We are working hard at trying to identify what our next step in life is. To this point, it has been so clear when we are on the right track: God puts things in place that I could have never imagined—specifically the way we were able to pay off all of our debts and our house so quickly. Now that that is done, we kind of feel like we are floundering along and not making any progress on anything. We’ve wanted to buy some land in the country and have that as an investment and a weekend place, but it is starting to become clear that it is probably not a good next step. Someday… just not now (and logically it makes sense).
Boy starts real school in 2 years and we are slowly seeing that our current school district (Dallas) probably can’t support the kind of future we want for our kids. Private school is always an option, but I think I want them to attend public schools. So we are now talking about moving into a better district and getting a larger home. The current community we are in is also lacking for suitable local friends for our kids. We’ve met some wonderful people (and our new best friend family) through our church, but it would be great if there were families in the neighborhood—walking distance-- that we could trust our kids to play with. So many choices!
Up until this point in our lives, the path has been fairly clear for us: college, jobs, marriage, house, kids… but what is next? I know that we could carry on with our current setup and have a good life, but we both feel that God has something else in store for us—we just don’t know what… and it is forcing us to work on our worst skill… patience.
As a part of our Sunday school class last year, we read a book called the “Red Sea Rules” about dealing with adversity in your life and trusting to Gods plan. There were something like 10 rules, but one that really stuck out to me was “trust God, but take the next logical step”. Hubby and I both feel very strongly about wanting to live in the country, and I really feel that doing so is part of Gods plan for us, but I don’t think it is part of his plan for us right now. Yes, we could take out a loan tomorrow and buy 40 acres and then what? We both still work full time, our kids will start school in 2 years, we are active in our local church and don’t want to leave… While it is possible to buy land now, it would be very difficult and it seems clear that the time is just not right. I definitely don’t have a peace about making a big step like that right now.
So I’m going to trust that owning land in the countryside is part of Gods plan for us, and I’m going to start taking logical steps to help us get there the right way. Logical steps… hmm, sounds a lot like hubby’s favorite thing… setting goals. So we’ll call buying land our long term (10-15 year) goal. Ideally, we’d be able to buy the land for cash, not be dependent on our in-town jobs to support us, and the kids would be at an age that such a move would make sense for their educational advancement. To be financially prepared to make a big purchase like that (300-500k) we need to start building the base now. One side plan of ours has been to own a few rental properties as a means of investing and generating a side stream of income (5-8 year goal). We are also quickly outgrowing our little house in town, and with boy starting school in 2 years, a better school district would be great. So our short term goal (2 years) would be to buy an upgrade house in a good school district with more room for us to grow our life and hobbies. Rather than simply selling our house and trading up, we hope to keep our current house as a rental property and take out another mortgage to buy our next house. (yes, gasp, debt… I thought we were done with that! I’m still struggling with this item). In the near term (now-2 years) we need to save up about 50k as a big down payment on the next house.
Considering we were able to pay off 72k in 13 months… 50k in two years should be easy… right? Not really. For some reason, money has been tight for us since January, even without a mortgage. Perhaps we are both recovering from such a lean last 2 years and spending more than usual, perhaps we are off of Gods plan and things are naturally bumpier when we are off target. Whatever the reason money-- which we assumed would be easy-- has not been. We’ve had to hit our emergency fund and are slowly rebuilding it, hubby’s overtime has nearly dried up (this was a huge factor in what we were able to do last year), we’re starting a new business and paying cash for everything associated with it. In other words, even without a mortgage payment, we are basically the same way we did before, but with very little savings happening (perhaps I was naieve to expect to be able to put the full mortgage payment toward savings each month). We are still saving, just not on the grand scale I envisioned.
I also think a big factor is that we are lacking a shared plan of attack. Our debt was a beast that hubby and I slayed together, every thought, every spare dollar went into killing it and we were working hard as a team. Now that it is dead, we have gotten lazy about things. Hopefully our new shared near term goal will get us moving again in the right direction.
So here is the plan:
1) save 50k downpayment (June 2012)
2) buy a 150-200k upgrade house in a good school district (August 2012)
3) use rental income from house #1 and job income to pay off new home mortgage (lets say 2015)
4) save up 50k
5) buy a rental property (rental house #2) use rental income 1 plus rental income 2 plus job income to pay for rental property #2. (2018)
6) Save up 50k
After 10-15 years, or whenever God says so, we will sell the whole assembly (ideally 3-4 properties) and pay cash for a place out in the country. Oh, somewhere in here too are a few side businesses in bees and software or consulting that will help us to quickly build up the 50k needed to make our downpayments and lessen our dependence on our in-town jobs.
So God, is this a better plan? Are we back on the right track? I sure hope so, but if not, we’ll review again. Amen.