Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Things Nana taught me

My grandmother recently passed away at 104 years old. She was an amazing woman, full of energy, spunk and love. She was also the most generous person I know, and in spite of working as a housekeeper until her late 70's, always had enough money to take care of her family and help out others.

Here are a few of the many lessons she taught me about money:

1)  No loans, only gifts. I don't think Nana ever loaned anyone money, and if she did, she never actually thought she'd get it back. She had a dollar amount in mind she felt comfortable parting with and did just that when friends or family had a need. It wasn't worth her time or mental energy to waste the relationship, and she knew she'd be rewarded for her gift one way or another.

2)  If I didn't earn it, it doesn't exist. Nana was fiercely independent and believed the only way to get anything was to work for it. She never borrowed money, and she rented until she and my grandfather could afford a sizable downpayment. Once credit cards became common she opted for cash.

3)  Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. A church member that Nana didn't get along with fell ill and had no family. In spite of their fractious relationship, Nana and Granddaddy moved Ms. Annie Mae in with them and took care of her for years until she passed away. Ms. Annie Mae didn't have much money so my grandparents were likely paying for her food and some medical expenses. Regardless of her personal feelings for the lady, Nana would never let someone languish when she could help.

4)  Waste not, want not. Nana was not about wasting food, money or anything else. She grew her own lemons and oranges, and only bought as much food as she knew her family would eat for the week. If there were leftovers, the dogs got it, and those dogs ate well! When clothes were worn out, they were given away or cut up and re-purposed as rags or other household items. Almost everything was reusable.

5)  Be kind to others. Just because. Nana's longest employer was Ms. Bee, a lady she worked for over 20 years. Unlike Ms. Annie Mae, Ms. Bee did have family, but they never came around or took care of their mother. As she aged, Nana went from being her 9-5 housekeeper to a 24-hour on call nurse. She never asked for nor was paid a dime more, but she didn't do it for the money anyway. That's just who she was.

What no one knew was that Ms. Bee was a very wealthy woman, and when she died she left Nana everything! As I said, when you give what you can, it comes back to you, multiplied abundantly.

And so it is.