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Archive for December, 2008

Goals for this weekend (which starts Thursday)

December 30th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

I want to get all the clothing arranged. We went from 2 large closets to 3 little closets. I have bought an extender rod so I have 2 rows of rods in one of the closets so shirts can go there.

I also would like to sort all of the electronic cords and get my home network set up this weekend. This could range from simple to complex. At least I know the settings for my game consoles but I am not sure about the dsl modem's settings (used to have cable).

After that, I should be able to relax and just tidy up a little. So glad we have the majority of the work done now. Still need to paint the hallway, paint the bedroom and finish a doorway but that can wait till later in January when DH will have a week off to work on things.

I swear I am going to take some time this weekend and relax. It will be good for me.

Stress

December 29th, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Usually not a problem for me in short doses. Give me a crisis, I deal with it and come up with the best resolution possible.

Long term though? Ugg...Between everything that can go wrong going severely wrong and one of my coworkers leaving and my husband being sick of his job and our finances being the tightest they ever have been due to all the things going on in our lives...

I feel like crawling into a corner and refusing to come out. I need to remember that I am entitled to a moment of relaxation. Its okay to stop and breathe. I have always had an issue with internalizing stress and the winter holiday season is always my least favorite to begin with. On Wednesday, when I was home alone, I had this blank lost look in my eyes because I didn't know what to do with a mostly free day. This is a bad sign for me.

When my coworker is gone in a couple of days, some of the stress will let up tremendously (we are basically helping her transition). DH will take a course in the spring to help his resume when job hunting and I am down to simply organizing the house. Hopefully this will be enough to get me through the rest of winter. Oh and I need to start exercising again. Weight training and cardio are the best stress relievers. I have got to get my focus back and stop the little voice in my head from telling me what a total failure I am. It's just not healthy.

What a weekend

December 29th, 2008 at 04:14 pm

We finished painting the library and moved the bookcases and the 6ft fishtank in. We also managed to build a kitchen hutch using the freestanding elfa parts from the container store, rearranged the living room, got some dishes washed and the kitchen a little more organized. We did spend Christmas day and Sunday afternoon being lazy.

Finally got the December credit card bill and they moved the payment up one day. Ouch. Did a 0% balance transfer for the amount we can't cover which is actually quite small considering the next day (and normal due date) was payday. *Sigh*. I swear this all will get paid off very quickly once we aren't paying for both places and buying the initial items needed for the house. I really hadn't counted on none of the appliances being functional but such is life.

However, other than needing 2 short ethernet cords, we really don't need anything else for the house. We have finally made it through the list of essentials. We want an elliptical but I am thinking that can wait till next fall when everything is paid off and we have some excess play money. Working on the house should be keeping us mostly in shape.

I am reviewing my roth contributions to see how well I can balance our retirement contributions with our debt payoff then house repairs fund. I am thinking I can at least double what I am currently at without really upsetting my cash flow. This would put us at 11.8% which is much lower than my original goal but does allow us to factor in major house repairs such as a bathroom remodel and new casement windows. Important given that this is a fixer upper which needs a lot of fixing. At least we only have a 15 year mortgage which means the cash gets freed up fairly quickly. We will get there eventually...

Financial Plan for 2009, Umpteenth version

December 23rd, 2008 at 07:17 pm

Through February we will have mortgage and rent, 2 electric bills and 2 water/sewer bills.

Starting in March

Short term savings 75
IRA 200
CC#1 100
Student Loan 194
Electric/gas 100
Water 50
Car Insurance 66
PITI 1288
Gas 80
Internet 48
TV 38
Phone 70
Netflix 15
Groceries 300
Out to Eat and Fun Money 400
401(k) is pre tax up to matching

Expense Total 3024
Income Total 4800

Obviously there is a big difference there and we plan to save it so that our EF fund can go to a min of 5k at all times and to pay for all the repairs needed on the house. We are also using that money to pay off all the remaining 0% credit cards (there are 3 of these).

What this means is that besides paying off the credit cards, we will have a little less than 17k at the beginning of Jan 2010. Obviously some of this will get spent on the house. The rest will be used to max out the 2 Roth's and fill up the EF fund. DH plans on getting a new job next year sometime so I want as much flexibility in savings as possible.

If things go smoother than planned, then we can go back to the original plan of maxing out the 401(k) at his new place to up our retirement savings. Especially since I suspect any new position would entail a raise. My big issue is that if he really wants to switch jobs this year, I really want a decent EF in place. We have too much work on the house to do to be surviving just on my income.

And he is definitely in need of a job change. He wakes up dreading going to work and that is not healthy. Obviously that 17k assumes full employment all along so chances are we will end up with much less which is why I am trying to keep as much cash on hand as possible. Hopefully his job hunt goes well and he can find a new one prior to quitting his old. If not, I suspect that by fall he would need to quit and just job hunt.

This spring he plans on doing a self study to get a certificate that will make him more marketable so hopefully that will get him out into summer. I just hope he takes his time and finds a job he likes instead of settling like he did when he took this job.

Finally starting to come together

December 22nd, 2008 at 09:48 pm

Ah the saga of the narrow stairs. Would not fit the old bed frame nor would it fit the 6 ft fish tank. The old bed frame was entireley due to not having the instructions nor having actually put it together ourselves so didn't know how to get it apart. Grr.. we of course figured it out after we demolished the bed frame.

Fortunately with the fish tank I made DH and I use the stand for practice. No way, no how. 5ft would have been possible but not 6ft. Fortunately the house is old and well made so we have quite a few places we can set the tank up without risk of breaking the floor. Big Grin

We managed to finish tearing out the library doorway and even started the first layer of plaster. We are going to need wire mesh though for the top of the doorway due to a large gap between wood pieces. The trim has been hammered in so we can plaster where the new trim doesn't hide the defects from the old trim. The ceiling is painted (had already been plastered) and the ceiling fan is up in the library as well.

We put on the new toilet seat so no more worries about the toilet seat potentially cutting someone (it was old and heavily damaged). We also pulled up the small section of self-adhesive linoleum tiles in the hallway off the beautiful hardwood floor underneath. It needs a quick scrubbing but its mostly cleaned up and not even sticky.

I work two days this week and only three next week so the next two weekends should develop even bigger changes. We managed to spend $200 on stuff but the good news is that the spending is finally starting to slow down.

Oh, we did manage to find a couch. Its being delivered Wednesday and its a nice recliner type. It will be nice on those rare days that we want to read all day to not be uncomfortable.Its $676 on a 6 month no interest finance account (as mentioned before, cash flow is scary through mid-February but perfectly fine thereafter so March and April is the payoff of debt months).

Now if I really want to make things go smoothly, I just need to make sure the library is ready for paint by tomorrow and then paint tomorrow so all the furniture can move in on Wednesday, lol. But no big deal if we don't, our living room is huge so can hold alot.

Wednesday will be nice since I will be trapt at the house and so will be able to clean it up. Maybe I will even set up my home network so everything has internet access again.

Wow, when did that happen?

December 19th, 2008 at 04:52 pm

So we were estimating our taxes and my DH to help me with this, grabs todays paystub offline and sends it to me. It seems that my estimation of his income was off by about 10k for the gross. As, once upon a time, this was more than I made in a year, failing to notice this is rather remarkable to me.

Part of the issue is that he has a 401(k) and the other part is that he actually pays money for his medical and other benefits. He also has been gaining income so quickly that last year's income is no predictor of the this years.

I have to say though, this is a little weird for me. My family at one point was living on less than 23k. Heck, when we first got married, we were living on 20k. We just brought in 87k and I already know that next year another 3.5k can be added to my side of the equation. Mind you, he will be getting some schooling in next year and may switch jobs but the likelihood of his income going down isn't very high without some serious unemployment time. And for that matter, my job is fairly secure and my job prospects are good as well.

It just seems bizarre to me that we have done this well for ourselves. I suppose its not as big an issue for my DH because his family has always been very successful but I am used to being the poor relations (no, no one ever treated me poorly, I just was definitely the poorest person I knew).

Even to this day, I can tell the people who grew up with money versus people like me by what they say and how they react to certain things. I am pretty sure I have even met more than a few self-made millionaires (I work in estate planning) who have shared my shock at something that was said. Once you have that background, it just kind of stays with you that you could always survive at that level again if you had to.

Sorry for the musing, every once in awhile I look back at where I have come from and the journey here and wonder how the heck I made it. Since I don't know a lot of people personally with the same background (or rather that made it after the same background), this is really the only place I can muse about it.

Bi-monthly?

December 17th, 2008 at 09:42 pm

Finally figured out that means every other month in this context. Technically it can mean that or twice per month so I was a little surprised that they used that particular word.

Its my water bill and I only know that means every other month because there was a sample bill to sneak a peek at. It seems a little random to me but another coworker has theirs every quarter so what the heck.

Its my only bill that isn't monthly or yearly. Go figure.

Weekend went well

December 15th, 2008 at 06:59 pm

It tooks some effort but we got all of the critical items done this weekend, managed to go to a party and still watched movies on Sunday.

Much happier than last week. Tonight I will make manicotti for supper and work on a few little projects.

Maybe I can figure out how to organize the new place or paint the ceiling in the one room.

I can't wait for the holiday weekends so that we can get the bigger projects done.

Feeling less frustrated today

December 12th, 2008 at 04:25 pm

Which is good because I have a lot of things left to do.

Weekend to do list

Get Emissions Certificate for new car
Get Bill of Sale from seller of car
Fax Bill of Sale to insurance
Wait for internet repairman
Get 8'-10' washing machine hoses
Do laundry
Finish unpacking
Move 125g down narrow stairs into basement
Move headboard down narrow stairs into basement
Do dishes
Finish bringing stuff over from apartment
Paint ceiling in library
Hang ceiling fan in library
Rip out door frame in library
Nail in painted trim in library
Finish spackling library
Buy curtains for kitchen
Buy microwave
Take trash out of the house
Buy a couch that fits through a 35" door

Theoretically I can get this done in one weekend. In reality, given how things have been going, I will consider myself well pleased if I get through half of it.

The must haves are the microwave, trash, washing machine hoses and unpacking.


Murphy was an optimist

December 11th, 2008 at 05:30 pm

I am ready to go hide in a little corner and refuse to interact with the world. I am getting tired of trouble shooting every single thing. Can't just one thing work without complication? Okay, that's unfair, but I have had a lot of things take unexpected directions lately.

I am one of those people who always plans defensively and am rather fond of Murphy's Law because it means I am always early and always prepared for problems. Unfortunately, you can only have so many potential problems become actual problems when you begin to wonder what is up.

House buying - built in extra time because I was afraid of a last minute problem scotching the deal. Problem came up but built in time saved the day.

Painting - built in extra time for repair, it took that time and then some

Moving - gave us an extra day then we normally have when we move and while we got all the big things moved, still have a few minor items and managed to forget food and cookwares.

Microwave - lost by UPS, kept an eye on it and got my refund.

Technicians - every single one has run well over their alloted time except for the DirectTV guy who just showed up at the end of his time but was quick. Aka, lots of time eaten up in waiting and watching other people work.

Moving van - company overcharged me by well over $100, am currently fighting this.

Car insurance - took much longer than it should have because we didn't have auto insurance before (course not, we didn't have a car)but finally got the right quote.

Washer Machine - water hoses are too short. Need to go get extensions or longer ones.

There was more but I have blocked the painful memories. :P

Okay, I feel better now. I am just getting tired of delegating potential problems to certain nights of the week so that I can solve one problem at a time. Thank goodness I bought a car so that I am more flexible on getting places.

Pricing out Ventilation Hoods and 2009 Goals

December 10th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

*Wince* Most of the kitchen ventilation hoods cost more than my actual gas stove.

I don't have cabinets above my stove, just the nonworking ceiling vent fan. I am grateful the holes are already cut and the ductwork is there but I wasn't quite expecting the wall canopy part to be quite so outrageous. They start at $500 (loud end) and go into the multiple thousands range.

The one I like is $1400 (well, normally $1700 but I found the one site selling it cheaper). Course I need one in black since there isn't any stainless steel anywhere in my kitchen. Nice, quiet, multiple speeds and it costs more than I just paid for my new to me car. :P Can you tell what I care more about?

Really, just how loud is 20-30 sones vs 6 sones? Because its a $900 difference in price. Yuck.

It will have to wait till March though. We can cashflow it then. On a positive note though I priced putting in bathroom ventilation along with new roof vents and that is cheaper than the kitchen ventilation hood. Much cheaper even though that one will include labor (I refuse to cut up my own roof, I just don't think I am qualified).

Its a good thing the windows don't need to be replaced immediately because its going to be a year or two with all the other projects needed.

Did I mention we still need to save up for a complete bathroom remodel? The plumber confirmed that the bathtub was simply installed wrong instead of there being serious structural damage (good news) except this means some very untalented homeowners remodeled the bathroom without regard to basic standards that are even listed in home improvement websites (this is where you start wondering what else they did wrong and how much mold is hiding in there thanks to the lack of ventilation). Needless to say, we are saving up for a complete overhaul. Tear it down to the basic structure and rebuild.

So my 2009 goals.

Save up for and install a kitchen range hood

Save up for and install a bathroom vent fan and roof vents (the bathroom vent fan can vent through the roof vents)

Get new windows priced so I have some idea of how much is needed

Keep enough money in savings in case the furnace dies (should hopefully last another 5-10 years but its best to plan for surprises) or the roof needs to be replaced (again, we should have at least 5 years but best not to gamble).

Start saving for a bathroom overhaul (betting on 2010 for the actual remodel).

I am sure I am missing something but I can always add that later.

This is taking forever...

December 9th, 2008 at 08:09 pm

I never had a move not go according to my schedule until now. It just seems like anything that can be delayed, has been delayed. We managed to move all the big stuff this weekend which was great but managed not to move our food and our cookwares. The microwave has been lost in transit so we are still awaiting news aka we can't cook with that either. Grr...

We did get the new to us car today so we will be able to go grab our food and a few other essentials we forgot. This weekend we spent $200 on the moving van and another $200 on random items for the house. I also think we still have one more $200 run in our future for miscellaneous items. *Sigh*

The dog seems to have finally accepted the new house and we seem to have finished with waiting for people to show up and fix or install things.

We haven't unpacked all the boxes or rearranged everything. We haven't hooked up the washer machine. We haven't even figured out what to do about the kitchen vent yet.

I did decide yesterday not to seek an early release on the lease. I am going to need the full time at the rate we are going.

Doh! I wish I could count

December 5th, 2008 at 03:09 pm

I have done this too many times to count. I think we are going to be tight, I do the math and I confirm it. Then a couple of days later, I do the math or look at a number again and realize that I have double counted a big payment.

Which inevitably means we won't have a budget crunch. Not in the slightest. This time my mistake was a $1156 payment. Since I get nervous below a thousand, I thought things would be tight.

I think I was so convinced that we blew through a lot of money on the house that I didn't double check the rather large bill amount which was way off. There is a big difference between $3500-4000 and $2500.

Which is good because using the bad numbers, we were going to be tight when buying a cheap car off of someone I know. Yup, we are paying cash for a reliable beater since we don't currently own a car. Still will use mass transit for commuting but now we won't have to rent cars for weekends or have to wait till the weekend to drive somewhere.

I am still going to see how stingy we can be through the months of December, January and February. I would like to replenish our emergency funds as soon as possible. Its just nice knowing that we didn't spend as outrageously as I had feared.

Okay starting to have some real numbers

December 4th, 2008 at 05:31 pm

This is what the house has cost so far

Sears: $4034.23

Linen N Things: $585.28

Lowes: $778.48

Home Depot: $815.90

Walmart: $205.30

Amazon: $431.42

Plumber: $345.00

Here is where I list what I spent money on and where I saved money. First the positive.

Lowes: $60 in coupons used

Home Depot: $50 gift certificate from realtor used

Sears: shopped sales, clearances and the outlet store

LinenNThings: Nothing under 30% off was bought (and yes we made sure they didn't just jack the price up to put it on sale)

Walmart: Got what we could here because it was cheaper than any other place.

Amazon: I was picky about the microwave, needed one that doubled as a convection oven and was reliable. They were the cheapest. By combining this purchase with a cheaper stove, saved about $400-700 overall (Double ovens on freestanding gas stoves are expensive).

Plumber: First quote was $1600. Second was from a guy who actually knew what he was doing AND was cheaper.

Now, what I bought.

High efficiency steam washer, refrigerator with french doors and bottom freezer, gas stove with 5 burners and convection oven, microwave that can act as a convection oven, trim (to replace badly mistreated trim), tools for both inside and outside, queen bed set because our current bed will not fit in the bedroom (turning our king into a basement guest bedroom), paint, primer and painting tools, curtains and curtain hardware (we have more windows than walls seriously but at least we never have to turn lights on until its dark out), door locks and door handles (outside doors), radon test kit, etc.

AKA, lots. I now have a 10% coupon for Lowe's good through 1/15/2009. Of course. But I am sure we will find a use for it.

So a little less than $7200. I suppose that's not actually bad considering. Wait till we price out replacing the casement windows with new casement windows.

Oh, I also got the first electric and gas bill for the house. 9 days cost $23 plus $64 that the previous owners didn't pay (no worries, I expected that and was grateful it was so little). I suspect part of that was the gas water heater having to heat up all the new cold water pumping through it. The house water has been turned off a couple of times in the past month. At this rate, the house will be cheaper than our current place for double the space. I will reserve judgment till after I see the first water bill.

This weekend we are finally moving in. Once we are in I think the little projects will be easier to accomplish.

Upcoming cash crunch (just me venting)

December 3rd, 2008 at 05:50 pm

Must be that time of year. For some reason, each January just towards the end I have a cash crunch. Its not that we don't have enough money because when January is over we always have excess, its simply the way things fall. This year its being caused by the expected but unknown at the time expenses of buying a new house.

What it really means is that we have to delay my DH's upping of the 401(k) contribution from its current level to 30%+ til February instead of doing it in January. In February/March we will pay off the last of the credit cards and for the first time in a while be credit card debt free!

Which of course means that the next couple of months are going to be obnoxious financially. I am not a patient person and I have to wait 3 months to pay everything off and figure out my true expenses since the transition period is the most expensive (we have rent through February and a mortgage payment starting January and don't forget duplicate utilities).

To even figure out when the cash crunch would hit since I knew we were due for one, I had to create a timeline of when things were due and when we got paid. Course all of this is moot if we manage to get bonuses this year but I don't count on them, especially in a year when the firm is trying to figure out its budget and the husband's company already did layoffs in the middle of its busy season.

I just look forward to the next 3 months being over. We will be moved out of the apartment, moved into the house, free of all the credit cards and able to build a really decent emergency and house fund for the first time ever (unless you count the house down payment but fortunately we were able to use that for the house and not an emergency).

I think I will have to wait till March to decide my 2009 goals because everything will have settled down by then. Probably will include saving like mad for expected house expenditures like windows and venting in the kitchen and bath, lol.


Ouch this is expensive and time consuming

December 1st, 2008 at 08:09 pm

I don't have all the numbers to post but I will probably post what we spent on the house once it slows down. I do know that we have broke the 4k mark if you include appliances.

For those who asked, I will post before and after photos once I have them. The wall and trim repairs and painting is taking a very long time. We slept, ate, and worked on the house for the previous 3 days and we only have 1 room finished for all that effort (biggest room in the house though so that is something).

I decided to try sponge painting and decided that I can't stand it. So the walls are getting repainted back to the base color. Fortunately that won't take too long (2 hour max) but its still obnoxious.

3 people working 3 days straight on one house. Ugg. Fortunately we have another 2 long holiday weekends to really work on the house so that things can get fixed up.

Which is good, we are going to need it.