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Archive for April, 2015

May debt goal, and freelance income is a rollercoaster

April 30th, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Well, in the absence of any U.S. mortgage payments, and assuming we will not receive the WV money this coming month, I'm setting the debt repayment goal at a paltry $500. Hoping June's will be much more exciting!

I'm looking forward to June in several ways. Not only will we hopefully receive the WV money and paid off all non-mortgage debt, but I also hope to ramp up retirement contributions after a year of putting only about 5% of my paychecks and 6% of NT's paychecks toward it. I think the first thing I'll do is start an SEP with Vanguard for AS.

Speaking of AS, it felt like April was a slow month for getting paid, so I added it up. She received $1403.75 this month. By comparison, in March she raked in $8325.38! Some of it is due to her taking 2 weeks vacation in March, but some of it is just luck of the draw.

I'm so glad we can cover our bills with my and NT's more predictable income. I'd be pretty nervous otherwise!

Luckily May is looking like it'll be more like March. A lot of checks are due soon (or overdue).

Financial notes, bad and good

April 29th, 2015 at 04:10 pm

The management company of our UK rental contacted us, saying they need another £558 ($893) for the renovation.

Obviously, we don't have that.

We'll probably need to borrow more from NT's mum, unless the company can wait until we receive more checks for AS's freelance work. Money we couldn't wait to use to fix up our home. Sigh.

Oh, and the rental inspection finished. Only minor stuff with the actual unit we rent out, but since our basement has a kitchen and bathroom and door with a lock, we need to either dismantle some of that stuff or apply for a permit to have it be a separate unit. Pissing away more money on stuff I don't care about, I guess.

On the upside, I got the third May utilities bill, and our total for the month is going to be $312 -- our lowest total utilities cost since last November.

One more debt payment in April

April 29th, 2015 at 04:59 am

NT's student loan hit, with $43 going to principal. Autopay finally went through; I tried once and it didn't work, but this time it did. What's funny is I'll probably be paying this debt off soon (assuming my dad's WV deal is for the expected amount).

That takes April debt paydown to $12,824.

Guess that's it! I'll set May goals later in the week.

Missing cat :( and other updates

April 29th, 2015 at 01:11 am

Our cat Noodles wasn't around last night when he usually gets a treat and gets shut in the bathroom. We looked around, rattled his bowl, then gave up. It was late and our house is big.

This morning NT woke us up to say Noodles was still missing. He looked all over, but we all had to get to work.

He still wasn't here when we got home. NT has biked around the neighborhood, and I made flyers for him to put up.

We think he got out an open door, which got shut likely while he was still out there. It was on the third floor, but he could have climbed down the roof, I guess.

Frown Hope he turns up. He's not very friendly to anyone but us, and he doesn't like other animals. He needs to be home with us!

In other news, first half property tax still hadn't been paid as of noon today, so I wired the $5400 amount to the title company. On a whim I went to a different bank branch a block from the one with the guy I'd worked with twice. Huge difference! The woman who processed it did it in a third of the time, didn't have to ask any questions, and the money was gone from my account when I got a chance to check. Glad to stumble across a competent person for once!

AS did get two checks yesterday, so we're not down to a few bucks in checking. But we're down to less than $400, which is the least we've had in the account in years and years. Feels weird! NT and I get paid Thursday, so even without AS receiving more checks, I'll be able to pay back over half of the reserve line loan. Once again, SO glad I didn't pay the extra federal and state taxes for AS that I was going to. We'd have been in trouble when my broker sprang this news on us! As is, we'll be able to pay off the reserve line loan by May 15 at the latest, with or without more checks for AS, or the expected refunds.

If NT's flat doesn't receive rental income before June 1, we'll need to wire some money to his UK account. Then THAT should be the last wire transfer we do for a while! Whew! At $30-$50 a pop, it adds up.

We've got a rental property inspection tomorrow. Hoping the downstairs unit passes muster. It's sure nicer than when our friends moved in there!

Tonight I've got a carshare rental to go pick up a bunch of free outdoor furniture. It'll only cost about $8 and we're getting a TON of stuff.

I guess that's it. Wish us luck on finding poor Noodles! It's been a hard month for kitties on SA. Frown

More April debt paid, etc.

April 27th, 2015 at 07:08 pm

AS's student loan hit, with $140 going to principal. That takes our debt paid this month to $12,781.

The condo title company emailed to say they have proof they wired the payoff to my mortgage company, and they will work with them to resolve the issue with the late-payment notice and the appearance of still having a balance with them.

The duplex broker will check one more time tomorrow to see whether first half property taxes have been paid, and will let me know which amount I need to wire ($5400 or $3000). Just to be prepared, I borrowed $3850 from my reserve line so I can wire the higher amount tomorrow if need be.

AS hasn't received a check in a while; a few of them are later than expected. But she's still bringing in work; eventually the checks will roll in! She took $2500 worth of writing assignments from my job and is also working here on site today and tomorrow. And they want her to take a few more writing jobs too, which she has to think about since she's already got a lot on her plate. She decided to drop one client from her list, because they drastically reduced their pay rate AND cut turnaround times. She has enough other higher-paying clients that she doesn't have to settle for this one. It's great to be able to be a little picky!

Nasty shock in the mail

April 25th, 2015 at 06:22 pm

I got a late notice on the mortgage for my know, the one I don't own anymore? The one where the title company told me not to make the April 1 payment because we were closing April 9 and it would get paid off before a late fee was triggered? Yep, that's the one.

I went online to check the balance. I can't believe I never checked the balance -- I had so many things going on that I just trusted the title company and assumed it was paid off. Nope, there's still a balance.

I emailed the title company asking what was up. I also told them I do not intend to pay a late fee, so they'll either need to pay it for me or work it out with the mortgage company.

I'm going to have to stay on top of them, as well as my credit report to make sure it doesn't suffer as a result.

I wish at least one thing would just work out the way it's supposed to without a bunch of extra work on my part. Isn't that why I pay these companies thousands of dollars?

Stressed and bummed. I feel like my day is ruined, but I will hopefully feel better soon.

Oh, I just got an email from them. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will check into this first this Monday morning and let you know once I have it resolved."

I hope they get it resolved with no late fee and no significant ding to our credit scores!

One more wrinkle, more annoying than anything

April 25th, 2015 at 01:53 am


So in a matter of days, the broker went from saying "this refi will cost you less than nothing" to "you might need to write a check at closing but we'd tear it up once property taxes were paid" to "you need to bring $5400 to closing but it'll be refunded within 2 weeks" to "well, they have 30 days to send the check but usually they do it within 2 weeks."

Long story short, the closing went through tonight (they brought the papers to our home to sign, so that was something), but we'll need to wire some money to the title company by Tuesday. Probably $5400 but could be more like $3000 if first-half property taxes reach the county by Tuesday morning.

Of course, having just gone through an expensive closing and paid off the promissory note, we don't have that much in checking. So it looks like unless AS gets a couple of the big checks by Monday, we are going to have to take a short-term reserve line advance.

It looks like, worst case scenario (we have to pay the $5400, AS doesn't get any checks, and we don't get the refund for 3 weeks) we'd have to borrow $3850. We could pay back $1650 of it a couple days later, when we get paid 4/30. If we still don't have the refund or any of AS's checks, we could pay off the rest after our 5/15 paychecks hit.

So not a big deal, couple bucks of interest at most. Still, ugh.

The closing lady knew nothing about our relationship situation and kept saying it was amazing three friends were able to buy a home together and not want to kill each other. :-/ We didn't bother trying to explain, just signed all the papers and said all the right things to get the closing done fast.

Our new mortgage payment is a little less than $2800, so $400+ less than our old payment. We got $3K added to the principal, which I'm not crazy about, but with how much we're saving per month, it's worth it.

So, not quite out of the woods in terms of crazy financial wranglings, but one step closer. (Even though new steps keep getting added, the finish line seems closer now that the refi is signed.)

No checks have come in for AS for a while, but she keeps booking work. At some point there's going to be a flood of checks coming in!

Nice weekend and other stuff

April 21st, 2015 at 03:26 pm

My sister visited this past weekend. She is the mellowest house guest you could ever ask for, and she loves playing with the kids, so it was really kind of a vacation for us. We ate out or ordered in a lot, but she paid for several of the meals, so it wasn't too expensive.

We had many interesting conversations. She is a complete and utter philanthropist, always thinking of ways she can help people. She literally almost gave the coat off her back to a guy on the street until I talked her out of it. One of her activities while she was her was going to a Kenyan church service and surprising some of the kids she knew from a group home she visits in Kenya, who live in MN now.

Her finances are interesting. She told me her husband does most of the work, and he's a super-saver on one hand, but really disorganized in some ways. She said for a while he routinely paid a $50 late fee on the mortgage because he could never send the payment in on time. And their taxes have been late from procrastinating too.

Their communication about finances is dysfunctional. She pretty much gets to spend her income on whatever, which is mostly ordering out for dinner, helping the homeless and others in need, and helping out her adult children with some of their bills. He handles all the bills and retirement, and occasionally freaks out over some long-delayed tax or bill issue. It sounds like it works for them; I don't think our system would work because if they completely pooled their money, they'd have lots of disagreements about how to spend it. And it sounds like they're doing OK because the husband is really good about stashing money for retirement.

She also told me some things about my family I didn't know. I didn't know my mom was a hoarder long before I came along; once a floor of a rental home caved in because a big heavy cabinet was so crammed and stacked with stuff. I thought maybe she'd gotten worse over the years, but no, she's always been that way.

I also found out that now that my mom is more or less immobile (doesn't like to walk because her knees hurt, so she just stays in the living room all day), my dad has been systematically clearing out all the rooms in the house. Surprisingly, my mom is aware of it and has found a way to cope: she told my sister "I don't go in those rooms anymore, because it's better if I don't know what he's gotten rid of." Which, for a hoarder, is pretty impressive!

It's really interesting to get news from my sister because she's pretty open and honest about things. My family can be weirdly secretive within itself, just about random things, and doesn't always deal openly with problems.

Once I confirmed with my downstairs neighbor who's a real estate lawyer that the association dues refund check was valid, I deposited it and put half toward making up retirement, half toward shared spending money.

Last night NT had a carshare that his company was paying for (has an all-day meeting today), so I suggested he and AS use it to go oven shopping. They found one they liked for $710 (with tax and haul away of the old one). It will be delivered Friday, May 1.

It puts us about $150 in the hole in our shared spending money, but AS is expecting a $500 check any day now, so we decided it was OK to go ahead with it.

This morning, I woke up to a nasty surprise: the monthly autopay check to the duplex seller had been sent. Guess in everything that was happening, I forgot to cancel autopay! I emailed the title co. because I still haven't heard 100% confirmation that he got the payoff. As soon as they confirm that, I'll let him know to ignore the check that's coming. Don't want to confuse matters, or get an earful from him if he hasn't received the promised payoff.

I heard from the broker on the duplex refi; he should have final numbers by tomorrow and wants to close on Friday. That's inconvenient for NT but if we can arrange to meet in downtown Minneapolis, we could do it. I know I'm naive, but I'd hoped a streamline refi could all be handled electronically without an in-person closing!

I really just want to get those exact numbers on the monthly mortgage payment so I can finalize my budget for the next couple of months.


April 19th, 2015 at 08:37 pm

We forgot to bring in the mail yesterday, but my sister picked it up this afternoon. One envelope contained a check, with a rebate of a full month's worth of condo association dues: $696.03!

I wasn't expecting it; I thought that was figured into closing. So I'm not going to cash it right away. I emailed the title company contact that sent me the amount I needed to bring to closing. Hopefully she'll have some insight.

I can't help but get my hopes up that it's a real windfall and not a mistake, but I'll wait to find out before I count it as ours.


April 18th, 2015 at 04:23 am

Yesterday the title company lady called; their computers were down, but they'd been able to verify my wire had come through. She got the duplex seller's contact info from me to see how she could get the money to him. She called me back a couple hours later saying she'd wired the money to him. She'd get a signed satisfaction from him once her computers came back up.

She still hasn't emailed that to me, so I'll check in Monday. But I'm assuming it's just the seller dragging his feet as usual.

I provided some more forms to the broker and it seems the refinance is in process. So I'm hopeful it will be finalized next week. I canceled the autopay on my current mortgage (after confirming with my broker that I should), so it feels pretty real!

My sister's in town until Monday afternoon, so we'll be spending a bit of money eating out and such. Not too much, especially since AS hasn't received any more freelance checks this week. There's quite a backlog, so it'll be exciting when it all starts rolling in. Smile

I started a simple spreadsheet that I'll refresh once a week with the balance of shared and individual spending money. My hope is that AS and NT will get in the habit of recording their purchases there, making it easier to update my main worksheet. And there will be less of me telling them what we can afford; we'll all give input into how we spend the available funds.

I even set it up to email me when someone updates it, so I know when to check it and add something to my main spreadsheet. I hope it works out!

Slight delays on the duplex matters

April 16th, 2015 at 02:20 am

OK, things aren't quite wrapped up on the duplex refi and payoff. I waited 4 long hours after emailing the title company that I'd wired the payoff funds, then called them. Turns out their computer system was completely down. So they were unable to process my payment. I don't think it's a big deal; one day shouldn't make a difference to the guy who typically didn't cash my monthly checks for a week or more after receiving them.

And, maybe because of this delay, the closing on the duplex refi is probably going to be next Wednesday. I should get more exact numbers about the mortgage balance and monthly payment amount today or tomorrow, though, which is the part I'm really most concerned with.

So we're close, not there yet, but I still feel OK about everything.

On an unrelated note, we unexpectedly got a little over 100 pounds deposited into our UK checking account. Apparently the renters stayed until April 6 and so paid a small amount of rent in April. That's nice in case we don't get a new renter in time to receive rent before the June 1 mortgage payments; it'll mean less money we need to either wire over or borrow from NT's family.

April 2015 net worth update

April 15th, 2015 at 08:19 pm

NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($27,368)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($32,801)
#3: 4,452 pounds ($7,123)
NT's 401(k): $36,631
NT's Roth IRA: $7,780
AS's trad. IRA: $15,460
AS's Roth IRA: $21,106
CJ's 401(k): $82,872
CJ's Roth IRA: $7,780
NT's flat: 140,000 pounds ($224,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
Total Assets: $902,921

Total Debt: $525,360

Current Estimated Net Worth: $377,561

February 2015 estimate: $366,009

Change in net worth: +$11,552

Summary: Apparently all our recent property doings -- including selling the condo at a loss -- and shifting around of debt did have a net positive effect! Some of this gain was due to decent performance of our retirement accounts, but a lot of it was from debt reduction.

It was kind of fun to have our assets worth over a million bucks, and now with the condo sale they're below that. But we'll get up there again eventually! At least our debt is getting close to going below the half-million mark. That'll be a relief.

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..60 for every British pound.

Debt progress! Exceeded April goal and other notes

April 15th, 2015 at 05:06 pm

I made the wire transfer to pay off the promissory note! I haven't got confirmation from the title company or my broker, but the money is out of my bank so I'm counting that debt as PAID.

It's been a couple of confusing weeks, with some debts being paid off and some being added to my balance. I was trying to work out how to figure that into my debt repayment calculations, and I came up with a way.

Before closing on the condo and paying off the seller, I had $670,005 of debt. After eliminating the condo mortgage and duplex promissory note, and adding a student loan, a credit card and a line of credit to my debt, my new debt balance is $525,360.

I got rid of $133,000 of it by selling the condo, so that doesn't count as debt repayment. But the rest of the debt reduction does. So that means through the whole confusing mess, I paid down $11,645 of debt over the past two weeks! That takes my April debt repayment to $12,641. Definitely a new record, and the month isn't even over yet!

In other news, last night I decided to take snafu's advice and just pay the minimum for AS's quarterly tax prepayment, and keep the other $2500 or so in my account for now, adding it to her June tax prepayments. Well, even if I hadn't decided that last night, I would have done so this morning, when I saw I'd forgotten to cancel the auto-contributions to our Roths for April! So that's $450 out that I wasn't expecting. Luckily I had that choice to pay less on AS's estimated tax, so we'll be OK. And I don't have to take out a reserve line loan to bridge the gap until April 30 payday. I was planning to restart Roth contributions in June anyway, so I can float this amount until June with no impact to our regular budget.

The banker who helped me with the wire was the same one who messed up last week on the other wire, but since this one was to go out immediately, I wasn't as worried. I hovered while he handed it to the lady who was going to process it. Smile

The banker's a real sad sack, hinting at financial woes of his own. I think he assumed I was in over my head like him, but from what he was saying, I think he's just an average everyday person, which means he has no real idea or plan with his money. One comment, when he was telling me about these condos on Lake Superior that he admired: "I really wish I had $40,000 so I could buy one. Heck, I wish I had $1,000." Hopefully he was kidding! But he also mentioned having a second mortgage on his place, and not having any money to eat out, so I wonder.

He made that comment after I mentioned I hadn't eaten out much but could start to do so more now that I'd gotten these deals done. It was like, we had a lot of the same problems, but I have a plan to get out of them and he seemed kind of stuck. It was just interesting. You'd think a banker would have a better handle on things, but of course I know better than that.

Anyway, in other bits of financial news, we think the fencing of our backyard is going to run around $2500. Our neighbor is getting estimates and planning it. We'll be splitting the cost with them. AS should have some bigger checks coming through in the next couple of weeks, so shouldn't be a problem.

We've been looking at ovens, but one thing we want to avoid is ovens that get really hot to the touch on the outside, and ones that vent all the hot air right over the cooktop at you so you're pummelled with it while you're cooking. We're having trouble discerning from online descriptions which might be better in those areas. So we might have to go into a store and talk to someone.

AS did some last-minute coverage at my job yesterday and should get about $300 for that. She also accepted some new jobs from other places: a $600 one and a $1600 one. She quietly passed a milestone the other day: she's now booked enough work to surpass what her annual salary at her old job would be. It only took her three and a half months, with a 2-week vacation in the middle! Of course, $6K of that is the teaching gig which she doesn't get paid for until the end of the year. But it's pretty exciting nonetheless.

I guess I'll probably do my net worth calculation today or tomorrow. It should be interesting! I think I'll about break even, since we took a loss on the condo but also paid off some debt. But I won't know until I add it all up.

The last big push

April 14th, 2015 at 05:07 pm

Tomorrow is a big day.

We close on the duplex refinance, saving about $400 per month on our mortgage payment.

As part of that, we pay off the second mortgage (promissory note) that we borrowed from the seller. To pay off that $26,500 debt ($26,559.35 since we're paying interest for the first half of April), we had to borrow $15,000 from a line of credit.

The promissory note payment ($119) will be gone but will be replaced temporarily by a $265 monthly payment to the line of credit.

When the money from my dad's WV land deal comes through (hopefully in mid-June), that line of credit will be the first thing I pay off. So hopefully we'll only have that $265 payment for two months.

Also tomorrow, I need to pay our 2014 tax bills:
CJ/NT state taxes $240
AS federal taxes $3,099
AS owe state taxes $435
This is mainly covered by the CJ/NT federal refund, which I already received.

Then I have to pay AS's estimated quarterly federal and state taxes. I could pay the minimum advised by my tax guy, but I decided to go ahead and pay what I thought she actually owes for the quarter:
Federal $2,724.48
State $1,167.63

In order to do that, I need to take out a $1400 loan from my reserve line. I know, it's foolish to do that when I could simply make smaller payments for federal and state taxes. But it's worth it to me to feel like everything is current and paid up. I'll be able to pay off the $1400 on April 30 (some of it earlier, if AS gets any more freelance checks between now and then). So it'll just be a few bucks of interest.

So in total, the money out tomorrow will be ... drum roll ... $34,225.46.

I should probably feel freaked out! We'll be at an all-time low in actual cash, since the UK account is also cleared out for the UK renovations. But starting April 30 (or whenever AS's next freelance check comes through), we begin to rebuild. AS is expecting about $6K to come in over the next month or so. And we're expecting that big check from my dad's deal in June. So I'm actually feeling great!

I think a large part of it is a relief that I'll finally sever the relationship with the duplex seller. I'm glad I didn't know what that was going to be like when I agreed to it, and I'm glad it's almost over!

Fun weekend but a bit spendy

April 13th, 2015 at 02:18 am

Loosening the reins of spending felt a bit odd, but I went with it. Unfortunately we "lost" $300 out of the budget, so it made it seem like we spent more than we really did. I'm trying to remind myself that's not the case!

We used the carshare twice; that will come out of our monthly line item, but it did take us through our April amount, so I'll need to go into May (or take from unallocated funds) for when my sister is here next weekend. (I promised her one trip to St. Paul.)

We started the weekend with $589 in the unallocated category and ended it with $103. Trying to retrace my steps:

Registered the girls for another session of swim class: $168.

We spent $29 on bday gifts for two kids from our daughters' daycare. We were going to their joint party, and they'd brought gifts to both of our kids' bdays recently.

We spent $29, oddly enough, at the hardware store for gardening gloves, a light switch and a shovel.

AS and I went to a big publishing happy hour (conference was in town and her old job was hosting a night) where we thought drinks would be covered, but we only got one drink ticket (and that's because a friend of hers gave us one). They were all out of drink tickets a half hour after the thing began! So we spent $26; AS covered $15 with her spending money and we took $11 out of the unallocated.

AS got a medical bill for a recent visit: $98.

And I discovered a nearly $200 accounting error in my budgeting spreadsheet! Somehow I'd messed up the balance on the Amex card that we use for groceries. I've never made an error that serious before. I combed the spreadsheet for a clue as to how that could have happened. I have no idea; it could have happened weeks ago for all I know. I moved a few things around to lessen the blow, but most of it had to come out of our unallocated fund. That left us with $103.

So the only truly frivolous things were the bday gifts and the drinks. But it still felt like we'd spent a ton when that number went down so drastically. Ah well, AS is expecting several freelance checks that may come in this next week.

Today we (along with our downstairs neighbors) got a ton of work done in the back yard. We raked up a bunch of old leaves, shoveled up cedar chips, uprooted husks of old plants, scraped away a large collection of bird poop in one spot, cleaned and organized the storage area attached to the garage, removed old birds nests from the porch, trimmed away twigs and vines coming through the fence from the other side, took up some cement chunks that had been used to border a flower bed, and swept the whole area.

Our neighbor is going to get quotes on fencing in the back yard. We plan to split the cost of that. It's going to be so great once it's fenced off and really feels like our space!

We sold the condo!!!!!

April 9th, 2015 at 09:03 pm

Closing was at 10am today; it went without a hitch. We are now down to two properties and about $130K less in debt.

Coming on the heels of my dad's email from yesterday, it felt like our lives changed in the span of a day. We feel light, optimistic, and eager to stop denying ourselves every little thing. We've already thought of a few long-delayed wants that we want to spend some of our freed-up cash on. A stove with all the burners working, for one!

We passed the condo on the bus on the way back and there was a very little nostalgic tug, but mostly just a feeling of a weight and unwanted responsibility being gone.

I bought us lunch from our favorite deli before we went our respective ways to work the rest of the afternoon. It was from my spending money. We decided we'd still have some allocated spending money, but also a bucket of unallocated money that we agree on uses for. It's a small bucket right now, but as AS's freelance checks roll in, we'll start to fill it up (and pull from it).

I sent the last few documents off to the duplex broker, and he said he'd try to submit the refi to underwriting today.

So happy.


April 8th, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Practically unbelievable, anyway...

I just read this on the way home from my all-day meeting, so I'm still processing. My dad wrote me to say the energy company is exercising the right-of-way option on his property!

They say there needs to be a "closing" which will have to be scheduled within 60 days, and they will hand my dad the checks at that meeting.

I don't want to count my chickens in terms of money because of a few vaguely worded statements from our contacts there. From my dad's email:

"J did say some things are unsettled, like a survey still has to be done (which implies that the path could change). I asked a few times "Will the check amounts correspond exactly to the amounts in the agreement"? The answers were like "They should ...." and "will be based on the agreement"."

So I don't know how much the promised amount could be reduced; I think it would only be by changing the path and therefore the number of feet. The original quoted amount for my share was $80K. (I assume about 40% will go to taxes, but I'll have to check with my tax guy after it comes through to see if that's right.) I've also committed (mentally) to putting at least 10% of it toward good causes.

I guess I need to be patient for another month or two. It's up to the energy co. to schedule the closing, so we're at their mercy for timing.

What a weird week it's been. Heck, what a weird year it's been!

Checked some tasks off

April 8th, 2015 at 04:29 am

Today was supremely slow at work, so I asked for the afternoon off. I don't like work being slow at a time when I'm putting out tons of money! But the rest of the week will be busier.

I'd brought in a mortgage statement to scan and send along with other duplex refi info, but I was still waiting on the payoff quote from the mortgage company, so I never scanned it.

Which was stupid, because I checked my work email from home and I did get the fax (my work scans and emails them to us). But my mortgage statement was sitting on my desk at work. And I've been assigned to an all-day off-site meeting tomorrow. And the condo closing is Thursday morning. So the next time I'll get in the office is Thursday afternoon.

But I can get all the other pieces to our broker and just send in that last one on its own. Tonight we worked on signing and scanning about 100 pages of documents for the duplex refi, and scanned and saved a file of copies of our driver's licenses. I found a bank statement online and saved a copy of that. So we'll be able to get all of that over to the broker and he'll just be waiting on the mortgage statement.

It's weird to be working on the duplex refi right before the condo sale. It's all blending together in my mind.

So here's the week ahead:
- Tomorrow: All-day client meeting; email all docs but the mortgage statement to duplex broker.
- Thursday: Closing on the condo at 10am; nothing more to do on that except show up. Scan and email final document to duplex broker in the afternoon.
- Friday: Take out the line of credit loan in preparation for paying off promissory note.
- Sunday: WV option expires. My dad's been hearing conflicting rumors and nothing concrete, so we have no idea what's going on with that.
- Wednesday (15th): Close on the duplex refi and pay off the promissory note.

And maybe, next Thursday, I'll breathe easier than I have in a while! Smile

It pays to expect incompetence

April 7th, 2015 at 05:48 pm

Today I've been riding herd on various professionals to make sure the stuff I need done *gets* done.

I saw that the check to the electrician cleared, so I emailed the contractor to make sure he was on top of getting me the paid-in-full receipt. He sent it a few minutes later.

Then I called the LOC bank to see what the minimum payment would be if I took out the full $15,000. The customer service rep told me "$150 a monhth." On further reflection that didn't seem right; that would be 1% of the balance but no interest. I did a Bankrate calculation and came up with $266 the first month. I'm going to use that number and I'll be pleasantly surprised if it's only $150.

Then, the banker yesterday told me that the wire transfer for the condo closing would go through this morning and that it would show up in my account by noon. He set himself a reminder to handle it while I was sitting there. I checked my bank account promptly at 12:05 and saw nothing, so I called the branch. After some hold time they came back to say there'd been "miscommunication" but that their manager was putting it through right then. Naturally I asked for a call to confirm that, and I checked my online account with the manager on the phone to verify that I could see the transfer pending.

I'm not saying the first instance was a case of incompetence, and the jury's out on the rep who quoted me the $150 minimum payment. It's just that nobody cares about getting this stuff done as much as me, so it pays to stay on top of everyone and make sure it keeps moving.

Things are moving fast!

April 7th, 2015 at 12:25 am

OMG. My finances look really crazy right now, but it's going to be all good soon.

I got the amount I need to bring to condo sale closing, and because it's over $15K I needed to wire the funds instead of getting a cashier's check. I headed over to the bank and set one up for tomorrow morning.

It was about $260 more than I estimated, BUT part of that is paying half of 2015 property taxes, which we've also been saving up for in our escrow. Either our mortgage company or the county will refund us a few hundred bucks eventually. So it's not too bad.

I also heard from the broker on the duplex refi; we do need to pay off the promissory note at closing. I'm glad I was already planning to do that soon! Now it's a few weeks sooner than I planned, so the checking account is going to be very light for a few weeks. We'll close on the duplex refi and pay off the promissory note April 15.

Now I'm super glad the tax guy told us the minimum AS has to prepay in taxes April 15! I can put off paying the additional money I was planning to pay until a later date when we're not as tight.

I wrote down everything that's happened since March 16 and will happen by April 15 and had to laugh/shudder. It looks really crazy. But when it's all over we'll be in a much better position and can start to rebuild our savings and pay down debt.

UK reno: Paid $22,320 to the management company for renovation; borrowed $2400 from NT's mum to help with this. (May need to borrow about $400 more from her if we don't receive new rental income by June 1.)

Condo sale: Paying out $29,594.50 to pay off the mortgage and cover seller fees and half of buyer's closing costs. Borrowing $10,500 via a 0% credit card and $4500 via a student loan to help cover this.

Duplex refi: Paying $26,559.35 to pay off the promissory note when we refinance the main mortgage. Borrowing $15,000 on an unsecured line of credit to help cover this.

In total, we're paying out $78,473.85 in home-related stuff this month!

$32,400 is paid via new debt; the other $46,073.85 is "real" money.

As a result, we'll be eliminating $174,500 of old debt, getting rid of the US condo and raising the value/rental potential of the UK flat. Oh, and the cumulative result of selling the condo, refinancing the duplex and paying off the promissory note will mean about $1860 per month less "money out," which will make funding retirement and paying off debt a LOT easier.

Our UK and US accounts are going down to virtually zero April 15, but we've got great cash flow, including over $4000 of freelance income expected from AS's work in late April/early May.

Crazy, crazy times, but it's almost over.

Easter wrap-up and anticipation of coming week

April 6th, 2015 at 02:28 am

Easter weekend went well. We probably put less effort into it than usual, and the grandparents sent less stuff for the Easter baskets than usual, but the kids didn't notice any of that.

Friday afternoon there was a little gathering for parents at the daycare. Saturday morning I took the kids to Target to spend their Easter money from one set of grandparents. I also bought some sparkling cider there and stopped at the liquor store for some sparkling wine. We'll pop both bottles open Thursday evening to celebrating the sale of the condo; our downstairs neighbors are cooking for us that night too. Smile

Saturday night we had a friend plus our downstairs neighbors for dinner; I made chili mac with various easy toppings and sides and it was a low-effort hit.

After our guests left, we opened the package from another set of grandparents and used that plus the plastic eggs the girls had collected at daycare. (I set up plausibility by telling the older girl that we could leave a note for the Easter Bunny to use the eggs we already had so there would be less waste; we also ended up leaving him some carrots and lettuce to snack on!)

I could only find one Easter basket from a previous year, so I just put little labeled goodie bags for both girls into the one basket. Our new cat is rather people-food-obsessed, so I "hid" it in a cabinet vs. leaving it out like I normally do. Then we hid all the plastic eggs we had, putting some pocket money into a few of them.

This morning the girls had a lot of fun hunting for eggs and also getting to eat candy before breakfast. NT had bought cross buns which we all had; that was never a tradition in my family but they're quite good.

Our downstairs neighbors coordinated Easter dinner and we just had to bring a few designated dishes. Altogether we had a vegan ham found at a Vietnamese grocery store, asparagus with vegan hollandaise, potato salad, carrot puree, biscuits, and pineapple upside-down cake.

So, cheap and pretty low-key Easter weekend, which with all the anticipation building in us was about all we wanted.

This should be a very big week; a lot of things will be squared away by the end of it.

- Hope to receive the payoff quote from the duplex mortgage Monday. If I don't I'll call them to get an estimated turnaround time.

- Once I have that, I can send all the info the broker needs to get the refi going. Hopefully then I'll also get exact details of when we close, which month's mortgage payment we'll be skipping, and what our new monthly payment will be.

- I need two more things before closing on the condo sale: a final amount for the cashier's check I'll be taking out to cover the loss, and a paid-in-full notice for the electrical work we got done. Hopefully those will both be coming Monday or Tuesday.

- Thursday morning we close on the condo! Hard to believe it's finally happening. Even with the hefty loss we're taking, it feels like a victory because other parts of our life can get moving soon.

- Sunday is the expiration date for the WV option. I'm not really expecting we'll get the money anymore, but as long as it's a possibility it's always going to be causing me to have to consider multiple future scenarios. I'll be glad to know one way or the other and only mildly disappointed if it doesn't happen.

- Depending on how all that plays out and when AS's outstanding freelance checks come in, we could soon start scheduling some small improvements on the duplex. Probably just outdoor stuff to start with, because AS is only expecting small amounts until late April/early May, when a couple of her bigger invoices should get paid. And we may not use all the money for just home improvements; there are plenty of other wants that all of us have put off for a long time, so we may also use it to loosen up our spending a little.

- I also need to spend the rest of April figuring out how to be a person who doesn't obsess over spreadsheets, scenarios and finances, and isn't glued to the computer every chance I get. I have a few ideas but I'm definitely going to have to be intentional about the change if I want it to be serious and significant. And I do!

Exciting prospect

April 4th, 2015 at 03:04 am

After a mildly threatening-to-go-elsewhere email from me, my broker finally checked our streamline refi option again.

He said we should be able to do the option and it will basically work out to cost nothing. Should lower our interest rate slightly, lower our payment by $400 per month, and we could close by late April. He also said we'd have a month where no mortgage payment was due. (May, I assume.)

That's all very good news. If all this works out, we should be able to pay off the promissory note (we'd have to take out the $15K line of credit to do so) in late April or early May. The money we save on the mortgage plus not having a promissory note payment anymore should easily cover that additional debt payment, with some left over to pay extra on debt.

I requested a payoff quote fax from my mortgage company. They didn't give me any idea of turnaround time on that, but it's the only thing between us and scheduling the refi. So I hope it comes in Monday!

This would mean we could start putting some of AS's freelance money toward home improvements. Very exciting! We've been doing the bare minimum, furnishing our home with mismatched free and cheap stuff, not even investing in paint to cover the terrible color choices of the previous owner. It would be nice to make even small changes, like buying more comfortable, attractive outdoor seating, and chipping in with our neighbors to get the back yard fenced in.

So we'll see, but it seems like a sure thing since they don't need income verification, assessment or any upfront money to close.


Couple more bits of things cleared up

April 2nd, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I took a day of PTO because I had nothing on my plate at work. Not a great feeling, but I know I have five ongoing projects, it's just that they're all in other people's courts at the moment so there's no work I can do on any of them. I offered to do other stuff for my boss but he told me to just take the PTO day. Fingers crossed this is just a momentary lull!

We got the invoice for the electrical work--$130, much of which was exploring the issue they ended up not fixing. But that's fine. I sent off a payment that should get to him by 4/7--I need a proof of payment by closing on 4/9, but hopefully it will work out.

Then I got an email from our agent: The buyer's mortgage broker said it could delay things if they tried to do the $200 off the purchase price as they hoped in exchange for us not repairing one of the two issues. So the buyer decided to waive that new condition. Now we're selling for $133K again instead of $132,800. Hopefully that means my estimate of what we need to bring to closing is a bit high, but I'm going to leave it as is in my budget spreadsheet until I hear an exact number of what we need to pay. (I haven't heard yet, but as I recall when you're a buyer you don't get the number until a couple days before closing, so maybe it's the same when you're a seller who is losing money on the deal.)

Emailed our broker about the refi--no response. AS said I should call him. I'll see tomorrow morning.

No word on any of the other things we're waiting to hear about (WV deal, UK reno).

No new freelance checks for AS. She's expecting quite a few but turnaround time on pay can vary pretty wildly, so not sure when we'll see them.

NT realized his British passport expired, so we'll need to pay for that before we get any outdoor furniture or gardening stuff.

Everything's so close to starting to turn around. Must be patient!

Progress on April debt goal, nasty little mortgage surprise, etc.

April 1st, 2015 at 04:09 pm

Today was the first time in my life that I haven't paid a mortgage payment on time. The title company recommended I not pay the April condo mortgage payment, since we're closing the 9th and they'll get paid off before a late fee would be triggered. Still, it feels weird!

Also, when I logged into the duplex mortgage account, I got an unpleasant surprise--our payment has increased by $66 per month. If they notified us about it, I missed that, so I emailed them just to know. I'm sure it's something to do with property taxes or whatever. I emailed the broker, since now I even more want to refi and try to bring the payment lower. Shame that whatever refi we get will now have $66 less positive impact than I thought it would. Frown

Anyway, the duplex mortgage and the three UK mortgages all hit:
US: $638 to principal
UK1: $221
UK2: $46
UK3: $48

In addition, NT's student loan payment hit. I thought I'd enrolled in autodebit, but when I noticed the payment hadn't posted by the due date I logged in, and it was overdue. I had to pay it manually and I couldn't try to enroll in autodebit until the payment had posted. It finally posted today and I did the autodebit process again. Hopefully it takes this time--not sure what I might have done wrong last time!

So the payment did finally hit, and $43 went to principal.

All told, that's $996 down, $104 to go on the April debt goal.