How to prepare to sell and buy in today’s housing market when you have a shoestring budget.


I was reading my yahoo mail and what happens as you clear out all the mail and trash it is that the news pops up. I detest the news with a capital D! But I get sucked in every time. I try and race my mouse to the tab to move on but there it is waiving frantically with its eye-catching drama.

I was just closing out the tab after responding to my lender when a report came on with the headline “Americans in credit card debt over $1T.” I’m assuming that is one trillion, I did not listen. I’m not shocked and clutching my chest. We are a consumer society with an economy built on wallets filled with plastic. Our debts are robust, homes very large, cars on loan, and hearts filled with stress. Yay. The American dream.

My husband is Indian and wanted the American dream. We fought often about this. He wanted a car and credit cards, a nice, new house in suburbia. I put my hoof down and then I became pregnant and resigned my worker bee position out in the workforce to take up the career of homemaking and rearing the young. We were easily able to do this because we had no credit cards, new car, big home. Times got hard and we barely felt a scratch. We even went through two periods with the breadwinner winning no bread and suffered none at all. It was simply having no debt and having almost a years worth of wages saved that got us through without hysteria.

When we finally purchased our first home it was dirt cheap in a wild and overpriced housing market in 2017 Northern California. We were working with a tiny loan at the time and as I traveled around with the little boys and packed ice water and PB and J’s, the choices were beyond bleak. My husband’s expectations were too high and my children were not enjoying all the “fun drives”. Bali has champagne taste on a beer budget. We are talking Mickey’s 40 ounces budget (some of you will get this, for the rest of you, it’s cheap rot gut beer).

We wound up with this cottage that is so charming and delightful now but when we found it and put in a bid, it was gross, to say the least. It had a small, useless yard and was filthy and stained inside and out. After two years it’s bright, warm, filled with fruit and nut trees and gardens. You would never know its past. I have to remind myself of this.

I have no idea yet what loan we are looking at. My lender is working on that now and I hope to know by the end of the day. I do know the best and worst case scenario of what we can get for this property and I’ll say that after only $20K worth of work in this house we will be making a very large profit if all goes well. This is how we can move up to a better area and home.

But we probably won’t buy a nicer home. We want to move into a better area for sure. I have learned some things from not holding strong to that idea (not being picky about a neighborhood). However, we will more than likely buy a junk house that holds promise and a long and exhausting challenge. We will be renewed only by the glimmer of progress and a vision of a cottage in the forest.

When you are buying a home with little funding the biggest thing I’ve learned is to have a very opened mind, look really hard for that diamond in the rough even if you have to squint both eyes, and think far, far outside the box. It takes work, sweat, long days and seasons to turn around a property by hand, but it is worth it because you fall in love with the house that you craft into a home for your family. You gain self-pride and confidence as you learn to install that sink after just watching a video, or paint the inside five different colors and they all turn out well, redo your kitchen with no help, repair doors and windows, and make a lifeless lawn produce free organic fruits and vegetables. And you did it by hand and with a little cash.

Bali has learned this joy and now his mind is expanded. Going into this second home process, he is open to a trailer or shack as long as it has land. The land is what is important this time around, along with a nice area. A nice area to me is an ocean or forest and mountains.

We are now looking at a shack in the middle of a field and a trailer with no foundation. You can easily go from excited to gloomy in 0 to 60 seconds on this ride. I’ve found adorable little forest getaways that are affordable but too far and too much snow, not enough growing season.

I feel like I want a challenge and I want to take a risk. I can’t explain why sometimes you are just guided to go off the beaten path and you need to leap blindly. Spirit guides us and the minute logic comes on the scene the dream bubble is popped by the needle of rational thinking. One also needs a partner on the same page. My husband has loosened up quite a bit but I can’t push it with him and we do have two children to consider.

What do I mean by taking a risk? I mean buying one of these mountain homes for cheap and living off the land and my royalties. Not worrying about if Bali can get to a job at some gas station. I found a two-story in an old gold mining town for $69K. It had an inlaw. We could pay for it in full, fix up the inlaw and rent it out and if we could grow food, live off small royalties, wouldn’t that be something to think about? But maybe that is perimenopause talking and maybe it’s a good thing Bali has common sense. Someone needs to think straight in this family.

In the meantime, Bali has had an offer on his car and is willing to sell it which is a huge surprise on his willingness. I’ve canceled our health club membership and that caused a little depression. Every penny counts and soon every minute on the weekend counts as well as we will be weeding and washing every inch of our home inside and out to put it on the market and get every penny for it.

In the meantime, I’m learning all these inexpensive ways to make an old, stained tub look new or refinish and revive an old wood floor without sanding and major work. Now we need to try the products and I’ll get back to you about that if it all works. Rejuvenate is supposed to be great for making wood floors look warm and glossy again. I found a Bathworks DIY bathtub kit on Homedepot I’m trying to make the tub white and lovely again.

It’s amazing what you can do to make an old house look pretty again without a lot of money or hiring a handyman.

Stayed tuned! I’m already learning so much about codes and permits, buying raw land vs a fixer-upper, tiny homes vs. modular and so much more.






23 thoughts on “How to prepare to sell and buy in today’s housing market when you have a shoestring budget.

  1. I would love to buy your home if in my area in Ohio! It is lovely! I’m a dreamer and my husband, who isn’t, steadies me out. We want to sell and buy a home in the woods but can’t find anything yet. Excited to see where life takes you!


  2. We have had our house on the market for almost 3 years. We wanted to reduce our loan, not worry so much about money (the lack of it) and live a more old fashioned, simpler life. I am spoiled. I am beginning to see it. The house is only 8 years old and in forest covered hills overlooking a huge lake. A very quiet place, but pretty remote. People want the suburbs or lots of land. I am beginning to see the gem we have. God is opening my eyes, maybe 1,3 acres is more than enough with creative thinking. All spring we have been hauling home free stuff for the garden, it is beginning to look whimsical and charming and I feel a sense of excitement again. Good luck on your journey, look forward to updates. Pam


      1. We had several reasons for selling, now three years down the line, it is the finances that hold first priority. Working on living a lot more frugal to make it work financially with the present situation. Turning a blind eye to “what everyone else has” but I can’t afford. Looking for hidden treasure in every aspect of life. Have a lovely Sunday with your family. Pam x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This will be an exciting adventure for both you and your family Kate. Just stay positive and manifest your dream home. You of all people know the power of manifesting your dreams! We’ll be cheering you on as well!


      1. Of course. You’ll have to do some research into insurances and maybe find an agent who will help you. I’m not a good person to ask. I just know that as we made more we moved out of Medical and up to Covered Ca. which we now pay a premium.


  4. Please vlog and blog more about this new season and adventure, Kate! It’s something near and dear to many hearts these days and I feel you’ve hit on something special here. Right-sizing is fascinating to dream about and even more interesting to watch happen. Thanks for sharing your journey. You inspire me to look more closely, and with more courage, at my own life and where I’m headed.


    1. I will, I plan on taking you all with me on this ride…but first I need some down town to get quiet and to figure out what is the smartest idea for the family. We have a few things going on right now that may give us opportunity.


  5. How exciting a time for you and your family! A future to be found! I wish you great luck in finding the right place and lots of strength to make it a home ;).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kate, I love your enthusiasm and drive to make things happen in your life. Just an FYI that you are probably aware of. Since all the terrible horrific fires in California, the home owners insurance commissioner has changed rules on insurance for those living in remote or hazardous areas. Everything east of hwy 49 is now under a Fire insurance agency. You will have to pay for a separate home owners insurance and a separate fire insurance policy through an exchange and it is quite costly. I know, my parents and sis live east of 49. One in Amador county and one in Tuolumne county. Be prepared for shock in costs. Hope you find your dream home and land… I sure love living in my rural home. I know you will too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We have been following the same path this summer! We both wrote at the same time that we should stay in our beautiful, little houses that we restored and that the (not so great) neighborhood would miss us. Then something just clicked and we sold our house in one day and found a bit of an eyesore, but perfect for us, twice the mortgage, but has a bit of land….we are both in for grand adventures and more writing material! Best of luck!


    1. How funny!! We are traveling together. Well, I just love hearing that I’m not the only one changing my mind in the blink of an eye. I think it is that we surrendered and then the true answer came. I’ll be posting a vlog today around this but we are in such a better spaced to buy this time around and are getting the house ready for market right now.


  8. I love your show just the way it is. You don’t have to have agenda, we can just follow along with whatever you have to do each day. I love your boys too. The ate so creative and smart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Kate: Your singing my song so to speak, when you were talking about your neighborhood and why you have decided to find a new place. As the title of the movie states”Get Out!” Yes, you do have to think of your sanity and for the sake of your family. I do envy your little home and yard you have made; this can be recreated somewhere else with lots of love and care just like you did with this one. You have gained some wisdom on what to look for in your prospective new home, you know what you can afford and smart to take your time in finding that perfect place. I have an idea of where your looking, many years ago I wanted to live there.
    Take care, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

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