Those who know my husband and me know that personal finance is kind of our thing. We maintain a ridiculous (to anyone but us) budget spreadsheet, like to talk really energetically about our savings goals, and will try to convince anyone who will listen to open an IRA. So when Jessica wrote in with the story of how she and her husband Jeremy came to own a beach house in addition to their full-time home at the ripe old age of twenty-something, my ears perked up. And when I saw the colorful and preppy home they’ve created, I knew they’d be perfect for a Southern Newlywed feature. Friends, please enjoy meeting the Hortons!
Names: Jessica and Jeremy Horton
Years married: Almost five
Where you live: We live in Davidson, North Carolina, but our vacation home is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in high school, dated, broke up, got back together, and then were married nine years later!
What is your favorite part of being married? Having someone on your side all the time. “This is a ‘we’ thing” is our motto – it’s engraved on our wedding rings.
Do you rent or own? We own. We hope to move into something larger with more privacy and space than our current home offers soon. We would love to eventually have more rental properties to help assist our income.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. I bought our house in Davidson just before we got engaged. Jeremy’s lease was up on his apartment a few weeks before I closed, so it made sense (and cents!) for us to split a $600 mortgage instead of him having an $800+ rent payment (thankfully, we also felt ready for this in our relationship). My best advice is to work on your home together. As frustrating as it is to go to Lowe’s with him, or fabric shopping for curtains with me, we each get a say in nearly everything that goes into the house. In regard to our beach house, we designed it with an architect and then worked with a builder to tweak it the way we wanted it. There were many occasions when I wanted something very specific, and then had to hunt through Pinterest or magazines to show Jeremy what I meant. Once he saw it, he understood how it could work and trusted me. Make sure you each have some give and take. I couldn’t care less about a giant flat screen or surround sound, but he does. He couldn’t care less about pinch-pleat curtains and coordinating pillows, but he knows I do.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Plates! We got really nice white places from Crate and Barrel and we use them every day.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Register for more serving bowls and platters! We got one of each and it’s nowhere near enough. I wish we had three of each.
Who cooks dinner? We both do, but I cook often just because I get home first.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We eat a lot of tacos–beef, chicken, fish… we love them all! We also love to cook breakfast on the weekends. Our favorite is Neese’s Sage Sausage with some cheesy eggs and a great cup of coffee!
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? My best friend put together a book of recipes as a wedding gift. A lot of my late mother’s friends and our family contributed recipes that they were famous for. It’s so great to have them all in one spot!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Our splurges were the carerra marble counter in the kitchen and the master bath. Another was upgraded insulation–we routinely have a power bill of well under $100 a month (for a 2300+ square foot house!). Spending the extra on the insulation is paying for itself each month in savings. We saved on all of our lighting. We were given a $3000 lighting budget in our contract, which sounds like a ton, but when that number needed to include can lights and under-house lights, it went fast. When we picked out everything from the lighting guy, we realized we had gone over budget by over $1000, and I didn’t even like anything. I wasn’t about to drop a grand on lighting I hated, so we cancelled all of it except the can lights, closet lights and under-the-house lights. Spending more out of pocket for lighting left me limited on my budget, but I found vanity lights for $50 that I could live with at Lowe’s (as opposed to $300 from the light guy) and a few special ones from other places like Urban Outfitters and Shades of Light. Spending a few hundred out of pocket freed up about $900 from lighting that we could use to upgrade the tile in the master bath.
What most makes your house feel like home? Nothing’s too nice. Our “rustic” (a.k.a. beat-up) coffee table is a $25 dining table from the Habitat ReStore that Jeremy cut down. No one cares if your glass sweats on it, or if your sandy feet kick up on it.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have our wedding album in our living room. I had our table runners at the reception monogrammed, and afterwards, I cut the monograms out and had them framed (one is in our bathroom and one in our living room). The candlesticks that were on the fireplace mantle in our reception are now on the TV cabinet.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Walking back down the aisle and into the hotel (Cheshire Hall) lobby and realizing that we had really done it! We were married!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I probably love our loft the most, or maybe our master bath–it’s so hard to choose! I love the loft because of the built-in beds we installed in there. It’s very customized and cozy. I worked really hard to find all the linens on the beds in there, and we customized the sectional sofa to fit the space and be extra comfortable. This room has a lot of needs (a TV stand and sofa table!), but it’s a great space that both adults and kids love. I love our master bath because it feels a little spa-like. The vanity is one of my most proud accomplishments in the entire house–we hunted out a sideboard buffet to fit the spot and had it converted to house two sinks. We had a beautiful custom top made and found the wall-mount faucets online. We did it all for about $800. Above our clawfoot tub is a small TV–it’s a wonderful spot to hang out with a glass of wine and watch HGTV.
Do you have children? We have been trying since May 2013, and after no success, I went to the doctor only to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Just after I was diagnosed, we found out I was pregnant and possibly miscarrying on the same day (which I did). We hope to have several running around someday, biological or adopted.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? I think we have a mutual understanding that work has its place, but when we are home together, we do what we can together. A big one for me as a business owner is to shut everything off by 7 P.M. After a demanding client a few years ago, I realized I don’t need to be accessible at all times, so I put my work and phone hours in my email signature. Now I don’t feel guilty for not returning emails or calls after dinner, and my clients don’t expect me to. Another biggie is that I don’t take weddings on holiday weekends. Having a normal “day job” means that those are my three-day weekends too, and I want to spend them at the beach! As far as extended family, we’re lucky that our parents live about 20 minutes apart, so we never have to split holidays!
How does your family handle finances? We have two checking accounts (one everyday and one for our beach house) and one savings account. I get paid once a month and I pay all the beach house bills as soon as I get paid. The remaining either goes toward a credit card payment or goes into beach house checking. Jeremy gets paid every two weeks, and his check pays our Davidson mortgage and all bills associated with that house, as well as groceries, gas, and daily spending. We do set a budget, but we are not always the best at sticking to it. Lunches out and gas for travel (I travel for work a lot) tends to eat up quite a bit. A shared Google calendar has made life so much easier. Jeremy put all our bills and their amounts on the calendar and then I go in and look at it every pay day to see what’s coming out of that check and how much is left for groceries, gas, and “extras.”
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Jeremy gets up before me for work, so a lot of times, he makes my lunch and starts my car when it’s cold out! Sometimes, when we are having marathon laundry day, I’ll set the ironing board up and iron everything of his. I also love to bake and try new recipes for him.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? How naturally it has come. Marriage has definitely been work, but in the best possible way. Our preacher told us at our counseling session that “life is a series of adjustments; it’s how you handle them that will make or break you.” Those words are so true, and we remind ourselves of them often!
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? You don’t need to be wealthy to own a vacation home. Three months after getting married, Jeremy was laid off from his job. We had a nice savings, so that helped us pay cash for the beach house lot we bought in 2010. We kept our spending to a minimum and worked really hard to save money (which was easier after Jeremy’s 14-month layoff ended!).
P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!