- I was sharing a tiny rental with my parents, sister, husband, and infant when I got pregnant again.
- When I lost the pregnancy, my husband and I became determined to buy a home before having more kids.
- We buckled down on our spending, repaired our credit, and bought a home in time for baby No. 2.
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I was still breastfeeding when I got the positive pregnant test confirming what I had already suspected. I was pregnant again, after having just given birth seven months prior. While it was definitely wanted, this pregnancy was not planned at all. We were still adjusting to the addition of one baby so the prospect of another was a bit scary.
At the time, my husband and I were living with my parents and younger sister in a small three-bedroom rental. The two of us were packed tight in a tiny room with our infant son and a mountain of baby gear. As it was, we hardly had enough room to live comfortably, and now we were adding another baby to the mix.
The plan had always been to live with my parents for a short time to save up money to get our own place. But, as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Getting pregnant with our first baby halted any money saving that was going on and, in fact, brought with it its own debt. The possibility of moving into a new home looked even more remote once we got news of another pregnancy. Our young credit was already maxed out, we had no savings, and we had expenses like diapers and childcare to contend with.
Still, as we braced for the difficulties that would come with another baby, we were already very much in love with the little life I was growing. That’s what made what happened next all the more traumatic.
Losing the pregnancy was devastating and shifted our perspective on our finances
At my 12-week doctor’s appointment, the nurse couldn’t detect a heartbeat. One sonogram later and we got the news from my sympathetic ob/gyn that the fetus had stopped growing. The baby, who had come into our world very much an unexpected surprise, left just as quickly — kicking up just as many mixed emotions in their wake.
I grieved hard. An irrational part of me couldn’t help but wonder if the baby could feel my anxiety about its arrival. I knew that was impossible, but the hurt I was feeling carried with it a certain layer of guilt. I felt guilt at being unable to provide a suitable home for my children and guilt over the small amount of relief I detected at not having to worry over the logistics of a second baby.
Eventually, I came to a conclusion: if this had to happen, then let something productive come out of it. With that in mind, my husband and I set a new goal for ourselves. Before we added to our family, we were determined to buy our own house.
We worked hard to get our finances on track
With the goal set before us like a ticking clock, we started by looking at our finances more honestly. What we saw wasn’t necessarily shocking, but it confirmed our bad spending habits.
We were wasting far too much money on things like leisure, dining, and entertainment. Overdraft fees from careless spending were taking massive chunks out of our income. We had purchased both of our vehicles with no down payment and with high interest rates. Our credit cards (about $3,200 combined) were maxed out and we were only paying the minimums on them each month. Worse still, our student loans (about $8,500 combined) were now delinquent and needed to be paid.
We immediately began cutting expenses and used the small amount we’d saved to make payments on our credit cards. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. We used our 2009 income tax refund to pay off the loan on one of our vehicles. This freed up about $400 a month that we used towards paying extra on our second car and added a small amount to savings.
We had to improve our credit scores if we wanted to buy a home
Other than knowing we needed to pay down debt, my husband and I were not at all knowledgeable about what it took to buy a home. We figured it was best to talk to experts, so we began house hunting in neighborhoods where builders paired buyers with financing companies. While we shopped around, we did as much research as possible. We found that we also needed to raise our credit scores to get a mortgage, and the only way to do this was to get some of the delinquent debt off our credit histories.
When my husband and I finally found a neighborhood and builder we liked, we were paired with a mortgage company to finance our loan. The mortgage company saw that our credit history needed a major renovation and suggested the services of a credit repair professional. Credit repair companies are third-party entities that, for a fee, look through your credit history for information that can be fixed, changed, or removed in order to repair your credit.
The professional we worked with was immediately able to find a few inconsistencies in my credit history and have them removed. She worked with the credit card company on our behalf to settle our accounts for about half of what we owed. Most importantly, she was able to work with our student loan holders and negotiate settlements that we paid in full using our 2010 tax refund. She accomplished all of this for a fee of $150, but I would say her expertise was priceless.
We were prepared when our next baby came along
While this explanation streamlines the experience, it really was a long and difficult process for my husband and me. The stress of reviving our credit caused fights over money for the first time in our marriage. Having to scrutinize every cent we spent was a year-long chore. However, a positive pregnancy test in November 2009 revitalized us. We were going to do whatever it took to get into our own home before this baby was born.
With our resuscitated credit histories, we were finally able to get approved for our home loan in February of 2010. In May, we signed the final documents and moved into our brand-new house. In August of the same year, we welcomed a beautiful daughter. We’ve spent the last 10 years in this house and it has become a joyful gathering point for our family. Our children have their own rooms, my husband has his home office, and there’s always a guest room for those who need it.
Through the difficulties of our financial journey, being able to secure this home for our children has been our biggest triumph. And knowing that so much happiness came from such a dark time makes the success of buying our home all the more meaningful.