Paula and Tom: Buying Their First Home

Paula’s parents divorced when she was young, leaving only her mother to provide for the family. She grew up with a money mindset that said, “If you want something, work for it.”

Since survival was paramount, there was not a lot of time or focus on discussing money.  As a new adult, Paula managed to get into—and then, painfully, out of—debt. “Being in debt taught me how important it is to be a saver and not a spender.”  Her hard-learned new mindset about money was that she never wanted to be in debt again.

Paula’s husband Tom considered his family to be somewhere between rich and poor, where their needs were being met without much struggle. The message he learned was that money must be respected—not wasted—and that it came from hard work. Equipped with this family experience and money mindset, Tom felt more at ease with money. Spending came easier to him than saving.

They served as balance points for each other—ensuring reasonable amounts of spending and saving to create the life they wanted. They took turns leading and following in their money lives.

And then they welcomed their first baby.

The apartment felt too small almost overnight. And paying rent instead of building equity no longer seemed prudent.

Both in their early 30’s, Paula and Tom decided to shift their priorities. Together, they discussed all the fine points of whether and how to buy their first home: cost, location, interest rate, cash flow and more.

After reviewing their budget, they quickly agreed on what they needed to do: eliminate the “extras”. They bought fewer things that weren’t high priority and ate out a lot less. Their sense of shared vision—and sacrifice—was clear. When Tom wanted to spend more, he’d take Paula’s lead. And when Paula wanted to tighten the belt too far, Tom would speak up.

Two years later, they are happily living in their new home with their daughter. They have come to respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses around money.  They each lead and follow simultaneously to build a life with meaning and security.

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