Yep, too tired to come up with a proper title.
What's happened since my last update? Not too much over the weekend, other than boxing up some stuff. We took it somewhat easy Saturday other than swim lessons, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. Sunday we went to the Twin Cities Pride parade. It was the first parade AA (age 4) really loved. REALLY loved. She was keyed up and hyper the rest of the day.
One other thing: NT reserved a storage space for July and a moving van for this coming Saturday, so we're going to move out as much of our stuff as we don't need. Bookcases, record cabinets, excess furniture, books and papers and board games and clothes the girls won't need for a while.
Today was interesting. First of all, NT's paycheck didn't hit our account. First time any of our checks has EVER not hit on the last day of the month, and of course it happens at the start of the tightest financial month we've had (or are likely to have) for a long time.
He got his usual notice about his paystub being available, so I'm hoping it's just a slight delay and not a technical issue. If I don't see it first thing tomorrow morning, I'll have NT raise a stink, because we'll be overdrawn by July 9 without that paycheck.
On the up side, we heard from our contractor and his team will start on our kitchen tomorrow! Tonight we cleared out all the cabinets and drawers and cleaned all the shelves. Sooo much grime! We went through about 5 magic erasers. Ah well, it's a big chunk of work out of the way.
On the down side, I'll be recovering from dental surgery Wednesday AND just found out our water and A/C will be shut off for several hours by building management. So that'll be fun, with the contractors there and all.
We got a snowflake today; received $250 for the right-of-way option for the WV deal. At least we got something for it, even if they decide not to go through with it.
I also realized that the kids have at least $75 in their piggy banks that needs to get put in their mutual funds, so I decided I'll deposit it now and pay it into the mutual funds when things are not so tight. (We're doing the same thing with our own Roth IRA contributions.)
So all told, that's $325 to help the cashflow not be as tight July through September.
Tomorrow is going to be a crazy spending day. Not only will we pay the $1040 mortgage and $1080 daycare tuition, but $2413 for the first half of the contractor bill. That's a lot of money to flow out in one day!
However, I had a very frugal and strangely tasty breakfast today. I took the last spinach tortilla, the last of some potato salad, the last few slices of veggie lunchmeat, and some of the way-too-much salad greens. I stuffed the tortilla with the other stuff and wrapped it up. It was actually quite good, and I was proud of not letting any of those foodstuffs go to waste.
I'm doing pretty good not using my spending money; I've got nearly $400 saved up! And NT had a brilliant idea for the three weddings and one shower we need to attend: give Amazon gift cards, which we'll be getting from Chase SW soon! We'll also give them a personal touch, like an invitation to dinner or a promise of homemade cookies. It's such a great idea because I can then save up more of my spending money for the back-to-back UK visitors.
Archive for June, 2014
Yep, too tired to come up with a proper title.
AS's student loan payment hit, with $137 going to principal. That takes us to $926 of debt paid for the month, exceeding the $900 goal.
Our total debt is $238,322: $227,597 in mortgages and $10,725 in student loans.
With the home deal, we'll be taking on a ton of new debt, but it's going to happen on July 31 at closing. So I think I'll treat July as a regular month of debt payment, and then start August with a new debt total that we can start to pay down.
Since we're just paying minimums for the time being, the July goal is another $900 of debt paid.
Nothing much happened on the home front today. I did tentatively schedule the floor guy for mid-July, but that's about it. Still waiting on broker for the list of things we need to provide for loan approval, the seller to write up the promissory note, and my other contractor to schedule his time to do bathroom/kitchen/etc. Hoping to get some movement on all fronts tomorrow!
This morning I saw that the $5K earnest money check had cleared my checking account! It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. AS is laughing at me because every time something happens I say things like "It feels so real now" and "This is the craziest [week/month/year] ever!" But every step feels so huge and momentous since I haven't purchased a home in about 12 years (and it was less than half the price of this one!).
The broker emailed that they received underwriting approval of the loan today, but that "a few items" need to be taken care of, "nothing too crazy." I'm hoping it's just digging out some mortgage statements for the UK properties and stuff like that, but I won't find out until tomorrow.
Their approval is contingent on the additional loan (promissory note from the seller) having certain conditions: it can't have an early payment penalty, and it can't have a balloon until 10 years have passed. The first condition was one I was going to insist on anyway, but our purchase agreement had said the promissory note would have a 5 year balloon. But my realtor talked to the seller's agent and it sounds like it will be OK, except they may only agree to interest-only payments for the first two years, and after that it will be principal + interest. I asked for details about the amount of the two types of monthly payments, and the realtor has passed that question along to seller's agent, but I don't see a problem with that. I don't intend to have this loan for anywhere near 10 years!
Still haven't heard from the contractor when they'll be able to come in, so I'm starting to doubt they'll be able to finish by end of June. Hoping mid-July is still feasible! But, if it's not, we'll deal with it. We have a lot of different timelines running concurrently so it would be a miracle if there weren't a few hitches. The important thing to me is that we've got those upstairs renters, so there's no urgency to get rid of the condo other than really wanting to move into our new home. No financial urgency, so that's good.
Haven't heard from the floor contractor at all yet. I need to follow up with him.
NT put on some doorknobs and replaced another light fixture. I brought a box and some packing tape home from work. Every little bit of progress helps!
Just got notice that the gas company sent out our option checks; will only be about $250 but will definitely help our budget feel looser!
Getting closer to the home purchase and trying to sell our current home! For a while it's felt like hurry up and wait, but now things are really snowballing and moving quickly, I think.
- The appraisal went well; home actually appraised at $550K, well above the $464,500 we'll be paying for it. Good news! Now I'm wondering if we can refi the $407K main mortgage almost immediately and get out of PMI. But we don't even officially have that loan, so trying not to count my chickens just yet.
- Heard back from our main contractor; he's not sure about dates but feels confident he can fit us in really soon (we asked him to move us way up in the schedule from our initial consultation). Haven't heard much from our floor guy, but I'll bug him again in a day or two. Our realtor said he's really good, so I want to use him if possible!
- Since we've decided to try and list in July, before we close on our new home, we need to move some of our stuff so our condo looks less crowded. We found a storage place near the new house with good rates, so we're going to pack up stuff we don't need, rent a U-Haul and get that stuff out -- hopefully the July 4th weekend. Then we can move it all into the basement of the new place Aug. 1, so we'll only need to pay for a month of storage.
- Bought some things at Ikea and on Amazon: light fixtures for bedrooms and dining area, living-room lamp, sofa cover, duvet cover, shower rod. About $130 at Ikea and $130 on Amazon (using CC reward Amazon gift cards). We still have a couple hundred dollars' worth of credit on Amazon and should have another $500 coming in early July, so hopefully we can use it to buy any other staging/decorating stuff we need. We had so much gray paint left over that we've decided to do the whole condo in it; it's a really nice gray that seems to change color depending on decor and lighting, so I think it'll look OK. Lots of places for sale do all gray these days.
- This week (maybe tonight), going to map out a to-do list by date, so we know what's happening when (at least the stuff we can control; the contractors are wild cards). I think our main tasks are:
--paint bedrooms, kitchen and bath
--replace toilet seat, towel racks and shower rod/curtain
--replace light fixtures in bedroom, dining room and kitchen
--box up and move out stuff we don't need (obtain boxes, rent truck, rent storage space, get friends to help us move)
--clean kitchen, bath & floor before contractors tackle each
--clean clean clean, especially the balcony floor
--buy a few more staging things to make it pretty
--get pictures taken (our friend will be able to do this; he's a photographer as well as a lawyer!)
--hold breath and hope for best!
So things are looking up a bit, but there are still too many variables for me to declare victory over my budget!
A couple of snowflakes came in:
- $25 Amex rewards
- $280 found in an old business checking account of AS's
I also moved things around in the budget quite a bit. Things are tight especially in July, August and September, when we have over $6K of tuition, $5K of renovation fees and other one-time expenses. So I had a mini-revelation today when looking at credit card statements; I typically pay the current balance twice a month, but had been looking at moving it to once a month. But I suddenly realized you don't need to pay the current balance to avoid paying interest: You just have to pay the full amount shown on the statement. So you can avoid interest for over a month. Yes, I'm kind of dumb about credit cards! When I was using them in debt I'd just pay the minimum every month, and after I paid them all off and started using them again, I'd pay them off every payday so I never felt like I was carrying a balance.
However, as long as I can avoid paying interest, I don't mind carrying balances for a little over a month.
By planning to pay credit card statement balances instead of current balances, I was finally able to get rid of the budget shortfalls June through October.
That's not to say there won't be other curveballs. I may have to bring more money to closing to cover the higher insurance cost; I have a $1400 surplus through the end of the year but if I had to pay it out in July, that would make things tight again. And the mortgage amounts are still just estimates; my mortgage may well end up a bit higher (or lower) than I'm currently budgeting for. And of course there are curveballs you can't predict until they happen.
I may have necessary repairs to the new home when we take ownership in August. There again I'd have to try and float credit card balances for an extra couple of months to pay that off in early 2015.
But it's not all potential expenses. I resolved this weekend to find more money; the main problem is there's not quite enough income in July-September to cover expenses. So I sent a few emails letting people know I'm available for freelance work. AS too is starting to tap her network for possible freelancing. Also, even though it appears the WV deal is in limbo, it sounds like they'll at least pay us each $250 soon to hold onto the option of a pipeline right-of-way. If we can bring in a bit more money before October, that would help considerably with not feeling so tight.
But I'm just happy there's a potential path where we won't have a shortfall for the next few months; we'd have had to take a reserve line loan, or pay interest on credit card balances, and I'm thrilled that we might avoid that!
I feel very good about our net worth increasing $9K this past month! Glad I got some good news, because I got two pieces of bad news and one good but challenging.
First, the insurance policy I found is more than my mortgage broker thought it would be, by over a thousand. This means closing costs probably won't cover it and I'll need to come up with more money at closing.
Second, AS got another medical bill from her procedure. I was expecting another hundred or two, but instead it's for $1400 more! She'll call the insurance company, but I don't have much hope it'll change. It wasn't a strictly necessary procedure so we were pleasantly surprised by the insurance co's estimate of what they would cover. Apparently they're wrong. So we didn't set enough money aside for it.
Our budget was looking doable with about a $2000 surplus through December. Now the surplus is more or less gone. Shouldn't be a problem, just a bummer that we won't be able to start renovating the new home until next year. I'm sure there will be some things that NEED to get done this year, so even if/when I get a raise for my new position, it'll probably go toward bare necessities at the new place.
This is what it feels to not have a cushion, and I don't like it much. Will enjoy building our cushion back up again next year. (Note that we DO have a $16K cushion, but it's money that I would really like to use for the UK renovations, so I try to pretend it's not there.)
Since our budget loosens up a lot in Oct./Nov./Dec., one thing I did to even things out for the next few months was to cancel our Roth contributions for July through November. I still have them on the budget, I just moved them down to December. Cancelling them altogether would be a last resort. If anything I would postpone them a bit longer instead.
Oh, and the good but challenging news: our best UK friends are coming to visit immediately after our UK relatives visit. Which is awesome! Except we don't have any vacation money in the budget, so entertaining will come out of our weekly spending money. After this weekend I'm going to buckle down even harder on stashing as much of my spending money as possible. No eating out, no new clothes, no movies or other entertainment (unless it's free). I'll chip in for the weekly wine and buy gifts when necessary (weddings and shower) but that's it. I want to have SOMEthing set aside when we have basically 4 weeks of visitors.
I do feel it was the right move to make an offer on this house, which is uniquely suited to our needs, but since it was nearly a year before I felt ready to do so, the next 6 months to a year are going to feel a bit stressful. I'll be glad to get to a point where speed bumps don't stress me out as much!
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($27,368)
#2: 19,653 pounds ($31,445)
#3: 4,452 pounds ($7,123)
NT's 401(k): $30,812
NT's Roth IRA: $7,327
AS's 401(k): $13,420
AS's trad. IRA: $1,682
AS's Roth IRA: $19,658
CJ's 401(k): $73,009
CJ's Roth IRA: $7,327
NT's flat: 140,000 pounds ($224,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $145,000
House down payment fund (shared): $26,285
Total Assets: $614,456
Total Debt: $238,459
Current Estimated Net Worth: $375,997
May 2014 estimate: $366,696
Change in net worth: +$9,301
Summary: Big growth again this month! Some of the increase is due to upward movement in our retirement funds; the rest because we've been saving aggressively for a home.
I included U.S. savings for a home in our assets, since the money will go toward our down payment on the new home, which will become an asset. I did not include our UK savings, because the UK flat's value listed above is contingent upon the renovations that will wipe out our UK savings.
I'll update the Individual Net Worth page shortly, breaking it out by person.
Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. I don't have a way to check NT's UK pensions or flat value, so their values stay static for the purpose of this update (unless I happen to get some info by chance). UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.60 for every British pound.
The house purchase seems to be on track!
- Broker's office asked for a few more documents, which I provided
- Home insurance policy has been chosen and first year will be paid for at closing
- HOA appraisal happens tomorrow, and if that goes well, it will be the last inspection
- Got a copy of the renters' agreement and can confirm they're month-to-month with 45 days notice required
- Contractor got back to me with adjusted quote, which was to our liking, so I've asked him to look at what days might work, and I've asked NT to contact the condo front office to see if there's anything we need to do on that end
- Told realtor that we want to list our place sooner than Aug. 1, because we realize there's a narrow window between now and fall, especially with the 45-day requirement; our new goal is to list July 1 or as early in July as possible
- Left message with floor guy; will need to call him again if he doesn't get back to me soon (fixing the floor is key to home value)
- Earnest money was sent to seller today
I think that's about it on the home front; I'm braced for nasty surprises but there haven't been any recently. Fingers crossed it continues to go this smoothly.
On the job front, I may have scored some freelance writing for AS, which will help with her portfolio and resume as well as our budget if it works out. Her boss told everyone at work that she's leaving, which is a big relief and means she can start tapping her network for job leads.
And the big news -- my boss called me into his office yesterday and says he wants to make me a writer! And he says this comes with a significant bump in pay! I'm very excited and trying not to doubt myself; after all, he's basing this on the work that he's seen from me over the past few months, so he already knows and likes how I write.
I've been pretty good about stashing most of my spending money the past month or so, but the past week has seen a lot of frittering, including tomorrow:
- Liquor store coupon from CrowdCut ($20 for a $40 value, so pretty good deal); I'll use it to buy wine for a little party we're having this Wednesday
- Father's day for my dad $10 (postage and card; the gift was free, a copy of a book from AS's publishing house)
- Drinks/snacks at trivia $10 (nice and cheap because we won a small gift card to share
- Soda after free music show $4 (it was a gourmet local soda, and I wished I'd just gotten a $2 Diet Coke )
- Plants $10 (one for NT for Father's Day and one as a bday gift for one of AA's little friends)
- Soy ice cream (big tub) $5
- Brunch tomorrow for Father's Day $? maybe $30 for my share: me plus half of NT, AA & SL's
Whew! Mostly pretty frugal, but all told about $90, so exceeding my $80 weekly allowance and cutting into the money I'd saved up. But I have plenty of time to save up more before NT's family visits (which is why I'm trying to hoard money right now).
I do have a wedding shower and two weddings (will need gifts) this summer, and maybe a day trip to the organic farm that does our CSA share next weekend, and a couple of other things I'm willing to spend money on. But overall I've been resisting the urge to eat out at lunch or go out anywhere at night. I've been making do with last summer's wardrobe and don't think I'll need to buy any clothes. And I don't have any other gifts to buy that I know of right now. The long slog of March birthdays, Mother's Day and Father's Day is nearly over!
There are some free events tonight that I'd like to attend, but it was a busy weekend so far, and it's kind of stormy out, so I might just stay in and relax. Too bad because it's a once-a-year community art/performance extravaganza tonight, but it wouldn't kill me to skip it.
Today was the inspection and the meeting with contractor #2. Both went really well; the inspection raised some concerns with the house but nothing too expensive and no deal-breakers. Some may be fixed by the sellers or we may be able to wrangle a couple thousand off purchase price; if not we'll probably just deal with them ourselves as money comes available.
The contractor's quote was breathtakingly reasonable. He has to add a few things to it that we discussed and didn't get added, plus one more task we decided we couldn't do ourselves (installing closet doors in the bedroom). But seeing his rates for the other tasks I'm not worried. He definitely has an eye toward doing a good job so we'll hire him for more work in the new place, which seems good.
I took a run through the budget for the rest of the year, and it looks like we can fully fund the downsized renovations by early November. We need to do it all in the next couple months, so that means we'll need to float some of the work on credit. This contractor doesn't take credit cards, so we'll charge other things and defer paying them off until we have enough money to do so. I'm not sure when it would be OK to apply for a new 0% credit card, so I'll probably ask the broker his opinion.
It'll be a bit complicated, but no more so than the credit card churn or a lot of other budget things I've done. And, even if we're advised not to get another card and have to use our interest-bearing ones, we won't be carrying balances for very long. Even if there are necessary renos to the new place before December, it won't stretch it out too much longer.
It looks doable, and there's even some room for error. I'll still be glad when we're on a more routine budget, but I'm feeling pretty confident. I can't believe how quickly things have happened! So much has changed in the past month. Now that there's less uncertainty with financing, inspection and cost of renovations, I'm allowing myself to get more excited about the new home.
Whew, we met with the mortgage broker tonight. Although there are a few weird things to clear up (such as getting the additional loan written up as a promissory note; our lawyer friend said he would handle that), the credit and income and retirement stuff is all in order and so everything should go through as long as under-writer is cool with everything and inspection and appraisal go OK. Mortgage broker is very bullish on housing prices in our area, but he's not the appraiser or inspector so we shall see.
We got a nice rate of 3.75% locked in, so if the promissory note payments come in as estimated, our bills may be $100 or so less per month. Due to something with FHA and low rates, we don't have a loan origination fee. Somehow our closing costs came in a shade under $9000 which is what we said the seller would pay up to. (What would we have done if the loan origination fee pushed that over? I shudder to think.) So the good news is the appraisal will be covered in closing costs.
NT couldn't come and had to sign everything at home, so next step is to courier the papers back to the broker. If inspection on Friday goes well he'll schedule the appraisal.
Whew! I'm drained, but there were surprisingly few bumps tonight. This was the scariest of the hurdles left to clear, so I'm feeling a lot better.
Oh, and I did a League of Ordinary Savers blog post this week, about checking bills, receipts and paychecks to save money by preventing human error. Of course I'm preaching to the choir on SavingAdvice, but check it out if you want! Go to ordinarysavers.com (I'm too tired to make a link! ).