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Summer is nearly done

August 13th, 2018 at 12:03 pm

I'm mostly back to work full time except for a couple of days. So much has happened this summer, landscaping, road trip, sister got married, visit to my son in WA and he was here for the wedding too. We're starting our foster care training. Work is heating up, and I will have more responsibilities. I feel like I've got to mindfully pay attention to self care. There's not a whole lot of wiggle room for getting sick and etc.

As far as net worth, I've been hanging around $800k for the last few weeks. I did meet with a Tiaa Cref representative to see when I could retire. With the marriage and my spouse not having great retirement, if we can figure out healthcare, I could probably retire at 62. I love what I do but I'm not sure where things are going. This is the longest I've been at any job (10 years) but I feel like I'm working with golden handcuffs.

With the current state of the country, I also dream about leaving. Listening to podcasts and reading blogs about expats. I loved New Zealand and heard that Thailand is a great place to be as well.

Townhouse sold

June 4th, 2018 at 02:12 pm

We sold the townhouse, after closing costs we received a check for over 108k which is pretty good since I bought it for 35k in 2012. I used a chunk to pay off the mortgage on the house we're now living in and will use some to buy my sisters out of the family cabin(they both want to sell). I've got it currently in Ally bank because that online savings account has the best interest annual interest rate at 1.6%. Anyone know any better rate to keep it liquid in? The rest will be used to do some things around the house. I feel pretty good about it. I'm now completely debt free at age 48.

Our family is a single income family right now and our plan is to begin the process for foster care licensing.

While I don't care to live where I do because it's so conservative and rural, the house is paid for and if we lived closer to the metro area, we'd have a higher housing expense. We will plan to live in our current location for at least two years to avoid capital gains. It's been hard to return to where I lived because of the isolation I feel. We just returned from a nice two week road trip to see some of the National Parks. Roosevelt, Estes Park, Arches, Canyonlands and hiked Bear Butte. It has me dreaming about purchasing some kind of campervan or simply a van for future road trips. We spent more on hotels than I'd like because camping wasn't has comfortable as it has been when we were younger.

I've also been dreaming of living abroad for a few years....but I'm not sure what country I would want to live in that is affordable. I guess I feel like I'm trying to position myself for future.

Stock Market correction?

February 5th, 2018 at 12:38 pm

I don't pay too much attention to the stock market because I'm young enough that I can still be a bit aggressive in my investments. I figure that anything too terrible will correct itself eventually. I also figure since my most active retirement account is my 401k through work, it's just buying more shares when the market is crappy. The current ride of great returns has been nice but it seems that is changing.

I wonder if this is a big long term change or if it is only a temporary blip.

My wife recently retired and rolling over her retirement account. We're also going to get her going with a ROTH.

I must confess, I'm hoping eventually we'll have better saving interest rates.

How are you taking today's stock market news?

slow but sure

January 29th, 2018 at 07:01 am

Rooms all painted, flooring installed. We now are dealing with serious cleaning and repair of the bathrooms and kitchen. I was able to get the upstairs bathroom sink to plug up and then replace a gasket in the tub so it would also plug up so we could clean the jets. It's clean but there is mineral build up so we're going to have to soak some vinegar rags in the jets. The downstairs bathroom needs work. The shower stall has a hole and is cracked. I went to the company we bought it from and it's no longer made so we're going to have to replace the whole thing. We got a few quotes and we're going with the guy my wife thought was the most easy going, happens to be the cheapest price. Although, this weekend she saw the Frankie and Grace episode where the contractor take the money and all the copper pipes so she's nervous. I think it will be ok.

What we have to start doing is getting packed up. We're probably going to have to hire someone because most of the folks who have helped us have already been very generous and our friends are getting up there in age or have medical issues. Soon we can start bringing over car loads but the big stuff like a sleeper couch we have will need stronger hands. I expect we'll be in within 6 weeks. It should take a day or two to fix up the townhouse for sale.

Family budgeting software?

January 11th, 2018 at 02:13 pm

I am really accustom to doing things on my own and now that I'm married, I'm hoping that I can find some kind of software or program that I can share with my wife that allows us to do some budgeting.

I do use mint but mostly to see my net worth, I don't really use the budgeting aspect of it. I don't really want to pay too much...I peeked at YNAB and it's $$$.

Care to share what you use? Can two people equally use a budgeting plan or does it really boil down to one person managing it and the other following along?


slowly but surely

January 8th, 2018 at 03:26 pm

We have access to the house. There has been some damage. The carpet in the master bedroom, hallway and lower level bedroom have all been ruined by the dogs. The master bedroom door is scratched up, basement door is completely missing, the lower level bathroom has a cracked and hole in the shower stall, I looked into this and it seems that it can't be replaced separately so I might have to install a new shower. I just looked it up and it has been discontinued but they direct me to replacement...I wonder if that will work? There's also a small utilitarian light fixture that is broken. I'm trying to work with my management company to help me claim all of the deposit (1 month rent plus $500 for dogs) and I'll put it into the repairs. I know that it will cost more than that but I just want to move forward.

It needs a deep cleaning...

We have pulled up and recycled almost all of the carpet ($20 for 2 truckloads), 2 bedrooms are painted. We have a carpet installer coming to measure for the carpet which is from a wholesaler.

We're starting to purchase used furniture and etc. I expect we'll start to move in within a few weeks to a month. I'll do some repairs to the townhouse and then put that on the market. It's a sellers market so I'm looking forward to being in the big house with the mortgage paid off.

Seeking thoughts and feedback

December 25th, 2017 at 05:25 pm

My wife and I have been living in a small 2 bedroom townhouse (no mortgage) in the metro area and walking distance to my job. We are planning to return to our 3 bedroom 2 bath house (almost 30k remaining on the mortgage) (30 miles away) that we’ve been renting for the last 3 years to the same renter with the purpose of doing foster care. I will be largely the sole income and while I know foster care does some reimbursement, we know it won’t be a lot. I’m 48, my wife is 54. I’ve got good retirement but am too young to retire especially with health insurance being such an unknown. We have no big plans beyond the next two years at least. I also think that while we’ve lived for 18 months in 800 square feet, long term we need more space.
Additionally, I’ve got shared ownership (with my two sisters) of a small 1 bedroom cabin (no mortgage) on 40 acres (no lake) 2 hours away. They are no longer interested in owning it and so I need to buy them out. The tax assessed value is almost 100k. One sister wants the buy out in one lump sum and the other is open to payments.
What I need help on is trying to figure out once we have re-located to the house, what do I want to do with the townhouse. There is no mortgage and bought it 5 years ago and it’s tripled in value.
Question and other details…
Once we’ve fully moved into the house and the townhouse is empty, I am trying to figure out what to do with it. I see two options rent or sell, perhaps you have another idea?

Renting option:

If I rent it, between property taxes, HOA, renter management (I don’t want to deal with it) I might clear around $500 a month. I could use this to make payments to one sister and pay on a loan for the lump sum payout for the other one. The benefit is that I would hold on to the property and we could always move back into it down the road….but we might not want to go that small again. We have dreamed about using it as a home base while traveling extensively in an RV once we’re older. It’s one level, walking distance to my current job of 10 years, and supposed to be on the light rail line eventually (maybe 5 years) and very easy to close up and leave for long periods of time. When we rent a property, we’re always at risk for damage, including a built in oak Murphy bed in the living room area.

Sale option:

If I sell it, the proceeds will be used to pay off mortgage on the house, pay lump sum to sister for the cabin and balance to other sister and any balance set to payment schedule. If I sell it, it would also free up some of my cash flow during the month because I wouldn’t be paying property taxes and HOA fees (on the townhouse) or mortgage (on the house). We would also lose the Murphy bed because it’s too expensive to move. This would simplify all the property we own from three down to two.

Bonus question:

The cabin was started by our father before he was killed. It’s very sacred space to me and has annual expenses of approximately $5000 between taxes, insurance and operating expenses. Some of the land is rented for agricultural purposes and we gain somewhere between $1500 (corn crops) or $600 (hay crop). Unfortunately, we are only out there approximately 6-12 times a year. My life is too busy to do much more and I feel like we should leverage this space a bit more. We’ve thought about Airbnb or VRBO and the challenge is that we’d have to either hire someone to manage it or at the very least clean after each guest. It would require very special guests to stay as it’s small and simple. Electric and water but minimal cooking facilities and no internet. It might be really nice for a writer or artist as get away. Many people might be interested in renting it for hunting but my Dad was against hunting and I want to hold the land as my father would have wanted to. I do realize at some point, I might have to let the cabin go but I’m not quite ready to do that yet.

Let me know if you have questions and thanks for your thoughts….

New used car purchase

December 12th, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I bought a Honda Fit, it was the first time I spent more than $3200 on a car (except for when I bought the truck from my Dad's estate). I looked at a private party's car over the weekend but it had more damage than he indicated. Thankfully, I've got a good mechanic that checked it out. He recommended that I find one at a dealer because then I know it's been looked over and not a salvage title. I knew I would have to pay more but I guess it was worth it. I found one that was a manual transmission and the price was dropping. I also ended up calling Costco's auto service which automatically got me $200 off. I also get 50% off a repair up to $100. It was totally worth it! I'm glad I checked it out. I prefer manual transmission but it's been a while and it has a feature that I can monitor my mpg which I hope I will adapt to because otherwise I focus too much on it.

In 19 days the renter will be out of the house and we'll be able to go check it out. I sure hope it's not too trashed and we won't need to do too much work to repair it. I'm looking forward to the simple things like a dishwasher and much better water. I think I will actually enjoy the commute too, a chance to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. What are your favorite podcasts? I used to listen to Dick Gordon - The Story which I LOVED, sadly, he returned to Canada. I like The Moth radio hour, dinner party download(for as much as I've heard it), This American Life (of course!).

I'm going on holiday break soon, 3 days after today.

future plans coming together

November 7th, 2017 at 02:47 pm

Sitting with the future of possibilities my wife and I have figured out some next steps. The renter of my house is moving out at the end of the lease which is the end of the year. We have decided to move back and do foster care. We have both always dreamed about this and there's going to be challenges, we're excited about it. We have continuous conversations, we're going to go slow and check in to see if we want to continue to do this. I will be the sole provider for the family. We're going to have to make some big purchases (pull out carpet from the house, install laminate floors due to allergies and asthma) purchase commuter car(likely used Honda Fit). We both feel like we have a lot to give. I know that these expenses will impact my current net worth but I've been so lucky in my life, it's good to try to make a positive impact in the world, one starfish at a time. We both know it's not always going to be easy but we're willing to try it. We can always stop if it's too much.

Our plans are to work for a crisis nursery (parents need emergency care while they deal with other crisis) or respite but nothing long term so we can also enjoy each other and have breaks. We don't intend to fall in love with any child and adopt.

My question for you all, have you ever done foster care? Any tips or suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Thinking to the future

October 10th, 2017 at 02:27 pm

Anyone else use Mint? I just passed a milestone (for now) as my net worth is showing up at 750k+ for the first time. This is kinda exciting but I also know that it's bound to go down too. I have heard rumors about the market correcting itself. I don't expect it to matter that much because I still have a few years to go. Although, I'm trying to get in a planning mode. Every few years I get a little itchy. Right now I feel like I've accomplished much of what I set out to do. I could coast for a bit but I like to have at least some kind of financial goal. I'm still relatively young but I have done well financially. I could look at working part time I think if I could figure out health insurance.

I don't trust the current political environment to think the insurance market is here to stay but something needs to change.

Do you know of any creative solutions for health insurance for those not old enough to retire?


September 25th, 2017 at 02:26 pm

Partner and I got married almost 3 weeks ago. My gift to her was our honeymoon and we decided to head to FL for a short cruise (neither one of us has been on one before)and a few nights at an expensive South Miami Beach ocean front balcony room. Except, I'm guessing you know what happened a few weeks ago. Hurricane Irma had other plans. I'm grateful that I had travel insurance(third party tripinsurance.com) which was nice security for me but it turned out that because of the hurricane everything was reimbursed or replaced. The only think I'm waiting for is the cruise to reimburse like they said...within three weeks which is some time this week. The airline indicated on their website that they would change flights up to a 300 round trip without additional charges except that would only take us to Orlando and I was a bit worried about that so we called them. Using the automatic call back instead of waiting on hold, they finally called us back within 45 minutes of our wedding and we decided to go to Phoenix and rent a car to head to Sedona. It was a lovely time and nice enough to replace our beach honeymoon.

As far as our wedding, we held it in a mansion library and it was small, just 20 family and friends(my son and his GF flew back from WA for it). We left for our honeymoon the very next day and was back to enjoy a picnic reception. It was exactly the way we wanted it. I found a eyelet lace dress at a thrift store for $20 and scarf to match at a super discount and it was good. We haven't totaled what we spent but I don't think it was more than $2000 for everything. Our goal is to live lightly so that we can have more adventures.

I'm still hoping to have my house paid off by 8/2019 but the current renter has put in her notice. I'm thinking of switching management companies. RW waited a week to respond to my questions about what to do with the tenant who is leaving...that's really slow but they sure figure out a way to be really responsive about working with me to put someone new in, I think I was contacted by two people to do that. I also haven't heard back yet about the "random" inspection.

I'm still reading even when I rarely post.

It's the little things

January 10th, 2017 at 02:08 pm

So I've added Ibotta and more recently checkout51 to my phone. What other little things do you do to help save money?

My biggest money maker this year was my refund from the costco credit card. Bigger than I've ever had from am express.

It's been a while

January 10th, 2017 at 02:02 pm

New year brings thoughts of all sorts of re-inventing one's life, new opportunities and etc. I've continued to read everyone even if I haven't posted. I'm a lurker for sure! Here's my catch up...

In July, my partner and I moved in together. The townhouse is paid off and the space is small but we've made it work. I only wish that I had a two car garage not a single. Had we been a bit quicker in going through our stuff, I was hoping to be able to keep my truck(which was originally my father's) in the garage in the winter but we still have too many boxes to go through. This state has a terrible winter.

She's an artist and needed private studio space so she got the small bedroom and it's her dressing room. The large bedroom is my office and dressing room + our den/guest room/library. Our bedroom is a very nice murphy bed in the living room.

Our housing expenses are less than $200 a month each.

I still have my house in another town which I'm renting out (third year with the same renters) and am paying at least double for each mortgage payment. I hope it have it paid off by August 2019 assuming there isn't any major expenses for me.

My son is expected to graduate from college after this semester and I've agreed to match his student loan payment each month. It's amazing to me that I could call the Department of Education's loan servicing folks and get his outstanding balance and etc on his loan. I was lucky enough to have my undergrad degree paid for by my grandparents and I'd like to see if I can help my son have as little student loans as possible.

Also if anyone remembers my last post, I did complete my sabbatical. Travel study to NZ some on my own to AUS. I also finished a second Masters. Graduated in May. In 2016 I also traveled to WA, FL, GA, MS for various different fun events.

I'm struggling trying to figure out what's next in my future. I'm so accustomed to being goal driven and at this point, I don't have anything I have to do. I can coast mostly.

Next week I'm going to meet with my financial planner, rate of return was good(10% I think) and I want to look further our...retirement, perhaps traveling in an RV.

It's so strange to be at this place in my life.

change of routine

August 17th, 2015 at 06:58 am

I'm coming back from a irregular summer with lots of fun and a little bit of work. I'm going to be working for this week and then I'm off of work. I'm going to be on sabbatical until late next spring, financially this means I'll be earning 80% of my wage.

This summer was wild, I had lots of fun and travels. It was wonderful and it was easy to go with the flow because I knew it was "the summer". Typically, fall comes and school starts and I have to slow down.

This fall is different, I'm going to be setting my own schedule and dictating my own list of things to do. I've got a lot on my schedule including going to the gym regularly, eating fresh and healthy food and working on some of my personal self improvement issues. I will also hopefully be finishing a 2nd degree which will also include study abroad. The plan is New Zealand for a month, 2 weeks through the school program and the rest on my own. Anyone have any connections to New Zealand? Tips and suggestions?

My biggest financial leap

July 31st, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I'm curious to know what your biggest financial leap may have been...

Here's my story:

I was 2/3rds the way through grad school, I didn't like the Executive Director at my current position and I was working full time + part time + part time grad school and was a single parent. It was a ragged schedule and it would take me another 2 1/2 years to complete my degree at my current pace but if I quit my job and went full time school, I could complete it in 6 months. I examined my budget, explored health insurance options for myself (child covered by other parent) and put together a plan. I shared this with the people in my life who I really trusted and valued their opinion. I asked them to review my plan and tell me why I shouldn't do it. No one had any objections and even offered me a loan if I needed it. So while it was scary, it was a very calculated risk.

It was very scary for me because I was a single parent who was responsible for my child and had a mortgage to pay. What if I couldn't find another job? What if there was a major medical problem? What if there was a major repair on the house? What if I finished my education but couldn't find a job in my field? Financial security has always represented choices for me. If I'm financial secure, then I can decided which jobs I will take or quit(like leaving the job where I didn't like the director).

It worked out perfect, better than I ever expected.

What financial leaps have you taken? Did they work out? Did you learn something new?

Learning to manage money

July 25th, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I grew up in a family where we didn't value stuff. It was more about valuing experiences and people more than keeping up with the Jones. Both of my parents were social workers and thinking of others was important but so was living the life we have chosen versus trying to be boastful or prideful. It would seem that our family was religious based on our judeo christian values but religion didn't come into our family until later(another story and only includes some of my family).

My parents gave us allowance and I often spent it as soon as I got it as a child, usually on sweets. My parents (or maybe my father specifically) really believed in children developing their own autonomy so as children we were able to make a lot of our own decisions. My mother didn't work until we were all in middle school so she kept expenses down by doing more (home cooked meals, gardening and etc) instead of buying more. When she went back to work, all the family pitched in for housework because her extra paycheck would allow us more luxuries. I don't know how they did it because I saw my late father's Social Security Statement for his income and it was never above 40k. This was very surprising.

I started my first job(waitressing) when I was about 16 and used tips for spending money and banked all my paychecks. I usually always had some money in a savings account. I lived at home until I finished my 2 year degree. Within 6 months of completing my 4 year degree, I was pregnant and married. We lived in low income housing for a couple of years and then with the help of my family, purchased a home. When my son was born, I expected to go back to work but when he showed up, I fell so absolutely in love with him, I couldn't. Daycare would effectively zero out my wages so it was more worthwhile to me, to learn to live on one income. Thankfully, Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette helped me through those lean years. It also helped that I could delay gratification very well. I learned how to stretch money based on watching my family but also being motivated(public library is your friend for research!) to stay home with my son when he was a baby.

Speaking of Amy Dacyczyn, I just came across this blog post about one of her now adult daughters about growing up her family. It's very interesting to see her perspective then and now. http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-jamie-part-1.html

I do think I was very lucky to have already been ok with a lower cost lifestyle based on what I grew up with. We went camping, to the library and to free events at museums or in the parks with our picnic lunches instead of hotel vacations, cable tv, restaurant dining and the like.

How did you learn to manage your money?

Education with no (little debt)

July 21st, 2015 at 08:03 am

Thanks for the warm welcome from you all!

I saw a couple of questions about my education so I thought I'd do a post and answer them.

I was very fortunate that my maternal grandmother had an annuity that she received when her husband died that she was not aware of. She gave this to my mother (who was an only child) and it was invested when we were children (back when it was double digit interest for savings :-) ) This allowed my sisters (2) and I about $15k each for our education.

We all spent it differently. My older sister spent it within a couple of years at a private college. My younger sister spent it at a public state university with a little bit more help because it took her a little longer and the cost increased over time.

I attended a community college before I graduated high school through the PSEO (post secondary education options program). This can provide students up to 2 years of college education before a student graduates high school and it's all paid for! I completed the remaining credits at the community college to complete my associates degree which transferred whole to the state public university. I really love community colleges in the state where I live, they are cheaper, smaller class sizes and most of the faculty do really care about teaching (versus research like some universities). I ran out of my money just as I completed my undergrad degree. :-)

Almost 10 years later as a single parent working in a call center, I realized there was no way I could do that the rest of my life! They had tuition reimbursement and because I already had a 4 year degree, I had to pursue a graduate degree. Looking at my strengths (I'm very resourceful) and anticipated job openings (which were WRONG) I decided to pursue Library and Information Science. For my tuition reimbursement (90%!!) I focused on the Information Science aspects so that this would be covered. It was for two classes until my entire department was laid off. We were given 60 day notice and a nice severance package. I was able to find another job before my end date and pocketed the severance which was 3 weeks of pay for each year of service. They rounded me up! 15 weeks of pay into the bank! The job I found started the very next day after I ended my call center job and they also covered one of my classes at 50% (tuition reimbursement is your friend!~).

I'm going to post what the last 6 months of my degree was like another time if you're interested.

The challenge like Laura might know is that despite previous reports of so many older librarians retiring, technology and budgets have limited the number of jobs available. My state especially in the metro area is very competitive for jobs. After graduation, I worked a number of part time and temporary positions while searching for the elusive full time with benefits. I was willing to take just about anything and it still took me 3 1/2 years to find that permanent position. Thankfully, as a single parent I was lucky enough to keep working in my field. At one point, I was driving in two different directions an hour each way depending on the day of the week for up to three different jobs at a time.

I do confess that I did take a small student loan for my last semester of library school because I didn't want to drain my bank account while I wasn't working. I'll share more about that later.

I've been employed at my current position for 7 years and this fall I will be taking a sabbatical to finish my second masters degree in Educational Leadership. I'm able to take classes in the same educational system with free tuition, I just need to pay for books and fees. I always believe that you should take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. It also will bring me up to the highest level of education (credits counted not actual degrees, I don't have a PhD) in my position so my salary goes up to the highest column.

First post

July 16th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I've lurked here and read for years and now I think I'm finally going to start my own blog. I don't even remember how or when I started following these blogs. I live in the same state as Cee Jay, read CB in the City before she moved back and as a fellow librarian, read Laura before she got her job as a librarian.

A little about me: I'm an empty nested, single parent who's figuring out what the next part of life is like. My son is still in the process of launching, he's expecting to finish his undergrad degree next spring. Coincidentally, I will also be finishing my second master's degree then, perhaps we'll have a joint celebration.

I've been very fortunate to have learned to be pretty frugal and lived that way most of my life. I'm not sure how it happened (mostly through my parents' examples I'm sure) but I'm grateful. As a result of the values I grew up with, I am about to finish my second master's degree without student loans. Another value I grew up with was to work in a field of interest where we impact the world versus just to make money. Fortunately I've also been blessed with high standards and tenacity (one might call it stubbornness) so I can get things done. I have no debt and thanks to my father's tragic death (small inheritance and lawsuit), I'm a lot more flexible with money than I once was. With this blog, I'm looking forward to connecting with you all instead of just lurking.