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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Ugly House and #CuttingCords

Last year the hubby and I basically started our lives over AGAIN, from scratch. We had spent the past seven years moving, 5 times. Being in our mid-forties with 4 grown kids, I'm sure people assumed we'd be great at this "adulting" trend by now, but let's be honest....this whole grown-up thing is way harder than I imagined and sometimes life just hits you square in the kisser. We reached a point where all of our kids were going to be out on their own and it was just going to be us "empty nesters".

My husband was finally able to return to work in February 2016 after a 4-year hiatus for medical issues. I, in the meantime, worked diligently to clean up my credit so that with his income and my credit we could afford to buy a home of our own, without anyone's help, financially or otherwise. That hard work eventually paid off!!! We were able to purchase a 1980 mobile home in a decent community. You gotta start somewhere right?

I should have taken lots of before pictures, but honestly, even though we were proud because we accomplished something we had set out to do, we were tremendously embarrassed because we knew what we just invested in needed a severe interior make-over. Inside the layout was open, but everything was hideous to the naked eye. The floors were bare plywood, walls needed holes to be patched and everything from floor to ceiling needed paint, some poor soul had spray foamed around the bright yellow bath-tub and mismatched, poorly cut surround, cabinets were missing trim and outdated (really everything was outdated). We bought an ugly house.

Moving day came, so the friends and family that helped us move in, kept smiles on their faces, but some made comments like "You've got your work cut out for you" & "I bet this wouldn't have passed inspection". No, no it wouldn't have....we couldn't afford an inspection, we weren't in a financial place to negotiate work, we had been given 30 to vacate our rental because our previous landlord was letting the house be foreclosed on. We didn't have time, money or negotiating power but what my husband and I shared equally was a shared goal to reach a place in our lives of stability and that was going to be enough.

We knew that even though the mobile home was built in the 80's, the roof had been taken care of, the exterior was freshly painted, there weren't any bug problems, no mold, the plywood floors - they had just been laid. The lot was the largest in the park, with a long driveway and a carport with a large attached shed. We had a private back yard, a great screened in porch. The structure was solid, we knew the interior was ugly, but with hard work and a little love, we could bring it to life and make it our home. Our first night, in our ugly little home, I took a hot shower to wash off the day and cringed while trying not to touch the tub surround. least I knew where to start.

Flash forward to now - TODAY, it's been 8 months since we took the plunge. During the process, I've rung up $3000.00 in credit card debt so that we could turn our dreadful interior into a welcoming, calming environment for the two of us to relax & unwind in. I've put sweat, at times a little blood, a whole lot of tears and even more love into making this a home, than one can imagine and it's all been worth it - every penny. Oh and I'm not afraid to take a bath anymore.

We didn't pay anyone to do anything in our house, it was all DIY-style, from painting to installing backsplashes to laying laminate flooring. If we didn't know how to do it, we asked someone how to do it and if they didn't know, well - Google and YouTube became my best friends. There are still things to be done and some things I could do better. Yes, we live in a "trailer park", though to me, it's a good one with decent hard-working people. I feel proud when someone comes to my home now and they totally are amazed because they don't expect someone that lives in a mobile home to actually have pride in it. (You should read my post on judgement, remember? It's not about YOU!)

Here's where I get to my point. So, curiously enough, a lot of people think my hubby and I have really green grass now and by saying that, I mean it in the most sarcastic way possible. To the outside world things look amazing! We drive a nice car, we have nice furnishings, we eat good food, our house looks nice on the outside (and finally, on the inside). This must mean we have mastered that whole "adulting" thing right? No, just no. We still have bills to pay, like any other normal, average person. Remember, those pesky renovations....yeah, time to pay up and that means time to crack down.

Now I consider myself the "Budget Coordinator of the Household", it's a cute little title that makes me feel special, but with it, comes great responsibility. Basically I pay the bills - see doesn't sound so fancy now does it? I set up a little spreadsheet and wrote down every bill that's due each month. I quickly realized hubs and I had to give up certain extras that a lot of people take for granted. I needed a plan.

  1. I went back to couponing again. This time on a much smaller scale, being that it was just the two of us, and I only buy things we actually use and need. I also started using cash back apps any time I can. 
  2. Next step was ditching our cell phone carrier. We shopped plans with other companies that would better suit our budget and literally cut our bill in HALF immediately and sacrificed nothing in the process. Not service, not data, we lucked out. 
  3. Now up on the list, I called every single one of my credit card companies and negotiated my APR rates (yes, you can actually do that, I Googled articles and simple followed their steps). It worked on over half my cards. One eliminated my annual fee, others cut my APR rates in half for a promotional amount of time and another even gave me a credit for finance charges I already paid.
  4. Here's the BIG one - NO VACATIONS....are you still reading this....I just wanted to make sure you guys are still paying attention, I've already basically told you we're in debt, ain't nobody got time or money for a vacation! Back to business 
  5. I called the electric company and put our account on budget mode. This is basically when they take the past 12 months of your bill and average it out, so each month, you can roughly expect to pay a "set" amount, avoiding extreme highs. This one is especially helpful because we live in Florida and right now it's super hot, making my air conditioner work over-time. Knowing how much to set aside in my monthly budget ahead of time made me feel happy.
  6. Last but not least......our entertainment expenses. Bwahahahaha - In case you're wondering, for us, that simple means TV/Internet and guess what? The cable HAD TO GO. The area where we live is locked in with only one option and the company knew that, so we had no negotiating power once again and the rates they offered were laughable. I honesty didn't think I could do it. I knew we couldn't afford to keep it, so I started looking for back-up options because there are just some shows I wasn't willing to give up watching live I LOVE THOSE ZOMBIES.....and hubby, yeah - he's "THAT SPORTS GUY". Now there are all kinds of options to watch movies and shows that have already aired, but what we wanted, we wanted LIVE and we wanted it cheap. That's when I found these guys...... 
Sling TV is everything you love about watching LIVE TV, offering over 150 live channels to watch instantly, including ESPN, NFL Network, Disney Channel, AMC, Comedy Central, HGTV, TNT, TBS & more. They offer several deals that allow new users to receive a free or discounted streaming device such as a Roku or Apple TV.

Sling TV has a simple - set monthly price, as low as $20/month with NO long-term contracts and NO hidden fees. You get to pick your package, customize it and pay for what you use. You can use Sling on your TV, your tablet, your mobile device, or your computer.

Looking for that something extra? THEY HAVE IT Watch ESPN and HBO Online with a Free Roku!

So I clipped my cable cord and no, I don't miss it at all. I never watched 96% of the channels I was paying for anyway. I no longer have to worry about haggling promotional rates when my bill comes in and it's twice the price of the previous month because my contract expired and I had no warning, also renting cable boxes SUCK. I can have live entertainment at a fair cost, that fits my budget and lifestyle needs.

So here we are, at the end of today's tale. I've shared a little more of me with you today, all of it true (yes I tossed in an ad, but I do actually use Sling TV and a girl has to run a blog somehow). I hope some of the tips I wrote help you, if anything, perhaps you can at least relate? Your grass is just as green as mine, it may just need a little water! We're in debt up to our eyeballs, but we're trying to be a little smarter about our finances by taking responsibility. We use every spare dime we saved, by using those little tricks and hammer extra payments on the cards so within a year, we can be credit debt-free. Bonus, we're no longer living above our means and for the first time, in a long while, hubs and I feel stability in our lives and we created it by ourselves.


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