Welcome to Miter Saws and Mary Janes!

Miter Saws and Mary JanesI’m Willow, and I’m here to show you exactly how you can build enough online, passive, and/or real estate income to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

It is more than possible to quit your full-time job to become a digital nomad, travel the world, or simply spend more time with the people and passions that matter most to you. I’m living proof!

I’m also on a mission to help you make your house a home. With enough money leftover that you can indulge in some of your guilty pleasures (designer shoes, anyone??).

A little about this house-flipping, corporate world-shunning, adventure-junky owner/author:

A DIY Maven is Born…

When I was roughly 7 years old, I once convinced our babysitter my siblings and I had permission to trade bedrooms. By the time my parents returned home from their much-needed date night, we were in different rooms.

My love of design, styling, and renovating was born.

I’d not only ripped down my mother’s beloved Mickey Mouse wallpaper border (the horror!), but I also began sanding (yes, sanding) the antique vanity set I’d inherited from my great-grandmother.

Needless to say, I was grounded for a while. My vanity set was moved to my younger, less-prone-to-destroy-it-in-a-fit-of-decorating-inspiration-she-saw-on-Sesame-Street sister’s room. And, sadly, I was relegated to the basement if I wanted to “enhance the house in any way.”

Well, enhance I did and it’s been a love affair ever since.

Spreading My Wings

After years of DIY bedroom and basement makeovers as a teen, it was time to spread my wings. It was time to join my fellow students in earning a college degree.

Upon graduation, I took the requisite corporate job I thought (at the time) I had to, and I began the slow slog of climbing the ladder.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to attend grad school, not once but twice, and that’s where the real magic began.

Getting My Financial Act Together

Ever the frugal, entrepreneurial-spirited individual, I decided, despite moving to one of the most expensive cities in the country for my graduate education, I wouldn’t pay a single cent in rent. Cue laughter and excessive eye rolls.

Armed with a part-time job that provided a free apartment, a stipend, and credits towards my education, I felt ready to take on the world of homeownership.

Except for the credit card debt hanging around my neck like a noose.

For nearly 2 years, I worked my ass to the bone in order to pay for school and pay off that unnecessarily accumulated credit card debt.

I also paid myself “rent” so I had a sizeable downpayment.

I’ll never forget the first meeting with my mortgage broker as he reviewed my bank statements and exclaimed, “You are quite the saver, Miss Willow!”

Making a Boatload from Foreclosures

I immediately purchased two foreclosures and renovated each by myself. I also decorated both condos to the nines.

By the time I’d graduated with my two Masters degrees, I had decided I no longer wanted the corporate grind.

As part of my plan, I  put each condo on the market. Within 4 days, both were under contract for more than my asking price after some serious bidding wars.

Thank you, DIY everything!

Striking Out on My Own

After I realized I could make far more money doing something I was infinitesimally more interested in–and passionate about–I ditched my corporate gig.

I poured my profits into houses in a more affordable market, and I set sail on an investment adventure that has yet to let me down.

During the subsequent years of navigating the exhilarating world of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned the following:

  1. I can’t see myself ever returning to the cubicle/corner office world
  2. I am perfectly happy wearing the same outfit for a week straight although clean underoos are always helpful
  3. There’s a great, big world out there that we all need to do our best to see, feel, taste, and experience (travel is hands down the reason I work so hard)
  4. Fear is only in the eye of the beholder–you can literally do anything you want if you put your mind to it (like buying a near-condemned house, spending 100% more than you budgeted to renovate it, but still making a $40K profit when it sold)
  5. I’m really bad at remembering to eat lunch, but I can often be found with a spoonful of Nutella in my mouth
  6. I’m really good at restoring, renovating, and breathing life back into old houses (the older, the better!)
  7. Despite all the trials and tribulations of striking out on my own, I wouldn’t change a single thing because this journey has been, and still is, a hell of a ride!

The Grass is Always Greener

However, in an effort to inspire and remain transparent for my readers, I have to admit that it hasn’t always been sunshine and roses in my financial world.

There was a period, just out of college, when I was drowning in nearly $18,000 in credit card debt.

If you are struggling to pay off your own debt, read my series on creating and executing a successful debt payoff plan.

A few years later (and after I paid off $18K in credit card debt in less than 8 months), I still had over $42,000 worth of student loans looming over my head.

I also once spread myself so thin for a real estate investment that I had no money for groceries for 2 weeks.

Despite these challenges, I always found ways to make extra money. I worked my tail off to pay off every penny of my $42K student loan debt in a matter of 6 months, and I eventually sold that seemingly doomed investment for a tidy profit.

Media Mentions for Miter Saws and Mary Janes

A former blogger who built a reasonably successful, yet anonymous handful of personal finance blogs and sites, I’ve decided to go more public with this latest lifestyle site.

My work, whether online or in real estate projects, has been featured on numerous blogs & websites and in the following media outlets:

  • This Old House
  • Good Housekeeping
  • The Huffington Post
  • CNN Money
  • Lifehacker
  • MSN Money
  • Wisebread
  • Popsugar
  • Mint.com
  • Zillow
  • Redfin
  • BiggerPockets

Join the Revolution

So join me as I work to inspire others to chase their own dreams, whether they be to strike out on their own, travel more, save more, or simply enjoy life more.

I’ll be writing about everything from my various real estate projects (flipping, historic restoration, rental properties, commercial apartment building management) to my outdoor adventures (canyoneering, backpacking, hiking, camping, climbing, etc).

Traveling (international and domestic) and healthy living (fitness, nutrition) are also topics you’ll find here at Miter Saws and Mary Janes.

As a lifestyle site, I’ll incorporate all things home, personal finance, random musings about crazy drivers (kidding! well, maybe?) and my adventures (injuries?) with power tools.

A Mantra Worth Repeating

Fearless. Frugal. Fun; A (mostly frugal) DIY Blog with a Shoe Problem.

One adventure at a time, living life to it’s fullest; that’s the spirit of Miter Saws and Mary Janes.


Don’t forget to connect with me here too: 

  • FOLLOW @MiterSawsandMaryJanes on Instagram for photos of my recent adventures, adorable (yet quite mischievous) kitties, Sergeant Sassyfras and General Ginger, and latest DIY projects. I share adventure & outdoor inspiration, bullet journal pages, and my favorite post-workout, healthy eats!