Home for the Holidays

The three Blair kids got the surprise of their lives Christmas morning: a house to call their own after years of saving. They also unwrapped valuable money lessons that will last a lifetime.

The Blair kids were gearing up for a low-key Christmas. Amelia, 10, and six-year-old twins William and Madeline understood why. Their parents, Mike and Jennifer Blair of Indianapolis, were getting close to their goal of saving for a down payment on a house.

The whole family had been involved in the process. Jennifer, an educator by training who left her school district job when the twins were born and waits tables at night, worked with her kids to create a “goal poster” with a house and a thermometer to track their progress.

The poster also included motivational actions like, “Make gifts instead of buy,” “Eat at home,” and “Don’t Waste Food.” Amelia started a dog walking business for neighbors, and the twins helped an aunt and uncle clean up leaves in the fall.

“If Grandma sent us $100,” Jennifer said, “we’d color in a little bit.”

Owning your own home is part of the American dream, but the Blair family’s journey shows how difficult it can be to achieve for many working families. After years of budgeting, the Blairs were finally able to make it happen — just in time for Christmas — with assistance from realtor Mike Cole of Terra Real Estate Group in Indianapolis and TCU Mortgage Loan Originator Terry Kuehl.

The Blairs began the process through an online national lender. Delays and a lack of the personal assistance they needed as first-time homebuyers delayed the process. Cole put the couple in touch with his longtime friend Kuehl. Soon Mike and Jennifer Blair were on the way to the greatest Christmas present imaginable for their kids. Kuehl helped the Blairs qualify for a rate that will make monthly payments manageable, and steered them through the origination process in a matter of weeks.

The Blair Family

The Blairs say their children had strong opinions about the home they would eventually buy. Each wanted their own bedroom. A big back yard was a must. Amelia wanted a tree in that yard.

Hoping to give their three children the surprise of their young lives, Mike and Jennifer decided not to tell their kids they purchased a four-bedroom home in Fishers’ Windermere community. Friends put lights on the Blairs’ new house and helped decorate a big tree inside. At their rental place, Jennifer said, they put up only little “Charlie Brown” tree.

This morning Mike and Jennifer instructed the kids to open a big box with a poem inside. It told them to “mask up” and to put on Santa blindfolds so their parents could lead them to a big surprise.

Standing at the curb, Amelia, William and Madeline took off their masks. When they realized this was their home, Amelia screamed with delight. Then, visibly moved, scrunched her face to hide the tears.

That joy is what Mike and Jennifer Blair have been working toward. The process has been important too, Jennifer added, in teaching the kids lifelong financial lessons.

“We looked for points in the process where the kids showed an interest and took advantage of it,” Jennifer said. “Today, they saw first-hand that being a saver matters — and that good habits can make a real difference.”

Having their own home provides security for the family today and into the future that they might not otherwise have had.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities to build wealth outside of homeownership,” Jennifer says. “And we’ll rely on this wealth — that we’re now building — for retirement, for emergencies, and hopefully helping our kids purchase homes of their own down the road.”

With this in mind, TCU wanted to further help the Blair children to be savers.

TCU Area Manager Adam Young worked with Jennifer and Mike to set up Youth Savings Accounts for their three kids — at TCU, kids’ savings accounts are free and don't require a minimum balance.

And this morning, Amelia, William and Madeline got another surprise. Kuehl gave each of them a $100 check from TCU. The kids said they’ll deposit their money and start saving for the next big goal — a playset for their new backyard.

“A house signifies so much more than shelter,” Jennifer said. “It’s a symbol of love, safety and protection that will guide us back to one another — even when the kids are grown.”

Watch as Amelia, William and Madeline Blair are surprised with a new home.

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