those of us who want to get/stay out of debt, this is an inspirational story.

      • imelda says 23 January 2012 at 19:50

        Alright, I’ll say it: for those of us who are not white (or black), everything else might as well be backwoods.

        • Bella says 23 January 2012 at 20:52

          Wow, that is one of the most narrow minded comments I have ever heard. I think if you stepped out of your teeny little minded box you would find that there are LOTS of places in the US that despite being smaller towns are quite cosmopolitan. In fact I remember hearing a LOT more racists comment in the suburbs of Bosten than in my sleepy little town.

        • imelda says 24 January 2012 at 21:03

          … I’m guessing you’re white?

          I’m positive there are plenty of places in the USA that are not diverse, but still welcoming to all kinds. Now, how do you expect me to find those havens?

          Believe me, minorities know what it’s like to feel unwelcomed, out-of-place, and discriminated against. It’s not fun. And if YOU think that everyone in the mostly-segregated USA is just jumping for joy at the thought of integration, then you don’t know your history – or current events.

          • J.D. says 24 January 2012 at 22:44

            Interesting comment, Imelda. I can’t see the entire thread because I’m replying from the admin control panel. But I wanted to say that I thought I knew what it was like to be in the minority until I went to Peru. Ha. Good one. As a white male in the U.S. and Europe (and even in southern Africa), I’ve never experienced anything like what I experienced in Peru and Bolivia. And it’s not even that people were unkind to me. It’s just that they treated me different, you know? I was always the Other. I had enough intercultural communications classes in college to understand what was happening, but that awareness didn’t make it any more pleasant. This experience has made me far, far more aware of the subtle ways our society treats various minorities, even when we think we’re being nice. And when we’re not nice? Good grief. We’re awful.

        • SAHMama says 26 January 2012 at 14:37

          Seriously? How about Columbus Ohio, where I live? We are 28% minority and 10% foreign born. How about Minneapolis, with a large Hmong population? Or Detroit, with a large Arab population? Or Chicago, with a large… everybody population. Get off your high horse. Life is what you make of it.

  13. MoneyforCollegePro says 23 January 2012 at 06:21

    Wow, so if I am reading this correctly, you saved $100,000 – $110,000 to buy your first home and did this in 2.5 years? Impressive! Very impressive!

  14. Julie+in+Houston says 23 January 2012 at 06:25

    This is such an inspiration! My fiance and I jumped in way too soon and bought a home that we can barely afford! Now we’re saving and scrimping like crazy to be able to buy a trailer (in cash) and move out to live on his parents land after we sell the house. Once we get settled there were going to save to pay cash to build our next home. In the mean time we’re saving for a wedding (all cash)and will get married in October and fixing up the house we live in. Live as cheaply as possible for as long as possible. Not having a $1,000+ mortgage every month would be amazing!!! Patience is a true virtue!

  15. Lisa says 23 January 2012 at 06:34

    A cost you didn’t mention that you avoid when buying a house with cash are the “loan origination fees”…..ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. It always makes more sense to buy with cash than financing, even with “low” rates. Congratulations on your debt free home purchase. Life without a mortgage is wonderful!

    • Mom of five says 23 January 2012 at 07:31

      It’d be a heck of a mortgage that would have $10k in origination fees!

      • Lisa says 23 January 2012 at 11:23

        Actually, in my limited experience, it seems less dependent on how much you are mortgaging and more dependent on who sold you the loan….we sold a home a few years ago for about $300K and the buyer wanted us to pay “closing costs” which *I Think* are the same, and they were about $8K!

        • Courtney says 23 January 2012 at 12:17

          Loan origination fees are a component of closing costs but not the entirety. They also include things like realtor commissions, document fees, taxes, and title insurance. Loan origination fees generally run 0.5-2% of the amount of the loan. So depending on the actual rate you could be talking about a mortgage anywhere between $250K and $2M to have loan origination fees of $5-10K.

        • Lisa says 23 January 2012 at 13:40

          Thank you for the clarification, Courtney.

  16. Heather says 23 January 2012 at 06:39

    Buying home with cash is an awesome acheivement, but I think that buying a home in cash has more of a psycological benefit than a true financial one.

    DH and I also rented for several years before buying a house with a mortage and a low interest rate. For me, I would rather have liquid assets and mortage debt than a fully owned home and little other savings. I also live in a low cost of living area, so I could have purchased a tiny starter home with my savings if I wanted. In some areas of the country, this is not reasonable.

    Rather than buying a starter home, we purchased a house that we hope to live in for a long time, if not forever.

    • Curtis says 24 January 2012 at 17:51

      Tell that to the people who lost their homes or were foreclosed on. The benefits are more than just psychological.

      • Paula says 02 October 2013 at 16:52

        You’re absolutely right. In fact, the term “starter home” is insulting. Many people live their whole lives quite respectably and comfortably in what snobs call starter homes, and they’re never been “underwater” or in danger of losing their home when times got rough.

        Wait until you’re older with health issues and retired. Then see if the benefits of living in a debt free home are just psychological.

  17. NoTrustFund says 23 January 2012 at 06:41

    Thanks for the inspirational story. I would really like to pay cash for our next home. Right now I am struggling with how much of our liquid savings to use for a down payment. With interest rates so low, it seems like it makes sense to keep some liquidity.

    Do readers have any thoughts? How much of your liquid net worth, not including a healthy emergency fund, should you put towards your house? Like I said, having extra cash feels so safe right now, especially with the economy the way it is. But having a smaller mortgage payment or NO mortgage payment also sounds appealing.

    One more thing I will note, thinking about buying a house for cash has definitely kept us from getting to crazy with our housing budget, even if we do not end up doing it right now.

    • Mom of five says 23 January 2012 at 07:25

      I personally would put down whatever I had to to avoid PMI and not a penny more. I’m sure many here would completely disagree but I like the security that comes with having cash in the bank.

    • getagrip says 23 January 2012 at 11:12

      All the decisions can cost you.

      Save in a bank and your money value shrinks because of inflation. Invest the money and you’re taking on risk of losing it. Pay for a mortgage and you lose money to interest which you may or may not make up with the money you’ve invested. Pay for the house outright and you’ve really committed to staying put somewhere and there are sunk costs associated with closing.

      All the decisions can give you what you want.

      Lots of cash can mean a lot of flexability in your life, to move, to risk, etc. You could make good to a lot of money with smart investing. You could have the house you want and do well in investing and just accept the interest payment. You could own your home outright and be secure that even a part time job will likely let you get by.

      There is no best answer. There is risk in doing nothing and in doing anything. So the only real question to answer is what is it you want?

  18. Short arms long pockets says 23 January 2012 at 06:48

    First of all, congratulations – I really admire your intensity and determination and don’t want to disparage your effort. However, as many folks here point out, what you have achieved is only realistic in certain housing markets. Most of these markets (at least in the US) are not situated in areas where well paying jobs are plentiful – so, like most things in life, it becomes a trade-off.
    One thing I’d like to mention though, my mortgage is about the same as I would pay for the rental of the same size of property (if you count what I pay for maintenance as well). This means that my “rent” is going towards my eventual ownership of the property. If, in the meantime, I also pay down the principal of my mortgage early, I think we end up in pretty much the same place. The upside to your solution is obviously the freedom to move to wherever you need to to find a job. The upside to my solution (since I live in one of those expensive markets where jobs are more plentiful) is that I get to live in my home while I pay it off. I get to make choices regarding home improvement and becoming part of the community (very important when you have kids).
    I’m happy that your choices are working for you and it’s inspiring to hear of people setting goals and achieving them. I just feel that, given the economic reality for most of us, it’s important to note another perspective.

    • Molly says 24 January 2012 at 09:35

      I agree and was going to say something similar. It is important to find that balance between having enough saved to confidently buy a house that you will pay for quickly, and not renting so long that in essence you are paying double (one amount to saving up, and a second amount to rent – granted usually less because the saver would more than likely choose to rent something smaller than they plan to buy).

  19. Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops} says 23 January 2012 at 06:52

    Agreed with everyone who thinks this is awesome but unrealistic for some. In my area it would be possible. Small starter homes (which, honestly would probably be a forever home for me!) are around $100,000 in decent neighborhoods. But, I make less than $24000K so I save and pay all my bills (and am paying down student loans ASAP), BUT, I can’t afford to save that aggressively no matter how many extra jobs I work (and I do that a lot).

    • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 07:28

      Agreed! I crunched the numbers for my area with a five year time line, and it’s not pretty! I was surprised to see I could manage it if I had a husband who shared this financial goal and who earned more than I do 😉

      But if I was married, we would probably be looking at more than a one bedroom condo, so it’s kind of a moot point.

      I find this post both inspirational and frustrating at the same time 😉

  20. Troy says 23 January 2012 at 06:58

    The author mentions but underemphasises two keys to accomplishing this:

    – live in a smaller city or rural environment were $100k houses exist
    – increase one’s primary income. I’m guessing a Substantial amount of the income came from the law practice. (I could be wrong and would love to see a breakdown by income source, even as percentages). Buying Zenni glasses sure doesn’t hurt, but it’s not where $1700 per month came from.

    Again, not to trivialize the author’s accomplishment – they still did something that almost nobody does, and quickly – or that the goal – have cash – applies at 40% down just as well at 100%.

    • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker says 23 January 2012 at 17:51

      Interesting guess, but I’m pretty certain she was making more than her husband, if not at least an equal amount.

      I’ve read her blog for years. I know her traffic; she’s explained it, and how much she charges for ads. Just her 6 sponsored ads alone brings in over $3000 a month. And she has broken down where her income comes from, in percentages–and sponsored ads are NOT the biggest money maker for her–not even close, in fact. She has HUGE traffic, and she’s done really well. Good for her. Should their income stop for whatever reason (if one of them were to die, or be injured and unable to work, or ill) they won’t have to worry about where they’re going to live. They’ll have a roof over their heads.

      And what this article doesn’t tell you is that now they’re saving up the money to finance their children’s college educations, so that their own children can graduate from college debt-free.

      That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.

    • Michgc says 23 January 2012 at 19:42

      I agree. I don’t want to minimize their accomplishment. But, the greatest reason, I believe, that they were able to save $100K+ was because her income went up tremendously from her blog in addition to her husband’s successful law practice. Not that being frugal doesn’t help, but it only goes so far.

      For someone making much less than that, they’d be scrimping for many years to build up that kind of money. I saved up $70K over the course of about 10 years for my first home with an income between $30K and $60K. It was just a downpayment in expensive Washington, DC. Fortunately, we didn’t wait to pay cash for a home, as the value on our home nearly doubled in the 11 years we’ve owned it.

      • NIck in Mass says 15 February 2013 at 21:04

        You have to put things into perspective. I ended up with $100k in debt when I closed down my business. I took a second FT job at $8.50/hr and ended up paying off that debt in just over 5 yrs by myself with no help from anyone. Yes it is possible, but it takes sacrifice and hard work.

  21. Marsha says 23 January 2012 at 06:58

    One big point is that Crystal and her husband chose to move to an area with lower housing costs. This was key to their being able to pay cash for a house, which was a priority for them. This is not a priority for everyone, and there are those who are unwilling or unable to move to these lower-cost areas. But this does not negate Crystal’s story at all. I congratulate her on setting a goal and following through. We can learn something from her story even if the particulars do not apply to us.

    • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 07:16

      The question is a priority over what? In my case, I’d have to change careers. Right now I pretty much go where the work is, and I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat.

      • Holly says 24 January 2012 at 10:50

        Another priority is culture and diversity.

        There have been other posts here about moving to areas with a low cost of living… often places that are rural and most of the population is Caucasian. For those of us who are not white and want to bring up our children in places where they aren’t the only ones who have skin that isn’t pink, or who want to be in a place where we have access to culturally significant foodstuff and/or cultural events, a small town in rural midwest might not be an option.

        • Heather says 24 January 2012 at 11:10

          There is a middle ground between SF, LA, NYC and rural small towns. Cities like St. Louis, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas/FW, and Houston are pretty diverse and have cultural opportunities. They also are all below the national average in cost of living.

    • LauraElle says 23 January 2012 at 08:11

      Not everyone can move to a low cost of living area. Those areas usually rural, do not have living wage jobs or schools where you would want to send your children. (I believe Crystal homeschools her children, please correct me if I’m wrong. Again, not every family is suited for that.)

      I do not see how anyone is denigrating her achievement. People are saying that this achievement is not possible for a lot of people due to limits of having to live where their jobs are. She has her own business (blogging) which can be done anywhere. Her husband has his own business (law practice). They also started out with no student loan debt. Not everyone is in such a fortunate position after law school.

      Her achievement is amazing, and it works *for her specific situation.* If they’d had student loan debt or, god forbid, more unexpected medical expenses, their situation might be quite different.

      • Steve says 23 January 2012 at 21:31

        Anybody can move. There may be tradeoffs or costs, but they still have a choice.

      • Molly says 24 January 2012 at 09:59

        I believe they worked very hard to get where they are, and they deserve major kudos for that. But, you are right – this is not possible in its entirety for everyone. Crystal and Jesse moved to their area to be near their families – which can provide help/support with the children, and did provide strong network contacts for Jesse to set up his business. Agreed – not everyone has these advantages. So…. instead focus on the advantages that you do have and figure out how you can work hard towards a goal that you have. This is one couple’s story meant to inspire – it is not intended as a requirement of exactly what any one idividually should do.
        Also, they homeschool their kids because they want to – there are many, many good schooling choices in their area.

  22. Mom of five says 23 January 2012 at 07:19

    Congratulations! I think doing law school without debt was even more countercultural than buying a house without it!

    While having absolutely no debt is priceless, I’m wondering if the actual math works out in a down real estate/up rental market. When we bought our home back in 1996, the Philly area housing market was at an historic low. As soon as we signed that mortage we were saving $300 a month (PITI over rent). For sure some of that went to utilities and maintenance, but those items were further offset by tax breaks from property taxes and mortgage interest. For us living in a three bedroom one bath house was actually cheaper than a one bedroom apartment.

    Clearly during the bubble renting here was a good bit cheaper than owning and may still be. However we are almost certainly approaching a market here where your rent is so high that it may once again be cheaper to buy than rent.

    From a psychological perspective paying cash is always awesome, but I would run the numbers of renting vs. owning if I was planning on putting down roots in an area. Sometimes paying a mortgage really is paying yourself first.

    • Hmmm says 24 January 2012 at 10:35

      If I remember Jesse’s law school was debt free because he had either a trust or inheritance.

  23. Lonnie says 23 January 2012 at 07:30

    Did you have any other saving priorities while you saved for your house; i.e., retirement, kids college education, emergency fund, etc?

  24. Chris says 23 January 2012 at 07:33

    If you break it down financially and do the math you realize it is all a gamble on home prices. If home prices are going up, the best move is to buy the biggest house you can afford. If home prices are going down, it makes more sense to minimize your loss and buy the smallest home preferably with little to no leverage.

    My opinion is that real estate is over valued and it will be going down for a long time to come. So I’m in the pay cash for a smaller house camp. (Also, I’d rather have a smaller house and a maid, more vacations, bigger nest egg etc)

    • Courtney says 23 January 2012 at 08:41

      It’s also a gamble on inflation. If you’re locked into a fixed rate mortgage, you are in a position where inflation works to your advantage. If you’re saving to buy a home outright, you’re in a position where inflation works to your disadvantage (in the form of increased rent while you are saving, and also eating into any gains you might earn on your savings).

      • Chris says 23 January 2012 at 09:22

        I think you have to be careful when you talk about “inflation”. I agree w/ you 100% if you are talking about home price inflation. That was my point.

        If you are talking about the inflation number posted by the government, I believe it is completely reversed (home prices are not directly accounted for in government inflation numbers) I actually thing that government inflation is inversely proportional to home price inflation. If the cost of food, energy, and consumer necessities goes up then there is less money to spend on housing. This can really cripple you if you have a mortgage.

        • Courtney says 23 January 2012 at 10:17

          I wasn’t talking about home price inflation OR a situation where you have a mortgage vs. a paid off house. I was talking about the effects of inflation on your ability to save up enough cash to pay for a house in full, while your rent may be increasing (thus lowering the amount you have available to save) and any investment gains (as a loose term) are being negated by inflation. Neither of those are a variable when you have a fixed rate mortgage. The main “benefit” to borrowing for a home is that the nominal cost of the mortgage decreases over time as normal inflation takes place (i.e. your $1500 mortgage payment in year 1 is effectively only $1200 in year 10).

  25. Andrew says 23 January 2012 at 07:39

    Owning a home is not the only reason we were put on earth.

    I am so tired of people who equate home ownership with virtue (and I write as someone who owns a home with no mortgage). The author never comes out and says it, but implicit in every line is the belief that nothing else matters–why have a real life when you can own a house?

    She’s as consumerist as anyone else–she just has one large hard-to-resell asset instead of many smaller ones.

    And the banality of her homeschooling her children is overwhelming.

    • Mom of five says 23 January 2012 at 07:50

      Neither is travel. I for one was glad to see a post with some direct relevance to my life.

    • cc says 23 January 2012 at 09:06

      refreshing perspective!
      my goal in life is to do some long term rentals somewhere tropical and warm. i commented above on how i’m not enthusiastic about buying a house- the idea that you have to stay in one spot for so long bothers me (that’s probably just me being weird and nomadic). if i happened to own a house, i would sell that asap, put the money in a giant rent fund, pack my bags and go somewhere nice. even then i would be skittish about buying- what if something happens? what if i get sick of living there, or the housing market collapses? pick up and go somewhere else- it is not your problem!

      • lucille says 23 January 2012 at 16:05

        I’m nomadic (also a little weird) but I wouldn’t let the fact that I’m a homeowner interfere with that.

        I bought my tiny little starter house (with a back apartment) in a vacation-y spot in a decent part of town and plan on traveling long-term in the future. I have a line of people I know who are waiting to rent it out while I’m gone…even just renting out the apartment would cover my mortgage.

        I love the idea of having a never-changing landing spot. Like a centerpoint that I can bounce from and come back to. It actually makes me want to travel more. With the amount of my mortgage vs. the cost to rent my house, I could pay a management company to rent it out and have money left over for the mortgage and any upkeep issues that arise, even a couple hundred towards the rent of wherever I’m staying. I could even go live somewhere for a while. If you don’t want to be pinned down, you don’t have to be. It does take some planning, and you do want to buy in a rent-friendly area but it’s possible. There are even house swaps where you can live in another city and eventually swap back. I’m planning a 3 month trip to W. Africa next year and already have interested house sitters willing to take on the mortgage to stay there for the 3 months. They may be visiting from out of town, state, country, continent, or may want a cheap place to stay while they evaluate and save for their next rental.

        • Amanda says 24 January 2012 at 12:55

          We too want to travel or make ourselves available for volunteer work while having a home waiting for us when it’s needed. The only way for us to do that, without much income, is to have our home paid off.

  26. Julie says 23 January 2012 at 07:43

    It is interesting reading all the posts who congratulate Crystal, yet in the next sentence negate the reality of this for themselves. It makes me feel as if so many are missing the point of the post. About the determination of a having and reaching a goal if you make it your priority. Everyone is going to have a DIFFERENT priority. It could be something as simple as a $1000 emergency fund (which is a huge feat for some) or exercising 3x a week. And Crystal does not belittle this on her blog, despite her own grand achievements. If you can get past all the religious stuff on her blog (not my thing but she’s very strong in her faith and I respect that), it’s pretty inspiring and she does her best to help everyone else get where they want to be too. Not all of it is for me (I don’t like coupons for example as they are mostly for junk) but I still manage to find some helpful nuggets every now and then. And the idea of achieving such a huge goal so quickly speaks to me!

    • Karen says 23 January 2012 at 07:55

      Paying cash for a home is pretty unusual and I think it’s natural for people to look at Crystal’s achievement through the filter of their own experience. I don’t think it negates her accomplishment or misses her point to acknowledge that this particular goal isn’t possible for many. Personally I find the discussion interesting as I get a little bored when the comments are just a variation of “you go, girl!”

      • Julie says 23 January 2012 at 08:00

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, I definitely find it interesting too, or I wouldn’t be reading it. And I’ve thought about paying our own mortgage down super early, but I’m not willing to give up travel (our priority) in order to do it. But, I do feel that sometimes people just think, “Oh, well I will never be able to do that”, throw up their hands and then don’t even attempt a smaller goal that they can feel good about. And definitely see your point about the title/content. However, I still feel the crux of her post is about setting a goal, whatever it might be, and doing what it takes to reach it.

    • Laura+in+Cancun says 23 January 2012 at 10:05

      Agreed! While I understand most people couldn’t pay cash for a house in that short of a time frame (depending on where they lived, mostly), it could still inspire many to save up a $100,000 down payment (also not very common) on a more expensive home. Or why not? Save up for a completely different goal altogether.

      No post is going to apply to 100% of readers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something out of it.

  27. John | Married (with Debt) says 23 January 2012 at 07:45

    Great story! Talk about setting an ambitious goal and owning it. Bet all your friends don’t think you are so crazy anymore.

    Even though I’m a dad, I do enjoy your blog Crystal. Thanks for sharing your story.

  28. Laura+in+Cancun says 23 January 2012 at 08:27

    Thanks for this article, Crystal!

    Right now my husband and I are saving up to buy a vacation rental condo/studio. Our goal is to have enough to pay at least 50% in cash by the end of 2013. (We have about 12% already)

    For us, this means continuing to rent, not buying a car and not having kids for a few more years, despite pressure from well-meaning family and friends.

    • cc says 23 January 2012 at 09:11

      the pressure is weird. when my husband and i were still engaged, several family members approached us about buying a house. one relative commented “well how are you going to take care of her?”
      …………………….(i can live in an apartment just fine? also i can take care of myself i just prefer spending time with mr. cc?)
      it was weird, having everyone pile on more possible responsibilities. what about throwing a big wedding makes people think we should go house shopping too? needless to say there was baby-encouragement-talk in there too (ugh). whyyyyy must people lump all these things onto fiancees/newlyweds? one thing at a time, please! we’re not even done thank you cards, that means we are not ready for babies or houses.
      also i dont like babies. please, someone, distribute the memo.

      • Rosa says 23 January 2012 at 15:37

        The buy-a-house-to-have-a-baby pressure, internal and external, is weird – when I was pregnant and pretty much unable to do anything, and then again when we had an infant, I would have LOVED to have traded in our house for a nice little apartment where the landlord handled repairs, upkeep, and yardwork. The idea that you ought to have a house to have kids seems like it overlooks what a big commitment of time, money, and energy each one of those things is.

        • cc says 24 January 2012 at 08:00

          maybe it’s a generational thing? the people suggesting that were definitely one generation up- none of our friends or siblings were handing us real estate brochures. i suppose the wedding/house/babies was the norm for a long time, but times have changed, etc.
          it’s like i tell the pro-baby encouragers: if i wanted a baby, i would have had one a while ago, it’s not like a thing like it used to be. i want to get married so we’re just getting married.

  29. steff says 23 January 2012 at 08:27

    yall need to fix her name – it is crystal not cystal 🙂

  30. Crystal Stemberger says 23 January 2012 at 08:28

    Congratulations!!! We bought our home when we had 20% to put down in 2007, but we are aiming to pay it off this coming May, so 5 years from our closing date. We probably should have had more patience, but too late now, lol. What 23 year old has patience, right? We’re trying to get to your point as fast as possible though. 😉

  31. Andrew says 23 January 2012 at 08:35

    Editor, please!

    Her name is “Crystal,”. Not “Cystal.”

    • J.D. says 23 January 2012 at 09:27

      How mortifying. Not sure how that one made it past me. Thanks for flagging it.

  32. Jake says 23 January 2012 at 08:39

    People, calm down. She isn’t recommending this for everyone. She is just relating her own experiences.

    The people who are complaining that this won’t work for everyone are (a) just negative whiners and (b) are missing the point. The point of the story is that perseverance and sacrifice in the short term often pays off in the long term. Is that so hard to comprehend or even compliment her on?

    You guys are like people who mutter that they have a glandular issue and that is why you can’t lose weight, all the while neglecting to consider that McDonalds should make up 40% of your meals.

    • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 15:03

      I agree and disagree. It helps to see both points of view, and people can take what they want from the post or the comments. I doubt Crystal is writing to fish for compliments 😉

      I keep coming back to this post because it really has me thinking about what I could do if I went totally hard core saving for a down payment. (While still saving for retirement and being able to give back, of course). Likely I won’t be able to pay cash for a home where I live, but I could certainly make a more modest goal and make some serious headway.

    • imelda says 23 January 2012 at 19:58

      Please don’t be so quick to assume that just because people are saying “this won’t work for me,” that they are complaining about the post!

      Personally, I think it’s an interesting discussion. It’s nice to hear about Crystal’s awesome achievement. It’s also nice to have others remind me that this can’t be done by everyone.

      And I love when people provide the specific numbers for their areas. For example, I was surprised to hear about the person who bought a house for around $260k in the Boston area, as that is more reasonable than I expected.

      So… chill out, maybe?

  33. Paula says 23 January 2012 at 08:46

    Great job. I’m reminded of when we paid off our second house and all our income properties against the advice of our CPA. Now it is 15 years later and my then-husband and I have divorced (from a 30 yr. marriage) and have gone our separate ways. We divided our paid-for properties and came out way better than average for divorced persons.
    Life doesn’t always go as we expect it to and it is always a sound plan to have your financial house in order.
    I wish your family the best.

  34. confused says 23 January 2012 at 08:46

    i can’t for the life of me, figure out why anyone on this blog would pay cash for a house.

    if someone was financially irresponsible, it would make sense to pay outright. you put the money into an asset before you can waste it while remaining in debt.

    however, i thought this blog was for more financially responsible people that were looking for smarter ways to control their finances. i would think it would make more sense to put the smallest downpayment necessary, and get a low fixed rate 30 year mortgage. then take the rest of the money and allocate it amongst stock and index funds. over 30 years, and you’ll be in a much much much better position than paying for everything in cash.

    • Lisa says 23 January 2012 at 11:32

      I’d hardly say I’m financially irresponsible and I own property outright. I also have $$ in the stock market and other investments. I see it as a means of diversification for serious savers; it also lowers your monthly bills and increases savings.

      • confused says 25 January 2012 at 15:03

        if you can borrow money at a lower interest rate than you can earn investing, then you can make money borrowing. with long term interest rates as low as they are, over the course of 30 years, the ROI of a properly allocated portfolio will beat the current mortgage rates.

        in this case you save LESS, by paying upfront.

        i agree that your monthly bill would be lowered if you paid for everything up front. however, you would have a very very large cushion of liquid assets (equity and bond index funds) to fall back on if you needed money. this is a far more safe (and profitable) position to be in. think of it this way. would you rather have $0 and no monthly expense, or have $200,000 in the bank, and pay $1,000 every month over 30 years. at any point during those 30 years, you have some liquid assets to fall back on in case of disaster.

        most financial experts would agree that buying a home significantly reduces your diversification of investments. you would increase your exposure to the real estate investment, however you would have a very high concentration in ONE ASSET that is illiquid. if you want exposure to the real estate market, you’d be better off buying a REIT fund, as it is far more diverse than owning one property.

        the problem is, it’s hard for some people to kepp hundreds of thousands of dollars locked away untouched for years. the amount invested should be equal or greater than the amount of debt on the mortgage. this is too tempting for many people. i just figured the people here know better.

        • Jennifer says 26 January 2012 at 06:16

          The thing I find interesting is that the people who tell you to not pay cash for your house (and all the negatives for doing so) also tend to be the people who earn a commission for selling you their investments. The fact is that many people do not have enough deductions to itemize their taxes,so the mortgage deduction doesn’t apply in most cases. If you have no mortgage, your housing costs are greatly reduced and all the excess cash can then be used to invest. I’d much rather have that to fall back on in a time where the economy is still struggling and job losses continue to persist.

        • Gary Downing says 14 October 2014 at 17:17

          When banks loan you $ for your house for 5% interest, they are investing in your mortgage agreement. This 5% return is attractive to them. If you buy the home cash to save that same 5%, you are making the same investment for yourself that the banks would have made. The 5% they would have made was attractive to them so the 5% you save should be attractive to you.

          For you to say that the same investment is better to be thrown at the stock market is naive because that implies that every bank that invests in mortgages is dumb and wasting the opportunity of instead investing that mortgage money into the stock market. I find it amazing that people have so much faith in the stock market as being such a safe place to put ALL of your cards… I personally know TONS of people who have lost SOOOO much in the stock market. Just buy your homes cash people. One less thing to worry about. Then save and invest in higher risk things if you want AFTER the home is crossed off your list.

  35. Jen from Boston says 23 January 2012 at 08:52

    Congratulations! If you can pay cash, that’s the way to go, IMO. I’ve read personal finance experts who say tying up that much cash in your home is bad, but not having a mortgage gives you much more freedom. If you have to relocate now you can rent your home for a decent price and not worry if the rent will be enough to cover your mortgage.

    As others have mentioned, though, depending on where you live paying cash may not be possible, unless you’re very wealthy. I live just outside Boston and there’s no way I could have paid cash for my first home. Perhaps if I ate ramen every day and never bought new clothes ( and I am NOT a clothes horse)… 😉 But, applying the same discipline to paying off their mortgage early as you did to saving up cash for your home is a very good goal. That is my main financial focus now that I’m fully funding my 401(k) and I have an emergency fund.

  36. Rebecca S. says 23 January 2012 at 08:53

    I think it’s great the writer was able to pay all cash. For those who are diminishing her accomplishment with the (very obvious and true) fact that you can’t buy a house for $100,000 is many parts of the country, I think what she and her husband did with the money is less important that the fact that they saved ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in 2.5 years! That’s incredible! Maybe we aren’t all able to do that, but what about half that? What about saving up for a new car in 3 years? A fancy new oven? A nice family vacation? Whatever it is, I think the biggest thing to take away from this article is that a clear goal, a defined plan, and a disciplined approach can help you achieve a pretty amazing goal, whatever yours may be.

  37. Sam says 23 January 2012 at 08:55

    Wow, great story.

    I get that people say this would only be possible in certain markets or for a starter house or etc. But it is possible, and if this couple saved $100,000 in 2.5 years they probably could have saved $200,000 in 5 years. Even if that would not be enough to buy a forever home is a high cost area, that is still a heck of a lot of money for a down payment allowing a family to pick a much shorter mortgage term and avoid hundreds of thousands in interest.

    Rather than saying I can’t do this because I live in a high cost area or because of xyz, I look at this story as motivation, if this couple can save $100,000 in 2.5 years, maybe we can save that much in 2.5 years or pay down our mortgage that much, etc.

    Way to go and thanks for sharing.

  38. Nina says 23 January 2012 at 08:59

    Crystal, where did you keep your home savings? In an FDIC insured savings account? If you were expecting to wait five years I can see putting the first couple years of savings in CDs or even in an index fund. But you ended up using the funds sooner than anticipated, did that complicate the way you planned to save?

  39. Vanessa says 23 January 2012 at 09:13

    I get that buying a home was your goal, but if I could save $100K in less than 3 years, I’d just keep renting and saving. I prefer money in the bank and financial security.

    • Julie says 23 January 2012 at 09:56

      I think she still has a fair bit of money in the bank…emergency fund, college savings for kids, retirement…plus I think she’s giving all the proceeds of her book to charity. She’s definitely not got all her eggs in one house/basket…they are pretty set from what I’ve read on her blog.

      • Vanessa says 23 January 2012 at 11:06

        I’ve never read her blog so I didn’t know. If they are that set financially I’m not sure how buying a house in cash is that remarkable, except that they had the money to do it.

        • Songbird says 23 January 2012 at 12:54

          I read her blog every day. I think Crystal and her husband have worked very hard to have the money and achieved their goals (not just for themselves but for helping others, too). That’s very inspiring.

        • Julie says 23 January 2012 at 13:18

          Yes, they are far from trust fund babies…that’s not what I meant when I said they were “set”. They both appear to work very hard and do without certain niceties (that many others would not be willing to forgo) in order to reach their goals. I was just noting that they did not buy a house for cash without considering the other things like an emergency fund, retirement, etc. It all seemed pretty well thought out. Everyone does things differently. There are many things they do that I wouldn’t do, but that doesn’t make them any less inspiring.

      • Ann says 23 January 2012 at 12:56

        She posts goals weekly on her blog, and I know fully funding their retirement funds and their kids college savings plans happened pretty early in 2010. If you want to follow her financial progression, here’s her money goals for 2008…shows an every day person CAN do it.

  40. RichHabits says 23 January 2012 at 09:36

    Congratulations !!

    I salute them working together as a couple and having saved such amount.

    But there are several other things that I find missing that are important before buying a house in cash.

    Have they saved anything for their Retirement? Do they have at least 3 – 6 months emergency funds? Having two children,
    I think emergency funds are critical.

    I am also kind of person who is for paying off house quickly, but there are other critical steps before this step. Even Dave Ramsey talks about this. When I bought my house I put down 40%, did not listen to realtor when he said I could afford more, I stuck with what I was comfortable. And every year, I make sure I pay 2 extra payments.

    By Buying a house with cash, or paying off to quickly, I would not want to be “House Poor”, with no cash on hand. I think it is a balancing act.

    Anyway, good to hear husband and wife working together so hard.

    • Jboli says 23 January 2012 at 18:42

      RIch Habit,
      If you take a look at her website, you will find the Paine family has emergency funds, living expenses set aside, college funds for their children and retirement. They have been a great inspiration to my family as we are similar in age/number of kids, etc.

  41. Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living says 23 January 2012 at 09:38

    Awesome post! I want to do the same thing and have similar goals, only I’m single with one income. I started a blog at to help me stay motivated and accountable for continuing to save and prepare for buying my first home. All I have to say about what you did is that it’s simply awesome. I really hope I am able to buy my first home in cash as well. If I do end up making it, I want to be able to tell everyone about it and help motivate them to do it too just like you are doing here. Again, great job!

  42. Lindsey says 23 January 2012 at 09:39

    I think a lot of people are getting hung up on the fact that they can’t buy a house for $100k in their city. But look at the takeaway: Crystal was able to save $100k in 2.5 years. That’s amazing! Even if you can’t buy a house outright with that amount, what a great down payment that would be! Or…think of all the other things you could do with that amount of money.

    Fantastic story! Thanks for sharing, Crystal.

  43. Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents says 23 January 2012 at 09:45

    Wow good job!

  44. partgypsy says 23 January 2012 at 09:48

    I think the people who then say, but most people cannot afford to do this because housing prices are higher where they live, are missing the point. They saved 110K in less than 3 years. Whatever their goal was, they were able to do it by believing in it (and yes, using gazelle intensity) ; ). Even though owning a home outright is not highest on my priority list, this story is inspiring because it makes you wonder what could be possible if you applied it to your life. It’s all about priorities. And I like the idea of (relatively) short term pain to achieve a big objective (versus 30 year mortgage).

  45. Mary says 23 January 2012 at 09:54

    The more I learn about you Crystal (I already subscribe to your blog) the more you are my hero!

    It’s also interesting to me that financial goals often take less time than the original estimates whether you are paying down debt or saving.

  46. Finally! says 23 January 2012 at 10:02

    I saw on another blog that you paid cash for your house, jumped over to your blog to read it but the writing was so jumbled I gave up. So glad I finally got to read about your journey, albeit a condensed version!

    • Angie says 23 January 2012 at 10:41

      I think Crystal is one of the most cohesive writers on the web.

      • Finally! says 23 January 2012 at 10:45

        I got through the first three of her nine post series and all I could get out of it was “God wanted us to do this, have it be our goal, and he provided”. It was hard to see her actions and their planning methods through all of that, especially because that structure forced her to put all human action in the passive voice. Very frustrating for someone who just wanted to know how they managed to save $100,000.

  47. Courtney says 23 January 2012 at 10:03

    Crystal, it’s amazing that you were able to apply yourself and focus on one goal so absolutely, even if you do think you might have gone overboard a bit. It’s exciting to see anyone work so hard to succeed at a goal.

    For those of you that think this story doesn’t apply to you, does that mean there is nothing you would work that hard to accomplish? $100,000 would be a substantial down-payment on any home, even if it’s not 100% of the cost. And working hard to pay off that amount of student or consumer loans in 2.5 years would be just as impressive. This story isn’t about how lucky she is to be in this situation, it’s about how hard work and focus can lead you to do amazing things. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • anomalophobe says 23 January 2012 at 11:36

      Hmmm, let’s see:

      – Husband is an attorney
      – No school debt
      – Able to relocate
      – Stay at home mom (i.e. no child care expenses)
      – House for $100K

      This sounds EXTREMELY fortunate, and doesn’t fit the profile of a vast majority of people:

      – Both parents work for moderate incomes
      – Work long hours because they HAVE to, not because they can
      – Outrageous child care expenses
      – A significant level of student loan debt
      – Little to no reserve funds
      – Unable to relocate due to various reasons
      – “Ordinary” housing costs

      So, yes, you’ve accomplished a great deed – I hope everyone can aspire to something just as great.

      • Des says 23 January 2012 at 12:45

        You are missing the point. These things didn’t happen by CHANCE, but by CHOICE! He chose his career, they chose their location, they chose to work hard to stay out of debt. The point is that they made these decisions consciously ahead of time rather than just floating along doing what everyone else does. (And being a SAHM doesn’t save them money, it net costs them money because of the lost income for all but the most minimally-employed spouses.)

        So many people say “I could never do that because of my particular circumstances”, then proceed to eat whatever they feel like, drive the best car they can borrow for, and go on vacation every year. Those people aren’t being honest with themselves. If good food, travel, and living in a high COL area is what they value, great. They should say “I choose not to do that because I value other things” not “I can’t…”

      • Ann says 23 January 2012 at 12:51

        That first list is due to the CHOICES they made. Go read the history on her blog–she and her husband definitely scraped to be able to put him through law school without any debt–read some about it here:

        Kudos for Crystal. And even more kudos for encouraging people to stop worrying about the Joneses, set goals, and do what needs to be done to achieve them.

      • JC says 23 January 2012 at 13:44

        Husband is an attorney – WOW! You know people become attorneys through hard work, right? People aren’t born attorneys. Many people apply to law school and can’t get in because of low GPAs and/or low LSAT scores (meaning they had to have been working hard in College and in order to get into College, they had to have been working hard in high school as well = 8 years of hard work in school). Then approximately half of the first year law school class won’t make it to graduation because of the high failure rate in law schools. Assuming you make it into law school and survive the 3 years of hell, you still have to pass the Bar, which is known for being one of the hardest exams to pass.

        Yea, her husband was lucky…lucky to have strong character and the will to succeed. Not everyone is born with such character, Uh-hem, many would rather blame their circumstances on life rather than on their own poor choices. Sure, there are some things you can’t control, but those road blocks shouldn’t stop you from trying to make opportunities for yourself rather than whining about how other people got off better as though through magic.

        • Angela says 23 January 2012 at 20:38

          He was also lucky to have someone scrape and save so that HE could end up with the law degree.

        • maewally says 23 January 2012 at 21:47

          And, to add to that, her husband, by choice, with a bigger goal in mind, drove to court in an old van with a broken driver’s side door, crawling out the passenger side. I think that is another testament to his character, and the hard work and patience they were willing to put forth to make a goal a reality. Many lawyers are also going to start their careers with a ton of student loan debt and sometimes even a fancy new car to match the status they think they have now that they have a great title. Crystal and her husband had a few years under their belts with a pretty slim income and managed to stay debt-free. This doesn’t just have to do with a lawyer’s good income!

      • Geoff Clark says 30 December 2015 at 14:56

        Saving $1700 per month may have been doable about 15 years ago . It just never crossed my mind to try to save and pay for a house with cash. It was great that they were able to do it and plan for it. Now, we are trying to come out of paying for a rentable and come back to owning.

  48. Ginger says 23 January 2012 at 10:10

    I like this a wonderful idea, though I do wonder how much they spent in rent. We ended up buying because our mortgage would be the same cost as rent plus since we bought a duplex we often are earning income that we would not otherwise be able to earn.

    • Julie says 23 January 2012 at 13:24

      They did say they downsized to a smaller rental so their rent would be lower. And don’t forget to consider appliances, home repairs/maintenance, lawn maintenance, etc that you don’t pay for when you rent. So many people forget that when they are buying. Renting can still be a lot cheaper, even if the rent/mortgage is similar when you factor in those costs.

  49. doug_eike says 23 January 2012 at 10:19

    Cash truly is king! Paying for automobiles, furniture, houses, etc., with cash makes all the sense in the world. Even in a low-interest-rate environment, paying interest on loans is a loser’s game. Those who make the money before they spend it will always outperform those who spend it before they make it. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  50. Cindy says 23 January 2012 at 10:23

    Wasn’t Crystal’s story presented so we could not only learn from it, but give her ideas our own twist? If you’re not agreeing about a house, use it to pay cash for your car, like one respondent said (good for you!)…or your next insurance payment (no extra fees!)…or your laptop. The feeling of Not Owing is really, really refreshing.
    Houses in the Denver, CO area can range from $70,000 (for a condo) to millions of dollars. The median for a two or more-bedroom house seems to be in the $250,000 area…less if you can handle your neighbors staring in your kitchen window.
    We had scrimped and saved to pay extra on our mortgage; when Husband received an inheritance, we had a healthy-sized chunk of money that we could use to pay off the mortgage, or invest elsewhere. The current professional advice was “Hey! Stocks are doing great! Pour your money in! Mortgage debt is tax-deductible…who cares?!”
    We paid off the mortgage, anyways. (It felt wonderful, but we couldn’t brag, because so many of our friends were still paying.) Then the stock market crash came. If we had shoveled that extra into stocks, a huge chunk of that money would have gone down the toilet.

    And BTW, we’re currently considering buying a property in Michigan for $30,000. (Yes, it’s in bad shape, but can be fixed up.) So the bargains are out there, if you look and are patient. That’s the key.

    • Rebecca says 24 January 2012 at 16:13

      I completely agree with your post about doing everything possible to pay off your mortgage. When my husband and I examined it from all angles, it has made more sense to pay down our home mortgage and refinance. We are saving hundreds of dollars in interest every month, much more than we were “saving” in our investments and savings accounts.

  51. Overtaxed says 23 January 2012 at 10:27

    Congrats to the OP. You live in a place that has low housing costs, which helped with your goal. Great or not having no mortgage? A lot of it depends on where you live.

    Here in fiscal basket case Nassau County, NY, paying over $1,000 a month just in PROPERTY TAXES is very typical(about 60% of this goes to the schools). I know a woman who pays property taxes of $24,000 a year. So even if you don’t owe any principle to the bank, Nassau County and the multitude of school districts still have you gunny-sacked. Teachers, school administrators and cops are paid to mid-six figures, and retire on six figure pensions. The homeowners receive gag-worthy tax bills to cover this.

    Good luck to those who can buy with cash in Missouri or wherever, and pay very little for the right to stay in their home.

  52. Sean at Economically Humble says 23 January 2012 at 10:36

    Wow, not only is paying for the house amazing, but graduating without student loans, as well! Congratulations! I like the idea of saving a mad amount for a short term (I may do that with my loans). Thanks for sharing your story!

  53. Nate says 23 January 2012 at 11:02

    I disagree with many of these commenter’s that say it would be impossible to purchase with cash in their area of the country. My wife and I have been diligently saving to purchase our first house with cash. We have lived in 3 different parts of the country and at least 2 of those places are considered medium/high cost of living areas. There are real estate deals to be had in almost any market for cash buyers. In some markets you will be able to purchase a starter home @ retail (beautifully maintained, little to no issues and in a great neighborhood etc.). In other higher cost of living areas of the country you might have to get creative — foreclosures (dealing directly with the banks), motivated sellers (retiring to Florida and want out ASAP etc.), Assumptions (assume an existing mortgage for a buyer that doesn’t want or can’t afford the home) etc. etc. I have been involved in and done many real estate transactions and it has been my experience that most buyers are talking about RETAIL prices when they discuss the affordability of real estate in their markets. Just something to think about. For example I am about to purchase a house within walking distance of a large lake in a medium cost of living area on the East Coast. The comparables in this area have been selling for about 220K — I will be buying for 110K. This deal has taken me a couple months to put together — but is a couple months of hard work with saving > 100K? It is in my world — and when you pay with cash you pay attention to stuff like that. The debt buyer is this scenario is thinking “I got a 4% mortgage on the 220K house!”. There is a LOT of work that went into that process — and honestly a lot of you are going to read that and not believe it. That’s fine; it doesn’t bother me. Those people are the reason why I can find such good deals —they always look @ retail. Listen — what you see on Zillow and what most real estate agents area telling you is NOT what you have to pay in many cases. And sure there are areas of the country that are just plain expensive ALL the time (areas of California, New York etc.). Here’s an idea — DON’T BUY in those markets — sometimes it just makes better sense to rent for a while — then move out a little ways to get what you want for a more affordable price.
    I am trying to speak out for the cash buyers out there (we often times keep quite on these matters). I realize that many of you are just going to think I am crazy and that real estate in your market is so unique that you could never buy with cash (and it is impossible if you think it so). In 90% of the cases that is simply not true.

    Congrats Crystal — you have joined the “weird club”!!!!! It’s great to be weird. One piece of advice. When someone genuinely is interested in hoe you did it — take the time to mentor them and show them the ropes. Great job 😉

  54. John Bartal says 23 January 2012 at 11:23

    Wow. Amazing example to follow! To many, myself included, paying cash for a house seems like an impossible goal. It’s really encouraging to see people living within their means to accomplish their goals. Congratulations!

  55. SimpleIslandLiving says 23 January 2012 at 11:52

    What an inspiring story. I wish I was able to find a house that was under $400K and not a fixer-upper. $100K was always a goal as a down payment – can’t wait until we accomplish that. Will definitely be a great number of years before that happens. Congrats on awesomeness.

  56. Adam P says 23 January 2012 at 12:05

    I have the same goals, except like many above, $100k is the 20% downpayment.

    Toronto and Vancouver’s housing bubble sucks when you’re a first time buyer. But like you guys, I’m saving between $1500-$2k a month towards this…alone..with no spouse. But no debt either.

    I should be very close by the end of this year! However, prices are going up up up so the 20% will probably be $120k by next year.

    Congrats to you guys tho! Sadly I can’t be inspired by this post as salaries have not kept in line with housing costs in Toronto.

  57. Diedra B says 23 January 2012 at 12:36

    thanks for sharing your story. I think your accomplishment is awesome!
    And kudos to you for making up your own minds as to what to do.

  58. Karen says 23 January 2012 at 12:45

    What an inspiring story! I love how having specific goals really makes a difference. Everyone says they want to save more money, but I think the key to your success is saying, “we want to save $100,000 over five years.”

    Kudos to you, I’m going in search of your blog now.

  59. Marie at FamilyMoneyValues says 23 January 2012 at 12:45

    Congrats! Persistence pays. Personally I think the ability to pursue something with sustained activity is more important than being wicked smart.

  60. Earn Save Live says 23 January 2012 at 13:36

    Congrats to Crystal and her family! This is a tremendous accomplishment. I really admire them for saving $100,000 in less than three years.

    Like some others here, I live in a high cost of living city. Here in Australia, homes are 7-9x annual incomes. (To give you an idea, our weekly rent in Australia is more than our monthly mortgage in the U.S.) But instead of being discouraged, I’m motivated to save for a down payment, especially since the bubble is slowly bursting here.

    Sometimes, you come out ahead for renting. We live in a great neighborhood. But if we were to buy this house, we would need a $250,000 down payment to have our mortgage on par with our rent. Renting now will help us reach our long-term goals. Crystal’s story is a fabulous example of this!

  61. Krantcents says 23 January 2012 at 13:58

    Congratulations! I never thought about paying cash until recently as I get close to retirement. If I sold out home toay, I would like to pay cash for the next or last one.

  62. Kelley says 23 January 2012 at 15:01

    Reading this, thinking to myself, I can definitely tell who has read TMMO and who hasn’t. And for those of you that say it can’t be done, you are absolutely right. You will never accomplish what they have accomplished, especially with your can’t do attitude.

    • Karen says 23 January 2012 at 18:42

      I don’t see why reflecting on very real geographic differences represents a “can’t do” attitude. Personally I’ve saved $100K in a similar timeframe (and as a single parent), but that still doesn’t cover a house where I live. And I’m OK with that, because I love where I live and the tradeoffs have been worth it. I’ve enjoyed hearing what other people in high COL areas think about the subject. One can appreciate the main point of the story – the achievement of a goal – and still be interested in discussing the applicability of this particular manifestation in a different setting.

      • Kelley says 23 January 2012 at 19:33

        Yes, but have you read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey? Most people who read it and decide to work the steps KNOW that it can be done. Obviously saving $100k to buy a $300k house wouldn’t work, but it doesn’t mean you can’t pay it off in next 5 years instead of the 30 (or 40) that normal people would choose to do. It’s about becoming free, changing the mindset and your family tree. And as an afterword, we bought our house at 0% in 2006 and are working hard to correct our mistake.

        • Karen says 23 January 2012 at 19:48

          Yep, I’ve read it. Good book. I’ve paid down my own mortgage significantly, balanced out with aggressive investing and emergency savings. It doesn’t change the original purchase price of my home, which was more than double $100K 12 years ago due to the area I’ve chosen to live in. That’s the point that I saw other people making – not that it couldn’t be done, but that some areas require a different path. For those of us who were lucky enough to time the housing market right – and I am definitely one of those, it was luck and not skill – taking out a mortgage rather than waiting and saving turned out to be a financial boon thanks to rapid value appreciation. Had I bought in 2006 vs. 2000, the results wouldn’t look nearly as rosy. ETA – I originally saved that $100K to pay off my mortgage, but then I realized I really liked having $100K around, so I kept it 🙂

  63. AverageJoe says 23 January 2012 at 15:11

    I’m going to jump on the bandwagon with Kelly and everyone else who questions some of the comments here. Why are you hung up on the details of the tale?

    Here’s what’s great about the story:

    She and her husband shared a vision, made it audacious and achieved it. Wow! That’s incredible.

    • Beth says 23 January 2012 at 15:59

      I can see how my earlier comment might have earned me a place among the “naysayers” that people are now turning on. I’m not a gusher — I’m a critical thinker. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to question things, to look at both the possibilities and the pitfalls. If every comment on every post was gushing praise, it would be pretty boring 😉 I think sometimes we have to get the negativity out and let other people react to it.

      I didn’t mean for my comment to reflect badly on Crystal. What she did was amazing, and I was interested in seeing a story from someone who did manage to pay cash for a home.

      Would it be impossible for me to do? You know what — I’m not so sure anymore. Life is full of surprises.

    • Ellie says 23 January 2012 at 20:52

      Because the details are interesting. Why so worried about a little debate? Nobody’s insulting the author. If we all just cheered in unison what’s the point of reading the comments?

  64. MainlineMom aka Sarah says 23 January 2012 at 15:18

    I just feel like I have got to jump in here and respond to all the comments along the lines of “not everyone can live in a podunk town with bad schools and doctors where homes are 100K”.

    Have you even looked outside where you currently live? Houston is the third largest city in the US and the cost of living is dirt cheap here. You can buy a lovely, brand new home for 100K in the best school district in the whole state. We have the largest, most advanced medical center in the world. Jobs of all shapes and sizes are plentiful here right now.

    Yes it’s a scary proposition to relocate from a part of the world you know and love to another place where you could save more money but my family did it and we are so glad. We are saving money hand over fist compared to our life in Philly. Plus we love it here.

  65. Laura @ Frugal Follies says 23 January 2012 at 15:22

    Congratulations again, Crystal! I always wondered how much you actually saved, since on your website you only mentioned what percentage you had saved each month.

    You are quite an inspiration. We are saving to pay off a line of credit, then it’s off to finish our mortgage! We admire all the hard work you put into saving that amount of money!

    –Laura at Frugal Follies

  66. Savings Viking says 23 January 2012 at 15:28

    I think this is not a possible scenario for someone who makes $3.25/hr plus tips. I think this is not a possible scenario for someone who makes $25k/yr (28% of Americans make $28k/yr or less). I think this is not a possible scenario for most Americans, to be honest. However, it’s wonderful that she was able to do that (would she have been able to save $100k in 2.5 years if her husband, instead of having the good luck to be able to work hard, go through law school, pass the bar and get a lucrative job as a lawyer, instead was forced to get a job as a janitor making $8/hr and working 39 hours per week because his employer won’t let him work 40 and thus make him be considered full time, so he doesn’t get any benefits?). Part of it is hard work (part of almost anything is hard work), but part of it is also good luck.

    Her blog is fabulous, btw. I read it daily. As someone else said in an earlier comment, the religion stuff gets annoying after a while, but the quality of the rest of it is so good that I continue reading.

    • Angie says 23 January 2012 at 17:36

      Ok, I am a flat-out, avowed atheist, and I have nehhh-verrrr had one iota of annoyance of any religious stuff on MSM. I read her blog daily, usually multiple times daily. To me your comment is like the other person (to whom I replied) on this comment thread that said Crystal’s writing on her blog was too jumbled to understand. Seriously, WTFFFFF???? I really don’t know what you are talking about.

  67. Kolton says 23 January 2012 at 15:44

    Wow that is quite impressive to say the least. Only taking you guys 2 years to accomplish this is fantastic! When you guys had the little bump in the road from medical bills and car troubles, that’s when you usually see a lot of people give up, and thus making their financial life tougher in the long run. Glad you guys pulled through!

  68. Rick Francis says 23 January 2012 at 15:51

    Congratulations, saving up $100K in about 2 years is a huge accomplishment. It clearly took a lot of work to reach that goal.

    If you had it all to do over again, would you choose this goal again, as opposed to a 20% down payment and other savings?

    I would not have chosen this goal in recent years because:

    #1 To reach such an extreme savings goal so quickly, you forgo other investment opportunities:
    Oct 2008- Jul 2009 was a great time to be investing in the stock market. How much did the home savings impact your retirement savings while saving?

    #2 Mortgage rates are at historic lows now, so the cost of having a mortgage is as low as it is likely to ever get. The 15 year mortgage rate quoted today on yahoo finance is 3.27%- I’m sure everyone here remembers CD rates higher than that. I can’t imagine that inflation won’t be higher than 3.27% average over the next 15 years. This is the closest thing to a free mortgage any of us are likely to see.

    >Not having a mortgage payment has freed us to continue to save aggressively toward other goals, increase our spending in >areas that really matter to us, and give generously to needs in our community and around the world.

    I agree it would be really great to have the extra cash flow, but is it the best thing to do?

    If I liquidated my taxable investments I could pay off more than half our remaining mortgage balance and easily get rid of the mortgage in a couple more years. I could do that but I’m not going to.

    That extra cash flow would be nice… but I would lose all the returns on those investments, which could be even better. I’m willing to take that risk given the low rate I have on my mortgage. Paying the mortgage as stipulated already pays more toward principle than toward interest each month. I’m forced to pay over $400/month toward the principle- that is a lot already. Why should I put all my available cash toward paying down a low interest rate mortgage, when I can hedge my bets with other investments?

    -Rick Francis

  69. Rose says 23 January 2012 at 15:58


    I’ve only recently embarked on the debt-elimination and super-simple-living adventure, and I greatly admire your tenacity! My husband and I also are continuing to rent both because it gives us time to pay off other debts and because we don’t really know where we want to end up. We did save up and completely pay for our wedding in cash without incurring a lick of debt, and today I snowballed my highest interest credit card into a zero balance. Progress is progress.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  70. Leigh says 23 January 2012 at 16:19

    Congratulations, Crystal and husband! Saving $100,000 in 2.5 years is a pretty awesome feat.

    I had, at one point, contemplated waiting until I could pay cash for a house or condo. I know that I want to stay in the city that I’m in for quite a few years, but $250,000-400,000 is a LOT of cash. Where I live, you could *maybe* find a tiny studio condo for $100,000, but definitely not a place that I would want to live in.

    I did the math and I felt like I am better off buying a condo now with a 30 year mortgage than continuing to rent until I could afford to pay cash for a condo. If I wanted to be living in a house in the next 5-7 years, that would be a different story – then I would have kept saving and had more cash to put down on the house. My monthly housing expenses of mortgage payment, HOA dues, and property taxes are quite comparable to the rent on the place I had been living in for the last few years. And then this way, I will at the very least have some equity when I do choose to sell the condo and buy a house (whenever that may be) in addition to the money I’m saving each month. Doing it this way also allows me a lot more breathing room and I do know that eventually, I will have a paid off mortgage. Taking on a mortgage allows me to prioritize multiple goals at the same time, rather than just prioritizing a house. It definitely sounds that, for you guys, the house was an extreme priority, but it just isn’t that much of a priority for me.

  71. Matt says 23 January 2012 at 16:28

    I really admire your dedication, and applaud you for what you’ve done. I’d just like to add two things to consider for the sake of conversation:

    1) My wife and I bought our “starter home” for about the same amount ($120,000) about 7 years ago. In that time we’ve gotten tremendous enjoyment from it and worked to improve it. As a consequence it has almost doubled in value (conservative figures put it around $250,000 with about $15,000 spent in improvements). On a 15 year note and paying extra I will have it paid off in about 5 years. My point: While we’ve paid interest, to be sure, it’s been more than offset by appreciation/inflation working in our favor.
    2) Living in our home, as I mentioned, has brought us great joy. We have great memories there, and working on it has brought us closer together. Again, while we have paid in interest there is unarguable value in the joy we derive from it.

    I’m not saying our way is the right way. What would suggest, though, is that a little debt leveraged in the right way is not always a bad thing. Everything in moderation.

  72. Poor Student says 23 January 2012 at 16:36

    That’s awesome that you could do that. While right now it seems like a long shot I would love to pay cash for my first home after I graduate. Or like you said, save as much as I can for it and pay a very large down payment. I have a long way to go but you being able to do it makes me more confident, thank you.

  73. AJ says 23 January 2012 at 16:37

    It’s unrealistic to think in our lifetime that we will be able to pay cash for a house because my husband ONLY makes that 50k a year and much less after taxes and deductions. To top it off I am kinda getting worn out on the We paid cash for law school and our house especially since an inheritance was involved and a job as an attorney pays significantly more than those in law enforcement.

    • Angie says 23 January 2012 at 17:41

      Didn’t the inheritance only pay for a portion of school?

      Why you so hateful anyway? She’s not suggesting you do what she did, it’s a tale of accomplishment meant to inspire. Take your $50k and try to stretch it to accomplish something remarkable that fits you and your life. Gosh.

    • Sara says 23 January 2012 at 18:05

      I get tired of hearing people assume that attorneys are rolling in the dough. It’s true that there are lots of high-paying jobs in this sector, but there are many more lower-paying ones. I wish I hadn’t just recyled my local legal newspaper from a couple weeks ago, but it was actually pretty staggering to see the average and median salaries for lawyers versus average and median law school debt. Lawyers on the whole make MUCH less than it seems many people assume. (I don’t know anything about Crystal’s husband individually.)

      • Ellie says 23 January 2012 at 21:00

        For real. Google “law school scam” to read some horror stories about the legal market. Getting through law school without debt might’ve been the bigger accomplishment.

        • Mom says 24 January 2012 at 13:02

          I feel exactly the same way about the pay of an MD. Everyone thinks you are rolling in money and the truth is you would make more (on an hourly basis) as a plumber. When in residency (before the work hour rules) I estimated that my husband made $3.80 per hour. Not to mention the debt from medical school that can take a decade to pay off. In fact, I just tabulated DH’s hourly wage as a board certified MD and it is $37 per hour. NICE, huh? For 9 years of post graduate education. Ever wonder why your wait to see the doctor is so long?

  74. Juliana says 23 January 2012 at 16:39

    Congrats! My husband and I did something similar – saved up $100K over 2.5 years while living well below our means in a modest apartment – except in our area, $88K was our 20% downpayment. We are slowly building our savings back up but it’s not as easy as it used to be – our mortgage is 2.5 times our old rent and we now have a toddler in daycare and another on the way – man, daycare really eats up money that used to go into savings. But we’re still sticking with our “slow but steady wins the race” approach to saving.

  75. Rhiannon says 23 January 2012 at 17:01

    My husband and I purchased our house two years ago in a small town in NC. It’s a big town to me, but small compared to Charlotte. We went with foreclosure’s, and now stand to make a good 70k+. Do some research. There’s almost always a cheaper option out there.

  76. Rhonda says 23 January 2012 at 17:20

    Hi Crystal!
    I have been following your blogs for a long time, even when you were living in the basement apartment. Good work, and hope your booksales continue to go well!

  77. Miriam says 23 January 2012 at 17:45

    Congradulations! All things are possible with God. I hope to be able to tell a similar story one day on your site. Due to CHOICES me and my husband made in the past, I am still renting. But it is affordable even with oil prices going up. When my husband and I got married, it never occured to us we could own. We lived in a very expensive city in New Jersey and never considerd moving. When the children came along, we thought we were doing them a favor by keeping them out of daycare (he worked days and I worked everything else). Finally 10 years later of renting, we moved to a more affordable are–still renting.
    great, I thouught to myself,we can finally go to school to further my education. Long story short, my husband became ill as his diabeties got worse. Still never saved anything. So, I finally finished school (it took 10 years, only took out loans for the last 2 years paid the rest myself.)and was very proud. Worked hard and long hours, still renting. 2 years later my husband passed. No life insurance (he didn’t believe in it). Now 2.5 years later with 3 girls (17, 15, and 12), still renting but with aout 50,000 in school loan debt. Payments are about $500 per month while I get out of default. I know everyone’s circumstances is different, but it seems best if your husband is making VERY GOOD (as lets say a lawyer rather than a laborer) money and you can stay home with very small children that don’t need much as comapred to a single parent with teenagers. “Again choosing not to buy when I could was my choice and now I’m paying for it. My question to anyone out there is Im 42.5 years old, is it too late for me? I want my girls not to make the same mistakes I did.

    • Miriam says 24 January 2012 at 13:07

      Looking back n this the next day, I want to delete this post. I have been following Crystal’s post for over a year now. it is very helpful. The point of what she is making is that it is possible to by almost ANYTHING without going into debt. It’s just ;ike someone else on this blog state, just an alternative to doing things THE AMERICAN WAY which sometimes means living with debt.I say do what you can until you can do better. If you want differnt results, do things differently. I have and i will.

  78. Kim @Going Thrifty says 23 January 2012 at 17:52

    The take away here is easy…don’t over think it. It certainly doesn’t have to be a house..your “pay cash” purchase can be anything that brings you freedom in other areas of your life. Who wouldn’t want that?

  79. Bridget says 23 January 2012 at 18:25

    Wow great post. I’m currently paying down debt, and while I’m not as disciplined as the author here, I have noticed it is amazing what you can do once you set a goal and put all your effort towards it.

    I don’t think I’ll be able to buy a house with cash (a single family home here costs $400,000 so maybe that’s part of my problem!) but I do hope to save a lot for a big down-payment.

  80. Shilpan says 23 January 2012 at 20:54

    It’s amazing how one can save, invest and grow money simply by controlling two major mistakes – one not to buy too big of a house and second, not to buy too expensive cars. The rest is easy as money can compound quickly over the time.

  81. Pam says 23 January 2012 at 20:59

    It’s funny seeing some of the posters at the beginning talking about investing the money instead of paying for a home with cash. The fact is, there is no garunteed way to get more return on your money then you pay in mortgage interest. The stock market is not FDIC insured as too many found out, and for those that say it’s the long run that counts, well, she bought a house in 2 and a half years. No way could she have improved her financial return on her investment by putting it into stocks and bonds in that amount of time. She made a choice which financially is extremely sound.

  82. maewally says 23 January 2012 at 21:31

    So I stopped reading comments before making it to the bottom, but based on the ones I’ve read, it seems like many of you thought Crystal told you this was the only way to buy a house. I am not sure I saw anywhere that she suggested that at all. So okay, you can’t do this in New York or Boston or over seas. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t use her example as inspiration to save cash for many other things. And, for all of you that think this is a bad idea, I would encourage you to read more of her blog. The decision she and her husband made has allowed them to do some pretty incredible things with the money they now have, that isn’t going to a mortgage company. I think the greatest thing about Crystal is that she is willing to look outside the box and not fall into the traps of the American Way. Patience and doing without is not something many of us do well, but by reading her story, it makes me feel a little foolish about jumping into so many purchases just because I “could”, and just because that is what “everyone does”. Awesome job Crystal and Jesse!

  83. trisha says 23 January 2012 at 21:59

    I think a lot are missing the point. Yes once he got a job after law school his income went way up (and hers started going up). Having more “disposable” income did allow them to save more money and more quickly than someone making lower wages. However, their spending did not go up. They still scrimped and saved. THEY CHOSE TO PUT THE MONEY TOWARD THEIR GOAL RATHER THAN INCREASING THEIR LIFESTYLE, which way too many people tend to do with an increase in wages. Had their situation been different (say they only make $40,000/year) their goals may have been different. Yes, their situation is unique (hugely due to their devotion to staying out of debt) but it is quite amazing and inspiring!

  84. jason says 24 January 2012 at 02:52

    I bought my first house in 91 all cash 50k. It was a small house by the railroad tracks. I lived there for 14 year. On retrospect. I wish I would have bought a larger house or a duplex. I ended up living in a shack when I coulda had 4 times the house and 4 times the equity by leveraging that 50k. Your kids could have much better friends in a better neighborhood also… but I did feel pretty good at the time knowing I never had to worry about a place to live ever again

  85. mihai says 24 January 2012 at 05:31

    When I see prices of houses of around 600.000 $ and incomes that would cover it in more than 10 years (New York for instance) I think it is not worth it.
    600.000 could buy you a fantastic house in Houston for instance(your comments) and also help your retirement.

    Also buying in places like Vancouver when the bubble is right about to burst is a mistake that will cost you your future (if you get a mortgage).
    Sometimes I wonder how does getting 100.000 $ /year help you if you are paying more than half of it to the bank.
    Not good I assume.

  86. Jane says 24 January 2012 at 06:08

    “I’m not a gusher – I’m a critical thinker.”

    That’s a great line, Beth. I’m going to use it myself. Especially in the Facebook age of excessive praise, I think it is particularly useful.

    I used to read Crystal’s blog, and while I respect her and admire her ability to live with less even though her income has grown so much, I cannot tolerate the comments on her blog precisely because they all gush. Crystal seems so down to earth I wonder how she can even read the comments without blushing or feeling a little bit uncomfortable. The mostly women who comment make it seem like Crystal is the combined 21st century Mother Theresa, the Virgin Mary and every other real or imagined saint out there.

    It makes me wonder if she deletes all negative comments. That is one thing that I appreciate about this blog – that the moderators (since we all know they are plural now and not just J.D.) let the snark and criticism through.

    I’m trying to remember a great quote I read once about how direct praise is a bit like looking directly at the sun – it’s too bright to handle. That’s sort of how I feel about the effusive praise I often read online. Maybe I’m weird but it makes me uncomfortable. I think the internet age fosters the extremes of communication – both the over the top compliments and the overwhelmingly rude comments. Because I don’t imagine people would do either to another’s face.

    This will be my one “gush” for Crystal, namely that she puts her money where her mouth is in terms of giving to charity. THAT is something I cannot snark about.

    • Ellie says 24 January 2012 at 07:23

      Seriously. I’ve never read so much indignation at people simply expressing an alternate viewpoint (and respectfully, too!) I guess we all just should have just told Crystal she’s the greatest and then moved on to Yahoo Finance for even more insightful commentary.

    • Bess says 24 January 2012 at 10:47

      Some of it is that women in certain Christian communities are often not encouraged to express negative thoughts or criticisms to people. Women are instead expected to encourage and inspire; there is particular discomfort in criticizing (thoughtfully) a Christian story or source at times.

      Not trying to over-generalize–I came from that world and am very familiar with it. But that might part of the reason you’re seeing a skew there.

      • Jane says 24 January 2012 at 12:03

        I completely agree with you. I grew up in that environment as well. I still go to a conservative church and notice a similar type of way of communicating that is almost saccharine sweet. Perhaps I’m a just a “mean” Christian, but my mind constantly goes towards the devil’s advocate position – not in any way to bring a person down, but because I can see so many sides to things. And the whole “you go girl” type of friendship (even on an internet level) doesn’t appeal to me.

  87. Michelle says 24 January 2012 at 07:39

    She mentioned her husband being a lawyer in KS. Ok, so say he makes $100K. How much could she possibly be making from blogging monthly? $500???

    • Angie says 24 January 2012 at 09:25

      $500 a month for blogging???? I’d think less than that but who knos?

    • Kate says 24 January 2012 at 10:33

      Oh, the naivety…I wouldn’t be surprised if Crystal makes several thousand dollars a month. She runs a VERY successful blog.

      • Todd says 24 January 2012 at 11:10

        Wow, really, then how come more than 1/2 the people on here never heard of her??????? What makes u think several thousand? From what asking people to buy things that she doesn’t? Getting $.02 for a few hundred or a thousand people printing a coupon? Come on

        • The Bargain Shopper Lady says 24 January 2012 at 14:27

          Crystal has about a million readers per day! 🙂

        • MainlineMom aka Sarah says 24 January 2012 at 21:34

          Ha…talk about naivety! You seriously have no idea what successful bloggers make, do you? Crystal’s blog is hugely successful. At least 50K a year blogging, if not much more. 2 cents a coupon? Oh no no.

  88. Arrapaho says 24 January 2012 at 12:39

    Great post…very inspiring. We also want to eliminate debt asquickly as possible but i did not have the patience to save up for 100% down payment. Mathematically, it was probably possible for them to end up in the same position in the same amount of time by buying the house with 20% down and making the payments they sent to savings as extra principal payments. This would assume that the interest and taxes on the mortgage were about equal to rent in their area. In this specific case, the housing bubble probably resulted in a much better home price by waiting though, and in all cases, having a mortgage increases risk and there is always the likelihood that people will not stick to the aggressive prepayment schedule once they have the object of their desire. In our case we are on track to own our dream house outright in 7 years from the time we purchased. We have been making huge prepayments, but i admit we would probably be willing to sacrifice more from the daily budget if we were stuck in a rental and needed the full amount to buy the place.

  89. Dianna says 24 January 2012 at 15:20

    Sure not everyone can do what Crystal did but if people at least tried to pay cash for things they would buy less and think about purchases more. It makes sense that she was able to save more money quicker than many because her husband is a lawyer but Crystal is a smart business woman herself. I am quite sure she contributed quite a bit to it. The amount of money a person makes has no bearing on whether they save cash for a home (or anything) or not. It has to do with willpower, planning, saving, goal setting and budgeting. In times when credit, home loans and car loans are common, I find what Crystal and her husband did to be awesome!

  90. Lindsay says 25 January 2012 at 05:58

    Okay, honest math question here because this just doesn’t make sense to me.

    You saved $100,000 in about 30 months to pay 100% down on the house, right? So $3,333/month. Over those same 30 months, even if your rent was low at, say, $500/month, you paid $15,000 in rent, right?

    So if you’d bought the house when you had $20,000 to put down (20%), which would have been after about six months, you’d have saved yourself 24 months, or $12,000, in rent payments, so you’d have also had that extra $500/month to throw at paying your mortgage off, so you’d have finished paying the house off even EARLIER, right? There’s no way the interest you would have paid on an $80,000 mortgage scheduled for even ten years would have been $500/month, especially knocking down the principal so fast.

    So is it my math or did you actually end up waiting LONGER to own your house free and clear, spending MORE money to do it than you would have taking on the debt for awhile?

    It SOUNDS cool to pay for your first house in cash, but I don’t think it was mathematically the best decision in your circumstances!

    • a says 25 January 2012 at 09:29

      You’re forgetting several factors.

      Sure they wouldn’t have to pay rent, but some or all of that $500 a month rent “savings” would have been eaten up by the fact that they would now be paying more for insurance and utilities (more space to heat, water and sewer bills) than they did at their small apartment and they would also be paying property taxes and maintenance. Also when you purchase a home with a mortgage, there are fees associated with the loan that as a cash buyer you can avoid. Moreover, the beginning of the mortgage is when you’re paying the most interest. On that 10 year mortgage you mentioned the minimum payment would be about $810 a month assuming a 4% interest rate. But of that $810 approximately 25% is going to interest, that means right there is over $200 a month going to the bank for interest. The increases to utilities, taxes, insurance and the interest as well as the initial costs of obtaining a loan all could easily eat up or surpass that $12000 in savings.

      For the record, my husband and I are in the process of purchasing our first home and I went through all of these calculations (I love excel!) and we decided we’d rather not wait in our small, cheap apartment in order to save more.

      While our route is going to cost us a little more in the long run, in the meantime we will be able to enjoy our home sooner and we’re willing to spend it for something that makes us happy. But we we made our decision with the realization that our ability to save would be impacted by our increased expenses. To each his own.

  91. Lindsay says 25 January 2012 at 10:07

    I’m not sure they’d necessarily be paying higher water/sewer bills. Why are they suddenly using more water because their house is bigger? Heat I’ll grant, depending on the size difference of the house, but they have much more control over the efficiency of the heating if it’s their own place.

    Keep in mind too that while 25% of the first $810 is going toward interest, the other $3,023.33 is going straight toward principle. Running the numbers for a total monthly payment of $3,833.33 on an $80,000 mortgage at 4% interest over 10 years at shows a total interest payment of $3,058.33. That means you have almost $9,000 to cover the loan costs (much of which may be covered by the seller if you negotiate it well), increase in utilities (which, again, has too many variables to necessarily be significant), and property taxes. And you get to live in your house fully two years earlier.

    I’m sure there’s some kind of break-even point on it, but if it’s close on $500 rent, any more realistic rent estimates come out even more obviously ahead.

    I still think it sounds cooler than it really is, and we have to be careful about the “Avoid debt at all possible costs!” mentality. It’s usually the best decision. Maybe even a vast majority of the time. But not always, and we’d do well to keep that in mind.

    • a says 25 January 2012 at 10:45

      Around here it is common that water and sewer and trash pickup are included in the cost of rent, it is not paid separately by the renter. So while its unlikely that they would use more water when owning a home (unless they are now watering a lawn), it would still be an expense that they weren’t responsible for before. Maybe this is not the case in other parts of the country. If the renter is already responsible for paying for these services then yes they would be a wash.

  92. a says 25 January 2012 at 11:22

    It is pretty standard around here for water, sewer and trash pickup to be included in the rent. So while its unlikely that the homeowner will be using any more water (unless they are now watering a yard or have a pool), it is still a service that before they didn’t have to pay for. This may just be a local thing, perhaps in other parts of the country its standard for a renter to pay for their water and sewer themselves, in which case it would be a wash.

    Also, I’m not saying there aren’t cases where its in your favor to purchase a home with a mortgage and have it be cheaper then saving up. If my husband and I were more willing to purchase a fixer upper that would be the case for us. But I think my point still stands, you can’t just look at the rent savings, you need to evaluate the whole situation. There are a lot of variables. Since we don’t know the entire situation and the actual costs, we can’t accurately say whether it would have worked out in their favor or not.

    But other people in this situation, shouldn’t ignore the other factors or assume they’re not significant because they are difficult to quantify or compare. When determining if its going to be cheaper to rent longer and save versus buy now and pay a mortgage, I think that you need to take into account how being a homeowner will impact the rest of your budget.

  93. Annette says 25 January 2012 at 13:10

    I haven’t read through all the comments, but Crystal failed to mention (please correct if I am wrong) that they also inherited a substantial amount of money that helped them get a HUGE jump start. In her post on she shared this information due to the questions that were being asked.

    Hope this helps people to keep things in perspective.

    I have soon to be 9 children and my husband makes $27000, even though we have a mortgage and NO extra bills, we can only do so much humanly possible. I would rather have a large happy family trusting in God’s provision, than just a couple of kids with savings account for the future. This of course is only MY OPINION, others think otherwise and that is perfectly okay!

  94. Amanda says 25 January 2012 at 16:34

    I love the fact that you have been able to pay cash for a home! Congrats to you! However, our family doesn’t make anywhere near what you do. We struggle just to be able to tithe and pay necessities for our family of 5. After taxes, we take home 2,300/month. My husband works two jobs for that income, plus he is in school. While I totally understand the benefits of savings, sometimes I feel it is almost impossible! We have no debt, besides a small school loan that we won’t pay on for another 3 years. Funny, my husband works sooo hard for the little that we have, yet people on welfare “make” more than we do….

  95. Emily says 27 January 2012 at 06:08

    This is a great story… and everyone’s situation is unique, like other reader’s have said, $100k is a down payment where I am unfortunately; but, a good one! So even if saving for the whole cost of the house isn’t feasible in my life, the story is inspiring for sticking to your goals regardless! Congrats!

  96. Ryan says 29 January 2012 at 13:36

    Crystal, This has little bearing on most Americans when you don’t include any details of your income and expenses. Sure I can say I need to save $1700 a month, but that’s much easier if you’re making $200k vs $100k a year. Also, what were your monthly expenses. This is going to vary widely just based on your location. I think it’s great you were able to buy your house outright in such little time, but where I live houses are $400k on up and only making $100k a year, that would take about 20 years at your same savings rate. I think this article is a little out of touch with the majority of Americans and the financial situations.

  97. Shrips says 03 March 2012 at 09:25

    You make too many assumptions when it comes to taking a home loan vs buying in cash. For example you paid rent for 5 years before buying a home. Say your rent was $500 month, so you paid $30,000 in rent over 5 years. That means the home cost you 130k not 100k.

  98. Rena says 18 April 2012 at 13:29

    Hmmm, when I saw the title of the article, I thought – “That’s amazing! That sounds impossible!” So I was really excited to read this article to get some good ideas. So I was pretty disappointed to see that their first home cost around $100k. My husband and I paid $125k (in cash) just as the downpayment on our small condo. Starter homes in our area of Los Angeles are around $700k or $800k (if you want more than a small fixer upper, you’re looking at more like 1million+). I’m working on saving another $150k-$200k now to use along with whatever we make when selling our condo to buy a home. I’m halfway to that current goal. But alas, it seems paying cash for a house is just not in the cards for us….

  99. Guesty Guest says 01 June 2012 at 08:38

    Wow, I nearly fainted that one could still buy a starter home for $100K. Where I live, tear downs cost $400K.

  100. TJD says 08 October 2012 at 06:23

    How about a plan for someone living where a starter house costs a little (or a lot) more than $100k? That is a complete joke. Try $500k in the SF Bay Area…

  101. Credit Card Relief Program Experts says 27 November 2012 at 17:40

    Dave Ramsey does provide consumers with excellent information. I think he may be a little hard on creditors. After all creditors can help with building credit score. Anyways, definitely saving up to pay for most of your home I think is a good idea, but to pay it all off in full, I don’t agree with. Here is why. I think if you pay most of it off and then have money in savings is smart. Lets say you lose your job, at least you will only have a small amount owed on your mortgage and you can quickly pay it off. However if you don’t lose your job, it helps to build your credit score if your paying on a mortgage payment, so why not pay on it for the reason of building a high credit score. In summary I think that paying 90% of your home off and then taking out only a small mortgage is safe and beneficial to your credit score.

  102. Bryan says 12 August 2013 at 19:57

    Gee I wonder how a couple with law degrees, only one car and no student loan debt could save so much money? This anecdote is cute and making a strict budget is great but the average couple cannot follow this plan and expect the same result 100% of the time.

  103. Rebecca C says 02 October 2013 at 13:15

    We are big Dave Ramsey fans too. Right now we are saving up to pay cash for our first house too. Our families think we are nuts to try it, but this time next year, with any luck, we should have enough for a small starter home. It is such a cool dream, and so different from what all our friends are doing.

  104. Megan says 13 January 2014 at 13:32

    What an interesting idea and good for you for being able to achieve it. Just for a thought exercise, I ran some quick numbers. At the rate we are saving now (which is quite healthy) it would take us another 19.9 years to save up to buy a house in cash at today’s prices.

    yeah… I think we’ll be sticking with a mortgage when we buy!

  105. Moorie Chalk says 17 April 2014 at 01:13

    To pay it all cash, it would take double time here in England. Such high prices here that working both husband and wife doesn’t seem to help.
    But Paine’s case is very motivating how hard they tried to lessen their expenses. Needs a lot of patience.

  106. LaBellaBre' says 07 June 2014 at 16:44

    Great article! I have had a dream of wanting to buy my own home and land free and clear since I was age 22. I am a single mom. It’s easier to do this when you have a husband or at least a two-earner household. Leaps and bounds easier. However, I agree with the frugal living. And being able to pay cash for something is so much better than owing interest. You can enjoy meals with meat on a budget…just enjoy very small portions. I try to look at the traditional Asian diet…very little meat or none at all. Americans are so accustomed to huge portions. A 10 ounce sirloin is enough meat for 3 people in the traditional Asian diet! I really think living frugally or simply is the key to owning a home if you are on an budget and don’t have a huge or multiple income household…and if you don’t have someone willing to give you a house in an inheritance.

  107. LaBellaBre' says 07 June 2014 at 16:59

    That was a wonderful feat you and your husband acdomplished, (and quite inspiring) but it isn’t so difficult considering how much most attorneys make compared to the average take home pay of most Americans. Oh, I meant to add to my previous comment that I’m age 30 and hoping to buy soon. It is very expensive to have a home in some areas where I live, but a starter home can still be had for under $100,000 here (Raleigh-Durham, NC) if you look carefully. One just sold next to my son’s grandmother’s house for $95,000. It’s about 1100 square feet, 3 BDRM 1 bath and on about .50 acre. In a nice, quiet subdivision that is close to everything, including a top notch medical center (Duke). That pricing is not uncommon here.

    Me personally, I want to live away from the city, so living on rural land elsewhere in NC should drive the home price range down a lot compared to where I currently live, which is smack dab in the middle of the city, in an apartment. I dislike it because I like privacy and peace and quiet. And I like nature…so I’m saving earnestly to get the house on the type of rural land I want, but still be reasonably close to where I need to be.

  108. Paula says 21 June 2014 at 11:43

    I believe a home is one thing where there is a middle ground. It doesn’t have to be either unwise spendthrift or pay all cash.

    As I was growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of owning a home free and clear before retirement, and that has proved to be the best thing we ever did. My parents never paid a day’s rent in their lives. For a few months, they lived on one of my grandfather’s farms in return for doing the work. They saved enough to pay down on a tiny house, then sold it for enough to pay down on a better home which was paid off long before they retired.

    They stressed to me that they absolutely feared to start paying rent, afraid that it would begin a cycle of renting that they wouldn’t get out of. Rent is money tossed down the toilet. House payments build equity, so that you leave with some money, even if you have to sell before the mortgage is paid off.

    The problem is taking on too large a mortgage for a more expensive home than you can afford. We bought modest homes that we could hang on to through lay offs, illness, short work, etc.

    We have been married 41 years, and rented apartments the first six. The very idea of paying rent now give me the cold chills.

  109. joe smoe says 23 July 2014 at 14:28

    One thing people need to remember is this paying cash you cant lose unless you have someplace to live for free or cheap already. The case of opportunity cost makes no sense if the person will continue earning then the opportunity is greater. Unless a investment opportunity occurs within 15 months of the purchase with lower closing cost, no interest, or morgage payment.i bought a condo at 30years for 220k. If took out a 15 year loan, id pay about 80k over the 15 years with 4.5% interest about and 4000 in closing cost fees. 84000. Thats 467 a monthgiving to the bank. Thats more than the maintenance fees. In 2 years thats giving myself 11208 on top of remaining frugal and saving 3500 a month*24=84000+11208=95208. Meaning not only if property appreciate I my net worth increase but by remain frugal after im setting my self up at 34yr to own my property 190416

  110. Pa lo says 03 August 2014 at 21:19

    We did the same we bought our house all cash and took us 10 years !

  111. Jacob Ding says 10 October 2014 at 01:56

    This is a good story, and it’s admirable how focused they were on their goal of buying a house. That said, I don’t understand the purpose of that goal – they could have saved for one year, bought the house with 20% down (or more, as it sounds like they were saving much faster than they thought they could), and continued to live the same way while building up their equity rather than wasting money on rent. The house could have been paid off just as quickly, but they’d have had enjoyed it for longer.

  112. one thing to consider says 15 October 2014 at 10:18

    All cash is only good if a. No other avenues to invest money. Examples roth ira, max 401k, low yeilding investments 100% to get 4% on investments, starting your own small business, or paying off other debts. Then its the only idea. The upfront savings on closing, and potentially purchase price is incentives. But an example of smart money. If you buy 100k property to live that sticker price was 125k. If expense in 10 years add up to 100k. 100k+100k=200k which is 20k a year or 1666 a month. Add artificial appriciation 1700. Equate 1700 to whatevers in your local area and you might be saving 190 buy purchasing a home. The problem is buy renting and investing the rest of money into a business, even if that business is buying property can get you more than 180 a month plus ownership of the house. Long story short depending on situation 80% if you treat money as a business piece youll always find avenue to maximize it

  113. Aesedai says 08 November 2014 at 14:33

    Ok so we are working on paying off our mortgage and then will be saving like 3500 a month so we can pay for a rental property with cash. BIG QUESTION: Where is the best place to put our savings in the meantime? Load mutual funds I think are out because it should not take us more than 2 or 3 years to save. Whats the best strategy???

  114. Mia says 12 September 2015 at 21:19

    How do people have more than one child AND pay cash for a house?? Especially if only one spouse is working???

  115. John says 02 November 2015 at 17:43

    If you take on strategic debt; say a house, in times of high inflation and pay a reasonable interest rate with styrofoam money, you’ll be better off than spending current powerfull cash to purchase outright.


    In today’s market; the ability to simply amass a financial battleship capable of defeating the purchase price of a house with one barrage is a proud accomplishment indeed.

    Keep it up! Reload the guns and take on armor! Expand your forces. Invest wisely and take your time. The big scary targets of your twenties and thirties will be unable to ding you anymore and you’ll find yourself wondering why people you know are looking to their future with fear.

    A whole big boatload of really good people jack themselves up for a life of debt through a careless and uninformed manner of handling basic finances. Get sound, qualified help if you don’t know what you’re doing.

    Kids? Of course! Barring really bad luck you have 18 years after day X to prepare a war chest for the day they blast off on their own. Do It!

  116. Todd Hutcheson says 03 February 2016 at 13:50

    Paying off low interest debt may not be the smartest thing from a financial perspective of trying to build a real estate portfolio, but it sure feels good and makes it easier to sleep at night.

  117. Mary says 22 October 2016 at 18:18

    Hi !!!!!! I have a very important question. My dad is retired and my mom is also. My brother has been working and he only makes about 2000 a month. Even tho my dad is retired he tries to work as a hobby on cars and sometimes makes a hundred or two per week. And for the past 8 years my parents have been saving to buy a 150k house. Is that illegal if they pay it all in cash ? Would they be investigated for saving their own money ? Lol.

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