Some ladies dream of mansions. I dream of fixer uppers. The Real Housewives want palatial estates. I want a modestly-sized income property. The Jones’ rack up debt to keep the appearance of wealth. I want to have actual wealth. Earlier this year my husband and I handed over hard-earned cash for a house most people would probably scoff at. But here’s why this feels like a dream come true to me.

Transforming Something Ugly into Something Beautiful

I’ve always loved the process of taking something overlooked and unwanted, and transforming it into something beautiful. We’ve done it before on a much smaller scale when we turned an attic into a master suite. I’ve also fixed up other properties using a low-budget combination of sweat equity and paint. I still remember with pride ripping out the 1970s carpet from my second home all by myself. As a broke single woman, I muscled that disgusting carpet roll to the curb and pulled out hundreds of staples from the hardwoods. I never had enough money to properly refinish the original hardwoods, but simply exposing and cleaning them made a huge difference. This fixer upper is the first time we’ve completely renovated a property from top to bottom. And I have no doubt the before and after photos are going to be nothing short of epic.

The Chance to Learn New Skills

I’ve noticed something about people as they age. Most get really set in their ways. Routines are resolute and schedules are steadfast. We get into deep grooves and getting out of them can be tough. But this project offers my husband and I the opportunity to learn so many new skills. I’m not saying I’ll be an expert, but I’ll know a little bit about putting down penny tile or fumbling through a floating floor installation. The fact that I don’t know how to do something doesn’t scare me, it actually excites me. I guess that’s the Enneagram 7 in me. I love new challenges. And everything is explained on YouTube anyway, right?

It’s Part of Our Financial Plan

My husband and I started our debt free journey the week we got married when we attended a Dave Ramsey live event. Since then we’ve paid off our debt and led four rounds of Financial Peace University in our community. We are so passionate about the power of financial freedom that we love helping others experience it. We haven’t had a car payment in about a decade and we don’t plan on ever having a mortgage again. We’ve never had huge incomes, but we are proof that with intentionality and planning you can create wealth and enjoy the freedom that comes when you don’t have debt. When we created our retirement plan, we set the goal of having two investment properties to help supplement our income. This fixer upper is the realization of that plan. We paid cash for it and we’re paying cash for all of the repairs. We’ll live in it (mortgage free) for about a year while we build another home, which we will also pay cash for. When we move out of the fixer upper we will use it as an Airbnb. It’s an amazing feeling to finally be at the point where things we dreamed about 13 years ago are happening.

The Home was a Good Buy

I believe this home, although it looks unattractive, is actually going to be super desirable. When I was searching for a fixer upper I knew I needed a property with a price point low enough that we could pay cash for it. That narrowed my search significantly. I also knew I wanted to be in an area that people wouldn’t mind staying in as a vacation rental. Right now, it probably doesn’t check that box. But here’s why I’m hopeful: Directly behind the home investors are restoring an old textile mill. Woodside Mill was once the world’s largest textile operation under one roof, with 112,000 spindles. When the redevelopment is complete next year, it will include 307 luxury units with gourmet kitchens and expansive ceilings. The shared space includes a dog park, resort-style pool and outdoor fireplaces. It’s going to be sweet. Next to our property plans are in the works for 12 2 and 3-bedroom condo units. A year from now this street will look a whole lot different than it does now. So keep checking back for updates as we fumble our way through transforming this fixer upper into something spectacular.

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