Affording the House You Want

by Betty Ann


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My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We live in expensive New York city. When he met me I was a single mother of 2 children and was living on child support and a part time job while the children were in school. I have a college degree in Science and an adult course in computerized bookkeeping but never used my education since being an at home mom was more important. My husband felt owning our own home was an essential part of family life well being. We were finally able to get our ideal family home 5 months ago. We had to buy 2 other homes before we brought this home. It's a beautiful detached home - which is very expensive in our part of the city.

The way we did it was to buy two other homes that were not suitable for us. We bought homes that were structurally good but undesirable in the way they looked. The last house was indescribably filthy which turned most people off. We would clean, and clean, and clean and paint. Then we replaced all appliances.

New York City prices went up during those years. Each time we were able to sell quickly and for a huge profit. People kept saying our home was so clean and neat compared to other homes. Yes, I hate cleaning, but I cleaned like crazy. The first home we made a 25 percent profit after 3 years. And the second home we made a whopping 33 percent profit after only 18 months.

Each time our sale agents said we would not sell for the going rate because kitchens and bathrooms were out of date (except for new kitchen appliances that we replaced each time - always in white). We proved them wrong and they happily made high commissions when other multiple listing agents showed house.

We used our profits for down payments each time. Our third home (where we are planning on staying forever) we put $40,000 down on a $280,000 house. I never had to leave my children to work for downpayments. I was able to have a baby 4 and a half years ago and never work again.

The home we brought was really worth about $320,000 but was priced lower for a quick sale by children of deceased parents. They didn't know how prices have zoomed up. (new kitchen; 1 new bathroom; fireplace, 4 bedrooms, living room, family, 2 kitchens, new carpets, garage, etc.) . I do feel bad that I got home for less money then worth - but I did not do anything illegal.

My husband feels I have been an asset by being an at home mom. Home is clean enough. Clothes are washed. I do spend too much time studying for my mental relaxation.

We shop in another borough of New York City to get meat for half of what I would have to pay for Perdue chicken and veal breast (for veal stew). Price for Perdue chicken is $5.25 in my neighborhood store and only $2.69 in the other borough. Veal breast for stew is only $1.89 a pound (only good for stews - but delicious). I bake my own banana cake, apple pies, and chocolate chip cookies.

I am not a naturally domestic person - but view it as a way to survive in New York City. I do it for my children and husband. I do not drive. I walk 3 miles a day to do errands, etc. This allows us to live on my husband city salary which is not the best.

I'm not trying to show off by any comments. I just feel that if an average person like me can make do this anyone can accomplish the same things. Just remember not to be snobbish - a lot of people we knew would not have bought the first 2 homes that we did because of the filth involved. But now they understand what we did. I really could not work due to my beliefs of not leaving my children. It took awhile for my husband to understand that if I have worked we would have lost money in the long run. I would not have energy to look for bargains - or search real estate market - or keep our house neat. I would not be able to shop practically for Christmas items, or want to spend time on weekend in crowded stores to save money; I would not have time to bake my own food or begin to pack his lunch, etc..


Beth Ann is 39 years old and the mother of 3 children 16, 14, and 4.

My Story is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story to share please send it to gary @stretcher.com with "My Story" as the subject. You don't need to be a writer. Just someone who's learned about saving money and is willing to share the information with others.

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