Our Financial Journey to a Simpler Life

Money can be hard to talk about. I know I’ve debated back and forth with myself on how to approach the subject here on our blog. On one hand I want to be honest and transparent with you all, but on the other hand I’m very mindful of our privacy and wary of oversharing. It’s not an easy balance to strike. That said, I know some of you must have wondered how we went from moving in with my mum to save for a deposit, to buying our own house just two short months later, and I think it’s important for us to explain how we did it. Our finances obviously play a crutial role in our journey to a simpler life, so it makes sense to talk about them a little bit here.

Now, let’s start at the beginning.

Baby Reuben and Katie

Katie and Reuben, The Sunshine Coast 2006

Reubs and I have been together eight years (eight years!) and during that time money has been an almost constant struggle for us. In the beginning we lived on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, in a little rental house that cost us $240 a week. We were both at university and working retail jobs around our study. We didn’t earn much money but somehow managed to pay the rent and bills, as well as cover all the socialising and spending that comes with being uni students. We never saved any money but we went out every weekend and regularly bought new stuff. During that time we racked up a couple of thousand dollars worth of credit card debt. It wasn’t a huge amount and we figured we’d pay it all back as soon as we got “grown up” jobs. In mid 2009 I finished my journalism degree and was fortunate enough to immediately get a job in magazine publishing, in Sydney, so we moved to the big city.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour Bridge, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, Sydney was really tough for us. As a graduate straight out of uni, in an industry that doesn’t pay particularly well, I was earning less than I would have been in a full time retail job, and Reubs was working full time at a coffee shop. The cost of living in Sydney was much higher than we were used to in Queensland. When we first moved there we lived in a studio apartment in Manly. Manly obviously wasn’t the cheapest option but I had family there and we really wanted to be close to them. We were paying $350 a week on rent and, on our tiny wages, were struggling to get by. After about 6 months the financial strain was really getting to us and the cracks began to show. We decided we needed to find somewhere cheaper to live and looked all over Sydney, but couldn’t find anywhere we’d be happy to live for what we felt was a reasonable price. We ended up moving out of the city, to a little house on the Central Coast that cost $260 a week, and commuted the hour and a half each way to work. After a few months of commuting three hours each day we were both exhausted. During our time on the Central Coast we had both gotten new jobs with better pay, so with a little extra money behind us we moved back to Sydney where we rented a two bedroom apartment for $420 a week. Not long after that Reubs was in a minor car accident and the cost to repair our old car would have been more than the car was worth, so we bought a new one. Our car repayments were about $450 a month. Even though by that time we were both earning reasonable salaries we couldn’t get ahead. As well as our expensive rent and car repayments we were eating out a lot (because we were too tired and frazzled to cook), we had pay TV and were spending a lot on utilities. We still hadn’t paid back the credit card debt we had accrued while we were at uni and the debt had grown a bit.

Reuben crochet 3

Crochet in the park, Sydney 2011

It was at this point that we realised something had to give. Our lifestyle simply wasn’t working for us. We were exhausted by the city, unhappy in our jobs, fed up with the high cost of living and tired of living from pay cheque to pay cheque. We began daydreaming about running away to the country and living “the good life”. Around this time we also started reading more blogs. We stumbled across Rhonda’s blog and other blogs about living a simpler life. Suddenly, our daydreams seemed somewhat viable. We began making plans to change our lifestyle, launched our blog and started sharing our journey to a different kind of life.

In early 2011, not long after we started blogging, my mum had surgery. Reuben and I took a couple of weeks annual leave and drove down to Victoria to help out while she was healing. Unexpectedly, while we were here we fell in love with the place. Particularly Bendigo. We were charmed by it’s old architecture and miner’s cottages, smitten with the local op-shops and markets, and in love with the quiet and relaxed atmosphere compared to Sydney. We had a lovely lunch at a cute cafe and adored it. Within days of returning home to Sydney we had decided to move to Victoria.

Loaded truck

Moving, 2011

In August 2011 we reduced all our possessions to only what would fit on the back of a ute and one tiny trailer, and we came to Victoria. We stayed with my mum for one month while we looked for work. We were prepared to go pretty much wherever we could get jobs but happily, Reubs was offered a position at the very same cafe we had had lunch at the very first time we visited Bendigo! We found a little cottage to rent in Bendigo for $240 a week and moved in immediately. Meanwhile, I was feeling a bit lost career wise. I had despised the two years spent working in cubicles in Sydney, and was desperate not to return to an office job. One day, about a fortnight after we’d moved to Bendigo, I was shopping for some sewing supplies and got to talking with the lady who served me at the craft store. It turned out she was the manager and she just so happened to ask me if I was looking for a job! I decided it was the perfect job to while away a few months until I figured out what to do next, and started working there part-time a week later. Somehow, miraculously, all the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place. It felt like it was just meant to be.

Living Room

Our little home, Bendigo 2012

We spent over a year living and working very happily in Bendigo. We made new friends and changed our lifestyle habits. We got more serious about thrifting and began buying 90% of things we needed or wanted secondhand, or not at all. We cooked from scratch more and dabbled with a veggie patch (with limited success). We finally paid off our credit card debt. We quickly realised we didn’t want to leave Victoria and it was where we wanted to settle long term. We talked a lot about buying a house but knew that on our limited income it would take years for us to save a deposit.

By October 2012, after almost eight years of renting, we were feeling quite desperate to get out of the rental loop, so we decided to go stay with my mum for a while in order to save for our deposit faster. As my mum lives about an hour from Bendigo and we only have one car it was going to be impossible for us both to commute to our jobs, and I’d always intended for my craft store job to be a temporary thing anyway, so we did the figures and worked out that even without my job, with the savings we’d be making on rent and utilities (still paying our share) we’d be financially ahead. We also knew being further away from the convenience foods and entertainment of Bendigo would help us to save even more quickly. I figured I’d look for a new job closer to mum’s place once we got home from our November road trip.

Katie in Mirror

Road trip, 2012

Almost as soon as we’d moved in, Mum took us to have a look at a house around the corner from her’s that was for sale. We weren’t considering buying a house so soon, as obviously we hadn’t yet saved a deposit, but the house was listed at just $109,000 and mum was convinced it was a good buy. We went to see the house and fell in love with it. It was old and rough around the edges, but cozy and so full of potential. Though my mum is far from rich she offered to lend us the money for the deposit. She had sold some assets and wanted to use some of the money to help us out. We did our sums, discussed it all at length and decided to go ahead and borrow the money from my mum, then focus on paying her back as quickly as possible. We made an offer on the house and it was rejected. Then we made a counter offer of $100,000 and it was accepted!

We went to the bank and our application for a home loan was approved, but then the sale that we were depending on for the deposit, fell through. Of course we were shattered, but we were conviced the house was a fantastic opportunity and a good investment, so I trawled the internet searching for a solution. Luckily, I found an alterative option for our home loan. The loan was the same as any other ordinary home loan (same interest rate, fees etc) except that instead of needing a deposit, applicants needed someone with a home of their own to act as a guarantor. Obviously this is not something you commit to lightly. Had my mum decided not to go ahead with it we would have totally understood, but after consulting a solicitor, crunching the numbers and thinking long and hard about it all, mum agreed to be our guarantor. This not only meant that we would not need a deposit, but also that we wouldn’t need to pay mortgage insurance (which would save us a sizeable chunk of money) and we wouldn’t have to worry about paying mum back. Win, win, win! We applied for the loan and were approved. At the same time we refinanced our car loan. This means that instead of paying about $1410 each month on rent and car repayments as we were in Bendigo, or $2130 as we were in Sydney, we will now pay just $520 per month on the one loan (though we intend to pay more so we can pay our mortgage back faster and release my mum as guarantor sooner). That’s a huge saving and quite affordable, even on a really modest income. Though having someone act as a guarantor is generally considered risky and ill-advised (for good reason), in our situation, where the loan amount was relatively small and paying it back was going to cost us much less than what we’d already been paying in rent and car repayments, it made a lot of sense.

Cupcakes and Roses

Baking, 2012

Obviously we are very, very fortunate that my mum was in the position to help us buy a house and was willing to do so. We realise few people have that option. Luck has played a bit of a role in our journey too. That said, there are choices and changes we have made, and risks that we have taken, that we know have contributed significantly to us being able to buy our first home. The biggest one being that we chose to buy an affordable house in a tinyl rural town. We didn’t look for the biggest or prettiest house we could afford, or a house in a trendy location. We didn’t overcommit ourselves to high repayments. We made peace with the fact that in order for us to be able to buy a home now we’d have to give some things up (mostly the convenience of being close to things in Bendigo). We made a lot of compromises and bought a cheap house, that we knew we could work on and add value to, with repayments that we could easily afford on one income. Housing in Australia is increasingly unaffordable and the median price of a house in Sydney in 2012 was $642,000. The reality is, had we stayed in Sydney or moved to another expensive area, we may never have been able to afford to buy our own home. The realisation that we don’t have to be in the city, live in a shiny new house or have the latest material things to have rich, fulfilling lives has been a revelation. We’re fully aware that houses in the price range of ours are becoming rarer and rarer, but they are still out there if you are able to accept some tradeoffs.

House 2

Our new home, 2013

Moving to the country, changing our spending habits and adopting a “make do and mend” attitude has changed and improved our lives immeasurably, and made it possible for us to live quite comfortably on less than half of what we were earning while we were living in Sydney. And we don’t feel deprived! We still go out, buy nice things and enjoy ourselves, we just do these things much more mindfully now. The freedom from financial burden that has come with cutting back is incredibly liberating and has allowed us not to worry too much while I have taken a little time off work. I now have plans for some exciting projects, I’d like to start doing more freelance writing work and I’m considering returning to uni for further study. I’ve also got time to work on our new house! I don’t yet know where the future will lead me in terms of work but I feel very grateful (and so privileged) for the fact that simplifying our life has given us space to breath and time for me to figure things out. We could never have afforded for either one of us to take any time off before now.

So that’s our story so far! We know the choices we’ve made and risks we’ve taken might seem strange, extreme or even stupid to some, and our lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone, but Reuben and I are so happy with where we are right now. We feel confident we have chosen the right path and are sure we are building a beautiful, bright future for ourselves. Really, that’s all we could ever wish for.

Katie x

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About Katie

Katie is a tea drinking, jewellery making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights.


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58 Responses to “Our Financial Journey to a Simpler Life”

  1. Amy @ A Girl Called Beloved January 24, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    Katie your story is so inspiring to me. My husband and I are going to be making major lifestyle changes that involve moving and simplifying. Sometimes it’s a tough change to go through and I’m nervous even though I know it’s the right thing for us. Thanks for sharing your story and your heart! 🙂

  2. Heather January 24, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    I am so happy you had the courage to talk about money on your blog! This post almost made me cry (glad I held the tears back, because I am work, and that would look odd.) Your story so closely follows my husband and I’s, even though we’re worlds away (Madison, WI, USA here). We had much of the same financial problems, and just recently came to the realization that we need to change our lifestyle in order to achieve our goal of owning a house. We also are really lucky to have a supportive family. We haven’t been able to pay back our credit card debt that we accrued while I was in college, so my parents offered to give us a loan so that we will stop losing more and more money through interest.
    Once they offered that, it was like a jolt of realization. We now understand that in order to pay them back, and still save up a down payment, we need to absolutely stop spending on things that are not needs. After doing the math, we realized that if we stop spending on things we don’t need, we will be able to pay my parents back in a year, AND save up for a down payment on a house by this summer. I actually just found a house that would mean a little bit of a commute for us, but is $99,000, and reminds me of your new house with lots of old charm, and a little fixing up to do. Here they have a very similar program to what you used to get your house (with the no down payment and no mortgage insurance), so I am looking into that as well.
    It feels a little serendipitous to read this post today. It makes me feel like we are making a very good decision, and I think it will help me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, thank you again! I can’t wait to see all you do with your new house, and wish me luck on me earning & finding mine!

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Oh thank you very much Heather!! I am so glad you enjoyed my post. Wishing you the very best of luck for your journey to home ownership! x

  3. Milynn {love and whimsy} January 24, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    This is such an inspiring post. I am making a similar journey now to start cutting back and living more simply. It is a challenge, like most lifestyle changes are, but it is rewarding in the end and your story just proves it.

  4. Monsterscircus January 24, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    Hi Katie, thank you very much for sharing your story. I’m really glad it ended out so well. Eventhough I love the most of my stuff I like the living simple thought – it’s nice with focusing on a more non consuming life 🙂 hope the best for you and Reuben!

  5. Meghan Clark January 24, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    K & R, I have been following your journey for so long, and when I saw that you guys were purchasing a house I was ecstatic for you! Though living simpler can be a bit frustrating at times, its totally worth it in the end! I hope you two love your new house!


    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Thank you Megan! For your lovely wishes AND for sticking with us throughout our journey. It means so much to us 🙂

  6. domestickate January 24, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been wanting to write about the way finances affect my simple life, but I’ve also wondered how much is too much to share. I think I was brought up to not talk about money. Funny–my friends don’t seem to agree! Anyway, it sounds like you two made some excellent choices along the way. Good on you for taking risks!

  7. Elle Mental January 24, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    Thanks for sharing some history and for explaining your long term plan, what you have said may help others who are trying to make a life for themselves.
    I think you a good choice. We moved out of the city 23 years ago and bought a tiny little house in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing wonderful about the house, but I could see a wonderful house hidden inside. Where we live, if you have an existing structure, then you can be your own contractor, so we bought a 750 sq ft house and planned to build on to make it 1500 sq ft. Unfortunately, Hurricane Hugo came through and tossed all the new construction in the woods, tore the roof off the old part of the house , (which was built in 1944), and rained inside The whole inside just melted into mush so…we had to start all over… But even with all the set backs, we used what is referred to as “sweat equity”, we did all the work ourselves, except for the shingles and the siding. It took a long time and we had many lessons to learn on the way, but we survived and have a lovely little cottage and a homestead to show for all our work. As soon as we were finished with the major construction we got a loan and began making payments, every month we put a little extra money in to pay down the principle, since the less principle there is the less interest you have to pay. When we could afford to refinance, we got a 15 year loan with a lower rate, our mortgage payment was higher since it was for less years, but in the end we would pay far less in interest. We still continued to pay on the principle, even if it was only $25 a month. To make a long story short less than 15 years later, we made the last payment on our house. In total, including the first 30 yr. mortgage that we had for 6 years, we paid off the whole thing in 18 years. We are now living in a house that is completely paid for, my husband retired at 51 and we are living debt free. It all started by deciding to live small, to make do, to do it ourselves, and to enjoy the process of living simply. Oh, by the way, we did it on one income… I stayed home to raise our kids, my husband drove 1 hour each way, to the city every day for more than 20 years to make a wage that we could live on. It was a big sacrifice for him and it was my job to make sure we lived within the boundaries of his paycheck, but we worked hard and learned how to squeeze every bit of good out of the money we had. We had a ball, and now as empty nester’s we are able to relax and enjoy life. No mortgage, no debt and retired in our 50’s! I have every confidence in the world that you guys can do this too! You are on your way already! Enjoy the journey!

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Elle! Paying off your mortgage in just 18 years is truly remarkable. Your story is very inspiring! xx

  8. being erica January 24, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    thank you so much for sharing your story. i can’t wait to hear more about your new home when you’re all settled and moved in x

  9. Cindi January 24, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    I love the honesty in this post. Thank you for sharing.
    I’m much (much) older than you but it’s only been the last few years that I’ve learned to simplify. I’m still learning. It’s nice to read that you realize how lucky you are to have such a great mom. Normally that would be a big risk for a parent or anyone to do but obviously she knows that you two are hardworkers and you also appreciate what she’s done for you.
    My father refused to do that for me years ago and I wasn’t able to get the home I wanted. I finally found my tiny house in a very good neighborhood that I could afford on my own. I’m thankful now that I live here instead my original wish.
    It sounds like you have some great plans. What a fun adventure it will be for you.
    Two things I would recommend. One, as the above comment stated, pay a little bit on the principal so you save $ and time on the loan.
    Two (and I learned this the really hard way) build up an emergency fund as fast as you can. My home is older than yours (built in 1918) but when you least expect it, something will break or go wrong. (Like the furnace in the middle of winter on a Sunday when everything is closed) or a windstorm and a tree falls on your house or…I have a list of things that I laugh about now but was crying when it happened. Yep, an emergency fund and Youtube videos have helped me many times.
    Good Luck and Have fun!
    xoxo – Cindi

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Hi Cindi! We are definitely going to work heard at paying a little bit extra off our mortgage and building up a savings account. Very sage advice! 🙂

  10. Carly January 24, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    It’s really nice to read about other people’s journey’s congratulations on your new place it’s so much fun decorating 🙂

  11. Teresa January 24, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It truly is inspiring!

    After living in cities myself and now living in my own part of counrty Victoria for the past year I know what you mean about living simply. I’m amazed at how much I use to spend living in cities and how easy it is to live on a fraction of what I use to earn working in my old full-time job. I hope to one day, be able to make my own home a reality too and I can think of no better and more beautiful place to do it than in the country.


  12. Estella January 24, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Though I’m not old enough to get my own place yet, your story is truly inspiring. I truly admire how mindful you both are about spending your money and material things. I find that when you do save and splurge less often, you’re so much happier with your purchase. It feels good to know that the purchase wasn’t just an impulsive buy.
    Your simple way of living is just beautiful. Ever since reading your blog, I’ve been much more mindful of how I spend my money and live my life. I’ve been blessed to find your blog, because after making changes to make more simply, I’ve never been happier.
    Thank you for being such an inspiration and living so humbly. You guys are amazing.
    Take care.

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Oh Estella, thank you so much for your very kind comment! I feel truly humbled by the thought that we could have helped you find happiness, in any small way. You’ve made my day!! xx

  13. Christie January 24, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Your story speaks of courage….courage to make a change, many times over in what looks like the search for a better life, one that your both comfortable in and I applaud you for that. It’s not easy to buy tour first home these days…..the climate for. Home ownership has changed so much since we got married. It’s ok if you are both working full time but if you are single income and then with kids in tow…..it’s a tough gig to break into. A house for 100K is simply amazing!!!! We would do this in a heart beat but we need employment and don’t have a lovely mum like you do to help move us forward. The last home we were in we were their for 7 years and discovered to our horror that we had paid 99,000 in rent…..we cried. Now where we are if we stay here for 4 years we will have paid another 100,000 of the landlords mortgage……..something’s terribly wrong in our picture….at least we think so

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Oh Christie, I really do feel your pain. I’ve just done some rough sums and in the last 8 years Reubs and I have paid approximately $105, 690 in rent! That’s more than the price we paid for our house! And I know just how difficult it is to try and save for a deposit when you are paying rent. It would have taken us years without my mum’s help. That said, do keep your chin up! You never know what opportunities are around the corner. If someone had told me 6 months ago that we’d soon be buying a house I never would have believed them. All you can do is work hard and trust that one way or another things will come together. Thanks for sharing your story! xx

  14. Rita@thissortaoldlife January 24, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    I think you two are so smart, and I can’t wait to see what you do with your new home. I found myself in a similar place about two years ago. I moved into the kind of house I once thought I’d never want to be in, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Where we live is such an important part of how we live. Really wish I’d known that when I was starting out as the two of you are. (Thought you might like our account of how we got to the same place: http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/2011/10/28/is-the-70s-split-level-the-new-ranch-stop-laughing-were-serious/)

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your story Rita. Your home is beautiful!! 🙂

  15. Lou January 24, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Such an honest and refreshing post, thank you for sharing your journey. I’m sure you have given many of your readers the courage to address those difficult financial matters and you’ve shown you can still be happy no matter where you live or what you are doing.
    Thank you – Lou @ The Honesty Path

  16. Louise January 24, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    This is a great post and it shows that can be done if you set your mind to it. We, too, are living a much simpler life, though this has happened to us because we both have chronic health conditions. In a way I’m glad it happened as i think we are happier. The downside being we have had a huge drop in income, but still have some of the liabilities that we started when I was still working so are finances are precarious at best. But the days are happier 🙂

  17. Dianne January 24, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Just discovered your blog via Facebook! I was fascinated to read your story in this post and have just subscribed so I don’t miss any more. I am so glad that you did share this story, and it made me wish I was your age again ( though I am only 46 so not that old!). It really annoys me these days listening to people whinge about how property is so expensive and that rents are so expensive and they can’t get out of the cycle; yet they’re never prepared to do anything serious about making changes to make it happen. My husband and I have been married 25 years, we have 2 kids and finally bought our house 10 years ago. We bought in the country, we chose a house we loved, but not the most expensive best house we could find – we chose a house we could afford, so I was reading and applauding what you were saying. Good on you both, I applaud the way you’re living, the decisions you’ve made, and the sensible outlook you guys clearly have. Too many people are so financially irresponsible and want, want,want, and buy,buy,buy and they whinge but never actually do anything about it because it requires effort. It really just requires courage and some hard work. I wish you both the best of luck with your new house and your new life!

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      Thank you very, very much Dianne! x

  18. Caddy January 24, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Excellent post. Very much enjoyed your caring enough to share. It
    Is very helpful. I hope you have a wonderful, joyful time creating
    Your new home!! X

  19. Rachael January 24, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    This was wonderful to read. As someone who also moved from the city to a small rural area (across the country, no less) I feel so lucky to have discovered the joys of living simply and saving a butt ton of money in the process. My boyfriend works from home and I only work 3 days a week at a local orchard, but it’s more than we need and I am so grateful! I can’t wait to see the progress in your house. Congratulations!!!!!

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Isn’t amazing just how little you can thrive on when you change your lifestyle? My mind absolutely boggles when I think about all the money we were earning and wasting when we lived in Sydney! 🙂

  20. Kelly January 24, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    wow, what a story. i know i couldn’t do it, so well done on being brave and committing to a simpler life 🙂

  21. Shannon January 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Katie! It’s definitely inspiring me to take a look at our finances, our habits, and our “things” to see how we can live a more simple life. 🙂

    You made a great decision to stop throwing money away in rent, we did the same last year and are so glad we did! 🙂

    Shannon Loves Design
    Fabulously Vintage

  22. Mike January 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Love the story. Love the photos — especially the first one where Reuben is clean-shaven. Wow..how time changes things (and people). : – )

    Thanks for sharing your life with us.


    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      Ha! I know! I had almost forgotten what he looked like pre-beard 😉

  23. Margaret January 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Thank you for a wonderful, honest , informative post….I think it is important to realise that the Simple way of life means that your housing and job are also NEEDS and not wants,so if you pull back from “normal” expectations and have a bit of courage, it is possible,to change your circumstances….. you have shown that.
    Your mother was very kind and trusting to help you out, what a great start, but as we can see from an earlier comment, someone spent $199,000 in rent in 11 years, so they could have had a house all paid off…so sad.(in the case of your house fully paid for and renovated for that amount)
    When you move out of the city you often only need 1 car and you whole cost of living drops,no need to eat out, no need for the latest fashion, no pay tv ,kids play with each other, kids adjust pretty quickly.

    Life is not a rehearsal

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      I love what you said about needs versus wants and pulling away from expectations! I think we, as a society, often forget that we work to make the money needed to live, not the only way around! x

  24. Cassie January 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Thankyou for your simple honest post. We are in a similar position – only our lucky break was an inheritance. However, we chose to spend it, not on the best and brightest and biggest house we could afford, and so we are are able to live happily the four of us on one wage, and still not feel like we are missing out.

    I think often the question is not whether you will “get lucky” with money, but it’s your overall attitude to it that makes the difference. If you are only interested in flash and glam, it doesn’t matter if you earn $200,000 a year, you will always be in unhappy. If you are modest and make the most of everything you have, then you will be happy on so much less, as you have shown.

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      SO true Cassie! It doesn’t matter how much money you earn, if you are focused on accumulating material stuff, it will probably never be quite enough. True richness doesn’t coming from having things! x

  25. MeganK January 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Seriously, you guys really do have your act together! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story. I truly wished I’d been so wise with finances when I was starting out.
    Aaah, for a $100, 000 house!! I didn’t know they still existed because everything is so over inflated where we live.
    Best of times to you two – Enjoy your settling in and renovations 🙂

  26. Nadia January 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Congratulations. A very inspiring read.

  27. Rachel January 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing this!
    I feel so inspired! I also try to live simply and I love your story! My favorite part is the ending (or, the beginning of something new!) Congrats on the new house!

  28. Heidi January 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Such a beautiful post and thank you for sharing your wonderful lives with us. I can relate to your tough times financially and it is always such a hard thing of how much to share and how much not to share. Thank you for trusting in us as we share in your journey to the very happy life that you both want and deserve, Heidi and David x

  29. Jacqui January 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    It is so wonderful to see people doing this (making that choice to choose an affordable life over material things). I wish more people would do it, if only they were aware of the potential to actually have this life. My partner and I are a bit similar – we bought our house a year ago, very cheaply in a small Victorian country town. And while it has it’s drawbacks (no big city lights for us), it gives us the lifestyle we had both dreamed of. We are on one income (his) and I was doing contract work, but I’m now pregnant with our first baby due in 10 weeks. I’ve had the time and space to enjoy/come to terms with my pregnancy, without having to push myself to keep working, and I’m studying Naturopathy by correspondence. I wouldn’t have imagined this life 10 years ago, but I couldn’t be happier now.
    The thing is, if more people made the same choice, and moved out of the city and into these small towns, the benefit would be even greater – there would be more employment opportunities opening up in the country for starters, and it would be less people contributing to city congestion.
    Thanks so much for sharing your story – I’ve contemplated it but still have that ‘thing’ about talking about money so openly. Maybe I’ll write the story.

  30. Kathy January 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    i just started typing a reply and was nearly finished and I hit the wrong button…I’m really glad you shared your story because the information you provide can give other young couples hope and information so they know how things work.

    I bought my first house when I was 27 in Brisbane and it cost $105,000 (23 years ago). I got my loan through the Queensland Housing Commission and I had a $2,000 deposit and I borrowed $3,000 off my brother in law and paid him back $250 per month for 12 months. The loan of $100,000 had an interest rate of 14.4% (yep…) and I was really excited because the interest rates had been up at the 18% for a long time and this was the first break in rates for a long time. I paid $880 per month on the mortgage and some weeks I embarrassingly had to ask my Mum for $20 for food or $20 for petrol. It did however allow me to get into my own home. I had that house for about 7 years, put a deck out the back, painted the outside (professionals did that as it was a house on stilts in Qld) I stripped wallpaper, painted rooms and loved owning my own home. It is the most exciting feeling buying your very first home. Everyone buys (or should buy) what they can afford to get into the market.

    I ended up selling that house (listed on the market at 1pm and sold it that night at 9pm) and made $55,000. I moved to the same suburb and bought a similar house for $117,000 and then did that up and in 3 years sold it for $265,000 (I spent $30,000 on my deck and house renovations, again painted everything inside myself etc) so I cleared $118,000.

    It doesn’t matter if you want to live in your house for the next 30-50 years, getting in at ground level and having an opportunity which arose where your mother went guarantor for you then you just have to jump at it.

    The other thing you should check or get professionally checked if there is any asbestos (which just looks like fribro to the layman) because there was a big thing on A Current Affair last night (23/01) so check out the video link to the interview.

    Thanks for sharing your financial story because whilst it may expose your vunerability it also helps others who may be in a similar situation.

    Also in terms of how much rent people have paid over the years…really that one just needs to be forgotton. It’s a big number of course but there are lots of people that through circumstances just have to rent and you don’t want to think about all that money. Think of how grateful that investors have houses so that people who need somewhere to live can live….too scary thinking you have paid off a whole house over the years…it’s all part of life but here’s to you too, and here’s to your wonderful mum for believing in you, investing in your lifes and do her proud. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    • Katie
      Katie January 24, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story Kathy and of course you right, there is no point in dwelling on how much we’ve spent on rent in the past. We weren’t in a position to buy and we had to live somewhere! It’s all part of the journey 🙂

  31. Joleen January 25, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Thank you for having the courage to talk about your financial history here as well as your journey to your new home. I am a new reader and have thoroughly enjoyed “getting to know you” some. You’re very inspirational to me. My fiance and I have a new baby and we’re soon to be married and move into an apartment together. I look forward to living a simpler life and paying down debt so that we can buy a house someday too. <3

    I have nominated you on my blog for a Liebster Award! 🙂

  32. Gillian, @look_mama January 25, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    You home is going to blossom. Bit by bit it will come back to life.
    All it needed was new people to love it.

    It is going to be lovely.

  33. Penelope January 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Katie and Reuben you have such a fabulous outlook on life and I know this will be the best adventure ever for you, this took great courage and honesty to write, thank you for sharing and I look forward to seeing what lies ahead xox Penelope

  34. Ravs January 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Well done! Great lessons learned early……
    Living simply really makes a difference in the long term. We always waited to purchase things until we found them of a quality and at a price we believed was reasonable, and could afford them outright (I think our bedside tables were boxes covered in fabric for a good 8 years!). This meant that when it came time to purchase our house – we had saved enough to pay half straight up, the remaining amount being the only loan we have ever had (we don’t live in Sydney of course 😉 ). Feels great!

  35. Vintage Macaronn January 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I live in Sydney as single person on an ordinary income and can relate to alot of your story. I grew up in the country, as did all my family before me, it’s in my blood. I’m contemplation a move this year. Thanks for sharing, your inspiring.

  36. Ribota January 27, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    Thank you for your story. I enjoyed it and it brings back memories. I am very p roud of you both. I purchased my first home at 26 and saved for the deposit by moving back home with my folks. They know much about fixer uppers so they guided me in the purchase. After 12 years I had my son and purchased my second home which is a little bigger and closer to my parents. Here we are now, my son is 12 and we slowly do home improvements. My job gets in the way but also pays for the improvements. Be well.

  37. Amber January 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Wow how amazing and i agree inspiring. May all the future be bright! xx

  38. Amanda January 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I am so glad that you have found the life you so desired, it is such a wonderful thing to find what you where searching for and so deserve. We were blessed to have your beautiful presence in our little part of the world.
    Happy renovating

  39. Heather February 4, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    wow that’s quite some story! I think you’ve made some great choices and it’s brilliant how it’s landed for you. Enjoy it all. Heather x

  40. Nafsika February 7, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story! It’s really inspiring!
    I wish you both all the best!!!

  41. Cheryl February 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Katie, I’ve never met you, but I am so proud of you both, and very, very jealous. You are doing something that I have always wanted to do but never had the money or the opportunity to do. If I knew 30 years ago what I know now things would be very different for me. The opportunities you have had recently, financially, are meant to be. Your decision to live a simpler life is something all young people should be doing. Good luck with your renovating, and enjoy the simpler life – it is very rewarding. In the years to come you will be very glad you made these decisions at a young age. Well done!!!!

  42. Christina Lowry February 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    What and inspiration you are! I really enjoyed reading your story and understanding more of your journey. It’s great to show people that it can be done, even when you may have thought otherwise, and that sometimes you have to take the leap. Wishing you all the best. Enjoy making your home your own. It means so much more.

    We brought our first home when I was 21 and it settled the week before we were married. I was lucky to have been left some money in an inheritance that we used as the deposit. We moved in, spent a few days in the house and then went and got married on the beach in Byron. We couldn’t wait to get back to the house and start renovating! Over the next two years we did just that, sold our house at a large profit and went travelling overseas for six months. When we came back we used the money we had left as a deposit and brought our second house. It had been recently renovated, so we just lived in it and started our family there and made a few additions – like a fence and deck – in the four years we were there. House values were falling in that suburb and we sold in time to break even and not loose money.

    We stayed with family for six months while we looked for our next house. We wanted a renovation project in a good neighborhood, on a big block of land and we found one 20 mins from the City. We saw it online and it ticked all the boxes. My husband came and saw it one day and put in an offer before I had a chance to see it. It was accepted and the first time I saw the house was during the pest inspection. I could have cried. It was rough. An ex-rental that needed a lot of love – and a new roof, ceiling, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and all the asbestos removed. But we took all that in to consideration when we made our offer. We could not have afforded to buy in to this suburb any other way – as we live off one wage (stay at home Mama of two). Now, a year and a half later only the kitchen and the laundry remain to be done. We pulled up the carpet and polished the floor boards and painted throughout too. We cut down trees and made veggie gardens. We have added solar panels and a water tank.

    We buy as much as we can second hand and then wait and buy things like good quality block out curtains while they are on sale (we only just swapped the vintage sheets for curtains!) And for at least the next ten years we intend to call this place home.

    PS. We are getting a quote on getting our kitchen done on Monday. Hooray! We plan to use the equity in our house to replace our long suffering kitchen. 🙂

  43. Raphael February 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Hey Katie and Reuben,

    I’m very proud of you both, from reading this post it sounds like you’ve come a long long way since we last met.

    Our little family are trying to do the same thing at the moment but we’re having to slog it out and save for a full deposit. Although we might not have as much financial hardship as you guys we seem to be very unlucky (or should I say hard done by) in every venture we pursue (it’s been a tough few years) so I can understand the decisions you’ve made to lead a happier life. I’m very envious that you’re living your dreams and that everything has fallen into place for you two.

    Happy renovating!

  44. Molly February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I loved reading your story. The husband and I were in a similar situation, both living in a city where he was working and I was studying. We were never going to get ahead there so we moved to my small home town and bought a house. The house was the cheapest one in town, a small two-bedroom on a small section, but the repayments for the house were roughly half the cost of renting. Cheaper than renting!! We are slowly but surely doing up the house, and by the time we are ready to sell we will make a nice profit and be able to buy a bigger house. I’m so glad we gave up the city life for a simpler one, and I feel sorry for people who crave the city life so much that they continue to rent well into their 30s.


  45. Sonia December 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    I read a few of your blog posts a year or so ago, and just rediscovered it today. And I’m so glad! Thanks so much for being so open about your journey, hearing about other people’s experiences is such an important guiding light for those of us who are feeling confused.
    And Amen to what you say about Sydney housing prices- I don’t understand how any young people could afford to live there!

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