Severe Austerity

Future home state
Future home state

We bought the land. The closing wasn’t a happy occasion as it turned out. My husband and I chose to stress out and argue rather than relish the first moments of finally owning a piece of property. Perhaps that’s why this all happened 6 weeks or so ago and I didn’t bother to document the occasion. Thankfully we’ve been together long enough to overcome I’d say pretty much anything at this point, so we now joyously celebrate land-ownership together and all that lies ahead.

We just spent a week in MI at the property overseeing planting of $8,000 of oats and hay soil erosion control work on the driveway and slope. It was fun being there and exploring local living – what will be our grocery store, how do prices compare to LA, can we buy Pop’s brand of dog food, etc.? We’re also incredibly blessed to have family next door so enjoyed free accommodation. Our combined acreage, with all the sticks and tree branches a young labrador can imagine, was like crack to our precious Poppy.

$8,000 of oats and hay... AKA erosion control
$8,000 of oats and hay… AKA erosion control

Now we’re home though and in full austerity mode. We bought the land in cash and expect the house will cost around $350K-$400K to build, including drilling well, installing septic system and asphalting the driveway. Apparently the driveway will be our single largest expense, and we’ll get two guarantees: 1) it will crack, and 2) no one will steal it. We want to have at least half the build cost in cash up front then we’ll have a construction loan for the rest to convert to a mortgage once we take residence (my beloved USAA does not offer construction loans, so hello local bank). With a build start date scheduled for summer 2018, we have just over 18-months to come up with $200,000 (we’re starting at $0 as we don’t want to touch current investments).

We don’t have an extravagant lifestyle and do have good incomes, but we definitely live comfortably and there is lots of fat to trim in order to reach our goal. It’s doable but means severe austerity is officially ON. Fortunately, I track every cent and have spreadsheets that are works of art, so it’s very easy to see savings potential in each category of spending. Groceries is top of the list.

I re-read an amazing, potentially life changing quote on a Frugalwoods post this week. Mrs. FW doesn’t budget, she simply wakes up everyday intending to not spend money. She is right on that if I have a $250 grocery/household budget, I will spend that $250 because I’ve given myself permission. If I decide not to spend money, chances are good that I’ll only spend when necessary and therefore spend much less. Those drop-ins to Ralphs on the way home from work for a few items that always end up being $30+ sure add up, but they are always OK as long as they’re within the $250. I’ve been researching and shopping grocery smarter this week, and by my reckoning, I’m about $100 ahead than if I’d not put in that little extra effort.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of NovemberTo end on a completely unrelated grumble, I’m English, it’s Bonfire Night, and California is too bloody hot and windy to have a fire. Instead, here is our fire in Michigan last week where the autumn chill was a more appropriate companion on a Fall evening. I cannot wait until I can call that place home. $200,000 and counting…


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