But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. – Mark 12:42
As you can see it comes complete with a beautiful carport, a front porch that has no railing, and it seems to be growing some sort of green algae on its exterior vinyl walls. In fact if you look at our house from a particular angle it seems to resembles a Mr. Yuk face. If you don’t remember or have never heard of Mr. Yuk allow me to introduce you. Mr Yuk was a sticker logo put on household cleaning chemicals in the 70’s to warn children not to drink them.
Dorothy was right, there’s no place like home. Our house has a license plate (how cool is that?) and at one point was legally registered with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Hidden behind its cinder block foundation are axles and wheels, allowing it to be moved by truck to a new location at will. It is parked on 10 acres of hazelnut orchards next to our landlord’s beautiful home, and that’s only the exterior.
Inside it comes with incredible amenities including genuine 1971 avocado sinks, walls devoid of any insulation, a non functioning central air system, and water pressure that disappears at the flush of a toilet. We can’t get cable tv and we bum internet off of our landlords via a wireless router.
That’s not all. Living here also comes with the added bonus of living close to nature. We are surrounded by all sorts of woodland creatures, including birds and squirrels who have an unsettling tendency to poop on everything in sight and sneak into our home. We have had 2 squirrels and 3 birds make their way inside in the 6 months since we moved here. Talk about unwanted house guests.
How do we feel about all of this? We love it! Moving here has been one of the best things we have done for our marriage and our total financial health.
After reading our description of our home you probably find yourself asking “why would anyone willingly choose to live here?” We have two very simple answers to that question.
Our landlords Marshall and Louise are two very cool people. They are ministry leaders, retired teachers, expert gardeners, and grandparents to 8 beautiful grandchildren. They are living embodiments of Jesus’ call to generosity, they give of everything they have. It isn’t uncommon for us to come home to find fresh vegetables, bread and soup, or flowers on our porch. In fact we first came to live here because of the generosity of Marshall and Louise.
Each Friday evening they invite to dinner someone from our church. Their goal is to get to know the people within their community, to hear their stories and to have the opportunity to pray with them. They simply don’t accept the idea that a church is full of people who have superficial relationships with one another, it is a place to be known. They invited us over for one of these evenings, and we left saying to ourselves “I hope we grow up to be like them.” Marshall emailed me the next day asking if we might be interested in moving into their spare mobile home. He laid out the costs, the challenging aspects of the home, and his expectations for a tenant.
Krista and I briefly discussed moving, and ultimately the deciding factor for us was the opportunity to live in community with Marshall and Louise. We wanted them to be our generosity senseis, and we have become more like Jesus because of their example. If there is something we have learned from our experience it is this; If you admire something about someone, spend quality time with them, in the long run the very thing you admired them for will rub off on you. Jesus’ disciples spent time with him because they wanted to become more like him, why should it be any different for us?
As you can imagine, living in a place like this is cheap, real cheap. Before we moved here we paid $750 a month for a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment close to the center of our town. That $750 didn’t include our utilities, internet, and cable tv bills. When all was said and done each month we paid about $875 for our apartment. It was our first home as a married couple and we loved it. In our area this is about what you can expect to pay for an apartment, and it isn’t an exorbitant sum of money. We now pay $475 total to rent our mobile home, including all our utilities. Moving here freed up $400 each month that we were able to put toward our financial goals. That savings is going to allow us to pay off our student loans 1 year earlier then we had planned, which is excellent. It put us on the fast track toward financial freedom, and if we could save money by moving again, we probably would.
I was complaining earlier in this post but there are aspects of our home that we really enjoy. The layout of the interior is quite cozy. It has a pellet stove which provides warmth during the winter and an air conditioning unit to keep us cool during the summer. The pipes work, our furniture fits, the food keeps in the fridge and we can lock the door. It has everything we need, even if it doesn’t have everything we want.
In some ways our home has been a good teacher. Before we moved here there were things that we considered necessities, cable tv, high speed internet, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal. Since we moved we learned that we don’t need any of those things. What living here has taught us is that our perception of what we need is very different from the reality. I need a place to live, food to eat, transportation, the ability to communicate, and entertainment, but that doesn’t mean I should overspend or have the nicest version, even if I can afford to. The not so secret truth is that society makes us think there is a standard we must reach, that we must have the nicest of whatever our income allows us. This is simply not true.
I don’t need to spend $100 a month on my cell phone bill (the average cost) so I can have unlimited data, I don’t need to spend $60 a month so I can watch decent cable, and I don’t need to have access to the internet 24 hours a day to watch youtube or stream live football games. You can always save money on luxuries, but people don’t often think about how they can save money on necessities. There is almost always room to save money on your bills, and when you choose to it gives you the freedom to dream big and a chance to reach your dreams in this lifetime.
Krista and I made a choice. Before Marshall and Louis offered us our new home, we had a very intentional conversation in which we decided that financial freedom was a goal we would make major sacrifices for. Out of nowhere the opportunity to make a significant sacrifice surfaced and our word was tested. Are we willing to make those sacrifices or does it just make us feel better to have those goals? We stuck to our commitment and have been blessed with the freedom and community that followed.
How have you saved money on necessities? Where are some areas of your life that you scaled back on that gave you financial freedom? Tell us about it.