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Archive for November, 2021

Midstream on a lot of big changes

November 10th, 2021 at 04:30 pm

I keep putting off posting here. We've got several big money-related and other things that are in process right now, and I keep thinking when they're more settled I'll post, but honestly some of them are going to be months or more before they're settled, so I should just post now, and then post updates as things move along!

Let's see...I'll start with something that's pretty settled.

1. AS applied for a top job at a local nonprofit this summer, and she got it! She's been involved with them off and on for about 20 years, most recently on the board, but this was a huge step up for her, both moneywise and careerwise. (It's the kind of job that warrants an interview/article in the city newspaper!) Moneywise, well, she was freelance before, and her annual income would fluctuate but was in the $70Ks these past few years--$77K was her highest one. Her new job pays $110K, so pretty much a 50% raise, and steady versus unpredictable!

I'm going to put money in her SEP for the rest of the year because I'm not sure what the retirement plan picture is at her job--she doesn't think there is one, but she's the boss now, so she can get that started up if there isn't!

So that takes the pressure off...once NT's unemployment ran out, and AS was slowing her freelance business to work on applying for this job, we went in the hole quite a bit, but now AS and my paychecks will cover the budget, so whatever NT brings in can hopefully make up the difference. And with next year's budget I'm hoping to expand some of the line items that we tend to go over on...mainly groceries, healthcare and personal spending.

2. We sold the UK flat! If you recall, we've waWented to sell it for years and years, but the English real estate market was soft, and then Brexit threw a huge curveball, but just as all that was looking better and we listed the flat, COVID hit and we had to take it back off the market and take on a renter. Once their lease was up earlier this year, we signed a 6-month lease and listed the flat with tenant in situ, and an investment property owner snapped it up for the asking price we were hoping for, 200K pounds! We closed at the end of September.

I'd made some very rough estimates and reckoned we'd only clear half of that, after we paid the management company, mortgage, estate agent, lawyer, tax pro and taxes. But we actually ended up with about 160K, so my calculations were way off! We still need to have our accountant do our regular annual UK taxes, which he can't do until April, so we left a couple grand in the UK account. And we still need to do our US taxes and see if Uncle Sam wants a piece of the action, but I'd been figuring only 100K before US taxes, so we're already way ahead in my mind.

We're in the process of transferring the funds from the UK to US, which is a whole complicated kind of nervewracking process for people not used to doing it, but it should be in our US savings account by the end of this week or beginning of next. I haven't done a detailed calculation but think we could end up with nearly $200K!

Most of it, we'll save for now, and once US taxes are settled, start looking for an investment property here. But I am going to give us all a big spending money bonus, because we all went in the hole this past summer, being pretty self-indulgent. So $3K each for the adults to wipe out our deficit and give us a tiny bit extra, and maybe $500 each for the kids (which I won't let them spend willy nilly but they can use for clothes, makeup and stuff that's kinda reasonable).

3. The kitchen reno is supposedly going to start within the next few days! The last piece is that our contractor needs a plumber to remove and seal off the radiator in that room, and he's been trying to chase one down for a month or more. But he got one to commit to Thursday, Friday OR Monday. Not much of a commitment in my mind, but the contractor seems to think it's gonna happen! I took pics of our crappy current kitchen just in case it's getting ripped out tomorrow. We'll be moving the fridge to the dining room, doing dishes in the bathtub, and doing a lot of our cooking on hot plates/microwave/toaster oven for god knows how long.

We have the new appliances purchased and waiting for us, and we've specified some finishes, but there are still things that will need to be worked out on the fly. I'm a little worried with all the supply chain disruptions of late, but we'll just have to roll with whatever happens!

We also don't know what the final price tag will be--I mean you never do, because things always happen in a reno, but this one is especially fuzzy. We were roughly quoted $60-$80K like two years ago, pre-pandemic, but I know materials and labor and everything else has gone up, so I have no idea! We have $45K saved up, plus a $10K emergency fund, and we have a $50K HELOC. So hopefully that'll be enough to cover it without dipping into the proceeds from selling the flat, but who knows. We have $500 per month in the monthly budget that'll mainly go to paying off the HELOC I suppose--I'll figure out a more detailed plan once the dust (literally) settles.

So, fingers crossed. We absolutely hate our kitchen and have always wanted to completely tear it down and make it different--the doorways, window and placement of the appliances are all changing drastically--so this'll be really exciting even if super expensive and stressful. This is by far the most expensive renovation we have our eyes on--everything else we've been holding off on will be much smaller chunks of money.

- - -

So those are the big three financial-related updates. Other random stuff:

- My job continues to go pretty well considering. Through layoffs and attrition we're down to about 12 Minneapolis employees--we've had as many as 75 at various times in the past. We're still part of a bigger organization and now we work more closely with them, handling our couple of legacy clients we haven't lost but also supporting work for our D.C. headquarters. So it seems like there's more than enough work and that they want to hang onto me, but I'm ready to roll with whatever punches after the past few bumpy years. But ideally, I'd stay at my company until my family reaches Coast FIRE...then I might look at something more part-time. But that's going to be several years so I'd love to just hang on here and not have to look for another full time job.

- NT's been in talks to do bookkeeping for our downstairs neighbors' businesses...he took a Quickbooks training course but that plan appears to have stalled for whatever reasons. But he still does admin work for them, and his hat business is slowly but surely growing, turning a bit of a profit now, and he plans to handle property management once we get an investment property here.

- NT and I are both getting pretty embedded in two different music scenes here--hip hop for him, country music/Americana for me. We did vaguely toss around the idea of looking into investing in a venue type place instead of a rental home--but the rental home seems like a MUCH more stable income prospect so we're most likely going with that.

- I've been getting more and more into a creative groove, so much so that I can't even work on all my projects as much as I want to. I have my music website, which has gotten lots of positive attention by the local scene (and I even get non-local musicians asking us to review their work--one as far away as Sweden!). We're even working on doing a podcast for it! So there's lots of writing, planning, and of course going to as many shows as I can squeeze in. I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year so another novel in the works, and I have at least four in various stages of completion for self-publishing. (I'm a terrible self-promoter so that's in no way a revenue generator--nor is the Americana website which we don't even do ads on [yet].) There's my guitar practice and songwriting--I have weekly lessons which at least keeps me practicing guitar, but songwriting has fallen by the wayside with all the other things I have going on. Anyway, as DisneySteve wrote about on his blog earlier, I'm getting a bit impatient with having a full-time job when I've got all these other way more interesting projects! Definitely going to be open to opportunities to not have a full-time job as soon as that's realistic with our retirement goals.

- The kids got their first vaccine shot today!!! I'm so excited. Even though this won't protect our family 100%, we'll be so much safer once they get their full course. I'm still going to mask up everywhere I go for a while because cases are AWFUL here in MN, but hopefully when things look a bit better, I'll feel more able to take some chances because damn, I don't want to mask up in public for the rest of my life! But right now it seems unnecessarily risky not to, with our kids unvaxxed and cases sooo high here.