Thursday, March 31, 2016

Keeping on with the plan

We received some more good news towards our "move" plan. The lady that owns the property we want to purchase returned my call this morning. I had left her a message the other day, just wanted to keep in touch and let her know we were still working on it. I told her our offer will have to be contingent on selling our home and also will need time for the construction loan process: for our builder to get plan specs and costs submitted to our bank and then after that it will take another 45 days to close. She said no problem -they are in no hurry! One by one things are falling into place :)

Now we are just waiting to hear back from the builder and tie down what we want with our budget (more like what we can get with our budget!). Then we will have our realtor make an offer and get our place listed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What the heck do I need for internet service?!

One of the factors in our decision on where to live is internet service! I have to have decent enough internet to be able to remote into work everyday. This is the area I cannot seem to get any real concrete answers on what the minimum service I need is! It's frustrating. Even my IT guy at work is being extremely vague on what will work.  We have a few employees who live in areas where internet service is behind the times and slow. One can't even get it to work remotely from his house "out in the country", so when he's working from home he has to go into his nearby town and sit at Starbucks. Our IT guy told me one of the owners just bought a house "in the country" and has a speed of 10mpbs, but it is working.

Internet options and speed are on the very low end in Montana! According to one website it is the 50th worst state for service! Eek! I asked the neighbors of the property we want to buy what internet provider they use, so I could check into it. It seems to be one of the best options, of the places we have looked at so far, since we won't be right in the city. It's a DSL service through their telephone line. They say it works pretty well for them, they do lose connection off and on, but not for long. I looked at the company online and they say they offer up to 15mbps in the area. I just called and was told the most they offer at that address is 8mpbs. (sigh....)  And I can't really get anyone to tell me if that is sufficient for remoting into work. My IT guy did say that the set up I use at home (even though I have very fast internet) is a set up that works for slower internet speeds, as he uses a combination of VPN and remote desktop. I log in first to a VPN and then log in through Remote Desktop, and that this is the set up he had to use for our owner, who now only has 10mbps at home.  I also asked our friends, who live about 20 miles from the property we are looking at, what service they use. They use a different one (that doesn't appear to be offered at the property we are looking at) that their max speed is only 3-7mpbs, but she said it is enough for her son to play his xbox games online.

I have been remote-ing into work for almost 11 years now. I know when I started (we did not use Comcast then) and just had DSL through our phone company that we were not anywhere near the speed I have now and it worked all those early years. I wish someone could just tell me "ya, you'll be fine with that internet service". I've looked into satellite internet (because we'll have satellite tv), but that seems a worse option according to what I read. Plus, the satellite plans all seem to have a very low cap on data usage. I'm hoping that since we won't need our security camera system (which uses our internet) we won't be overloading our internet usage, like we are now.  If we do end up with something where our data is limited, we are just going to have to be more mindful of our DH has been outside all day, but all his Firefox windows are open on his computer and he's not using it. We might not be able to have Netflix or Amazon Prime video service. In fact, from what the company's website says, their 8mpbs service is for "light" video streaming. Maybe I can hope they upgrade their service in the near future?

I'm also thinking I can probably use our Verizon cell phone service as a "back up" internet, if necessary. I did a little test here from home, just now. I created a personal  hotspot and connected to that with my home computer. I then tested the speed - it was 13mbps DL and less than 1mbps UL. I then logged into work and did some work for about 10 minutes. I noticed the slower speed just a little bit - mostly with Quickbooks, but not with email or our other programs. I then logged into my side job and no problems there. I don't know that we'd get that same Verizon speed at the new place, but at least it's a back up option, I'm thinking. I also notice Verizon offers an installed home internet, using their wireless service. It starts at $60 a month for 10GB of data and up to 12mpbs of speed. Something to consider, but not a great option. I have no idea how much data we use for me working and our general personal internet usage, because I don't really know how much the 2 camera systems we have use up. Jan and Feb we used a bit less than 100gb of data - seems like a lot. This month it was up to 162gb...probably because I have been watching a bunch on Netflix and I know DH watched a bunch on Netflix while she was here watching the house/taking care of the dogs.

Speaking of internet - I made the mistake of running over to my mom's during what I had planned was just a quick lunch break today, while working from home. I needed to pick up her tax return stuff, so I can do her taxes. Oh good lordy! Of course I had to sit there for a good 45 minutes trying to help her with all her computer problems/questions. Her old computer just literally needs to be thrown in the trash bin! OMG! I don't know what more I can do to tell her she NEEDS a new computer. Her's is probably 8-10 years old. Last time I was there, I thought, well maybe it's her internet service -she's had the same service forever and never upgraded, still same old little modem that said "Quest" on it, even though they've been Century Link for years now. So, last time I tested her internet speed and it was fine. Not causing her problems of a computer soooo dang slow it's like trying to use dial up. I told her again then, you need a new computer. So, what does she go and do? She switches her service to Comcast - which just adds a whole host of new problems because she has no clue that she now has a different wi-fi password, etc. Plus, it didn't make a darn bit of difference in trying to use the internet, so she's paying for this high speed internet she doesn't get to use. I told her these web pages should be popping up instantly.

So, she has this long list wrote out of her problems the past couple of weeks. First she can't get on Facebook or her email with her ipad mini anymore. Ok, easy fix - I just need to connect to your new network with your new Comcast wi-fi password. Um....she has no idea what that is. OMG! So, she digs around in her growing little pile of little scraps of paper where each log in and password is written down on a separate little scrap of paper. She fumbles through them and finds one that says "Comcast" on it and some strange thing that doesn't look like any Comcast wi-fi password I've seen them use. Plus, when I see what networks are available to use I see 2 different ones for Comcast and don't know which one is hers (her service tech didn't rename it). But that weird little "password" wouldn't work on either of them. Then she digs out the paperwork the tech left for her, where he had kindly written it all down for her. Thank God! The network name and the wi-fi password, written all down, I don't think he could have been much clearer for her.  I got her ipad working again.

She's been trying to log into her investment brokerage account and the screen looks all weird and there is a bunch of wording kind of covering where she puts her log in info. I have no idea why - other than she actually still uses the AOL program to access the internet, instead of IE or Firefox . So, I try logging into her account via IE, but she again has to dig through her little scraps of paper to find the password. But the password didn't work so I had to have it email her a temp password, and then log in her email, and since I was logging in via IE and not AOL, it wasn't saved in there, and of course she had no clue what her log in and password are. I get logged in and it works/looks fine and then change her password to a new one. So I showed her how to access it via IE (which of course she won't remember the next time she goes to use it). This whole time - the computer is crawling along like a snail. I am literally about ready to just throw it through the window, it's so ridiculously slow. I tell her you HAVE to get a new computer!. It's certainly not like she doesn't have the money (the account we logged into for her investments showed almost a million dollars LOL). Then she says "well, I don't know what to get". I said, just decide what you want to spend and go to Best Buy and buy anything they recommend in that price range (she only uses it for email, Facebook and a few websites she goes to). ANY computer you buy will be a 1000 times better than this one, I promise! By then I had run out of time to try to address the other items on her list. I had to get back home and get back to work. If I end up staying at her house for a while, if we build, I'll be able to get her all set up with a new computer, get her trained on it a bit and I'm going to put all her dang scraps of login/passwords on one list! Her reason for putting them all on separate little scraps of paper? Well, if a thief breaks in, it will be harder for him to steal all her logins/passwords then if they were all on one sheet! I told her any thief interested in her login/passwords isn't breaking into her house - or even leaving his house to do it! He's stealing them by hacking and virus. A thief coming to steal your jewelry and stuff (which already happened) probably isn't going to look for a piece of paper to steal. Oh, the joys of an aging parent!

Mid week update

We have welcomed the sun and warm weather this week :)  The moss killer (in the weed and feed) DH applied on Saturday morning has already killed the moss. Hopefully the bare spots will fill in some now.

I finally heard back from my mortgage lady yesterday. As I thought, she had been on Spring Break with her family. I just needed some clarifications on how this construction loan process works and now I'm up to speed (for the most part - ha!). We just weren't sure what, if any, documents we needed to supply the bank prior to us making an offer on the land. None, really. She said we make an offer contingent on a couple of things. 1) selling our home (of course) and 2) time allowed for our contractor to get the plan specs/cost estimate package done and submitted to our lender and then approved. How long that part takes depends on how quickly the contractor gets it done, but once that is done, she said it takes 45 days for the bank to process the construction loan and close out on the purchase of the land and then the construction process can begin. Obviously the contractor package can be worked on by the contractor concurrent with while we are trying to sell our house.

She also said that the bank wants to know nothing about the homeowner doing some of the "sweat equity" work to build the home. We can do it, but she said typically a builder, who is willing to let you do some of the work, will just put a nominal fee for the costs of the parts we would do.

I tried to call the lady that owns the lot, just to let her know we are still working on it, just got delayed with both our mortgage lady and realtor on vacation this past week. I had to leave her a message, but didn't hear back from her last night. Hopefully she and her partner will be agreeable to waiting on the construction package process. It's not like if they listed the property it would sell right away anyway. The other 2 lots have been for sale for almost 2 years! They know this too. They'd be smart to snag up our offer, I'd think. They also live in our area, so they know the real estate market is hot here, and hopefully we won't have much problem selling our place in a decent amount of time. Currently we just want to hear back from the builder, on the drawings DH sent him before we pull the trigger and make an offer.

DH and I have easily settled into who handles what in regards to all of this. I do the mortgage and realtor stuff, he does the builder stuff and figuring out how all our stuff will be moved/stored and what we will do while the house is being built. The current plan (similar to what our friends just did) is buy a used 48ft dry goods trailer, that we can resell when we are done with it, and make most of our money back, I'm sure. He's already started packing his shop stuff and even put it all on pallets. His good friend from the area we are moving too, was over here last weekend visiting family and he brought a flat bed trailer with him and took back with him some stuff he is storing for DH at his big place. DH gave him gas money, so he got to come visit family for free and we got some storage out of it :) The current plan is DH will find a camper/trailer to live in (with the dogs) on the property while the house is being built. I will stay here, with my mom. Not sure I want to do that for that long of time, but we'll see. We might end up finding something cheap over there to rent temporarily. I can't stay in a camper trailer and work from home every day.

So, one of our neighborhood PITA's is back in jail - the woman who lives with (off and on) her parents down the road. She violated her (now) court ordered no contact order plus she resisted arrest, so her bail got jacked up to $30k. Hopefully she'll stay there longer than 2 weeks this time. We also gave the police a couple of license plate #'s of cars that came down our street on Monday to that drug house. Turns out one is wanted (or maybe the car was stolen or both) but the deputy arrested the guy in the truck over at the other neighborhood last night. Yay us! The two boys (and the uncle) from that drug house are busy every night. You'd think it wouldn't be that hard to bust them. I'm so tired of waiting.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

We attended our first campaign fundraiser event last night. All in all it was a pretty good time. They (it was for 2 councilmen, from different districts) had a very good turnout. We had a 5 minute drive to get there (yay). The first hour was social hour and then 2 hours of the program. They tried to make it entertaining. The speaker was pretty good. First we said the pledge of allegiance. Throughout the 2 hours some ladies sang a few patriotic songs. One song was "In God We Trust", which was for our councilman - who actually had to fight the liberal council members to have those words put on the wall in the council chambers. Another speaker recited the words to the Johnny Cash song "Ragged Old Flag". 

DD and her BF stopped by for a couple of hours yesterday. DH put her BF to work a bit, helping him move a few things that were heavy, so that was a big help. It was really nice sitting outside in the sun and chatting with DD. She was on spring break this past week and they had gone to the ocean for a couple of days and then were at his parents Friday night and then stopped to see us for a bit. She starts her final quarter of college on Wednesday. Boy, did those 2 years of school fly by. Her BF's new job (within same company) is going great and he already got a raise, after only 3 months.

The weather is supposed to get in the 60's and up to 70 this next week, which should work out great for the weed and feed DH applied to the lawn. I am ready for the warm weather too.

We have no special Easter dinner plans.  Just a normal Sunday dinner for us. I'd love to make a ham, but DH doesn't really like ham, so it'll just be a normal Sunday dinner, LOL. DH is outside today working on his trailer and I've got my laundry started and need to dust and vacuum. I'm thinking this afternoon will be a nap :)

I never heard back from our mortgage lady last week. That kind of irks me. I'm sure she probably had the week off for Spring Break with her son, but geez - at least put an out of office notification on your email stating when you will be returning to business. Hopefully I'll have my questions answered by her early this week and when our realtor gets back from his vacation on Wednesday, we can get the ball rolling.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday chores

The weather is warming up, so this weekend has become yard maintenance weekend. I went this morning and picked up weed and feed w/moss control and some ortho weed killer spray stuff. DH talked to his friend who is very lawn savvy and I got exactly what he said to get and DH is applying it exactly how he said to.  Last summers drought really killed some areas of our lawn and it never came back after the rains started again in Fall. We'll probably have to add some overseed to the bare areas, too.

Part of our issue with weeds is because of our good neighbor. He has a lawn.....sort of. Bascially it's grass with a bunch of weeds. In the 25 years he has lived there he has NEVER once applied weed killer and I'll bet DH has mowed his lawn more times than he has! No matter how much we weed and feed our lawn,  his weeds blow over and infect our lawn. Honestly, it would be better if he didn't even have a lawn, really, since he doesn't take care of it. That's kind of why DH tries to mow his lawn - to try and keep the dandelions cut down before they go to seed. Well, I happened to buy a huge gallon of concentrate (only size in stock) and it will be enough for 2 yards. So, DH said when good neighbor goes to work on Monday, he's going over there and spraying his lawn and just not telling him! LOL. Good neighbor will end up with this better lawn and not know what happened LOL.  This morning good neighbor actually got himself out of his house and spent about a half hour trimming his little apple trees a bit....and then he just left the little branches on the ground below the tree. And that's where they will stay.  I don't get it. Hopefully our lawn will start showing some signs of returning to a nice lawn in time for listing for sale in a month or so.

I see a few rhody's out and about, while driving around, are starting to bloom already, so our azalea's should bloom soon. For whatever reason, our rhody's always bloom late spring. At least the yard should have some color by then. I might have to just plant pansies and whatever is available at the garden centers in all my flower pots. The petunia's and the rest might not be available yet when we list for sale.

Tonight is the political fundraiser we are going to. I don't even know what to wear. It's just hor'dourves and beverages and it's at a gun range/sportsman's club place, so nothing too fancy. I was hoping to get by with nice jeans, a nice top and boots, but DH will probably end up wanting to wear his khaki's, so then I'll feel like I have to wear dress slacks.

Looking forward to sunny, almost 70 degree weather next week :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Good and Bad

I just got my results from rechecking my cholesterol, now that I have been on Simvastatin several months. Good news! My total cholesterol is down to 152.  At my annual check up it had gotten up to 267. (eek!). Looks like I still need to get my "good" cholesterol up just a bit. Normal is above 40 and mine is 38, but it's almost there.

I'm working from home today, trying to get payroll done, but my boss isn't answering my email about one of our employees going from hourly to salary. She must be in a meeting. She is terrible about not updating her status on our "status board" at work. LOL. Plus, I am hoping to get an email soon saying we are closing early, due to Good Friday/Easter weekend. Last year we got off at noon. C'mon email!....

Speaking of work - we have a sort of new customer service rep that sits on the other side of my cubicle wall. She has the most problems with customers! Good grief. Over the almost 11 years I have sat at my desk, there has been a CS person on the other side of me. No one has been as crabby as she seems to be. There are 3 others in her dept too and none of them has the problems with customers she does. She is constantly hanging up the phone and getting mad. The CS reps are assigned to certain customers, so they have to deal with same people on a regular basis. About once a week she is in my boss's office, complaining about our customers and how they treat her.  I don't expect her to be around a whole lot longer and honestly, I'm getting tired of listening to her complaining every time she hangs up the phone. Obviously the problem is her. Obviously she needs a different job than customer service. I just don't think she is a happy person. The lady next to her (who is so friendly) chats with her off and on and new CS lady is crabby about her personal life too. She apparently has step kids that live with her and it's obvious she doesn't like them either.

We started Jan and Feb a little slow in sales, but looks like we will be at our goal by the end of March, for our first quarter. If we can keep it up 3 more months then we get the first half of our 10% bonus. After taxes that works out to an additional $438/mo net income to me. Yes, please.

The lady who lives next door the to property we'd like to buy called yesterday and DH talked with her. Part of why we went and talked with them was because when we started looking at lot 1 (before we knew lot 3 was for sale) we realized that the best spot to put a house would make for them basically looking out the back of their house and having to see the front a house and roof. Not cool for them. DH wanted to know how they felt about it, because if we were in their shoes it would bug us.  They were nice and said "well, it's your property to do what you want, but yes, it sure would affect our view" and DH said well, then we wouldn't do that. Later, we found out lot 3 is for sale.  Anyhow, she called yesterday and was wondering if we were leaning toward 3 or 1, because if we didn't buy lot 1, then they think they will buy it - it got them to thinking that if someone else ends up with it, they might not be so nice as us and build down lower and give them blocked view. They are thinking of buying lot 1 and just leaving it vacant. Plus she said "we both would love for you guys to be our neighbors" :)

ok, just got the email that office is closing early. Woo!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

working on the details and getting more info

I just got a call back from the computer repair shop I took DH's computer to yesterday. They had a feeling it was the video card, not the motherboard (as the Geeksquad tech guy said), so they put in one to test. She said they've turned it off and on several times and also left it running for a couple of hours, with no more problems. Part is $50, labor is $25. I'm good with that. Better than not having a computer for a month! Sure, warranty is great, but not if it's a month without a computer, which probably would have turned into 6 weeks - for something that took them probably minutes to replace.

DH talked to one of the contractor/builders the new "neighbor lady" recommended. He was willing to work with a home owner that wants to do some of the work themselves, said he prefers it, actually. He likes doing the framing, but not so much all the coordination of the finish work inside. He'll recommend subs, but if DH is willing to do the calling, scheduling, shopping for interior stuff, etc, we'll save a lot of money. Plus we know how to do the painting inside and DH knows how to install wood/laminate flooring no problem, which most of our house would be. DH can also install the base boards and trim. I'm good at finding the best prices on stuff, so we'd save there too, over letting a contractor just buy whatever. He charges 10% fee, but that would just be of what he buys/oversees, if that makes sense, not 10% on the whole project.

Other than our master bath, which we want nice, the other bathroom (and maybe 1/2 bath too) will be pretty basic. I'd just get pedestal sinks, which are cheaper than a whole cabinet, counter top and sink. I love the oval wood mirror I put up in our current guest bathroom. Found it at bed bath and beyond for $30.  Stuff like that, I think we can make it look really nice, but still be on a small budget. I also found some faux brick panels through Costco that might work for front of house, in the areas we want brick. I don't know the price difference to real brick, but this sure looks ok to me:
this is the example from  I sure can't tell a difference. I really like the colors of this house too. I know I definitely want dark trim and dark garage doors. I think I'll save this pic for reference :)

That vacant foreclosed house (for almost 3 years) around the corner from us? It finally sold. Not sure if whoever bought it is fixing it up to reside, rent or flip, but they sure are working on it! Repainted whole outside. Looks so nice again. Today when I drove by they were putting up a 6ft wood fence between them and who we call "crazy lady". She is the one who's in between us and this vacant house. It certainly will help, when we are ready to list ours, that there isn't a vacant boarded up house for potential buyers to drive by.

I'm also kind of looking forward to doing the landscaping stuff. We really enjoy that and the property we want has lots of trees and will give us the nice park like setting we like. Even though the property is larger than we have now, DH isn't planning on quite so much lawn. Most likely our budget won't allow (maybe later) a paved driveway, but DH knows how to make gravel look nice, especially if it's edged and lined with plants and shrubs. One thing I want at the entrance to our property will be a big rock engraved with the address. It looks like there are some in the general area, that do that sort of thing.

This is the property we are hoping to get and the view of the river below. It looks kind of lower bank from this picture, but it's a wide river and a very steep bank down, at the edge of the property.
So much better than looking at a walk up drug window, wouldn't you say? :)  We didn't see one homeless drug addict the whole time we were there. LOL. The neighbors say they get elk and deer (and we saw the droppings) especially because they are surrounded by state lands. There is a pair of bald eagles that nest in a tree on the other side of river. We got to watch one of them glide over the river, scoop up a fish and land on the bank on other side. We were pretty much in heaven.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

We're back home (ugh!)

Long post, with lots to catch up on.

We had a good productive trip house/land hunting, visiting with friends. We didn't find a house we liked (looked at 3) but did find a couple of properties we really liked. As I mentioned before, there just aren't a lot of houses for sale that are what we are looking for (guess that's probably also a factor that there isn't a lot of population there, either LOL). We did look at one house that we have been watching for awhile (and wondering why it is not selling). The mountain range views were AMAZING, but the house is just too small for me. 1500 sf, smaller than what we have and with it still being 3 bedroom 2 bath, the rooms are even smaller than I have now. It was kept very nice and they took very good care of their house/shop and property, but for some reason they let the south side of the outside cedar siding get all weather damaged and it's peeling up, etc. The shop was also a bit small for DH. But we were keeping it on our list of maybe's.

We looked at one house on a river. The agent was showing us a piece of land down the road from it, so we decided to take a look at the home for sale (we had seen it on zillow and it was "ok"). But the owner needed a couple of hours to get it spiffed up. So we went and had lunch and came back at appointed time. They had like 4 or 5 people hopping in cars to leave there....geez, how messy was it? LOL. It was an ok house. Much bigger than I want (3500 sf) and they really didn't take care of it or their yard very well. Their Christmas tree was still laying out on the deck! The realtor was trying walk us through the yard to get to the side area and it was full of dog poop. We weren't impressed. No wonder they have been trying to sell it for 2 years.

Then we looked at a house up in a canyon, right along a creek. Having that creek basically off your back deck/patio was awesome, the house was nice, but really quirky designed and right off the main road, so too much traffic. Plus there was no cell phone service there, which probably means crappy internet too.

Our very first stop had been to look at a piece of property, 3 acres in a 7 lot "subdivision" (but nothing else around at all, surrounded by state forest land), along a river. But once DH got to see the layout of it in person, there is really very little of it that is usable/build-able. It's a triangle shaped lot and most of the acreage is river bank. Now before anyone says "what about flooding?" (like my mom did) let me add that this is VERY high bank property. Like 80 feet above the river. No chance of flooding. So, while it is on the river, it's not really a river access type of lot (you could make your way down the steep embankment, if you wanted), mostly it's just seeing the river.  Lot 1 is also for sale, so we went over and looked at it. 2 acres and turned out we liked that lot much better. It still had state forest land on one side, like the lot at the other end did. There is a very nice house on lot 2, the only lot that has been built on in the 10 years since this got subdivided.  This was on Thursday and we ended up meeting with the builder to look at the lots on Saturday.

The funniest part was all this time DH has been saying he doesn't want to live too close to the train tracks. doesn't want to listen to a train. But almost all the properties in this area are near the train going by, so as we were looking at a river property, with train on other side, the train went by. We sat in our car with the windows rolled down listening to it (and watching it go by across the river, in the trees) looked at each other and we both said "I like it!".  So, now we like the train, LOL.

We had dinner at our friends new house, about 20 miles away, on both Thursday and Friday evenings. It was really nice and fun evenings (and saved me money!) and their new home they built is just beautiful. Pretty much what we want in most aspects. Their property was more expensive (14 acres) so back out the difference in property cost and they built for right in our budget, so we are thinking this is doable.

We also looked at some other river front 1/2 acre lots right in the small town, that this guy DH knows from when he used to be in business in construction, has for sale. Not what we want at all. We don't want to be in town, even if it is a small town of 800.

So, Saturday morning we slept in a bit, got up and had another good breakfast at the only restaurant in town and then DH called the guy who lives in the house on lot 2. He had already talked to him on the phone before and after our late breakfast we went back over so we could talk with them and ask some more questions, before the builder showed up. Such nice people, in their early 60's. I loved the guy. He was so friendly and funny. I love a person that can laugh at them-self. We got a tour of their HUGE home. Two stories, over 5000 sf. just for the two of them. I would HATE to have to clean all that. Yikes. I was kind of wondering how in the heck, based on their jobs, they could afford this probably 700k+ house, and he said his wife got a big inheritance, so they used it for the home.

The problem with the two lots for sale and their lot, is you have to build back so far that there really is no view, from your home, of the river. I'm kind of like, why pay for river property if you can't see it unless you walk out to the edge of your property? Then they mentioned that lot 3 was for sale, the ladies that own it just haven't listed it. So we walked over there. And it has a wonderful view of the river from where you would build a home! The lady went back inside to call them up and ask if they were still wanting to sell and they said yes, so I called them on on way home and we are waiting to hear back on how much they want for the land.  Everyone that is trying to sell is taking a loss, from what they paid 10 years ago. They all paid more, but that was before economy crash. Lot 7 (the 3 acre lot) is at a higher asking price than lot 1 (2 acre lot). Lot 3 is also 2 acres, but has the better view, so I'm thinking they might come in asking in between those two prices. We'll see.

Then the builder showed up and we talked with him for almost 3 hours. I'd say only about a 1/2 hour of it was pertinent, usable info to us on if he could build us what we want there with our budget. He liked to talk, LOL. But he sounded like it was do-able and we left there pretty excited. It was 5pm, and we were done, so decided to head home. It's 6 1/2 hours from there to here. Not bad and a do-able drive to see DD/my mom or for DD to drive to see us.

The next day DH was emailing with this builder's boss - who is the guy Ted used to know from over here (a millionaire many times over now) and he basically acted like this is way out of our budget. Quoted $35k for septic and well. Said in this county all the new driveways have to be paved now (15-20k and we're waiting to find out, but don't think this is true. It's not in the covenants) and then site prep work....all in all he's like 75k-90k! We are like WTH?! There is no way it would cost that much. We already know what the current neighbor there spent for his well and septic (15k total) and our friend who just built 20 miles down the road spent 20k (because he upgraded his well). Certainly not 35k and it certainly doesn't need (or would even cost) 20-35k of site prep work. Our friend said he didn't spend more than $40k for well, septic, site prep and a paved driveway. DH isn't stupid, he used to work in construction. DH is like, crap, he could rent a dozer and backhoe for a week and do it himself. He also said we were outside of the fire district so wouldn't be able to get insurance. So, that builder's boss pretty much took the wind right out of our sails. Not sure what his deal is, other than he has really been trying to push on us those 1/2 acre lots he has for sale on the river, right in town. Now, while it's a very small town, we still have zero desire to live in town. We looked at them and it's not what we are looking for. As he was bursting our bubble, he was still pushing those lots. He was also trying to sell us a 14 acre piece, but it's too far up in a canyon and no cell service there either, so I'm assuming internet would be an issue too. Plus, it's way out of our budget.

So, as I'm typing all this out this morning, DH wakes up and his computer isn't working. It turns on but see nothing. Tried plugging a different monitor and cable and nothing. Dang. it's only like 8 months old. So, I took an early lunch break and went to BestBuy Geek Squad. He thought it was a hardware problem and still would be covered under warranty. Yay! Then he says they have to send it out and it would take 3-4 WEEKS! Well, that's not going to work. So, I take it back to my car and go back towards home to this repair place near our house that has been there over 20 years. They have a sign on their door they went out of business. So, I head back past Best Buy to the only other computer repair place I know and they have a sign on their door that they have moved - down near where I was at the first place. Good grief! Anyway, DH should have his computer back in 2-3 days.

While I was gone, and DH, was outside one of the ladies that owns the lot we like left a message with the price they would list it for, if they listed it with a realtor. DH will talk with that contractor tonight and get the building costs all penciled out and see if we are in our budget. If they listed with a realtor to sell it would cost them 6% of the selling price, so maybe they'd negotiate some. Plus the other 2 lots have been for sale for a year or two, so they need to take that into account.  Using our realtor (a seriously cute gay guy, LOL) and them not using a realtor, I didn't know how that works, but he just explained it to me that he would offer it as a 2.5% commission deal and if they refuse that, then he said he can act as a broker to just handle the paperwork only, and he charges 1% for that, so at least he gets something for his time working with us. If you've ever watched Million Dollar Listing LA - he totally reminds me of Madison on the show. Which, BTW it was my he-man/construction guy DH who got me watching that show, LOL.

The nice "neighbor lady" called me back a little while ago. She called the guy who did their septic and got his current prices (so nice of her) and answered a few other questions we had had. They have homeowner's insurance, that covers fire, and pay about $1300 a year (about same I currently pay), so that was wrong info, too. The covenants talked about allowed animals and said "no other animals allowed" except for....but didn't list chickens. She's like, oh of course you can have some chickens...just watch out for the wild animals to get them. LOL.  They weren't required to pave their driveway, either, so she has no idea where he got that info from, either.

We have now gotten the names/numbers of several builders in that area, so we can get some estimates. If we can do it in our budget, then we are going to do it! Get our house listed as soon as we can and go for it.  We'll have to store our stuff for awhile, but DH plans to have the shop built first so we can get all our stuff in there as soon as possible. He'd like to find a trailer/camper to live in (with our dogs) while the building is going on and I'll stay over here at my mom's, with the parakeets. DD really wants her old cat, so there ya go. We can save some money that way, while paying interest only on the construction loan. If we ended deciding to rent something temporarily over there, it's very cheap to do so for just something to get by in.

Of course DH, who loves to draw things out, already has the plans already drawn up :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Getting ready

Today is payday. I adjusted my withholding's, so my net paycheck is about the same as it was before my raise, about $10 less. Hopefully that will take care of any extra taxes that will be owed when I file next year, with one less dependent.

One more paycheck and two accounts will be paid off. One is my Care Credit account - paying off  dental work I had done (6 months no interest) and the other is a charge  we put on Pay Pal Credit (again 6 months no interest). Between those 2 payments that have been going out, I'll have an extra $280 a month in my budget. Woo! My latest round of dental expenses (finishing up tomorrow) came out of my flexible spending account, so I didn't have to charge it or take out of savings.

The only other things I charge are a little here and there on my store cards, just to use them for credit building purposes, but then pay in full the next month. The only other thing I have pending is a $60 charge on my Target card.

Still no news on my work anniversary inquiry, other than the email back that she forgot it was last year and though it was this year. I'm sure she's waiting for the owners to let her know what they want to do. I thought two other's have 10 year anniversaries coming up soon, but looked on the payroll records and actually both of them just passed their anniversaries earlier this year. Nothing was done for them, either.  The guy who is having is 20 year anniversary just got a company wide email sent out congratulating him (along with the bonus check he is getting). I expected at least that email acknowledgement and at minimum a gift certificate to a restaurant or something. Actually, for all these years I was expecting a trip to Hawaii, like everyone else got.  Oh well..........

We leave tomorrow afternoon for our little trip. Yesterday I picked up some tire chains for my car, just in case, as we will have to drive over a couple of mountain passes. We have a few houses a realtor is going to show us. From the emails I have had with him he seems really nice and quite on the ball. I looked him up on the website of the real estate company he works for. He's dang cute too. LOL. 

I hate this time of year for my allergies. I cannot cough. If I start coughing I start gagging and that can lead to throwing up, which it just did this morning.  UGH. Thankfully all's I had in my stomach was a cup of coffee. I don't know why, but in recent years, if I start coughing it triggers my gag reflex.

I've decided to only work a half a day tomorrow. I was going to work until 3pm, when is about when we are leaving, but just have too many things to do. Still need to get the 2 rooms taped off, so DD can paint and I have to run over to the dentist at 1:30 to get my permanent crown put on. Then swing by Subway to pick up some sandwiches for dinner on the drive. That way we don't have to stop somewhere and will be cheaper than stopping at a restaurant. We have made a reservation the first night at a little hotel in a little town. It has good reviews and it's only $61 for the night. I'm sure we'll survive it. LOL. Not sure what we are doing the other nights, but probably staying at our friends place at least one of the nights.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday stuff

The weekend is upon us. Thank goodness. It was kind of a frustrating week, with all the computer problems at work. Turns out Windows 10 and Quickbooks Enterprise 16 aren't playing nice with each other yet, so I actually have my old computer back and using that for the time being.

My boss emailed back after my inquiry of the anniversary acknowledgement and said "LOL - I was just thinking of that on my way to work this morning. I thought it was this year....:("  

DH's friend, who is in the process of moving to Texas, flew back to spend some more time in his shop getting stuff loaded and then will drive his semi-truck down with a load. DH picked him and his wife up from the airport the other day and he spent last night helping him some and just left to go spend the day helping today.

I got my grocery shopping done this morning with a trip to Target and a trip to Walmart. I got myself a Starbucks mocha, while at Target. I still have $75 loaded in gift cards from Christmas and my birthday that I hadn't even used any of yet. It sure tasted good. Again, this week I managed to keep my grocery bill under $100. I had about $7 in Target gift card balances and used up those, plus I earned another $5 gift card for a purchase made. All in all I spent $90, plus got the $5 gift card.

I spent last evening watching a couple of episodes of the Amazon Prime series Bosch. Season 2 just started yesterday and I really enjoyed season 1 (and the books were really good). I'll probably catch a couple more episodes today, after I do a little house cleaning.

So, here's what my Dh just dealt with trying to drive out of our neighborhood.  Shuts our gate and sees a woman walking by at the end of our street, carrying papers acting all weird/high. He figured she might have just ripped off our mailboxes and there is a pick up truck parked down at the mailboxes and she keeps looking around like she's all paranoid. Then he sees she is crying, so he rolls down window and asks if she is alright. She says no, she just got beat up and could she have a ride somewhere. DH told her, sorry I can't give you a ride, but I can call for some help. So he called 911.  He tried to get out of her who beat her up, but she just said some guy and was pointing down in the direction of the drug house behind us. The cops came quite quickly (they have been much better about that lately, at least). She had a bruised face, swollen lip, etc. but refused to let them call in medical help. They did get out of her the name of the guy and her first name. Apparently he lives over in the other neighborhood near us, that has all the problems, too.  Will be interesting to see if they go find him and arrest him. I looked him up on Facebook and found him - looks like a wasted 60 year old junkie.

So, ya, another fun day in da hood.  Used to be this was middle/upperclass suburbia. We aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Epidemic

The homeless drug addict situation is going crazy in the suburb town we live in (well the whole region, actually). We actually live outside of city limits, so we are county, but literally downtown, in our cute little town of about 38,000 people, is literally being taken over by drug addicts.

this is one of the dozens of photo's that one of the downtown residents took outside her backyard of her property.
Another resident posted a video he shot of one of the druggies standing inside a tent - shooting a needle into his arm.

The city council meeting on Wed night (we did not go) was packed standing room only. At least 40 people got up and spoke their 2 minutes. There were lots more who wanted to speak, but they called the meeting closed at 9:45pm. Residents recounted details of all the trash - needles, bottles of urine, feces, garbage, stripped down stolen bikes, discarded clothing. They recounted all the thefts they have had from their yards, homes and cars. Residents, who out their back windows of their homes (with children) get to watch people going to the bathroom. Residents who are now afraid to to out in their yards, let alone let their kids play in their own yards.

Just blocks away is a homeless "resource center" that opened up last year and has basically become a beacon for all the homeless in surrounding communities. The neighboring businesses are losing business. There is a grade school and a junior high school within blocks between the center and where a lot of them camp, that some children have to walk past to get to school/home. One mother told of things her jr. high child has had to see and deal with just trying to walk home from school. Why is there discarded clothing? one homeless person was asked and his reply was "we get free clothes from the resource center, so then we don't have to do laundry - we can just throw our dirty clothes out".

I have driven by this resource center quite a few times on my commute home (sometimes my traffic app routes me through town) and was wondering what the huge group of what looked like homeless people were all over outside the front of a building, that I couldn't read the sign for. 

City residents are very mad. They can't use the library or the park out front of the library any more. The homeless use the library restrooms as washrooms and hang out in the park area in front of the library (we have a nice newer library) all day and scare and intimidate people. They can no longer use the nice walking/bike riding trail that the city spent over 3 million to put in for residents. It's filled with homeless camping along the trail, needles, garbage, etc.

I watched the meeting on video. There were a handful that got up in support of the homeless...mostly those who make a living off of helping the homeless. Director of this or assistant to that position. Though one teary eyed resident got up and cried that if everyone was just nice to these people, like she is, they wouldn't get robbed. Good grief!

As many said - these people don't even want help. One guy said he asked one of them if they'd rather have a home to live in or drugs. He said his drugs. As one lady said "they don't want a hand UP, they all want a hand OUT". And another said "there is a big difference between helping someone and enabling someone".  A majority of the addicts aren't even from our town, they come because they know they can camp there and get free stuff. The guy that made the video said "why don't they just set up the camp over at the landfill? they'd fit right in". No kidding.

The neighborhood near us (that we have gotten friends with several of them) has to do almost a weekly check of the heavily wooded 10 acre lot in their neighborhood. The owner of the property will do nothing to help curb it and the county won't make him. Here's what they found yesterday morning.
what appeared to be for making meth. They got a hold of the Lt. at the precinct and a couple hours later a meth clean up team did come out. Yep that's what it was, they even found a little bit of meth.
These neighbors are so fed up and furious too.

How's this epidemic going in your neck of the woods? It's gotten quite insane and out of hand here.

Just ask

I hate being pushy. I hate putting people "on the spot". But I just did.  My boss emailed me that she needed me to enter a check to be cut - $2000 for an employee who is having his 20th year anniversary with the company (and the actual date isn't even until next week). I had to email her back that the check was entered and ready for printing (I'm working from home today) so.........I added this:

speaking of anniversaries, did the company decide if they are still doing anything for 10 year anniversaries? :)

Mine was almost 6 months ago! We aren't a huge company (just under 50 employees) but everyone before me that had a 10 year anniversary got a trip to Hawaii for 2! It probably cost the company $3500. I know it was around $2000 for the condo rental (rented from our previous company owner), plus airfare and car rental. Then a couple people had 15 year anniversaries and got an extra week of vacation.  So a few years go by, with no big anniversaries and my 10 year comes and goes without a peep. Kinda ticked me off.  But I don't like to make waves or be pushy, so I just didn't say anything.

But, I couldn't not say anything this time. Or should I have just kept my mouth shut and waited it out - there are one or two others who are coming up on 10 years this year and see if anything was done for them?  Too late now. I did it. No reply back yet.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The "looking" stage

Since a few seem to be a bit amazed that I want a 2000 sf house, I did a little research on what is available for sale in the area we are looking, because honestly, I can't find much that is under that sf.

53 homes meet our criteria (in theory) of 3 bedroom/2 bath on at least 2 acres, with a shop. Of those only 16 were under 2000 sf. Of those I had to weed out the manuf. homes (we are NOT buying a mfg home again) and log homes (we don't want the maintenance/upkeep of a log home and I just really don't like them much) and I was left with 8. Of those I had to weed out all the ones that did not have an attached garage (I am not living in a cold climate with a detached garage) - I am left with 1 home choice and quite honestly the home holds no appeal to us at all.

Of all the other 36 homes, that are over 2000 sf., the avg. sf works out to be 2733 sf. A lot of these homes are way just too big (like over 3000 sf and some are log homes (common in this area), even though they fit in our price range and are nice homes.

doesn't leave us with a lot of choices :/  This might take some time to find something we like. We are picky, that's for sure. We might have to find something without the shop (priced lower without the shop), and build one.

I'm not interested in a 2 bedroom home. I work from home and need one of the rooms to be an office. The other room I want as a guest bedroom, for family.....or even on those nights when DH is snoring up a storm and I need to go get some comfortable sleep (and not on the couch). My current home of 1660 sf is 3 bedrooms and not very "spacious" at all. If all the rooms just a little bit bigger, it would be perfect space, hence the 2000 sf want.

I was emailing yesterday with a realtor in the area (referred by my mortgage lady) and he seems to be awesome, just like her. We have been trying to get some info on a piece of property for like over a week and no one will get back to us. Even the listing agent for the property! (that they have been trying to sell for over a year). There sure are a lot of people that suck at their jobs. He got me the requested info (basically wanted to know what the covenant's were) in a matter of an hour or so. He also contacted the realtor for that house I posted a pic of recently (that went off the market) and looks like we will set up a viewing of that house while we are there.They are putting it back on the market April 1st (we assumed they probably were). He's already emailed me again twice this morning. I like people who do what they say they are going to do and get it done quickly. That's how I work.

He also told me he had spoken with a builder last week and was given an estimate to build a home in the range of $117 sf (for a basic house) to $150 sf for a home with more custom details/finishes. I didn't really think it would cost $200 sf. Not in this area of the country. Where we currently live - yes, I'm sure it would easily cost that. I'm guessing with what we want/need we could be somewhere in the middle of that range. When we meet up with a builder next week, we can get his estimate too, based on us giving him what we are looking for.

I'm sure after next week's little trip we'll be able to make a decision on if we want to keep looking for that "perfect" house for us, or build a home.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Monday

I'm not sure what I changed, but I have managed to keep my grocery bill for the week, under $100 for each of the last 2 weeks. I know a little of it is that I haven't had to buy soda for DH, as we are using up what I had stocked up out in the garage, but that is only about $6-7/wk. Well, whatever it is, I like it.

I just got my Comcast bill - at way higher than it should be. Last month when I switched our little $3/mo set top box (for our 2nd tv) for a better $10/mo box, they apparently charged me for 2 $10 boxes, plus a partial month of 2 boxes prorated. I got a very nice customer service lady, who fixed it all up and credited my account. Still a pain that it had to happen in the first place. I was happy to actually talk to a U.S. person. Always gotta keep an eye out on bills. My boss was saying her hubby pays their like over $200/mo cable bill and never even looked at it, just paid it every month and come to find out had stuff on there they didn't even have/use.

We are going to our first ever political fundraiser event at the end of the month. It will cost $25 ea and will be heavy h'ordeuvres  and beverages. It's for our county councilman, who has worked so hard on our neighborhood drug problem, as well as one of the other council member's, who is running for a different county office next election. At least it's at a place just a couple of miles from our house, so no long drive through traffic to downtown.  Gives us a chance to get out, which we so rarely do, for about the cost of a dinner out. When I went to the council meetings (and some I've watched on tv) I was really impressed with this other councilman, who last year chaired all the meetings. He did a really good job.

I was supposed to get my permanent crown put on Friday, but they had to call and cancel as the crown has not come in yet. Not surprised - same thing happened with the last one.

I didn't watch the last episode of Downton Abbey last night, but I will catch it on demand this evening. I will be sad to see the show end. It had a sweetness and innocence about it, that I enjoyed. I loved the dowager's wit. I hope it ends that Edith gets her happily ever after :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday rambling

Not a whole lot happening this past week. Yesterday was a super nice day about 63 degrees. I did a bit of yard work and helped DH with some stuff. Now we are back to rain for the next week. I worked a half day on Friday and thought I'd get my shopping done at noon. I got to Costco at noon and it was a complete zoo. It took me 10 minutes just to get out of the parking lot at the light, because of road construction. Then I stupidly decided to to my grocery shopping at a different store. I get gas there and also had a $6 rewards coupon (sent out quarterly, this was from Christmas shopping there) to use up. This store is always a zoo too. I don't know where everything is, the aisles are narrow and by the time I'd find what I was looking for they either were out of it or didn't carry it. Or, way more expensive. Two thin ribeye steaks were $21. I get them for about $11 at Walmart. About halfway through my list and spending most of my time just trying to avoid running into all the other people, I said forget it, I'm done. Went and paid what I had and went and finished my grocery shopping Saturday morning at Walmart - where it's never that crowded and the aisles are twice as wide.

Another arrest made last night of one of our neighborhood scum. This is a woman, almost 40 years old, that sometimes (when they don't kick her out) lives with her parents down the road. She is a total PITA and directly involved with both the drug houses. She has a history of domestic violence and got arrested last night on Felony Domestic violence court ordered violation, malicious mischief and assault.  She apparently had warrant also, for failure to appear for her previous 2 similar charges. That part kinda makes me mad, because we have been reporting her and her constant activities in and out of our street for month and months, and the cops could have easily picked her up on her warrant any time. Anyhow - VERY happy that she is in jail, now too. I doubt she will stay there long, but better than nothing.

I've been working the numbers.....for mortgage loans, estimated taxes (new state has state tax) and estimated tax savings (no sales tax) etc. Mortgage lady got back to me Friday afternoon and told me we could do a $450,000 house, with the payment I want......but I think she was forgetting that I want a 15-18-ish year mortgage repayment plan. It does help that we'll have about 15% to put down (versus her 10% estimate). The highest I'd be comfortable going, with what we will have as a down payment and wanting to pay off before I'm 70 is $425,000 max. I'd rather be at $400,000. So, we'll see what this home builder guy says he can build us a 2000-2500 sq ft home and a shop for. If he's in our price range, then I  have a feeling we will build, unless we see something come up for sale that we fall in love with.  I have no plans to tell DH that she said $450,000 house (at 10% down).....because that's exactly what he'd start looking at. I've learned what I can and can't tell him, though sometimes I slip up.  Not this time. LOL.

I printed out the state tax return form and plugged in the numbers from my 2014 federal tax return. I really don't know what we spend per year here, on sales tax (non-food items) but I'm going to guess $100 a month. Net it all out and I'm estimating an additional $200 a month in taxes, but I'm probably guessing low on what we spend a year here, in sales tax. Sales tax gets added to a lot of our bills too....Comcast bill, gasoline, cell phone bill, etc. I'm sure I  probably spend more than $10,000 a year (at almost 10% sales tax) on non-food stuff.  I'll have to keep track for a month and see. I asked our friends what they have to pay in vehicle license tabs each year. It's quite a bit higher than what we pay, but anything over 11 years old can get a permanent tab for a flat $240, so we'd be able to do that for DH's pickup and not have to pay on it again.  Property taxes are lower, but we'll also be living in a more expensive house then we currently have, so will end up paying more than we do here.

I also just read a news article last night that says based on a recent study, May is the best time to sell a house in our market area. Perfect - as that is when we plan to list it. It said homes typically sell for 1.2% more here, in May, than other months. Well, for us that could be an extra $3000. That would pay our moving expenses.

DH's good friend took off last Monday for another trip to his new home in a new state. He has so much stuff to move, because he has a business with lots of tools and equipment. DH has helped him so much and he keeps telling DH he's going to fly back up here and help DH when we move. DH told him don't worry about it. He's doing it to keep busy. DH told me that he didn't tell him the real reason....because friend is a big old softy and he'd just start crying. DH spent over a year going through all his best friends shop, selling it all off, for his wife, after he died. The whole time he wished he'd have spent all that time in the shop with his friend before he got sick. So, he's going to spend as much time with this good friend (of over 30 years) as he can now. Yep, friend would have cried if he told him that's the real reason he was over there almost every day helping him.

On tap today is just cleaning house.