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Archive for April, 2016

House Hunting--Sort Of

April 27th, 2016 at 07:10 pm

We looked at a couple of houses today, both old farmhouses. One we really liked the property, but the house, while good in overall square footage, was not so good in the usability of the footage. The one downstairs bedroom was too small to hold both our bed and dresser and the closet was pretty makeshift.

And one side of the upstairs was a foot higher than the other end, so a very noticeable slope. It also had two cracked windows, some bad siding (holes, or half missing pieces), what looked like a giant rust stain, and a roof that was only partially new and the rest looked bad. The shop smelled like mold.

It had cherry trees, apple trees, plum trees, and walnut trees, plus blackberries, and plenty of cleared land, really just what I want in land. Just that house was a major no-go. Doesn't matter how perfect the land is if the house is not good. There's always a reason why a house sits on the market that long.

The second house we looked at needs a new roof, new paint, has no hood for the gas stove in the kitchen, and I think the wood stove was installed without a permit, since there is no tile or heat shield under it or behind it. It is up on legs, but I think it still has to have the tile and heat shield. Which would be easy enough to do. Otherwise we really like the house. It was a craftsman and was spacious, the stairway to the second floor was wide and had a good banister on one side and a hand rail on the other. The downstairs bathroom had a handicap accessible shower and had an extra long bathtub with jets.

The land was really nice and next to the river. While it is legally in the flood zone, it hasn't flooded in that area in 150 years. It will flood half a mile away, so we might not be able to get out once in a while, but it doesn't get to the property. So if we did decide on it, we would have to still carry flood insurance. Two of the outbuildings are falling down and would have to come down eventually. The paddock and horse shelter is overgrown with blackberry brambles and would require a machete to be cleared and then who knows what it would take to get the roots out.

But there is a lot of cleared land. 3 acres of it are rented for another year and in potatoes. Unfortunately they use pesticide. Plenty of it is not in use, though, and not been sprayed. It's 6.9 acres, so we could work around it.

Still, there are a lot of other houses to look at. And we are only getting a jump at looking, since the contract announcement isn't made until the end of the week. But if we did find something that was actually perfect, we'd be able to jump on it if the contract goes to DH's company. Or it could be a couple months of looking. Who knows? I won't pick something I don't think we can handle.

Farm Sales to the EF

April 22nd, 2016 at 09:21 pm

We had some sales so I was able to add even more to the Emergency Fund today.

$19,591.92 Starting Balance
+__,_88.00 Farm sales and Coin Jar
------------------
$19,679.92 New Balance

$320.08 to go to hit $20K. So, so close.

Huge Deposit to the Emergency Fund--OT Pay

April 22nd, 2016 at 10:38 am

$17,591.92 Starting Balance
+_2,000.00 Overtime Money Deposited
------------------
$19,591.92 New Balance

$408.08 left to hit my milestone goal of $20K. I don't know if I will hit it before I have to give my mother the $10K lump sum. It would be nice if I could just for the sake of doing it. But if not I'll have the new goal of getting it to $10K.

One More Week of Limbo

April 21st, 2016 at 12:56 pm

So apparently the contract has been awarded, but we won't know for another week yet to exactly who. I'm like ?????????? I guess all the t's still need to be crossed and the i's still need to be dotted. But that does mean we really should know by the end of next week. One more week of limbo.

If it does get renewed by DH's company, I have found what I think is THE HOUSE. We are ready to move on it the minute we know if his job is secure. If you all pray, please, please pray that his company got the contract.

Emergency Fund Update

April 21st, 2016 at 12:40 pm

$17,392.32 Starting Balance
+__,199.60 Medical Check Refund
----------------
$17,591.92 New Balance

The first of the medical checks for things that got caught up in the time period where the deductible was met, but it hadn't fully processed, came. I put it in the EF.

$408.08 to go to hit my next mini-goal of $18K. I may have more to add today still. I have someone coming to buy 2 rabbit hutches for $45. And I possibly have someone coming to buy 3 hens for $25. But I don't know if it will all get sorted before it is too late to put the money in the credit union.

Emergency Fund Update

April 19th, 2016 at 11:26 am

$17,127.32 Starting Balance
+__,265.00 Deposit Added
------------------
$17,392.32 New Balance

It may be a month or two before my mom needs the $10,000 out of my Emergency Fund, so I am just going to keep adding to the total and won't worry about adjusting it downwards until the time comes. When it all washes out though, my new goal for the year will be to have the thing at $10K instead of $20K.

Farm Down Payment Fund Update

April 19th, 2016 at 11:21 am

$41,500.00 Starting Balance
+_1,000.00 Deposit Added
--------------
$42,500.00 New Balance

Best Laid Plans and a Money Gift Limit Question

April 17th, 2016 at 01:05 pm

Sometimes I don't know why I bother planning for anything. Life just throws curve balls and then everything changes.

My mom needs money for major house repairs and since we still owe her $43,000.00 and she's given us a 0% interest rate all these years, I don't really feel like I should say no to the request, nor do I want to. We do have the money and the need is real. So we will be paying a lump sum of $10,000 to her this month on our loan, plus the usual $1000 monthly payment.

We have made the decision to take it out of our Emergency Fund and not out of our Down Payment Fund. In a real world emergency we'd use the DPF after the EF ran out anyway, so we consider it a back up EF for the time being, anyway. It's all semantics.

It feels disheartening, feels like a step backwards in our goals. Yet, it also means we will only have 32 payments left after this month is paid. That is 2 years and 8 months of payments left. Which puts it a lot closer, of course, to being done with.

If I knew what was happening with DH's job, because surprise, surprise, another deadline has gone by with very little progress being made, I'd probably make the decision to give her more. I mean if he got the contract. If the loan to her was reduced or gone, then it would free up a huge amount of money that we could then throw back into saving. But I'm not going to consider that until we know, because we may need that money to live on.

I actually do have enough to pay her off in full, it would just wipe out most of what is in our savings. I'm not sure we could give it all this year taxwise though. With the $12,000 per year we already pay her and the $10,000 lump sum, that'll be $22,000 this year. Isn't that the limit on what can be "given" to someone without it being income? Or can DH and I both "give" her $22,000 a year? Since it is not an official loan, we would be "gifting" it for legal reasons.

Online Payments--Just Venting

April 15th, 2016 at 10:41 am

You know, the credit card companies want you to pay online. They want paperless billing. They want to not have to deal with humans in person as much as possible. So why do they always insist on doing the upgrades to their online payment systems on Fridays? It's only the day that most Americans have their paychecks deposited and pay their bills.

Either they don't think it through, or they are hoping most people will wait until the last minute to pay it and then get a late fee or a pay by phone fee because they can't actually pay it on time with the system down. My guess is the latter.

My bill isn't due for another week because I never wait until the last minute, but it is annoying as I want to pay it today. So now I have to go down there in person, which fortunately I can do, if I want it done today. I have to pick up something on that side of town today anyway.

What I really don't get is that I was able to pay my BoA VISA just fine from the same portal, but when I tried to pay the BoA Master Card my daughter used at the Con she went to, it is down. I tried to pay it both before and after I paid the VISA, which went through just fine. I suppose it could just be they are working on the MC side of things and not the VISA side of things.

BoA is getting my stink eye for today. I never have this problem with the other credit cards, actually, so maybe it is just them. There is a reason I refer to them as the evil empire.

Medical is a Budget Killer

April 14th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I've plotted out the money for the rest of this month and it does look like I will be able to put $1500 into the EF from the overtime work, assuming nothing changes. That won't be tomorrow's payday, but the next. A large chunk of tomorrow's payday will go towards paying the credit card. I had to put an unexpected doctor's bill on there so it is higher than usual. A portion of next week's pay will finish paying it off for the month.

I got a second unexpected doctor's bill for my toe surgery. I know the deductible was met, so I'm not sure why it was so high. I mean, it wasn't more complicated than getting a cavity filled. I was out of there within the hour. But my portion is still $355? Maybe the insurance denied part of it or something. I'll investigate a little further. They are supposed to pay 90% after the deductible has been met. I don't think the overall total was anywhere near $3500. He's supposed to be in network. I don't know.

I am tired of medical bills. I've shelled out $2000 just this month and that is without any physical therapy, since my PT has influenza and I have not seen her this month at all. It should get better from here, though, since nothing else big should be coming in for a while. DD did see the doctor at the start of the month, but just for a regular visit so our portion should be quite low.
Although DS is getting a cavity filled next week that won't be charged until some time in May.

I don't know how people with low incomes and high deductibles do it. We struggle to get the medical bills paid and we have a good income. Without the overtime work, though, we'd be having a tough time this month. Without the OT we'd be saving nothing and might even have had to make a choice to dip into the Emergency Fund or carry a balance this month on the credit card. How are people who have no EF and no room on their credit card going to make it in the same circumstance. Oh, wait, I know this one. Not go to the doctor at all.

A New Addition to the Homestead

April 12th, 2016 at 07:23 pm

I bought a new breeding buck rabbit today. He cost $30. I am selling some old hutches this week at $30 each, so one of the hutches will pay for the little boy. He is a purebred New Zealand broken black. He is only 12 weeks old, so we have 3 months before he can start doing his duty. My son named him Zander.

I am trying to add a photo. Hopefully this will work.

Well, That Should Help

April 10th, 2016 at 11:23 pm

DH told me today that he got confirmed for an extra week of overtime, so that should really help me to stop stressing out over the Emergency Fund. I should be able to get it to $20K by the end of the year easily now, at least if the job continues. He also said that he should know the contract status by the end of the week. We've all heard that before, though. I am not holding my breath that they will not extend it again.

We had a big medical bill come in for my daughter yesterday. I thought we were done with big bills from the sleep doctor, but apparently not. Well, the overtime will cover it. I went ahead and paid it on the credit card, but will pay it off next Friday now that I know the income will be there for it. I would have just used the money allocated to go for the down payment fund if I'd had to. It would have been a bummer to not put money in that fund that month, but better than dipping into the EF.

DH finally got the numbers to me on what his new income will be and it was $97 more than I'd projected, so yay. I'm still resentful of the pay cut, mind you, but the extra almost $100 is going to make it a little easier and less stressful than I thought it would be on the new budget. I'm all for easier and less stressful.

It's My Ten Year Blogoversary!

April 9th, 2016 at 05:38 pm

I almost missed it! 7.5 million hits and ten years ago today I started this blog. I was desperate about our debt and had no idea at all how to start saving money for an Emergency Fund. In the past ten years my husband and I have really changed our lives around. We paid off our mortgage in 12 years instead of 15 (then sold the house), paid off our van, paid off all of our credit cards, and now have just the 0% loan to my mother that we are working on.

Blogging about it all has been a sanity saver and you guys have all been so amazing, giving me advice, tough love when I needed it, and hand-holding when I would panic. The support has been amazing. Thank you all for taking this journey with me!

Payday Report and Need to do Something about the Storage Units

April 9th, 2016 at 10:58 am

I really need to start doing the payday reports again. It keeps me super focused and on top of my spending, which I really need to be. We have had a lot of medical expenses already this month. Some of it we will get reimbursed for when everything is straightened out with our insurance company, but that could still take a month or two to shake out.

$400.00 Utilities
$150.00 Emergency Fund
$_80.82 Internet
$_47.86 Life Insurance DH
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$150.00 Laptop
$227.00 Storage (went up again, ouch)
$250.00 Chiropractic Monthly Family Plan
$140.52 Sleep Doctor
$_86.01 ENT Doctor
$369.00 Dentist (getting a partial reimbursement)
$_50.00 Allowances
$100.00 Garden/Household
-------------------------
$2096.51 Total

I have $167 and some change left in the checking account. $90 of that is allocated to physical therapy, but she's cancelled on my 2 weeks running, so that money may get dumped into the EF if I don't hear from her by next Friday.

DH and I are going to start going through our big storage unit when he comes home next time and seeing what we can get rid of/sell/donate. We really need to get down to having just one storage unit. The second one is $120 and it doesn't have too much in it, but the first one is jam packed. If we can free up about 8 square feet we can get everything into one unit and clear up the additional expense.

I know some of it is just stuff we didn't want to deal with when we moved, like boxes of papers, bags of outgrown clothes, little kid toys, and multiple outdated electronics. I know there are at least 3 VCR's and while keeping one to play all the old VHS tapes is fine, we certainly don't need 3. We used to have one for our bedroom, one for the living room, and one for the kid's playroom.

We could probably even sell one bundled with a bunch of old Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Bear in the Big Blue House, and kiddie movie VHS tapes at a garage sale. I mean who really buys VHS tapes anymore, not many folks still have VCR's, but might with a big enough stash of tapes and a player with a working remote. Obviously not for a huge amount of money, but maybe $10 to $15.

And I know we have all the fairy Barbies and their forest, too. Which could go for another small lump sum. Complete Fisher Price Little people set-ups, both original and modern are kicking around. And a huge toddler train layout from Little Lionel, which would go for a bit more. Just a lot of stuff like that. Not that we'd make a fortune or anything at all, but we might be able to get a decent garage sale together for June.

I know that when the time comes to move, I don't want to be hauling a ton of useless stuff to our new home. And I certainly don't want to deal with boxes of old junk mail and statements then, either. Our car has an outlet in it, so we can even shred things right there, pack them into paper sacks, and take them to be recycled, without ever bringing them home.

It'll take a lot of work, but he is going to have 3 weeks off in a row and this is probably the best time to do it, before gardening season gets into full swing.

2016 Goals for the Emergency Fund

April 9th, 2016 at 10:11 am

I ran the numbers and in order for me to hit my goal of $20,000 in the Emergency Fund by the end of 2016 I need to come up with $1672.68 total beyond the $150 per month that I deposit normally now. That is $209.08 a month extra I'd need to be saving, or a total of $359.08 a month.

With the interest I earn on my savings accounts of $35 or so a month, I can bring the $209.08 down to $174.08 extra each month to scrape up. I'm not sure if that is going to be doable. It would have been before the pay cut, but I don't know otherwise.

If I drop my goal for the year down to $19,000 I would only have to find an additional $84.08 a month, minus the $35 for interest each month, so $49.08. I usually manage to scrape an extra $50 or so together each month between farm sales, the coin jar, and any non-allocated money left at the end of each pay period. So I know I can actually hit the $19,000 goal as long as nothing unforeseen comes up.

I might be able to hit the $20K goal if I am able to sell some rabbits or rabbit meat often enough, but not just from general scrimping and saving.

I think I need to be realistic in having $19K be my goal for 2016, with $20K being more of a stretch goal that I can aim for, but not get discouraged if I can't actually hit that. If DH gets any over time, assuming his job stays stable, we can hit $20K, because then I can grab a $1000 chunk from the OT paycheck for the EF. But that is not something we can depend on.

I know he has one day of overtime coming up, but that is not anything like a full week of it. Still, that one day might help sway the balance towards hitting $20K. Or at least $19,500. I really, really, really want that $20K.

$20K means that we would have 5 months of tight living expenses or 6 months of extremely bare bones living expenses in the bank and from there it would mean we would probably have 6 months of tight living expenses by mid-2017 since part of the tax return would go into it. At which point I could head towards $30K, which would mean 6 months of comfortable living expenses or 7.5 months of tight living expenses or 10 months of bare bones living expenses.

Once I get to $24K I feel like I can start laddering six month CD's and start earning a little bit more interest than I am earning now.

All of that to say, $19K is my reasonable goal and $20K is my hopeful goal for this year.