Tequila math

Our story so far: A real estate agent showed us the 126-year-old Methodist church for the first time.

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As so many others do, we left the church that afternoon with a mission. Instead of counting souls, our mission was to count our pennies. We had an hour before we were to meet my brother- and sister-in-law for dinner, so I brought a piece of paper and a pencil along with the budget from the folder of dreams we’d created a year before for the Pecatonica church. We bellied up to the bar and Tyler ordered tequila shots for two.

Tequila is my hard liquor of choice. And Tyler must have believed he needed some liquid courage.

We wrote down what would soon become known as the Tequila Budget. We estimated we’d need $5,000 to re-do the ceiling, $30,000 for an awesome kitchen, $20,000 to improve the landscaping and on and on. We talked about everything from the bell tower to the basement flooring, and when in doubt, we guessed high. And when we added it all up (I used the old-fashioned method because I didn’t have a calculator), the total sum—including 126-year-old church and brand-new attached three-car garage—came to $248,600. Which was more than $100,000 less than we’d spent on our first home together a decade previous. If we did it right, our church would have 100,000 times more character than the cardboard box in the suburbs we bought the first time.

That cardboard box served its purpose. It was in a good school district and a village with low crime so it was a good choice for our needs then: We raised Tyler’s teen-age son in it. But when my adored stepson grew up, we no longer needed such a characterless structure. We craved something unique.

A quick look at comparables in the neighborhood revealed we had enough margin to make money if we had to sell it. But by now, I had fallen in love with the beautiful bell tower and the planned quartz countertops and the warehouse-inspired bathroom makeover. I already didn’t want to sell it.

“We need to take another look at it,” my practical husband said.

And then he ordered another shot of tequila.

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Tomorrow: We make an offer. Click here to read.

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