“From $500 a month – to owning my own home…”


     I wanted to share my fathers journey to show that a financial and personal plan can lead to home ownership. He is a self employed Artist in the industry and is now living in a 4 bedroom remodeled home with my stepmother and teenage brother. Here is my fathers testimonial below:

“From a 500 dollar, a month stipend to owning my own home in three years”

-John Zender

5 years ago, I was asked by a pastor friend if I would take a spiritual challenge, the challenge was to drop everything I was doing and assist him in his vision of church planting in the MacArthur park area. I told him I would pray about it and get back to him, well I did pray and it seemed like most of the doors I was expecting to open were closing, that made me wonder if maybe working with the church was what God wanted me to do. The church could only offer me a $500 stipend every month, I was commuting from Torrance to Highland park every day so I was spending $200 a month on gas alone. Another thing they would offer is studio space for free, now that seemed interesting since I was neglecting my art career for years. I worked with the church for three years, helping with outreach ministry, running a new location, promotional materials and other things. I hung in there for three years doing small art projects to help offset the expenses, on the third year the church could no longer offer the stipend but offered a larger studio space near the downtown LA area. I knew this was now the time I had to begin to prepare for what I really wanted to do with my career. I went back into painting my own personal work and pulled out about 50 new easel works and several mural projects. One of those mural projects was a continuous evolving mural at metroflex gym in Long Beach. That project allowed me to gain exposure in the fitness genre and got the attention of the owner of The Camp. He allowed me to paint some of his gyms and informed me that they were planning on opening more locations. During this time, I was now living in Torrance with my in laws in a small one room location, I knew I had to make some serious decisions about my career and my life. I rented an art studio in San Pedro and began to work hard trying to save as much as I could. At first, I was just trying to follow the advice of Dave Ramsey in saving $3,000 for an emergency fund, and later a need to save for materials for my business since the gym franchise was moving faster than I expected. I consulted with my daughter, Desiree Estrada who is a real estate agent with century 21, about the possibility of trying to buy a house for space, (one thing artist really need is physical space). She gave me the real estate breakdown of the two to three-year income tax review plus the credit check, and of course if I qualified the down payment and closing costs. I then asked what if I wanted to buy a house now… She then said “we can try to review your income taxes next year for this year and if you can clear over 50K Net a year you could qualify…. So, my son and I began to challenge ourselves into trying to save and of course make as much as we could by not over spending and even hiding our savings in accounts that had no ATM attached to them. We knew we would have to pay the IRS next year for that income but we saw it as an investment for that house. Goals, discipline and strict coordination was all me and my son thought about. I remember working with youth and trying to share the information of the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey with them, (Be Proactive, begin with the end in mind, put things first, think Win Win, understand before being understood, Synergize and Sharpen the saw). Now I had to live these qualities and share them with my son. In January of 2017 I did my taxes and cleared 40K Net and paid a lump sum to the IRS…with much help from Desiree’s team at century 21, I got approved for a loan and in June of 2017 the month my son graduated from Jr High with Honors, God blessed us with a 4-bedroom house with lots of space we closed escrow on that same month and the beginning of a new journey has begun. I plan to build a studio and produce as much new work as I can…

John Zender


Thank you for reading… I hope this can inspire you or someone you know. Very excited for them, and I am here to assist anyone who is looking to begin their mortgage plan as well. 

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