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Preparing for a Potential Setback

March 20th, 2014 at 06:51 am

My younger brother may end up needing some financial help due to job loss and poor choices. I will be meeting up with him to discuss where he is and what his options are. As a result, I am taking a pretty thorough look at my finances to determine how much I can help if I decide to go that route.

I don't want to make it too easy on him but I am also not going to let him sink. It will probably be a combination of financial assistance and forcing him to make some hard financial choices.

Its a good thing that I had cut my expenses back because this could make cashflow over the next couple months difficult. We shall see.

Could have been a problem

April 15th, 2013 at 06:05 am

Our toilet in the basement appeared to be slowly draining (probably something small between the rubber gasket and the whole it covers) so I went down to check on it and see if I could jiggle something to prevent the pump from kicking on every half hour (ended up just shutting the water off to it until we have time to work on it). While down there noticed that the washer machine connection hoses (which are reinforced rubber) were bulging in multiple places. Not good. Had DH turn the water off to them and went online to order stainless steel braided hose replacements. We had already replaced these once about 3 1/2 years ago thanks to the previous hoses leaking where they hooked up to water supply after only 6 months but our high efficiency washer is tough on the water supply and sounds like a jackhammer when it kicks the water on and off so can't say I am surprised.

Now I am thinking I should make a point of checking the dishwasher line (suspect that one is already stainless steel braided but the gaskets in the ends can periodically fail). That one is about 4 years old. Just glad I noticed the hoses before we had one burst. Even with a drain in the basement, that could have been one very big mess.

End of October Update

October 27th, 2009 at 07:02 am

I have been writing a lot of blog posts then not publishing them lately. Lots going on just not really blog worthy or even easily explained.

So I guess this will just be a general update. We are finally going to buy our recumbent trikes for bike riding. We are doing it in the fall so that everything is ready for when the weather get nice again (in Denver, we have had days in January that have been nice enough for biking). We have been wanting them for two years now but buying a house came first and we finally have enough saved up to pay cash.

October was financially one of the best months we have had in awhile. Today I set up the payoff for a credit card for next month using this month's excesses. All in all, a very good month.

Prepaid Cell Phone Update

October 21st, 2009 at 07:25 am

Well, I still have about 267 minutes to use up on my current phone but I have ordered a Net10 phone. While the Tmobile was easy and cheap, the phone didn't actually work in the house so everytime I answered the phone I had to go outside. Far too obnoxious. Assuming I wasted my remaining minutes(which I won't), the cell phone was the equivalent of $25 per month.

Since DH's phone is the equivalent of $8.30 per month, that means we saved about $39 per month over having a plan. That was more than I thought I would save so prepaid is definitely the way to go for us.

I won't be switching him, he uses his phone so rarely that Tmobile is definitely the cheapest option (Net10 would be 16.60 per month for him). I on the other hand have chatty family and I am the go to person when someone wants to call us so the higher usage requirement for Net10 shouldn't actually impact my costs at all. I just hope this phone works in the house (should, sprint has excellent coverage in my area).

If it doesn't, that will mean only AT&T has coverage inside my house and at that point I would go back to Tmobile (AT&T's prepaid is too expensive for what it is).

Should I have waited?

October 9th, 2009 at 01:09 pm

My ethernet port was broken on my computer. The port is part of my motherboard which doesn't have any room for expansion (can't just add an ethernet card). I ended up deciding to upgrade the major components since I needed to replace them anyways (likely excuse).

I probably spent a week shopping for all the parts, decided to do an upgrade instead of a completely new computer simply to keep costs down. It cut the total cost in half. That said, I am building a monster.

I have the money but I do feel a little guilty. I was going to wait. Everyone else knew it wouldn't be for long but my goal was to wait as long as possible. Why is it that once I decide a plan of action, I almost immediately put it into place?

I used to be a big time procrastinator (stopped because it became too painful thanks to sleep deprivation and project pile ups) but nowadays, once I decide to do something, its already started.

I think part of my problem this time is that this is the first time I have done this type of project so I am excited to get working on it. Its built-in entertainment. If I had stuck with prebuilt computers, I probably could have waited months (or until I had wanted to play my pc games and they wouldn't run because I can't activate the reinstalled windows). Paying money for something isn't nearly as exciting as doing something.

*Sigh* Does anyone else tend to jump the gun on projects? I seem to always need to pace myself and I am not sure how other than don't do it if I don't have the cash.

Fix it or Replace it, hmmm

October 6th, 2009 at 07:09 am

My computer is dying a slow painful death. At 5 years old, 5 moves, 1 of which was cross country and many dusty apartments, it is clear that something is seriously amiss (black screen). I am thinking graphics card. I suspect that my ethernet port is not far behind (though hard to test at the moment with no graphics). I am going to open up the case tonight and do an idiot check on the cords inside but I have been waiting for this machine to croak for awhile. Electronics don't like being tortured.

So a graphics card is only $100. Not bad, except it might not be the graphics card. Then I wasted $100. Or it might be the graphics card but something else might fail soon.

I could build a new one for $922. Or even cheaper if I open the computer up and decide the power supply and case can be reused. But I don't want to spend the money right now.

*Sigh* Probably will just make do with hubby's netbook for a couple months. Then build a new one.

Considering putting the food budget on a cash diet

March 24th, 2009 at 01:14 pm

I think DH is a little too willing to eat out when it goes on the credit card. Also I have noticed that he isn't good keeping track of spending on a credit card (which is why he is restricted to whipping out one that I can see the daily balance on).

So, I might just move our food budget into just cash. See how it works for a month. If we run out of cash, no more out to eat and set it up so that the allotments are per week. I am thinking of starting with $150 per week and shrinking that as we get better about the food expenses.

Also, I just need to start cooking. DH obviously doesn't want to cook even simple things at the moment or even think about what to eat so if I take over that, I suspect the eating out will drop drastically.

Big reason I want to do this is that with DH having a job downtown with lots of restaurants nearby, suddenly he doesn't care to pack breakfast or lunch, which forces us both to eat out. Since this is the only area I have gotten very good about behaving in (only eat out lunch or breakfast 1x per week), I don't appreciate the sabotage.

So tonight I will pack lunches and cook supper. After all, I am the picky eater so I should probably be the one cooking. Yuck. Good thing I can cook even if I despise cooking.

Pictures of my pugs

February 5th, 2009 at 07:13 am

Ok, as promised, here are some pictures of my pugs. The fawn is the newly adopted (previously mauled) pug and the black is our sweety that we have had for close to three years.





Aren't they just adorable? The black one follows the fawn one around everywhere and they are constantly playing in between naps.

Energy Efficiency (or lack thereof in my house)

January 21st, 2009 at 01:51 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 12:43 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

More Photos

January 7th, 2009 at 07:00 am

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 07:09 am

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 03:50 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

What a weekend

December 29th, 2008 at 08:14 am

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...

Pricing out Ventilation Hoods and 2009 Goals

December 10th, 2008 at 02:29 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.

10 Things I Regret

May 20th, 2008 at 02:36 pm

Okay, I will take a stab. I have tried to live my life having the goal of no regrets but I have made my share of mistakes.

1. I regret taking chemistry my first semester of college. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have lost my scholarship and that would have saved me 20k in student loans.

2. I regret not discussing money issues with husband before marrying. If I had, I would have discovered that my husband didn't really know anything about personal finances and we could have saved ourselves at least 10k of credit card debt, if not more.

3. I regret that we expanded to fill our income and then some when we moved out here. Its as if I forgot everything I already knew about money simply because I suddenly had more of it.

4. I regret that I didn't restart my retirement savings until last year. Poor financial decisions on my part resulted in my retirement savings starting over at age 26 when originally I had started at age 23.

5. I regret that I have a spender mentality. I am not sure why I have a spender mentality but its definitely been something I have had to work around.

6. I regret not trying to talk my friend out of buying a car at a dealership on her own. I have paid dearly (enough to buy a decent car outright) for her mistake because I wasn't actually willing to let her lose her apartment and wreck her credit further. While she still probably would have bought a car, I might have convinced her to pay attention to the total cost instead of focusing solely on the monthly payment.

7. I regret that I didn't realize immediately that my husband was incapable of telling me no. Simply being aware of this fact would have made me examine his side of the finances more closely. Now I know to interrogate my husband if I want to do something beyond what is budgeted.

8. I regret never having a written down budget until this past year. I always tried to keep monthly bills low but never had an overall plan.

9. In relation to number 8, I regret never having saved up for my really big ticket items. Its only been in the past year that I have actually saved in advance instead of taking a couple of months to pay off the financing. While I never paid a lot in interest, it was still a very bad habit to get into and lead to higher debt in the long run.

10. I regret that I let my obsession with food consume so much of our disposable income. I don't even want to consider how much money we have spent on food over the past 7 years together. I will never stop being obsessed with food but I can restrict it to a reasonable portion of our income.

I just don't get it.

April 23rd, 2008 at 07:16 am

I acquired my debt for one item at a time. I always knew the full amount I was paying for that item and made the choice that it was worth it.

What I don't understand even 6 months later was how my friend who bought a car justified to herself accumulating a 10k (actually 14k once interest is added in) car loan when 3 months earlier she made that kind of money in a year...

Yes she had a new job at that time that paid better and was up to 30k per year (she lost the job within 3 months) but she had just moved cross country, no ef but she was comfortable buying this car.

Do people really only see the monthly payments? She told herself she could afford $200 per month without calculating the cost of gas and insurance. She realizes she went overboard now but I still don't see how you could just go and buy a car (she only spent a few hours shopping before she closed on it)without thinking about the fact that she could have bought one for 1/3 of the price.

Maybe I don't get it because I don't feel the need to own a car? I mean this loan has a strong chance of outliving her car.

I just don't get it.

By and by, so far she has managed to make ends meet doing temp work so she is doing okay. I need to help build a new budget and actually figure how much she needs to save for her goals which I will probably help her with this weekend. (Hence the reason I was thinking about it.)

Say hello to Cylenchar

April 18th, 2008 at 03:03 pm

My dear husband has joined the forum instead of just lurking and is going by the name of Cylenchar now.

I have to laugh because one of the things we have in common is dragging the same user name around to various forums.

So don't be surprised if our stories sound remarkably similar, we have been together for 7 years now, lol.

Well that might make a difference...

April 16th, 2008 at 01:01 pm

Hmmm..no wonder we have been able to be over budget without needing extra money. A quick glance at my dh's salary resulted in my realizing I had his salary too low. We went from being in the red theoretically to being in the black by $400 per month. Minor detail...



Going to be overbudget this month...

April 15th, 2008 at 11:47 am

No this won't require me to take on more debt or slow down payment. It just means that next month I need to be on the skimpy side with the budget.

So the rest of this month and next month we will eat out of our pantry (we need to do this anyway).

No more toys in May (given what we have gotten, that shouldn't be a problem, lol).

Reduce the amount of eating out over the next two and a half weeks.

No more bad luck (losing bus pass, forgetting lunch at home on the counter, etc). Yeah I know, I can't completely control this one but I will do a lot better if I don't have anything else go wrong this month.

Frankly, I am not in a bad place, I just spent a little more than I should have (husband is not guilty, he only spent his allowance). Given my past splurges, this one was relatively teeny so I am headed in the right direction.

What's with the blogs linking to finance blogs?

April 9th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

I have to admit, I think its a little weird seeing financial blogs on Saving Advice. I understand that a lot of people come here seeking advice but the majority of people want to learn how to fix things themselves, aka they are DIYers. They don't want to read a blog that sounds like a sales pitch.

As to linking to other sites, why? Why not just maintain that other site? I guess the saturation must be bringing in more business but the natural skeptic in me harummphs every time I see a new one pop up.

I visit plenty of personal finance blogs outside of saving advice but they are the ones just like the ones here, personal attempts to take control of one's own finances.

I am not suggesting they need to be banned or anything, I just don't see the point. Aren't they sort of preaching to the choir here?

Same ol' same ol'

April 9th, 2008 at 09:42 am

Nothing too much happening so far this month. I did get a Nintendo DS to occupy me on my bus rides home from work so my allowance for the month has been spent but I am happy with the purchase.

I had been debating one for about 4 months but I kept remembering my old fashioned green screen gameboy from way back when and how I couldn't stand that bad of a screen anymore with my eyesight. Walmart of course had one demonstrating and I realized that handhelds have come a very long way since my gameboy. My husband is so impressed with it that he is considering getting one of his own. Big Grin

Our anniversay is coming up at the end of this month/beginning of next month and I got my husband a kumquat tree and lemon tree. He is excited and this weekend we should go get large pots to stick them in when they arrive. He hasn't told me my gift yet because he likes to surprise (and I suspect he doesn't yet know himself).

Normally we aren't big special occasion celebraters but this will be the first time we could take time off for it so we are excited about a 4 day weekend.

We even have money set aside for the weekend since our savings is currently used for vacations, clothing and house downpayment. So no budget blowing.