Eyes on the Prize

Exciting times ahead for Team MarTar. Tara and I now have a realtor and have officially been approved for a mortgage loan. That dream of a white picket fence is actually going to come true!

(Only, I’d take a groovy wood-paneled basement over the fence any day.)


We haven’t seen our credit scores yet, but based on the low interest rates and a cap of about $310,000 – much higher than we need (or want), especially around here – I’m guessing they’re good.

That’s a small miracle in itself and one that I would like to dwell on for just a moment. Because, five years ago, the idea of ever being able to buy a house again seemed like an impossibility. Tara’s credit was always solid, but mine, not so much.

Long-time readers will recall that I was forced to do a short sale on my townhouse. It’s not like somebody held a gun to my head and threatened me, but like so many others, I was a victim of the 2008 housing crisis and hopelessly upside down in my mortgage. On top of that, I was still recovering from a 20-month unemployment stint and pretty deeply in debt. Extricating myself from the crappy mortgage and digging myself out of that credit hole felt like a Herculean task when we moved in 2014. I will forever be grateful to Tara for giving me the courage to take such a big step and, more than that, for believing in me. For believing in us. After being a homeowner for 18 years, downsizing to an apartment was tough. But always, I had my eyes on the prize.

Now, it’s almost a reality! One that still seems hard to believe. Moving to Rapid City was a crucial step in turning my literal fortunes around; I simply can’t stress that enough! The low cost of living + the freelance contract with Fuel + full-time employment have put me in a better financial position than I would have dreamed possible even a year ago. Next Friday, I will pay off my very last credit card, leaving me virtually debt-free, with only an easily manageable car payment. It’s an amazing feeling and I can’t help but be proud of myself for turning such a dire situation around.

We’ve been looking at houses around here for nearly two years, but suddenly, we’re looking for real. The right one could come along at any moment, and instead of dreaming of a far-off “someday,” we are ready to pounce. This knowledge makes me view every Zillow listing with new eyes.

Pinch me, I’m dreaming! (But don’t, because if I am, I’d rather not wake up). I am looking forward to documenting this exciting journey here.

We had a blizzard last week. It already seems hard to believe, because even though we ended up with 12″ of snow and missed two days of work, it has all completely melted. Doesn’t take along in the spring, when the temperature can rebound into the 60s in a day or two.

I would guess we’re done with snow for the season, but I certainly wouldn’t put money on that!

Tonight, we have tickets to see John Mellencamp. I’ve been a fan for decades but have never seen him live; we had an opportunity a few years ago in Portland and passed for some stupid reason. I immediately regretted that, so when he announced a tour date in Rapid City of all places, we jumped on it. He’s playing at the civic center downtown and I’m pretty excited. We plan on dinner out first. Possibly Italian, but maybe Mexican. It’ll be a quasi-celebration of sorts for this new journey upon which we are about to embark.


9 thoughts on “Eyes on the Prize

  1. Oh Mark, what GREAT news! I am so happy for you and Tara. And a HUGE congrats on becoming credit card debt-free! Isn’t that such a wonderful feeling? I know how you feel because I too went through a rough time of paying off debt for YEARS, and it was such an incredible feeling of knowing that I finally paid it off. It took me years to get my credit score back up, but it did eventually happen.

    Your relocation to Rapid City was such a wise and instinctive move because from what I you’ve shared since your move, everything seems to be falling in place for the best. And that’s AWESOME!

    Thanks so much for sharing your pictures of your recent blizzard because they’re stunning! I’ve so enjoyed them over the past several months because it was such a wimpy winter for us, here in the North East. In fact, even though it’s only April, we’ve already had temperatures into the mid-80’s. I can only imagine what this summer is going to be like. HOT and VERY HUMID 😦

    Enjoy your concert tonight, and have a super weekend!


    1. If it’s any consolation, we reached 79º on Saturday. That felt downright hot after all the cold and snow we’ve had! Maybe you’ll catch a break and your summer will be mild. Fingers crossed for you!


  2. That is such fantastic news, Mark! So happy for you and I’m excited to hear about all your Zillow and Realtor.com adventures!!!! We bought this house in 2012 and got it for $200K LESS than what the previous owners had paid for it in 2006. Lucky for us and I guess his employer ate the loss since he was transferred to Japan.


  3. Hey, congrats! House hunting is so much fun. I hope you’ll post pictures of that, too. I mean, the house, unless that’s not safe for stalker purposes. Your call! 🙂
    P.S. Not a stalker. Honest.
    P.P.S. Saying that makes me sound more like a stalker. Dang it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, as somebody who had a real-life stalker once, I can spot the difference! (Note: unless you’re in Hollywood, it does not involve a rabbit boiling away on the stove).

      I’ll be happy to post pics!


  4. After selling home and apartment living for several decades back in a house here in North Carolina. They cost half as much as similar in Florida. My main gripe is leaves. Leaves in the fall. Leaves, leaves, leaves. 70 fifty gallon barrels of leaves to be raked up every year. Leaves, leaves, leaves.


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