If you spend any amount of time around the Internet looking for home decor inspiration, you probably have an abundance of great ideas for your home.
In your brain, you are knocking out walls and remodeling kitchens and building additions. You are redecorating rooms and building retaining walls and creating the perfect outdoor living space.
But you may also be wondering where you’ll ever find they money to make those home dreams a reality. (I know you are wondering this, because I get emails and comments about this almost every day. You definitely want to know how you will afford these projects.)
I want you to have a beautiful home you love. But I don’t want you to sell your soul or your firstborn to do it. Actually, I beg you not to do that.
I want the money you spend to create a haven for your family. But I also want the money you spend to help BUILD your net worth and future financial freedom – not lead to you STRUGGLE TOWN living paycheck to paycheck.
No home is worth that.
Have I lost you?
Budget doesn’t have to be a bad word. In fact, budgeting is one of the most important parts of any home project – whether remodeling, building, or just finishing a small room update. It’s not sexy, but it’s necessary.
We have finished several full-house renovations and hundreds of small projects around the home. We built an entire house without taking out a traditional mortgage. We built and lived in a barn. And we have managed to keep ourselves out of the poor house.
On the contrary, each project has only helped us to grow our worth and lead us on the path to greater financial freedom.
And even when we went over budget for our home build, we had saved the money to do it. That’s one little peek at what this freedom has meant for us.
And here’s a little secret to how we do it … THERE IS NO SECRET.
We haven’t done anything that you cannot do. We didn’t inherit land or gobs of money. We didn’t make an ungodly amount of money in some fancy job. We aren’t exceptionally intelligent. (Ryan tells me to speak for myself here.)
Instead – we skipped normal, easy and fast.
In 10 years of marriage, we have worked hard and scraped pennies and thought outside the box to give us a great deal of financial freedom.Here are a few of our “not-so-secret secrets” to help you do it, too.
Spend (a lot) less than you make.
It’s normal to spend everything you make – and then some. It’s normal to have credit card debt you can’t afford, homes you will never pay off, and cars that cost more than your child’s college education.
Don’t be normal.
You know that the only way to find more financial freedom is to spend less, right? That’s no secret. It’s essentially the entire premise of every single budgeting book, blog and app. I don’t have to rehash it. Because you already know it. And you are probably rolling your eyes at me and hoping I get to the “good stuff.” And soon. Because who has time to hear about savings – again?
Most of us don’t spend less. Because it’s not normal. And sometimes it’s not easy. And we feel like we’ve earned every little thing we want. Who cares what it costs?
I know how this feels. Because this is my natural state of being. I’ve wanted all the pretty things, too. I’ve wanted the big houses and shiny cars and new clothes. I’ve wanted my son to have everything he ever wanted. And I’ve wanted it all RIGHT NOW.
But, when Ryan and I dreamed about what our lives would look like, I realized it was time to step away from the platinum credit card. It was time to step away from normal. It was time to be comfortable with changing my mindset and building savings over time.
Now, I’ve morphed into someone who finds more joy in saving. I have learned to think of it as more of a game –
- How much less can we spend?
- How much less do we need?
- What can we cut?
This isn’t easy. And I don’t always succeed in cutting out all the extras. But until you can find ways to cut your spending and save, save, and save some more, you won’t be able to build your net worth and find financial freedom.
Important: This is not about saving for one purchase. This is not about saving for one project. This is about establishing a habit of saving – and building that savings over time. Because then, you can afford that purchase and that project.
Frankly – not every single month is a win for us. There are months where unexpected expenses knock us off track (although never off track to where we spend more than what we make). There are months that we just get lazy. There are months when investments do poorly.
But we know that saving is our first priority – and it’s the best long-term way we can save for the things that are important to us. It’s the best way we could save and build a budget for our new home.
Our goal is to save 50 percent of our dual income for long-term savings, large purchases, investments and charitable donations. Even if you don’t think you can swing 50 percent, start somewhere. Cut something. Then cut something else. No excuses.
Start by making a big savings goal. And then work toward it and watch those savings numbers creep up. Which brings me to …
Talk about money. All the time.
I can’t even tell you how many couples I know who never talk about money. Talking about money can be complicated and messy. Talking about money can mean digging into our ugly motivations and emotions.
Basically, talking about money isn’t always easy.
Don’t focus on easy.
Money has become an off-limits topic. If we just never talk about it, it will never become a problem. But I think that’s a big reason that money is such a big reason for marital discourse – because no one wants to talk about it.
You want to talk about your next vacation. You want to talk about your next home project. You want to talk about your neighbor’s new car (don’t even deny it). But you don’t want to talk about your own money.
Friends. It’s tough love time. If you can’t talk about money, you’ll never be able to make it work for you. That’s a promise. And this also means that one person shouldn’t have a monopoly on knowing what’s going on with your family’s finances.
Ryan and I talk about money constantly. It is a topic that comes up regularly and naturally. We track our spending and make tweaks regularly. We talk about big purchases together. We just as regularly talk about investments and our total net worth.
And best of all – we talk about what that money actually means to us. Because it’s not about acquiring money for the sake of acquisition. Money is a tool – and it’s a tool that should be helping you reach your dreams. Whether those dreams include home projects or a new business or something totally and completely you.
So start slow. It may not feel natural to talk about money. But you are on the same team – and the more you divide money tasks and talk about budgeting and savings and money dreams, the more comfortable and even enjoyable those talks will become.
Related: Managing your finances as a couple
Take the long road.
Building the resources to reach those big dreams is hardly ever fast.
Forget about fast.
In our case, we bought our first ugly, cheap home for $35,000. We spent money as we had it to fix it up. Then we sold the house a few years later for a hefty profit.
We used the equity we built in the home and did it again. We bought an ugly, cheap home and spent money as we had it to fix it up. Then we sold the house a few years later for a hefty profit.
Then, we bought a few rental properties. Which paid for themselves and created a long-term income source for our family.
Then, we were able to roll all the equity and savings from our past projects to build our current barn and home.
None of these things were easy. None were fast. None were normal.
It’s much quicker to get a mortgage for a house that you cannot afford and then work forever to try to pay it off. It is probably less messy and sweaty, too. But I’ll tell you what – it’s not less stressful.
Because, for us, the long road is much more peaceful.
Please consider taking the long road – whatever that looks like for you. Please don’t get caught in the trap of your “forever home” and make this an excuse to spend more than you can afford right now. You have forever to find your “forever home.”
Enjoy a peaceful journey to get there.
I know that you looking for the secret to saving tons of money for all your dream home projects. I know that you already feel that money is tight and it’s impossible to save at all.
But the truth – there is no secret. (Otherwise, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?) It’s not always easy, quick or normal. (In fact, it almost never is.)
But while building your savings for your home projects, you can also find greater financial freedom. And I think that’s way more important than any beautiful kitchen on your Pinterest board. And, friends, I really love kitchen.
Could you skip normal, easy and fast? Which is the biggest struggle for you?
If you liked this post, put a pin on it.
Did you like this post?
We'd love to send you more inspiration and encouragement for your home. When you sign up below, we'll send you our free guide to save thousands on your next home project. Because your home shouldn't own you.