Money Smarts Blog

One couple's journey to their homeownership dream - Part 2

Sep 21, 2021 || Kristen Anderson, Content + Communications Strategist

Small wooden home token sitting in grass with sunset behind

If you haven’t already, read up on where we started with Keenen and Travis in part 1 of this series.

Before I started my interviews with Keenen and Travis, I asked about their comfort level in sharing with the world their journey. After all, this is a very personal journey. One that many were taught not to talk about.

They didn’t hesitate. They were more than happy to be a part of this.

Why?  They said if there’s a chance their story could help even just one other person going through something similar, then it’s 100% worth it.

Let’s hear from Keenen and Travis in their own words.

What’s the biggest surprise you’ve encountered through this process?

Travis: After we made the decision to start really focusing on paying down my debt, I was shocked to see just how fast my score went up.

Keenen: In that same vein, we’d pay things off and see a dip in his score, which was obviously discouraging. We found out it can take up to 3 months for payments or a paid-off loan to reflect on your credit report.

Travis: Our advice, don’t check your credit score every day. We recommend every 3 months. And don’t apply for any other loans or credit cards while you’re working to increase your score because they often will hurt it.

 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

Travis: When you pay something off, you’ve got to discipline yourself to take that amount and put it toward the next debt. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mindset of “oh, it’s paid off and I’m making all this progress, so I’m going to reward myself”. Believe me, I did it a time or two. While it didn’t totally derail us, I could see myself sliding back into my old ways very easily and straying completely from the process.

Keenen: Travis was encouraged by one of IHMVCU’s financial coaches to keep his credit cards open, even when debts were paid off, so the closing of them didn’t hurt his score. We hadn’t even thought of that – we were just so focused on closing them so there wasn’t the temptation to use them. Since we kept them open, we made a point to hide those cards. We told ourselves they were only available in an emergency.

Pro Tip: When you pay a debt in full, request an immediate deletion from your credit. Let the creditor know it’s because you’re in the home buying process. Also request a letter of guarantee that it’s been deleted to keep with your records.

Okay, now for the fun stuff. How do you picture your first house?

Travis: Oh gosh…We want an extra bedroom – just more space in general. We’re up for a little bit of a challenge when it comes to DIY…but not in the kitchen or bathrooms. Those renos are too spendy.

A fenced-in yard is a must for our two dogs.

Keenen: I love the mid-century modern look. Travis is more into the old brick homes with original woodwork and things that bring out the home’s true character.

We both LOVE to host, so we definitely want space for that!

 

Will there be a Part 3? We hope so! Sounds like Keenen and Travis were planning to re-apply for pre-approval. Stay tuned.

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