Surviving Contact with ‘The Plan’
by Thomas Luongo
As I related in my last article, my wife said to me one evening after work, “I think it’s time we had a kid…. And, I’m not raising it in this house.” Little did I realize how profoundly those last 8 words would alter the course of my life, and not in the way you’re expecting. This came out of her mouth literally days after we’d paid off the car we’d bought a year previously as well as all of our revolving debt. Visions of small piles of gold and silver coins were dancing in my head. This was August of 2002, gold hadn’t even begun to embarrass Gordon Brown yet. The mortgage-burning party was moving up our entertainment calendar.
But the logic of my wife’s clock refused to be ignored.
She was right. The house was really a glorified bungalow. It was 50 years old, 1100 square feet (generously) with 2-wire electricity and a septic system that needed a complete overhaul. On the plus side we owed around $42,000 on it and, PITI, was less than $450/month. So, it was either put all of our equity into rebuilding this house or finding other arrangements.
As I said, this was 2002 and the housing bubble was already being blown in north Florida. My house appraised at around $68,000. Land prices had tripled in the past 5 years. Our desire was always to have a rural home. Given the local taxing structure this also meant finding a place outside of Alachua County. My wife had asked for only three things over the course of our lives together; one new car (done and paid for), one vacation and a horse. She grew up on a 200-acre farm in rural Ohio raising quarter horses (among other things) and she missed owning a horse. So, knowing that this was likely the last time we would do anything like this, the requirement for anything we did had to include this. And it had to be done on a one-income budget. We’d agreed that no child of ours would ever set foot in a government school unless it was serving as a hurricane shelter.