How Did You Afford This, Cat H.?

We’ve all seen it: a Facebook or Instagram photo of someone we know showing off a big purchase. Sometimes we’re happy for them, sometimes we’re resentful, but one thing is usually true — we don’t know the whole story. In “How Did You Afford This”, we ask readers to let us know how they were able to afford big purchases in their lives. In this installment of the series, we are starting with one of the biggest investments any of us will ever make: home ownership.


  • Location: ½ Urban & ½ Suburban in Denver, CO
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Type of Residence: Single Residential
  • Down payment percentage of home cost: 10%

LW: How old were you when you bought/when did you buy?
CH: We closed on the home in 2011, and I was 25 and he was 26.

LW: If you have a domestic partner, are you both on the deed/loan?  If not, why? 
CH: Currently, I am the only one on the deed and loan.  Prior to that, I did have a partner, and we originally bought the home together with both of our names on the loan and deed.  But when we parted ways, I bought him out of his portion of the equity value (original investment and a portion of the increased value of the home) in 2016.

LW: Why did you decide to buy?
CH: At the time when we originally purchased the home, it was actually cheaper to buy with interest rates at an all time low, than renting.  We each had a dog and pet rent and deposits are expensive ya’ll.

LW: How long did you save until you started your home search and what percentage of the value of the home was your down payment? If you have a partner, did you split the down payment?
CH: Maybe 3 months of cleaning up our spending habits (debt to equity) to improve credit scores for loan pre-approval; I am a freak about enhancing my credit score.  I am also a “saver” by nature and had been saving a small nest egg since I became a “working adult” (22-ish).  He had an inheritance that we partially liquidated to help with the down payment, which was about 75% of the down payment.  I contributed about 25% of the down payment, and most of my savings was used for other start-up home costs (ya know, the stuff we forget adds up like moving costs, furniture, cleaning supplies, lawn mowers…).  Regrettably, I was also holding some of my savings to pay for our wedding.

LW: Did anyone else contribute to the down payment? If so, what percentage of the down payment?
CH: I guess you could say his inheritance was contributed by someone else, even though it was his?  That was about 75%.

LW: Is there anything else you want to share?
CH: He had more lump cash, but I had the more stable and consistent income to meet mortgage.  So while he put down more, I assumed more of the ongoing mortgage obligation and other costs.  The home value appreciated quite a bit from the time we bought the home and then got divorced.  That sucked to have to “buy him out” of his original investment AND the appreciated value, and I was cash poor for awhile after that, but it was worth it to now own the home completely by myself.  My new partner lives with me now, and it’s really nice that he splits all the costs with me (even though I don’t need that help, financially).


Did you enjoy figuring out how the fuck Cat afforded this? Find more stories in this series HERE.

23&Me and Me

When I was growing up, my mom’s adoption never seemed like that big of a deal to me. It was a routine confession to doctors, that I only knew half of my family’s medical history. The way she talked about it, she didn’t miss the family that had given her up. If anything, it seemed like maybe she was still a little angry–even if, as an adult, she could fully understand why a woman in the 1950s might choose to give her baby away.

And plus, she always told me, her parents are her parents. They’re the ones who raised her–who took care of her when she was sick. Their relationship wasn’t perfect (let’s face it, who’s is?) but she never seemed to waiver.

Then a few years ago, after her father had died and my brother had been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder and I’d struggled with digestive issues for years, she told me over a breakfast date that she wanted to look for her birth parents. Mostly, she said, for my brother’s and my medical history.

Online Community exploring how millennials live authentically in an internet culture.

It’s a complicated prospect to start to look for your birth family at over 60 years old–her parents could be dead. But they also probably went on to have other children and long complicated lives that she was not a part of, and perhaps they stayed together and wondered about her and perhaps they never saw each other again and maybe–maybe, they had given her up and never looked back. Maybe finding them would be an intrusion. Maybe she would find out things about them she didn’t want to know. And maybe she’d never find them at all.

But, she wanted to try. And after the first few phone calls she learned the adoption agency her parents had used closed down in the ‘70s. It became clear that the search would take a while.

Online Community exploring how millennials live authentically in an internet culture.

So in the meantime, that Christmas, I gifted her a 23&Me genetic test; figuring the most it would do would give her a clue to her background and maybe make her feel a little more connected to her biological family. I didn’t realize they allowed you to contact possible close family members until she mentioned she matched with some third cousins.

Meanwhile, the months slipped by and she spent more hours on the phone with the state of Texas, digging through possible avenues to find out about her parents. They narrowed it down to the last possible option–she’d need to get an original copy of her birth certificate, which would have, at the very least, the name of her biological mother.

Then suddenly, the way these things do, everything changed. 23&Me sent her a notification: they’d found her half sister.

It was exactly what she always thought might happen. Out of nowhere, she has a sister; one who grew up knowing her biological father and who begins to put the pieces of my mother’s origin together.

Since the story is only just beginning I’ll save it for my mother to tell. But when she spit into the tube that day after Christmas two years ago, I never imagined my gift might open the door to that story.


I Bought a Menstrual Cup on Instagram

I asked friends about menstrual cups. I read about how magical they were for the environment, how nice it was not to have to carry products with you everywhere, but ultimately it took seeing a single black woman in an Instagram ad for me to actually buy one. The website that sold them was beautiful and interactive, with graphics illustrating technique and a robust FAQ page. I was actually excited to use a period product, which, since the advent of my period at a Water World theme park when I was 9, has never ever been a thing for me.

Online Community exploring how millennials live authentically in an internet culture.

Somehow I was still blissfully unaware of how intimate I was about to get with my period experience. There was the seal-checking, which requires you to run the perimeter of your vaginal canal with your finger, the at-first unfamiliar static fullness. Upon removal (earlier than advertised), I was surprised at just how full of blood it was, then i immediately felt affirmed that what doctors had suspected was an overuse of super plus and ultra tampons did in fact correspond to “heavier than average flow”. I had the milliliters to prove it. There was the intense bright red color that stained the bowl and made me instantly happy that I was doing this process at home. God forbid my period betray me in front of company again. Tampons soak up the vaginal secretions (lolz that word sounds just like what it is), but the cup just holds them, leaving a mix of blood and what kind of looks like spit. It’s interesting to me, but I am an ex-scientist so that fascination is likely not universal. At first there was more opportunity for blood on my fingers, on my thighs. My blood didn’t all go away when I flushed.

My period hadn’t changed and yet I was experiencing it anew at 27. I was ALL UP IN IT. But it didn’t make me feel better or worse. I was more viscerally involved with what was happening with my body, and the process of it made me think of what periods must be like for women in our village in Nigeria. Reminded me of how privileged and modern it made my mom and her sisters feel that they had access to pads growing up. The Instagram cup company said they donated a cup to a young woman in need somewhere, so I guess it was nice to imagine that a women somewhere was having the same experience as me. (Then I immediately felt guilty that I was letting a retailer give me a false sense of activism.) @it’s better for the environment” and “I’ll save so much on tampons” were both things I reminded myself as I washed my cup clean and reinserted it. I wasn’t grossed out by my period, I was just having to deal with it, really deal with it. I didn’t feel better or worse because my period hadn’t changed. It was still a bitch. I still had blinding pain, uncomfortable, bloating, difficult shits, which all seem incompatible with period positivity. I don’t plan to have children, so my uterus only does for me what a cocktail of hormone pills could do and does do for lots of people who have had hysterectomies. I’ve long considered getting one, but very few doctors would see the above symptoms as being valid enough to take away the fertility of young women who desperately wants to be rid of it. I hate my period. The novel excitement of the Instagram cup wore off so fast that I even surprised myself. So what I should say is I STILL hate my period, but I do know her a hell of a lot better.