The holiday season is a time for giving. But for a Burlington couple, it's also a time for saving.
"We did what we set out to do," said Katie Appleget.
Their house is really a home in Burlington.
"When we bought the house, I hugged my refrigerator," she continued.
That's because Roy and Katie Appleget made a cash down payment. It was possible because they saved more than $10,000 this year.
"If you want it that much, you can do it," Katie said.
"Cut the corners," added Roy, who works as a correctional officer.
They cut corners all right. These newlyweds traded four walls for two tents in March.
"I never had back problems in my life until we lived in tents," Roy said.
They went to the woods out of desperation and frustration. Their minimalist lifestyle allowed them to chuck monthly bills topping $1,000 to live in the great outdoors.
During our first visit in May, Katie put it all in perspective.
"You need to decide what's important to you," she said. "Are you able to pack up your life, throw it into storage and say goodbye?"
The Applegets made a statement about economics and the environment. They battled bug bites, bad storms and even a burglary. But over seven months, they became modern-day pioneers with a plan.
"We are not homeless," Roy said in May. "We are home-free."
Since late November, they turned in the tents for a three-bedroom house financed by their cash savings. They plan to pay it off in just six years.
"(We can) take a shower for free instead of dropping quarters in a machine," Roy said. "It's pretty great."
While this grand experiment produced positive results, the Applegets acknowledge it isn't for everybody.
By doing a lot more with less money, they are building a future together.
"We did make that choice," Katie said. "That is what we wanted, and we were able to exceed our goal."
It's a lesson about savings that really hits close to home.
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