Fifty Ways We Paid Off Our House With One Income

Fifty Ways We Paid Off Our House With One Income

Laine was one of my first mentors. I savored her letters and loved reading her wisdom. Her husband never made over $29,000 with six people in her home, yet she was able to pay off her Southern California home debt with many frugal practices and her motto, “Pray and pay, pray and pay.” She stayed home full-time and depended upon her husband’s income and God’s provision. She knows that God doesn’t speak highly of debt and did everything she could to get out of its bondage.

Her website called Laine’s Letters is no longer online. I have no idea why and I was very sad to find this out. However, I printed out a lot of them and some of them are on my old blog Always Learning. Today, I am going to begin sharing how her family was able to get out of debt on a relatively small income without her having to work outside the home. In her own writing ~

1 ~ Tithe the first of our income as soon as it comes in. This is the foundation of our money (Proverbs 3:9,10). We had a hard time with this when we first began tithing, and it was hit or miss whether we tithed or gave. We definitely had a “purse with holes in it” as described in Malachi for those who do not put God first in their finances. We then got serious and gave regularly. God sewed up the holes in our purse. (She taught her children to tithe, too.)

“Bring all your tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine House, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the Windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

2 ~ Give to the poor and those that are in need every month, as well as the spreading of the gospel. A generous man will be blessed, the Bible says. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 7:38). “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17).

3 ~ Pay back all our debts. We paid more on the principal every month to get the house loan paid off quicker. We also pay our taxes and have the money ready when it is required. “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes: if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:7, 8). So we paid back all of our debts. Many, many times at self-sacrifice.You can’t imagine how joyful my husband is at having no debt against his name.

4 ~ Save, save, save. Every paycheck, I do my best to put a little away. Even if it is only a little, it is a savings. We have a savings account, a retirement account where a sum is taken out of my husband’s salary each month, and an emergency account for emergencies. “There is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders all that he has” (Proverbs 21:20).

5 ~ A good budget is a necessity. There are so many good Christian books on budgeting by Larry Burkett and Ron Blue among others. I can tell right where I am in a month just by checking my budget in my purse that I keep on three by five cards. (Then she has a Yearly Budget and a Bare Bones Budget in case her husband became ill or hurt.)

6 ~ A Freedom Account is something I learned from Mary Hunt years ago. I take my yearly expenses and divide that amount by twelve, then I know how much has to go into my Freedom Account each month for these yearly expenses when they crop up….It takes discipline, but it’s so profitable once you’ve been trained by it.

7 ~ I do my best to keep our electrical and water bills as low as possible. When we were in an electrical crisis and our bill tripled overnight, we went into a very small, hip high refrigerator with no freezer and shut down our water heater. …We had to heat our water to bathe and to wash dishes. It was rough for awhile, but I was able to keep us on our budget. {She admits that they had to truly sacrifice to get out of debt and this is an example of a sacrifice they made, no hot running water for a time.}

8 ~ I keep our telephone bill at $25 a month or lower. The way I’ve been able to do that is by using a phone card from Costco for long distance calling…We call my mother-in-law weekly and a few other calls during the month, but mostly we write letters or email. (Today with the iPhone, it makes having a phone ridiculously expensive! I have lived 55 years without an iPhone and I am sure you can to if you wanted to in order to get out of debt.)

9 ~ I save a lot of money on food by cooking from scratch and by continuing to try new recipes in my kitchen. I make a lot of things from scratch including some cleansers and cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. I make almost all of our bread and keep stretching myself in this area to include all types of bread. “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all that he has” (Proverbs 21:20). I pray before I shop, while I shop, and then after I shop as to what I will cook. I love shopping with the Lord! I shop from many stores and loss leaders so I shop weekly. About eating out, that is something we don’t do very often, so it’s really special when we do eat out. I love the Dollar Stores and have found many great deals there. Also Big Lots is another favorite of mine. It’s really amazing how much you can save by simply staying home. ~Smile~

10 ~ Savings must be like a bill that you pay. It really helps to look at it that way and to get it into another account as soon as possible. “After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Corinthians 12:14).

11 ~ An emergency savings is good to have in your house for emergencies. This also should not be touched unless you have to use it. I learned this from a book about the depression. It’s so good to have on hand.

12 ~ I read Christian finance books frequently. (She then lists books by Larry Burkett, Ron Blue, Mary Hunt, Tightwad Gazette, and Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy.)

13 ~ We don’t have any cable, so we don’t get much reception. But I figure we have saved approximately $6000 in the past 17 years living without cable. (You could save a lot more than that these days!)

14 ~ We also do not have Internet access. Whenever we need to use the Internet, I use it at the library for free.

15 ~ I try to keep us as healthy as possible by good food with quality ingredients. “She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.” I study health, nutrition, and herbs as much as I do stretching our finances. It has saved our teeth, since we don’t have dental insurance. I am amazed at a woman’s saving power in the home. It’s such a blessing! Time is money. What we do with our time results in how our money is spent, one way or another. I keep studying Proverbs 31 and praying through the verses to learn to practice all that God would have me to practice in keeping this home. I recognize that in my home keeping ~ spiritual, emotional, and physical health is going on. It’s all so invaluable that you can’t put a price tag on it.

16 ~ It’s so true that if you waste not, you want not. I’m always looking for ways to stretch something a little farther. “Better to go to be supperless, than to rise in debt” (Benjamin Franklin).

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20 thoughts on “Fifty Ways We Paid Off Our House With One Income

  1. People who spend on frivolities and get into debt are those who being their financial woes on themselves. Those who wisely save and take on no debt can succeed far better even if it takes longer.

  2. Enter marriage debt-free. Some career fields necessitate a college degree, so if needed, pay off college loans as soon as possible. Make common sense choices regarding higher level education, understanding income potential and basing your school choice with a future budget in mind. Establish saving and spending habits at the onset of your marriage, if you’re both working before children arrive. If you purchase a home before children arrive, but less of a home than you can afford on two incomes and avoid the mentality of “trading up” with income increases. The first years of our marriage we lived in a townhome, but we could’ve afforded a bigger house. I worked until our first child arrived, and we saved money, knowing we would want a home with a yard and affordable on one income. We eventually moved into a larger home on an acre lot, but our children all share bedrooms, so not what some would consider adequate for our family size. Our home should be paid off while we still have kids at home, and we mentioned recently how our home is what some would consider a “downsize”, perfect for empty-nesters. We figure we skipped the step of a big, suburb-style 2-story home (complete with its high mortgage), and we’re fine with that. We know many families with 2 children living in 4 or 5 bedroom homes. We are blessed with 4 children in a 3-bedroom home, and look forward to the day to be mortgage free. We strive to not have additional payments by purchasing older cars and making larger purchases with cash.

  3. I know it’s an anathema to modern American sensibilities but my husband and I have taken the words of scripture to own no one anything but I debt of love seriously and rent instead. For awhile we rented in a very low income apartment and also looked to move “up” to a trailer park.

    One day I hope the Lord will bless us with a house we own but He has blessed us with a very cozy affordable rental home so I’m extremely thankful. He is good and his ways are good.

  4. Stay in your first home instead of moving up. We have lived in our home for over 20 years now. Refinanced the mortgage twice to take advantage of lower interest rates and both times we also shortened the term of the loan (15 years and the second time 10 years). Within the next 5, the mortgage will be paid off completely and that will be a day of jubilee. Our payment which once seemed so high is very low compared to current rates. We have been able to do some updates over the years, but are saving the big projects (kitchen, bathroom, wood floors upstairs and down) for after the loan is paid off. It will be nice to have a mortgage free home as we enter our retirement years.

  5. Oh I loved Laine’s Letters! I always hoped she would put them into a book. After her website went down I still read her letters on the way back machine, but then that disappeared as well.

    It’s funny that you posted this today, because yesterday I scheduled a post for April 1 in which I mention this post of hers and include a PDF of it in my library section. So don’t think I was copying you when it comes out 🙂

    We did just about everything she mentions, and we too got rid of our house debt (all debt). Her website was such an encouragement to me! So glad you are reprinting it. If you have Laine’s contact info, you should tell her we want an update!

  6. I am content and grateful for singleness, but I am so grateful for your articles Lori, and the materials that you feature in it. It is such a help to prepare for the future and to thrive in it. God’s wisdom is seen when He said that older women teach younger women. This is gold. What an encouragement to learn here, I try to read 7 of your articles each week. I am always smiling, … It is a wonderful to understand marriage biblically.
    Blessings and love,

  7. I’ve always tried to live very frugally, yet my husband and I have massive debt and no retirement. I’m nearing my fifties. My kids are beginning to move out, and all the student loans he has will need to be payed back. Since I have no degree, I can only make minimum wage, and don’t get health insurance. What is your recommendation for wives who are doing their best, but the husband keeps racking up the debt? Oh, and of course, I’ve gently asked about it, but he is not open to any discussion.

  8. I love saving money! My Dad called me his little tightwad. My Grandma gave me $20.00 for my birthday every year, starting when I was 7 years old (1975.). I liked that $20.00 bill so much, I started doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, dusting, shelling beans….whatever I could do. A quarter and a dollar at a time, I saved my money, and when I was ten, I still had my 4 birthday $20.00 bills, plus $3,300.00! It was 1978. Saving money can be a sickness and I feel sick when I spend money. I guess my husband and I are a good match, because if he has money, he spends it. In fact, I think he would derive more pleasure lighting it on fire and watching it burn, than burning over the frustration of not spending it. So, he gives the money to me and I take care of it. Not more than quarterly, do we discuss finances. The thought of money languishing away, earning interest will almost certainly trigger the ‘need’ for an additional boat. He enjoys himself and encourages me to loosen up a little. I particularly like the part about parents should be saving for their children, children should not be saving for (or saving) their parents. Next to teaching children about Jesus, the best thing you can do for them is teach them to value a good education, and provide it for them financially, if possible. I graduated from college with a 5 year engineering degree in 4 years as well as two other BS degrees in science. All debt free, just before I turned 21. While I did well enough academically in school, it was obvious most of my peers had received a superior education prior to university than I did. High academic expectations were expected of me growing up, and I succeeded because of those expectations. I am in no way smart enough to teach children. I’m not an advocate of public school, or private/religious schools – but I work hard to find the most gifted teachers, in their respective subjects, to teach my children at my home. I have high expectations for them and I hope I am giving them an academic advantage and inspiring them to set goals and apply themselves to achieve them.

  9. Your kids are moving out but student debt remains for your husband? Thats unfortunate. But I would suggest downsizing your home as your children move out? This would save money and be timely. Put off retirement until you can appropriately fund it. Both parties have to actively save if this won’t work in your marriage then you could work to save for that specific purpose and let your husband continue tp run the household and manage the debt.

  10. Hadassah, I mentioned this a couple of posts ago but here is a link to a great financial seminar. The first one is free. You can buy the rest on DVD or watch on-line.
    This is the seminar that the Bates and Duggars used to understand Biblical financial principals. It appears to be very dry and boring if you just look at the picture (and it is from the 1980s I believe) but it is fantastic! Jim Sammons is really relatable and entertaining. If you can get your husband to watch the first one with you (for free) I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s all in.

    It starts off as a financial seminar but then it ends up touching your whole life and bringing God’s words of living directly to you. I grew up in the church attending 3x a week and had never learned or heard of these things (despite reading the Bible through a dozen times by the time I first watched the seminar).

  11. You can save a lot of money on Skin Care…

    I stayed in an AirBnb the other month and their bathroom was full of Hundreds of Dollars of Skincare. It was Insane!! And also, I used some of the products and they were not so good…

    I have developed a skin condition now that I’m older and I have to use some expensive stuff…but if you are under 35…

    Warm Climate: Sunscreen (La Roche Posay)
    Cold Climate: Sunscreen/Moisturizer

    That’s all you need!

    I can’t recommend drug store makeup being that it was L’Oreal that *perhaps* contributed to said skin problem…but I used it for years and had no problems…so…just be aware that as you age…you may have to go up in products

  12. One more tip in regards to skincare….

    Baby Products are Amazing!!!

    If you need cheap moisturizers and such, use Baby Moisturizers from the Drug Store.

    Before I discovered my current skin cream, I was keeping my skin Alive with Baby Skin Products. So now I can alternate between drug store Baby skin and my more expensive cream.

  13. Lori,
    This is how we save money, with 8 children.
    -We turn off our water heater. We boil water for the kids to take baths.
    -We grow all our own food and my husband hunts for meat.
    -We don’t go out to eat, go to the movies or do any social activity that costs money.
    -We don’t give the kids birthday parties.
    -We don’t buy them toys or anything like that. We keep them busy cooking, cleaning and doing other chores.
    -We live in a small trailer.
    -The kids wear hand me downs. We give them one pair of shoes in the winter, and in the summer they don’t wear shoes.
    -If my husband and I want to have a ‘date night’, we let the kids use the tent and they sleep outside and my husband and I have a nice romantic dinner inside.
    -We unplug all appliances when not in use.
    -We don’t have a phone or cell phone. We write letters.
    -I don’t wear make-up.
    -No television.
    -We don’t buy books.
    -We use the library computer.

    Those are just a few! Let me know if you want more.

  14. Dolores,
    That’s extreme. Buy your kids shoes for the summer and give them a birthday party. Eliminating all joy isn’t necessary.

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