How Do They Do That: Renovating Rebecca

We like to take a weekly trip into the land of others and learn just how they make life happen! Have you ever caught yourself asking ‘How do they do that’? It’s not a matter of comparing ourselves to the Joneses, it’s the willingness to seek knowledge and understanding so, you too, can make the choice whether or not you’re willing to do that. What trade-offs are you willing to make?

Meet Rebecca from Renovating Rebecca!

How Do They Do That: Renovating Rebecca

I’m 27 and my husband is 28. Before meeting my husband, I was $10,000 in credit card debt and had student loan debt. Before meeting me, my husband didn’t have any debt but didn’t having savings either. Meeting each other in 2012 and getting married in 2014 has drastically changed our finances. Sam encouraged me to pay off my credit card debt, which I did before we got married. We now save half of our income in six different savings accounts: 1. Emergency Savings 2. House savings 3. Vacation 4. New car 5. Car insurance 6. Christmas.

1) What about retirement? Are you saving?

Yes, I save 15% of my salary and my husband saves 10% of his. I also have a Roth IRA that I contribute $200/month.

2) How often do you vacation? Where does the money come from?

We usually vacation twice a year (one larger vacation and one smaller vacation) and we go on a weekend camping trip in October.

Traveling is important to us, so we diligently save in this category. We have separate savings account for travel and contribute $500/month to the account. The money automatically gets taken out of our paychecks and deposited into the savings account. We don’t even have to think about it! I plan to increase the vacation savings later this year because we’ve already booked a trip to Alaska in May 2016, and we’ll need to save more.

mykonos greece windmills
 our honeymoon in Greece

3) Are you planning for college?

Our answer is both yes and no. Yes, we do contribute to our nephew’s 529 fund. It’s our birthday present to hime for the next 16 years. No, we aren’t planning for college for our family because we don’t have children.

4) Do you have a car payment?

No, both our cars are paid off. My car is 11 years old and has a lot of miles on it, so we have started saving for our next car.

5) Are you house poor? What is your mortgage/rent like?

We just bought our first house in March! We bought a 2800 sq. ft. two story brick home built in 1988. Right now I feel house poor because I’ve never spent so much money in one day (on the down payment). Before purchasing our house, we used multiple house calculators to determine where we felt comfortable spending. We decided $1200-1400/month would be the perfect range for us and we wouldn’t have to downsize our lifestyle to afford a house. Our mortgage payment ended up being $1350.

house in snow

6) How do you fund Christmas?

We get paid biweekly, which means that two times a year we get three paychecks in one month (we both get paid on the same day). In 2014 our extra paycheck fell in October and we saved half of that paycheck to pay for Christmas. This year I’m trying something new. Every time extra money comes into our hands, I put it directly into our Christmas savings account. So far from January – April 2015 we have saved $300. That money is from random car insurance refunds, ebates cash back, and credit card cash back.
irish terrier at Christmas

7) Let’s talk Home Improvements?

We recently bought our first house, and we’re trying to renovate the first floor before moving in. Our plans include scraping the popcorn ceiling, painting all the baseboards and trim white (it was a dirty tan color), painting every room, getting new light fixtures, replacing all the almond colored light switches and receptacles, gutting the powder bathroom, purchasing a dishwasher and refrigerator, and getting all new hardwood floors. When we got married in May 2014, we started a separate savings account to buy a house. After paying the down payment, we had enough money left over to pay for all our improvements, except for the new flooring. The new floors are being financed at 24 months interest free, although we intend to pay off the floors in less than 24 months.

8) Do you save for school clothes?

No, we don’t have children.

9) Do you deal with college debt?

My husband got a full scholarship for undergrad and graduate school. I graduated from college with $20,000 in student loans in 2009. I pay 3x the minimum and will have my student loans paid off in October of this year.

10) Is your emergency fund where it should be?

No, right now we have $4000. We cut back on building up our emergency fund while we were saving for a house. In June, we are going to start back saving $500/month. Our goal is to have $20,000 eventually.

11) Do you carry credit card debt?

I haven’t accrued anymore credit card debt since paying off my debt before we got married in May 2014. I have put a lot of our house renovation purchases on my credit card and have, so far, been able to pay it off every month. Up to this point, we’ve been able to space out purchases, but last week we made a great deal of purchases in one day (including appliances). I’m anticipating that in June I won’t be able to pay off the card. I’m not too worried about this because I expect to pay off the balance in July and only end up paying one month of interest.

12) How often do you eat out?

We normally eat out for lunch (it’s cheaper!) on Saturdays and eat out for dinner about once a month (sometimes less). Since we’ve been renovating our house, I don’t have time to cook anymore, so we’ve been eating out more often. As soon as we move into our house, I plan to start cooking again.

13) Do you mow your own lawn and clean your own house?

Yes, my husband just mowed the lawn at our new house for the first time!

14) Name a Frugal Fail?

Accumulating $10,000 credit card debt before I met my husband, which I’ve discussed on my blog in more detail.

15) Your Question: Do you get an allowance?

No, I know if I received an allowance I would spend it on frivolous things like gummy bears and nail polish. I knew that not having an allowance would make me more accountable with my spending. I told my husband he was welcome to have an allowance, but we both decided not to. We aren’t ruling this out, and may reevaluate in a few years.

Thank you for sharing, Rebecca! Rebecca likes to take photos, bake, drink tea, decorate, cuddle, use her label maker, smell candles, travel, hang gallery walls, and organize! Whew! She sounds busy! Her current project is renovating her laundry room!

How do YOU do that?! Inquiring minds want to know about the choices you make.

Brave souls, willing to bare it all, click below:


How Do They Do That: It’s Your Turn!


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How Do They Do That: Renovating Rebecca
6 comments… add one
  • Kelly Davis May 6, 2015, 6:45 am

    Wow, you guys seem to be very diligent savers and it’s paying off well for you! I took a peak at some of your renovation projects on your blog, love the work you are doing so far!


  • Rebecca May 6, 2015, 7:22 am

    Thank you so much Kelly! I think saving was easier before we had a house, so we’ll see what the future holds.

  • Christina @ Embracing Simple May 6, 2015, 9:45 am

    That’s so awesome that you automate the process of saving for travel. I think that’s something I’d like to implement with my family as well, to make sure we are continuing to make travel a priority as our family grows and don’t have to feel guilty spending money on it 🙂

  • Kirsten May 6, 2015, 5:44 pm

    Wow! I’m in awe of the commitment to saving! And super cute house 🙂

  • Negative To Positive Net Worth May 6, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Great start! You folks are killing it. Wish I had thought like this when I was in my twenties.
    Keep it up

  • Lux Ganzon May 8, 2015, 11:42 am

    Reading this, I think for married couples, it really helps to be both working or at least earning decently.

    Inspiring. I also go on budget vacations. 🙂

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