Things are looking up even more, financially, for 2015. Several areas tie into each other for some of the longer term goals.
1) A look at zillow for an estimate of our current real estate value turned into a very nice surprise. The value is finally up, percentage wise. Where I kept hearing values were rising in our area, but it wasn't being reflected in the last year or two, whenever I would look on zillow.
We are now within less than $20,000 of what we owe, and my strong guess is that this value on zillow does not reflect all the upgrades we have done inside and out. The fencing alone should bring it up a nice chunk, plus the remodels of the bathrooms, new wood laminate flooring in kitchen, laundry and one bedroom, as well as new stainless appliances in the kitchen. Plus my boss, who has bought and sold a some rental properties in the past couple of years, as well as helped her daughter through a home purchase, said that zillow seems to be lower than houses end up selling for, so she said our value probably is higher than what is showing online.
I would say we are probably are or are very close to being out of water and as long as house values continue to rise at a normal rate (not like the crazy years), combined with our amount going to principle each month/year, we should be out of the water and on dry land in the near future. At least then we will have some option if we wanted to move. If we can keep out the drug dealers/buyers it's actually a very nice area and we have a very nice piece of property.
We are starting year 9 of a 20 year mortgage, which is also a plus, in my book. Even though our payments are higher, I went with a 20 year mortgage instead of the conventional 30 year. We are almost half way there now and that is a good feeling. It will be paid by the time I'm 62 and I plan to work a few more years after that we will have a nice chunk each month to add to retirement, with no house payment.
I'm not sure where some reader(s) got the idea that because I have mentioned that we are underwater it means we are behind on our payments. We have had mortgage payments since we got married 30 years ago and have never even been late on one payment in our life. In my "logical" way of thinking an underwater house is only bad if you
plan to sell. Otherwise the market will come back (just like the stock
market and my 401k) around, as well as we keep adding equity back into
it with every payment. We also want to do one more small remodel job -
re-do the kitchen countertops with something new and updated and have
the walls redone (like our bathrooms) so I can paint them. I am hoping
to be able to get that done this next summer. We shouldn't have to spend much on landscaping, other than to maintain it and the annual flowers I plant.
The past 2-3 years we have pretty much put all our extra money back into this house, to get things fixed and updated that were neglected for many years, while DH was struggling to build his business and we were broke and then when he got sick and couldn't work and we were broke. We had our house, garage and shed painted, added fencing, lots of landscaping, new flooring in several rooms, as well as semi-remodels/upgrades in both bathrooms. There really isn't anything wrong with our house now, other than the regular maintenance that has to be done to keep a house in working order, but that is costly too. Except for the fencing, house/garage/shed painting and the bathrooms, everything else was all DIY.
2) Salary raise(s)
At this point I know I have a $250 per month raise in the income from my side job. That was a 33% raise! Not bad, not bad :-) I don't know yet what/if my raise will be on my regular full time job, I just know that reviews will be done in January. Based on all the previous raises, I am assuming/hoping it will be at a minimum of $200 per month. It's hard to say, because I got a raise in summer of 2013 that was $6,000 a year and 6 months later (last January) got another $3.000 a year. I was not expecting that raise, at all. So, I am low-estimating it and hoping for that.
We will still have our 10% of salary bonus plan in effect for 2015. If we meet our
goals (we have never NOT met them in the years we have had bonus
incentive plans in effect) I will also get another 10% of my annual
salary in a bonus. I am looking at potentially grossing close to $100,000 next year. When I started my job 9 years ago I was making $50k a year (and before that I was making only $39k a year)
No matter what I will be increasing my 401k by at least $100 per month, or more, depending on what I find out at my review.
3) DS owes us a good chunk of money for the vehicle he has and another piece of equipment he had with him (but sold out from under us and kept/spent the money). Not sure at this point if we will ever see the money, he was supposed to start making monthly payments (even if it's just $50-$100) but we haven't seen anything yet. So, if he gets his act together at some point, we might start seeing a little extra money coming our way every so often.
4) The charges I put on my care credit card for dental last year and a couple of other purchases we put on credit, with 6-12 months no interest will all be paid in February. I've been making equal monthly payments (not minimum payments) so that they will be zero'd out by the dates the promotions expire. That all has been totaled about $350 a month and after February, I won't have that amount going out anymore. I needed the dental work, so the credit option was a great way for me to do it and get it taken care of, as well as helped rebuild my credit. I do have some more dental work to be done in 2015, but my benefits should cover most of it and I am setting aside money in my FSA account for the rest.
5) Savings currently sits at a bit over $5,000, which is starting to feel like a "safer" place to be. IF. for some reason, I lost my job, I also have about $5,000 (after taxes) in unused vacation time on the books. I do not touch this vacation. I saved it up to keep as a reserve for job loss or sickness. I earn about 4 1/2 weeks a year, so earn plenty to let this extra time sit on the books and not use it.
6) 401k - currently is at about $40,000. Not a lot for our age, but we sure got a late start at it. Our matching and profit sharing will be funded for 2014 in the next few months and will add another $3500 to it, as well as my regular contributions.
So there you have it - pretty much our financial picture for the upcoming year in a nutshell. Let's hope there are no surprises (hahahaha!)