Friday, July 10, 2015

From Broke to Blessed

As you have been following me, you are seeing me adapt from living in the city to a move to the country.
Moving into this beautiful vintage farmhouse, on 2 acres and decorating it into a charming home.
I own my home, with a mortgage.  I own my vehicle outright.  I have no debt.
I could sum it up in just a few words....grit, determination and a bit insanity!

However, it was a long journey to get here.  A very long journey.
There have been trial and error.  I have made some good friends and some enemies.
I have made money and lost it.  I have owned homes and rented homes.
And to this day, I am still planning for down the road.
 I guess it just never stops, it slows down yes, but it never really leaves you.
So I think the best place to start is at the beginning.

In the beginning......

 I was a suburban wife, and the marriage ended.
The purpose of this post is to talk about progress, so I will not dwell on how and why this part of my life ended.
 I was blessed with two wonderful children from that union.
It was a time however, in my life I don't like to think about too much, I refer to it as the dark ages.
The year is 2000.
After the marriage dissolved, after the shock wore off, after buckets and buckets of tears, life started to get very, very difficult for me.
I was a lost woman.  I was a broke woman financially.  I was scared and alone, raising two young children under the age of 9.
 I had credit issues, bill collectors calling day and night, day after day.
With no money to pay them, I had hydro shut off, gas shut off even during the winter. Phone services cut off.
Only some utilities companies were cooperative, but very few. 
The dark ages.

Then with a recommendation from my brother, I started a small linen business, renting out tablecloths, chair covers.
I knew very little about this industry.  If fact, I knew nothing about it at all.
 But I liked my new small business.  I could see it had long term potential.
I started to find direction. A good healthy direction. We are now in the year 2004.
And here is where my journey started.

Quitting cold turkey
At the beginning I worked full-time.  While raising two young children was not an easy task.
I worked from 9-5, Mon-Friday.  Most of that time I did okay, but the problems of single parenting always interfered with my job.
Kids sick, so you would have to take the day off for them.  School calling, so you would have to take time off work to head down to the school.  Coming in late always everyday, trying to get everyone off to school and you to work.  And the GUILT.  Always that guilt that you were not seeing to their needs or that feeling that you were never spending any decent time with them.  Feeling you were missing out on everything because you were always at work.  Life was going so fast and you were always at work, never with them.
My full-time job was starting to become more and more of a bigger and bigger problem.
I was constantly in trouble with my bosses.  I was even fired from a few jobs.
So in the end, I quit cold turkey.  The year is 2005.
Yes a very reckless thing to do, but sometimes desperation is exactly that....desperate times calls for desperate measures.
 I quit my full time job cold turkey and never regretted it for one moment. Never.  Best thing I ever did for myself.
And that little business I knew so little about, was actually starting to bring in money.
The dark ages were starting to disappear, and a new light was rising on the horizon.
My life would be forever changed, in a happy and successful way.

By the time I quit my job my small business was making part-time income.  I knew I had to make full-time income from it.
For me it was either sink or swim with this little business of mine.  I had to make it grown, I had to live off this income, I wanted to buy a house, I wanted to travel with my family.  I chose to be successful at what I was just about to start.

It was now my full-time job.  I worked long hours into this job.
I worked when the kids were at school.  When they were home, I was able to stop and enjoy my time with them.
When they went to bed, I worked for hours, well into the night.
My kids participated when they could in my new business, and were proud of me.
It was the most scariest thing I ever did, but it was the very best thing I ever did, for me and for them.
The business took off and I was on my way.

And so it beginnings
In a nut shell, my little business lead me to my sweet dream of owning a little country home that I own today.
Where I'm at today, is all due to my small business.
I honestly believe I would have never made it to where I am today if I stayed at my 9-5 office job.
Like all new businesses it took a few years to take off.  A lot of mistakes, a lot of trial and error, but eventually I got in a place that I was comfortable with my little business.  I knew my market, and I knew how to survive with this business in the long haul.

Finally Getting My First Real Estate Down Payment
This next part is very crucial, as it explains how I came up with my first down payment to purchase real estate.
I had an entrepreneurial idea.  A very good idea.  Had no idea how it would go, but I took off with it.
I decided to try something new with my business, in addition to renting my linens to clients, I would sell linens as well.
My market target was new businesses just starting out in the wedding industry.
I knew what they would need to get going, and where to get them.

Happy day.....I got my first client!  It was more pure luck I think than anything, but it happened and at that moment,
 I was finally on my way to the bigger things in life that I wanted.  A new home.
I made $10,000 with this sale.  I used $8,000 as a down-payment on a bank owned property. We are now in 2008.
They just wanted to get rid of the property, and I was happy to take it off their hands.
It was a run-down fixer upper in a small town, miles away from any bigger metropolitan.
But I fixed it up and four years later I sold it.  That brings us to 2012.
I made a small profit on it and used that money as a down-payment for my next property.

Bought her with the $8000 down-payment made from my small business

So if you do the math, it took me approximately eight years after my marriage broke down to finally owning my own home.
I came a long way, didn't I!

A investment home of sorts, the first step toward my bigger dream...someday owning my own little farm.
May not have been the most conventional way to make money for a down-payment, but it worked for me.

But I'm Not Done Yet - My Goal in Phases
Phase 1 
So I got the dream property, now what?
  When my son graduated high school a few years back, I know I wanted to put my "mortgage free" home goal into action.
Allowing me to move around, to buy and sell houses without interfering with his schooling.
I am in Phase 1 of my plan, there are approximately 3-4 phases.
My farmhouse may be bought, but I have a mortgage.  My goal is to have none.

  Phase 2-4 
To gear up for phase 2 of my plan, I would have to put my little farm on the market.
There were a lot of pros and cons to this property, so when I look for phase 2 or possible phase 3,
I know what to look for and what I did and did not like about country living.
When I look for my second property, or Phase 2, I look at the resale value, getting a good deal and the overall bones and feel of that house.
It will still be in the country.
I would have it for a short period, renovate it, decorate it and sell it.

Tips Along the Way

While there are bloggers out there that make money blogging, mine is not one of them.
Yes, I enjoy some complimentary gifts from sponsors, and these sponsors suit my blog, my life.
But again I make no money.
However, blogging has made quite an impact on me.  It was one of the things that carried me to where I am today.
Just as my life was starting to improve, I discovered blogging.
I soon started to read about woman in my own predicament.  I learned that being frugal was done the world over.
When I was feeling low, your voices lifted me back up again.
It gave me a place to pen my thoughts...good and bad.  I learned how you made things, where you bought things, where you traveled.
 I discovered I was no longer alone in this big ol' world.  We truly are a unique community.
Blogging gave me the fuel that I needed to get started.  I can honestly say it lead me to my small farm.

Right Frame of Mind
This is where it gets tricky.  The right frame of mind.
Sometimes problems and emotions have a steel grip on us.   But it is something that has to be addressed. 
While I am no expert, no psychologist, I do believe your mind has to be in the right place.
Not always an easy task when the wolves are growling at your door.
Who are these wolves?  For me they were my ex-husband, bill collectors, the utilities companies shutting off services, and other problems causing heavy stress.
Sometimes these problems get so big that you step back.  You wait.  You freeze.  You panic.
Eventually, I learned to deal with those wolves, make them go away, but for that time, for those moments, it was very real.
That threat.  The panic.

 Being stress free according to Diane
This was tough writing this personal hellish journey, but it was a part of my journey.
I truly believe that everyone can be debt free.  And yes, stress free.  A tall order, but obtainable.
I have absolutely no doubt that every person out there is able to own their own home.
However, when your mind is not in the right place at the right time, you have to ride it out.
You can't force a calm mental zen when there are thunder storms clouding your world.
You have to learn how to sooth those thunder storms, stop the lighting and see it for what it is - rain.
And the rain eventually stops and the sun always comes out.

Be Debt Free
If you used it, pay for it.
Credit cards, department store cards, loans.....nope.  Stay clear of them.
Keep up with your bills, because they can become large amounts very quickly.
And when you have very little money learn to pay everybody small bits at a time.
Most companies will work with you.
However there are some that bark very loudly.  Pay them off and start to look elsewhere or use alternative choices.
To this day, I am still no big fan of the Gas companies, so I always work at getting rid of this service.
You would be amazed at how you can dump these bad boys.
Be creative, but be prepared to be without some of the things you might have had in the past.
Here are some examples on how I save on utilities:
Phone - Gone is the land line, my cell phone charge is $25 each month.  I don't get much, but I don't use much.
Hydro - Use it wisely.
Gas -Keep your thermostat low, wear a sweater, watch TV snuggled in a warm blanket.
Down comforter for sleeping. Sometimes I use a small heater if it gets too cold.
So I use more hydro, but I find the Hydro companies are so much more easier to work with than the Gas.
Internet - Shop around, you would be surprised the good deals out there.
Hot Water Tank - I own my tank got's electric.

Save For It
If you don't have the money, save for it.  Borrowing money is too much of a headache.  It is a potential for problems.
So just watch your bank account grow bit by bit, until that desired amount is there.
Withdraw it, buy what you need or want, and start all over again.

Be A Savvy Shopper
Whatever it is that you are shopping for, shop around.  Find the best price.  Wait for it to go on sale.
If not, then try to get a deal right from the store.
For bigger purchases, I have bargained with TSC, Canadian Tire, Home Depot and other big box stores.  Try competitive shopping, sometimes that works.
Sometimes I am successful at getting lowered costs, and other times not so.
Read your flyers.  I frequent the online flyers of stores and write things done, then head out.

Free Stuff
Join each and every Reward Membership Clubs.
Sign up for the gas rewards and use your points card each time.  Pretty much every gas company out there has a rewards points card.
These days I very rarely buy anything without getting some sort of reward.
I am a big fan of Best Western hotels...I have got tons of free stuff from them.  I am currently sitting with a $50 gift card from them.....I am thinking Christmas. :)
Canadian Tire and their reward card.  This past spring I got two plants free because of the points I had collected....not bad!
Shoppers Drug mart, again free stuff from their store.
Whatever company, find them and join up.  I am all for free stuff!

Buy A Home in the Boondocks
My entire life I have lived in or around the proximity of a metropolitan.
Not a chance in heaven this woman could afford their ubber expensive houses,
so I had to start looking at areas that were relatively close by, but cheaper.
Approximately 2.5 hours away from my family I was able to find an area that had low housing costs.
I found my little farm in this area of Ontario.
While I do miss living close to family, I don't mind the commute.  I am a driver, so anytime I plan a visit,
it always gives me something to look forward to.  A day outing.
And now, I love the area I live in and will be staying close by throughout all my goal phases.

Be Patient
Easier said then done.  It will not happen overnight.
Get started and stay focused.

Let's stay connected, follow me on 



  1. What an inspiring post. You've gotten where you are by working very hard and I hope you keep on reaping the benefits! My situation is very different from yours in that I am retired. My husband and I share a house with one of our sons and his young family. This makes so much sense both financially and also for the little ones to grow up with the love and care of FOUR adults. Not to mention that we have the joy of seeing them each day. Keep on striving for what you want in life.

  2. much inspiration! Good stuff comes to those who wait and persevere and you are living proof! So glad that I found you and your blog. I have no doubt you are going to make your way to being mortgage free very soon! I can't wait to follow along and offer my support - YOU GO GIRL!!!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  3. Thank you for this inspiring post!! I envy your energy!! I too come from 'the dark ages' and made it into the light!! And the light is nice and calm.... You are doing so well!!

  4. This was very inspiring and encouraging to read. I'm so proud of what you have accomplished and that you persevered and are now enjoying the benefits of that. Thank you for sharing this! Diane

  5. Wow Diane this was such a helpful and inspiring post! What determination and drive you have and so happy for you. I hope you enjoy your lovely home you own!

  6. Diane, I have followed you on this journey for the past few years via your blog and you are an inspiration to single parents for sure! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and tips through your success. Have a wonderful trip to Saint John and NYC!!

  7. Fabulous post. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing this. Hope you have a fabulous vacation!

  8. Wow ! I have as well followed your journey! CUDO"S!

  9. Very impressive journey you have had. I have had similar experiences as you over the years and like you I have managed to survive by changing my old habits. You are a very special lady.....I will be interested to see what will be in store for you down the road. Good Luck!!