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July 30th, 2008 at 04:56 pm

I stumbled across a book in the library called True Prosperity, Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle by K.C. Knouse. This book would have been an excellent book for me to read before purchasing a house. Unfortunately I didn't read the book before purchasing a house.

Not to say I'm not overly grateful to live in my home and to be able to afford it, because I am extremely grateful. But here's the thing: People tell you that buying a house is the American Dream. They say it's a great tax break. They tell you to stop throwing money away on rent. I can't speak for everyone, but if you're a saver like me and thought you were really doing something when you had a large down payment for your first home, you're in for a suprise. Once you sign that paperwork and pay those ridiculous closing costs you are not 'home free'. You're in debt. You're obligated to a bank who technically owns your house until you pay off the mortgage, you're responsible for every repair, every appliance, and every bill, and now you have to cut the grass. Truth be told, this was not the dream I had in mind.

Purchasing a house created bills I never even heard of (Escrow? Or.. A water heater costs HOW much?) Talk about being a grown up! After putting down a large down payment, I didn't have much savings left, but sure wish someone had told me that I would NEED savings after closing on the house. Within the first few weeks of closing, we managed to replace a faulty water heater, purchase yard equipment (an all-day field trip to the local home imporovement store), and buy mattresses and beds for 2 bedrooms with miminal credit card debt. (For the rest of the house, we used our existing furniture from our apartments.) The previously uncharted expenses seemed NEVER-ENDING and I would stare at the ceiling at night wondering why all the people I talked to about home-ownership never told me ANY of the after-story. (Now I find that it's because it's considered "NORMAL" to struggle financially and everyone I talked to back then wanted me to have the same kind of fun they were having.)

After being in the house for 10 years, I've almost (almost!) got the budget manageable. (Yes, it's taken 10 years to adjust, cope and get a manageable budget.) I still have a ways to go, but the mortgage is our only debt. And I'm grateful for that. Besides saving for a new roof (and it looks like we might need a new stove and fridge soon, insulation in the attic, landscaping and plumbing work--oh the joy!), I'm considering trying to pay the morgage off early. Still researching that since I'm not sure this is the house we'll live in for the rest of our lives... But I'm thinking, thinking, thinking...

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