Friday, October 9, 2015

Really TGIF

I'm so glad it's Friday. Back on Tuesday I was already feeling like it should be Thursday, so it's felt like a long week for some reason.

DH hasn't heard anymore back from the 2 news stations that had contacted him, so most likely that isn't going to happen. Our councilman has been out again, driving through. We told him about the newest RV to arrive and he drove into the culdesac to take pics of it and said he will report it (I reported it to our county code enforcement that same day). He also then drove over to slumlandords main property on the other side of us, the one with the single wide that should have been condemned by now. He reported it like 2 months ago and apparently it should have been vacated and boarded up by now. He parked, got out of his truck (of course all these neighbors have no idea who this guy is) and started taking pictures. He told DH that while he was doing that he heard a gun cock. He didn't see anyone, but that's what he heard. Stupid people - that just makes him more determined to get all this fixed.

I also reported the RV (which supposedly had already been reported by councilman 2 months ago) that has been parked and occupied for 5 months now. The county limit (with a permit) is 4 months. I got an email reply back that there is an open case on this property and she will add RV to wasn't the RV included in the first place? So stupid. No wonder it takes forever (or in most cases never) to get resolved. Councilman said that it's becoming apparent to him that the only property violations the land use department really works on, is if it's someone with money they can fine. Otherwise they just ignore it. Nice, huh?

I'm getting my grocery list done up for my weekly shopping trip. Per my budget tracking, I have $130 left to spend before I get paid again next Thursday. Well, if I do take out either next Mon or Tues, I'll have about $120 for groceries and misc. That should be enough. I have a couple of over ripe bananas, so I will make banana bread for our week's dessert. But it will probably only last a couple of days :)

I'm taking a quick break from work to write this post. I'm having a pet-peeve moment, so a break is probably necessary. I'm trying to process payroll this morning (twice a month) and as with every single payroll for the last 7 years, I am always waiting on one employee to get me his timesheet. I always send out a reminder email the afternoon before I need it, with a reminder that I need it by the next morning, no later than 10am. Every single payroll processing day I have to remind him that I need it .How hard is it to fill it out and email it to me? Geez. EVERY. SINGLE. PAYROLL. One of these days I wish I could just process the payroll without his hours and not give him a paycheck! I'm pretty sure he'd never be late again, haha!

Well, miracle of miracles, I got back on my work desktop screen and he had sent his timesheet - a half hour early even! He must have known I was complaining about him. LOL..........only 5 more hours..sigh.....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pinching pennies

I got a great deal on some shampoo and conditioner last week. 4 huge bottles of Tresamme for 25 cents each. I haven't tried the shampoo yet, but I am loving the conditioner. It makes my hair so soft. These bottles should last me quite a long time.

Yesterday I had to run an errand, so I stopped in a grocery store that had 1/2 gallons of milk on sale for .99 each. That is a very good price, and I drink a lot of milk, so I bought four.  Lately I have been drinking an organic milk that I love. It tastes so good........but at $4 for a half gallon.....that's $8 a gallon vs. $2 a gallon (on sale) for the regular stuff.  Gotta switch back and save some money. The .99 sale is going on through Saturday. I might stop in again on Saturday and get a couple more 1/2 gallons. I guess you can freeze milk? Anyone have an experience with that? I have read that low fat or skim milk works best. I have 2%.

Last nights dinner was a substitute. I forgot to take the chicken breasts out of the freezer early enough, so instead I took out the leftover taco soup I had frozen a couple months ago. I'm so glad I saved what was left because it tasted just as good as made fresh and we just had a basically no cost meal, other than the bag of Frito scoops. Tuesday's take out dinner was Teriyaki. I was going to stop for Chinese but then remembered they are closed on Tuesdays. One Chicken Teriyaki meal is enough for DH and I to share, and it only cost $8.15. Not bad for 2 people to eat.

That trip to the store for the milk cost me $23.81. It just never ends. We needed a new wall/corded phone for the kitchen. The one we've had (for EVER) stopped letting us dial. It's been broken awhile and we've just been using it to answer, but can't dial out. DH had a good point the other day, based on our precarious neighborhood. What if we need to dial 911 fast and we can't grab that phone off the wall and instead are running around the house looking for one of our cordless phones? So, I picked up a $10 wall phone. I couldn't find one cheaper on Amazon, so I went with this one. I also had to pick up some more OTC medicine for DH. I bought the wrong stuff the other day (figured out after he already opened it). I did do a search for a coupon before I went to the store and at least was able to print off one for $2 off, so that helped.

The foundation make up I have been using is in a squeeze type tube. It's ok make up, but not something I plan to buy again. But I want to use it all up before I go try something new. It was getting hard to squeeze out a few weeks ago, but then I realized if I turned it upside down and sat it on it's lid I still have lots left in there. So, weeks later I'm still using it.  Just wish I knew what to try next. I can't find the one I used for years anymore and the kind I tried before my current one was awful. I threw it out and didn't even finish it. This current one isn't too bad, but being a CC type it's just a bit too "opaque" covering for my liking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Working the options in my head

DH and I are in the "dreaming of a better (or at least different) life" stage, now that we know we are getting closer to being able to sell. But the logistics of making it all work, especially to move to another state, is a bit overwhelming.

First there is all that timing of getting your home sold and then finding something new (and closed purchase) by the time you have to be out of your old place. I have always wondered how people managed that. I know some have enough money and good credit to own 2 homes at the same time, until they can sell the old one, but that won't be our case.

And there's our credit rating......we are currently 5 years past our bankruptcy filing. I have no idea how hard it will be to get financing. I have read numerous places that we would qualify for an FHA loan after 2 years and they finance with a credit score as low as 580 (ours is currently at 700), so unless I'm totally off, it seems we should be able to get a loan that way, if we can't get a conventional loan. I know that FHA doesn't require a very big down payment, but we for sure want to have enough to put down 20%. Heck, based on the equity we have now and if we wanted to put down a much smaller down payment, we could get the heck out of here.......but that would be a stupid move financially, given our ages. So, that is the main reason we are still here putting up with druggies :/

Then there is finding a job  Eeek! That part seems the most daunting to me, but at least being an accountant my skills are not tied to any one industry. Ideally, I'd love to find the job first, in order to widen the areas of search and then move to that area, rather than move to an area and have my job prospects limited to what I am willing to drive to get to work. But my mind isn't wrapping around the timing of all that working out.

I would definitely at least ask my current employer if they would be willing to keep me on and let me work all remote. Currently I am in the office 16 1/2 hours of my 40 hour work week and often times only 11 hours in the office per week. Of the work that I do that I physically need to be there, I'd say it's more like 5 hours a week, the rest of the time I just work on things that I could be doing at home. The only things that I can't do from home are preparing the bank deposits (that I then scan into a nifty little machine and don't even have to go to the bank or mail the deposit), sorting through all my mail/bills, and cutting actual checks and all the filing of checkstubs/invoices and paperwork.

They could hire a p/t clerical person (at much less per hour than I make) to come in and do that. I'd be willing to take a pay cut. Our cost of living will be such that doing that is totally feasible on my end. (most likely any other job I get at new place will be less than I make in this big city). The extra hours per week that I would have available could be used to work on increasing the time I have for researching when we don't get paid what we expected to get paid on our commissions. This happens so often, and I really don't have the time available to work on it. We just end up accepting what we were paid, for the most part. If I was able to work on those more, the recovery of lost income would probably pay for the part time person.

Hey, I have to at least ask! No one ever gets a yes answer by not asking in the first place. That would be PERFECT, if I could continue with my job that I love. I'm about 99% certain I will be able to keep my side job - it's all remotely done anyway, so there will still be that $12k a year income. It is essentially exactly the same job I do now full time. This company just has their office clerk do the deposits and she pays the bills via online banking. She then scans and forwards me the deposit slip and all the remittance stubs and I enter in Quickbooks and process all the commission payments in the order system. I also process the payroll. All same exact things I do at my full time job, other than I do the clerical stuff in the office setting.

But, if that isn't an option I had another idea to make this transition work a little better. If we sold, we would then buy something new in new area, while I still kept this job. We'd probably qualify for a mortgage much better on this income and the fact that I've worked here over 10 years. If asked I will say that I will be working remotely when we move. We'll get everything moved to new house and DH will stay there while I stay back here (at my moms) and continue to work my job, while I actively search for a new job in new area. That way there is no gap in income coming in and allows me to be much more picky to whatever job I accept and not just take whatever I can get.

There are definitely a lot of homes in the areas we like and in our price range (even lower priced) and we will end up with a stick built home on acreage for the same price as we have here for a manuf. home on one acre, in a suburban area that takes hours to get anywhere. A 50 mile trip usually takes 2 hours. On a Friday afternoon it is 3 hours.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let's take it to the local news

Over the course of my post (rants!) about our neighborhood drug problem several of you have suggested we try the media. Well, DH got so fed up that Sunday he shot off an email to all the 4 major news stations in our area. Two have responded. The first one with a couple emails for some general info (address, etc) and the other emailed and then called DH and he talked with someone in their investigative department for almost 2 hours! They seem very interested. He's now in the process of emailing her kind of a timeline of all what has taken place and what steps we have taken thus far over the 2 year period.  If it does get put on the news I'm sure the sheriff will be pissed about it and we'll never get anything done, but they haven't done anything anyway, so whatever! The lady who he spoke with seemed real interested in all the charges that keep getting dropped, no jail time, etc.

In the meantime, slumlandlord has brought in yet another occupied RV on his rental property. Nice. They already ran over the water line moving onto the property. I reported it the new rv to the county as soon as I got home. I wanted to do this so it is documented how long it will have been there, when it's gets past it's 4 month allowed (with a permit......ya, I'm sure he got a permit.....). I also reported the other rv that is on slumlandlords main property. It has now been there, occupied, for over 5 months. According the the county they have to have a permit and then are only allowed to stay 4 months out of a 12 month period.

Rising prices

My overall monthly budget for food (including take out), health and beauty, household supplies and pet food/supplies just seems so dang high. I budget $800 a month for the 2 of us. Sometimes I come in under, but mostly it seems to be $800 or more. Is it me or do food prices just seem to keep going up and up? Eggs and meat are getting so costly.

I do 2 take out dinners a week (sometimes only 1) but they are usually just for one meal for DH and usually about $8 each, so not much really. I can barely make a good dinner for that amount. On DH's take out night's I just try to eat up leftovers or make myself something cheap, like pancakes or something.

I thought I was doing great when I walked out of the grocery store last Friday for $95.40, but then I wrote down all my other little misc expenses.....

$12.17 for a new wood blind "wand". Our kitchen one got broke quite awhile ago and I can't open the blinds. Not that I've been particularly interested in opening them just to look back down into the drive up drug window, but still........Finally found one online -  that cost almost as much to ship as the part.

$38.26 - dog food (this will last a month) and 2 pigs ears. It was old dogs birthday, so I also bought 2 .99 pigs ears :)

$16.38 - saw blades for DH's reciprocal saw

$13.82 - misc food and pet supplies at Target

$7.65 - DH's take out

so, already I am up to $183.68 total - almost the $200 for the week's budget and I still have 4 days until my next week starts a new $200 budget.

The $95 I spent on groceries for this next week was pretty bare bones. For meat I only bought 2 lb of ground beef. Another meal has chicken breasts, but I already have some in the freezer. The rest are meatless. I really didn't even buy very much and it was still almost $100.  That's not a typical week - usually it's around $130 total. I use coupons, ibotta rebates, Walmart savings catcher, etc.   I try to stock up when prices are low. I just don't know what else to do and it's the only thing we really have any wiggle room in the budget.

Here's what we're eating this week for dinners:
Fri - we had hamburgers and I used up the buns bought for some the previous week
Sat - Bertolli chicken and marsala skillet meal (this is really tasty for a frozen meal and DH's current favorite dinner meal)
Sun - Hamburger Helper Stroganoff. We haven't had this in ages/years. Simple and easy - which is what I go for
Mon - chili dogs and corn bread
Tues - dh take out/me whatever I can fix with what's already in the cupboards (sometimes it's just cereal!). I might get Chinese take out tonight. It's only about $11 and feeds both of us.
Wed - chicken breasts and stovetop and mixed veggies
Thurs - DH take out

Breakfasts for me are a cup of coffee (I have a Keurig but I use an adapter so I don't have to buy the pricey k-cups) and a glass of Carnation instant breakfast. DH has an "egg mcmuffin" that I make on the days I don't have to go to the office and a mountain dew. On the other days I think he just has toast - and of course his morning "coffee" Mountain Dew. I did find that a pack of 10 english muffins was only 20 cents more than a pack of 6, so I bought the 10 and froze half.

Lunches for me are usually leftovers or Soup at Hand and a granola bar or something extra. Sometimes we have free lunches at work. On the days I work at home I just kinda snack. DH always has a lunchmeat and cheese sandwich on 9 grain bread, some chips and another Mountain Dew. The rest of the day he drinks water with the Crystal Light ice tea packets. I buy the cheapest case of Walmart brand bottled water.

I usually make some dessert for the week. This weekend I made peanut butter cookies (from scratch). Last week was a pan of brownies (from a box). Other weeks I make a cake (from box).

Nothing fancy - but still all costs a fortune.  Then I stopped at Target yesterday to take advantage of a good price on toilet paper. I bought 2 big 30 roll packs (and got a $10 Target gift card back), some otc medicine and 2 boxes of corn bread mix....another $47 spent, so I am now at $230.95 of my $400 budget and still 9 more days until the next payday/budget.

And I just found out the health insurance plan I have DH and DD on will go up another $44 a month next year. So, ya, I'm still lovin''s just done wonders for my budget. $520 a month for pretty much nothing and if one of them has something major I'll still have a $6350 deductible to meet first. Woohooo! NOT.........

Monday, October 5, 2015

Almost good news

I haven't posted much the past almost week. I was busy trying to get caught up with my side job! But I'm all caught up now and the info has been sent off to the CPA for their quarterly review later this week.  

The Realtor came to our home yesterday afternoon and gave us her appraisal. Better than I thought! I had guessed $225,000 (zillow says $191,000) and she said $249,500. Not quite enough, yet, that we would want/need to get out of it in order to be able to move and buy something else, but a lot closer than I thought we were.

We owe 169k. It was very helpful that the realtor included an estimate of seller fees/closing costs, as I really had no idea how much all that would be. I didn't realize there would be an excise tax to pay to the state of 1.8%. I don't know if that is because this is a manufactured home or if that is on all types of home sales.

Also, one thing I am wondering (in looking at this, after she left) is the realtor fees. I had always thought I heard that it was 6% on the first 100k and then 3% on the amount over that. She has it listed as 6% on the full sales price. That would make a difference of $4500 from my estimate, which is quite a bit. Anyone know what is standard? 

She said we "have a beautiful piece of property - everything is just immaculate". That was nice to hear - even with our ugly, mostly dead lawn, from this summer's drought. Our big garage/shop will be the selling point - it is what a lot of people are looking for and hard to find. We also explained the drug dealers issue. She said we are not required to disclose this, it is the buyers responsibility to do their own research. That kind of surprised me, especially in this day and age of lawsuits. In talking later, both dh and I said we would feel guilty not letting someone know. I guess that is something we will have to work through....we are too honest.

DH was disappointed (as I knew he would be) because he had this expectation that it would be worth a lot more (he still does), but like I told him - we can at least take out the positive from this that we now have equity! A year ago we thought we were still under water and now we find out we have 80k in equity. I think that is something to be happy and relieved about, for sure.

According to the "experts" home values in our area are supposed to increase 8% in 2016. That would bring us up to $270 as well as our mortgage balance down $13k (with our payments). That would put us right in the area we need/want to be to move. I think this might (if luck goes our way) be doable by the end of next summer.

If and when we decide to do this, I will also get a couple more comps from other realtors. I know from when we had to get them for our bankruptcy filing, back in 2010, that their estimates can be all over the map! We had to get 3 and they seriously were 100k apart, with one in the middle! Crazy.

In related news - the drug activity just exploded over the weekend. Who would have thought it could actually be any worse, but it is......and the cops can do absolutely nothing and 2 that were here yesterday said there is nothing they can do. Can you freaking believe that?!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Not much hope

As we were preparing to go over to the nearby neighborhood meeting with the head sheriff after dinner, we get a phone call. Some real estate agent just doing cold calls, it appears. Asks DH if we will be in the market to sell our home in the near future. DH laughs and says if we could sell this place, we'd be gone tomorrow! So they talk a bit and then he passes her off to me (of course). So - she is coming by Sunday afternoon to give us her estimate on our home value. Gotta start somewhere, right? At least then we'll have a good feel of how close (or far) we are to having enough equity to get out of here.

Honestly, I think if/when we get to that point, that we can sell this place, we will just get out of this whole area now and not wait until retirement. Like DH said - really, for us, there is no quality of life here. Sure, it's a beautiful region, but when it take a half hour just to go 5 miles, it's ridiculous. When we moved out to the rural-ish area 25 years ago, it didn't take 90-120 minutes to get to work (and then same back home) in the city. Now this area rural area is overgrown and we spend all our time sitting in traffic just to get anywhere at all.

When we do eventually get to move, it will probably be to somewhere in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming. I'll find a job. We'll take the pay cut and take the better quality of life (for us) over the money.

The neighborhood meeting wasn't anything enlightening or even hopeful. The head sheriff just gave his normal speech of how he doesn't have enough deputies, they are spread too thin. Blah blah blah. then the Lieutenant said the same thing. Then the (awesome) deputy, who has been trying his darndeset to help us all, spoke. He really is the only one that gave us any glimmer of hope. that this will ever be resolved. He is a fairly young, on the ball, deputy. He is also the deputy that this other neighborhood pitched in money and hired him to do some off-duty patrol for 4 different 4 hour shifts. They have 2 drug dealing houses in their neighborhood too, like us. The one guy and his girlfriend from one of the houses are both in jail now (though we all know that won't last long), so at least they are getting a bit of a break, but it all just goes to the other house or explains why traffic 6 blocks down the road, in our neighborhood, has increased. They gotta go somewhere.........

They have a great group of neighbors over there - a big turnout of probably 20 people. Represented from our neighborhood? Just me and DH. Same old story.

Let's hope this real estate agent gives us really good news, LOL.