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Home > Archive: February, 2016

Archive for February, 2016

Saw the house

February 29th, 2016 at 06:34 am

We met the kid's girlfriend yesterday and she is freaking adorable and smart and nice. After she left he asked us what we thought about her and if we liked her, which is the first time he's asked our opinion about a girlfriend.

We went to see the house after lunch yesterday and told the kid that he and the gf could come. He goes "oh yeah, I'll just say 'hey, do you want to come see a house my parents are going to buy?" (first time he's referred to me as part of his parental group-made me smile) and N goes "well, one day we'll die and it might be yours...and hers if you're still together." And kid goes "Dad. This is a high school girlfriend. We're not getting married."

So...the house. It is ROUGH. Honestly, I am not sure how it is rented out other than it is rented for WAAAY under market price.

The good: There are two structures on one plot, grandfathered in to current zoning policy. This doesn't happen now and they don't go on the market often.

-GREAT neighborhood, one that most people in our town want to move into.

-Potential for rents is HIGH.

-BRAND NEW roof (2 months old)

-ANY upgrade or fix will significantly improve the value of the house.

-rents will only be going up (unless our university some how decides to leave our town. It's been here for about 200 years so I don't think that's likely) while the mortgage (not including property taxes) will basically stay the same.


-The back structure will have to be completely gutted and re-done.

-Rental permits expire next August (2017) and will have to be renewed-which means a lot of expense to bring it up to code.

- We wouldn't feel comfortable renting structures out in the condition they're in...unless current tenants want to resign lease.

-Both structures have been extremely neglected.

First thoughts: Even though it would be a TON of work, and money, we don't mind the idea of fixing up the houses. Our contractor for our basement renovation originally began his company to teach people how to do their own upgrades, but most people just wanted him to do the work. We're going to ask him (the next time we use him) if N can "apprentice" and learn how to do some of the more basic things so that we can do more of the work ourselves.

The biggest problem with going through is the price of the house. It's too expensive for us to then have to put $50k into it in the immediate future. What we would offer (so that we could afford the renovations and mortgage) is significantly lower than the asking price and I am pretty sure that the owner will laugh at it. However, I absolutely don't think he'll be getting anywhere near the asking price, and since the property has never gotten far enough to have an inspection I am betting there are even bigger issues than the owner thinks.

We've roughly estimated what needs to be done and tried to plan phases. For example-best case scenario is tenants want to renew leases and we can have year to save up some cash. When the back tenant leaves, we start planning on gutting the house-and that takes as long as it takes (estimating a year without rent because of how long it will take and the rental market here is dictated by the university schedule). The front house we have the minimum we would do to it before we rented it out-update the kitchen and bathroom and fix one of the walls. Then we could up the rent. THEN once the back house is finished and rented out (for a much higher rent) we would go back to the front house and finish up the "extra" stuff that needs to be done, but not necessarily immediately.

We're going to talk to our realtor to see if she can feel out how low of an offer will be entertained and go from there. It is an exciting project that will definitely pay off in the next 5-10 years-but we still have to be able to afford our living expenses until then. Of course, I have several spreadsheets for all the different scenarios. When we estimated the costs we estimated high and then I almost doubled it.

We have much to think about and discuss and sleep on.

Budget update and exciting news (maybe)

February 25th, 2016 at 09:07 am

Well, I didn't intend for a no-spend month but it looks like I achieved one! There is still one more grocery trip planned for this weekend. I don't know how I was able to keep groceries so low this time around. I hope that this sets a new trend.

We invited friends over for dinner Sunday so I will be getting a ham from Aldi and some asparagus. The kid recently asked a girl to be his girlfriend (!!!!!) and they are walking around in our neighborhood on Sunday. I asked if she wanted to stay for dinner (because that's not at all stressful for her-we haven't met her yet) but they're hanging out at lunch time. The kid invited her to stay for lunch and she agreed so now I have to figure out what teenagers like to for food.

Her parents are droppign her off down the street and not at our door because the kid is worried that if the parents see the art we have hanging in our living room, they'll not let her stay. We have 4 Matisses and a Picasso (reproductions, obviously) that are silhouettes of naked women. Well, all the Mattises are, the Picasso definitely shows nipple. IT'S ART! The other wall has a bunch of crosses from Ethiopia! Shouldn't that cancel it out? Oh well.

In other crazy news we may be buying an investment property this spring. A property we were interested in last fall is back on the market with some updates. It is in a fantastic, historic part of town (the neighborhood we currently live in), is currently rented out, and will make well above mortgage, property taxes and insurance when it is rented. It will take some financial finagaling and might make us cash poor for a year but I think within 3 years we can easily make double the monthly obligations from the rent. And any improvements in the house will increase the value tremendously. First step is going to be looking at it-it might have some horrendous deal breaking quality for us. If it still looks like a good fit after we see it we'll go in for the mortgage pre-approval. It looks like interest rates are even better than when we locked ours in in December 2014, so that may work well for us. It is exciting and terrifying!

Rough weekend, future planning.

February 16th, 2016 at 05:18 pm

I've been having a rough go the last couple of days. The five year anniversary of my mom dying is rapidly approaching and it is hitting so hard, so early this year. I visited N at work on Friday and he left the room for a couple minutes to actually work and when he came back he saw my eyes teary and asked what was wrong and I just started bawling that I missed my mom. Nothing triggered it. Yesterday I couldn't even put on a bra. Not that I am endowed enough to absolutely need one, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I slept walked through full time job then agonized over PT job and finally called off sick. Then I spent the rest of the evening eating my emotions and watching Six Feet Under. I woke up feeling like a new person. Well, at least one that could accomplish the basics.

I did splurge on coffee and a donut at work yesterday. A whopping 2.68. BUT I ate the leftovers (coffee rubbed pork tenderloin with a blueberry vinaigrette) that were a day or so away from getting thrown out.

Over the weekend I made a fruit crumble with some blueberries that needed to be used, some apples that we weren't eating fast enough and pomegranate seeds that needed to be used or thrown out. For the crumble I used Dutch windmill cookies that we've had for awhile with almond slivers that we've also had for awhile. Delicious! And I used up the avocados in avocado egg salad.

The milk soured Saturday morning but I wasn't grocery shopping until Sunday. Plus there wasn't enough time to get any before i went to work. So I looked in my cupboard and found a can of coconut milk. Not my favorite in my coffee but definitely usable! And I didn't have to spend any extra money!

I bought a ton of groceries this weekend and paid less than $20 thanks to a Sam's Club gift card from Swagbucks and $20 in Valentine's day money from my godmother.

Even though things are rough emotionally I am trying to take the wins where I can get them and stay on track to accomplish my goals.

First goal is to be able to quit PT job. I know part of why I haven't been able to talk myself down is that I have zero time alone.

Long long term goal is get us in a position to buy a place walking distance from the beach in California. We're talking 10+ year plan. I cannot stand the winter anymore and so desperately want to move back. But we've got things tying us here and I love my town most of the time. Winter is just getting old Smile I think the 10 year plan is possible, but it does require lots of focus for extended periods of time. And maybe we will change our mind where we want to go. We also love the Denver area. Not quite as expensive as coastal CA, but still waaaay more expensive than our little midwest town. But wherever we end up, it will be easier if we start planning and saving now.

Friday update

February 12th, 2016 at 07:50 am

Here is where the budget stands

We had to take the girl cat the the vet this week. She is taking longer to get better but she started fighting us when we were giving her her medicine this morning so that is a good sign. The past two days I would find her sleeping in the kitchen sink, and then yesterday when I picked her up she was just BURNING UP, so she clearly had a fever. This morning she wasn't warm so I think the fever has broken. But she's been eating the whole time even though she can't breathe through her nose well.

We had N's birthday dinner last night and clearly WAAAY overspent. Part of that was because originally I wasn't going to invite the kid but then I thought that is shitty, he should get a fancy meal to celebrate his dad's birthday with him. So that brought the cost up a bit. But I let everyone get all the things they wanted and we had a very, very satisfying meal. The service...was eh, especially for such a fancy place but I still gave a 20% tip even though the waiter checked out after our drink orders and didn't come back for 15 minutes even though we told him we were ready to order when we gave him our drink orders.

I am hoping to keep the rest of my expenses this month down and hopefully I won't have to modify any of my saving/paying down debt goals.

I applied for a librarian position at an online school. It is part time and remote. I am excited about the possibility but don't know if anything will come out of it. They asked my salary demands. As a paraprofessional I make $15/hour so I said my minimum would be $25/hour and my ideal would be $30. I figured shoot high.

I am still planning on quitting the public library April 16, but can't help but think how nice the paychecks are. It's not worth it not having any time to myself and not wanting to read any more. I LOVE reading and I haven't read anything since the New Years holiday. (To put in perspective, last year I read 131 books)

Low spend weekend

February 8th, 2016 at 07:06 am

Kitty man is doing a lot better! He still has the sneezes, but maybe 5 times a day instead of 5 times an hour. He doesn't like the medicine, but within 10 minutes of the traumatic experience he is on my lap cuddling. He has started playing again and harrassing the other cat so he is well on the way to full recovery.

However, the old lady cat (Boney-short for Bonaparte) has leaky eyes. They were really bad last night leaking gobs of green clumpy grossness. I tried to wipe them out best I could but she was not having it. I am hoping that this will resolve itself, but if it is still bad tomorrow she will be going to the vet.

I grocery shopped this weekend and came waaaay under budget! I am super jazzed, but I know I will make up for it later in the month. I also ordered a $25 gift card to Sam's from Swagbucks. I hope it comes in time for me to use it next weekend and continue the low spending.

N's dad was here this weekend which meant he treated us to a couple of nice meals out Smile We are lucky he takes care of us so well when we see him.

Here's where the budget stands so far this month:

So far most everything is on track. Except for the cats and what can you do about that?

My partner has started driving for Uber. His first try was last Friday and he made $30 in 1.5 hours-which isn't too bad. It was exclusively students that didn't want to walk to class or take the free busses. Good for him-but why are those students wasting their money!!!!

Today he was about for another 1.5 hours and has made $25. It's weathering so he is thinking of going out for a bit more. We're hoping to add this to the list of things we can do to diversify our income streams Smile He just needs to figure out when it is worth it for him to go out. We rider demand is high and there aren't a lot of drivers out there is a surge, and the drivers get paid x amount higher than the base rate. If the surge is at 2x then he is making $10 per ride, and rides average 3-7 minutes. Not so bad! He isn't interested in driving the drunkies around though. Too much risk. So right now he is only driving mornings. Though, yesterday he went out to buy us some beer and checked the surge to see if he could give a ride that would cover the amount beer costs Smile This is going to be an interesting experiment.

AirBnB is still running smoothly. We haven't had to add money to the joint account to pay for the mortgage since we started. We originally had a 2 week stay for $1200 booked for this month, but at the last minute (well, a few days in advance) so that is a bummer. We have changed our cancellation policy. We have about $600 booked and only need 2-3 more days to get to $800.

I am still looking for ways to lower expenses or make more money. I am getting nervous about April with taxes being due. I estimate I'll owe about $1000 between feds and state, but my tax guy usually works magic and lowers what I estimate I owe by a couple hundred. I should be in a much better position next year, but will increase my state withholding by a bit anyway. Worst case scenario is I can lower the amount withheld for voluntary retirement plans at my job (not the one with the free match) to free up some cash. But I want to avoid doing that for as long as possible.

Poor little kitty man

February 5th, 2016 at 05:38 am

Our boy cat has been sneezing and having trouble breathing. But he was still eating and using the litter box. N and I went back and forth yesterday about whether we should bring him to the vet or if he would pull through on his own. Bringing him to the vet puts so much stress on him but doing nothing might let the cold turn into something worse. We ended up going yesterday evening.

The vet is pretty sure it is just an upper respiratory infection, though he was very surprised that Bourbon was still eating with such a high temperature. He gave us antibiotics and told us he should start to feel better by Saturday but if not, or if he gets worse, to bring him back in for bloodwork. Last night Bourbon was just a cuddle monster. He wouldn't get off my lap and then during the night he settled into the crook of my neck and purred and purred and purred (and sneezed in my face).

I deposited the rent check yesterday and then paid $657.77 on the roof (not sure how I came up with that number, but that was the number in the spreadsheet). We now only have $25xx left to go! I will be so happy when that is paid off. I am currently paying $800 on the roof and $200 on the renovation each month. With the roof gone I will only need to pay $800/month to pay off the renovation charges before interest kicks in on May 1, 2017.

I am trying to figure out a way to either save or earn what my part time job makes before I quit. I make $925/month part time. Now I just have to come up with $725. I don't think it's entirely reasonable to come up with that much extra money each month but that's what I am going to shoot for. I think I will be able to cut down on groceries a bit and one of my goals is going to be to redeem a $25 giftcard for Sam's Club from Swagbucks every month. We eat a meat heavy diet and get most of our meat from Sam's because it's cheaper that way.

I've started tracking my spending again and I think it will be helpful.

We still have a lot of food in the freezer for this week's meals so I shouldn't have to buy too much again this week.

Meals planned:

-Pork loin with blueberry vinaigrette (have everything for this)
-Shepard's pie (just need some veggies to go inside- I am thinking of just using frozen)
-Sausage, Kale, Sweet potato skillet- Need the sausage and the kale, want to use up the sweet potatoes we've had for a couple of weeks)
-Salmon and veggies/fries. (Need nothing for this)

N's birthday is Valentines Day so I will take him out to a fancy dinner of his choosing Friday or Saturday. That is already planned spending.

Here's hoping to a relatively inexpensive weekend!

Possible solution to summer travel plans

February 3rd, 2016 at 08:31 am

We go West every summer to visit my family. We also take he kid because he likes to go. Buying air fare for 3 is expensive. Last year we got Southwest credit cards and then charged the roof we were already paying for to get the bonus miles. All three of our tickets cost just the taxes, appx $60.

This year we didn't have a plan. We don't have enough rapid reward miles for more than one of us. Even so it would be about $800. If we buy all 3 tickets it is about $1100.

Today I looked on Allegiant Air. They don't go to California, but they do go to Vegas...for $615 total. We can get hotels on the strip for $75 (including taxes...so cheap because they're weeknights) so that is $890. We would already be renting a car so that will probably even out, and we'd have to buy food any where. Plus, we get to see a new city, possibly go to the Hoover Dam and drive through a new part of the country. The drive without traffic is 3.5 hours...there will always be traffic but that isn't bad at all.

I am feeling really good about this. We're not at a point where we can book but this is a price point I can deal with. Plus I love Vegas and want to go back!

Family visit and lean times

February 1st, 2016 at 04:39 pm

We survived the family visit Smile

I am being slightly dramatic-it wasn't that difficult to survive. It would have been better if I hadn't had to work so much and got to spend more time with everyone but that's the way it is.

My partner's mom, sister and sister's 3 kids came to visit us. We had a super full house on Friday-someone was renting our basement, the kid switched his night with his mom so he was staying the night, Sister + kids in the 3rd bedroom (she had brought a blow up mattress) and Mom on the couch in the living room (she preferred it, she needs to sleep sitting up.) Luckily our guest checked out Saturday and there was more room to spread out the rest of the visit.

We went to the kid's play on Saturday. I'm not sure if I have mentioned this but we are a "modern" family. My partner has an ex-wife, but she is not the mother of his kid. So kid has a mom, a stepmom and me (the woman who lives in his house Wink ). I am friendly with stepmom because of kid-we both love him and want the best for him and he should have the biggest support system he can get. That being said, I am not interested in being FRIENDS with her and she cannot judge social situations at all. When partner and I first moved in together and she was picking kid up to hang out, she would come in and stay for 20-30 minutes having a one-sided conversation. She just doesn't pick up on social cues. We have dealt with that and things are better now, but obviously we still have to see and talk to her on kid's special occasions.

This is a long story to say that I was super nervous going to the play because I was going with Mom and Sister and oldest niece (partner had stayed home with the youngest two) and knew we were going to see her and have to have a conversation. I know that she was part of their lives for many years and she hasn't seen oldest niece in...4 years? And would probably want to talk to them, or them to her, and I didn't want it to be awkward. I was probably projecting all my fears onto the situation with little basis in reality. Anyway, we got in line to buy tickets and I saw her standing alone waiting for someone and trying not to look in our direction. So I called her over so everyone could say hi.

I don't know if Mom and Sister have a relationship with her-I know stepmom comments on Sister's facebook posts of the kids so she was probably happy to see the oldest one. My friends were already seated so when we got our tickets we went in and found them. And guess who had sat down next to them? Step-mom. And then kid's mom and fiance and her parents and brother were seated in front of us. And they did not acknowledge us at all. That I don't get but it's fine. The most important thing is kid and he got a great round of applause from his section and has a great many people who love him.

I probably overspent a bit this weekend. Because we had been sick and then had to work while we had guests we didn't plan as well as we could have. The good news is that I didn't have to buy much in way of groceries this week. The second part of bad news is that I only shopped at Sams so I spent more than I wanted, but for stuff that will last us a long time (30 rolls of paper towels, huge container of garlic powder).

The next two months are going to be super lean for me because of 10.5 hours of my next university paycheck missing. So I am going to do something new this month-I am going to track all my purchase. Not just the dollar amount but each line on my receipt. Because last month I thought I was doing well with keeping my spending down but I still spent over $600 on groceries and eating out (and we only ate out twice!)

I am going to make a better effort at making sure all the food gets eaten and less gets thrown out (the majority of what I threw out was because I was sick and didn't cook/wasn't planning). And I want to start planning more meals around what we have. I don't know how well I can do that, though, because sometimes it is so difficult to get my family to tell me what they want/like to eat so when they finally do I jump on it!

The other big thing I am trying to work on this month is adulting better. Specifically-keep up on the little housekeeping things before it builds up too much. I am tired of constant clutter and a dirty kitchen and a messy bedroom. I am also tired at the end of a long day of work so I am hoping by doing a little in the morning and a little at night I won't have to spend so much of my free time cleaning. This will definitely be a work in progress.