I know making a conscious decision to live on less and save more money does get old at times. There were times, years ago, that I hated the fact that other people had nicer cars or fancier homes. But we didn’t owe thousands of dollars in credit cards, 2nd mortgages, car payments, and weren’t still paying for past vacations. I still wanted my dream home and all the special things I wanted to fill it with. The hard part was telling myself over and over that this would all be worth it because someday I’d have my dream home. And, that’s exactly what happened.
We held off buying our first home until it was a buyers market. Our first home needed some updating but it was in a fantastic location and in the neighborhood we really wanted to live in. It also had an upstairs apartment to rent out. Because it had an apartment upstairs it had sat on the market a long time before we came along. That made the house even more appealing because we knew the sellers would come way down on the price. We went in with a crazy low offer on the house and when they countered we countered back AND asked for the entire back yard to be landscaped as it had never been cleared. They took the deal. Therefore, we were able to get a decent home in a fantastic location and got an additional income from the rental apartment. After baby number two came along we converted it to a larger one-family home. By then we had managed to banked all the rent money from the apartment, as if it hadn’t existed. So, when the market turned around we sold high and by converting it back to a one-family home, it sold quickly. We bought low and waited to make the biggest profit on the house. It paid off.
The home of my dreams was bought with careful house hunting and strategic planning of the listing of our old home. With our frugal lifestyle were able to afford our new home and put our mortgage payment right at the price we could be comfortable with. Because of the way we did things we had $176, 000 to put down on our current home, some of that money from our savings. How with one income and a tiny start-up business from home, were we able to save that much? Frugal living, that’s how.
I have a beautiful home now and it’s filled with some very expensive pieces (that I got on sale). But also have flea market and yard sale finds that I painted, rewired, replaced parts/boards, and basically did a complete refurb on. They look extremely high-end and usually only took one short afternoon of tweaking to achieve the finished piece.
Now, about the process of furnishing our home…we shopped smart for our high ticket items saying we’d consider buying the appliances i.e. if they’d throw in an extended warranty or deliver the piece and remove the old one, free of charge. We found that the smaller furniture and kitchen appliance stores were able to do more for us. They are much more flexible about reducing prices or add extras you want thrown in for free. You just have to ask to speak to the store manager/owner to actually get a discount. If they don’t want to work with you on the price or extras, walk out and go somewhere else.
Thrift shops, yard sales, and flea markets are the best and the most fun places to dicker over prices. It’s a little uncomfortable the first couple times you do it but that passes quickly when you walk out with killer deals on unique décor you LOVE. Never, and I mean Never Ever, ask the price, say “ok”, and hand over the money! No, no, no. Make a low offer and wait for a counter offer. Do not speak. Stand there, in that uncomfortable space of time, until you get an answer. It’s hard to do but it’s imperative that you do it this way. If you utter a word or make a sound they will automatically come back with a higher counter offer. It’s basic human behavior. After you get a counter offer proceed from there but only come up a few dollars, making the seller come down more and more. After a few prices are thrown back and forth you’ll almost always get the price you really wanted. If not, turn around and walk away. Check back later in the day and point out that the piece is still sitting there, unsold (assuming it is). There’s a very good chance that your original offer to him/her might sound more appealing because it didn’t sell. Start the negotiations again but at a slightly lower price than you started with earlier. The person might now jump at the opportunity to sell the item at the final price you offered previously. Make that final offer and show them the cash, being sure to plan the maximum amount you’re willing to pay and have that amount in your pocket (this will also prevent you from caving and paying more than you planned). Most of the time you will get the item you wanted, at the price you wanted. This happens way more often than you’d guess. AND ALWAYS bring cash ONLY. Cash in hand will get you much better prices.
To live this lifestyle you have to put more importance on every precious dollar you earn. Isn’t your time and labor worth every penny you make? Then you have to program yourself to think that way and when you hand someone that money you earned remember how many hours you had to work to make that money. If you make $20 an hour and what you want to buy costs $20, do you still want it? Was it worth an hour of your time at work? Ask yourself this simple question before you buy anything and you may find that you’d rather have the money. Works every time!