Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! I have an old goal to share with you, but one that my husband and I have been looking at with new energy in the past months. We prefer to set goals as inspiration and motivation strike rather than waiting for an arbitrary date on a calendar. But this arbitrary date seems like a good time to share it with everyone, so here we go.
For some time now, we’ve dreamed of owning a home. It’s always seemed incredibly far out of reach. I mean, the rent’s too damn high. Our income is a little on the low side. We have had other things we’ve needed to save for.
But we have a renewed energy. We’re saving. We’ve decided it is attainable. We’ve decided it’s a must and can’t be prioritized off of our list any longer. And most importantly, our income’s started to move in the right direction. We’re not balling or anything, but saving is getting a lot easier now that we’re able to meet most of our family’s day-to-day needs. (Plus I hear banks like when you can actually afford to pay the mortgage they’re extending you.)
We probably could get an FHA loan in the coming months. Three point five percent down in a market like Pittsburgh’s wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. But there’s a few reasons we’re deciding to wait a bit longer, despite my itch for our kids to have a yard to play in now:
- I’ll have a longer period of time to prove my income.
- The educational situation for our kids is ideal now. In a couple of years it won’t be. But we don’t want to mess with a good thing for the moment.
- With only 3.5% down, our mortgage would be near our current rent for the type of home we want and the areas we’re looking at. We know we could afford it, but if waiting a bit longer means we can go in with 20% down and actually be paying a lot less than our rent for the long haul, wouldn’t we be fools to jump the gun?
- If we go in for a mortgage now, we’d have $0 left in savings after the entire buying process was over. I’m pretty sure as new homeowners in a house that would definitely have been built before the year 2000, that’s a stupid idea.
- If we wait, our income will most likely go up. If it does, we can potentially save more and afford more house. I only want to do this once. At least for a primary residence. I’m not at all interested in flipping or even owning a starter home. I want one forever. So more house=more room to grow, and less of a potential need to move later down the line. Also, with our income going up we’d be more likely to get approved for a larger mortgage. Which isn’t a part of the plan. But can’t hurt as the budget we’re looking at now is pretty conservative.
There’s only one problem with my 20% goal: I’ve run the numbers and we won’t reach it within our desired time frame. I’ve calculated in saving every penny of tax returns. I’ve calculated in living on the minimum we can every month. (Which we are pretty much already doing anyways.) I’ve calculated in every penny that we will be able to allot to our cause if things stay exactly the same. And I come up ten grand short.
That’s not the end. All that means is that things can’t stay exactly the same. Something’s got to change. It’s likely not his income. If anything, he will need to cut hours as his coursework gets more intense. (That’s always been a part of the plan in my eyes, though we’ll see if he feels the need for it when the time arises.) It may or may not be my income from my day job. Although I am constantly working to make myself more valuable, there’s no way I can predict any increase or decrease in income at this point. (Which I’m okay with. I’m very happy with my career and where I am at this stage of it.)
That leaves one more income source in our household. That is this blog. It’s been doing well lately, but to come up with the money needed in our time frame I really have to kick things into overdrive. That doesn’t mean much will be changing around here from what you see as a reader. What it does mean is that I have to get a lot of behind the scenes work done.
In order to reach our house goal, I’ve set a goal to double my traffic in the next six months. That’s no small feat considering the traffic I do have has been earned after 3.5 years of work. But I’m going big
or going to go home. If you don’t run a website, the next bullet list might not interest you. Feel free to scroll past it. 🙂 If you do, however, here’s my plan for building things up behind the scenes for the next six months. I’d love your feedback on it all:
- SEO: I don’t write posts for search engines. I do use a plug-in to help optimize what I do write, though. It’s been mildly helpful. My biggest thing will be to start writing longer posts, 1000+ words. It won’t be too big of a stretch, but from my limited knowledge on the subject it will help bring in more traffic from search engines. My other SEO goal is to learn more about effectively learning SEO. I know, vague, right?
- Social Media: I get a fair amount of traffic from social media, but I know I could be doing more. Especially on Pinterest. I just joined a few months ago and it’s already my second highest traffic source. And I only have 300 and some odd followers. So there’s one goal: get more followers. I haven’t found Pinterest to be as user friendly as other platforms, though, to unfollow people who don’t follow you. So I’m following over 600 people on there. And I can’t figure out who to unfollow, because I can’t easily cross examine if they are following me. It’s either going to be a whole process, or I’m going to have to find a better way.
Twitter will be a lot easier. I just have to dedicate time to it. And figure out Tweet Deck. I’m using another service right now and love it, but unfortunately it won’t let me tag people in my tweets. I’d also like to figure out Tweet Cards so that images go out with all of my tweets. Tried it a while ago to no avail.
Possibly looking into participating in more giveaways to expand social media. Not for cheap followers, but to meaningfully expand the audience.
- Alexa Ranking: As I’ve been focusing on other areas of the blog, my actual traffic has gone up, but my Alexa ranking has shot down in the bad way. It’s not a very good ranking system, as it only measures those users who have the Alexa toolbar, but mine used to be pretty dang good, and now it’s back above 200k. This is my least important goal, so I’ll spend the least of my focus on it, but I’ll be visiting more bloggers that I know utilize the toolbar to try to get it back to where it was during the time that I do dedicate to it.
So there’s my “New Year’s” goals. Thank you for reading in 2014! Any success I have in my little corner of the internet is nothing without all of you who open emails, send tweets, pin pins, or simply check in everyday. Without you, I would have quit a long time ago. Without you, I’d never have the confidence to set such high goals for the new year. But with you, I know it’s possible. And for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If there’s anything specific you want to see on Femme Frugality in 2015, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email (you can find it under the “About & Contact” tab.)
Stay safe for New Year’s, and I truly hope it’s a happy one for you!
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That sounds like a great goal! Even if you are 10K short, the good thing is that you have a vehicle and a solution for closing the gap. That’s a huge plus, not a lot of people have that going for them.
True! It’s an extremely ambitious goal for this vehicle, but I’m going to work work work!
If you need help with some of that social media stuff, holler at me 🙂 Sounds like you have some great goals in mind!
I definitely will, Kayla!
I bought my home in 1999 it was a foreclosure and we go it for $68,000. After having it the home for three months, that style of home became a historical landmark. Of course we had to put some work into the home but now we owe about where we started. We hope to pay it off in a few years because we pay $500 extra each month on the mortgage. I need to make some goals for this year. Femme, I have some topics for you, like free public ice skating rinks in your city and programs like we have in Chicago for pets. Organization like Paws and Humane Society provide care for pets at a discount for certain demographics and incomes. Check it out. Bonne année
Ohhh great ideas, Sheila! We have one of the best rinks this time of year. And my in laws get their dogs at the original Humane Society. Thanks a ton! And best of luck with the mortgage! Sounds like you have a great plan!
Good luck with the goals and Happy New Year! One of my 2015 goals is to redesign my blog to increase traffic and SEO traffic too.
Woot! Let’s do this together!
That’s an exciting goal to buy a house. Good luck and I look forward to following your journey.
Thanks, Jenna! It’s been so big that in the past its immensity has immobilized us, but no more!
I think a primer for husbands on how to pronounce “femme” would be fun! 😛
Love your ideas! I’m still not sure how you make money with blogs, but hey, if I can learn from you, I’m in the front row! Best wishes on the house hunt. Hey, I have one for sale! Awfully long commute for you though. 😀 Happy 2015, Ms. Femme! 🙂
Haha love it!
And we should totally chat monetization sometime. If I could convince the husband to go upstate I’m sure you’d have buyers, but alas that whole family diatribe…
I’m not going to wish you luck with owning a home for if you both put your mind to it you will own your own home. Even though I have had a bad experience with home ownership, it was still a wonderful feeling to turn that key everyday to my door knowing that it was mine. I look forward to following your journey and celebrating with you when you get those keys in your hand.
Your positivity is much appreciated, Petrish! Sorry for that nightmare you had to go through. 🙁
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you that your traffic and all things income related on your blog go up! It’s great you get traffic from Pinterest! I must be doing something wrong in that arena! ugh! lol! Keep us posted!
Thanks a ton, Tonya! It’s funny what gets popular on there. Posts I have zero expectation for pinability blow up, and then others I’m sure will be popular flat line. It’s still an art in perfecting myself.
I love your patience on waiting till you have the 20% down. I’m not sure I could have it. I’m always impatient but luckily my husband slows me down!
The main thing we have found since we’ve always bought older homes, is having enough money set aside for upgrades and repairs. You never know when you might need a new furnace or water heater. Their is always a repair!
Pinterest is my highest traffic referral and I love it! Make sure to join as many collaborative boards as possible (best if they have 1,000 + followers), apply for Rich Pins (keeps Pinterest from marking you as spam), and don’t worry too much about building up your followers – that will come. Pin high quality pins only (great photo that is at least 1000 x 1500 in size and include a great description) and make sure you have very specific niche boards, for example instead of a “food” board, break it out into “sides, appetizers, etc”, and make sure your profile pic is a pic of you. Most people on Pinterest are not bloggers and are weary of following brands or businesses as they may be spam. The more you pin the more followers you’ll get or at least that’s been mine experience. Sorry I didn’t mean to write a novel – I just love the growth my site has seen from Pinterest and I love helping others! 🙂
These are awesome tips! Thanks so much! I know it would help, but I’m still too anonymous to do the picture thing. I’ll put the other stuff into good use stat, though!
Good luck. I hope you meet your goal! Today during SITS twitter party I learned Pinterest is great for creating traffic. I currently don’t put much effort into it, but now plan to do more. They also like twitter. I don’t spend much time there anymore. My lists have gotten out of control and need a good cleaning out.
Twitter has been my longest social media friend. Up until I added Pinterest it was number one or two after search engines, but Pinterest really does take it to a whole new level!
I am thrilled for you and your family to have a plan and goal to buy a home in the near future! You and your husband are so wise to wait until you have a 20% down payment!
I’m also on a journey to grow my community on my blog… it has been so much fun so far! Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you! Best wishes!
Thanks, Nichole! I’m super excited for the $1M challenge!
I think it’s a really good idea to hold off on buying a house for a bit, especially if you have a clear plan to save up 20% of the down payment. These are some great goals for you blog, all of which I need to work on as well 🙂 Good luck and I look forward to reading about your progress this year.
Happy New Year! And good luck with your goals – way to not be defeated and decide to hustle instead!
It seems like you have a very busy year ahead of you. I look forward to hearing updates of how you are growing your traffic and maybe I may take a leaf from you. I wish you the best with this.
Femme, I’m loving your goals! I get what you are saying about owning a home. My suggestion is to wait when you are ready. As far as your blog post I am also working behind the scenes on my blog. Is hard work but so worth it. If you have any questions email me. I’ll help you out as much as I can.
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