Saving Big Through House Hacking With Sarah, The Budget Girl

Sarah, otherwise known as Budget Girl, has gone from a humble beginning as a newspaper reporter, to now having an incredible YouTube channel around personal finance. And now, she has begun her house hacking ventures in College Station, TX.

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Side Hustling To Make Moves

Sarah was not making much money at her newspaper job to fulfill her house hacking venture, and the weight of student debt only exaserbated the wait. So to get her financial goals fast-tracked to where she wanted, she began her side hustles.

After pouring hours of effort into YouTube, it began paying off. But before that began paying its dividends, she dabbled in secret shopping, pet training, working at a fireworks stand, and garage sale flipping (buying items for cheap and reselling online).

And the sole purpose was to pay off her student loans to open up other opportunities.

The Thought Process of Purchasing A Home For House Hacking

Once Sarah paid off all of her debt and saved up for an emergency fund, now came the time to consider purchasing a home. For her, it was a difficult shift to make as she enjoyed renting. She was always a great tenant, and enjoyed never having to worry about something breaking in the unit or paying property taxes. She also enjoyed the flexibility of moving around.

However, a mixture of consuming several real estate blogs and books led her to the mindset shift that you do not need to be rich to become a landlord. Along with that, the art of house hacking became a tangible goal for Sarah.

So she did it!

house hacking

The Process of Buying A Home

Sarah took her time with her home purchase, and toured over 25 properties over the course of a year. She found the home she purchased during the pandemic, and has now begun gearing the property towards being attractive to renters.

The Renting Vs. House Hacking Numbers

She was renting a 2 bed, 1.5 bath apartment for just under $700/month. This was well-negoitated by Sarah as her previous unit was infested with rats, so she was able to get a “free” upgrade.

The home she purchased was $230,000, and is a 3 bed, 2 bath on each side. She has invested some upgrades into her side of the unit, but is waiting to work on the tenant side as the unit is currently ocupied. All in all, she has only invested about $2000 into renovations thus far.

She purchased the house through the FHA program, where she only needed to put down 3.5% of the purchase price. Her all-in mortgage payment is just under $1,700. And the tenant she inherited is paying $1,050 per month. And she also has a roommate hack as she charges her boyfriend $500/month in rent, leaving her with a total of $150 in housing costs!

As for biggest learning lessons from her home purchase, she's really glad she did the floors and obtained 5 different quotes. She ended up going with a referral service for only $1000 to do the demolition and install. She was able to source the flooring herself from Home Depot.

Once thing she wishes she would have done is one last final walk through of the property on the day she purchased it. She found out the previous owners has not fixed some of the repairs they promised to. She was able to have them pay for one of the repairs, while the others were unfortunately Sarah's burden to pay for.

The Famous Six

What is your favorite personal finance resource (blog/book/podcast/etc)? – of course!

YouTube, as well.

What’s your favorite real estate related resource you’ve read recently?


What is your favorite travel destination so far?

Barcelona, Spain

Where will you travel next?

New York / Los Angeles / Any beach!

What is the biggest bucket list goal that you haven’t accomplished yet?

Write a book

What is your favorite life hack?

Buy used/second hand


Where to Find Sarah & her Etsy Store:



Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to House Hacking for a great overview of the different styles of house hacking and different types of tenant bases.

Check out the home page for “The House Hacking Podcast” here.

Where to Find Sarah & her Etsy Store: