Home > Archive: March, 2009

Archive for March, 2009

Refinance Already!?!

March 31st, 2009 at 04:35 pm

We received a letter in the mail from a mortgage corporation trying to get us to refinance. They not only knew when we got the loan (Nov 2008) but how little we paid as a down payment (3.5% due to it being FHA) versus our home's appraisal value.

And they still wanted us to refinance with them with no closing costs for a 0.25 reduction in interest. Say what? Is it just me or is that weird? I mean what are they thinking? I realize our area isn't losing home value but still. Don't they want people to have 20% equity? I just thought that was very bizarre.

Given that we have escrow I would never consider getting a loan with a mortgage corporation, too much risk that the selling of the loan would cause issues. I picked a stable bank for my loan and plan to leave it there till paid in full(15 years).


Lazy and Fairly Cheap Weekend

March 30th, 2009 at 02:55 pm

Spent most of the weekend playing video games and watching movies which we haven't done in a long while. Started the cash diet for food and it mostly went well. We had a processed food run (normal grocery store instead of our usual place which really only sells vegetables and fruits, not processed junk) so that made the groceries more expensive than normal, a whole $82. I put that on the debit card since I hadn't pulled out enough money for a stock up run.

I did pull $100 cash so that DH and I have lunch money and it will probably last through most of next weekend. We only spent $4 on Friday for supper and $18 for breakfast on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if the cash will make us more or less spendy. For the moment, simply knowing we pulled cash in an attempt to keep expenses down is in effect keep expenses down. The week should be the most telling.

If we keep being this cheap in the long run, we will definitely be in a good place.

Considering putting the food budget on a cash diet

March 24th, 2009 at 08:14 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.

DH starts job on Friday!

March 19th, 2009 at 05:40 pm

Finally one of the companies released its hiring freeze so he gets to start one of the jobs.

I have already moved the budget from survival to debt payoff mode. Looks like March 2010 will be when we are debt free with a small EF built up. Now I just have to keep us on track.

I know better (or I should by now)

March 18th, 2009 at 08:52 pm

*Warning, rant against myself ahead*

I am a spender and the financial head of my household. Doesn't that sound like a very bad idea to you? Isn't that rather like the fox guarding the hen house? I suppose its good for me to learn self control but what about the times that doesn't happen because my self control takes a vacation? You know like right after we bought our house?

I should have taken more time to remodel the house (buying the house was fine, fixing it all up within a 4 month span, not so much). I can see that I should have taken my time. Sure, I haven't put us into an impossible situation (or even a difficult one, but that is besides the point), I never do which explains why I never learn my lesson. I can always get us out almost as quickly as I get us in.

My husband is unwilling to say no to me because he worships and adores me (and a small part of him also likes not having to wait). So I need to learn self control. I am the only one willing to say no to myself and even I cave sometimes. And when I cave, boy do I cave. And even if my husband was willing to say no to me, I am extremely persuasive. By the time I am done talking, I can have most people convinced of most anything.

The reason I am a little (or a lot) frustrated with myself is even though all the debt we are accumulating can be paid off in less than a year once DH is fully employed, I still shouldn't have let it accumulate. I should have saved up the money and spent it as I acquired it. For one its less work and two its less stressful.

I caught myself while spending this money looking to my DH to see what he would say but what did I expect from him but to smile and nod. The second I looked for someone to judge my actions, I should have known to pull back. The second I started making excuses, I should have known what I was doing wasn't compatible with my goals. I don't often regret my expenditures but this time, I really do. There was no reason these things couldn't wait. Absolutely none no matter what I say in their defense. No amount of discounts should have led me to spend money that wasn't in hand.

I did well for the first part but the more I spent, the less I paid attention to whether something had to be done at this moment or not. Sure I am not paying interest on the money I borrowed and I probably won't have to with careful planning but that really isn't the point, is it?

I am supposed to be building cash reserves, not spending money. Its almost as if by acknowledging that the main focus of the next 5 years was to work on the house, I decided it all had to be finished as soon as possible.

What the heck was I thinking? I can even look back and see what I did right and where I started to slip. I really think my perfectionism just reared its head and said it was totally unacceptable not to finish up the basics immediately and then my self indulgence kicked in and said, while you are spending all that money, would you pick something up for me as well?

Gah, and now I have to wait to fix stuff until DH is employed. I hate waiting (and yes I respect the irony of how that cuts both ways). Well at least I can minimize the drain in the meantime. But really? Where the heck did my brain go?


March 16th, 2009 at 04:18 pm

So my husband has been "hired" for three different jobs but none of them have a firm start dates yet. Ahh the joys.

So while he is waiting for something to happen, he is working on the kitchen. We removed the tile backsplash this weekend so he needs to sand everywhere, patch, prime and paint. I figure it will take him all week though he seems to think he can get all of the first run of sanding done today. I think we still have another month before the cabinet refacing so we have the time to get everything done.

I have updated our ticker to reflect the cost of everything. From now on it should only go up though it will be a couple of months before there is any dramatic changes (need husband to be fully employed before we can make any huge dents).

I still remember my father telling me that as long as you don't have more debt than your yearly income, you are doing well. (And you wondered where I learned to pay for things on credit instead of with savings...) I am glad to say we are no where near that level even with my husband being unemployed. The best part is that once he is employed, it will only take a year to clean up the mess and be done with it. I am really looking forward to building our savings back up again.

Oh and for those keeping track, we have spent about $25k on the house repairs and furnishings in four months. $13k of that is for the cabinet refinishing and brand new casement windows so still up and coming expenses.

What I do right, and what I most definitely do wrong

March 13th, 2009 at 08:21 pm

The right list is short but explains why I have never been in a bad financial situation since I have been living on my own or married.

I keep monthly expenses as low as possible. Our needed items including some not so needed internet, cell phone, satellite TV and netflix is still less than 30% of our net income. I would rather pay a lump sum than pay a monthly bill and I refuse to let monthly expenses get high. I am always looking at ways of cutting these down.

I don't believe in car payments. For the longest time we didn't own a car because gas and insurance cost money and, when we finally did buy a car, we bought it cheap and paid in full.

I have savings deducted automatically and gradually increase it as time goes by. As a result, I never notice the lack of this money.

I am not a hoarder. As a result, we only are allowed to buy things that don't take up a lot of space and are extremely useful. This makes shopping for random stuff a very unlikely thing because I don't want to have to throw things out later.

Now the list of what I do wrong.

Patience is a virtue I do not possess. If I want it, I want it now. Learning to save up is a challenge, especially if I know that something I want will only be available for a limited time at a good price. Case in point was my ps3. I got the model that was backward compatible when it went on sale and was being phased out. I don't like clutter so I wanted only one console instead of two to play the playstation games. I managed to pay cash but I definitely hadn't saved up for it or any other toy that I like.

I have always had cheap credit available to me. I have never paid more than 7% interest in my life and not even that for very long. I always have 0% interest available to me which makes saving up harder because I am already backwards in the way I pay for things.

Which leads to, I don't save enough outside retirement accounts. While retirement accounts have been a part of my life for a long time, learning to save for short term and semi-long terms needs is not something I was really exposed to until I came to this site. At that point, I was still paying off debt and was only focused on that. A year and a half later, I am still working on this. *Sigh*

I am going to get this right eventually won't I?

New job interview

March 13th, 2009 at 02:41 pm

DH has a new job interview today and if they hire him, they will probably need him to start next week. This would be great because that was when he was supposed to be starting his new job anyway. Same type of position, same time length just a different company.

So maybe this won't turn into a set back after all.

Change in Start Date

March 11th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Hmmm...was rather afraid this might happen. DH's job has delayed his start date by an entire month. Nothing like getting your potential hires to stop looking for another job and then put them on hold. The excuse is a lack of people to train because they are too busy.

So the resume's are going back out and a couple of temp agencies are looking for work for him. Gambling on this company a second time would be a fool's choice in this economy.

Poor DH feels guilty because he stopped accepting interviews (he had 4 additional offers) when he accepted this job and then they wait till the week before he starts to let him know they have delayed by a month. Doesn't bode well for the type of work environment, maybe he should take this as a warning and run for the hills.

Ah well so I have adjusted the cashflow (lowered debt payoff) so that it doesn't stop us in our tracks. Unfortunately, that is another month of income lost at minimum. Not the most ideal time but c'est la vie, when does life ever happen at the ideal time.

My only concern is that if my job gets cut at the same time he is still looking. As long as one of us is employed, we are safe but none is not going to cut it. At least everyone seems to think I am indispensable at work. Not that that matters if the company goes under but barring that I should be good.

May 2010, goals, debt

March 10th, 2009 at 04:41 pm

May 2010 is a realistic date for being credit card debt free. As of April, we will have racked back up to 20k (paying no interest but still). *Sigh*

I am glad we have the house, but all the repairs will have set us back a whole year. It doesn't help that everyone is running deals right now in order to get business or that I have no patience.

The only remaining projects in the house are the roof and the furnace. Everything else (and I do mean everything that isn't a gut and rebuild) has been dealt with now. The roof and the furnace both should last at least 4 more years but I will be keeping an eye on them.

I want to get to the point where we are saving up the money and then spending it instead of doing the 0% deals but I suppose I will at least celebrate the victory of not having paid interest on debt in the past year or even in the future year.

At least I don't spend as frivolously as in the past.

That said, here are my goals. I want to get credit card debt free, I want to be maxing out our retirement accounts (at least this has been improving over time), I want to save at least 10% in our emergency fund/long term savings and I want to save 10% for our short term savings (vacations, things or projects that come up, etc).

I think I have a much better chance of reaching these goals from this point forward because I finally have a handle on the splurge money and the house repairs (both of which kept us running over, though to be fair, the house was the biggest issue). That May 2010 date will be reached with full employment and full splurge and house repair levels so it seems highly likely though not guaranteed.

For the EF, I am thinking a year of expenses keeping in mind the potential for needing to fix things should be good but I will have to mull that over. That would be ~41k. So probably 2 years to build that but probably 4 instead so that we can max the retirement at the same time. Definitely something I will be replanning when the debt is gone.

Meeting with a cabinet refacing person today

March 9th, 2009 at 08:07 pm

Home Depot was offering free quotes and it was definitely something we were considering in the long run (definitely not now) so tonight we are having someone over to look at our stuff, design the change (I already know what I want so that is not so much an issue) and give us a quote.

I figure the more solid numbers I have, the easier it is to budget and decide between projects. This will be the only thing left in the kitchen not done.

Speaking of which, I need to pull out some soap and towels and scrub the heck out of the veneer we do have on our cabinets. The black stains from use over the years are not very attractive.

This weekend was totally nonproductive and it was glorious. We even tried a nice unpretentious french restaurant during its tapas style menu time and enjoyed trying a variety of items.

New Kitchen Floor Pictures

March 6th, 2009 at 08:06 pm

So as promised here are photos.

This one is a close up and does a pretty good job of conveying the color.

This one is just a larger swath.

We need to grab 2 more pieces to finish up and then we can move on to repairing the wall where the trim was located, removing the tile backsplash and begin the all encompassing job of getting the walls ready for painting. Ick. Once the walls are painted, we will put the new almond colored trim around the base of the wall.

This kitchen is interesting. At first I only noticed the lime green countertop. Then, once we replaced that, I noticed the pink flooring. Replaced that and now I am noticing the walls, the 1950's yellowed ornate plastic chime for the doorbell and the vent for the furnace about 2/3 of the way up the wall...

The walls I am already prepared for but the doorbell chime and register may need to get upgraded as well. Fortunately they are cheap. Most of the vents in the house have already been converted to a stained wood register so this is just one more. Reason we choose wood registers is because they look more appropriate in a house with original wood floor registers.

Ahh the joys of never ending projects. Believe it or not, we are enjoying the process. :P

Hunger that just won't stop.

March 5th, 2009 at 02:58 pm

My appetite likes to do extremes. No appetite means I will lose 10 lbs in a week (happens about 1 per year), regular appetite means I am eating about a 2500 calorie diet and turbo appetite means that I just keep eating and you don't want to know the calorie count.

Right now, I am in turbo mode. 5'4", 145lbs, size 4 just yesterday ate half of a half of a subway sub, 3 cups of coffee, big container of black bean lasagna, a BK tendercrisp with a medium fry, fruit snack pack, a bowl of Crispix, couple bites of an unappetizing apple, and a cup of tea (which was the only item with no calories besides all the water I drank).

Today is promising more of the same...I nearly dragged my husband out to eat this morning but managed to convince my food obsessed mind that the homemade slice of quiche would be better. I can already tell, a mere 20 minutes later, that its not going to enough.

I am hoping that this is just an overreaction by my body to the running on Tuesday. My body does have a tendency to freak at any large changes in activity and we took a week off from the running while we were busy working on the house.

I honestly think my appetite is my greatest enemy when it comes to saving money. I wouldn't eat out if I didn't have so many specific cravings. Blah.

Pictures of the floor tear out

March 3rd, 2009 at 05:34 pm

Since I know how much you guys love pictures. Here we go.

This is layer one. Its a cream color with pink "grout" lines. The gray you see is the bottom side tearing off because it had been glued down.

This layer was meant to match the lime green countertop and looks very much like the tiles on the walls.

We have two layers of pressed cardboard associated with layers 2 and 3. So the total addition in height was about 3 inches.

Really don't even know what to say for this layer...

This layer is attached to the subfloor and is extremely smooth. We think we might leave it and just put the new layer over it since this gets us back down to an even floor and the actual layer is extremely thin and glued on.

This is DH's project while waiting for the new job to start. I look forward to seeing the new floor being put down.

Finally making progress on the house repairs.

March 2nd, 2009 at 08:29 pm

This weekend I will have to post pictures for those who like to see the before and after shots. So for what we accomplished this week.

We have had our mortar repaired, the old (non working) kitchen vent removed, a new kitchen vent installed, a bathroom vent installed, an intake vent for the gas appliances installed and 2 gable vents installed in the roof.

We even managed to plaster, sand, primer and paint our bedroom as well as removed the old trim and added some new floor trim.

About half of the kitchen floor is ripped up and we need to finish that but all things in good time.

We did have a window guy in to quote new windows (since ours leak like sieves and are broken in multiple ways) and his quote was only $6500 for 8 of our windows (including the monster living room window). This would replace all but the bathroom window with casement windows and we want to eventually put a glass block window in the bathroom for privacy issues.

Normally I would just wait to get the windows but this guy is in high demand and will be booked through the rest of the year by mid year. So, one step back on the credit card debt since I will do a 0% 12 month offer so I have the cash for the windows (already included in the totals) but as far as I know, this is the last big job required for the house. (Notice my qualification there, lol).

It will also make a substantial difference in our heating bill and make us eligible for the $1500 energy efficient window refundable credit that is available this year.

*Sigh* I suppose its a good sign that I don't like racking the cards back up (even at 0%apr). What I find really interesting is that everyone else makes more excuses for me spending all this money on my house than I do. As far as I am concerned, spending is spending.

I was amused when the window company owner told me he would buy my house for 145k on the spot. I really only see my house as a home not an investment, though I am pleased that we paid only 137k for it.