Thursday, October 29, 2015

A day off

Have you ever played hooky from work? I haven't in years and years, but I am today. I called in sick. Though, technically we don't have sick days at my work - it's all just PTO (paid time off) to be used for......well, when we want time off! But, of course I still feel guilty. There is absolutely nothing pressing to be done at work, besides which I have oodles of unused time available. I think the last time I called in sick, when I wasn't, was probably back before 2007.

It's my regular day to work from the office, but DH's friend scheduled today to finish the work on his trailer, so dh needs to be gone all day. When he first told me about it Monday or Tuesday night I was like "well, I have to be in the office on Thursday" (and really, only because we are having a potluck lunch and I had signed up to bring a dish).  First he's worried about leaving the house alone and then he's worried about the dogs - who never have to get left alone, because someone is always here every day. Then yesterday evening came. I made cookies, then I made dinner and after that I didn't have any energy to make another dish. So, I thought - ok I'll prep all the ingredients and then do it in the morning before I leave for work (since I don't have to leave until 8:30). Then as I'm laying in bed this morning, waiting for my alarm to go off, I thought...hmmm....I should just call in sick today. (Then I don't have to make the dang dish) It would be the perfect day to play hooky. I have the house to myself and can just relax and do whatever the heck I want. So I am! And I didn't tell DH - other than to just text him that plans at work changed and I can work from home today, LOL.

I thought Karma was trying to bite me in the butt, when my Keurig wouldn't brew and I couldn't have coffee this morning! Finally, after about 4 times of turning it off and on and unplugging it and plugging it back it, wonderful coffee started dripping out. Whew!

I feel a nap coming on, already :)  Other plans just include catching up on the latest episode of Madam Secretary and reading some more of the book I'm currently enjoying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ho hum week

Halfway through Wednesday already and I don't really have much of anything exciting to post. It would mostly be downer/complaining and I'm tired of that LOL. I'm working from home today listening to DH have a major whine-fest (since last night) about how crappy his life is, along with making me feel like crap because he can't buy a $450k house.

When I'm off work this afternoon/evening I need to do some cooking/baking. I need to make some peanut butter cookies for DH's friend.  And I need to make my macaroni and cheese dish to take to a potluck lunch at work tomorrow. I may end up holding off on the cookies. I think DH will be seeing friend another day soon, besides seeing him tomorrow, when he does some more work on the trailer.

DD is coming home for the weekend, but I'm not holding my breath that we'll spend much time together. I'm sure she will be with her BF for most of it.

At this time refinancing our mortgage and heloc is a no-go. First I checked with the bank that holds our mortgage and they said they are not financing manufactured homes at this time. Then I checked with the bank that has our heloc. They will do mfg. homes, but only at 65% LTV for a conventional loan. With our current loan amount we'd need, we would have to have our home appraise at $270k and I doubt that would happen. He also then gave me info on an FHA loan, but that would add $3100 to the principal of our mortgage for mortgage insurance, in addition to an extra $65 a month for this insurance.....needed for 11 years of the 15 year mortgage.  That's another $8580 added to our overall cost. No thanks. But, I really liked this guy - we only communicated via email but he was so on the ball and quick to respond and kept checking back with me after I told him I was going to try a broker.

Then I contacted a mortgage broker that specializes in mfg. home loans. I was very specific in asking if there were any conventional loans available that would be in the 70-75% LTV range and that I wasn't interested in an FHA loan. After 2 attempts to get info from her, she tells me they do have lenders, she just wasn't sure if our credit score would pass, but I said let's try and apply anyway. So, I fill out another application and supply information. Then she comes back and says sorry, but she was wrong and apparently even though we do not want any actual "cash out" to refinance paying off a mortgage and heloc is still considered a "cash out" type of loan and they all require 65% LTV for mfg homes...but we can get an FHA her closing costs were almost $4,000 higher than the bank I was talking to! No thanks again.  I'll revisit this all again next spring and see where we are at. We will need less of a loan by then, as well as it will probably appraise a little more by then and we'll be in the 65% threshold and can do a conventional refi. I will definitely be going with the guy from the bank, when we are ready to do this. He was great at customer service (rare in this day and age) and his costs were very low.

I needed to refill the thyroid medicine for the cat. The pharmacy had told me they would need a couple days notice so they can make up the compound, so I tried to time it all with the vet visit and test results to know if cat was staying on same dosage and get it before he ran out. Once I knew that, I called to get the refill. When I was in the first visit and got a 30 day supply she had told me if I got a 90 day supply it would be a lot cheaper, but needed to wait for the first month and make sure the dosage would work. So, I paid $42 for the 30 day supply last month and now planned to get the 90 day supply. But the lady on the phone tells me that even though there were still 3 months left of refills, the vet had called it in as monthly and she'd need a different prescription for 90 day. I sighed and said fine, but inside I was saying good grief! It's a Cat!

Well, they apparently decided it could be filled all at once. So, I only had to pay $65 for 3 months - half the cost per month of getting it monthly. I was really happy it got filled that way and I saved some bucks.

Did I mention I bought a $10 bra at Walmart a few weeks ago? Most comfortable bra I've ever had. LOL. We'll see how long it hold up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekend wrap up

Saturday was just pretty much an uneventful day. I did the grocery shopping and filled up the car with gas in the morning and I can't say I really accomplished anything at all the rest of the day. I was going to make some peanut butter cookies, but by afternoon....and then evening....I didn't even feel like doing that. I just had no ambition.

I don't even know what I did the rest of the day after I got home and put the groceries away. I talked on the phone a little while with our councilman, who called. Even though I have no hope for our country's political future, I sure do like this guy. He epitomizes what a politician should be! He is working (and working hard!) for his constituents. He just doesn't sit in his office downtown all day. He is out in his district talking to people and trying to get things done.

Councilman had gotten a tip of a mid-level drug dealer's house about 5 miles from us. Thought DH should drive by there and see if any cars might be there match cars that come to our drug houses. This would most likely be the supplier to these houses in our neighborhood. So, DH and friend (he now has 2 new friends from this neighborhood) from other neighborhood took a drive over there, but didn't see anything. But once DH and friend figured out the name of this dealer from the house - it all fit together. She is the sister of the one of the drug dealers in the other neighborhood.

I finished a book - yay me. I haven't actually read in so long. Now I've downloaded the next book in the series.

DH's welding friend finally said he'd get the work on DH's trailer done on Sunday. I figured I'd at least get a half of a day to myself :). Turns out I got the whole day and evening to boot! Wooo! Though I wasn't very happy that he couldn't have at least texted me that he wouldn't be home for dinner. If I had done that to him, he'd be throwing a fit.

I got the dusting and vacuuming done, stripped our bed and washed the sheets, pillow cases and duvet cover. Making our king sized bed and getting the duvet back inside the duvet always wears my back out. And for some stupid reason I always get the duvet turned around sideways, so it doesn't fit quite right and have to pull it out and start over.

I tried a cleaning tip I saw online for hard water and calcium build up on our kitchen sink faucet. Soaked some rags in vinegar and wrapped around the faucet for an hour. I had to do it twice, but it really did get most of it off and it's really shiny now.  I also tried another tip of cutting off a piece of magic eraser and putting it in the toilet bowl and leaving all day (or night). The guest/DD's bathroom toilet is old and has a big toilet bowl ring. It really worked!

I enjoyed the rest of my rare solitude day. I took a little nap. I read, I watched tv and took a bath.

Oh, and I got the thyroid results back on the old geezer cat and he's in normal levels now, so the medicine is working. That's good news.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

One more plea for help

On Friday morning DH made another attempt to get some action/help with our horrible neighborhood drug issue. Apparently he was confused as to why he was invited (by the head sheriff's office) to this meeting. It was a meeting between the county council and the sheriff's department, to discuss whatever was on their agenda, including this 5 person "property crimes" task force they are asking the council for additional money for (for 2016, which probably means that by the time they get it set up, it will be 2017 or close to it). DH got the (wrong) impression he was supposed to speak (in support) of this.

One of the gentlemen, from the nearby neighborhood with same exact problem (because it's all the same people visiting both neighborhoods), went to this meeting with DH (which I was very happy about because it meant I didn't have to go!). Well, DH wrote a little 3 minute speech but when he got there and they noticed he had paper in his hand they said this type of meeting isn't usually for the "citizens" to speak on. I guess he was just invited as a show by the sheriff to say "see....we are trying to get more staff so we can help your issue". But I guess our councilman and the head chair councilman decided they'd let DH and the the other neighbor speak because the Sheriff had brought an insurance agent to speak about property crimes. If he got to speak, so should they.

DH is a very good writer, so he always makes some impact and he said when he was done and turned around to go sit down, the head Sheriff mouthed "wow" to him.  Then the other neighbor guy got up and said a bit...mostly highlighting that he is 68 years old. He served his country. He worked a career. He's a homeowner,  pays his taxes and doesn't deserve to have to live in a neighborhood that is left to run by druggies.

After it was over Head Sheriff came over to DH, shook his hand and said that was a "total class" speech. He just kept saying how classy it was. Then the council Chair came over and told DH what he said was very eloquent. So, DH came home feeling pretty proud of himself.

Here's the speech (though I left out the names):

I tend to get sidetracked in details when speaking freely as Mr XXX and some members of the Sheriff’s department can attest, so I’m going to read from a prepared statement if that’s ok.  And XX I do appreciate the time you’ve given us and vowing to never give up on us.

I had the privilege to lead a volunteer organization for 5 years and learned very early the importance of being willing to accept answers that you don’t necessarily agree with.  I also sat across from a neurologist when I was 37 years old and have had to apply that same principle for the past 14 years.

The mission of the XXXX County Sheriff's Department is to protect life and property, to uphold rights and to help build stronger, more livable communities.

That is the mission statement published by the XXXX County Sheriff’s office.   I don’t think there can be any argument that in order to fulfill the narrative in that statement, that the Sheriff needs men and woman in uniform out on the street.  How he gets there takes money, training, management, and a willingness by individuals to put themselves between law abiding and lawless people.

It also takes a strong policy put in place and adhered to in order for the lawless to understand that their freedom and rights doesn’t include stomping on the rights of others to live without fear of losing life, property, or their right to a livable community – like has happened to us recently.

One point we keep hearing is how understaffed the Sheriff’s department is, along with other county entities whose jobs are to enforce the laws written.  And yet policies seem more aimed to protect the rights of those who didn’t put the money, time, and effort into building a livable neighborhood or community, and those who fail to abide by the codes and laws you write, allows them to systematically drive us out of our home.

A little more than 60 days ago I spoke to all of you about the problems that have enveloped our neighborhood for more than two years now, and we did get the opportunity to meet with Sheriff XXX and his staff about it.  We listened to them and the solution they were willing and able to enact.  We recognize the staffing issues, along with the Sheriff’s prioritizing of response.  And we do believe that staffing and budget is a real issue.  We also differ from the position that adding a property crimes task force is the solution this county needs right now, but it goes back to being willing to accept that with which you disagree.  And ultimately, that’s why we pay all of you – to make the decisions that affect us all and rely upon your experience to achieve the goals.

This past Monday evening I watched as cars and pedestrians pulled up to a known drug house every two minutes – for hours.  Faces I’ve learned to recognize and have learned their well-established history in the XXXX County court system for drugs and other offenses.  Frustrated with it all, I once again called for help and was politely told there was 62 calls pending.  A Monday evening around 9PM.  I could tell he was as frustrated as I.

It seems there are many solutions yet to be found, but the ultimate goal for everyone in this room should be the same – figure out how to make XXXX County a safer and more livable community.  I ask that you support the Sheriff’s proposal and provide them with the tools he believes is the solution.

Thank you.

It's sad that it's going to take (for us and the other neighborhood, at least) vigilante justice to get this problem solved. But, at this point and over 2 years of this, I don't care how it gets solved. It just needs to be solved and be solved now.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Not optimistic about the future anymore

The whole state of everything just seems to be going downhill. The world, this country, right on down to the actual neighborhood I have lived in for 26 years. It's all kind of mind boggling, really.

When you look at the demographics of where I live, I don't think one would expect to see this level of rampant lawlessness, crime, drug dealing, etc.  The (unincorporated) area where I live has a population of about 54,000. (The neighboring incorporated city, our address is listed in this city, has about 40,000 people living in it. They have their own separate city police and we are just outside city limits a few miles.  It is 78% white, with the rest of the 13% spread evenly among other ethnicity's. The median family income is $88,000 in this area.  So, where is all this decline in quality of living here coming from? It is just a result of the economy crashing in 2008, showing it's effects several years later?  But these "homeless" people aren't just people that fell on hard times. These are late teens, early 20's people that have chosen to live in this manner. They are certainly all able bodied people who could get a job and work for a living. Instead they'd rather just live wherever they can find a place to sleep and steal from others to feed their bellies and drug habits. There isn't one of the 3 brothers (now in their mid to late 20's) in the house behind us that couldn't be working.  There isn't one of the people at the renters house that couldn't be working or going to school. They simply choose not to do so.  As I type this there is literally a tent pitched down at the back edge of our property (half on our property, under a big tree).

Then add in that our county and state have gone totally soft on crime, especially crime involving drugs, and we apparently see all of this as a result. According to our very conservative councilman, there are others in power in the county who are trying to get a program taxpayer funded to give all these homeless people in the county (the total county population is about 750,000) free housing. Our councilman asked about the drug use of these people they want to give housing to. Oh - they will be allowed to drink and use drugs while in this tax payer paid for housing! Our councilman says he is just flabbergasted. When he pressed the issue their reply was "well, we'll still work to get them off their addictions, but that could take years". I could support some temporary help while they get on their feet, but we're still supposed to allow them to use the drugs, while living in these taxpayer funded homes. How about just NO! you want to get in this housing and change your life, then you have to test/stay clean? Good grief - this is really what our country is coming to, isn't it?

In my 51 years of experience and limited knowledge of politics, I at least always felt like even though Republicans and Democrats had different ideas and ways to achieve things, I always felt that both parties were united and strong in supporting the United States Constitution and everything the U.S. has always stood for. Being a strong country, the leader of the free world, etc. I don't feel that way about the Democratic party anymore. In fact, most of them and their ideology now scare the crap out of me, if I think about it too long.  I'm not one to debate politics and have no desire to.  Just stating my opinion that I am scared for our future.

My DH is spending his morning at yet another county/sheriff meeting - this time it's a budget meeting he was invited to speak at. What initially we were told was to be a new 6 person drug task force (specifically to work on neighborhoods like ours) has now instead somehow (aka politics) turned into a request to budget a new 5 person "property crimes" task force. A lot of fat good that will do our situation and DH plans to tell them that when he speaks.

(though as a side note - 10 minutes of some pressure on the druggies by our new "security system" 2 nights ago has done more to quiet this neighborhood than anything the police have done the past 2+ years)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New security system

The drug activity just keeps getting worse - especially at the drug house behind us. It's really just insane the blatant-ness (is that a word?) of it all. The other day it was literally every 2 minutes someone was either at their window or walking into their back door. DH actually went and stood down at the back corner of our property one evening, just as it was getting dark and recorded it all on video with his camera. 6 cars pulled in within the first 12 of his 18 minutes down there.

Then a female walked up. She is the girlfriend of the drug dealer (who is in jail) in the other nearby neighborhood. She walks up to the window and you hear the dealer say "it'll be 5 minutes" and she says ok and hangs around talking to someone there in a car. A few minutes later she is at the window making the exchange, says thank you and leaves. She herself just got out of jail last week......where the sheriff had assured this other neighborhood that this time she was going to go away for quite awhile.....nope. She got a deferred sentence (and she is a repeat offender).

After seeing a drug deal go down every 2 minutes DH came back into the house and called the deputy directly that is the most involved with trying to work on this. He said they only had 8 deputies that night and 62 calls in front of us. So, ya - he wasn't making it out to our neighborhood.

The other neighborhood has had some actual peace for a couple of weeks now because they used..... do I say unconventional method of getting it taken care of.  And these "services" have been offered to us........and we are taking up the offer.........because after over 2 years now it is obvious the sheriff is not going to do anything at all about it. While these folks from the nearby neighborhood visited our place yesterday (along with the offered service) they all said that it is much worse over here then it has been for them and they were totally fed up with what they had to deal with, so they can imagine how we must feel.

Let's just say I feel like I've stepped into an episode of Sons of Anarchy and leave it at that..............probably the less I say (and the less I even know what is going on) is best. LOL. I am hoping the next time I have to mention my neighborhood problem, it's to say we have a quiet neighborhood again.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Come back down to earth

I've had to work at bringing DH back down to earth since I mentioned we could probably be in a position to sell this place by next summer. As usual, he only hears the parts he wants to hear and I've spent the last week having him look at just about every home for sale in the area we want to be in. Literally, I'll bet he has looked at every home on zillow.

And of course he gradually kept showing me homes way out of my budget/price range. I said $250-300k....he's now up in the high 300's, even 400k. He's also ready to do it now. "oh look, this place is perfect - it probably won't be for sale long".  "Oh, look, it says the monthly payment is only $1200".

So, I had to yank him back to reality.
1) I SAID that IF housing prices in our area increase the 8% next year, as predicted, between that and what we will be able to pay toward our equity- we MIGHT be in a position to sell by next summer.

2) I SAID we will get a 15 year loan. I am not going to be 52 years old with a 30 year mortgage. Those monthly payment estimates shown on zillow are based on a 30 year loan.

3) The $250-300k range is based on what we would have available for a 20% down payment. I am not putting down less than 20% and also having PMI payments. If he wants to buy a more expensive house, then he needs to realize that is even more cash we need out of our place and that will then take longer to achieve.

4) What we will be able to afford will depend on what job I have - IF I can keep my job and work remotely, well then we can afford a lot more and/or can be in a position to be farther from a city (where it's cheaper). If I can't and have to find a new job, it's most likely not going to pay as much. I am NOT willing to put myself in a position yet to discuss this with my boss just quite yet. I want to know we are within a 2-3 months of being able to sell. And if I did have to take a pay cut, I'd rather it be based on my next years salary and not current. Every little bit helps.

5) We do NOT need a 3500 sq ft/5 bedroom house! I don't care if it's in our price range. I do NOT want to clean a house that big, nor do I want to pay to heat it.

6) You are most likely NOT going to find the perfect place that meets every single one of your criteria (he has a lot!)........not unless we had a million dollars to spend!

I kind of wish I had just kept it all to myself and then next spring, took a look at it all again and then told him about it. I was trying to give him hope, but I should have known he'd try to run with it all right now.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It is Sunday already?

Yesterday managed to be a fairly productive day. DH wanted to put some more weed and feed down on the lawn and wanted some compost for a small area he wants to seed with grass. I went to Lowe's and picked that stuff up, then on my way back I did my weekly fill up of gas and stopped at RiteAid. I need to stop waiting until Saturday to get in on their sales - they are always out of stock by then.

I got home and we were reading the weed and feed instructions and according to our weather forecast for the next 2 days it was a good time to put it down. It wasn't supposed to rain until today. Well, of course it started raining 6 hours after DH spread there's probably $75 wasted.....

While he was doing that I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned up the kitchen. Washed the blanket that covers the couch so the dogs can lay on it. Texted with DD off and on throughout the day. She did some shopping and then took her nice Nikon camera out to take some Fall photos around her college town. She hadn't used her camera in quite awhile.

The dogs and I took a nap from about 2:30 to 3:45 and then I didn't do much until it was time to make dinner. Just taco's, so nice and easy.  I'm trying to get back into reading. I seem to have lost interest in actually sitting and reading a book the past few years. I know it's because of my eyesight - now with reading glasses (well, I have progressive lenses now). My eyes just get strained easy so I can't read very long or I get tired. And I just don't seem to have the long attention span I used to have to sit and read for an hour or so. Mostly I just "read" the books I want by listening to them on audio books during my long commute days.

I was noticing there was a new "Kay Scarpetta" book out by Patricia Cornwell, and realized the last book in the series that I read was probably a few years ago. I love that book series and in looking at the book list I realize there are now 3 books out since I last read one, so I downloaded (via library borrow) the oldest book I haven't read yet to my ipad mini and started reading it. As usual it was good right from the start and I've read about 100 pages so far in the past 2 days. It helps to put the font a bit bigger too, so my eyes don't strain as much and I can read longer.

Then our county councilman called around 8pm to check in, so I talked with him quite awhile. We also just received our voter's ballot and pamphlet, so I got his recommendations on some to vote for. One is his excellent assistant, who is running for a county position, so I knew to vote for her, but I wasn't sure who to vote for in the other 2 positions.

DH spends his time looking at homes for sale on zillow. It's nice to see what's out there in our price range, but we are not that close to even being able to get serious about looking, so it's all just dreaming right now.  And he's realizing it will be hard to find a place that has everything we want (well, unless we had a million dollars to spend, LOL) and we'll have to end up making compromises in some aspect or other when we do finally get to find a new place.

Today's agenda includes cleaning out the birds cage, emptying the fridge of some old food and making a cake for this weeks dessert. Dinner will be cheeseburgers. It's raining, so that means DH will be stuck inside. I'm going to make a another trip to the store. We have a couple of guys from the other drug neighborhood near us coming over on Tuesday afternoon and I need to pick up some beer for them. DH doesn't drink it, but he knows they do, so wanted to be a good host. So, since I'm going to be at this particular store I checked their weekly ad and will pick up a few things on sale. 1/2 gallon of milk for .99 on sale again. Hamburger Helper for .88 and cases of water for $2.50. I also need some fluorescent bulbs for the kitchen lighting. We have been operating on 1/2 lighting for a month or two.

I still need to crunch the numbers comparing this FHA loan and the overall costs vs what we have now and see if it would make sense to refinance, especially if we plan to sell in about a year or less.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weighing the costs

I didn't get a lot of time yesterday (because the loan guy was emailing me like every 2 minutes) to scrutinize this info on FHA loans.  This morning (with coffee in me) I re-read the FHA mortgage insurance info he sent me and realized I was reading it wrong. I was looking at the "previous" rule. Apparently the new rule is there will be mortgage insurance on a 15 year loan (with less than 78% LTV) for 11 years.

Plus, the closing costs include another $3106.25 for "Up front mortgage insurance premium" as well as an additional $65 a month in our payment. I'm not sure I am willing to add that kind of cost to our loan.  Mostly, it's the $3106 added to principal that I'm not too keen on.  I can look at the $65 a month as basically increasing the interest rate offered (3.625% for a 15 year loan) and if/when we sell, it's not part of my principal that has to be repaid, but the $3106 is. Between regular closing costs and this upfront mortgage insurance premium we would be adding $7350 to our current principal owed.  That sort of defeats the purpose of trying to save money.

I think I am going to contact a mortgage broker and see if I can find a lender that can do a conventional loan that isn't 65% (the 65% was because it is a manufactured home).  I think, based on our estimated home value, we'll probably need to be in the 70-75% range.

I found a broker online that seems to specialize in manufactured home loans and they have a A+ rating with the BBB.  Might be worth it to get another opinion to see if there are other options out there for me.

I knew this was not going to be a fun process but I'll survive.  Heck, I pretty much already have all my documents scanned and ready now, LOL.

Friday, October 16, 2015

I have a headache

Well, the mortgage refi process is in motion.I heard back from a loan officer at the bank that holds our heloc loan. A flurry of emails back and forth all morning through early afternoon. Me supplying him with lots of info and then find out that a conventional loan will only lend 65% LTV%. Well, then our home would have to appraise at like $268,000 to get a conventional loan. That probably isn't likely to happen (unless the realtor was that low in her estimate. She said $250,000). So then he's telling me we'd have to bring cash to the, that's not going to work.

So then he says we can try to go the FHA route. We have to supply more documentation than conventional, as well as hire an engineer to prove our foundation passes the guidelines for manufactured homes for FHA. Apparently that will be about $350.  The worksheet of costs he sent me showed a Mortgage insurance premium of $3106 included in the costs as well as $65 a month added to our mortgage payment. I questioned on this - is that $65 a month for the whole 15 year loan? He sent me some many FHA document explaining it. What I took out of trying to read all of it was if the loan was 15 years or less and the LTV% was 78% or less, then the mortgage insurance wasn't needed. Our loan of $174,000 (with closing costs) would be at 78% or less if our home would appraise at $223,000, which it should. He said that's how he read it, too.

I got out of this a 685 and a 674 credit scores (they use the 674), which shows me CreditKarma and CreditSesame are a bit overstated at 700.

I'm working on getting all the documents he needs. Pay stubs, W-2's, tax returns, bank statements, bankruptcy discharge letter, etc.  Who knows if we'll even get approved as FHA, but if we do I think that will make things better for when we try to sell - then we will know it's FHA approved and will open us up to more buyers, some who can only go FHA.

So far it's all a pain in the you know what, but if it will save us $800 a month in payments, much worth it. $800 a month to get us that much closer to getting more equity into our home and getting ready to sell.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I want to refinance

It dawned on me the other day that now that we have equity back in our home we may be able to refinance our mortgage and home equity loan to get a much lower rate. Our mortgage (re-fi done is 2007) is at 6.25% and our HELOC is at a whopping 8.75%. With the current rates so much lower we could be saving quite a bit each month - like $900 a month! I'd like to find a 15 year mortgage, but keep making the same payments we currently are making. The refi costs would pay for itself in 2-3 months and every month after that would get us closer to the equity we need in this house to be able to sell it.

So, I filled out an online form with our current bank who holds our mortgage. I have always been with them - but they called back and said they aren't financing mobile/mfg  homes right now. now I have a message into the bank that has our HELOC loan to see if they do.  If not, I don't even know where to begin looking to find a lender that does manufactured homes with land. Ugh! I googled it, and some lenders come up, but of course I have never heard of any of them and how do I know they are reputable? Bleh...

But, we really do need to try to refinance, so I'll figure it out. I also don't know if we will run into any problems because of our bankruptcy 5 years ago. My credit is getting rebuilt (currently at about 700 fico score), my annual income is almost 100k, no other debt, and we're looking to refi a $169k loan on a home worth $250k, so well under the 80% threshold.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gingerbread houses and nose prints

Yesterday was a pretty relaxing but productive Sunday. It was a warm sunny day, but definitely with that Fall cool crispness to it.  After my normal morning of a cup of coffee and "internet-ing" I took a shower and got myself presentable to the world and then made a loaf of banana bread. There is nothing more comfortable and homey than smelling a loaf of banana bread baking. I cleaned up my mess (because no matter how hard I try to be neat I end up with flour somewhere it isn't supposed to be) and made the bed and tidied up.

As I was letting the dogs out I noticed all the nose prints on the screen door, so I cleaned those off (that lasted all of 15 minutes before there were new nose prints) and then cleaned a couple of mirrors inside the house. As I was cleaning the mirror between the built in china cabinets in the dining room I saw how DUSTY the glass shelves inside the cabinets were. I like rarely/ever/almost never take all the stuff out and clean, but I did! I even tossed a couple of really old gingerbread (ie graham cracker) houses the kids made for Christmas when they were little. I have NO IDEA why I had kept those all these years, but for some reason I could never throw them out.  Apparently I had a change of heart because suddenly houses made of old food and old candy needed to go in the garbage!

As I was emptying the small wastebaskets throughout the house into a trash bag I also tossed what used to be a cute dog statue I had sitting on the floor next to my piano. It's had it's ears chewed off (by a real dog) several years ago and there was no saving it. I finally threw it out. Then I tossed a couple of boxes with very old cell phones that were on top of my desk cabinet. Even though most of my house is neat and tidy now, there is still a lot of things that can be gotten rid of and I try to make myself find things to toss each weekend when I empty the waste baskets.

Some time ago I wrote about how I just wanted a more peaceful life. As I walked around my clean, (mostly uncluttered) home yesterday I realized that (inside my home, at least) I had achieved that. If I can block out knowing that there are drug deals being made outside, I can feel calm and peaceful inside my home.......or maybe it was just because DH and the dogs were outside and I was alone and it was quiet HAHA! :)

I headed out at 1pm because the library was open and I had a book that DH and I want to read to pick up. Boy, that place sure is busy on a Sunday afternoon. It always makes me happy to see that people still use the library. I wasn't paying $15 to buy this book, so waiting a couple of days for it to be available to pick up at the library was just fine with me.  Then I stopped at Target for a few things as well as treated myself to a little bag of Ghirardelli chocolates.

Back home I took a short nap, hung out on Facebook awhile and then made us dinner (steak, veggies and watermelon). The evening was spent watching "Call the Midwife", which is my newest show (er... addiction) I am watching on Netflix. I'm really enjoying it.

Anyone want a free bag of organic carrots? Walmart carries Earthbound Farm organic carrots for .88 and here is a $1 off coupon  click here

Have a super day!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Getting Saturday started

My grocery trip yesterday totaled $103. That still leaves me $16 for food/misc and the $10 budgeted for take out on Monday or Tuesday night. I also purchased oil and filter for my car that came to $25 (not included in my total) but that is coming out of my gas budget. I budgeted $80 for gas for the payperiod and only spent $35 (woo!), so even with the oil change supplies I'm still under budget on gas spending.

I will have to run to the store again today. DH didn't tell me he was out of something until I got back from the store (of course!). Plus I want to pick up another half gallon or two of that .99 milk. That will still be under the $16 I have left in my total $400 budget for this pay period. I really want to try and get this down a bit. I'm hoping that by writing all these expenses down on a list and seeing it in writing I can then at least try to see where I might be able to cut back a bit.

Especially because I just got my latest Comcast bill and my "promo" period from when I called the last time to try to keep our bill down is over. My bill went up from $169 to $206. Oh joy.  The only bright (and I use this term very loosely) spot was seeing my home equity loan statement reflecting the extra $500 towards principal balance (that I'm now required to pay per loan terms). I know seeing that go down $500 every month will make me feel like some progress is finally being made. I just wish every other bill I have wasn't going up, as they all seem to be. At least my electricity bill due at the end of this month was way under what I budgeted by $74.

I think it's going to feel like a long weekend and not in a good way. The drug dealing traffic continues to increase and the sheriff involvement is pretty non-existent. DH's mood correlates directly with all that, at this time. Though I am getting a bit tired of him using this as an excuse of why he never/rarely leaves the house. He says he can't leave the house alone (in his words "I'm a prisoner in my own home) because of all these low-lifes around 24/7. Well, he has 4 days out of 7 that I am home to watch the house and he could go somewhere, plus he has evenings the other 3 days he could go do something. He's just using that as an excuse, because even if there were no druggies all around us he'd still not go anywhere.

Part of his bad mood has been that he wants to finish getting this car trailer he bought fixed up and he needs some welding done on it. He asked a good friend (who has a business fabricating and welding) to do it (for pay, of course) and he said he would. Well, he has cancelled 3 times and now it's been almost 2 months since DH first asked him to do it and he hasn't bothered to reschedule dh another time. DH just wants it done and feels like if he just finds someone else to do it friends feelings will get hurt, but at this point friend is the one causing the hurt feelings (in my opinion) and DH should just go find someone else to do it.    

Well, that's my exciting life. I had a good dream before I woke up this morning......and then once I realized it was a dream I was sad. I was dreaming that I was asleep and heard noises and laughing and looked outside to see DH and what I thought was our good neighbor racing their lawnmowers (or maybe one was riding a quad) around the property and then when he came around to where I could see him I realized it was my son and I was so happy to see him............

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?!