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Archive for January, 2009

DH's work

January 29th, 2009 at 03:07 pm

just cut hours to 35 per week and reduced bonuses. He thinks despite that, they will need to do another layoff in a month or two. I told him, well you could always hope they lay you off next time. Sadly, this would be good news for him because he hates his work environment. I do think I will make sure we don't agressively pay off things so we can have a decent sized EF at all times. We will still be able to pay off the majority though. Ah the joys. At least we never expanded our lifestyle to use up his extra income. That would have been painful.

Taxes and weight loss.

January 28th, 2009 at 02:39 pm

Its good to get things done. Finished doing my taxes and submitted them. Everyone this year was really good about getting the forms to me unlike 2 years ago when I was still getting items in March and April.

Lost 2 lbs and 1/2 inch at my waist and a 1/4 at my hips. Discovered yesterday that 23 is still warm enough to go running outside but I need a headband for my poor ears. Now I will never have an excuse to avoid exercising in the winter again. Did ice my knees after the run and they are doing extremely well now so may start doing that on a regular basis.

Its day 3 of my frugal month and I am not having any issues with not eating out (very shocking to me) but its also not the weekend which is when I spend the most. Unfortunately I have plans to go out with a friend this friday. Not sure where we are going or what we are doing but I am sure it will involve money. Ah well, we had these plans before I decided to turn this month frugal so I will just have to make do.

Beginning my frugal month today.

January 26th, 2009 at 02:46 pm

Which is good because we spent more money on the house. Patience just doesn't seem like a virtue I possess. So instead of getting a reward when I finish my frugal month, I already have my reward and now need to simply do it. *sigh*

On a positive note, we found a much cheaper sink for the bathroom and we have everything for finishing off the kitchen. We spent the weekend getting the bathroom sink hooked up and now we have a sink that doesn't overhang the tub and the toilet. It also has storage space underneath so no more clutter.

We have the new countertop cut but not installed. That will probably be next weekend. We still haven't cleaned out the old apartment either. May need to talk to DH and see if we can take some days off so we can get that done. We are down to our final month with the apartment.

I received my water rebate for the HE washer and a rebate from my homeowner's for getting my car insurance with them which was very nice.

To start the frugal month out right I am going to see how many days in a row I can go without eating out. Even though eating out is allowed, we will save more if we keep it at a minimum.

A reward for being good...

January 23rd, 2009 at 05:35 pm

I would like to be extremely cheap for the month of February. No purchases and very little on food. I think it will help me become conscious again about spending money which I seemed to have lost thanks to the house purchase.

Here is where you realize how pathetic I am. I need a reward to be this good for a month. Something to give me a good reason for doing it. So, I am thinking a new kitchen countertop, just a laminate premade piece like what we have but less atrocious.

The kitchen will NOT be remodeled for at least ten years and the lime green countertop with bleach stains while functional is hideous. It will cost about $100 for this piece. I only get this if I do no purchases AND get the food under $500. Its not a need, what we have is functional but it would be nice to not have to flinch when we walk into the kitchen.

Originally I wanted to replace the sink in the bathroom with this decent $200 18 inch wide vanity that actually has storage space but realized by the time I added in the vessal and a new faucet, that would defeat the whole exercise.

This is something far more economical and while we would eventually be replacing this as well (and everything I have done so far has been avoiding any need for redoing), its also a cheap luxury. It also would be a reward for my dear husband so that he didn't have to look at the lime green countertop when he does dishes or cooks. So maybe he will help me with the challenge. Wink

I figure I can even start this challenge next week for the food portion.

Energy Efficiency (or lack thereof in my house)

January 21st, 2009 at 09:51 pm

So we use very little electricity in my household, we mostly use gas. Gas water heater, gas stove and a gas furnace.

Water heater is brand new and fairly efficient, no need to replace that. Stove is as efficient as a gas stove can be so that is also not an issue. But that gas furnace. Its probably a 65% AFUE. Its a 20 year old furnace that is purring along quite nicely so no immediate need to replace.

Which is good, because despite the fact that it is obviously a gas hog, I have other energy efficiency issues. I have windows with old rubber insulation that is so warped by age that they don't close (I am tempted to go out there and see if ripping the rubber off would actually let them fully close. We even have extra weather stripping from our doors...) and I have an attic that needs quite a bit of insulation added to what is currently up there.

I imagine that insulating the attic will be the cheapest job (and will change the heat loss of the house for sizing the furnace) and the windows will be the most expensive (and will also change heat loss for sizing of the furnace).

Attic insulation needs to wait on the range hood, bathroom vent and roof vents (for ease) AND for us to make sure all the holes are sealed (because otherwise you will never find them).

The one thing I have going for me is that my home is solid brick. I am really glad that I have a whole spring, summer and fall coming up to get all the attic jobs done. Especially, since I suspect it may be another year before we get to the windows...Maybe I should turn the thermostat down to 60, hmmm....

For your amusement, old light new light

January 20th, 2009 at 08:43 pm

Here is the old light.



As you can see, it has a rather large hole burned into it. What you don't see is that it didn't actually fit into the space so they took the top off of it.



Here is what we replaced it with. FYI, ours is not plastic.



I am thinking the 100 watt cfl might be overkill, it shines like a beacon in the dark,but you can see. Smile

This is why I waited till recently to buy a car

January 20th, 2009 at 04:04 pm

So the repair bill for the car was not $200 like I imagined it would be but $1000. Ouch. Two catalytic converters going bad at the same time. At least they come with an 8 year warranty now...

At first I thought it was a rip off. Then I went online and found the retail price of the parts, yuck. They really are that expensive. Frankly as a mechanics daughter, I am surprised labor was as cheap as it was.

We were told our struts are leaking as well so we should get them fixed at some point. Another $1200 when we get around to that. After that though, the mechanic is pretty sure we are good for another 100k+ so that is something (car is currently over 330k).

Its actually remarkable how quiet the car is now...

Ugg...

January 19th, 2009 at 03:49 pm

Oh this weekend we spent money. Nothing like the past but we still should have spent nothing instead of what we did.

Bought some used video games for me, some study books for DH and a few more project odds and ends for the house.

We didn't really accomplish much, though DH did make a wooden container for the compost pile.

He has the next two days off so he is getting the car fixed and waiting for the mortar guy today. Hopefully tomorrow he will either work on the house or collect stuff from the apartment. Both are long overdue at this point.

We are still accumulating debt at this point. February will be the last of the double bills and March will be in the all clear but I am more than a little nervous about DH's job hunting. The sooner he finds a new one the better so I can begin to set up a new budget and know what I am working with. We have decided not to hand over control of the finances to him right now because he has too many things on his plate as it is.

I am still keeping all the debt at 0% and trying to slow the drain on money but its difficult with everything up in the air.

So a focus on a few positives. I have gotten us back to eating healthy and taking meals to work. I have a feeling that this week we will see the full force of that because we won't eat supper out (we have food prepared and things to eat).

This is the first time that I have successfully got us to include salads in our meals on a regular basis (we love them but they do take effort). We are back to making our artisan bread on a regular basis and we are back to making the majority of items from scratch. The only thing that concerns me is that we may have to increase the grocery budget because we seem to be spending $100 on each grocery run (1x per week). Course that may just be because we let things get too depleted.

Oh I have also learned how to make chicken broth from scratch which is much simpler than I thought so I can use that as a base for my veggie soup mix which is actually filling. I normally don't eat soup because I want to eat again soon after but this stuff, a mere 2 cups and I can forget about food for 7 hours.

Now that I have the food portion under control, I might start having budget control again. General rule with me is I can only change one bad habit at a time.

Since out to eat food is a large portion of our budget, getting that under control will help our finances immensely. Then I can work on the rest.

Update on Life

January 16th, 2009 at 05:44 pm

Hubby has begun applying to jobs and headhunter organizations. He is also studying for the first actuary test to expand his options. He says that doing this has helped make the nightmares go away so that is a step in the right direction. To help him be more comfortable with any pay cuts, I have pointed out that even full time with a temp agency would be more than enough to keep us on track at our current budgeting levels.

This year we will be getting back the majority of the first time buyer's credit. A very good thing for us because we will use that to replenish the ef and pay off the credit cards.

This weekend I want us to start cleaning the old apartment so that sometime in February we can do the inspection and give back the keys.

Because of all the stress, I am currently fighting the urge to go shopping for used video games. Not sure I will win that one but will try and keep the cost down if I do go. I have two games to finish so I will try to wait until then to buy any new ones. This technique has actually worked for most of the past year (had a lot of unfinished games) but I am literally down to only 2 now so we shall see.

We have been majorly over budget for the past 3 months thanks to the upheaval of a new house so February will be all about getting back on track. The only 2 projects that are a huge priority is the kitchen vent (bought already, just need to get it installed properly) and new windows before next winter(current ones are badly damaged and unable to fully close, don't ask to see my heating bill...) Thanks to the weather here, heating is really only an issue for another month and then next winter. So we will see what we can save up for and do.

I am really looking forward to seeing the debt disappear. While it was best to get the house now, that last 10k just needs to go.

Wondering if I will end up with a house husband

January 13th, 2009 at 09:52 pm

My husband is reaching that point with his job where he has frequent nightmares about it, not exactly a healthy position to be in. Would love for him to hold out to June (decent EF and no credit cards at that point) but we will see what happens.

When I was at that point, I didn't last very long and was lucky that I had another position mostly lined up. I ended up being unemployed for only two weeks. But somehow I think he might have a longer hunt. He seriously job hunted for a little bit and that never panned out.

Fortunately, we can get by on just my income. If he holds out till June, I am all for him quitting outright and taking his time so he can recover from the burn out. My big issue is that I want the debt gone and the ef replenished in case something goes wrong.

He could probably get another job in his current field because he has contacts but I am betting he is just burned out on the field. Poor man, this really has gone on too long. I just wish it wasn't the most absolute worst time to be job hunting because its not going to help his ego to be turned down alot.

I told him that if he becomes a house husband, I want 3 course meals. The rest I couldn't care less about but that is what it is going to take to keep me from eating out. :P

Trying to eat at home and other goals.

January 12th, 2009 at 06:15 pm

Buying the house really messed up our cooking schedule. So we are currently trying to get back in the habit. I seem to have mostly cured myself of eating out at work but supper still needs some work. Good news is that more salad and homemade artisan bread has been making it into the rotation (I really only like artisan bread and that is because its crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside). Smile

We have a new porch light to put up to replace the one they left us that has a nice large burned out hole in it (too high of a wattage bulb is not a good thing). It hangs down instead of standing up which is good because the current one nearly touches the roof (aka, doesn't really fit in that spot).

We still need to clean the old apartment and I think that may be a project for the upcoming weekend. Fortunately this weekend I did manage to sort our clothes. 1 bag to throw away, 1 bag to goodwill. Yikes that is alot. Other than the cords sitting next to the TV (still haven't hooked the Wii up), the new house is mostly cleaned up and organized. Finally.

I dragged my DH out this weekend for a beginning run (think mostly walking with some running) and figure we will do that 2x per week to avoid giving myself stress fractures (again). I am also going to push for us to do weight training 2x per week as well. The lack of exercise for the past 2 1/2 months is killing me (no walking a 1/2 hour per day every day doesn't count) and may be contributing to my wanting to eat out all the time (both act as stress relievers). Since neither of these activities require new equipment (well, we did by non-summer workout clothes but that is multi-use and needed), we can just do it and not have to worry about the money for it.

The items that were required were shoes for him (since he hadn't bought any in the past year) and some workout clothes that weren't shorts and tank tops, lol. I was able to get my stuff at Ross but we had to pay a little more for his since Ross didn't have anything in his size (a normal problem, small is a very popular size for the guys).

Its a good thing I restart my budget every month because January was again over budget. Not, surprisingly, for out to eat food or groceries though, just house stuff and clothes. That has got to be a first for me, food under budget and household stuff over budget.

Woohoo, found a range hood for a decent price

January 9th, 2009 at 04:48 pm

The original one I wanted was $1400 (6 sones) but I finally found one that is only 11 sones and $470. Previously, everything I found in that price range was 30 sones which is the equivalent of a helicopter in your house.

We have the guy who does tuck pointing coming over the 19th (I think, still waiting to hear when) to do the estimate so at least that is under way. He does historical matching so this way our bricks won't be damaged by new mortar.

Now we just need to find someone to do roof vents. I was told by the home inspector that we should be able to get that done for about $400 so we will probably get that done soon so we can install bathroom ventilation using one of the vents.

This weekends accomplishments need to include the sorting of clothing (get rid of old stuff and organize current stuff), the painting of trim in the library and finishing hooking up my wii and organizing the cords on my home entertainment set up. If I manage to accomplish that, I will be very happy.

I would also like to start planning out our front garden because March 23 begins our planting season here and that front yard is a bit rough at the moment. Wayside Gardens has me drooling :P Such beautiful drought resistant plants.

I envy you...

January 8th, 2009 at 03:59 pm

You can eat in every day, eating the same thing over again without any problems.

I, despite being a size 4, have no will power when it comes to food. If I want to eat out, I will. If I try to ignore a craving it will last for two weeks until I give in. I eat very healthy things and very unhealthy things. I never can eat anything more than a couple times and if I manage to force myself to choke it down more, I won't eat it for another couple months or years.

If I was obese, people would tell me to join overeaters anonymous. Because I am thin, they just comment on the amount and frequency of my eating as an eccentricity.

We can make greek foods, morrocan foods, french and italian foods. We make homemade artisan bread and do many foods from scratch. Still I love to eat out. What the heck is wrong with me? What is it about junk food or simply food made by someone else that makes it so attractive.

There has got to be a way to control my obsession with food. Maybe I need more calories in the homemade stuff so I don't crave the junk?

Almost spent money but decided against it.

January 7th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

This is why I try to remember to always take my time before spending money. I want an elliptical and a treadmill.

Up until househunting (November), I regularly went to a gym 3 times per week. In the winter, the main draw was the elliptical since I have weights at home. Found both on sale today. Wanted to get them. I could even have done them with no cost financing BUT I would be spending $3500. Talked to DH, we decided we were going to do it tonight and then I started making a list of all the housing projects that we need to accomplish.

Yeah that cured me of wanting to spend that money. I am just going to have to teach myself how to run outside (already walk a lot aka 30 minutes a day at about 4mph outside, if I want to improve fitness, I need a lot more than that) which means I will have to accept looking like an idiot in public (main draw of not doing a gym and doing it at home instead, I hate exercising in front of other people).

Which also means I am going to need some winter gear. I think Ross has some of that for cheap though and I already got the shoes so that I won't hurt my feet (again, last time I learned to run, I overdid it and gave myself stress fractures. They have finally fully healed.)

A girl with Roseacea going outside to exercise in the winter ( and in the dark, maybe I should just give up on fitness till springtime). Gah. I hate not exercising. Maybe yoga and weight lifting until it warms up? Have I mentioned that I hate winter. So glad it doesn't stay bad out here all the time or I would go nuts.

*Sigh* I am so looking forward to the last of the debt being gone and my saving being replenished but for the next 2-3 years, we are not going to have any difficulty spending it as fast as we can save it.

That's okay, maybe next fall I will fit in the exercise equipment so that I don't have to worry about losing fitness over the winter time. Hopefully. It would be bad if I still couldn't justify it next fall. Maybe I will make hubby promise to make me buy it next fall no matter what. He hasn't even had a gym membership over the winter like I have and spring is rough for getting back in shape.

Ah well, financially and house wise we will be in better shape this fall (sort of, there are going to be projects to do for awhile).

More Photos

January 7th, 2009 at 03:00 pm

Okay, so some of our photos from when we were looking to buy this place didn't turn out. Big windows full of light mean everything else looks dark in the photos. So the first photo is from after painting with the curtains in. Since the curtains are shut, it gives you a good idea how long our windows are. For height, this particular one is only 40 or so inches, the one on the other side of this room is 67 inches tall. Oh, this photo only includes maybe a quarter of the room.



Second shot is better at showing the true color. Believe it or not, we are glad we did such a dark color. Without it, the room would not ever be referred to as cozy (too large and too bright).



Third photo is of us tearing out the self adhesive lineoleum tiles. That took hours upon hours. Goo be gone did a fantastic job of getting the goo up afterwards though.



Fourth is of the yard. One of the fruit trees is in the photo. This is about half the yard.



This is another architechural detail I love. The linen closet behind is very handy as well. And yes, all the walls were very dirty before we moved in.



Last but not least. See the pretty hardwood floor. See the ugly blue paint splashed on the self adhesive tile. *Sigh* This is a typical example of the type of things we had to fix (and are still fixing).



Enjoy!

Gamecock, here's one, the rest are at home

January 6th, 2009 at 03:09 pm

In penance for selfishly forgetting to put pictures up, here is a photo of the outside. It was raining freezing rain at the time but it will give you an idea of the outside. The rest of the photos are at home but I should be able to upload those tonight.



Ah, no itemizing for us.

January 5th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

We will not pay enough mortgage interest to itemize, not even in the first year of paying our mortgage. Ah well, I guess I will just have DH send the IRS another $20 per paycheck to insure we don't have to pay interest on our taxes. We could do more but I am more than happy to take advantage of the free loan and just pay them at the end of the year.

I would love to be upset about this but on the other hand I am not paying money to save money so that is a good thing.

As of 2013 we will have 80% equity which is kind of neat since we only put 3.5% down and we had a fee wrapped in (mortgage insurance premium, which was weird because we didn't ask them to wrap it in). We pay an additional $27 per month until 2013 as a result. So final cost of mortgage insurance including the initial premium will be $2696.

I have to say, I consider it worth it. I love my house and am soo happy to be out of the apartment. But then, I am a natural spender so I would say that. :P

Finally past the tight point

January 5th, 2009 at 06:27 pm

January 15 is the tight point and all the finances are set up for it. That's what I get for buying a car with cash and using the credit card I pay in full for every home improvement shopping trip in the month of December. The good news is that starting February 6th I can start paying off all of those 0% interest debts I have accumulated for the house.

CC#1 676 (couch) can be paid off in February

CC#2 4061 (old debt) can be paid off in March plus in March we will buy the ventilation for the kitchen and bath and pay for DH's class that he wants.

CC#3 2900 (appliances) can be paid off in May

CC#4 2434 (old debt) can be paid off in June (final card)

And January 2010 we can afford to either remodel our bathroom or replace our windows. (Probably will replace windows since that will help with the heat bill).

On a more personal note, the 2 long weekends have helped me recover from my stress freak out and I feel ready to face my life again.

As to my budget, because of the car making temptation more easily accessible, I will probably have to wait a couple of months to see what the eating out budget becomes. My goal is to get us eating all meals during the week at home and to eat out once per weekend day. We will see how that goes.