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How We Bought Our Home Debt Free

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Image by Casey Serin

I’m 30 years old and Barry is 31. Our first child is 3. We live totally debt free and just purchased a new home with…CASH. Before you start thinking that we’re one of “the lucky ones” or that we make a bunch of money, let me tell you something – I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband is the sole breadwinner. We did not inherit a bunch of money – we worked our tails off.

Am I bragging? Heavens no! It’s through the grace of God and by living according to what His word says about debt that we’ve been able to accomplish this. We live on a budget and we buy used and save the difference.

Why am I telling you all of this? To encourage you. To let you know it IS possible to “live the dream.” It IS possible to buy a home debt free. It’s not just for rich people…it’s for normal people. People like you and me. This is our story. This is how we bought a home debt free. And we had you in mind the whole time.

Image by Images_of_Money

In January of this year, we put our house up for sale. It sold in three weeks. That was 100% with God’s help. Our buyer found our house by using the eBay Classifieds and she asked to buy it the first time she came to look. By the time we got done working with a terrible bank, it was the end of February. We didn’t have anywhere to go.

With cash in hand, we were ready to buy a home…but we hadn’t found one we liked yet. Here is where your situation might differ – we were able to move in and live with my parents. You might not have that option – if we hadn’t, we would have found the cheapest safe rental we could and holed up there for a while. All this time, we were still saving every little bit of money that we can.

Then, a house we had been looking at became available. The contract was broken when the lady backed out because the heat pump didn’t work. We put in an offer and got the house. Again, 100% God…we paid $93,500 in cash for the house – a foreclosure.

Image by david_shankbone

So, what am I telling you? Plan ahead…dream BIG. And then be smart. Like most, when we were first married, we didn’t have the ability to pay cash for a house. So, we bought a modest townhouse and worked our butts off to pay it off in 7 ½ years – so our next house would be debt free.

So, here’s Stacy’s advice…and it’s worth what you pay for it. 😉

  1. Buy a modest home at first and work like CRAZY to pay it off.
  2. Live there for a while and save up like CRAZY to get a good amount of cash for buying a home.
  3. Sell your home – by owner if you desire and if you know how, in order to keep more cash in your pocket.
  4. Find somewhere to live – with relatives, in a cheap rental, or in a van down by the river.
  5. Look for a foreclosure or someone desperate to sell.
  6. Make sure at all times you’re saying that you have CASH – which is a huge motivator.
  7. Buy your home. And if it needs fixing, like ours, then fix it up as you have the cash.
  8. Sit back, and enjoy mowing the yard in a house you actually OWN.

We hope this is an encouragement to you. We’re just normal people who didn’t buy into the lie that says you MUST live with debt…because it’s not true. Not at all.

Live debt free y’all.

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

Romans 13:8

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • jade baker

    So happy for you guys! And so happy you can share this through your blog. It’s a tricky thing to share with friends because people take it so differently. You did an excellent job.

    • Stacy

      Thanks Jade. :-)

  • Victoria@snailpacetransformations

    Congratulations! We too have a paid for home and we wish to soon upgrade to something with a bit more land. We don’t have relatives close though so we are thinking of starting the selling process just as spring arrives to our area and then hopefully it sells in good weather and we will camp in our tent trailer till we find what we want, if the plan works right we will be in our new home before the weather gets cold! Plan B, well there is no Plan B but I am sure with God’s help if we needed one something would come up! LOL

    • Stacy

      LOL I always make a Plan B….it’s my nature. 😉

  • Rebecca

    This is such an inspiration to me. We only owe on our house and would love to do what you have done. Right now we are waiting until our three teenage daughters move out and then we will look at selling. Unfortunately, once we sell we probably will not be able to buy with cash right away and will need to look for a cheap rental while we save money – but I am ok with that! Thank you for posting your story!

    • Stacy

      Cheap rentals are an adventure! :-)

  • Cindy

    I just left a comment and the internet ate it. Grrrr. I don’t think I have the gumption to redo it, but I wanted you to know I left a comment because I love you and don’t want you to think I neglected your smashing post. 😉

    • Stacy

      I’m just glad I’m not the only one has internet issues. :-) Love you girl!!! You’re the best.

  • Loni Gofran

    well, I’m not sure I’d call you guys NORMAL people. But people just like us- yes 😛

    • Stacy

      This is true….I am very far from normal – hence the obsession with shower caps. LOL

  • Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy

    Very inspiring! I need to move down south where the real estate is actually affordable, lol.

    • Stacy

      You’d love it down here! :-)

  • Bama Girl

    Hi Stacy! Enjoyed the post! Ya’ll are such an inspiration to me and others! I wished we had been smart like ya’ll when we were younger, but we get it now! Unless a miracle happens, and I’m not limiting God, we won’t be mortgage free for less than fifteen years. That’s better than thirty! Praying for you and Barry’s family during the loss of his father. Blessings from Bama!

    • Stacy

      Don’t limit God! :-) You’d be surprised what you can do when you’re motivated!!

  • Akhila

    Thanks for the tips and congratulations on your new home. We are debt free and we are waiting right now for a home. Right now we are renting and saving like crazy.

    • Stacy

      You’re being super smart. Go you!

  • Yolanda

    Excellent! My sister, who is 72, a single lady, has always paid for EVERYTHING with cash her whole life. She has NEVER been in debt. I am so proud of her. And you.

    • Stacy

      Your sister is a rock star!

  • Stacey

    Congrats! It makes such a difference in your overall stress level – and pride of real ownership. Spread the word about the car principle too! I think because they are a necessity for most people and a more manageable number, people are okay with taking out a $25,000 car loan even though most will owe more on the car than what it is worth.

    • Stacy

      Barry and I get tickled when we hear people talking about the car they “needed.” :-) Barry drives a ’97 and I drive a ’99. LOL

      • Dorcas

        And we have an 87, an 89 and a 99. But we paid cash for all three and any minor repairs are far less than a car payment!

        • Stacy

          Amen to that!

  • brittany barrett

    you put it in! in a van down by the river! hsahahaha awesome

    • Stacy

      :-) One of my favorite sayings….most people don’t catch on. Ha!

  • Jamie

    Thank you for portraying debt-free as normal! We need everyone to catch the fever, no?
    50 years ago, it was normal. I recently visited with my retired uncle who I had assumed was always as financially comfortable as since I knew him, but he spent ten years working hard in his career before he could even purchase a home for his family. No entitlement, no “I should have this now,” it’s just the way things were and they made the best of it. That really encouraged me because sometimes I feel like we’ll never have a house with a yard and it isn’t fair to my kids, etc. It’s all about perspective AND patience.
    Your constant encouragement helps me stay hopeful in spite of numerous setbacks that can and have occurred in our personal lives. Thank you for all you do! Blessings!!!

    • Stacy

      Any time you need encouragement on the this road, you just give me a holler. That’s what I’m here for. :-)

  • Wendy Briscoe

    How do you even begin to save when money is incrediably tight? I am a stay at home Mom, and my husband had to take a 20 percent pay cut last year. Ends are not meeting at the moment. We are looking for ways to fill in the gaps, but until then should we save even if there isn’t enough to cover bills? (Major things get paid, some bills have to wait a week or two to get paid.) I do work a part time job at my church that adds about $100 extra dollars to the budget, but it’s mainly for saving for Christmas, and MDO once a week. Any thoughts here? Am I using my money unwisely? Need advice when you have the time. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to your family at your recent loss. Our condolences. Wendy

    • Stacy

      Hey Wendy, without looking at your budget, I’m not sure of the best course of action. Can you email me and give me some details? You can do so through “Ask Barry” at the top of the website page.

    • Katie

      Wendy- I am no expert by any means, but we live pretty tight, so I’m slightly experienced! Any chance you are allowing yourself more “play” money than necessary? If your $1200/yr is mostly going to Christmas, that seems like a bit more than I’d be willing to spend. Try re-considering your “needs”, such as cable, extra add-ons to your car insurance/home insurance, super fast internet, and the biggest one for us- eating out. It’s amazing what you can cut out when you are motivated enough. We live really tight, but are still able to put away a few hundred $/ month, and I have become obsessive about how much we are spending vs. saving! Good Luck!

  • Becky

    Love this! Thank You for sharing!

    • Stacy

      :-) Thanks for reading it!

  • Nal

    Amazing amazing!:) very encouraging and I agree it is all true you can do it. Remember some post back I mentioned by end of summer will be debt free :)as of tomorrow credit card all paid off!! yeh :) it’s even before summer has ended I tell you it feels good. Though we don’t own a house yet but we are saving like crazy so that first buy will be modest and hopefully pay off in 5 – 10yrs. Love love your blog very encouraging, may you continue to be blessed with the wisdom you have.

    • Stacy


  • Elaine

    What a wonderful plan you had (have). I have so much to learn…. DH and I are still trying to save and get our second home. Our first is not worth anything now (old mobile) (has to be moved). But it has served us well for 26 years! My heartfelt desire is to be debt free. We were once and it was a fantastic feeling!

    God bless and thinking of you and your extended family!


    • Stacy

      It is a fantastic feeling! It seems like you’re very motivated, so I know it won’t be that long before you’re free from debt!! You go girl!

  • Dani

    As always, you’re right on the money, but let me take issue with one thing you said: Barry may be the breadwinner, but you also contribute financially with this blog, nominal income or not that it may contribute. Why do we women always sell ourselves short?

    That being said, Stacy, my hubby and I couldn’t agree more. We were not as wise (and embarrassingly, we are older, so we haven’t learned much. But it was a second marriage, so it’s almost like we were young… we sure felt young!) when we bought our home, and bought for the “growing family” that we were sure we were going to have. Well, it hasn’t panned out like we thought, and 6 years later (yes, we bought right before the bubble burst), Hubby and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… the KIDS tunnel. We’ll be empty-nesters next year in a house where we’re upside-down. We are working our butts off right now to pay down what we can, but the house also needs some significant repairs to be nominally marketable in our neighborhood, so we’re looking for that 100% God thing to happen in our lives when we put it on the market early next year.

    We had been in the house for not very long (a year, maybe?) when we decided that we were going to write a book after we got out of this mess. Without having even an outline for it, we were going to title it, “Pay Cash, Dummy!” So happy for you guys that you were able to do that!

    • Stacy

      :-) Barry won’t let me sell myself short. We only live on his income…it was our goal to never depend on any money that I bring in – so that in case I wasn’t able to do it anymore, it wouldn’t cause an issue.
      My income is used for “extras.” For example, we have used my recent income to buy several new furniture items for our new house (used bar stools and a kitchen table) – things that weren’t necessary but were nice to have.
      LOL We love the name of your book!! :-)

  • Cynthia

    Love it!!!!!! I am so impressed! Fantastic job. What else can you two do? Please, please keep on writing.

    • Stacy

      We’re also good at removing wallpaper. LOL

  • Heather :) :) :)

    Oh, this is awesome. You know, I’ve always known it’s possible to pay cash for a house. It’s really cool to hear your story. My great-grandfather paid cash for his house. My grandparents, when they bought their home, lived of of my grandpa’s salary, while my grandmother’s salary went to pay off the house. It pays to be good with money, that’s for sure 😉 :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

    • Stacy

      Your great-grandfather sounds like my kind of man. :-)

  • Annie Kate

    Beautiful story!

    Hubby and I aren’t on the same page on the topic of debt (and I’ve learned to submit to that after 25 years), but I do all I can to be frugal. It’s wonderful when I see the results of frugality in a young family. So encouraging!

    • Stacy

      We like being called a young family. :-)

  • Stacey

    Without giving myself an aneurysm thinking about it, my hubby and I have never been on the “financially bright” end of the spectrum. I can’t speak for him, but my mom raised me to “take over the world and bring about world peace”, not take care of four boys and a husband…and pay bills. (Apparently Leaders of the Free World have accountants or something.) In short, I came into marriage young with no fiscal-sense whatsoever. We make money; we spend it. Thank the Lord I had prayed at one point for God never to leave us with “too little”. He never has. We’ve been close to the wire, but we’ve always had Just Enough.

    Almost 20 years down the line, we’re still in debt–but that’s not the problem. The problem is, when I do try to set up a budget, everyone in the house bombards me with stuff we need TODAY. I’ve tried and tried to explain to them that it just doesn’t work that way (especially with me not working now)…but they are all used to having the money there. I give in, and then my hubby says, “I thought we didn’t have the money?”…and then I feel like an A**.

    The one thing we do have is equity in our house (been here almost 10 years). We hate the neighborhood; this is NOT where we want to live the rest of our lives. So we’re going to work on getting it together enough for selling and then use some of the profits to pay off our debt. I told The Hubby that I don’t care if we’re living in the tent for six months, I want as sizable a chunk of money down on our New Home as possible. I don’t want to buy anything else with any consumer debt behind us. I’m done. Debt is killer. I’m ready to be FREE!!

    • Stacy

      There is no other feeling like financial freedom. Kick it to the curb, dear! :-)

  • Andrea

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve always *heard* that it’s possible to buy a home debt free, but I’ve never heard it from anyone who’s actually done it. My little family is in a weird financial situation right now, but we’re working really hard, and it’s nice to hear that dreaming big is worth it. :)

    • Stacy

      Always dream big!! :-)

  • Heather

    Very good post! And I’m so happy for you guys. We are weird too…and proud to be. We currently own the house I bought before we were married and the home my husband bought and we live in…both paid off in less than 7 years mostly on one income. We made a lot of good decisions when we were single and I’m so grateful for that! Now our tenants are moving out of my house and we are going to sell it. Then that and some more savings will be the down payment on our forever home. We’ll move and then sell the home we live in now and throw all of that at the mortgage.

    Neither of our houses will bring what we paid for them, but we will also buy a home for a much better price than we would have before too. And while we would love to sell both before moving the reality is that our little family of 5 with a work at home Dad could not begin to show this tiny 3 bedroom house in all its glory with us here. So we’ll take out a mortgage and sell the house, throw it at the mortgage and pay off any remaining as fast as possible. And when that is all said in done (hopefully less than 5 years from now) we will save a ridiculous amount of money for a vacation and go to Disney. That is my husband’s favorite part! And then we will be calling Dave too :) We decided we couldn’t do it yet (although we are debt free) since we know we’ll be getting back into debt for a short time.

    • Stacy

      DISNEY ROCKS!!!!! :-) I love it there….would love to go back soon – when my kids can walk on their own breakfast. 😉

  • Rita

    You are amazing–and what an inspiration!

    • Stacy

      :-) Thank you, Rita…those are very kind words.

  • Tiffany

    You have been SUCH an inspiration to me as I begin to blog our debt free journey as well. I too am a stay at home mom, and often felt that I couldn’t move the needle without a BIG income. We are working on becoming debt free first, and then saving to buy our first home with cash.

    I refer to your posts often! Thank you again!!

    • Stacy

      It doesn’t take a BIG income…it takes BIG desire. :-) And you’ve got it sister!

  • Kylie

    This is such an encouraging story! It is our dream to pay cash for a home by the time we’re 30 (we’re 22 & 24 now). In the meantime we live in a VERY modest, small-town apartment, which is cumbersome at times with 2 kids. But when I read stories like this I remember that being a bit crowded NOW will be totally worth it in the end!

    • Stacy

      You betcha! :-) Not having any payments will make your home that much more special. Good job, guys! Keep up the hard and rewarding work!

  • René

    I just want to tell you just how inspiring you and your husband are. When my husband and I got married, we bought a home that we could afford on just his income because I knew I wanted to be a SAHM or only work part time while the kids were small. I want you to know that we will have our home paid for in about 2 years…and my oldest son graduates high school a year later. So while I did not pay cash for my home, I WILL be able to pay cash for my children’s college! You are so right when you say it happens by the grace of God! I am thankful that you put your stories out here in the blogisphere to encourage us. Thank you, thank you!

    • Stacy

      Cash for college?! Girl, you are WEIRD and I LOVE IT!!!!! :-) We should all be more weird, right?

  • Jamie Garcia

    We’re working through about $15k in debt, mostly medical bills from when we were self employed and our first daughter came early ($1000/day to stay in the NICU!). I can taste how life will be without this ‘master’ owning us!

    We put our house on the market and paid it down quite a bit before I quit working to stay at home and my husband switched jobs (all God led). If this house sells we’ll be out of debt completely. If it doesn’t sell we’re chalking it up to learning our lessons and never repeating our mistakes!!

    • Stacy

      Awesome!!! Sell that house, girl! :-)

  • Rebecca J

    Thank you for sharing this on Facebook today! I really needed this. I’m a SAHM and we’ve been in our current (1st) home for 5 years with a 30 year mortgage (ugh!). There’s not a lot of spare cash in our budget and I didn’t have ambitions to ever pay more than the monthly installments, but you’ve opened my eyes. Isn’t it odd that we’re all totally fine being in debt to the bank for such a big part of our lifetimes and in the end paying many times what the property is worth in the beginning?

    Right now the only debt we have (besides the mortgage) are student loans. We’re in year 7 of paying off 10-year loans, but I have plans to pay them off early next year when the balance comes down just a bit (I prefer paying loans off in a big chunk at the end rather than increasing my payments).

    I’ve recently started thinking about getting a “new” car. I currently drive a 2003 Ford Focus. I love my car, it’s been paid off for 3 years, but it’s getting old and it’s really not big enough for us anymore. I had been wanting to get a newer/bigger car next summer after the student loans are paid, but that would require getting a loan for at least half the cost. You’ve inspired me to wait a bit longer and put down as much cash as we can for the new car. In the meantime, I’m trying to cut down on our expenses even more (we’re frugal as it is) so we can save faster.
    Thanks again!

    • Stacy

      I liked how you put “new” in quotes. :-) That’s our kind of car!

  • Becky

    Wish we could go back and start over with your great advice!!! Working on paying off our bad and “good” debt, but it is tough! Thanks for your inspirational posts!

    • Stacy

      :-) You can do it! Kick that debt OUT!

  • Laura

    May I ask where you live? My husband & I are also debt free, renting & TRYING to save to pay as much cash as we can for a home (we have a good chunk set aside from his well-paying job the last few years but he has recently made the transition into a very low-paying internship & we are barely able to not dip into those funds) and even foreclosed homes in our area are not listed for under $160,000! It shocks me to hear you managed to get something for under $100k! But GO YOU!

    • Stacy

      Sure! We live in Southwest Virginia. :-) It was by God’s grace that we got this house….considering that the offer prior to us was $115,000 and it was turned down.
      Have you thought about trying to purchase a home on the courthouse steps? You can usually get them significantly cheaper that way.

  • Sierra Cannon

    Hi Stacy, My husband and I are in our late 20’s and we really want to be debt free. We own both our cars out right, and we are paying down our mortgage at a rapid pace. However, we are wondering if we ought to sell the house that we are currently living in and buy a smaller condo with cash. We bought a foreclosure last year at a great price and fixed it up. It is still a modest home but we could go even smaller since we do not have children. We do not want to regret selling our house, but the desire to be debt free might be worth sacrificing some of the conveniences we have gotten used to. If we kept the house, we could pay it off within a year, but we are hesitant to sink all of our money into a house. Any advice would be wonderful! Thank you!

    • Stacy

      Sounds like you’re INTENSE about paying off debt – good for you! If you can pay off your current home within a year and you want to live there for a while, I’d stay put and pay it off. Why? Realtor fees (if applicable), closing costs (even with cash), moving costs, etc., etc. will likely more than make up for what you’d save in interest by selling and buying something else. If you can keep up the intensity toward savings for 6 months or so after you’ve paid off the house, you’ll be in good shape with both no debt and good savings! Hope that helps.

  • Izzi

    I live in Sydney Australia. Its a long story but in short – we made alot of unwise decisions and now owe far more than we bought our home for! My heart is broken! We have repented and have asked God to help us find out way out of this debt – My dream is to be debt free. I struggle to see the light though at this point and my Faith is challenged from ‘every angle’. Can it still happen for me…I should have been debt free at 30 too and I am 42 now. :-(

    • Stacy

      YES!!! It’s never too late! :-) All you have to do is change the direction you’re doing – and ask for God’s help. Ask him to send you wisdom and direction – and a way to make extra income to get out from under the mess. :-) You can do this! And if you need specific help, Barry is always available to lend an ear!

      • Izzi

        thanks Stacey! I will do that! I need more consistency but I will ask the Lord to help me with this.
        I know after all, that it IS His Will for me to be debt free!
        thank you so much and Bless you!

  • Jennifer

    Hello Stacy!
    I was delighted to find your website through a google search looking for websites about living debt-free. We too live debt-free. We own our home on one acre and have no other outstanding debt. We maintain this lifestyle on my husbands modest income and while having six children. We are currently saving to purchase a larger homestead, and plan to pay cash. It takes time, perseverance, and strength that can only come from the Lord. Congratulations to you for your debt-free lifestyle. I was blessed and encouraged by visiting your website, I look forward to reading through your previous posts. :)


    • Stacy

      I love meeting fellow-debt free mamas! :-)