Our Little House on the Prairie
Every now and then we get something right, Kathie and me.
When we were shopping for a house we were scared. We’d never done anything quite so grown-up before. We spent weeks and weeks getting our credit house in order. Making sure old, dead credit cards were canceled. Making sure everyone got paid a little more than necessary and on- or ahead of time. When the day came we were pushing a FICO score in the middle 700s but weren’t really sure that actually would mean for us.
How Much Could We Really Afford?
We went down to see the Money Lady that our real estate agent suggested. She was very kind and patient and answered all of our questions, sometimes twice. She took down all of our information and then suggested, with a straight face, that not only did we qualify for a mortgage, but we qualified for about 125% more than what we were really wanting to spend on a house.
Kathie and I had gone to several mortgage calculator Web sites and punched in some preliminary numbers and we had a figure in mind that we were comfortable with. When we found out that we qualified for a mortgage we were overjoyed. When we found out we qualified for one quarter more than what we were looking for we each considered that for about three minutes before going back to our original plan. And today, we’re glad we did.
What we wanted was a smallish house, brick, with not a lot of square feet. We didn’t want a lot of room to heat, or cool, or de-bug, or pay taxes on. We figured over time we would update the appliances and so on, so we weren’t really any too worried about that, but we were looking for a starter home that would be our ender home so that the costs wouldn’t get away from us. That was the original plan.
And Then the Homeowner Stuff Started
About six or ten weeks after we moved in, we went to visit family out of state and had Kathie’s sister and brother-in-law stop in to get our mail, check the place over, etc. They reported that a recent heavy thunderstorm and put some water in the basement. Uh-oh. We came home to find a little squishy area in the carpeting downstairs. We decided we’d better keep an eye on it. Over time when it rained we got to where we could count on water and eventually it go to be a pretty good place to grow mushrooms down there. Mushrooms and mold.
We contracted with one of those basement repair companies and they came out and gave us some numbers and some dates. We started moving everything we could out of the way. We tore out seventy-year-old knotty pine paneling. We took down a ‘60s era ceiling. We pulled up the Putt-Putt golf course carpeting. And they came in and tugged and pulled and sealed and painted and did several other things and now we have a basement we can put things back into if the spirit ever so moves us again. It’s tough, after throwing away a sofa-sleeper and a recliner-rocker and boxes of books and so on. It cost us a tiny bag of money to get this all done. But that’s the lesson: It was a tiny bag of money.
If we had overspent for a new home years ago we would have had to have moved out, probably. You may be able to make the case that a bigger/better/larger/nicer home would not have had a leaky basement and that may be true, but it would have sucked more money out of every other aspect of our lives and we have yet, after all of these years, to wake up in the morning and stumble out of bed and trip of a stack of Extra Money, even after getting the little house we did.
We Have Enough House
So, I’m glad for the home we have. Yeah, I wish we had a bigger garage and a wider driveway. I do sometimes think it would be nice to have a front porch to sit on and watch the traffic and the kids walking back and forth. It would be great if we had a little more closet space and other storage and a bathroom downstairs. But you know what? Our little house has all of our stuff and all of our love and all of my guitars and computers and books and a dog and a cat.
And somehow… that’s enough.