...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.21.11 / Downsizing

Do you remember my 2011 improvement list?  If not, let me jog your memory.

I’ve already made some headway on numbers 2, 4 & 5.  #2 – I’m currently enrolled in and studying the Sheffield School of Interior Design Course.  #4 – I’ve made an effort to only post about what I’m thinking, feeling, doing and loving at the moment.  If I’m not feeling or doing much, I’m giving myself permission to skip a day of blogging here and there.  On the other hand, I’m really trying to work on posts that have some meat to them and are applicable to those of you at home in need of inspiration, instructions, advice or just a good ol’ laugh.  #5 – I’ve always been pretty good at keeping stuff from taking over our house.  But we did declutter our outta-sight-outta-mind-basement recently.  I’d also like to reduce my stress level and debt…which brings me to the entire reason for this post.

We’re looking into downsizing!

As in downsizing our home and mortgage.  Quite a bit.  And, yes, that will require selling our current home.  Boo, I know.  But let me explain.

I started this blog a little over a year ago primarily to purge all of the design and home decor ideas that were whirling around in my head.  Along the way, I re-realized my love of writing.  It’s totally therapy for me.  What better way to combine two of my faves, right?  Interior design + writing = decor blog.  A little further along the way, I started getting some recognition that I had originally never sought.  It gave me a boost of confidence in my amateur design skills and eventually {after I tried for a long time to dismiss it} opened my eyes to the fact that I was {am} very dissatisfied in my current career field.  I’m a part-time pharmacist by day and wannabe designer at night, during kids’ naps and on the weekends.  I’ve considered the possibility that I’m having an early midlife crisis.  In fact, I’ve chalked up many a thought about a career in design to my female hormones.  But, really, the thought has turned into a yearning.  I feel it.  This is what I want to do.  And I’m very afraid just saying it.  Why?  Because I have a perfectly stable, part-time, bringing-home-the-bacon kind of job right now.  But my heart isn’t in it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m so thankful that nearly a decade in retail pharmacy has provided well for my family and allowed me to stay home 4-5 days of the week with my two young sons.  I work hard when I’m at work just because that’s the work ethic my dad instilled in me.  But, again, my heart isn’t in it.  If it weren’t for my co-workers who crack me up and keep me going day in and day out, I’d surely detest it.  And if it weren’t for our debt {school loans and mortgage}, I would probably have quit by now.  Ew.  QUIT.  That’s such a loser word.  At least, that’s what I’ve been taught.

In the middle of a nervous {nearly} breakdown several weeks ago {that’s not looking so good for #3, is it?}, I confessed to Handy Hubby that I couldn’t keep doing this.  I think I scared him.  I scared me that’s for sure.  I went into the pharmacy field because that’s what I was supposed to do.  It was a reputable career.  I was a smart girl.  I’d make good money.  I’d live happily ever after.  Wrong.

“Never get so busy making a living

that you forget to make a life.”

-Anonymous

Boy, did I ever get busy.  So, after an honest heart-to-heart with my amazingly understanding Handy Hubby, we started crunching numbers.  Because that’s what engineers and pharmacists do.  We discovered that if we sell our current home, put the equity into a significantly smaller home loan but continue to make the same amount of payment that we are currently paying, we could very realistically pay off a smaller home in 4-5 years.  Of course, I would continue to work as a pharmacist during that time.  But that sounds a lot better to me than 15 years!  Which is how long I’d have to work to pay off our current home.  So, that’s the plan.  We’re putting our home {yes, the house that we’ve lovingly tweaked into our home} on the market.  It’s all very bittersweet.  We absolutely adore our neighbors.  And by neighbors I mean everyone on our street.  We love our neighborhood.

Since we plan on selling our home, that means we have to buy another one.  A cheap one.  We’re open to just about anything. {After all, my hubby is handy.} Foreclosures, estate sales, fixer-uppers, older homes, smaller homes.  We’ll make it work to live the life we want to live.  A little phrase that popped into my head out of nowhere one day continues to inspire me…We’re not looking for the house of our dreams rather the house that will allow us to live our dreams. Dreams being  1) a career in interior design for me  2) a home that we can own outright before we’re 40 years old  3) the ability to save for our sons’ college education and our retirement.  Can you believe the sacrifice Handy Hubby will be making for all this?  He’s wonderful.  He just wants me to be happy.  I will say though that there are probably a few husbands out there who would love for their overspending spouses to say one day…”I want to buy a cheaper house so we can pay it off in a few years and I can maybe quit this job that sucks the life out of me and do something I really want to do.”  I mean, it’s sure better than saying I want more house, right?  But, no, really Handy Hubby is awesome.  I’m not gonna lie.  We did butt heads.  He has a fear.  He’s afraid that I’ll quit my day job before we pay off this elusive smaller house.  But I’m here to proclaim in front of everyone, “Handy Hubby, I will NOT quit my day job until our mortgage is paid off.”  I’m not saying I won’t want to.  But I’m not that big of a financial risk taker.

I would like to go on the defensive here for just a second.  I’d like for you to know that moving my family to a new house and possibly new city isn’t for blog hype.  We’re doing it because it’s what we think is best for our family and the goals we want to achieve.  You’ve probably noticed that several big time bloggers {Young House Love, Bower Power, Design Mom} have pulled the ol’ house switcheroo recently.  It must be in the water.  I’m definitely not doing it to compete with or copy them.  Not that lil’ ol’ me could compete with them anyway.  Heck, they all moved/are moving to larger and/or more expensive homes.  We’re doing the complete opposite.

So what does all of this mean for House*Tweaking?  Well, even though we may be moving, House*Tweaking isn’t going anywhere.  I’ll continue to write about projects we’re taking on {staging and prepping here we come!} and keep you posted on any cheap house hunting news. Once we’re in our new {well, probably old} budget home, there’s sure to be some tweaking going on.  Probably more so since the homes at our price point are anything but flawless.  I’ll have to get extra creative!  I’ll throw in decor ideas and inspiration along the way…to keep you {and me} from getting bored.

So, what do you think of this news?  I’m incredibly frightened and excited at the same time.

image:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

100 Comments

21.February.2011

I know very well how it feels like to be stuck in a job your heart is not in! I’m so afraid to take the leap, but I know it would be so worth it! Thank you for sharing this and good luck with everything, I’m sure you’re on the right path!

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21.February.2011

i think i’m having similar thoughts. :) kudos to you for just goin’ for it. that’s awesome.

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21.February.2011

Dana, I think you need to do what YOU think is best for your family – and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks! I am totally feeling your vibe though, as I contemplate some changes at work I have to decide – is it for me, or someone else?

I’m excited for you. Live your dreams. Pursue your passions. More people should. I’m reminded of a quote: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (Anne Dillard)

I’m sure most of us will stick around for the journey with you :)

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21.February.2011

FANtastic!! we have actually tried to do the very same thing two times. we have had our house on the market twice, and it didn’t sell. But, that’s just in our area.
So, i know exactly the reasoning ( we got excited about a 4-5 year payoff, too!!) and the emotions that go into this decision. and…well…without sounding weird….i am proud of you! that’s right…PROUD PROUD PROUD! in a culture that promotes and encouraged more more more you guys are going against the flow. and that is not allows easy.
and, quite frankly, i think this will only HELP and increase your design skillz! ;) heehee!
i am excited about this new chapter in your lives and in your blog. thank you for sharing it with us all!
blessings to you and your family during this time!
stephanie

(oh, and, chez larrson is going through a home change too!)

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21.February.2011

GREAT choice – do what’s best for your family. A new house always means new projects which are always fun!

I think the big question is: do you take the barn door with you?

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replied on February 21st, 2011

Katie – That is a big question. Who knows? Maybe the future buyers of our current home will detest it and demand that it be taken down. We still have the double doors and hardware that were there originally just in case. Also, there’s still fence boards left from the stash where we got wood for the barn door…we could always make another one.

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I think this is a great decision, even if it will be tough to leave your current home. Congratulations on deciding to follow your heart, you’re being a wonderful example to your children for both pursuing your passions and executing your plan responsibly ;)

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21.February.2011

This sounds wonderful – I wish you and your family much luck and happiness. Looking forward to reading all about the new things that will be happening.

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21.February.2011

Good luck! Yay for choosing to find a house that fits your life instead of buying as much as the bank will let you. Our dreams are bigger than McMansions.

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Hey Dana,

I have to say that I was so hooked when I was reading this post!!!!I totally feel you!!! You and your hubby have to decide what is right for you!And I can’t wait to read all your new posts!!The house hunt, the staging of your house…..
I lately think the same way actually!My hubby is active duty and we still currently live in North Carolina!I am originally from Germany and moved here three years ago! We bought a house right away, just refinanced and now have orders to move to Colorado!There is no way of selling our house with the current market, but at least we have a good chance to rent out our house quick. But for right now my son and I will stay in our home and my husband is moving without us, because only God knows what will expect him when he gets stationed in Colorado.And now here comes my same thinking as you have!should we have bought a cheaper house?Wouldn’t it be better for the future to really move into something cheaper???!!!!I truly belive that you can make anything pretty and make every space feel home! So I admire you for taking this step and I see your move as a big chance!!!!For me your decision is so wonderful!!!!
I wish you the best!!!!
Katharina

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21.February.2011

and…as fate would have it….THIS is the post that i wrote and PREscheduled to publish today.

http://twigstwine.blogspot.com/2011/02/blog-love-house-tweaking.html

You are in my prayers and on my mind.
blessings!!

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replied on February 21st, 2011

Stephanie – Wow! I’ll admit I’m a little teary-eyed after reading your link. You made me smile. Thank you.

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21.February.2011

I think that sounds like a great plan for your family. Very wise thought process to me.

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21.February.2011

Wow, big news! Be brave, you can do this!

Almost 2 years ago, we moved, and I left a job that was making me miserable….the commute and stress were taking a toll all of us…We picked up our 2 school age kiddos and moved to a neighborhood where we can walk places (including the university!) and we haven’t looked back! I’m back to working in a job I love, and even thinking about going back to school….I’m so not a ‘big change’ kinda gal, but it was sooooo worth it!

Best of luck with your big changes!

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21.February.2011

Dana, (I feel like we’re friends since I’ve been “in” your home over a cup of coffee before, we just weren’t physically together!) I wanted to share that we have friends that are currently doing this EXACT same thing. Only it’s the husband that has decided that is not a corporate kind of guy…he likes fixing up old homes and renting them out. He loves to work with his hands, not push paper. It is NOT a selfish thing you are doing. It’s going to improve your family life SO much, make you a better, more fulfilled mom, and it’s really going to show your boys where you put your priorities. I wish you ALL the luck on this endeavor. (AND TAKE THE BATHROOM BARN DOOR WITH YOU!!!! It’s the BEST!!) haha

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21.February.2011

Dana,

I’m a daily reader of your blog and must say that you are incredibly talented, your post hit very close to home today. Since the new year began I came to the realization that I was not happy in my current situation and hit the breaking point that you speak of. So I did a ton of research, knocked on doors, and emailed every design contact I had for advice. I happend to come across an opportunity that allowed me to intern with a designer that eventually led to a career in the design field that I will be starting next week. I must say that if you truly love it, and it is your passion, the money will follow. It takes a lot of courage to actually make the leap but I must say I am proof that it can happen, and the outcome to your decision will be the best decision that you make. I also read this and thought it true to your situation:

http://www.marcandangel.com/

I wish you the best of luck, and must let you know that it is the right decision!

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21.February.2011

Dana, I will sooo be following you on this journey. My husband and I have recently made the same decision for our family. It will be very hard for us to leave our home since we had it custom built and are very emotionally attached to it, but on a financial level it makes sense for us to downsize. We too are very handy and love to remodel, but do have a small fear we won’t be able to find anything in “good enough” condition, especially coming from a newer home. Anyway, it was wonderful to read that someone else is doing to same thing because we feel so abnormal to cut back regarding housing instead of go up to the next level like most do. Thanks for your thoughts and here’s hoping for good luck in finding what you want. You are brave for doing what your family needs instead of what others expect.

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21.February.2011

I’m so happy for you! Living your dreams!! That is exciting! You guys can do it. If anyone can handle it you can! This will so exciting for you guys! I can’t wait to hear about and see your journey to a new, smaller place! Small space living for the win!

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21.February.2011

Wow. I know you’re making the right decision. And, you provoke thoughts here…thank you for sharing!

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21.February.2011

I just found your blog yesterday and printed off a bunch of pictures to put in my design idea book. I love your style and I’m excited to be an observer of your new adventure. My Working-On-Being-Handy Hubby and I are looking at a cute little fixer-upper close by. It’s on my mind constantly. I keep myself awake at night thinking about what kind of tile I’d use as a backsplash in the kitchen and silly stuff like that. I can’t wait to see how your adventure goes. Good for you. Thanks for sharing & good luck in your search!

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21.February.2011

I have been reading your blog for quite awhile, and am such a fan! You are very talented, and I think it is great you are following your dreams! And with a new house, there are many new projects you will get to share with us! It is very exciting!
I wish you the best of luck!

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21.February.2011

I’m very happy for you! Not many people aspire to pay off their mortgage and ultimately be debt free. It’s such a freeing experience to not owe anyone anything and have so much more control over your lives.

Part of the challenge facing many baby boomers as they retire is making sure they have enough income to cover their expenses. Since most still have a mortgage, you’re seriously looking at $1000 / month or MORE just to keep a roof over your head. Man that adds up. I applaud you for both following your heart, staying responsible, and working toward debt freedom.

Congrats!

Emma
City Roots, Country Life

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21.February.2011

Good luck! I think it is awesome that you can see so clearly what you want to do with your life and are willing to take steps/make sacrifices to achieve it. I look forward to following your progress!

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I completely and utterly know what you mean about hating your job and wanting a change. I’m in the same boat right now. My husband is currently out of work looking for a job so I have to keep working at a job that I can’t stand – as in, hated for 5 years and yet I’m still here! I have had many breakdowns but have to keep pushing through and know that it will all work out down the road exactly as it should. You’re so brave for what you’re doing for your family and I admire that. Thanks for sharing, you’ve helped me because I know I’m not the only one :) It will all work out!
Dana
http://southerninspired.blogspot.com/

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21.February.2011

I actually had a career/job/blog/house/place in life breakdown just last week, so much of this rings very true to me. I can understand how scary it is what you’re doing, but so brave, too. I bet you’re going to miss that awesome yellow door. . .

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21.February.2011

I admire you even more now and can’t wait to travel alongside (ok, from a large distance) with you. This will be an amazing time for you guys. I can just feel it in my bones. xo

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A very heartfelt “good luck” to you! Owning your home outright will truly make it your home (and not some mortgage company’s or bank’s). Can you even imagine what it will feel like to love your home and not owe anyone anything for it?

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21.February.2011

The fact that you have realized what you really want to do and are making a plan to achieve it is very inspiring! This is one of my absolute favorite, go-to-everyday home design blogs, so keep up the great work. Though it will be sad for you to sell your current house, I look forward to all of the fixer-up material you’ll have once you get into a new place! Good luck!

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21.February.2011

Yeah Dana. That is what living is all about. Make it happen.

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21.February.2011

Wonderful news!! The most important thing is to be happy! We bought a very modest sized older home just so I can stay home with our little girl and my husband won’t have to stress so much! We actually LOVE it! It’s been so much fun fixing up a fixer upper! I can’t wait to see what you do with one!! Best of luck!

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21.February.2011

Three years ago (gulp, was it really that long?) I left my big time Manhattan job to go traveling with a college girlfriend. I had only been at the job for a little over a year and when I went in to tell my boss that I was leaving he literally told me that I was “throwing my life away” and making “the biggest mistake of my life”. We all knew that we were heading into a recession and a few people told me that I’d never find a job again when I came back. Luckily, I was young and stupid and threw caution to the wind and now I’m right back where I started, dreaming of my next trip. I wouldn’t trade ANYTHING for the experiences that I had, the people that I met, and the places that I saw. Never compromise your happiness. Ever. There is no schedule for life and no rules except the rules you impose on yourself. Good luck!

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21.February.2011

Good for you! Now if only your house was in Nebraska – I would buy it!!

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21.February.2011

Tweakers, please help me lobby to take the barn door with us. I’ve spent a lot of time with it and we’ve become pretty close ;)

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21.February.2011

I think you are doing the right thing for sure! I think many of us are learning to live with less and are working towards financial freedom. Your house is beautiful and I hope you are able to sell it quickly! The housing market is a bear right now, at least in my area, so I hope that you are able to get what you want out of your house. We downsized ourselves a year ago and our big house is still on the market. (Long story, but we moved from a smaller house, then into that bigger foreclosed house on a great deal, then couldn’t sell our smaller house so we moved back into it after a year.) We downsized for exactly the same reason and have now realized that our 4-5 year pay-off plan will take quite a bit longer than we had planned because we’ll be getting a lot less for our house if/when it ever sells. Plus, being stuck with 2 house payments for 2 full years has left us strapped and depleted our savings. I would highly advise you to wait to buy another home until your current home has sold! Good luck though, I’m sure everything will all work out. You are doing the right thing for the right reasons and that will work in your favor!

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21.February.2011

I applaud you for be honest with yourself and hubby and what you really want out of life. Life is too short to be unhappy about anything. I love that you’re being smart about it though and setting a plan into action on how to achieve what you want instead of making a rash decision. Good luck to you!

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21.February.2011

Dana- First off, thanks for the shout out on making you laugh, I know you are talking about me! lol I am happy that you guys are doing this, you are very talented and I know you will do well. Can’t wait to keep up with all of the changes that you guys will be making.

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21.February.2011

I think it’s super commendable you guys are planning to pay off your mortgage. That sounds very responsible to me! I also love your thought that “We’re not looking for the house of our dreams rather the house that will allow us to live our dreams.” What an exciting new direction!

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21.February.2011

Dana,
This post hit close to home with me. I’ve sort of been going through the same thing – except my husband and I don’t have children yet. Nor careers. I’ve been going to school since I was 17 (I’m now 23), and have changed majors and schools countless times. I haven’t given up yet, but I wanted to so many times. Still, like you, I feel like I’m working towards a goal that will never make me happy because it’s something I feel like I was pushed into by parents, teachers, etc. I always knew part of my “dream” was to get married and start a family of my own. I have that part started, and it’s great. Now I’m just dealing with the question of what to do for the rest of my life, professionally. Your post was so inspiring, as are all of your posts. Thank you for sharing this. Best of luck to you and your family in your new and exciting changes.
Best,
Kristen P

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21.February.2011

Dana,
I think my hear nearly stopped when I read “Why? Because I have a perfectly stable, part-time, bringing-home-the-bacon kind of job right now. But my heart isn’t in it.” I know exactly what you mean! I’m going through the same thing. Fortunately, I also have an extremely supportive husband and plan to get where we want to be (me working full time for our photography business). It’s really nice to know that there are other women out there feeling a yearn that turns into the best decision they have ever made. I can’t wait to see where you journey takes you! Good luck!!
Heather

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21.February.2011

Oh yeah…and definitely take your door!

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21.February.2011

I think this is great news for you Dana! I love your blog and really admire that you are pursuing a career you really love and are passionate about! I am a college student right now, studying interior design, but I worry about my future career too! Will there be a job for me, will people like my designs, etc. but seeing your blog possibly turn into a business for you opened my eyes. I would love to do something like what you are doing now, in the future. I don’t usually get this lengthy on a comment but I really wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to continue to push along for my dreams! Good luck in the future..I will be following along!

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21.February.2011

Did you write that for me? Lol!
I am having the same early life crisis! I started my own business to test the waters while keeping my corporate job, but not sure how much more soul sucking I can handle!
I too want to quit…

Good for you for taking a leap of faith and doing it in a very responsible manner. You will do great! When you are happy, your family will be happier too.
Thanks for the extra push and all your inspirations.
Still need to get around to sending you some of my cool house projects!

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21.February.2011

Hey, Dana,
I’m a new reader of your blog. I was on here a few days ago going back a few weeks into your archives and ran into one of your mirrors I really liked. So I decided to copy it – sort of. :-) Hope you don’t mind. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? :-)

http://www.justheartit.blogspot.com

-Beth

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21.February.2011

good for you! those 4 or 5 years that it will take to pay off a smaller home will go by so much faster than you think. and imagine all of the blog post fodder you will have living in a smaller home, tweaking it, trying to make it your home.

it’s going to end up being such a blessing AND an inspiration for you and your readers.

good luck!

nanne in indiana by way of alabama

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21.February.2011

So refreshing to hear of a mother/wife who indeed wants to cut back to INCREASE in joy for her family! Wishing you the best of luck! Cannot wait to read about all the changes!

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21.February.2011

take the door! Is that little schoolhouse for sale?…. look on the township’s website and get some info. I’m just saying…. wish you the very best.

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21.February.2011

I’m sure this was a tough decision but I admire you so much that you figured out what you want and are doing what you need to do to get there! Good luck! I recently discovered your blog and absolutely LOVE it!

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21.February.2011

Go for it!! Live is too short to not do the things that resonate the most with us. You have my vote of confidence :)

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21.February.2011

Ditto Marcia’s comments. And also the worse thing is getting to 57 and finding it’s actually too late to change careers/jobs/retirement options so go for it … x

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21.February.2011

You Go GIrl follow your dreams!!!! You are being very smart downsizing… and paying off your home is the best feeling !!!

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21.February.2011

Hey! Where do you guys live? My f-i-l is an amazing real estate agent and I really think he could give you guys a hand, pending where you live. Shoot me an e-mail @ babylady247@aol DOT com

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21.February.2011

wow, what a great post and a post of affirmation for me. i’m a full-time pharmacist and my husband and i have the same goal- to pay off our house. we’re expecting our first child in may and i’ll have to keep working full-time through the end of the year so that we can pay off our house by the end of the year. some of my co-workers have criticized our decision- why go to school that long if you’re not going to work full-time as a pharmacist? i appreciate that i’m not the only pharmacist who has chosen her family/happiness over her profitable career. i’m sometimes envious that my co-workers have bigger, nicer houses but look forward to having this smaller house paid off in full. thanks for the great post!

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