The Emotional Roller Coaster of House Hunting

The emotional roller coaster of house hunting -- Frugal Portland

We were ready to sign. The pen was in our hands. All we wanted was what was represented in the sales documents: a functional, 15-year old ready-to-move-in house. We knew the place wasn’t perfect. Yeah, we’d have to finish a third bedroom. Maybe the kitchen was a bit outdated, and the configuration was a little odd. But that location! That neighborhood! We were willing to pay listing price, despite the flaws of the house. We were elated. Once we got to the negotiation phase, though, the deal simply fell to pieces and we had to walk away.

We had come a long way into the process. When we first saw the house, we were blown away by the prime location of the home. I mean, this place was smack dab in the middle of one of the most explosive development corridors in all of Portland, a little outdated cabinetry was not going to be the thing that separated us from this place. We put in an offer almost immediately after seeing it. The seller accepted our bid and away we went.

The inspection showed more problems with the home that we had ever imagined, but we figured the sellers honestly just didn’t know. It was, after all, a rental unit, so they didn’t see the problems evolve over time. “Now that they know there are some real issues, let’s hope they agree to fix them and things will be fine,” I said to Kathleen.

Now Kathleen and I share common goals and dreams, but our personalities and outlooks on life are quite different. Kathleen is an optimistic sort and quite trusting. I am very pessimistic and cynical of others’ motivations. In aggregate, we tend to balance each other out, but each of us needs to manage the other’s expectations in very different ways.

In the early part of the deal, Kathleen was picking up my spirits about the snags we were hitting. None of them were particularly bad (the seller took more than three extra days to accept our offer; we were going to have to spend a significant amount of money on projects to improve the house), but it was enough to give me sleepless nights.

Post-inspection, the onus of managing expectations switched to me. It was pretty clear from the inspection that the place was more of a fixer-upper than the sellers had led us to believe. The range was not in working order. The deck was unsafe for people to stand on. There was unremediated mold in the attic due to bad ventilation and the inspector detected high moisture readings in the master bathroom. Who knew what problems were growing underneath the tiles? I began to doubt the sincerity of the seller.

As the process continued, the seller denied that a 15-year old house could need such dramatic fixes, and wouldn’t budge on the price. I was worried about deeper issues, the ones we couldn’t see. It was clear that we were going to have to walk away.

The decision hit Kathleen pretty hard. She had already mentally moved into our new house, had geared up for some DIY projects to improve the place. My heart broke while I listened to her dejected voice over the phone. She acquiesced in a near whisper, “Okay.” I could tell she was choking back a tear.

She bounced back a few hours later and slept off all the residual disappointment the next day.

Portland is a seller’s market right now. Houses in our neighborhood in Southeast Portland rarely last more than a few days. There is intense pressure to make an offer on a house after only a few moments of consideration. It is not an ideal circumstance for people making life-changing decisions that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, Kathleen and I are in an advantageous buyers’ position. We have a place to live today. While we’d like to change our living situation, our situation is by no means unbearable. We can afford to bide our time and wait for that best-case scenario.

It’s strange how emotional the home-buying process is, even for a couple that knows they can wait. The house we walked away from was flawed in a zillion ways, but we still got caught up in the emotion, the dreaming, the highs and lows. It’s also instructive, though, to be aware of how emotional you can get over something. There is no bigger decision you can make than buying a home, the worst thing you can do is make a snap judgment based on emotion. Take some time and think it through, even if you’re afraid you’ll miss out.

Frugal Portland Sunday Deals: Holiday Card Roundup

Sunday deals -- holiday card round up frugal portland

Hi there, it’s Pamela from again with this week’s Frugal Portland Sunday Deals for you! I know that Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, but December is right around the corner, and if you were planning on getting holiday cards out to friends and family, now is the time to order them!

Here are some deals on holiday cards so you don’t shock your pocketbook if you didn’t budget for them. But hurry, some of these deals expire soon (like today!).

20 Cards for $4.99 is offering 20 Custom Holiday Cards – Just $4.99 plus shipping and handling (Standard Shipping: $4.49), but hurry… this offer ends TODAY (11/23/2014)! Offer good for new and returning customers.

20 Custom Holiday Cards – Just $4.99 – Save $16.99!

30% Off Entire Order is offering 30% off your entire order, but hurry because this offer also expires today (11/23/2014)! Miss your chance at 30% off? Click here for 10% off your order or click here for $50 off your $150 order (some exclusions apply).


10 Photo Cards for $1

York Photo Lab is offering 10 Custom Photo 5X7 Stationary Holiday Cards – Just $1 (S&H Not Included. Standard Shipping: $3.49). New Customers Only. Hurry, this offer expires 11/28/2014.

Custom Photo 5X7 Stationary Holiday Cards – Just $1 – Save $11.99!

Buy 4 Cards Get 1 Free

The Greeting Card Shop has cards for 1.99 and is offering 5 cards for the price of 4 through 12/24/2014


Whew! You get all that? My head is spinning. I feel like that was a very fast deals round up! Now, go order your Christmas cards so you can enjoy Thanksgiving.

Are You Really Winning When it Comes to Bargains?

The following post is from Derek Sall, owner and operator of Life And My Finances. Derek writes to help his readers get out of debt, save money, and become wealthy.

Are You Really Winning When it Comes to Bargains?

Are you great at sniffing out bargains? I bet you take great pride in finding a steal from time to time and then can’t wait to tell your friends. But what if I told you that you might actually be losing money when you buy something on sale? Is that even possible? It sure is. You just have to have the right mentality.

Do You Truly Need The Item?

Retail stores are fantastic at getting us excited about a sale. They haul out the big red sign and plop the special item right in the middle of the store. The sign says that these products are 30% off their original price. That’s a pretty good deal right? Well, that all depends. Did you need the item before you walked through the doors? If not, then chances are that it isn’t all that great of a deal for you. If there were no sale, then you probably wouldn’t even have looked twice at this special product. Therefore, instead of spending $0 on that product, you are now spending $20, $50, or maybe even $100! Whatever the amount, it is 100% more than you were going to spend on that item before you saw the sale. In this instance, you should absolutely not make the purchase. You’ll save more money that way.

The Sale Might Really Not Be a Sale

There are certain stores in my area that are notorious for raising their prices before they have a sale. Of course, not everyone knows that, but I have definitely taken notice. While I’m pretty sure there are laws against it, some stores will actually raise the regular price of a few items by 30%, and then will call it a clearance sale and mark it 50% off. In actuality, the item is actually closer to 20% off if you compare it to the original retail price. Just because something has a huge red tag on it does not necessarily mean that it is a good deal.

Better deal? Go for Groupon. Right now, they’re offering 30% off local deals. Stock up for Christmas!

You Might Be Wasting Your Good Deal

Let’s talk about groceries for a minute. There are many different types of stores where you can get your groceries. You could buy your food from a Super Target, from Walmart, from Costco, from an upscale grocer, or maybe a discount grocery store. Some offer better deals than others, but buying in bulk seems to be a great way to save money…sometimes.

My friends are married and have no children, and they have a membership at Costco, a big box retail store. They constantly rave about this store and all of the great deals they find there. While I don’t doubt the deals, I do doubt that they are actually saving money.

You see, whenever I go over there, their cupboards and their refrigerator are absolutely stuffed with food. As I pull something out to eat, they often tell me, “I don’t know if that is still good. It has been in there for a really long time!” Based on the frequent reminder that their food might be spoiled, I estimate that 25% of their food goes to waste. So, if they are saving 10% more than me on each items, they are still losing out by 15% in the end because most of their bulk purchases are going into the garbage!

You Must Live by a Budget

You might not be a spender by nature, but a budget can still help you out quite severely. In the case of the wasted food we just discussed, a budget would help you understand how much money you were spending on food each month. Buying in bulk might cause you to spend quite a lot in one particular month, but that means you should be spending very little in the following months. If you don’t see this happening in your budget, then you are probably wasting money.

Budgeting is obviously a good idea, but it is not always the easiest thing to do. You must keep up with your spending and properly categorize your expenses in order for it to help you. If this is a challenge, then I would suggest setting up an account with or These are excellent tools not only for budgeting, but also for tracking your investments and your net worth!

Until you set up a budget, you really won’t know if you are losing money by purchasing a sale item.

How about you? Have you ever thought that you could lose money by buying something on sale?

20 Ways to Have a Frugal Wedding

20 Ways to Have a Frugal Wedding

We’ve already mentioned that our wedding wasn’t frugal. But there are things you can do to have a frugal wedding.

A longtime family friend came to our wedding, and has a daughter in a super-serious relationship. She sent the following:

I read Brent’s blog about the cost of the wedding. If you had to do it all again, would you spend the money??? Melissa and I were talking about the cost of weddings and I thought if you kept it simple with no meals or alcohol maybe we could save some $$ there. But of course, she would like both. The average wedding cost from the five we went to this summer is between $15,000-$20,000. This does not include the rehearsal dinner or honeymoon. Where were your main expenditures? This is one of the only good things about having a small family.


By trying (and failing!) to have a frugal wedding, I did learn quite a bit about how to make them frugal. Here are my 20 best tips:

1. Only Get Married Once


It might sound silly, but that’s my first, and most important, piece of advice. Get married one time, and one time only. So, don’t marry someone who isn’t right for you, even if he or she asks, and focus on the marriage, not the wedding.

2. Do Not Buy Any Bridal Magazines

Right after I got engaged, I went to get my hair cut. At the salon, I saw a bridal magazine, and of course, I picked it up. There was a section on “what should I expect to spend?” and one thing they said was that a photographer would cost around $5,000. Are you kidding me? I’ll never afford this party! Then I realized: bridal magazines are there to encourage people to spend more money. You don’t need them. You’ll be able to figure out how to have the wedding that you want, even without gorgeous, glossy suggestions from “the industry.”

3. Keep Your Guest List Small

have fun!You really want to manage your costs? Make your guest list as small as possible. I’m telling you this, but I couldn’t follow this piece of advice (well, I could have done absolutely anything I wanted, I simply decided that including as much family as possible was really important to me). I have the best family on the planet, and we get together every summer just because, so I knew I wanted as many of them as I could to celebrate the joining of my family to Brent’s. If you don’t see your aunts, uncles, and cousins every year, by all means, make it small! Have a dinner party for 25. You can really get extravagant and generous when you can make your guest list small.

4. Consider the Off Season

Did you know? January is the cheapest month to marry. In fact, because weddings are so seasonal, venues, photographers, and other venues will give heavy discounts if you decide to make your nuptials the first month of the year. Live in Nebraska and can’t imagine asking your friends and family to come visit when the entire earth is frozen? Thanks! We appreciate that. Consider the shoulder season. What’s the shoulder season? Any month that isn’t June.

midday is fun, too5. Consider Different Times of Day

We got married at noon on a Sunday. We chose midday so people could fly back home Sunday night if they had to. We wanted Saturday, but so did everyone else in the city, so we decided Sunday was fine. If you choose a time that is NOT dinner time, your costs will go down accordingly. I do think that you should feed people, though. So while you can get away with cookies and juice, you should consider that they got on an airplane, and if they just regular came to visit you, you’d probably buy their dinner, so be nice on this day as well.

6. Don’t Buy a Fancy Dress

I still can’t believe I spent almost $700 on my wedding dress. I buy all my clothing second hand, so the next most expensive item of clothing in my closet is a winter coat. If you’re the kind of person who spends $200 on a pair of jeans, or $188 on a regular sweater, then maybe, just maybe, you can have a fancy wedding dress. But let me tell you: you’re going to be wearing it for six to eight hours, max. Don’t aim for perfect here. Go with “good enough” and you’ll be fine. Find a wedding dress online, even. Their prices are outstanding. Find secondhand shops in your city, or discount wedding dress shops, even regular thrift stores or vintage shops. Don’t feel like you need to wear a dress that costs more than your car.

let your bridesmaids wear what they want7. Let Your Bridesmaids Set Their Budget

So, if you followed rule number six, you didn’t end up in a bridal salon for your dress. Why should you go to one for your bridesmaids? Bridesmaid dresses are expensive because they can get away with charging that much, not because they are super duper fabulous and fancy. Choose a color, or a palette, and let them select their own. I went with a rainbow color scheme, which turned out GREAT, but, as I found out later, caused more than a small amount of stress for my friends. I was once in a wedding where the bride asked us all to wear little black dresses, which we wore again and again.

8.Don’t Feel Like You Have to Go to Vegas for a Bachelor/ette Partyoregon's wine country is pretty rad

Vegas is expensive, friends. Even if it’s cheap to get to, you end up spending more money than you want to, and, more upsettingly, so do your friends. I wasn’t really tempted to leave the state, since two of my four bridesmaids had infants and would not have been able to leave for that long. So, we went to Oregon’s wine country and had an absolute blast. It was close enough for the new mommies to come for part of the weekend, and less expensive than flying to Vegas and staying in a hotel. Brent flew to Arizona, where most of his people live, and had a great time as well. Just be with your friends. Do fun things. You don’t have to travel far!

9. Think Outside the Wedding Cake Box

have ice cream instead of cakeI can’t eat flour. My friend Kyra has an awesome, delicious, amazing gluten-free bakery (and cafe now!) that sells gorgeous wedding cakes. There’s just one problem: she uses voodoo magic to make her cakes taste better than regular cakes, but that kind of wizardry doesn’t come cheap. Plus, aside from Kyra herself, I would have been the only one to appreciate that. So, what to do? We went with an ICE CREAM cart! Which worked out to be an outstanding idea, given that it was 95 degrees in September. It was half the price of a gluten-free cake.

10. Question All the “Shoulds” That Come Up

You’ll get advice on what to do from a lot of people. I found this funny — why do they care how I’m celebrating this day? But really. Everyone has an opinion, and they aren’t afraid to let it be known. One of my friends got really upset when I told her about our food choices. “You CAN’T have a food cart! That’s a stupid idea!” “You NEED TO HAVE CAKE or you’ll disappoint people!” I stopped sharing details with her after that. Outside of that one friend (we all have them!), you’ll hear yourself discussing what you need to do. Question that voice. We didn’t have much unsolicited advice for our wedding. My mom isn’t here, and Brent’s mom only offered advice when she was directly asked for it, and it was ALWAYS appreciated. Think about why you think you should xyz, or why you shouldn’t. Many wedding rituals have roots in “women are property” ancient history, and since there wasn’t a transfer of lady-for-goats, we kept questioning the things that we felt we needed, but didn’t actually need.

11. Make In-Season Flowers Your Favorite Flowers

go with in-season flowersI had gorgeous flowers at my wedding, because I have an amazing friend who happens to LOVE flowers. She helped make our wedding beautiful, and she only charged us for the actual flowers. The bouquets were gorgeous and the centerpieces were outstanding. The best part? Because I wasn’t particular, my friend had complete creative control, and chose flowers that were not only pretty, but in season, and therefore significantly less expensive than ordering orchids or something that we would have to special order.

12. The Park is Cheaper than the Ballroom

Actually, this one might not be true. I mean… we wanted to get married outside because we thought this would be true, but then we gave all our money to the rental company. So, it was probably not cheaper. But it CAN be. Just make sure you’re comparing real costs when you think the park is cheaper. We rented chairs, tables, galvanized tubs for drinks, a podium, and who knows what all else.

13. Don’t Fuss Over Favors

925634_1460745807522796_1843884311_n (1)We delivered gift bags to out of town guests’ hotel rooms. That was fun, and appreciated, but almost entirely unnecessary. Plus, I had a huge DIY fail, which ended up making the favors MORE expensive since I had to replace something that ended up in the trash. My same friend who did the flowers also wrapped approximately eight bajillion caramels, because she is a saint.

14. Shop Around for a Photographer

Here’s a secret: you do not need to spend $5,000 on a photographer. No, really. Let’s think about this in real terms: how many pictures do you need? Let’s be really aggressive and say you absolutely need 75 pictures of your special day. At $5,000, that means you’re paying $67 per image, which is completely absurd. Of course, you’ll have more than 75 pictures, but you probably won’t print more than 75. Heck, you probably won’t even Facebook 75 wedding pictures. I used the same photographer my best friend used at her wedding: Megan Nefediew Photography, and her price was very reasonable. Not only that, the pictures are excellent (as you can see in this post)! So, shop around. Look on Craigslist (unless you live in Oregon, then just use Megan).

15. Wear Your Hair Down

I had a BLAST getting ready with my friends. None of us spend that much time getting ready on a daily basis (I mean, hello, I work from home, so I barely get dressed let alone get all gussied up!), but everyone came over to the hotel to get ready before we headed to the park. We had room service breakfast, I gave them their gifts (adorable robes with their names on them that they’ve probably not worn since but my how cute were the pictures!), and we got ready. I wore my hair down, with a lovely headband my bridesmaid gave me, and my sister did my makeup. We splurged on fantastic makeup, to be sure, but I know that with my hair down (and curly) I looked more like myself than I would have with a smooth updo. And I saved however many hundred dollars it would have cost to do my hair in a salon. On a Sunday.

16. Let Costco Do The Catering

DSC_3162Two weeks before our wedding, we went to Costco. And by “went to Costco,” I mean we really did our best to buy one of every single snack. It was one of the most fun parts of the planning stage! We bought approximately forty cases of water/sparkling water/lemonade/soda, eleventy different snacks, and… well, it was all too much. But it was cheap! Plus, we bought the single-serving size, which already came with its own packaging! So we didn’t need plates/knifes/forks/whatever, and the food cart provided its own cutlery and plates. Easy, fun. Plus, my sister ended up with snacks for months!

17. Accept Help When It’s Offered

When someone offers to help, find something for them to do. It’s like when someone offers to help you move. You may not know when you need them, but you WILL need them. My best friend from childhood offered three times — what can I do? Let me help! I said, OK, please come early and make sure the place is set up! He cornered me after the wedding and said, “good thing you asked — you needed my help!” My mother-in-law also wanted to contribute. Excellent — you can have the rehearsal dinner!

18. Be Less Type-A Than Usual

It’s the wrong shade of pink? Get over it. No one else will notice, and seriously? Your marital bliss has absolutely nothing to do with the right or wrong shade of pocket squares.

19. Don’t Fall in Love With Letterpress

You know the way letterpress makes a 3D indentation? It’s pretty, isn’t it? But let me remind you: 99% of all your wedding stationery will absolutely end up in the trash. Best case scenario is that some of it gets recycled. So, please, save the cash. Don’t spend any more than you need to on stationery. Here’s what we did. We spent very little and got a bunch of compliments. Plus, it was easy — find it online, then send them out. Call it done.

20. Attempt to Stop Time

Oh, goodness. The day goes by so fast you guys! Even if you know that ahead of time… you don’t. I was sad all day, but it was the kind of sad that I get at the beginning of what I know is going to be an amazing meal: I’m already sad it’s going to be over before it even begins. I’m sad because I know I’m going to have the last bite, and it’s going to happen soon. So I enjoy, or I try … really try … to enjoy the time that I get, but it still moves as if everything is on fast forward. Hold hands with your new spouse, so at least you get to have the same memories of the day. Laugh, hug, twirl the kids. Assume everyone is having an amazing time… because if you spend any time worrying or fussing? You’re wasting the hours that go by like seconds. So enjoy. You worked a long time to get here. Now, eat! Drink! Enjoy the celebration of your union.

An event like this won’t happen again. Or, it will, and unfortunately, you won’t be around to enjoy it.

Frugal Portland Sunday Deals: Holiday House Cleaning

Sunday deals holiday house cleaning Frugal Portland

Hi there, it’s Pamela from again with this week’s Frugal Portland Sunday Deals for you! Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away now. Can you believe it? If you’re anything like me, you usually leave the house cleaning to the last minute. I like to tell myself that if I clean too early it will just get dirty again before guests arrive.

No matter what your cleaning strategy though, we’ve got some coupons for you to save on all your household cleaning items plus a few items to set the holiday ambiance (who doesn’t like scented candles?). Click here for pre-clipped coupons for your holiday house cleaning needs plus you can browse through all the available coupons and print them all from the comfort of your couch!

And if you’re really like me, you’re going to need some caffeine to get you through all that house cleaning (and cooking!). But I’ve got you covered there too. Amora Coffee is offering you a free bag of coffee (just pay shipping)! How’s that for an energy boost? Click here to get your free bag of coffee.

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