Sacrifice pays off for young couple

You could say it was the weather that drove Brandy and Todd Moren out of their Colebrook apartment.

The upstairs shower rained into the living room of the windowless basement apartment. Snow blew in under the door. It was an intolerable home for young parents with a baby.

Brandy and Todd Moren with their son, VincentSo the Morens fled to Todd’s mother’s house, where they’d started their marriage when he was 21 years old and she was 19. This time, they were in less of a hurry to get out. This time, they made a plan.

Brandy contacted AHEAD, a nonprofit housing agency in Littleton, and learned about Individual Development Accounts. By taking financial management classes and saving money each month, the Morens could have their savings matched three times over by the Community Loan Fund. IDAs help people with little income buy a home or car, start or expand a business, or pay for college or technical school.

The Morens were so eager to get started that they drove three hours round-trip to Plymouth to take the first available homebuyer classes. When they’d lived with his mom earlier, Todd says, “We both had jobs and no rent to pay. … We were just stupid with money.”

“The class was really great at helping us get our budget in order,” Brandy says. Now, she says, “If I can save a dime anywhere, I will.”

With Todd earning only $1,000 a month and Brandy caring for baby Vincent at home, they both qualified to open IDAs. Todd’s mother let them stay rent-free so they could save for a home, and save they did. No more restaurants, pizza three nights a week, movie theaters.

They deposited into the account each month, including their tax rebate, until they had each saved $1,250. With the $7,500 match from the Community Loan Fund, the Morens had $10,000 toward a home.

Six months after opening their IDAs, they paid $24,500 for a handsome two-bedroom manufactured home in Page Hill MHP cooperative, a resident-owned community in Lancaster. It’s roomy enough to hold Vincent’s second birthday party in November. And because they focused on affordability, they expect to pay off the mortgage in less than 10 years.

Brandy and Todd have nothing but appreciation for AHEAD HomeOwnership Advisor Mary Jackson, their Realtor, and the IDA program. “Everybody worked really hard to get us where we are,” said Brandy. “That meant the world to us.”

This story was published in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund's 2010 Annual Report.