Downsizing… And a Peak Into Our Life: What NOT To Do!

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches

I am trying to make an effort to be real.  I want to share with you that I am a real person, I pay Stupid Tax just like everyone else does.  I don’t always plan well, I sometimes get really frustrated with life, and a lot of times I don’t know how things will work out.  But they always do, even if I don’t like the outcome.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how we were having some issues that needed to be worked out.  While I am not going into details of all of it, I feel like I should tell you all.

When we made the decision to move to Southern California, the decision was made after much prayer and listening to our heart.  While this was the last place I ever wanted to be, I felt like this was the right place for us to be.  Cost of living is outrageous down here.  We decided to head on down to see what we were looking at cost wise.  We were shocked!  3 bedroom apts and town homes cost around $2000 and up a month.  We looked at finances and after looking at a few of them that were not much bigger then our apartment in fresno, we quickly realized that we could not afford to have a place that size.

After looking for 3 days and praying non stop, the house we currently live in showed up on craigslist.  It was only $1850 a month.  that was the top of our price range, but it was perfect in every way.  It was in a top school in the city for Braxton and in a wonderful neighborhood.  So we felt like it was the answer.

Well, as we moved down here we sold a lot of our shelving and such so we kind of started over with a few things.  We searched craiglist and were as frugal as possible, but we still spent more then I had imagined we would.  Our savings that we had set aside went quickly out the window and we were left with little to fall back on.

Now I want to pause here in the story and let you know that we aren’t trying to do this all on our own.  Law school is incredibly expensive.  I wish I could say that we had all the money saved and that we weren’t going into debt for this.  But that just isn’t the case.  The problem is that schools have caps to how much a student can take out in loans a year and when you live in a place with a cost of living like this place you have to take out A LOT of money to live off of, on top of the $30-$40,000 a year tuition and books payment that you have to make.  But the cap for the school is set at a place where a single person could live comfortably and focus on school.  It isn’t an amount where a family can live. So while we have money each month from that, we are constantly struggling to make up the amount we need to live each month and not have credit cards.

Ok, back to the story.  As our savings began to dwindle I started to stress.  how were we going to live? what were we going to do?  I worked long hours on the blog to try to make up the difference.  While it never seemed like I was making enough, we were able to make it each month.  Well fast forward 5 months and I looked at our money as I was getting ready to pay rent.  It was at that point that I realized that we had nothing.  We had enough to pay rent but we didn’t have anything if we had an emergency.  If our car broke down or if one of us got in an accident we wouldn’t be able to pay rent.

As hard as it is for me to admit to you, we had planned HORRIBLY when it came to finances down here.  I started to FREAK OUT!  I am not talking just a little, I was constantly trying to figure out how to make more, I would sit at the computer and look up ways to save money anything that would help us to stretch our money. I was not always the nicest person because I was getting so stressed (Thanks for putting up with me Honey, I love you!). I kept thinking about getting out of this house and moving into a smaller one.  But we were under a lease…

My husband and I sat down one night and began to look at finances.  We came to the hard realization that we were responsible for our choice.  We signed the lease for this place and we needed to be adults.  So after discussing it we decided our only option was to talk to the land load.

About that same time I had started looking at craigslist for a smaller place.  One night I looked and there was a new place on the list.  It was 1 street over and much cheaper.  The catch to is all, it was 950 sq feet and only 2 bedrooms.  That means all 3 kids in 1 room.  We decided to check it out and see what we thought about the size of the rooms.  When we got there we felt like this was the place for us instantly.

So like I said before we decided to be adults.  We called our landlord and told him of our mistake and how we don’t want to break our lease because we couldn’t pay, we talked it over and decided the best option for both of us would be to find a new tenant.  I can not even put into words how hard that conversation was.  How hard it was to admit that we were wrong, that we had not planned well enough.  To tell him that we needed his mercy to let us out of the lease.  But when the conversation was done, I felt like a burden was slightly lifted and I honestly felt like the Lord knew what he was doing all along.

Over the next few weeks we showed the house to TONS of potential tenants.  We prayed harder then I have prayed in a while and we did everything we could to show that we desired this miracle and blessing.  We knew we were in this place because of our choice and we had to dig ourselves out and then the Lord would take over.

Well we saw miracle after miracle happen.  We were blessed with someone to take the lease, the landlord of the new place was willing to hold it for us for a couple weeks to see if we could find someone,  The Land Lord here has let us out of the lease.  It has been amazing to see these miracles and how we are being watched over.

So we are moving yet again into a 950 sq ft house.  A lot of people think we are nuts.  But we really feel like we need to do all we can to avoid going into more debt.   Is it going to be tight, YES.  Is it going to be crazy at times, YES.  Are we going to learn to live VERY simple… YES, YES, YES!  But it is what we have to do and that is what this life is all about learning to be in control of yourself, your passions, everything.  It is about providing for your family what they need to live and be happy.  Not to give them a HUGE house and lots of things that entertain them.  It is about teaching them to entertain themselves and helping them to learn to love the Lord and follow his plan for us.

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I am excited, nervous, scared, and SO happy to be moving there.  I can only hope that I live it to the fullest for the next 2.5 years and learn to be in control so we can pay off our debt as quickly as possible after school is done.

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  1. I wish you guys the best of luck. My husband is in the military and we may be stuck moving to San Diego in a few months. I have no idea how we are going to afford to live there at all. We are seriously considering splitting up our family for almost 2 years just to not put a huge financial strain on our already tight budget.

  2. I wish you and your family the best. I grew up in a family with 3 girls in one room and 5 boys in the other for ten years or more and we did just fine. You can make it!

  3. Thanks for being so open and transparent with your struggles. It’s refreshing to hear that we’re not the only ones who jump in the deep end sometimes. I feel the same way. The “construction” of simple and smaller is actually freedom when you’re being obedient and a good steward of the money that’s been entrusted to you.

    After I started Financial Peace University (and even before), I felt like I needed to ask God for forgiveness for being so irresponsible with what He had given us and for longing for “other” and “better.”

    I can’t tell you the peace I felt in my spirit after I did that and started stewarding our money wisely. I also feel like he’s stretched our money and provided more.

    I know He will bless you guys for making that tough choice. And your kids will be able to look back and follow your example because they will have fond memories of your adventure down South – because you were together.

  4. Thank you, thank you! It is refreshing to see somebody be candid about what they are going through and realize that you are not the only person who hits financial potholes. It is your strong faith in God that will get your family through this. There is no problem in having intimate quarters… the end, you are blessed beyond measure with three children, a loving husband, a roof over your heads and grace from God.

  5. We are finding the same things out. My husband has been woking 2 jobs and the second one will be ending any day now. It supplements his teacher’s income by $800 a month, which is huge fo us. But I am realizing over the last year that we have been wasting that money, spending it on un-needed items and not planning for the future at all. I am being humbled that we will live as a family of 7 on less than $4k a month. I am trying hard to realize that this was necessary for us to appreciate what we have and to live more simply. We will make it. We have done it before and will do it again. Good luck with everything.

  6. Joni Bell says:

    We sure have a lot in common! My husband and I moved to Southern Cali a little over a year ago. In our excitement to find a place, my husband put a security deposit and first month’s rent on a place. After we realized how tight our budget was going to be living off of Dental school loans (which are exactly as you describe-meant for a single person, not a family of 5!), we had to back out of our lease. We hadn’t actually moved in, but we did loose our first month’s rent, he was nice enough to give us our 3,000 security deposit back though. It was hard to swallow our pride and realize in the long run our choice to move to a much cheaper place, was the right thing to do. We literally had our moving truck loaded and ready to go and we switched to the cheaper place to rent. I have really learned a lot about being more frugal with my money. Before Dental school we went through in one month’s time the amount of money we have to budget now for 6 months! It’s teaching me so much and I hope to be able to continue learning how to become more responsible with the money I have and make it stretch the farthest that it can. Thanks again for your very honest and candid post!

  7. I just found your blog from a friend of mine, and I haven’t read much, but I appreciate what I have read. We lived in so-cal for a little while, but now, after lots of prayer, we’re back in New Orleans, in a 1000 sq ft apartment (but with only one daughter so far), renting, and trying to cut costs and learn to enjoy the simple things. It’s nice to know someone else is doing the same!

  8. Pingback: Kids Bedroom Makeover: Making Room for 4 • Living A Frugal Life