A new home on a budget.


I can finally share our big secret! I’ve been holding on to this for weeks and just dying to talk about it, but my husband asked that I keep silent until all is signed and turned over to us with keys in hand. I agreed since we have been on this road so long and it was becoming an old story fast.

3 years of manifesting, 9 months of laborious searching and work, 2 states, 6 houses, and 7 fails (we tangled with one house twice). I read somewhere it can take 10 weeks to find that house. We definitely exceeded that timeline. In the end, it was worth it.

I will spare you all the gory details. Let us just get to the end of the story and then I want to talk about how we did all this with our small income. After all, today we own two properties in Northern California and both purchased during a crazy, outrageously expensive housing market. Our income was $42K last year. How is this possible?

We now are the proud owners of a 119-year-old house. Or perhaps it is the proud owner of a small family? Either way, I am already in love. I have decided it is a man and his name would be something very victorian and grounded like Arthur. He stands proud and looks over the wild boys running around the yard and his new crazy lady standing in the front yard planning a rose garden and he is pleased. He knew from the moment we stepped in the house to explore that we would fill it with joyful, loud, fun life.

And Arthur is right. We will love his oldness. His age will be treasured, not looked down on as something to be fixed. It will be celebrated. His yard will be filled with fruit trees, berry bushes, and a huge kitchen garden. Children will climb the trees, run and shout with glee. The husband will be busy hammering this, repairing that, running the rototiller on Saturdays. The mother will be baking bread with the windows open to fill the home with that fresh mountain air and writing her next novel at the kitchen table. Dogs will be chasing squirrels along the fences.

Arthur will never be bored or lonely again.

Arthur is in great shape. His previous owner had him for 40 years and was of the old school when people took care of their homes and belongings. We will be able to just move in. The colors are a bit blah but over time we will add new, warm, bright colors.

We were going to tear out the carpet and put in wood floors. Sadly the old wood floors are no longer there, just carpet. I had chosen all sorts of paint colors for all the rooms. Our HomeDepot cart was filling up and the tab was growing. Then Bali decided he must have a tall wooden fence for the other side of the house. Once we priced that out we had maxed out the HomeDepot credit card (that has a nice $6 credit right now). I felt a bit nervous about this. Oh, and he had found a handyman. That took up the tax refund. I saw the savings disappearing in a blink of an eye.

I begged to put a halt to it all. I emptied the cart and returned our tab to 0. The house is fine and newly carpeted and painted. It needs nothing. So it isn’t our choice in flooring or colors, who cares. We can decorate and paint over time.

And that is how you get rich on a small income.

Over the last year, we worked hard, sacrificed often, and learned to not shop and spoke sentences such as, “we don’t need that” or “we can cook when we get home” or a simple “no”.

I found reusable straws, cloth menstrual pads. My channels subscribers sent me useful gifts of dishcloths and towels, cloth napkins. I cooked like crazy from scratch, order tons of bulk, we ate from the garden and still are eating from the winter crop of greens. I even learned how to make my own soy milk and gluten steaks when we are feeling vegetarian. Vegetarian saves a lot of money, by the way.

We drive old but reliable cars, fixed up our first cheap house by hand, and homeschool. We eat a lot of beans and potatoes. We skip beer and wine for water and coffee. I do weird stuff like watering down shampoo and rewashing zip loc bags. People may roll their eyes, but I’ve learned from years of working the calculator that it works. Every penny counts.

Our house is decorated and furnished with hand me downs and thrift items. All our books, clothes, linens, kitchen tools, paintings, lamps, rugs, and toys are from thrift stores or given to us by friends and family. I happily take gently used items off people’s hands and out of the landfill.

We watch good movies for free on Vudu and read popular novels free from the library. We grow free, fresh, organic fruit and vegetables and eat abundantly in the summer. I gave away homemade spaghetti sauce for Christmas and bake gifts for others.

We don’t tithe but we do have a fund for donations to charities we care about. When I declutter I give things away to others who are just as happy to have a new-to-them item or I give things to the thrift.

We teach our children the value of money through chores, allowances, saving for toys and paying off little loans.

It’s all those frugal and thrifty basics most of us know very well. But it truly adds up and makes life easier and if you learn to save and save like a champ…it builds wealth.

We now live in a very charming area that is very expensive. We are also now landlords. The trick to that is buying a home that is ugly and no one wants…or very old and intimidates others. You then work diligently to repair, fix up, paint, scrub, rebuild, and love on until it becomes a charming home everyone wants. You can’t be afraid of old electrical wiring or a little dry rot. You have to learn ways of keeping an old house without insulation warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You must have the “vision” and see the diamond hidden within.

So, off I go to brew more coffee and turn up my music because I have a lot of packing to do.

To celebrate I’m giving away my latest book A Sweet Life in Homemaking on Amazon. The ebook is free starting today and there is a paperback now but that one is not free.



35 thoughts on “A new home on a budget.

  1. Congratulations on your new home. Job well done due to a lot of hard work but it will be so worth it. I can’t wait to go on this new adventure with you. Keep us updated when you have the time. I am also happy that your 3 precious dogs will have more room to roam. I am sure the boys will enjoy there new home and happy to be closer to their friends!


  2. I knew it!!! LOL! I’m so excited for you, Bali and the boys! How wonderful that “Arthur” is in move in condition. You have a lot of work ahead of you but – please – share the moving process with us! I think it would be so cool to see before and after photos of all the rooms.


  3. I knew your secret, too, Kate. Congratulations to you and Bali and the boys!! I’m trying hard to follow in your frugal footsteps. I can already see my debt decreasing. My school loans were forgiven last year, and now I’m only $2K in debt and working on that. But I think they’re going to make me pay for the loans, because I plan on going back to work in a month or so. I’m 62, disabled, and currently have no spouse. My son is grown and living in another state. I have no other children. Your work inspires me so much!! While learning to be frugal, I am growing in hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must have misunderstood. I thought you said your new ebook was free starting today. However, when I went on Amazon’s site to get it, it’s listed as $4.99. Did I miss the sale?


  5. Oh, Kate! It IS the home I thought. I LOVE IT! So much room inside and out. You can have a huge garden. I am as happy for you as if it were my own. I love old houses. Once you get your own colors going, it will be adorable. SOOO exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so happy you found your home in the forest. I do hope you vlog from packing to moving in your new home. You had a dream and never gave up on it. Way to go. Congratulations on your new house.


  7. Congratulations on your new home!

    One thing I might add: Liz from Frugalwoods suggests not making any improvements to the home for the first 12 months.
    It gives you time to get to know the house and really plan out what you want to do with it, rather than jumping in early and regretting it. (It also gives you another year to save up for those renovations!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So glad, you found your spot. I laugh about packing. I can pack an entire house and unpack in 4 days. You should be able to do a lot with the land We have a about 1/4 of an acre we can’t do anything with. It is a barren section. I am thinking of putting goats on that part.
    So thrilled for you all

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Many congratulations to your and your beautiful family, Kate. I can’t wait to see all the things you do with your new home. And a huge thank you for the book, it’s been on my Amazon wish list since it came out. Good luck to you!


  10. So happy to hear that you found your new home! How wonderful! I will read your next post but am curious about whether you found this home in the town you love (where the kids have their special school). I sure hope so πŸ˜‰


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s