Buying a house under $200K in Californias housing market.

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Oh my, is this even possible?  We will see.  We have just been preapproved for a home loan.  I was told by one ambitious lender that we qualified for $250K and in Sacramento, it is sort of still possible to get a nice house that isn’t in a dilapidated neighborhood in that price range….but barely.  However, that lender was fired for many reasons.  One being that it took him 2 weeks to preapprove us and he was so hard to get a hold of.  Lack of communication makes me nervous.  Not being clear when it comes to money and our future makes me nervous. When people are big talkers and then seem to be confused and flustered so easily when dealing with your money…red flag.  I fired the realtor that referred him too.  Birds of a feather flock together.

I hired the realtor I met at an open house.  The house the realtor and lender lost us because of sloppy paperwork and other bad administration work.  When I called her she said she had been trying to reach me.  Then she listed the infractions.  Unsigned documents, no proposal letter…it was a red flag to her and her clients.  It was all a blessing in the end because now I have her and we have bonded only as women can and her lender has been amazing and everything the other lender wasn’t.  Prompt, easy to reach, clear, detailed, real.  And she gave us the truth and that is in the sum of $200k.

Turns out we never would have qualified for the homes we were bidding on anyway.  We have this paltry sum to work with now.  Did I cry?  No, I turned to the Taco Bell dollar menu and cake to comfort me.  I was doing Paleo up to that point.  That is a long gone challenge.

So, now I’ve pulled myself up by my bootstraps and will meet this head on.  I am the heroine of this movie and I will overcome these obstacles.  I also still have some chocolate cake hidden on top of my frig.

I’ve started getting intense with the frugal thing again.  I blogged about it a while back but I will repeat myself for those of you that missed that episode.  I have friends that are on food stamps for the first time.  They have been fairly comfortable all their days and now the spouse has lost a job, having trouble getting hired on somewhere else, and they are trying to adjust to food stamps and unemployment.  This is a story many families have.   What they will do with the mortgage is not clear yet.

To support her in this new and frugal lifestyle and to get us into the power saving mode, I’ve decided to try living off that same grocery amount that food stamps allocated.  For a family of 4 with one person working part time, they give $349 a month.  I have already spent $168.  But I think that will cover 2 to 3  weeks with just a little supplementation here and there.

I am keeping the heat off as much as possible.  I heat the merry blessing out of the place in the morning and then we just wear slippers and warm clothing and I find we don’t need but a ten-minute touch up here and there.  We definitely don’t run the heat at night.  We also don’t live in snow country.  I keep lights off, things unplugged, TV’s off when not in use.  I water down my dish soap, maybe too much.  I reuse my coffee filter for a couple days and just add grounds.  I squeeze the heck out of my toothpaste and add water to the shampoo to make bubble bath for the kids.  We don’t go anywhere or do anything that cost money.  Even the dollar menu at Taco Bell is out.

The biggest game changers and money savers are shopping at WinCo.  I feel ok with that since it is all employee owned.  I try not to do corporate or box stores or fast food as I truly feel that is the decline of our towns, our main streets, our health, and on and on.  WinCo has employees running the place and they are well-taken care off.  They are also starting to do more organic and non-GMO.  Hurrah!

Making all my own food and going partial vegetarian is another dime saver.  I save at least $200 a month making my own yogurt and bread and we eat a lot of beans, rice, potatoes, and frozen vegetables.  I was doing Paleo and that is expensive with all the meat and produce.  You need beans and rice to fill up a plate.  Potatoes can be done 50 different ways and we love them.  This is healthy, stick to the ribs food.  I’m also in a better mood and not hungry all the time.

As for the home; I’m having to look in towns I never thought I would resign myself to.  Yuba City and Marysville.  However, there are still homes there that are under $200k.  As a matter of fact, there is a home there for $149K that looks adorable and I’ll be calling the realtor just as soon as the sun comes up.  They go so fast it is maddening.  I’m not the only one that is catching on.  I thought if I started house hunting in the winter other buyers would stay inside by their warm hearths and leave things be.  But noooo, they are out like wolves hunting the same prey.  Darn it!

Getting a cheap house serves you in the long run.  With property tax and insurance, the monthly bill can get up there.  You have to think about if you can really do that bill for the next 15 to 30 years.  I want my mortgage and cost to be about what I pay in rent now because it’s a good price or cheaper.  I want to have a bill I can pay if Bali loses a job or gets sick.  I want a mortgage we can pay if we work a minimum wage job or unemployment happens to us as well.  I want a mortgage that allows us to save money and have some fun.  I don’t want to continue this scrimping and intense frugal life all the time.  It’s fun for some time if there is a challenge but ongoing it gets old.

When I was paying off debt, it was a game and the end victory was worth it.  Now as we look forward to purchasing a home, the frugal life is an exciting game with a big reward in the future.  However, to live like this for another 15 to 30 years?  No.  I want to have some fun with the boys.  I want to travel and visit friends and family far away (as most of our friends and family are far away).  I want to buy quality things and go to the movies when something good comes out.  I want to buy as many organics as possible when I grocery shop.  I would rather shop at the health food store and not WinCo, to be honest.

We will always be frugal and live in a sustainable way.  However, you do need to go out and spend a little money in your community and open that purse up a bit.

But until we have found that home we will water down our goods, and cut the coupons.

(Note to readers.  This was written before I found a dreamy home for 149K.  I will find out in a couple more days if we get it.  I decided to still post this as it does have some good money saving advice.)

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