Our Journey To Frugal Living: The Challenge Part 3

At the end of part 5 of Our Journey To Frugal Living, my husband had just gotten a new job after his second job loss in a year. We were excited about moving to Florida and looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.

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By mid-August my husband had left for Florida to begin his training. The girls and I were staying behind in Kentucky to get the house ready to sell and wrap things up. We decided that we would follow either when the house sold or over Christmas break, whichever came first. We certainly hoped to move before Christmas.

Remember when I mentioned that we bought a house in 2006 when housing prices were over-inflated? Well, this is when that decision would come back to haunt us. Sitting down with a realtor to list our house was discouraging to say the least. We knew we wouldn’t make any money on the house. We were just hoping to break even. Our house went on the market August 24, 2009.

While my husband was in training, the company paid for most of his living expenses. We only had to cover things like food and gas which didn’t impact our budget very much. However, by mid-November my husband was out of training and needed a place to live. Our house was still on the market and we were now facing the fact that we were going to have to pay for two places to live.

We still didn’t know exactly where we wanted to live in the area so my husband found a reasonably priced vacation rental to live in temporarily. It really worked out for the best since it was fully furnished and the dates he could move out were flexible.

With our move getting closer, the girls and I headed to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving with my husband. We used our time in Florida to find a home to rent for the family. We found a good rental and set a moving date for December 19th. Our house was still on the market and I was hoping and praying that we’d get an offer soon, preferably by the time we moved.

December 19th arrived without a buyer for our home in Kentucky. So, we packed up and headed to Florida trusting that God would work out the details.

Paying for a rental and our house in Kentucky stretched our budget as far as it would go. The grocery budget was reduced to $40 a week again. This time it was a little more challenging to stay within that budget since we didn’t have stores that doubled coupons and food prices were more expensive here.

We kept life very simple, living as frugally as we knew how.  Thankfully we’d just moved to an area with lots of new places to explore for free or almost free so it was easy to find fun activities to do as a family. Those outings and activities made this time much more enjoyable.

No matter how hard we tried to stay within our budget, there were always extra expenses to deal with like car repairs, medical bills, school related expenses and so forth. Little by little we’d have to dip into our savings and over the course of several months we watched it dwindle.

In June 2010, our house in Kentucky still hadn’t sold. Our savings was getting low and we knew some hard decisions would have to be made soon. We discussed things like renting the house out in Kentucky and my going to work outside the home.

In a desperate effort to get our house sold, we headed to Kentucky along with my Dad to do some work on the house to make it more desirable to buyers.

We painted the last few rooms that hadn’t already been painted a neutral color and we planned to replace the kitchen counter tops and the carpet in the basement. While we were there working, someone came to see the home. The ended up making a very low offer but we negotiated with them until we reached a place we felt we could live with.

Honestly, at that point we just needed to be free of the property. In the end we lost all of our equity plus some by the time we paid all the fees associated with closing, essentially paying for someone to buy our house.

We closed on the sale on July 28, 2010, 11 months after our house had gone on the market. We’d spent 8 of those months paying for two places. And while we’d lost a lot of money, I was so grateful and happy to be free from those months of struggle.

God had provided a buyer for our house just when we needed it most and used those challenging months to refine us and draw us closer to Him.

I shared the following on my blog in April 2010 at a time when we were really feeling the pressure of the challenge.

The last few years have been an amazing journey towards frugality for us. It began with us feeling we needed to be better stewards of what we’ve been given. God has used an amazing series of life events to show us our areas of excess. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to let go of the strongholds that have kept us holding onto things that have no real value in our lives and have held us back from more fully blessing others. And that’s really what it’s all about.  We are blessed so we may bless others and hopefully bring honor to God in the process.

1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

We’d made it through the challenge and now it was time to rebuild.

Join me next week for Our Journey To Frugal Living: Rebuilding.

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Janet is a mom to two daughters and is married to her best friend. Her belief that we are blessed so that we may bless others fuels her writing at frugalandfocused.com where she shares her thoughts on faith, family, and frugal living. She strives to make the most of what she's given in life and hopes to inspire others to do the same.