Saturday, February 27, 2016

In the driver's seat

As I am going through this process, of pretty much changing my life, it occurs to me of how much of my life has been spent just letting life happen to me, rather than being in control it it.  That's not a good thing! Other than making the move from my previous job to my job I've now had almost 11 years, everything else was pretty much going along with whatever DH wanted to do or (in most cases) just a reaction to what didn't go as planned...just a way to survive and make do, as I went through life. It's all been mostly just trying to get through one issue after another.

Pretty much up until we filed bankruptcy, I was just "getting by".  Gradually these past several years, as things have gotten a little easier financially, it has allowed me to at least be a little proactive in my life's decisions. I remember when Pinterest first got popular and checking it out and my DD's boards. I really had no interest in it. Not because I thought it was a waste of time, but because I didn't want to spend my time looking at and dreaming about stuff I would never have! I felt like it was depressing to look at things I liked. Why have hopes for something I'll never have? Somewhere along the way, I gradually started using it and filling up some boards. A lot of it started with garden and yard ideas and things I liked. I found we were actually able to implement some of the ideas, or variations of them, into our yard and our landscaping improved so much. It made both DH and I happy. Then I'd find an occasional recipe that I liked and would try or at least pin something to try someday. I actually found myself getting inspired and that was a good thing! It helped when we remodeled our bathrooms, to give me ideas.

If we weren't dealing with drug dealers these past 2 1/2 years ,we probably would not be making the decision to move, at all. We'd just stay here, feeling scared to move forward with anything, because neither of us really like change. So, in some ways this all might turn out to be a big ol' blessing in disguise. DH has always, deep down, wanted to move back to his home state, where he grew up. The whole dang state has 1/3 of the population as the metropolitan area we live in.  It will definitely be a breath of fresh air - literally and figuratively - to move there.

And now we are taking the steps to get us there. It's been quite scary so far - especially talking to my boss about keeping my job! We started this process last October, when I decided to call a realtor and at least get a starting point to see where we were at equity wise. To give me an idea of how many more years we'd be stuck here. I honestly did not think we did have much equity, so it was a happy surprise to find out we were in a much better position than I thought. Now 6 months later, we are even in a better position - adding another $6500 to our equity (through our payments) and hopefully will find out the market has increased some more.

That led to the realization that we probably would be able to move within the next year. The decision to move out of state was actually kind of an easy one, especially for DH -since he doesn't work. But it was also a pretty easy decision for me. I am so sick of all the traffic and the overcrowding. Yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get home from work. 36 miles. And this was leaving the office at 3pm - supposedly before rush hour (there is no such thing as rush hour around here anymore, it's always rush hour). I know I could find an accounting job somewhere - it's a pretty universal type of job that every industry needs, right? That's always been the beauty of accounting, pretty much can move from industry to industry and it's all the same. I won't say it wasn't a scary thought to have to go through interviews and actually find something that paid decent, but at least now I do not have to worry about that.

Now we have enough equity to pull out of our home to move and now the decisions are along the lines of do we find a house we like and can live with or do we build our own home (nothing too fancy, of course)? We are still in that decision making stage.

We are almost through the financing/mortgage pre-approval process, so that feels really good too. I am hoping to hear soon. She had mentioned early this week, but no word from her yet. So, then of course that has me worried. I have even been buying some big heavy duty plastic storage bins at Costco, and DH has started the process of packing up some of the things in his shop. His friend, who he has been helping get packed up to move to Texas, has used these bins for all his stuff. They work well for tools and all that stuff, rather than cardboard boxes.  So far I have bought 10 bins and he's packed them all up. Plus, with his OCD'ness, he likes that they are all the same size and stackable. LOL I will probably pick him up another 10 this week. They are only $8.99 at Costco. Super cheap and maybe when we are all moved, we can sell most of them (I'm sure he will want to keep some just to keep stuff stored in) on Craigslist and make some of the money back.

In about 2 weeks we will be making a short trip to look around the area we want to live. I am really excited about it. We have some friends, who have offered us a place to stay, as well as they just built a house, so we can pick their brains with all our questions about the process. There is one  house we have been watching for a couple of months, hoping it was still on the market when we finally got to the point to put our place up for sale. But, it got pulled off the market (hey - at least it wasn't sold) recently. I am hoping we will at least go take a drive by it and see if we like the surrounding area. Then, if we do really like what we see from the outside, we can approach a realtor to have them see if they are still interested in selling and then take a look inside.

I had saved a picture of the place when it was listed for sale
the house is a bit smaller than we want (1500 sq ft) but the shop off to the left also has a room, with a bath/shower and I think it had laundry out there too.  The house is kept very neat inside. The huge lawn fits DH's love of mowing with our riding lawn mower. It gives us the attached garage and separate shop we want. It was on the market for quite awhile, with no sale. Not sure why, but maybe the price is too high for how small of house it is. It's 3 bed/2 bath. The only thing we really don't like about it is the laundry room is really tiny and no kitchen pantry. Two things we had on our wish list. It was a 3 acre piece, if I recall, maybe 2 1/2.

Good news over the weekend. Slumlandord's son (who is like 40 yrs old now) got arrested - for 3 counts of drug dealing, drug paraphernalia, and even bigger - he had a gun on him.  He's already a felon, so big no no. He wasn't arrested in our neighborhood, but in a nearby town (in same county). DH talked to the prosecutor and she said they are very happy to get him. She said he is looking at like 4 years in prison. Bail was not set as high as she asked for. She asked for $40k but judge set at $20k. She said that the judges are now keeping bails low, trying to keep people out of jail (gee...thanks judges). But, it doesn't appear old dad is bailing him out. If anyone does, he will definitely be skipping out, of course. This guy has been a huge thorn in our sides for years, even before all this heavy drug dealing started up, because he has pretty much always had to live at his dads, because he never got a job. We will definitely be following this case to see where it ends up. While the prosecutor talks tough to DH, I doubt he will get the sentence she says he'll get.

Another item checked off

My conversation with the mortgage lender went really well. She was recommended by my boss, and from the emails and phone call I have had with her, she seems pretty awesome. I have uploaded all my documents to her and she went over quite a bit, especially explaining the construction loan process, should we decide to go that route. Even though we are moving 500 miles away, she is familiar with some realtors and home builders in that area, that she can refer us to.

I mentioned to her that since we have a bankruptcy (almost 6 years old now) on our credit, I wasn't sure if we were going to have to try to go FHA or not, for qualifying purposes. She just said "well that's why you now have a friend in the banking business". So, I took that to mean, don't worry about it.

The good news was, either way we go - buying an existing home or building - we can get enough out of our equity in this place for a required down payment. Minimum on regular mortgage on existing home would be 5%.  Minimum (and here was where I was concerned, as I had read 20% most common required for construction loans) for an all in one construction loan is 10%.  We should have a down payment in the 15-17% range, depending on how much house we end up with, so that part should not be an issue. Then we just have to hope we can quickly get to 20% equity, so we can have the P&I insurance dropped. I guess the P&I insurance is set up in brackets at 5%, 10% and 15%, so if we are in the 15% equity bracket, our P&I won't be as high as if we are in a lower bracket.

She said they will go up to 43% debt ratio, which puts me at like a $3500 a month payment (yikes!), since we don't have any other debt. Then she laughed and said, but what payment do you really want? LOL. I said in the $2500 range, would be doable.  She will have a pre-approval for us, probably next week, and then I'll know exactly, but it's looking like in the $400k range.

So, once we get the final number, we can get working on getting this place up for sale. Hopefully, in the next couple of months, at the latest. It will be really interesting to see how long it takes to sell our place. The market is really hot around here, but of course we are also dealing with our crappy neighbor's junky place, not to mention if people do their homework and research into the neighborhood crime statistics. Then they should run away as fast as they can!

We spent yesterday evening at a community meeting that our councilman and his assistant set up. He had sent out a flyer in the mail earlier in the week and I gave it to DH and said we should probably go, as a show of support for him. I reminded DH again about it yesterday, but he was feeling pretty crappy and didn't really want to go. It was from 4-7pm. I get home from grocery shopping at 4:30 and DH says the assistant texted him and asked if we could come, so we put the groceries away and off we went to a fire station meeting room. It was a pretty good sized crowd. And then of course assistant told DH that councilman wanted him to get up and speak about our drug problem, so there DH was again - speaking about it in front of a group.  It stirred up quite a bit of discussion. People are seeing what an epidemic it's becoming in our community, especially with all the theft all these drug addicts are doing. People were none too happy with the sheriff and lack of proactive policing as well as the soft policies that just put these people right back on the streets in a matter of days/weeks.  You should have heard the reaction when the councilman (who is one of 3 conservatives on a 7 member council) told of the plan to spend $10 million in taxpayer money to house all these homeless drug addicts, but NOT require them to be regularly drug tested while they live in free housing. Councilman said when he asked one of the pro-free housing council members why not - her reply? Well, it's their home - they can do what they want inside it!  Unbelievable! Liberalism at it's finest, eh?

I just sat there, listening to it all, but also just kept thinking to myself - hopefully we don't have to deal with any of this much longer.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Step by step

The anticipated salary raise came through. It was exactly what I expected. $2000 a year. I'm not jumping for joy over it, but I'm not upset either. (even though of the raises that have been put through so far, I am still the lowest percentage increase, by quite a bit). It will help to go toward the increased taxes I face this year (with no DD to claim, as well as her education credits, though I will get some for this year, since she will go to school through June). I did get it retro to the last pay period, so that added a bit extra to my paycheck.  Once I finish my 2015 tax return and can do an estimate for this years taxes, I'll have a better idea. I had hoped for extra to go increase my 401k contribution, but probably not going to happen this year. I'll need to wait until we get all settled with selling a house/buying a house, moving, state taxes, etc.  Hopefully, once all these expense reductions kick in later this year, I can then make an increase in the 401k contributions.

I contacted the mortgage person recommended by my boss. Turns out she works for the same bank that I already have my home equity loan through. Maybe that helps me?  Anyhow, yesterday I uploaded her all the documents requested, in order to see what we can pre-qualify for in a new mortgage. I have a phone call scheduled with her later this morning. Hopefully she can give me some good news, and either way, at least we'll have another step in the process completed and that will lead us to the next step.

I'll update later on what I find out!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Taxes - a four letter word

I got my tax return started today. I've been using TaxAct for a few years, but I think I might be trying another program, just to make sure.  The online experience this time has been very frustrating. As I will go along and answer a couple of questions and hit "continue" it takes me back to the beginning screen. If I hit back a couple of times, it will finally go to the next question. Half the time I was trying to get back to where it left off, and I'm sure I probably missed some of the questioning. I really don't want to have to pay $80 for TurboTax Home and Business, but might just have to.  I have always really liked TaxAct, but this year it has been terrible to use. I'm not impressed at all.

I had to guess on a few things - until DH gets home and tells me where he put the registration paperwork on his trailer purchased last year. I can claim the sales tax paid on it, and since it was at least a couple hundred dollars, I want to take the deduction. 

At this time I owe about $1400.  Last year I owed about $1200, so this past year I have set aside $100 a month in a tax savings account with my Capital One savings. So, I'll only be about $200 short. Not bad. I'll also have to figure out how much more I would owe for this year (when I won't be able to claim DD) and get my withholding from my job upped. The reason I owe is because of my self employment income.

I really hate doing taxes. Even being an accountant, it's probably one of my least favorite things to do. I would never make it as a tax accountant, that's for sure. At least I don't have to do one for DD this year - she didn't earn anything. I will still do my mom's return for her. The only problem is my mom has SUPER slow internet. She wanted me to do it at her house last year, so she could "do it herself" with me there to oversee......well, between her slowness and her internet crawling along, I finally just had to sit and do it.  I told myself that next year I was taking her paperwork home with me. Well, then today when I asked her about it, she again says she wants to learn to do it (because I won't be able to when I move....not true) and I asked her if she got her internet speed increased. No, she hasn't. I don't think I will be able to stand another year of trying to sit there while she slowly enters it all and her computer slowly responds. I might have to have a drink before I go over there LOL. (just kidding, I don't drink)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday relaxing

It's been a pretty relaxing weekend. DH has been gone most of it - ha! Yesterday morning I went grocery shopping (only spent $100) and then stopped and filled up with gas and went inside the store to get my free Starbucks birthday drink. Only apparently now they only give you a few days to use it up now, but the nice girl gave it to me free anyway.

I chatted online with DD for almost a couple of hours off and on yesterday. She wants to try to start making candles to sell. She designed a cute little logo/business card and will try to sell on Facebook to friends and probably start an Etsy store. She thinks she and her BF are going to just keep her apartment at college town through the end of the lease. Originally she was going to try to sublet it after she graduates in June (lease goes through end of Sept) but it's only $720 a month and an hour commute for her BF and she will try to find a job in same area as he works. For $360 a month rent (each) they can do the commute for a few months. That way they will also have a better idea of where to eventually rent or buy a house, depending on where she ends up working.

We have plans to take a trip, mid March, over to the area we want to move and just look around. We have been offered a place to stay by friends (it will only be 2-3 nights). Friend called this morning and had driven over to the piece of property we want to check out when we go. He really liked it and took some pictures for us too. It's 3 acres in a private area, on a river. Surrounded by state land on 2 sides, river on one side and potential future neighbors on some 2 acre lots sharing a long driveway. There is one neighbor there now. They built 7 years ago and no one else has built. It has some covenants of no mobile/mfg homes and a min sq foot requirement, so the homes should be nice. The current home there is very nice.  DH asked him how many cars have driven by on the frontage road that goes by the property. "ummm...I've been here a half hour already and NONE!". By the time he left, after he'd been there almost an hour, only 2 cars had driven by. That works for us. I'm looking forward to the trip. DD will come home and mind the place and take care of the dogs (her BF will come and stay with her for the weekend). It was originally a long weekend she planned to come home and help me paint a couple more rooms, but we really want to get over there and look around and she's also offered to just paint the rooms herself while she is here! Yay! win win. Like she said - she'll need something to do to keep her busy while staying here.

I ran over to Target this morning. I took just a few minutes of my time before I left and found coupons online and saved me $4. I didn't need much, some supplement for DH, laundry detergent, cat food and big bags of dog treats were on sale, plus get a $5 Target gift card when I bought 2.  So, I saved $4 with my coupons and also got $5 back in a gift card.

My cat peed in our bathroom (on the mat in front of shower door) again. GRRR! I'm washing the mat and I've wiped down the area with clorox, but it still smells.  Usually old cat will wake me up around 3 or 4am to go outside. I should have known something was up when it was like 5:30 before he wanted out. He did it a couple of times a couple of months ago, but not since. I guess I'll just have to start putting him out when I go to bed. At least it's getting a lot warmer outside now.  I need to figure out something to get rid of the smell still there.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A trip down memory lane

Well, Friday has arrived. We are starting to see signs that spring is on it's way. Some of the trees are starting to show leaf buds. I actually saw a daffodil in bloom yesterday. Today I only had to work a half day, which I love. DH took my car (again!) to go help his friend, so I won't be doing my weekly grocery shopping until tomorrow morning. I guess I'll just clean house then.

I got a new computer at work yesterday, with Windows 10. As our IT guy was setting it all up I told him that I'm so old I remember going to a luncheon years ago where they were first introducing Windows for business's! LOL. That was in the early 90's. Then he made me feel even older when he said " you even got to use DOS?". Yep. We didn't even have email back in those days. And once the company started buying pc's we didn't even get them at our desks. We had a "pc pool" area set up, so when we needed to use a pc (which we accountants used for spreadsheet and word document work) we had to go sit over in the little group of pc's. Amazing how far it's all come.

Now, I have just about everything I need right at my desk. A pc, 2 monitors (some of our folks have 4), a printer, a scanner, all the programs, a smart phone. a scanner to do bank depoists, etc. All the stuff that makes working so much more efficient compared to back in those days.  Let alone, being able to access it all from home, to boot!

I am working on going as paperless as possible. Quite a few of our vendors email me invoices for Purchase Orders we have sent. I used to print out the invoice, enter the transactions in Quickbooks (receive the vendor invoice against the PO and then invoice our customer, for resale) and then file the vendor invoice in a folder of invoices to be paid. Then when I pay the bill, I pull the invoices I am paying and attach the invoices to the check remittance stubs and file away in a drawer.

My new method is to open the emailed invoice and just view it on one of my monitors. I have Quickbooks open on my other monitor and enter the bill. Then I drag the copy of the invoice and attach it to the transaction in Quickbooks. Then I create the customer invoice (mostly using copy and paste, rather than retyping our long as hell part #'s, addresses, etc), and then email the invoice to our customer. When the bill is due to the vendor, I will now be paying via online banking. No check to cut/sign, no paper copy of bill to attach and file. 

Some invoices/bills are mailed to us regular snail mail. (though I am working on getting as many of those as I can electronically, now) Currently our receptionist just throws those in my inbox. When I go 100% remote, she will just scan those too me (and then she can toss) and I will record/pay using the same method above. It will all be good :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday, wishing it was Friday

I survived the dentist visit yesterday afternoon. I was there over 2 hours. 1/2 hour just sitting in the waiting room. Then they numbed me up. Pulled (broke?) off my old crown. Filled the little cavity on the partial tooth left and put a new temporary crown back on.  Just all time consuming stuff.  The kid in the room next to me had a meltdown while they were trying to give her the Novocain shots. Poor thing. The dentist was really good with her though. I liked how he told her (while she started to cry during it) "I'll be done when I get to 10" and he started counting to 10. That really seemed to help her.

I am so glad I am over my dentist fear now. It's really almost like no big deal to me anymore to have work done. I'm just tired of spending the money for it, though! Yesterday was almost $300, my share of it, and that's only the first half of the bill. I pay the balance when I get the permanent crown in a couple of weeks. This was actually the same dentist who saw me a few weeks ago. He is really nice and he seemed really thorough.

Earlier that morning I had ran DH over to his friends shop. He's still helping him get organized and packed up. I needed my car for the dentist appointment and he didn't want to take his pickup out in the rain. He detests having to put a wet muddy truck back in the garage and with helping his friend he has less than zero energy left to wash his big pick up truck up. But, by 7:30 I still had not heard from him to go pick him up.  I texted him let's not make this too late - I'm tired and my mouth is sore. No reply back and by 8pm I was getting a bit ticked. It was pouring rain, dark (I dislike driving in the dark) and a 20 minute drive to go get him (and then back). I was starting to get annoyed and thinking to myself that for all he has been doing to help this friend out, the least he could do is run him home! Then about 8pm, dh texted that friend was bringing him home. I still had to then make him some dinner, but I just made him some tomato soup and peanut butter on bread.  Then I was in bed by 9.

Another 3 druggies/criminals that frequent our neighborhood got arrested yesterday. A couple for possession of stolen vehicles, another for possession of drugs. As I was leaving for my dentist appointment I was following a tow truck out of our neighborhood, with a car in tow. I assumed someone's car got repo'd, but it is possible, they were recovering a stolen vehicle for the sheriff. One of the arrests was booked in about 40 minutes after I saw the car being towed out. It seems like the sheriff is finally starting to do their job of catching and arresting. Too bad the courts just keep spitting them back out. A couple of these are such career criminals. If they had been given the longer sentences they deserve in their past convictions, they wouldn't have been out to commit more. It's all just whack a mole.

Tomorrow I only have to work a half day, though I do have about 90 minutes to make up from yesterdays dentist appt. I might just use some of my PTO time, rather than making the time up. I have like 165 hours. I think I can afford to use an hour and a half of it. I'm sure the reason I am feeling so tired this week is due to my allergies/sinus stuff I get this time every year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

No energy today

I'm working from home today.  This morning I went to a chiropractor appointment, which is so close to my house and the adjustment is so quick, I am gone and back in 15 minutes. LOL. This afternoon I have a dentist appointment to fill the cavity and put on a new temporary crown. I SO do not feel like going today. Not that I ever really feel like going to the dentist, but I am just feeling completely drained of any energy today. The bed in my office room is literally calling my name for a nap. I feel like I slept fine last night. I have no idea why I am so tired.

Monday night DH and the guys from the other neighborhood got the stolen quad that runs drugs in both our area's confiscated by the police. They wouldn't arrest the guy, because the quad was hidden in the woods and they didn't witness him with it. Even though, before the cops got there, he admitted to the guys in the other neighborhood it was his and DH has pictures of him riding it in our neighborhood. They let him go (and didn't find anything in his backpack search) but did run the vin# on the quad and it came back stolen, so a tow truck came and got it.  At least we don't have to listen to that quad racing in and out of our neighborhood over and over, anymore.

It was 3 new cops who showed up. They said the guy in question (we already knew who he was) was on "their list", (and acting like they had all this secret info or something) so that is why they searched him.  As DH was walking back to our car, one of the guys from the other neighborhood asked one of the cops "do you know where that "list" came from?"....well, no...."It came from that guy" and he pointed at DH.  "He's the one who put all the names together for the sheriff and prosecutor". They were like ", we didn't know that" LOL.

At least the past few months or so they must have added more deputies, because now they show up in like 15 minutes, instead of 2-3 hours. Some progress, I guess.

Well, I guess I'm going to have to take a power nap and see if that helps. I hope I'm not coming down with something. There are a lot of people calling in sick this week at work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

an "aha" moment

Sometimes a moment of clarity can sure change things. I was working on our "future budget" over the weekend, when it suddenly seemed all clear to me.

I've been wanting to wait and sell this house and move when we had enough to put a 20% down payment on a new place. I've felt very adamant about it. To get what we really want, it seems we'd have to wait it out.....either for the market to come up some more and/or increasing our equity through our monthly payments. It was looking like it could even possibly be that's we'd have to wait a year. Another year dealing with daily/nightly drug deals and drug traffic.

But, why should we wait it out here, in this drug/crime-infested neighborhood? Why can't we put down, say 15% (or 17% or however close we are) and wait for us to reach 20% equity there?! Either way, we'll have to wait for the 20% equity, in order to not have P&I insurance.  But, honestly, I'd rather have that temporary extra payment for a year or however long and have a nice, safe, quiet place to live!

I spent part of yesterday working on a "future" budget. It's looking pretty good - and I'm not even taking into factor our semi-annual bonus (because that is not 100% guaranteed).

Basically, I used my monthly take home pay for 2015 and did not factor in whatever raise I am getting. That raise will go towards increased taxes, due to not being able to claim DD anymore and a state income tax (which we don't have in the state we currently live in). There will be some offset to that in the form of no sales tax, but I'm not figuring that in. I also increased what I set aside for taxes from my side job by 5%.

It's all looking really good, at least on paper. The reason is, that my future budget has almost $600 less expenses per month than my current budget! Some of it is estimated, but here's what I currently spend monthly, that I won't in the near future:

$100 to DD for college living
$120 DD's health insurance
$55 cell phone (when our contract is up this year our bill will go down by $40, plus DD will go on a plan with her BF and I can drop down to 1gb plan and save another $15)
$43 auto insurance (this is just a guess) for DD
$145 meds (my guess when Crestor goes generic - currently paying $200 a month and I can't find any info online on what a generic version might cost)
$8 Netflix (I will drop and just use Amazon Prime - already in my budget for the year)
$75 gas (no need for driving to work)
$5 DD's auto tabs ($60 annual)
$20 water (we'll have our own well system)
$25 DD dental visits (2 per year)

Total: $596

Without my bonus my monthly net income is $6307(after taxes and 401k deduction) and this would be my monthly budget:

$350 health insurance DH (wishful thinking, but I am praying for a Republican president, who will repeal Obamacare and bring this ridiculous amount down. I used to pay $271 a month for DH, DS, and DD and had better coverage)
$100 auto insurance (I'm thinking this might be high estimate - we will be dropping one car and a driver)
$25 gas (one tank will probably last me a month with just trips to stores, etc)
$150 electric/heat (an estimate, but I asked some friends who live in the area and they avg $140 for a big house)
$200 phone/internet/tv (but I will probably drop landline)
$65 cell
$300 loan pmt to Mom
$40 garbage service (again an estimate - we pay $30 here)
$80 meds
$22 meds - Cat
$800 food/misc
$100 yard/home maint
$100 annual expenses (life ins, car tabs, gifts, vet visits, etc)
$140 DH allowance/spending money
Total $2472

that leaves $3835, which I think, even if have a mortgage as much as we are paying now ($2340) we will be fine. That still leaves us with almost a $1500 "cushion". The good part is that the monthly mortgage we are paying now would get us a really nice house, compared to what we have. We are paying so high because of the home equity loan payment schedule (and the high interest rate on first mortgage). And if I factor in the bonus (which, in all reality is very likely. We haven't yet not made our goals), that adds an extra $438 (after taxes) per month.

Our current issue is we have a decent income, to be able to afford a monthly payment on a 15 year loan, we are basically cash poor and not quite enough cash and equity in our home for the 20% down payment I wanted to have. It won't be forever. Say we put down 15%. As soon as we are at 80%, whether through paying down the loan or an increase in home value (most likely a combination of both), we can have the P&I insurance dropped. If I have to go an FHA loan, P&I is required no matter what, but as soon as we got to 80% I'd try to refinance with a conventional loan.

If we put our place for sale in a few months and sell it for what the realtor priced us at last October, we'll have about $65k for a down payment and a few thousand for moving expenses. 

So, at this point I just need to get us pre-approved and then I'll know how much we can get financed. I also don't know how much our almost 6 year old bankruptcy will affect all this. Hopefully, I can get all this figured out in the next few weeks and we can make some decisions then, based on all that info.

It's time to get out of here!!

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Just had my "weekly-ish" call with my mom. While she can talk on and on, she is really hard to have an actual conversation about anything with. Most things we talk about seem to be a few sentences about something and then she's moving on to the next topic. I tried to tell her the news about me being able to keep my job (which to me is HUGE news) and she was just kind of like "oh, well, let's hope she'll still feel that way when the time comes"....and then she's on to the next thing to talk about. our call I found out my (older) step sis is retiring early, this spring, and she and her hubby are moving almost to the areas we are looking at. We'll probably be about an hour and a half drive apart. Only difference is she's rich and can do whatever she wants - haha! She earned it all though. Smart lady, who's worked almost 40 years for same company, since she was 18. Her (2nd) hubby lucked out in finding her - he got disabled after they got married and easy peasy for him to not work, as she makes a boatload of money.

Today has felt like a wasted day. It's already late afternoon and I've hardly done anything it seems. I mean I did get stuff done - grocery shopped this morning, cleaned the bathroom and dusted and vacuumed, but still feels like the day is gone already. Maybe because it's so gray and rainy out. Makes the house feel gloomy when there is no sunshine coming in the windows. Even the dogs are being very sad sack and lazy today.

As I was grocery shopping this morning I realized Valentine's Day is tomorrow, so I picked up a bag of peanut M&M's for DH. We never do anything for Valentine's Day, but figured I'd get him a little treat.

My boss wasn't able to get my raise info put through to the payroll company before yesterday's payday, so it'll be another couple of weeks before I find out how much I am actually getting. Darn, I was hoping she would get it on this check, like she said she was going to try to do. I hate waiting to know stuff! LOL.

I guess I could get started on my tax return. Bleh! I hate doing taxes and since I'm probably going to owe (because of my side job) I really have no desire to get it done any time soon. At least this past year I have put away money out of each month's check for taxes, in one of my Capital One savings accounts. I'm also going to need to figure out who much I should adjust my withholdings for this year, as DD will most likely be claiming herself (assuming she gets a job upon graduating) and I won't have that deduction any longer. That's pretty much probably where whatever raise I get is going - upping my withholdings.

My annual late January/early February sinus crud I always get every year for a couple of weeks hit a bit late this year, this past Tuesday. I get really bad sinus headaches for a couple of weeks or so and then it's gone. On day 5 of it now and ready to be done with it, that's for sure.

DH has been spending the day (and probably most of the evening) back at his friends shop, still helping him get all his stuff packed and ready to move. It's good for him to keep busy and he's enjoying spending time with his friend. And I'm enjoying the "no DH" time alone at home!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Planning the steps

I don't quite think the news that I will be able to keep my wonderful job, when we move, has sunk in. It's almost like I'm scared to get too excited.  Probably because, for us, something always goes wrong, when we try to plan our life. For the most part, It has NEVER gone right and to actually think it could is just more than I can even imagine right now. So, I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. An annual salary (that's with bonus and my side job) of almost $100k will do quite nicely in a lower cost of living area. Plus, by then we won't have the expenses of supporting DD any more.

Basically, we (and I mean DH, because he is very good at researching and looking at all the details I miss) are looking at all properties that have what we are looking for and in our price range. So far, they all seem to be in the higher end of our range, which means we probably aren't quite there yet, in terms of how much we can get out of this place (plus savings), for the down payment and moving expenses. We'll spend the next few months working around this place and then have the realtor come back out for an update on our value. Market has been starting to get hot again (like last Spring) in this area, and according to her it usually lasts until summer. One of our friends just sold their place in 2-3 weeks, the others just sold theirs last week in 2 days. I'm thinking when we do list, we might as well start out a bit high - that way we will know (if we have to come down in price in 30 days) we didn't leave any (much needed) money on the table. When our friends place sold in 2 days, it makes you wonder if they could have asked more for it.

As soon as I know how much my raise is, I'm going to see what we can get pre-approved for on a mortgage. At a minimum, I know we can qualify for an FHA loan. I would just rather not - as I don't want to pay the PMI insurance, which is apparently required even if you put 20% down.  If nothing else, we can start out with that type of loan and refi down the road, when our credit gets better and the BK (2010) is completely off. My boss (who does a lot of real estate rental investing) has a good broker to recommend to me, so I will go with that reference.

Then, when we find something that we like - we will see if they will take a contingency offer, and if so, put our place up for sale. On the benefit side to us, the market in the areas we are looking at are not quite as good for quick sales as is going on here, so we have a better chance of someone willing to accept a contingent offer.

DH has a good friend over in the area we want to move. He has a big (and so far fairly empty) shop (on 15 acres) and sounds like he is willing to let DH store a couple of big things over there, until we can get moved. He has a partial old semi-truck (wants to restore *someday), that he'd like to haul over there, and get off our property, so it looks more appealing to potential buyers than a cab of a truck covered in a blue tarp (in the corner of our property). He also wants to then make a second trip there with an old car we have stored in our garage (along with a few boxes of stuff). This will make the inside of our shop/garage less crowded, etc. At least gas prices are so low right now, that it won't be a big expense for DH to make a trip or two - and a quick trip away from here would probably do him wonders.

I won't have any expense for gas to get to work in our future situation. That will save about $100 a month. I looked up round trip flights from there to here. If planned out a couple months in advance - it's only $168! I told DD (and mom) that with that price I can for sure fly over for visits every 2-3 months. I told DD she'll get sick of seeing me, LOL. Or at that cheap, we can alternate and I can fly her to see us for little visits a few times a year, when she has time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

I took the plunge

I decided to bite the bullet and talk to my boss about moving and possibly keeping my job and working remote. I was pretty darn nervous inside and stressed about it all weekend.  I figured I might as well get it done and over with, so I know one way or another. It was either going to be a yes or a no. I said that DH (and DD) and I have come to the conclusion we no choice but to sell our place to get away from the 3 years of drug dealing hell (she is all aware of it), that isn't going to go away. I said we have decided that if and when we can sell our house, we plan to move out of state. Mostly for DH's health and our peace of mind. We want to live somewhere peaceful and way less populated. She got a sad face and said "no, I don't want to lose you" and then I said "I don't want to lose this great job, either, and if there is any possibility of working out something out where I can work remotely, I would love that". She sighed with relief and said "we'll make it work" WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and then she said, "oh and you are getting a raise. I wanted to get it put in before I go on vacation next week, even though I haven't had time to do your formal review yet.. I can't remember exactly how much it was, but I'll get it".

What a complete relief, to put it mildly.  Now we are open to much more area to move to, since we won't have to be within a decent commute distance, if I would have had to find a new job.

So, we'll keep working on our little fix ups to get this place ready to sell and hope the market keeps going up. Some friends of our just put their house up for sale last week (they live about 70 miles away, but still in this large metropolitan area) and it sold in 2 days. 

Life is heading in the right direction now, it seems.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekend relaxing

Yesterday was a fairly lazy day. My dang heel hurting didn't make for much ambition to get a lot done and this morning it is not feeling any better.  Friday evening I had started watching a movie (Tomorrowland with George Clooney), but only watched about a half hour of it, before it was time for bed. I knew I could watch it On Demand, so I decided to go to bed and watch it another time. Late Saturday morning, after I had gotten out of the shower and then cleaned the kitchen I heard DH watching a movie. Turns out it was the same movie, but he had already watched most of it, so I didn't want to start watching again 3/4 of the way in to it.  Later that afternoon, while he was busy doing something I watched it, LOL. And a short nap after that.

that's really about all I did, other than pay some bills and chat with DD on the computer in the morning. Dinner was sloppy joes, so I could use up some of the hamburger buns from the week before. For lunch I used up some of the soft tortillas and made an "italian quesadilla".

Found out last night via email that the sergeant, who has basically been in charge of our neighborhood drug problem, is being transferred to another unit for a year. The great deputy we have had has also been transferred out. So, we've been passed on to a new sergeant and deputy. Most likely to just start all over with getting anything done and trying to form a relationship. We've already had contact by the deputy replacing the other one and he is very on the ball and willing to communicate with us. Hopefully the new sergeant will be too. I really didn't care for the other sergeant anyway. He had a very condescending manner to him and most of the time made us feel like we were bothering him.

I gave my old kitty's front nails a trim last night. He seems to be catching his nails easily on things lately. Probably because he doesn't spend much time outdoors anymore, to naturally keep his nails trimmed. We have always had to trim one nail on a regular basis. He has extra toes and actually has a nail that grows in between his toes and if not trimmed it grows and starts to curve into his pad. So, while I was doing that nail I trimmed the rest down a bit. He was quite cooperative, for a cat ;)

Keeping my fingers crossed, but so far DH's computer seems to be running ok. Friday evening he finally listened to me and put the security camera's on the old computer (still sitting at his desk) and to one of his monitors. Around the same time, I had called Comcast because the new set top box that says it got activated successfully, when I did it online earlier that afternoon, was still only getting channels 1-29. So I called up Comcast after dinner and customer service guy said it never got activated, so he did it from his end and all worked. DH swears that whatever he did is when his computer started acting normally while he's online. Not sure what a tv box would have to do with our internet service, but what do I know?  Friday afternoon I had emailed the IT lady, who does the IT for my side job, that I'd like her to remote in and clean his computer and see if she can figure out the problem. She called me back late yesterday, but I told her for now it seems to be working well, so let's hold off. She said it could be possible if that old set top box had a short it was interfering with the wifi signal. (plus that box was right next to our modem/router).  Anyhow, all is calm for now, at least.

Not sure what I am doing today, other than I plan to make a couple loaves of banana bread and get the house vacuumed.

Last summer I bought some clematis plants for my front arbor. They grew beautifully, but I keep walking by the now ugly vines and wondering if I was supposed to trim/prune them down? Eek! So, I just sent an email to the guy I bought them from. He has a little plant nursery business out of his front yard and I always buy plants from him. I'm sure he will email me back and give me the scoop!

My dd posted a picture of her and her BF on Facebook from a fancy date they went on last night. All's I can see is the top of a cute red sleeveless dress. She looks so beautiful! Her huge blue eyes and such a smile. I am glad she is so happy in life.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

New coffee

I have a Keurig that was given to me as a gift several years ago. After realizing how expensive k-cups are I bought an adapter and started using my own ground coffee. I have pretty much always bought a certain brand - the kind that comes in the little 12 oz bag. But while shopping last week and needing some more coffee, I decided that it would probably be cheaper to buy a big can of coffee. The name brands (Folgers, Maxwell House) were somewhat cheaper, but the Walmart Great Value brand was a lot cheaper. Less than half the price per oz. then what I have been buying.  I am no big coffee connoisseur. I drink one cup in the morning. This morning I tried my new cup of coffee. It does taste different, of course, but it's still coffee and tastes fine. That big can will last me quite awhile.

I also picked up a very generic roll of paper towels to try. I'm not a heavy paper towel user - mostly I just use them to line the bird cage. I had been trying Bounty Basics at about .99 a roll, but this plain generic roll (it doesn't even have Walmart's generic logo in it) was .50 and I can't tell the difference.

Our car tabs are due on my car and DD's. Her's needs an emission test this year, but her college apartment address doesn't require emissions and since she won't be moving back here after graduation, I told her I'd mail her the renewal and she could go change her address up there. I'm still paying it this one last year. But, while I was online this morning renewing my tabs I saw an option to change your address, so I did that for her address (luckily we put the car in her name last year) and then it took off the emissions requirement and let me renew it for her online. That saves her a trip to licensing office. Last time I have to pay that $56!

I went to the nearby Comcast service store yesterday. Our tv that DH uses in the family room has been having problems with shows stuttering or freezing. We have a tiny little set top box for it that we've had for years. I thought maybe it is going bad. The customer service guy said, yep that's most likely it and not our tv. Then I asked him why we can only get some of the channels we subscribe to on that tv and not all of them. Apparently the little box we have had all these years is their "$3 a month box" and only gets channels 1-100. Who knew?! So, I upgraded to the bigger box that gets all our channels. It cost $7 more a month, but should make dh happy that if he wants to watch something on a channel higher than 100 (which is very often) he can stay put and not have to go watch it in the living room.  At least I got one issue resolved (I hope - we'll see if the shows stop stuttering and freezing up).

Something is wrong with my right heel. I got up yesterday and as soon as I put my foot down it started hurting. Same problem today. I know the dog stepped on it the other night. Not even sure what night it was. I just remember being woke up as a 90lb lab stepped on my foot to jump off the bed. Most likely that is what is causing it. It really doesn't feel any better today.  I did have some plantar fasciitis a year or so ago, but that was in my arch of same foot. I did some stretching exercises for awhile and it went away. It could also be related to that, too, I suppose. Always somethin'!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Some good news came my way

I opened some mail today from the bank that holds our home equity loan. You may recall me mentioning last September that the 5 years of no interest payments were up and now the terms were that the new monthly payment is 1.5% of the outstanding balance. So, my payment went up from $400 a month to almost $900. That's ok though because all that extra is going towards principal. Each month my principal balance goes down about $500 and each month that 1.5% monthly payment drops a bit, too.

The interest rate is 7.85% (I know OUCH!). The letter that came in the mail today said effective 1/31 the interest rate on this loan is dropping to 4%!!!!!!!!!

That is almost half. I was in my car when I opened the letter. I was dancing in my seat!

It won't make my monthly payment go down a whole bunch, BUT instead of now almost $400 a month interest it will be around $200 and that extra will also go towards principal. WOOO!! I plugged the new interest rate in my amortization schedule spreadsheet and in less than 5 years I will save over $8000 in interest.  Of course that's if we actually stayed here that long, which isn't very likely, but still super news for me each month until then.

Computer issues still

It's been a crappy couple of days. DH is just beyond trying to get through to on trying to explain to and fix his computer problems. I spoke with two IT people. My guy at work and the lady who does the computer stuff (has her own IT business) for my side job company. Both are pretty sure it has nothing at all to do with our internet service, as I have no problems with my computer.

My IT guy suggested it could be that DH has two programs open and running all the time for our camera security systems (we have one 8 camera system for the house and one for the shop). He said it's probably bogging down his computer and when he tries to do a bunch of other stuff it's slowing it down. He said he had to put his home camera system on it's own computer, so it didn't slow down the computer it was on, that he was trying to also use for other stuff. Makes sense.

But, of course I can't get anything at all through to DH. The minute I open my mouth to try and tell him what both IT people told me, he just starts freaking out that it's Comcast and our internet. When I try to say I don't have any issues on my computer he says I'm not on it all day. For some reason I cannot get through to him that I AM on the internet all day, when I am working. My work connection is using the internet and when I am working all day, I am doing the same as him -  using the internet constantly.

It would pretty much be a piece of cake to just put the camera programs on his old computer and put a  monitor on it. A pretty easy thing to try and see if it helps the problem.

I was going to have someone come here, so they could see our set up, be on his computer on our internet (instead of just taking him computer somewhere to have it looked at) - see first hand what is going on. Nope, he doesn't want some stranger coming to his house. OMG!  There is nothing more I can do then. I'm not getting yet another modem from Comcast. it's working fine. Our download speed is 60mbps and upload is 6 mpbs. On my computer I have several websites open, I am logged into VPN/remote to two other systems and everything works fine.

There is absolutely no way to even talk to him about this. He seems to know it all, which is what is so funny - he knows absolutely nothing about how computers and internet work. I know very little, but at least know enough that I should seek experts opinions and try their suggestions.  One of the guys he has gotten friends with over in the other neighborhood, is a computer geek guy too. I suggested he ask him. We could pay him to look at it and I'm sure he could come up with suggestions on resolving the problems. Nope, doesn't want to do that either.  For whatever reason he just has it in his head that it's our internet and nothing else is going to be the right answer.  I'm so tired of dealing with him. He just drains my energy to nothing. Glad it's my half work day. I can get out of here this afternoon and get the grocery shopping done and take a small break from him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gettin' over the hump

This week seems to be going very slow for some reason, which is strange because I am very busy with both jobs. This morning I finished all the year end accounting work for my side job and got the file uploaded to the CPA. I had planned to have it all done by the end of last week, but I completely lost 4 days of work time when I could not access the order system program. Anyway, it was a big relief to be able to upload that file and be done with that part.

With my new Capital One credit card I get free credit score tracking, which updated today. I was happy to see it went from 700 to 705.

I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and pay for an anti-virus program for DH's computer. It's a brand new computer (just a several months old now) and he's still always having problems (just like his old computer). I tried to explain to him that it's most likely from all the internet surfing he does, especially this one message board/forum type website (it's huge, with thousands of posts per day) and even showed him some articles and such I found on the internet saying that this site causes malware, etc. He stayed off it for awhile (no, it's not porn LOL. It's just where thousands of gearheads/racers post their opinions etc) and didn't have much problems, but he's been back on lately and of course his computer is slow, etc again. He always blames any computer problem on our internet provider (Comcast), but while he's sitting there with his computer all slow, I'm sitting here on my computer with several windows open, logged in remotely to work, etc and not an issue at all. So, obviously it's not the internet connection.  I did some research with pc mag's top recommendations. Sound like the top two recommended are Bitdefender and Kapersky.  I know I have one or two free type anti-virus programs on his computer. Guess I'll have to remove all those and just try one. Wish I knew more about computer stuff!  Or maybe I just need to hire someone to come in and go over his computer and explain it all to him, what is causing it. A computer tech could tell him the exact thing I am saying and then it would be correct. That is probably what I should do. (and then I can sit there and say "I told you so").

I finally stopped on my way home from work yesterday and ran my car through the car wash! It was so dirty, but yesterday was sunny and so is today, so I get 2 days of clean car :). I am a bit claustrophobic. All the other times I have used the car wash this past year (always hand washed before) DD was the one driving and we sat and talked and laughed our way through it. This was the first time by myself and I did feel a tiny bit panicky. I only feel that way if I am in a position where I feel trapped in. I am fine in elevators. I could walk into a closet right now and be fine. The first time I ever went into a tanning bed I about had a panic attack, but once I convinced myself I could easily get out, I was fine (and then used to nap during my tans, LOL). The MRI I had to have after my car accident was the worst feeling. I used to panic in the dentist office too (hence why I didn't go for years) when they'd lay me back to start working on me, I'd feel trapped. The mind is a strange thing, sometimes!

I seem to be where the pets want to be today. I have one dog asleep on one side of my chair and the other dog asleep on the other side. The cat is on the bed snoring.

What the heck is good to watch on tv these days? Right now there is really only 3 shows I'm watching. Madam Secretary, Downton Abbey and Big Bang Theory (and half the time it seems that isn't on or it's a repeat). I'm not watching American Idol anymore. Watched it for years and last year was so bad, I only watched the first half of the season. I haven't even bothered with this final season. Last night I watched on demand last Sunday's episodes of Madam Secretary and Downton Abbey. The rest of the week I feel like there is nothing to watch.

I'm currently taking my acid reflux medication every other day now. My doctor had been kind of vague (and only gave me 2 months prescription). It's working great for me, so I emailed her and asked if I'm supposed to continue with it on a daily basis now or what. She suggested trying every other day and if still good, then take as needed. I just started the every other day, so not sure yet. I have to go back in a few weeks for a cholesterol check and see if the Simvastatin is working.

Went to pick up DH's Crestor - that went up $30 a month, apparently due to his new insurance I changed to. Great - I saved $5 a month of premiums and now have $30 a month more in higher medication costs. I CANNOT wait until this goes generic sometime later this year! I had to pay $202 for this prescription.