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Archive for June, 2020

Financial impacts of COVID (good & bad) pt 2

July 1st, 2020 at 04:16 am

It's been a month and a half since my previous post about what COVID has done financially to our household. What a wild ride it continues to be! At least my mental health seems to be settling into a more stable place; not happy, but more accepting that it's going to be a long long time before things get back to anything resembling normal.

Anyway, money stuff:

- Salary. Last time I wrote, NT had seen a 5% paycut. Now, the paycut for him is 20%. The bonus is, he gets Fridays off. I also now have a 10% paycut. I consider that lucky since 6 of our approximately 36 staff were cut last week. My workload is abnormally light so I don't at all feel secure in my position, but for now I'm still in it. At least AS's freelance business is still going strong!

- Net worth. As detailed in my previous post, our wealth has essentially stagnated since January. I know we're some of the luckier ones to even be able to hold the line, so I can't complain, but it's not a great feeling either to not be making any progress.

- Refi. After dithering for years about a refi, I suddenly bit the bullet and applied for one last night! We're preliminarily approved so we'll see how it goes. I've noticed I'm more willing to make sudden changes in my thinking during this whole crisis, so I do think this is a COVID impact. If all goes well and if I understand correctly, we'll spend about $3400 for a 25-year mortgage that's about the same P&I as our current 30-years, and no mortgage insurance should take us down a few hundred bucks a month, so if I understand the costs right, it should pay for itself in 6-9 months.

- Technology. Last time I reported we bought two Chromebooks for the kids' distance learning. Since then we've also purchased a Nintendo Switch to have some new games to help distract us. About $350 total for the system and a starter batch of games.

- Dependent care flex spending. Last time, I mentioned stopping contributions because it seemed like all summer care options were being canceled. Well, in the end three options did decide to open, so we'll be incurring some daycare expenses without the immediate tax benefit. I could have started up my contributions again but thought, what if there's an outbreak that forces the camps to close? What if one of us gets COVID and we all need to quarantine? So I decided not to. We did change the summer care schedules to just four days a week, and on Fridays NT entertains the kids, or we let them lounge around on screens if he's busy with errands or whatever.

- The UK flat. Early this year (January or February), we decided that Brexit had settled down enough to list our flat for sale, so our management company gave our renters notice. Then COVID hit. Technically the flat is still on the market, but we found new renters who signed a year lease, so anyone who bought it would have to take it over with them in situ. I'm glad we have renters to cover the mortgage, property taxes etc. though, even if it means even less chance the flat will sell anytime soon. We only missed one month of rent after all that, amazingly; the old renters moved out 5/31 and the new ones move in tomorrow.

- Regular household expenses. Last time, we hadn't used the bus in over a month. Since then, we have used it a few times to get the kids to daycare or to go to a store, but the buses have the front blocked off to protect the driver, so there's no way to use our bus passes. So we continue to save on that regular expense.

- Going out/shows. Last time I reported I'd gotten refunds from loads of canceled shows. Since then, I've bought a few concert tickets, for a late October show and two May 2021 events. I also continue to tip musicians whose livestreams I watch, because they're still working hard, and they need all the help they can get.

- Travel. Of the 4 air trips and 1 road trip we had booked before the pandemic hit, all have been canceld (either by us or the airline) except 1 air trip (sending the kids on their first parent-free flight to see my sister in Va.).
* We got airline credits for two of the three flights and a full refund for the one hotel that had been reserved.
* The big airfare, the one to UK, was fully refunded without us even requesting. That $5K was a balm to our budget and wiped out our shared-spending deficit. In different times I might've tried to save the cash for a future time, know.
* We did however book two NEW trips: road trips to lakes to replace two of the canceled trips. A road trip to a secluded rental house is much less risk than a touristy destination.
* We are waiting to decide on the kids' trip to Va. but from what I've read, planes are not that risky comparatively, and my kids are well, well trained on safety and social distancing. MN and Va. are so far controlling the spread pretty well, so if that keeps up, we may go through with that trip.

June 2020 net worth update

July 1st, 2020 at 03:34 am

NT's UK pensions:
AV: 22,397 pounds ($27,996)
SW: 29,047 pounds ($36,309)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $88,673
NT's Roth IRA: $43,474
AS's trad. IRA: $21,004
AS's Roth IRA: $64,468
AS's SEP IRA: $45,695
CJ's 401(k): $153,837
CJ's Roth IRA: $47,862
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,177,177

US Mortgage $369,583
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $228,120
UK Mortgage 2 $5,928
UK Mortgage 3 $6,243
TOTAL DEBT $418,874

Current Estimated Net Worth: $758,303

May 2020 estimate: $743,824

Change in net worth: +$14,479

Summary: Our net worth finally surpassed our previous high which was way back in January. Five months later we have gained $545 in wealth. (And I'm certainly not counting on this amount.) I'm not going to do a retirement progress update yet though, because we've paid off about $5K in debt in those months, so I know overall our retirement accounts are still off their January highs.

I will be interested to see if our appraisal for the refi we're attempting will turn up a higher home value than what I have. But again, considering how weird everything is right now, not really counting on anything.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat, but it's been on the market a long time.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.

Question for the refi experts out there :-)

June 29th, 2020 at 06:11 pm

Our mortgage lender sent a refi offer -- they FedEx'ed it which was a good ploy to get me to open it.

I like the rates they mention and that there are fewer fees. Plus it would be a chance to eliminate our mortgage insurance, which we're stuck with for the life of our loan regardless of LTV.

But they slapped this chart on the mailing and I'm totally confused. The new scenario shows a new loan amount that's over $120K lower than our current principal balance.

So what I'm trying to figure out is, why are they showing that lower amount? Are they trying to say we'd have to pay down to that amount to qualify for the refi? Or are they being sneaky and pretending this offer will save way more money than it actually would if I refi'ed the entire principal amount?

Either way, is this sneakiness concerning enough that I shouldn't even reach out to them? I didn't choose this lender; when we refi'ed, the lender sold our loan to this company. We haven't had any problems with them but don't really know anything about them either.

June 2020 debt payments

June 3rd, 2020 at 10:51 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US: $774 to principal
UK1: $191
UK2: $40
UK3: $42

That's a total of $1,047 debt paid.

New household debt totals:
US Mortgage $369,583
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $28,120
UK Mortgage 2 $5,928
UK Mortgage 3 $6,243
TOTAL DEBT $418,874

We are okay

June 1st, 2020 at 09:38 pm

CCF's note made me realize a quick check-in might be welcome! We live in South Minneapolis, the area facing the most unrest, but so far our block has been untouched. We're not getting much sleep but otherwise OK. Most protesters are staying home during curfew so the looters and arsonists are easier to target. Unfortunately there's some white supremacist activity that's very calculated to strike fear so we've been staying up very late watching the streets. So far they've not hit any private homes, though they've threatened to, so we're hoping they get weeded out before that can happen.

On the bright side, very proud of most of our neighbors for everything they're doing for one another. We haven't done much but we donated some money to various causes, and NT attended a rally and a cleanup.

I'll check in hopefully soon with a longer life update, including some more financial impacts of COVID-19 that have cropped up since my last life update, but for the time being I wanted to let you know we're hanging in there, focused on getting through the day to day as best we can.