Week 67: Waiting and Deciding

Monday, 19 March 2018

We have a number of bids in for the repair caused by two tiny leaks.  They range from a modest few thousand to a heart-stopping $17,000, which does not include replacing the flooring.  The latter won’t be our first choice.  Additionally, we are still waiting for the check from the insurance company, which is supposed to itemize what value is placed for each bit of work.  My understanding is they will only pay for carpeting in the bedroom, not matching carpet for the entire back of the house, which is contiguous in style and quality, with the flooded room.  My understanding is that if this were hardwood or vinyl flooring, the story would be very different.  We may need to go to war about this.

Because we are not interested in slinging around money, we would rather sling around a sledge hammer or whatever to pull out old tile and vanities (which are ca. 1979 fiber board) ourselves to save a bit of money.  The same with some of the plumbing and the painting.

Until the insurance check comes in, we are not beginning any work.  When that arrives, the next decision is what to do and when.  The tile guy isn’t available for about a month.  Mr. 182 says we need to wait until the bathroom is plumbed and tiled, then the painting, and then the floors.  I think it could be differently done – after all, people have bits and pieces of work done all the time.

It won’t be cheap and it will take some time, but the sooner we start, the sooner we can get back to our normal lives.



Week 68: Bidding Wars

The bathroom leak is repaired.  Now we get the dubious pleasure of dealing with contractors and their minions for fixing up all the damage.  The first one in said, “When you get a copy of what the insurance is willing to pay, send us a copy, and then we will give you a bid.”  I don’t like the way that sounds at all, but as this is our first experience with repairs such as this, it may be an industry standard.

Meanwhile, our days have been filled with the whir of fans and air dryers.

Week 69: Flood!

Monday, 5 March 2018

After “fire” we now have “flood.”  I hope famine is far, far behind both of these.

Last Friday night, I stepped on the carpet in the master bedroom.  It was wet.  More observation showed that a large part of the carpet between the wall to the adjoining bathroom and about 5 or 6 feet into the room was wet.  Out came the utility knife, and up came half of the room’s carpeting.  Tack strips and such were pulled up.  Towels were laid down.

Saturday, we called our insurance.  We called two plumbers.  We talked to friends.  The weekend insurance adjuster called.  Today the local adjuster should visit.  We haven’t heard from either plumber as of this morning.  Let’s see what happens in the next day.

Meanwhile, we have to think about a few things.  The wall is not wet, so chances are we don’t have a cracked pipe in the wall.  It rained last week, so do we have a cracked slab and this is water seepage?  (We don’t think so because we are still get water 3 days after the rain stopped.)  Do we have a drain problem or a shower head problem?

Fortunately, we have a $500 deductible, so it’s easily affordable.  The wall or the floor and the shower may need to be drilled out or something.  At any rate, the carpeting in the bedroom is now missing and the bare concrete is all we have, besides towels, to cover the continually oozing water.

What will be replaced?  I expect the bedroom carpeting will be paid for.  But, we have the same carpeting throughout the hall and other bedrooms.  That needs to be replaced if things are going to match – but most likely the insurance won’t cover that.  So – what should we do?  Carpeting?  Flooring?

Now we wait.

Week 70: No House Payment in March!

Monday, 26 February 2018

As you can see from the above, we have a small house (just kidding)!

Not having a house payment for the month of March (along with a bonus and pay raises) gives us enough money to pay off $4000 in bills!  That is a great feeling.  As well, we met with the accountant last Friday to do state and federal taxes – a refund from the feds, and a small amount to the state.  Unfortunately, the Republican revisions to the tax code will cause an increase in our taxes for 2018.

Besides being able to pay off some debt – and eliminate two bills altogether – our refinance and pay raises will be increasing our monthly income.  Out of this, we plan to increase our monthly savings, and use 25% of that as regular monthly investments in stocks or mutual funds, with a focus on dividend-producing stocks.  We want to have a bigger emergency fund, as well as cash on hand, to pay insurance payments every 6 months, instead of every month.  Even better, we will be able to remove the 18 trees in our yard, without financial stress, over the next 3 – 4 months.  Firewood, anyone?

Even though we still will have debt, the increased capital will allow a payoff of another debt in July 2018, another in April 2019, and another in August 2019.  From there, The Student’s school loans will be paid off in May 2021.  If we wish, we could have the house paid off in February 2029.  From start in January 2016 to May 2021, we will have been on this journey for 5 years and 5 months, paying off everything except the house in this time period.  Longer than what Dave Ramsey suggests, but better than we ever thought possible.

Refinancing the house is allowing us to speed up our debt reduction schedule significantly.  It is one of the best financial choices we have made.


Week 71: Finalized!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Our loan was finalized and our new payment is about $1100 less than before.  With rising interest rates, we did it in time.  Our rate is 4.25% with an APR of 4.27 (I think).  It’s a 30 year fixed loan, but once other bills are paid off, we will begin to work on it.  It’s a good feeling to know exactly what our house payment will be, not wondering every month what it will be.  I like to have fixed numbers in my head when it comes to budgeting.  Once our appointment with our accountant is over, we will be able to see what we will owe or get back in taxes, and then I can literally plan for the upcoming year.  The only fly left in the ointment is my wildly varying pay check – but the Union has put it for a vote to those who would be affected by this change, so we should know that in a week or two.

I don’t like financial surprises!  Who does?  At least as far as bills goes … but give me a million bucks, and I won’t complain!  However, as we move along in our debt reduction journey, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter each month.  Investments continue to rise, debt continues to fall, and our financial security – and sense of financial confidence – increases.  It creates a subtle sense of well-being despite ongoing frustrations about our limitations.  We are also more conscious about our money, and more thoughtful about spending it.  We are not wallowing in self-indulgence, but we do not worry and feel guilty when we do.  We have play money now that is not involved with robbing this account to pay that account.

Looking back to January 2016, we have made a lot of changes in our lives.  The road is still rocky, but has leveled out a bit.  We are better at communicating about our debt and how we choose to spend.  We are more of a team than two opposing viewpoints.  I think we have grown closer because of this and are better able to communicate on more levels.  Opening up about finances has opened the door to many other things as well.  Who’d have thought all this could come about from reading a book?  (Dave Ramsey!)


Week 72: Now We Wait

Monday, 12 February 2018

We signed our papers for the loan last Friday afternoon.  Now the waiting period begins.  It feels like it will take forever, but of course it won’t.  The loan funds on the 14th.  (Sweetheart deal?!).  Payday is the 15th, so we will see what one of our raises, and the new tax level we are at, shall bring.  Of course, all sorts of disasters can strike until then, so I am really rather on tenterhooks.

That said, let’s look at the possible financial results of the refinance and our pay raises, as well as our tax bracket, based on one pay check prior to the time pay increases.

Mortgage savings:  $1113.00
Pay Raises: $550.00
Total Increase in Monthly Income: $1663.00
Annual Take Home Increase: $19,956.00

That’s a lot of money!  And, we have a lot of debt and necessities to be done around the house.  These are the obvious factors.  However, we also need to ramp up the savings along with the debt reduction.  As we find out what our income levels will be, we will begin to make choices.  All these will aid my retiring.  My understanding, too, is that March’s mortgage payment will have been made in the course of refinancing, and so we will have a lot more cash to add to the totals.

Next week will have more accurate financial numbers.

Week 73: Final Papers

Monday, 5 February 2018

The last of the papers are hopefully submitted for the refinance by the end of the day.  Friday we sign the refinance papers.

Getting to the point where we could refinance has been a challenge.  We had decisions to make with debt.  If we had wanted to, we could have chosen to pay off the house more quickly to get to the 20% equity sooner, but we would have had lingering debts and a lower credit score.  Instead, the pay off has been focusing on the smallest debts and getting them out of the way.  Now we are soon in a position to pay debts down more quickly.  On top of this, Mr. 182 got a bonus and a raise, and I got a raise.  This, with the mortgage payment reduction, is going to put a lot more money in our hands each month.  Already, two bills are slated to be paid off almost immediately.

While debt reduction is still our priority, we also own a home.  Homes require upkeep and maintenance and repairs, just like cars and human beings.  We have so many trees on our small lot (8200+ square feet) that to continue to keep them is hazardous.  Roots.  Fire.  Once those are gone, the question is how to re-do the back yard to make it a place to enjoy.  That will be a very hard work of compromise for us!  Let’s see if we can navigate this task frugally and peacefully.