A May to Remember

There’s a Facebook “quiz” going on right now that attempts to forecast the type of month you will have coming up. I was bored so I decided to do it and this was my result:

A May to Remember. Forecast

I don’t put any stock in these things, and I scoffed at the result. I couldn’t imagine anything so serious that I would cry tears of joy. That is unless something really awful happened first and there was a miraculous recovery from whatever the awful event was. Think: cancer diagnosis which turned out to be benign.

Although I did not cry tears of joy in May, some pretty amazing things happened!

Mother’s Day Bingo

I decided to take my mom to Bingo for Mother’s Day. We typically go for special events such as her birthday in February, my birthday in April, and Mother’s Day in May.

We decided many years ago that we would split our winnings evenly so long as we won more than $20. A few years ago on my birthday I won $6,200 at bingo and split it between myself, my mom, and a friend that came with us. Her birthday is the day after mine.

Well, guess what? This time my mom won $5,977! And since it was just the two of us, it went lots further than my winnings went 3 years ago. After she saved 25% for taxes, we each got to spend $2,241!

My mom used her part for some dental work she has been saving up for. This was a mega boost in her dental savings account! Here’s how I spent mine:

$179.14 iRobot Sweeper

$775 Great Lakes – Xavier’s Student Loan

$1,275 Navient #1

I got a pretty good boost in our student loan debt pay off as well! Xavier’s student loan is now paid in full which reduces the bills due by $50 per month.

What’s Going on With Work?

Last year I had an exciting opportunity to train as a financial trainer working from home for a company based in NYC.

I originally applied for the position thinking it would be a side-gig but when I made it through the first round of cuts and received the job description, I discovered it was a full time position and paid $60k! That was 50% more than I was making at my current job.

I aced the phone interview, had a second interview, and then learned I was not selected for the December onboarding, but I was a backup for the next round of hiring. I was really disappointed because I did a lot of dreaming around that position, how much it paid, how quickly I could pay off debt, and what my life would look like working from home. Read my post about manifesting here.

Meanwhile, I was told to write back at the end of the first quarter to follow up, and I did. But then something weird happened…

I came in to work March 5th and found my former manager packing her belongings. Some major trouble had come to a head over the weekend and she decided that after 17 years with the company she was done! Since I was the next person in the department with the most seniority, she trained me on how to do her duties.

The position was posted and I applied, and I was rejected! I was told I did not have the experience required to hold the position, even though I was doing the work with little to no trouble. There were talks of training and re-wording the post so that I would qualify. The process went on for months and months.

In the meantime, I followed up with the financial training position and I got an email back right away. Another employee was cc’d in the email and given instructions to schedule me for job shadowing. I waited for that email but I never heard back from that employee, but that’s okay because something else was brewing for me…

May 20th, 2019

The head of Human Resources and my boss’s boss flew in from Texas and offered the new position to me! I had an inkling they were on their way, and an idea of how much they would offer me when they came. It wasn’t close to what I had dreamed of making in the financial trainer position.

When I was called in to the conference room they offered me the position at the salary I was expecting, but was not very happy about. I went in trying to be strong and thinking I would counter for what I wanted but when it came down to the moment, I froze. In the room with me were my boss, my boss’s boss, the Human Resource assistant, and the VP of our local office. Four pairs of eyes were all on me and I was intimidated.

However, I think they could sense my hesitation because my boss’s boss offered me an out: “Why don’t you go home, talk it over with your husband and family, and we’ll talk more tomorrow.”

I agonized all afternoon and evening over wanting to counter their offer. What if they’re offended? What if they say no? I thought. I decided to take some advice I read about in books and heard on podcasts like Martinis and Your Money. I went home and I prepared for my counter offer.

  • First, I gathered all the pay stubs from the time my former manager left up until the current week. I was earning lots of over time because I was doing both that job and my own and holding them down really well! I calculated the average of those paychecks in to an annual salary in order to depict that their offer was only 6% more than what I was making currently and so it was not acceptable.
  • Next, I visited Glassdoor and Payscale. I gathered documentation on fair wage information for both my current position and the new position. What they offered me was beneath these figures from both websites. I printed 4 reports to present at the meeting the next day.
  • Last, I presented my coveted pay, (the $60k figure from the financial training company) and what they were offering. I came up with the midway point between those 2 numbers and asked for that.

The next morning, I was called in to the conference room again. This time it was only my boss’s boss, the head of Human Resources, and her assistant there. The research I did helped me to no longer feel as though I were being rude or greedy. I was only asking for what I was worth and I brought proof to help prove my point.

I took a deep breath and said “I’m going to counter your offer.” And guess what? My boss’s boss sat back and smiled and nodded his head approvingly during my whole presentation. The head of Human Resources seemed unruffled, as if it were expected that I would counter. And once I gathered my courage and said those 6 words, everything else was easy.

At this point I was asked to give them time to discuss. They asked to hold on to my printouts, as well as the excel spreadsheet I prepared to show all the figures I explained above. I fully expected another counter on their end, maybe a midway point between their original ask and my counter. I had already decided that that salary would be acceptable.

I was called back in after a few hours, and to my surprise they accepted my counter offer! I fully expected a second counter from them; perhaps a midway point between their original offer and my counter. I had already decided that if they did that, I would accept. But, the head of Human Resources said that it was the best presentation of a counter offer she had ever seen! “Most people can’t defend why they want what they want. They say, ‘I don’t know, I just want it!’”

I start my new position 5/27/2019, and I am so proud of myself.

Thank you for reading.
XOXO,

Dolores

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May 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello and welcome to our May 2019 Statement of Net Worth!

Our home has recovered some of its $17,000 loss that we suffered last month which helped increase our net worth. Hopefully the trend continues!

May 2019 Breakdown

Assets

Home –As I mentioned above, our home increased $5,705 after the weird $17,000+ drop we saw in Mid-April. Apparently, quite a few people in the Debt Free Community on Instagram also saw a $20,000 loss. I’m not taking this number to heart. I’m sure my home is worth much more than $76k, but this weird glitch with Zillow is interesting nonetheless.

Savings – Reg – I’m writing this post on 5/8/2019 and so we have a bit of money in here for the bills coming up at the end of the month. This account is reporting higher this month and last month than it should be if I were writing my posts in a timelier manner!

Liabilities

Navient – Are we done with the increases? Could it be?

Home Depot – We added $600 to our Home Depot balance to pay for flooring and materials related to our awful kitchen floor. We of course could have covered the $600 in cash, but this is a 0% interest card, so why not? Hey, maybe this calls for a Small Scale Home Remodel update? What do you think?

Planned Debt Pay Off

Finally, at last, we are going to have money left over at the end of May to go toward paying debt! It’ll be the first time in 2019 and I’m really excited to get back to normal. I project we will have around $475 left over at the end of May to go toward our smallest debts which I will list below:

  1. Great Lakes – $775 (4.7% Interest)
  2. SL #1 – $1,875 (5.75% Interest)
  3. SL #2 – $3,475 (5.35% Interest)

We would have had much more, but we got city tax bills dating back to 2014, so that cost us around $900.

Life Update

The Kitchen Floors – This process has been just a little more drawn out than we expected. We started with a quote for rolled linoleum installed by Home Depot for $1,700+.

Next, we hired a contractor recommended by Home Depot to rip up and install Vinyl Plank floor for $800 plus materials ($650).

Then, when the contractor arrived and took up the old nasty fake wood we had, he found more laminate underneath which he feared could have asbestos given the age of our home. So, he knocked his price down by half and installed right over the old floor. If I had known that was an option I would have gone with that to begin with! So, we got our beautiful kitchen floor for just $1,050!

Since he did such great work, we are having him come back out later this month to install more flooring in my son’s old bedroom (now my office), and quarter round. And since he saved us $400 in the kitchen, we are having some subway tile backsplash put in as well! I’m very excited to beautify our kitchen.

We will also be painting our deck this month and bringing out the patio furniture, however we need to wait for a few warm dry days, and we have been getting rain pretty consistently! Good news for our lawn, not so good for painting out deck.

Unfortunately, I think the balcony idea might have to go on the back burner for now due to lack of funds. I’m interested in asking our new best friend, Mr. Handy Man if he can do the work, but I’m running out of Home Improvement money.

Conclusion

Although our liabilities increased $13, we were able to increase our assets by $5,396 for an overall net worth of $(21,058)!

Thank you as always for reading.

 

XOXO,

 

Dolores

 

April 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update

Today is April 22nd, 2019 and I’m forced to make some last minute change to our April 2019 Net Worth Statement. It is a happy accident that I procrastinated before publishing my post like I always do. I wrote the post below about a week ago, and I was thrilled because our home kept increasing in value. Together with our regular payments our net worth was suddenly only a few thousand negative. This was it! We were almost positive!

I check my home value almost daily, especially since it was climbing so much over the past few weeks. Spring is typically a hot time for homes in our area. On Friday, 4/18 the value was $93k. On Saturday, 4/19 it was $70,099. No explanation, no changes, no idea what happened.

The last 30 day change is not available. The historical graph indicates my home was rarely worth more than $80k at any point in the last 10 years. For example in March 2019, Zillow now lists the value as $66k. My March 2019 net worth statement has it as $88k.

Other houses that have been for sale in my neighborhood don’t seem to be affected by this weird glitch, but my mother’s house also fell $20k in value. I will hope and pray that it is indeed a glitch and not based off any factual data in my area that really would decrease my home so much.

However, I am happy I didn’t publish our April 2019 post yet, because it would have been horrible to go from negative $3k net worth back to negative $23k. This sure does suck, but honestly the net worth increases thank to our home value increasing has felt like cheating and not due to any hard work on our part.

So, back to the drawing board, and on to our regularly scheduled report!

Hello and welcome to our April 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update!

We kind of fell off the band wagon a bit this month. I stopped making lunches, and we ate out a bunch again. And now we have the home value fiasco….

April 2019 Breakdown

Assets

House – As I mentioned above, our home decreased in value a whopping $17,157! I have no idea what happened. Spring is usually a good time for home buying in our area because no one likes moving in the dead of winter in Michigan!

Seriously, it’s so funny when the temps start warming up. It’s as if the community wakes from hibernation. Last week it was 65 degrees out so we took our dog for a walk at the park and shared a banana split. There were so many people out enjoying the weather, it was really nice!

We have done a few things to the house this month which should help with the valuation: We took down some old weird shelves in our basement that we have never liked, painted the basement dark gray, and hubby used some of his bonus money for some nice desks and a TV stand. It’s very modern looking down here now, definitely an improvement.

We also have a floor guy set up to come take care of the ghastly kitchen floor April 30th. You’ll be happy to know that I saved up $800 in overtime money as well as half our income tax refund in order to pay for the labor and installation. We used our Home Depot card 0% offer to finance the $650 in supplies, though.

A few other goals is to touch up the paint on the front porch, and to power wash and seal the deck in the back yard. Those are the last big feasible things that I want to get done before Quicken Loans comes out. I do have a couple of other goals but they might not be feasible in the next few weeks, such as enclosing the roof to make a patio, getting the exterior doors installed, and getting new privacy fencing in our back yard.

*4/22/2019 Note* We painted the porch and have started the process of power washing the deck. It’s a big job! Even though our value is no longer $93k (you may be able to read the tone of excitement in my words) we are still planning on having Quicken Loans come out to do the valuation as originally planned. I am banking on the Zillow decrease being a fluke.

Dart & Sonic – The cars both increased in value so that helps offset a little of our fall!

Liabilities

Navient – Super annoying increase in liability here. I’m not sure what’s going on. Over the past few months I’ve been making my regular monthly payment which should be more than the interest I accrue each month, but I did get that letter a few weeks ago which stated they “forgot” to add interest to my accounts so I would be seeing increases. I did have a horrible $1,000+ increase back in February. I don’t know if it’s still correcting or what.

But, soon I’ll be back to making extra payments again and we will watch this account shrink together!

Home Depot – This account is still showing a zero balance for the end of March because the bill cycle hadn’t closed yet as of the writing of this post. Next month we will see an increase of $600, and my payments will be $50 per month in order to pay it off before the 0% offer expires.

Life Update

Last month I told you that we were going to use a few of those Home Depot 0% offers, one for the kitchen floor, one for the exterior doors, and half our income tax money to go toward enclosing the roof to make a balcony. Here’s how things really went:

Kitchen Floor – We paid $35 for Home Depot to come out and measure to give us our quote, but when they did they found a couple of big humps in the floor which limited our selection of flooring down to rolled vinyl. Yuck!

But, Home Depot recommended a handy man to come out and look to see if he could correct the humps, and at what cost. He came out and said he could get the floor pretty even, but not to Home Depot’s standards so unfortunately they wouldn’t be willing to install the floor. Home Depot offers a warranty on their installations so they insist on the floor being absolutely perfectly flat before installation. If not, they won’t touch it.

But, our handy man is willing to tear up the old floor, do his best to get it even, and then install click and lock flooring for $800. The flooring cost us $650. The original quote for rolled laminate was $1700 installed, so we are saving money and getting a floor we actually want!

The downside is I couldn’t use the Home Depot 0% offer for the entire project like I hoped. I ended up having to use half the income tax money for that instead, plus working a bunch of overtime.

Exterior Doors – I paid another $35 for Home Depot to come out to measure the doors I wanted to replace, but they took so long to get back to me that my 0% offer expired! Boo!! I still don’t have a price on that.

Balcony – The company I chose to install the railing gave me a quote last year of $500 plus materials. I got in touch with them to come renew the quote since it was so long ago. They told me the person they had on their team that could have done it quit last February so they would have to pass up on the job! I’m having terrible luck over here.

What I can do – I can still touch up the paint on my porch, and we can still power wash and seal our deck to make that nice and pretty before Quicken comes out in early May to give the valuation. I am so excited to get rid of PMI!

PMI Breakdown – Right now our mortgage is $549.37 per month. When we first got our mortgage in 2015 our payments were 568.95 so we sent in $575 per month. Our mortgage payment has been decreasing every year because our credit has been improving which lowers our home owners insurance on the escrow side of our payment.

What used to be merely a $6.05 extra payment to principal per month has increased to $25.63 per month over the course of the last 4 years. This has saved us $1,978 in interest on our mortgage so far! It also moved our loan maturity date from 7/2045 to 11/2044.

Once we get rid of PMI, our mortgage payment will go down to $494.83 per month. We will of course continue to send in $575 because that’s what we are used to. This will save us $15,165 in interest and move our loan maturity date to 2/2037!

Planned Debt Pay Off

My husband and I decided last year that April and December would be our “free” months where we would let the reins loose and not worry about extra debt payments so that we could get spending out of our system and have something to look forward to.

At the end of March we didn’t have any extra money to put toward debt because we chose to pay an irregular bill in full in order to get a discount.

At the time of this writing April is coming to a close and we are on track to have nothing left over once again.

I am looking forward to May when we will each have an extra pay check, and we will squash some of these debts again!

Thank you for reading!

XOXO,

 

Dolores

March 2019 Net Worth Update

Hello, and welcome to our March 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update!

It’s been slightly better than last month, but we still didn’t have anything extra to pay toward debt. However, our assets and liabilities played a lot nicer this month!

March 2019 Breakdown

Assets

House – Hey, looks like the house is heading in the right direction again! We have been doing a couple of upgrades inside the house and in April we will re-paint the porch and power wash and seal our deck. Hopefully this has an impact on the value! Remember, we have a goal of getting the home value to $96k so we can have Quicken Loans come out and do a home valuation to get rid of PMI. I would ideally like the valuation to take place in the first 2 weeks of May because that’s when the magnolia tree in our backyard blooms and looks super beautiful. It probably won’t help, but it certainly can’t hurt!

Savings – Reg – There’s a bit more in this account than usual because February was so tough that we didn’t have enough money to pay our Capital One bill in full. Since the bill typically prints on the 28th of the month, it isn’t due until the end of March. So it certainly isn’t late, we are just a bit off our preferred schedule. We have to wait until my next pay day to pay the $1,150 balance in full, so $875 is waiting in savings to go toward that.

Liabilities

Home Depot – We paid off our furnace this month and officially avoided $1,400+ in deferred interest charges! It was a gamble for sure, but super nice to have a more efficient furnace and be able to put our money toward other bills that were costing interest.

Planned Debt Pay Off/Life Update

We actually have a couple more 0% offers from Home Depot that I am wanting to take advantage of. One of the offers will go toward replacing our kitchen floor which is atrocious. I have a quote for this project which is just under $1,800.

The other project is replacing 2 drafty and sticky exterior doors. I haven’t had an official quote on those, but I think it will be in the neighborhood of $775 – $1,000 installed.

We have been paying $200 per month toward Home Depot in order to pay off the balance for our furnace before the end of the promotional period. If we move forward with these 2 new projects, I believe the floors will have a payment of $100 per month for 18 months, and the doors will have a payment of around $50 for 12 months. In other words, the new amount due will be less than what we are used to paying.

These projects will help the home value as well. I know for sure our gross floor is the first thing someone’s eyes go to when you enter our kitchen. As for our family, we are used to it and turn a blind eye. Whenever I take pictures in the kitchen, I try to avoid catching the bad parts of the floor in the photo.It will be so nice to not be ashamed of our kitchen anymore.

Exterior doors also add value, plus I will feel better about not having such a sticky side door. Sometimes we can’t tell if it’s locked or if it’s just sticking again because the darn thing won’t open!

The other door leads to a roof above our kitchen nook which I want to enclose so it’s a balcony and not just a liability according to our home insurance company. The don’t look kindly upon doors that lead to roofs with no barricades to prevent a fall.

I’m planning on using my half of our income tax refund to fund that venture. The materials I’ve researched are about $250, and a local company has quoted $500 in labor to set it up. My half of our tax refund will be about $570, so I need to find another couple hundred to get this done. This I’m CERTAIN will add some value to our home.

A new exterior door leading to the balcony will add to the visual appeal as well as resolve a HUGE draft problem in my daughter’s bedroom.

As for Debt Pay Off at the end of March, we would have had money left over to go toward Great Lakes, but our TruGreen bills came for both our lawn service and our mosquito defense with a 7% discount option if we paid the balances in full by March 1st. Since Great Lakes charges only about 5% interest I decided it was a smarter use of money to pay TruGreen in full rather than put it towards the student loan.

Because of this, I fully expect to have no money to put toward debt at the end of March, either.

Conclusion

I didn’t anticipate having money to put toward debt at the end of February, and I was correct. However, with making regular minimum payments we were able to decrease our liabilities by $859, while our assets increased $2,529. That makes for a total increase of $3,388 and an overall net worth of $(11,364). Maybe we will be in 4 digits next month!

Thank you for reading!

XOXO,

Dolores

February 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello and Welcome to our February 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update! These posts are so much more fun when things are going well. Murphy (as in “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) is hitting us with the one-two punch in January and February it appears.

More about that later, but for now on to the break down!

February 2019 Breakdown

Assets

House – We saw a big decrease in the value of our home this month.

Savings – Emergency – We replaced our water heater this month at a cost of $1,214. We were able to cash flow some of that, and we replenished the account with the next big decrease we see on the breakdown:

Savings – Taxes – I am officially announcing my retirement from Shipt! We are receiving an income tax return, so I didn’t need the tax savings from this account. If you’re a regular reader, you know these funds are earmarked for Navient, but it seemed more appropriate to replenish the Emergency Fund.

I will be deleting this account from the breakdown next month.

Liabilities

Navient – We got served another huge blow with our Navient account to the tune of $1,074! Apparently, Navient forgot to add interest while my account was in deferment so they corrected their error which set us back even farther in our journey.

We didn’t have any extra debt payments due to cash flowing the water heater and replenishing our emergency fund.

Conclusion

The decrease in our home value, and the increase in our Navient account joined together to push us backwards! We had a decrease in net worth of $1,253 for an overall net worth of $(14,752). Boo!!

Planned Debt Pay Off/ Life Update

During the last couple of weeks my daughter has complained of my car smelling like “formaldehyde”. After a few days I started smelling it, too but it was a sweetish syrupy smell to me. I did some Googling and found the repair could be around $1,400!

Let’s hope it’s a lot less. The smell comes and goes, and the heater works fine. We have an appointment on February 8th to get an inspection and hopefully a repair done. After that I will know better if we will be able to make any extra payment toward our debts. I am dying to get Great Lakes paid off and lower our bills by $50 per month!

Hope to see you back here next month

What a Viral Dance Video Taught Me About Life

It is no secret  that I didn’t have a lot of stability in my life growing up. Up until a few days ago, I thought that everyone wanted and needed stability. This has been a core value for me in my adult life, and I can really beat myself up when I don’t have dinner ready served up on plates every evening or when clean laundry isn’t readily available, folded and smelling divine for my family on Monday morning.

About Me

I have attended every elementary school in my hometown (except one) due to relocating often. We packed up about every year or so to move to a new apartment or rental home. It seemed as though I couldn’t settle anywhere because I knew eventually we would pack up and move again sooner than later.

I had been the new girl at school in the second, third, and fourth grades due to relocating to a new school district mid-year. Luckily for me, my hometown only had one junior high and one high school for a larger district so no matter where we moved during those years, I was still in the same school.

I didn’t know what it was like to have a “childhood home”. I have had many. Some of them are vacant lots now, but of the ones still standing I would struggle to point to a window to tell you which bedroom used to be mine. I would have trouble remembering all of the homes, their locations, or even the points in my life when I lived there.

I didn’t have roots growing up, and I really, really wanted roots. I wanted to have somewhere I belonged, and I was determined to provide that to my children. I wanted them to be able to use the security question “What street did you grow up on?” for their log ins. I can’t answer that question, and I felt I was missing something because of it.

After my divorce, my children lived with their father for a few years while I got back on my feet. I met an awesome man, married him, and we bought our home in 2011, and the kids have lived with us ever since. At the time of this writing, we have owned our home for 8 years, and this is the longest that I have ever lived anywhere.

Laura_Manna

There was recently a viral video of a woman recreating a dance routine that she originally recorded 10 years ago at the age of 10. She was a superb dancer as a child, but of course she improved her techniques as she got older and so the video was to showcase that.

Laura Manna’s Now vs. Then Dance Video

But my eye strayed beyond the dance. I zoned in on the same tile floor. The window in the background had different curtains now, but she was definitely in her childhood home performing the same dance 10 years later as a grown woman. “Yes.” I thought. “This is what I want for my family, a safe place to come back to, a home that is theirs and will always be there.” Okay, maybe not always, but in to their adulthood at least!

Epiphany

Fast forward a couple of weeks later: I was driving my daughter home from school and we saw a moving truck on the corner of our block.

“Someone is moving!” She said. “I wish I could move.”

Come again?!

“I don’t like staying in the same place for years and years.” She went on. We discussed a little further and I learned that my 17 year old craved change, new places, and fresh beginnings.

That is when I learned that my experience growing up made me crave stability, something that I thought were inherently right, what all people need and what all people want. That day I learned that it is just what I want.

I can admit there were fun moments of moving in to a new apartment and picking out our new bedrooms (my trick was always looking for the one with the telephone jack… #90skid).

Stability is good for me, and change can be new and exciting, too. The right one is whatever you want it to be. To each their own.

 

Manifesting: A Work of (Temporary) Fiction

September 19, 2020

“Wanna go for a walk?” I ask my husky, Aspen. He yaps excitedly and performs pirouettes heading in the general direction of the front door.

I fasten his leash, and we trot down the porch steps down Oakdale toward Bowen. It’s going to be a warm day today, it’s already in the 60s and the sun is dappling the leaves on the sidewalk. During our morning walks, I like to reflect on my morning and then think of what lays ahead for the day.

I woke up around 8am, started coffee, fed the pets, and put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. While playing a short podcast, I made my husband’s lunch while he showered upstairs. We have a newer shower in the basement, but old habits die hard. We added the second bathroom to increase the value of our home, plus it was convenient to have a bathroom nearby since we spend time in the basement together every evening: my husband relaxes with his video games, and I write for my blog and take care of our home budget which soon will include a line item for rental property savings!

I grin thinking about it, as we turn down Bowen. I am so excited and happy with my perfectly ordinary life. I have been tirelessly tracking our net worth and throwing almost every spare dollar at my student loans, and at the end of September, all our high interest student loans will be paid in full!

I have been dreaming of this moment for 5 years! Well, not this exact moment –

“Good morning!” Says the retired couple as they had out for their morning walk at the Cascades. “Good morning!” I reply with what I hope is my warmest, most genuine smile. I really should learn their names, but at this point it would be weird. We’ve been saying good morning almost every morning for over a year!

Sometimes Aspen and I walk all the way through the Cascades as well, but this morning I have a client meeting at 9:30am so it’ll be a short walk today. I cross the street and start heading back toward home. These days, Aspen gets a walk in the morning, lunch, and in the evening so he isn’t too upset with the short walk especially since he doesn’t have to sit at home alone anymore.

Last April I landed my dream job. I still want to pinch myself over the blessings I’ve had in my life! You see, I had a great job that I loved, and then an opportunity came along to help people with their finances. Finances has long been my passion, and although I always thought I would be helping the destitute, helping people plan for their big goals like saving for a home, wedding, or baby is more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

Accepting the job offer was a huge step for me, because I was comfortable and paid well enough in my old job. This new position pays 50% more than my old position and I work from home. What is not to love? Well, sometimes I have late evening sessions with clients to work around their schedule, and sometimes I suffer from an inferiority complex: Who am I to give financial advice to anyone? Just wait until they find out I’m a mess!

I’ve eaten at soup kitchens, been homeless, had a car repossessed, had a 500 credit score. And now… I climb the steps of the front porch to my modest little home that I love and punch in the code for the lock.

I stroke Aspen’s still hot from the sun back as he makes a beeline for the water bowl I filled this morning. The house still smells like coffee, and I make myself a second cup and head upstairs to my office.

The door cracks when I open it because the new paint still sticks. I open the door all the way and marvel once again that this is my life.

In 2018 I painted what used to be my son’s old bedroom a pale blue with bright white trim. I added an ornate desk I found on Facebook, and a comfortable chair that I wouldn’t mind spending all day in. I agonized over picking my office chair, but in actuality I don’t spend all that much time in the chair at all.

I traded the ceiling fan for a chandelier, and stained the floors a beautiful espresso color. This is my happy place.

Aspen comes in and settles in his bed in the corner and heaves a sigh. He will alternate from napping to resting his chin on the window and watching the cars go by for the next couple of hours while I lose myself in plotting the course my next client will need to take to accomplish their goals.

A few blocks away I hear a lawnmower start up as I open my Macbook and start looking over my calendar for the day. “Alexa, play soft jazz. Volume 2.” I take a sip of my just right, not too sweet, not too creamy coffee and make my first call of the day.

I love my life.

January 2019 Statement of Net Worth

Hello, and welcome to our January 2019 Statement of Net Worth Update! Friends, we are so becoming net worth positive this year. We are so close!!

On to the breakdown!

january 2019 breakdown

Assets

Home – We are finally seeing a substantial increase in the value of our home after the wild free fall we had in August and September 2018. We lost a total of $3,369 in those 2 months alone, so it’s great to get some of it back. Remember, we are trying to get the value above $96,000 so we can request an appraisal to drop PMI off our loan early.

Savings – Emergency – Since hubby started his new job (which he loves) we went ahead and cleaned out the excess emergency fund money and put it toward our bills.

Liabilities

Navient – I have been having a little trouble getting my Income Based Repayment Plan started, and then it seemed as though my automatic payments weren’t going to come out, either. I called Navient and was advised that I didn’t have a payment due until March 1. Since I already had my minimum payment set aside I went ahead and made my January 1st payment over the phone. Later that day, I got an email advising my automatic payment would come out the next day. Luckily, I had one paycheck worth of savings set aside for the February 1st bills so I was able to cover the double payment without difficulty. However, this is going to take money away from the end of January that should have gone toward paying off Great Lakes.

Great Lakes – After Christmas was accounted for we had $500 extra to go toward paying off this debt!

Conclusion

Our assets increased $305, and our liabilities decreased $1,639 for an increase of $1,944 and an overall net worth of $(13,499)!

Planned Debt Pay Off/Life Update

We discovered a few days ago that our water heater is leaking from the bottom and will need to be replaced. This will totally clean out our emergency fund, so I don’t expect we will have much, if anything, extra to pay toward debt at the end of January.

I am not too upset about the water heater, because I realized it’s one of the last things in our home that was here before us. We bought our house in April 2011. We have replaced the bathroom sink, shower head, fridge, stove, dishwasher, kitchen sink, faucet, counter top, furnace, and we have even painted the house and changed the flooring! I didn’t know anything about the water heater at all. I had no idea how old it was, who installed it, if there was a warranty, even how many gallons it was! I will be happy to “know” this new water heater.

This was a short update! With the list of liabilities getting shorter it gets easier and easier to relay the changes.

Thank you for reading!

XOXO,

 

Dolores

Goal Setting: Revisiting 2018 and Setting 2019

2018 Goals Recap

It’s that time of the year again! Time to look over what I thought of 2018 before it even began, and plot out our course for 2019. These are my favorite posts to write. I hope you’ll grab a fuzzy blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and maybe a pad of paper and pencil to jot down your own hopes for 2019. Perhaps you’ll find some insight as you read along!

It is amazing to look back over the year and see how far we came! Without further ado, here is the recap and update of our 2018 goals.

Financial

  • Pay $25-$50 per week to Navient earned from Shipt, paying loans off in this order:
    1. Navient #9
    2. Navient #1
    3. Navient #2
  • Achieved! Sort of. I haven’t worked steadily for Shipt since September, but up until then I did make weekly payments to Navient. I paid Navient #9 in full and am down to $1,800 on Navient #1
  • 2019 Goal – Hubby is starting a new job December 19, 2018 and for the first time in our relationship we will be working the same shift, Monday through Friday. I feel as if Shipt has run its course and with our new schedule it doesn’t really fit in my life anymore.
  • Cash flow any vacations and gifts
    • Achieved! Our habits have changed so drastically at this point I can’t fathom getting a gift or vacation on a credit card and letting it accrue interest. Egad! This is now a lifestyle and therefore won’t be included in the 2019 goals.
  • Pay off Personal Loan
    • Achieved! This saved us $150 a month in minimum payments.
  • Pay off CP Visa
    • Achieved! Look at us go! This saved us $100 a month in minimum payments.
  • Send extra money to mortgage to get rid of PMI
    • Fail! I found out we couldn’t pay extra money to get rid of PMI, we would have to have an appraisal to prove our home is worth more now than it was when we initially bought our home or wait until it was originally scheduled to end (8/2022). PMI costs us $54.54 per month, and the appraisal costs $300. If the appraisal works in our favor it will pay for itself after 6 months in PMI payments alone.
    • 2019 Goal – Keep working on small home improvements and request an appraisal when Zillow reports our home value above $96,000. It is currently at $85,000.
  • Send extra money to Navient focusing on the highest interest, lowest balance account first.
    • Fail! We haven’t yet gotten to the point where we are ready to send extra money to Navient. It is next in line, but we moved Great Lakes above Navient, because once it’s gone we will no longer have to pay the minimum payment of $50 per month.
    • 2019 Goal – Pay off Great Lakes and send extra money at the end of each month to Navient in the order detailed above.
  • Turn in Equinox and buy a used car with the following attributes:
    1. 2008 – 2012 Manufacture year
    2. Less than 100,000 miles
    3. Between $6,000 – $8,000
  • Achieved! We bought a 2012 Chevy Sonic with 104,000 miles (just a little above what I was looking for) for $4,700! That price helped make up for the mileage.

That’s all for the Financial side! Let’s see what 2017 me had to say about our home goals in 2018.

Home

  • Purchase a high efficiency AC using Home Depot 0% 24 month financing
    • Fail! We decided to put off any large purchases until the furnace is paid off. That will happen in 3/2019. We did however add a power washer and a weed wacker to the card which will also be paid off in 3/2019.
  • Small scale kitchen remodel to include flooring, garbage disposal, and dishwasher
    • Achieved! Partially. We ended up doing the small scale kitchen remodel with our tax refund, but instead of a new floor (which would have been over budget) we instead got a new counter top and dishwasher. We also got a new sink and faucet which I adore. We did not get a garbage disposal because the counter top, sink, faucet, and dishwasher put us a little over budget. Lately, I have been wishing for a garbage disposal again, so I might squeeze that in to our 2019 goals.
    • 2019 – I would like to use Home Depot 0% 24 month financing to replace the kitchen floor. I then want to use our income tax refund to have a plumber come out and see about getting our washer to drain directly in to the pipe system so we can eliminate our laundry room sink and the giant hole in the basement floor. If there is money left over, I will then have some rough-in plumbing done to get a toilet, sink, and perhaps even a shower built down in the basement. That all seems a bit far-fetched, but hey I have a history of being surprised by what we accomplish once the year is over, so who knows?

That’s the end of our 2018 goals! I’m going to line up our 2019 goals so they are easy to find next December.

2019 Recap

Financial

  • Request an appraisal when Zillow Zestimate is above $96,000.
  • Pay off Great Lakes and then send extra money at the ends of the month to Navient working in order of the highest interest rate, lowest balance.
  • Cancel automatic transfers out of our spending cash and add the following sinking accounts as line items on our bills:
    • Gifts ($100/mo – This will cover gifts throughout the year for birthdays and Mother’s Days)
    • Pets ($50/mo – This covers pet food, litter, grooming. We will increase for vet visits if necessary.)
    • Christmas ($25/mo – This is really a Black Friday fund. Shh, don’t tell anyone.)
    • Vacation Fund ($25/mo)

Home

  • Keep working on DIY home improvements in order to increase value of the home.
    • Fix chipped paint around the house
    • Paint the doors (This has been on the to-do list for eons)
    • Sand and finish floors
    • Install higher quality blinds for bedrooms
  • Outsourced home goals
    • New flooring using Home Depot 0% 24 month financing
    • Have quarter round installed in bedrooms where carpet has been removed recently
    • Use income tax to hire a plumber to get rid of laundry room sink and hole in basement floor. Rough in plumbing for toilet, bathroom sink, and shower with excess funds.

>1 Year Goals

  • Eliminate all debt with more than a 4% interest rate
  • Once one car is paid off, start a Car Sinking Fund and funnel old car payment in to this account for a replacement car, repairs, and upkeep.
  • Once all high interest (more than 4%) debt is paid off, divide end of month money equally in to the following:
    • Roth IRA for Dolores
    • Roth IRA for Xavier
    • Sinking fund for the down payment on a rental property

Our future is getting more and more clear. I always had a goal of becoming a landlord, but I didn’t know how we could feasibly go about achieving that goal. Now it’s becoming more realistic. It isn’t a pipe dream, it’s within reach, it is just taking some focus and accountability reports.

I so look forward to December 2019 to see what else I will have learned and how we will have evolved. If things go my way, I’m going to have a big change in March which should catapult our goals and our financial literacy. I can’t wait to see where this year goes, and I hope that you will be here with me.

If you’re here, thank you for reading.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

 

December 2018 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello, and welcome to our last net worth update for 2018! Boy, we have had some pretty big changes this month.

December 2018 Breakdown

Assets

As if the unexpected change I will discuss below wasn’t enough, our assets decided to join in on the fun. So many decreases! There is one unusual increase however…

Savings – Emergency – You will notice an increase of $1,372. Instead of making a large payment to our smallest debt, we tucked the money in here instead. More about that later.

Car Insurance Savings – We paid our 6 month car insurance bill last month, so that’s the reason for the huge decrease in this account. When our car insurance is due, we charge it to our Capital One credit card for 1.5% cash back and then pay it off at the end of the month.

Vacation Fund – We withdrew $350 from here for our NYC trip last month, and then deposited $25.

Savings – Reg – We had what appears to be a drastic decrease of $1,300, but that is because our last update was late in the month. This account is our holding vessel for all our paychecks until the end of the month when we pay all our bills. Therefore, when I post updates late in the month, this account has a higher balance and impacts our net worth.

Checking – This decrease is just a regular fluctuation in our spending cash.

Liabilities

Navient – This account also ganged up on us during our struggle. We have an income based repayment plan that was due to reset November 1st. It did not. Navient sent a bill for $595.72 which is my standard repayment amount. I called to have this fixed, and the customer service rep corrected our automatic draft back down to $217.42. A couple of days afterwards I had 10 past due notices totaling $378.30 (the amount remaining from $595.72). I went ahead and paid the bill, and was told our automatic draft for December 1st would be fixed. It wasn’t. We paid $595.72 on this day as well. Finally, it is fixed for January 1st! Our new payment will be $307.86.

SSI Debt – Every month I call The Debt Management Department in Chicago to pay $100 for an over-payment on my son’s SSI that I received when he was a minor. The balance started at over $7,000 and we have gotten down to $2,600 in $100 monthly increments. However, I have not been able to get through the phone lines for the last couple of months.

Fortunately, the last time I actually did get through to someone he sent me an automatic payment form to fill out so I could have the payments deducted from my credit card automatically. I filled it out and sent it in, and to my delight last month I didn’t need to call because the payment came out on its own!

However, they have not drafted a payment since then and I cannot get through on the phone lines. They have the authorization to draft funds if they ever choose to. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this account at all. I can’t get them to take my money!

Conclusion

We decreased our debts $1,407 this month, but due to the decreases in our assets, we only saw an increase of $150 for a total net worth of $(15,443). After the month we had, it’s a miracle we didn’t go backwards! Oh yeah, about that…

Planned Debt Pay Off/ Life Update

On November 29, one day before I would have sent that big payment to Great Lakes, my husband called to tell me he had just been fired.

I am so incredibly grateful it happened before November 30, because it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to try to reign that money back in. So, we paid our bills as we usually would and then everything left over went in to the emergency fund to help us ride out this storm.

X has been a trooper and took job searching as his new full time job. I encouraged him to take his time and really use this as an opportunity to find something that paid better, had better hours, and just made him feel proud to say he worked there.

Since we have been paying off debt, we have decreased our bills to the point where my income alone was almost enough to fully support us. We would be short about $75 per month, but whatever shortage we had would be drawn from the emergency fund. If necessary, this could have continued for months. That was a really comforting fact.

Every morning he got up, hit the job markets, applied like crazy, attended a bunch of interviews and finally on December 10th he signed an offer. He starts December 17th as a bilingual customer service rep at a local bank here in Michigan. It pays $2/hr more than what he made at his previous employer and there is lots of opportunity for advancement.

The timing still stinks, of course. December is still a one income month, and of course it’s the holidays which rubs a little salt in the wound. We will not be cancelling Christmas, however. Again, whatever we are short at the end of December will be drawn out of the emergency fund, and in January we will be a two income family again, and back to demolishing student loans!

Thank you, as always, for reading.

XOXO,

 

Dolores