During September, the COMPASS blog is digging deeper into the topic of conversations about money by sharing different perspectives, questions, and approaches. As we continue the series today, I am excited to welcome my friends Pastors Amanda and Jeremy Ullrich to the blog. They have very recently purchased their first home which led me to want to hear their story. Today’s post is the second in a two-part series which focuses on their recent experience of buying a new home.
Timothy (T): Amanda and Jeremy, why were you looking for a new home?
Jeremy (J): Well, we have been renting a house since we arrived in West Texas a little over a year ago when Amanda and I moved here to start our first calls as pastors. We wanted to make the investment in a new home for a number of reasons, including potentially expanding our family.
T: What did you learn when running the numbers and doing your research?
J: When running the numbers, we realized that the cost of renting for two years was basically the same as buying a new house and making a monthly mortgage payment for two years, and then selling it after two years.
Amanda (A): We also realized that we could save over $400 per month by buying a home rather than renting, including the cost for utilities and the mortgage. We live in a relatively inexpensive housing market with lots of good options, which made searching for our first home fun and full of possibilities.
J: We determined that after three years of buying our first house, we would save about $10,000 that first year, and then nearly $30,000 after the fourth year. The long term potential savings for us was a big reason to decide to buy a new home.
T: Were there any other factors in your decision to buy a home, rather than rent?
A: There is another element in our decision. In ministry, pastors often move at least a few times in their careers, and of course we have no idea how long we’ll be here until we might feel a call by God to some other context. We feel though that by buying a home, rather than renting, we are demonstrating to our congregations and the community that we are investing in the area for the longer term.
J: As we discussed, planning for the future is important for us. We’re still learning, and have not always been the best at financial planning, but we are working at it.
A: And we’re trusting God, and grateful that we are surrounded by such gifted friends, family, and colleagues who help us along in our life, vocations, and continued discernment about our faith and finances.
T: What lessons or tips would you like to share about buying a home and talking about faith and finances?
A: It’s important to take time and be grateful. It can be so easy to get caught up in life, and feelings of scarcity, of not having enough. In buying the house, questions of ‘what if’ about the air conditioner, and water heater potentially needing to be replaced, or about other things that might need to be fixed came up a lot. I could have gotten buried in those types of questions and thoughts. But I’m grateful that some wonderful flooring workers helped us learn more about our new neighborhood. They also helped us take stock, and see that our new home is really a good house. This helped me remember to give thanks.
J: We have come a long way from starting out in our first place, that one bedroom apartment at seminary in Minnesota. I’m still so grateful for that time, and especially our fun and frugal occasional $5.00 pizza dinners with friends. We’re also very grateful for all of the scholarship support that helped us get through school, and for the faith and gifts of others, who have given to the ELCA Fund for Leaders, people who have given freely because of their faith. We would love to pay it forward, and hope that by having our own home, we can make that happen in some way.
T: Do you have any other thoughts, questions, or insights you would like to share?
J: The biggest question for me seems to be, how do we steward that which we have been entrusted with?
A: We are grateful for the opportunity to have a house, after starting our marriage in a one-bedroom apartment in seminary. We are also grateful for all the support that we have received in the past from so many different people, congregations, and groups. We hope to be able to pay it forward.
J: We are also tithers, and we hope to be able to distribute resources and gifts to more places and needs.
J: Buying a home is more than a purchase for us. We believe we are investing in something. We are committing, at least for the near term, to being rooted in one place. And we continue to work and hope that we can be able to be good stewards of all that we have received.
About the Interviewees: Amanda and Jeremy Ullrich are a clergy couple in West Texas, both serving their first congregational calls as ordained pastors. Their family currently includes their wonderful dog, Lola. Together they are tackling the world’s largest puzzle, which includes approximately 33,600 puzzle pieces, because “everything is bigger in Texas,” and “why not go big or go home.” While attending Luther Seminary, they lived next door to Allison and Timothy Siburg, and that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.