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Archive for April, 2016

Still mulling over the house

April 28th, 2016 at 01:52 pm

We haven't heard back from the mortgage lender yet (and we aren't expecting to until at least tomorrow, but maybe not until next week) but my partner has said that he doesn't want to get the property if it means I still have to work the part time job. I think I have to respect that. Also I want to quit. I still kind of want to stay because I like the security of the extra money but as I have said a million times: I am tired.

So, we will wait and see what the lender says and then go from there. There will always be another property to buy and this one has been on the market for awhile with no bites so it's possible it still might be there when we're ready again to try this process.

I am almost ready to make the final payment for our roof! Hooray! I am just waiting to get the rent check in to have a little more of a buffer in my checking account before I send the money off-just in case something happens in the next week. It took us a little over a year to pay the $12k for our metal roof (we had saved half of it and put the other half on 0% interest credit cards.) Next up to tackle is the renovation costs. We have about $9600 left to pay and have 12 months to do so before the interest kicks in. I am paying $850 a month plus all the cash back I get from my regular credit card spending (not much but about another $13/month) I am feeling pretty good about that.


What follows doesn't really have a lot to do with personal finance but is about politics so fair warning you are free to skip reading if you don't share my beliefs. I will not be offended Smile


We went to see Bernie Sanders speak last night. I was already feeling the Bern but last night made me feel it even more. I agree with what Robert Reich says about the two Democratic candidates-Hillary is the most qualified to be president for the system that we currently have but "But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change."

One of the things he spoke about last night had a huge impact on me- our health care system and how broken it is. My mom passed away 5 years ago after many weeks of complications after having a surgery to heal an ulcer. An.Ulcer. She had the ulcer for 4 years but didn't/couldn't get any treatment for it because she couldn't afford to see a doctor. She lived in tremendous pain for 4 years because we didn't have health insurance. She either did not qualify for insurance because she was a breast cancer survivor and therefore had a pre-existing condition, or because the premiums were FAR too high to afford-especially because she was unemployed and couldn't work due to her health.

My mom lived in pain for 4 years in The United States of America because she couldn't afford a doctor. At the time it seem so normal but now I am beyond outraged. When we moved here when I went to grad school my mom was finally able to receive care. Because our town had a network of volunteer doctors who would see and treat patients for little or no cost at all. The clinic would fill prescriptions for little or no costs. My mom and I thought we had hit the jackpot. Finally she could receive care! I can't believe how happy we were for CRUMBS when the insurance companies and health care industry ARE MAKING BILLIONS off the sick and the poor. If we lived in Europe we would never have had to make the choices we did. She could have seen a doctor when she first felt bad and maybe the ulcer could have been healed without surgery.

There were a couple of days we thought that my mom would be able to be released to come home. She wasn't cured or even any better, but they said she couldn't stay at the hospital forever but would send her home with a PIC line...to the tune of $1500 a day. Yeah, that's completely reasonable. Sometimes I think my mom gave up at that point and decided it wasn't worth it. That she didn't want to be a burden on me and didn't want me making decisions about my future based on her and how to afford the things she needs. Two days after we started the process for medicaid, she had a massive heart attack. Then her organs began to shut down. If there was a medicine that would help one organ, it would damage another. There wasn't anything we could do but make her comfortable-she had a DNR and didn't want anything done to prolong her life. I helped her make phone calls so she could say goodbye. She told her closest friends that the doctors only gave her three days (they didn't say that, they had no predictions for us other than it could be any time) and sure enough she died 3 days later. I think she gave herself 3 days to take care of business and let go.

I am so thankful for the Affordable Care Act, even though it came too late for my mom. No one should have to live with pain because they can't afford to see a doctor, or can't afford to fill their prescriptions. But the ACA isn't enough. It hasn't gone far enough. We need a single payer system in this country. It is ridiculous that health care consumers don't know the cost of their procedures before hand. That the costs for the same procedures are so radically different depending where you are getting them. Our healthcare system is still broken and I just can't accept that we can't do better.

Met with the mortgage lender today

April 27th, 2016 at 03:11 pm

It is going to be harder this time around to purchase a property. Some of it has to do with changing regulation and some of it because of changes we've made in our lives.

Background: We want to buy an investment property a couple of blocks away from our primary home. It is plot with two structures on it-one structure is a two bedroom house and the other is a 1 bedroom almost tiny house. We think that we can rent it out (once a little work is done to it) for enough for it to pay for itself and the mortgage and property taxes of the primary residence. It shouldn't take too long to get it to be cash flow positive.

The news today:

First, we can't count AirBnB income until next year. We need to have two years of it on our tax returns. Oh well.

Second, the way student loans are factored in have changed. When we bought our house in January 2015, they just used the monthly payment to figure it out. My partner's IBR payment was about $70/month, I believe. Right now it is $0 because he only works part time. But, they have to use 1% of the total loan-about $900-as a monthly payment. That is ridiculous.

Third, our work histories. Partner's income can't count because he only works part time and has only done so for 6 months. I think he needs 1-2 years before they'll count it. I want to quit my part time job, but I haven't been at my full time for a full year yet. Though, I have strong work history, no gaps at all so that helps.

We're looking at seeing if we can do it in just my name, because we were already planning on moving the property to an LLC (private borrowers getting better interest rates than LLC borrowers) once we make a couple of payments.

My partner wants me to quit my job and then we'll work on getting in a better position to get a mortgage for an investment property. But, if we wait I still might not be able to qualify on my own without that extra income. If I stay for 2 more months (estimate) then I should be able to qualify on my own.

It is all a little ridiculous to me because I have more cash liquid than the property costs, but obviously don't want to put all my eggs in one basket. I am glad there are tighter mortgage rules but this seems harder than it needs to be.

We have a lot to talk about. If I stay at the public library for 2 more months that's almost 2k more, which I can put towards debt to help with my credit score which will help with the interest rates. It sucks because I don't want to stay any longer. But I think it might be worth it to get a place that will go a long way in furthering our financial goals.

So much to consider!

Catching up

April 26th, 2016 at 01:59 pm

I made it back from my visit with my aunt and uncle. We spent a lot of time crying together then laughing. I am glad I was able to go out and I know they appreciated me visiting. I feel very guilty that I don't get to see them more often. It is just us three now. I have got to figure out a way to go for a long weekend but I don't get much vacation time (I will already have to take unpaid time off this summer when we visit) and it takes 4.5 hours to fly there-if I can get a non-stop flight. Add in another 1.5 hours just to get to the airport, and then who knows how long to get to their house from that airport because SoCal traffic is a nightmare. It hardly seems worth it for a Friday-Sunday visit.

I brought my grandfather's ashes out with me so that he and nanny could be together again. That was an experience but only because I was so worried that TSA wouldn't let him on the plane. But they did and I had to carry him all over the place. Who knew ashes could be so heavy! We mixed nanny and papa's ashes (something I have never wanted to do in my life but my aunt needed me to be the one to do it) and we'll wait until my partner and I come out in July to scatter them. My aunt suggested the desert because nanny and papa loved to go rock hunting together out there, but the desert in July might be too unbearable. So maybe the mountains. We'll see.

Financially things are going really well. I want to quit the public library now that I'm back from bereavement leave but now there's a new snag. Tomorrow we're meeting with a mortgage lender about getting pre-approved for an investment property mortgage. It might be better to keep my extra job until we get the investment property (if we get it, that is). Certainly, the extra paychecks won't hurt but I am tired and would like to not work so much. There is the real possibility that we won't get approved for the house we're looking at. My credit has gone down a little because the renovation costs are on my credit cards (0% interest and they will be paid off before any interest accrues). Plus, the mortgage would only be $88,000 and no mortgage calculator's online will give me an estimate for that amount with my credit score. We'll find out tomorrow.

I've been amping up on mystery shopping in preparation for losing my extra paychecks and having more free time. I actually did one the afternoon I got into CA. I took the shuttle to my aunt and uncle's city, straight to a hotel where I mystery shopped a restaurant. They paid me $30 to have a cocktail with my lunch and watch a Cubs game (plus reimbursed all my charges) LIVING THE DREAM.

AirBnB was unusually great this month so I was able to use some of that money to put towards the roof costs. I am planning on paying it off this month! Hooray! Less than a year after it got put on Smile Next savings goal: 5-7k for a bathroom remodel. The pipes are old and we want to move where the tub/shower is so most of that cost will be labor. I don't have a great plan for how to save for it yet, but I am working on it.

Room to breathe

April 10th, 2016 at 02:05 pm

I heard back from my tax guy. I emailed him and said "Can you give me a heads up about how much I'll owe this year." I had estimated and budgeted $1000, but I didn't know because of airbnb and having two jobs. He responded "you're getting money back from the feds and owe the state about $50"

SAY WHAT.

Not only do I NOT owe $1000, I am getting $900 back! This is wonderful! Bill is a miracle worker! He was able to use what I paid for the renovation to lower my income from my rental properties (house and basement) And because I have so much extra withheld it means a refund! I don't think I will change the withholding for next year because we won't have those expenses but will have higher airbnb payments (since we only rented it for 2 months last year. I 'll have to talk to him about how to set myself up well for next year.

So, what to do with the extra $1850? I am going to get a haircut, first. My hair is down to my butt and I want a very short cut-basically Claire Underwood's hair from House of Cards. But I want to go to someone who is good at cutting short hair. Also I haven't had a hair cut in at least 18 months so this is all the justifications I have for spending a lot of money on a hair cut.

The second thing is a new cell phone. My is getting wonky and almost to the point of not working. I have had iPhones (used) the last two times but don't know if I can justify the price.

Dirt for the garden. I was already planning on working that into my budget but now I don't have to.

The rest will go towards the roof/reno costs.

The other big thing that happened this week is that my grandmother passed away. My aunt called me Thursday to say that they tripled Nanny's pain medication because she was in so much pain. Then about 6 hours later she called to tell me that Nanny had passed. So I am going out there April 20-24. I will bring my grandfather's ashes so that Nanny and Papa can be together again.

I am looking forward to spending time with my aunt and uncle and hope that I can be of some comfort to my aunt. I also hope that the estate settling goes smoothly because my aunt is so sensitive and everything is already going to be hard enough.

In limbo

April 4th, 2016 at 10:39 pm

I guess Nanny has rallied since my aunt was told if she ever wanted to see her mom alive she better visit right.now. It is super frustrating because she is in pain but they can't (won't) give her more pain medication because it will cause her organs to shut down. She has had zero quality of life for the past 6+ years and now she is in pain. I want so much better for her and none of it is in my control.

On a selfish note-it's hard to determine when I should put my 2 weeks in at the public library. I don't know if or when I will be going back to California. I don't want to take my bereavement leave and then 4 days later have it be my last day. That doesn't seem responsible. But they're scheduling training sessions and my manager wants me to work out times with my other job so I can attend and I don't want to go out of my way for training when I will be quitting soon. But I can't tell her that because I don't know when I can quit!

Still waiting to hear back from the CPA. It sounded like he was almost done when he called Thursday night. What I really want is to email him and ask if he has any numbers for me yet.

I cooked up a storm yesterday. I made homemade apple butter and it is AMAZING. We're putting it on chicken breasts for dinner tomorrow. I also made the most delicious chili to have for dinner tonight. The kid's girlfriend came over for movie and dinner and she is so sweet. It was fun hearing random laughter and she puts up with the partner and me Wink

I used to plan 3 meals to make each week but it seems like that hasn't been leaving us with enough leftovers and so my partner is spending more on eating out (which to be honest if he planned ahead at all he could eliminate but...) So I've planned a 4th meal with the hopes that we can cut out some of the lunch runs.

I've got to bring the cat back to the vet tomorrow and I hope the collar can come off for good now. Although she has been the cuddliest she has ever been in her life. I will miss her wanting to sleep with us all the time, but I probably won't miss her insistence of being ON TOP of us ALL THE TIME.

All the bills are now paid. Spending for the month is high, but it usually is the first half of the month and then slows down to even out the second half. I use Mint to compare spending of current month to the same time period as last month and challenge myself to spend less. Sometimes it's possible..sometimes it isn't. My Amazon Prime membership with renew this week but we use it so much to stream tv shows and music that I feel it's worth it.

Things are starting to look up again

April 1st, 2016 at 02:21 pm

Today is already a much better day and it's barely 10am.

* Property taxes are due May 10 and they've applied all our exemptions and now are half as much as I anticipated!!!! I thought the exemptions would start until November payment. WHAT A RELIEF. We saved enough for the higher payment, but now some of that money can go towards the renovation bills!!!

*One of the librarians offered me desk space in her area. YES PLEASE. I know I am being a baby about my desk but if there is an alternative, I will take it. For the record I cleaned off all the desk space and took my personal stuff off to make room for my new deskmate and so that he could also feel like it was his. I didn't complain to my manager at all, just on here. (Just got an email from my manager: "B* says it takes a special person to work in the grotto, so we just can’t put anyone there. She thinks you would fit right in!" That lifts the spirits some!)

*Took Bones to the vet today to get her sutures out of her eye and the vet said her eye healed better than she expected it would!!!!! (This is going to be an exclamation mark heavy post) She still has to wear a cone but her eye is open and cleaned up. I take her back Tuesday or Wednesday for another check up and if everything looks alright still they'll take the cone off!!!

*Laura mentioned what mystery shopping companies she uses awhile back and I started and it has been really nice to be "paid" to do some of the things I'm already doing...and paid to try out restaurants in town Smile I try for all the grocery shops and restaurants I can because that's stuff we already do and need to spend money on. Once I am not working so many hours I want to branch out a little. I may be getting a little obsessive about it. I also think it might be a way to keep our expenses down when we vacation this summer.

*My partner took my car to get the nail in the tire fixed (and also replace the break light that has been out for...months) yesterday and it came to $19.01. I will take it!

On the not so great side- still no news about Nanny. They are feeding her ensure so her body will never shut down. Which would be fine but she is in such pain. Hospice comes every other day but we're worried it's not enough. This is not dying with dignity. America is so backwards about this and it is so painful to think about how much suffering she is going through.

On the whole things are starting to look up. I have a bad habit of letting every little thing get to me and then getting completely overwhelmed.