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Popping In With An Update

February 20th, 2016 at 11:50 am

One of these days I'll be back more regularly.
I have certainly missed you all and want to catch up on everyone's blogs.

The kids and I are doing well. Naturally emotional ups and downs. Financially I have been in a very solid and comfortable position. I'm beyond thankful for that since dealing with everything would be 100 times more difficult if I couldn't make ends meet.

Certainly the children and I would have been better off if there had been some life insurance, but that was not in place. Giving us a financial foothold is the children's monthly death benefits from Social Security.

No benefits for me because I make too much. However, if I ever made less due to reduced hours or job loss I would be able to receive money then.

In other financial news I decided to refinance my house. Refinancing to a conventional loan saves me $114/mo in PMI (FHA loan). I also consolidated the HELOC and my cc debt which saves me several hundred a month in minimum payments.

I was initially resisting the idea of paying off my cc's with my house. But, reducing my amount of outflow every month was the deciding factor.
My new mortgage payment will be $280 more per month than it is currently. I have been paying $315/mo just for the HELOC payment and several hundred more to credit card payoff.

The amount that we receive from SS each month is enough to cover the mortgage and utilities.

My future is a huge question mark.
Who knows how long I'll be living in my current home.
Being able to save a large amount of cash to an EF seems to be the best plan for me right now.

As part of the refi I had to have an appraisal. Housing is ON FIRE here.. It's crazy.
Anyhow, house appraised for $455k!
We purchased it for $265k seven years ago.
It boggles my mind.

Next up working on my taxes...

Y'all take care. I'm looking forward to catching up more soon.

Updates - Painting Rant. Binge Watching TV.

March 8th, 2015 at 09:18 am

Work, home projects and binge watching the past seasons of Downton Abbey and Mad Men have kept me from posting recently.

Work:
On the work front things are going well. It's been pretty busy most days. I've been going through the database deleting old product codes and changing prices.
I told my boss that I'm increasing prices so he can afford to give me a raise. Smile

Home:
I finished painting the pine bookcase for DS's room a few weekends ago. I bought a "tester" quart of blue paint (matching the bunkbed color) for $5 for the outside and used leftover yellow to paint the inside of it. It's colorful. I am pleased with how it turned out. It is great having appropriate storage for the books!

However, it's not all sunshine and puppy kisses here.
I am beyond frustrated with painting the interior doors! I think I am learning more about paint and technique then I ever cared to know.

They are smooth doors with a decorative molded panel. They look like this:



I am too much of a perfectionist to stand any brush marks.

A firm foam roller gave a nice finish to the doors. But I got some areas of "flashing" (That's where the sheen of the paint looks shiner on one roller pass vs. the one next to it).

A professional painting contractor lives around the corner. He recommended Sherwin-Williams paint and a high quality brush.
Tried that yesterday - terrible!
Talked to the Sherwin-Williams guy - we might need a "latex extender" because the paint is drying too fast it's not spreading out to cover the brush strokes.

I think the ideal way would be to use a paint sprayer. But, we don't have one and the cost to buy one is too high. The cheap ones don't have good reviews. We could rent one. It's an option.

Today I am going to try the SW paint with a 4" mohair roller based on some tips I read online.

*SO* frustrating because it is a relatively simple task I'd like to do myself, but we keep spending more money and time and not getting it right.
OK - End Rant.

Binge Watching:
I signed up for the Free 30 day trial of Prime in order to get the quilts for DS's room in two days.

Now I'm using the Prime to watch Downton Abbey seasons 1 thru 3. I started watching last year (season 4) so it has been a treat to binge on all the episodes I haven't seen.

Mad Men I've been DVRing on cable. They have been airing four episodes on Sunday mornings. During the week after everyone has gone to bed I'll watch two episodes one night and two on another. There have been a few nights I watched all four and didn't go to bed until 1:30am! Big Grin

Catching Up - Been Busy with Bedroom Makeover!!

February 12th, 2015 at 02:18 pm

The past few weeks have been so busy for me. Any time I had for the computer was spent updating Quicken, paying bills, shopping for said bedroom or checking email. I did stop in here at SA to read blogs, but I was too tired or pressed for time to post anything.

The project has been clearing out DS's bedroom.
It started with needing to get him a new bed.
He has been sleeping in his crib - converted to toddler daybed, and he is getting too big for that. So I spent a chunk of time shopping for bedroom furniture. After some debate we decided to go the bunk bed route to give us an extra bed for guests. (Visitors currently have the choice of couch or cot.)

I had been searching Craigslist every few days since before Christmas. Saw a few serviceable beds and a whole lot of beds I didn't want. Some beds I saw in stores were so flimsy I was afraid to climb up on them. And some beds I liked were nearly $1800!
Anyway, it was a process. I ended up buying a sturdy bed from a local chain store that cost more than a flimsy bed, but half the price of the Pottery Barn bed that it looks exactly like.
I asked for an early President's Day weekend discount. That saved me the sales tax.
And asked for a discount on the matching chest dresser, which they gave me $50 off. That made me happy I was pushy and asked for a discount.

BUT, before I could have this lovely new big-boy bunk bed delivered I wanted to clean up DS's room.
That morphed into painting a wall yellow (his choice), touching up paint on the other walls, FINALLY painting the room doors, FINALLY painting and installing baseboard and door trim.
I've been doing a lot of painting... darn yellow wall took three coats before it looked right!

But the mess and aching back have been worth it - I am so pleased that one room in my house is 100% trimmed out and clean! Big Grin

The baseboards especially are my favorite. DH's too. We are actually chomping at the bit to do the hallway which has un-painted, un-calked baseboard right now.

I have been using gift cards from the Southwest bonus to purchase the new bedding for the room. That has meant more of my time spent shopping online for just the right things. Smile

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.. the bunk bed is being assembled by the deliveryman right now as I type this!!

New Roof Just In Time For Rain

December 9th, 2014 at 07:20 am

Our new roof was completed the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And, as it happens, that was also the last stretch of really dry weather. It has been raining on and off since.
Some of the rain was really heavy (so great for us in parched Cali!) and our new roof is keeping us good and dry.

It has been such a HUGE relief to get this big project done, even though we will have more debt, it feels so good to not worry.

I did end up getting two spending bonus reward cards to charge the work to and rake in some quick rewards - I'll post details later.

I did have some concern about the sun tubes after the cautionary comments on my post. I discussed with DH, who had zero concern. Also having them covered in the warranty made me feel more comfortable, so we went ahead.

The tubes have made the hallway so much brighter and larger feeling. Before it was like a long, dark cave. Even with all the overcast days the hallway is brighter then if the light was on, so I am very pleased.




There is a really large storm coming in late Wednesday night and through Thursday. High winds and a predicted 3-5 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Another good "test" for the new roof.

Getting Our New Roof Soon!

November 2nd, 2014 at 02:18 pm

As many of you know our house has needed a new roof pretty much from the time we bought it. We have been limping our old, original-to-the-house roof along by patching spots and last year a tarp over the worst spot.

Well, DH collected estimates from six contractors last month ranging from $9700 to $16600. We chose to go with a company who has been in business in our town for 40 years. DH signed the contract and I selected the shingle color last week.


(I think it is a good mix of brown and grey.)

We also added two 10" round skylights to the job to brighten up our dim hallway.
The contract price is $13,320. *Deep Breath*

We have the HELOC to pay for the job.
DH asked if there was a cash discount and was told "No". Then he asked if there was an additional fee to use a cc and was told "No". So, I will first charge it to a credit card for the points then pay off with the HELOC.
The only thing is any card I use is *only* going to get me 1% ($133). Which beats $0 for sure. But, I am thinking we could easily meet the spending requirements for two or three bonus paying cards.
Maybe the Southwest card and a Sapphire card?
Too ambitious?
Going to have to do a bit of thinking....

Un-Fall Like Weather & The Garden

October 19th, 2014 at 11:37 am

Beautiful weather here. Some hot days in the last two weeks - many around 90F!
It was 78F yesterday and going to be about the same today. This weather makes it perfect to be outside doing just about anything.

Yesterday I pulled the old, dry cornstalks out of the garden. Then DH and DD arranged them in bunches out in front of the house for Halloween decoration.

For me that is the definition of Frugal! Big Grin

I also harvested a zucchini and several tomatoes. All the tomato plants are still producing and the sun is getting those green ones to ripen up nicely.




Here is some earlier garden pictures I had meant to share...

DS helping water.




Some of our bountiful cherry tomato harvest.




I'm thinking about planting a few things for a winter garden, but haven't decided on anything yet.

DH's Birthday. Signed the HELOC Docs. Warm Weather.

October 7th, 2014 at 06:10 pm

Yesterday was DH's 39th birthday. I was going to take him out to a nice dinner, but he decided he'd like to have something simple at home. (Maybe dinner out this weekend.)

The kids got him a cute card. I bought a Groupon for golf ($21) that he and DD can do together.

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We signed the HELOC documents at the title company this afternoon. It is supposed to close by the 14th. Meanwhile, we have several roofing estimates coming in.

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The weather here has been hot the last week. It has felt more like July than October. Our tomato plants are still growing and the green ones are turning red very quickly with all the sun. I have been meaning to post garden pics... maybe next time..
I'm off to watch the baseball playoff game.

Rain. HELOC News. Spending.

September 26th, 2014 at 09:46 pm

We had a little rain early Thursday morning and again this evening. The weather has been very mild for weeks and the rain didn't change that - still mild. Plus the rain makes everything smell so nice and fresh and we can certainly use the moisture.


Our loan officer from the CU left me a voicemail that she was completing the documents today. DH and I will sign early next week and the money will be available by next Friday.
DH has contacted several roofing contractors. Some have come to the house already, but we don't have any written estmates yet. We want to get moving on the roof ASAP.


Re: Spending.

DH's side work profits were used to get the truck's water pump replaced (finally), two new tires and a few other odds & ends replaced (wipers, filters, etc.)
$1451 in auto parts and repair

It is the start of a new 4H year.
Yearly membership dues and two pre-purchase tickets for the large fundraising dinner came to $71.

DD is in the Honor band at school this year. Band camp weekend for $135.

I bought a Groupon for the Pilates studio I used last year for $89/eight classes.

I went kayaking last weekend with a girlfriend. $55 for the all day, 11 mile trip down the river. It was beautiful and relaxing, but....

My back was so tight after kayaking that the following day I had a spasm and threw my lower back "out". Had to see a chiropractor yesterday to pop everything back in place. (Primarily the left side of my pelvis.) I haven't used a chiropractor in over 13 years, but I really needed help.
$45 and worth every penny!

Everything (including $900 to debt payoff!) was paid using side money. WooHoo! Keep it coming! Big Grin

Applied for a HELOC

September 18th, 2014 at 04:56 pm

DH and I discussed the need to get a new roof on the house this year. And the need to not drain the EF completely. The solution that made the most sense was a HELOC (not that we are excited to take on more debt!). Once we decided to go that route we visited our local credit union to get some information. It felt really good to have DH participating in the process and making an educated financial move.

Because our loan to value ratio is very favorable our CU offers a zero cost HELOC. We won't be paying for an appraisal or any document, notary or closing fees.

As far as our home value I found this very interesting:
"We will not need to order an appraisal for this mortgage and will utilize the automated value of $421,400.00."

(That's quite a value - Wow! Wonder how that gets calculated? Zillow has us valued at $391,700.)

I filled out the application online from home. Then a few days later received an email from our loan officer requesting documents - W2s, tax returns, mortgage note, proof of insurance, etc. I submitted all that by fax.
Now we are waiting...

Mower Repair & Pre-Sale Gym Membership

August 17th, 2014 at 03:59 pm

Our lawnmower wouldn't stay running. DH had to take it the repair shop. He picked it up this last week. $146 for a new carburetor. Ouch!
We were told that to prevent this from being a problem in the future we cannot use "cheap gas". (Who knew?)
It was recommended that we only use Chevron Supreme in the mower.
(I hope that helps any other mower owners out there.)

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A new health club is being built in our city. They are running a pre-sale special that has the rates about 50% less than regular.

DH really wants to get back into the gym again. Unfortunately this club doesn't offer racquetball (for the sake of his knees maybe that's not such a bad thing).

The cost for our entire family with the special rate is less than the single member rate at the club we had used previously. And the special rate is locked for the length of the membership. If me or the kids end up not using the club we can suspend the additional memberships (me, DD, DS) and reactivate later still keeping the promo rate. At the minimum we can get DH in there working out a few times per week and squeeze $35/month into the budget. We can cancel anytime without fees, so we felt like there wasn't any risk to giving it a try.