Almost 31 Years Ago

What were you doing in 1992?

We were renting the seventh property we’d rented in seven years. I know that sounds like we moved every year, but it was much worse than that. One of those seven rental properties we’d called home for two years. I’ll let you do the rest of the math.

(You can read a bit about all those rental properties here if you like.)

This may be, or may not be, my answer to the Daily Prompt . . .

Daily writing prompt
Describe a decision you made in the past that helped you learn or grow.

–⋅ o ♥ o ⋅–

Packing up and moving to the next rental property gets tiring after a while, not to mention the disheartening feeling that comes with knowing all that rent money goes towards someone else owning their property.

But all of that changed for us in June of 1992 when we became homeowners.

Dean had received a modest (ok, small) inheritance from his father’s estate. It was not a huge amount of money, but it was enough to place a deposit on a house we could call our own.

It didn’t take us long to find a house we could afford to purchase, and it didn’t take long for the bank to agree to lend us the balance of the cost – so long as we signed away our existence for the next 25 years. (Phew!). I guess that means the decision made us home loan borrowers and not so much homeowners.

But, as you do when there’s no other choice available, sign away we did, committing ourselves to making those required regular repayments.

And in doing so, we took the bank’s annual lending to over $M100 for the year.

To celebrate, the bank rewarded us, or more specifically, the bank rewarded the house with a $5,000 ‘face-lift’. They landscaped the front yard, installed a garage door and painted the facade and, because the bank manager wasn’t satisfied enough, he then splashed a few more dollars on some extras to further jazz up the street appeal of our ‘new’ home – a bit more paint, some potted plants, and latticework come to mind.

While all of this was going on, we’d paid an additional two weeks’ rent so we could jazz up the inside. We stripped and varnished the floorboards, painted the walls, and I made new curtains to hang on all the windows.

As we moved in and settled into our ‘new’ home (it was actually about 15 years old when we purchased it), we found ourselves the main topic of the banks’ quarterly newsletter and a featured article in the local newspaper.

Photo from the banks’ quarterly newsletter – I won’t bore you with all the wording.

That clothing proves that winter in North Queensland is mild, to say the least.

Those palms are Cuba Royals and they would have been magnificent after five or so years. What you can’t see in the garden are several (young) Snowflake Hibiscus and Ixoras – red, yellow and orange varieties. The bank had me chauffeur driven to the nursery to select the plants we wanted. Dean had worked for the guy who did the landscaping so (again) we got more than the budget permitted including garden edging and bark mulch.

It brings back so many happy memories.

Article in the local newspaper

I’d been doing my banking with the Northern Building Society since I left school and got my first job. In fact, after Dean and I were married, rather than opening a new account, Dean was added to my existing account. (Yes, we have, and have always had, joint banking).

We’re still with that banking institute even though ‘technically’ they no longer exist. But, they were purchased by, and amalgamated with (or into), what is now known as Bendigo and Adelaide Bank – although they are more commonly referred to simply as [the] Bendigo Bank.

I’m proud to have had a 43-year association with them and, back in 1992, we were as pleased as punch to be the home loan borrowers that took their lending past the $100M milestone.

–⋅ o ♥ o ⋅–

When Dean and I first began living together, I recall at the end of that first week, Dean arrived home from work on Friday (payday), opened his pay packet, removed (perhaps) $20 and handed the rest to me saying “You’d better look after this.”

I was totally unprepared for managing our money and was never completely comfortable with doing it. Imagine how sick with worry I was when we made the decision to buy our first home.

It’s a huge responsibility and an exponentially bigger one owing all that money and yet, that decision taught me how to better manage our finances.

Now, I’m not saying I was any good at it. I didn’t even use a ledger – electronic or otherwise. But I did the best I could and kept the wolves from our door even though there were times when they were nipping at our heels.

Over the past 31 years, we’ve purchased five properties we’ve called home. Three of them we owned outright and occupied for a reasonable amount of time (including the one I’m sitting in now). Oddly enough, the other two we had huge loans on and only occupied for approx. 12 months (or thereabouts) and (sadly) that includes the first home we purchased.

I credit the decision to become a homeowner for teaching me the value of having a budget and managing our finances and, these days, using an Excel Spreadsheet makes it an easy (almost pleasurable) task.

Author: Clare

Ever-expanding one star at a time, my cosmos is a galaxy of thoughts and creativity where you can find poetry, short stories, photography and so much more.

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