Our First Home (and How All This Penny Pinching Began… )

Note from Laurie: I shared this over in the 2019 Ultimate Home Challenge Group (remember, that group closes down tomorrow night!) but thought it might be a blessing here too. If you'd like to join us, print your 2019 Home Checklists right over HERE before the pricing goes up tomorrow too. I *promise* this will be the best $12.95 you will spend in 2019 (the folks who've join us have just loved it so far ~ and I know this home organzing/cleaning/budgeting system will work for you too!)





Do you see what's missing in almost all of these pictures? 


I wanted to share this, because this is our first little home starting way back in 1997 when I was just 21 and James was 25.

We had a *ton* of student loan debt and were trying to live on one income (I never made more than minimum wage), and I remember being the happiest girl ever sitting on the back stoop the first day we drove up ~ brown paneled walls, brown carpet, brown linoleum and everything.

WE PAINTED EVERYTHING (EVERYTHING) WE COULD POSSIBLY SLAP PAINT ON WHITE. 🙂 Our next house was worse than this one, so for the first 7 years of our marriage we pretty much lived covered in white paint.


We lived without any furniture for 3 years, and it really wasn't until our current house that we've spent money on furniture at all. (See the ladder in the Christmas tree pic? That's because someone gave us Christmas decorations but we didn't have anything to put it on! The following year for Christmas when I opened my ski coat we had wallpapered the dining room but still couldn't afford furniture ~ until we got the dining room set James's grandparents had. We just sold that a month ago after waiting 23 years to buy our own!)

I'm on the floor with the dog bc the only couch we had was pretty awful, and I refused to let James put it in the family room because I knew then we'd get content and never fight for a decent couch 🙂 (I was seriously the worst wife. Bless that poor boy. We eventually got the plaid couch for $300 and I remember feeling like the richest girl on earth just staring at my beautiful stuff!)

Here's the thing. We LOVED what God had blessed us with. We cared for it. We didn't spend oodles on anything. (Most of the paint was even from the mismatched paint section, and those paneled walls took exactly 7 coats to cover. YIKES!)

And do you know what? That girl back then was no more or less valuable than the girl who sits on real furniture in a little bit nicer home today.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – take pride in the home you've been given *exactly* the way it is.

Clear off the countertops.

Go to Goodwill and find a new to you piece of decor to fill up a space (you'll be amazed at what you can find if you happen in on the right day!)

Grab some paint in the mismatched bin and fluff up a cabinet with some fresh paint. (Hint: use KILZ PRIMER first – or chalk paint is AWESOME and super cheap at Walmart!)


DO NOT FEEL LIKE ANYONE ELSE IS EVEN ONE SINGLE OUNCE BETTER THAN YOU if their kitchen is cuter than yours. James and I were just as awesome back then as we are now, 🙂 no matter what our home looked like (and honestly, those were the sweetest days!)

And the truth? You (and your exactly-perfect-for-you-right-now home) are crazy awesome today too.

I pray this weekend gives you some time to love on your space a wee bit ~ I'm cheering for you!



Go HERE to check the checklists out, and leave me a comment button if you have any questions at all. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a small part of your journey ~ I'm praying a beautiful 2019 for you!


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  1. Thanks for sharing & being so real!

  2. I ordered the spiral bound organizer. How do I enter the facebook group?

    • Hi Joy! Yayyy! So glad you’ll be joining us 🙂 After purchase, you should have gotten info about it in an email from us (it may have gone into your spam folder!), but if you don’t see the email, please send us an email to contact@passionatepennypincher.com and we’ll help you join!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart needed this reminder. God is and always has been good to my family and I need to be so thankful. I am thankful, but sometimes I don’t always act like I am. God has opened my eyes on what/how I think my life should be and I’m so thankful He is molding and shaping my perspective.

    I just printed my home notebook!!! I can’t wait to get started. It is exactly what I have been looking for to help me get things in order. God bless you!

  4. Hi Lauri, You mention using KILZ primer or chalk paint as a base before painting a cabinet. Can I use chalk paint on pine doorway trim to cover the knots? I did prime them very well before painting them but here I am, 2 years later, and they are showing their ugly heads.

  5. Cheryl Fewell-Brown says

    So true! But then my youngest daughter and my son-in-law bought a home here locally and as they remodeled she would post pictures that did not show the packing boxes and chaos and everybody LOVED the house…..hahaha not knowing what was just outside the view (my daughter is also a professional photographer which helps). Now her home is pretty much done, it is gorgeous, but it took them a while.

    We are in our first ever home 31 years later. I had to move a lot as a kid and vowed my children would not so our first home was the most expensive we could afford. It’s perfect for us now that we are alone. Four bedrooms, one my sewing room, one DH’s gun room and the granddaughter’s room. Gun room has a queen sized bed too! Our yard is bigger than newly built homes enabling us to have a garden and room for 4 hens that get to roam around except for the fenced off garden. (They jump up and eat blueberries! They dig around in just planted areas looking for bugs! They decimate the strawberry raised bed!)

    Our home is a bit dated, but we maintain it with 2 new bathrooms, new floors twice, a new patio poured, painted outside of course, new windows (we have redwood siding do won’t have to replace that like ever). The driveway needs to be redone and our kitchen needs to be remodeled too. Otherwise it’s fine and I can live with both until we can pay with cash!

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