Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Floor update

So, we stopped ripping up our own flooring after we noticed our carpet getting damp in our bedroom in June of 2019...We contacted the HOA... They sent out a plumber to determine there wasn't a slab leak...

After the plumber, they sent us a rock and soil specialist who just looked through our property and recommended we have a second plumber rule out a slab leak because his methods would be expensive... So the HOA sent a second plumbing company to the property, and again confirmed we don't have a slab leak.

A lot of delays around the holidays go by and the carpet continued to get damp in our master bedroom.... So the HOA dispatched the rock and soil expert back out to our property to drill 2 cores.... and now we are the proud owners of concrete that has been drilled through.


They filled them back in when they were done, but they needed soil samples to make sure the soil under us was draining well (it is)... and the wanted to check to see if we had a moisture barrier under our floor or not... (which we do and don't have ... proving i've been right all along).

The picture on the right is in our kitchen. The chose to drill here because we didn't have flooring they would have to rip up to access a sample site. This area has a barrier, and has almost fully dried up as they did this hole 5 days ago. 

On the Left is our toddler's bedroom where we found tons of standing water underneath the tile when we removed it in January of 2019, and contacted the HOA... This is the room where we regularly need to sweep efflorescence powder that comes up from the concrete in the corners of the room, (another thing the HOA is aware of). Notice how the patch is still brown....  its not fully dried and cured.

That's because they never put a moisture barrier in this room... and they didn't pull a core sample from our bedroom, where the carpet is that gets damp, because they would have had to pull back our carpet and we had other areas they could test.

The rock and soil specialists are running tests on the core samples they pulled, but their diagnosis is that our floor was not properly sealed, which explains the dampness we have experienced.

  • It probably also explains our dogs allergies.... 
  • my allergies (my entire life I've never needed an inhaler until we move here)... 
  • my husbands allergies... which got worse when we moved here, including hives and facial swelling...   

So now we wait and the geo-rock specialist is going to contact some contractors to see if there is an after market product they can apply to the concrete to seal it... if not, I don't know what the next steps are. 

But I have a feeling i'll be contacting my homeowners insurance...

Friday, February 7, 2020

Annual Goals 2020

It's been a year since we made our annual financial goals for 2019, and its time to check in on these and see how we did... and set goals for 2020!

We broke our goals up in three categories:
  1. Things that don't cost us money
  2. Things that cost us money
  3. Long term goals
1. Be more purposefully with our spending. When I was going through what we spent in 2019 I didn't have any bad gut check reflexes that we spent too much or on the wrong stuff. I feel great about the purchase of our Subaru, even though it was a year earlier then planned, and made a mess of all of our other annual goals for the year. This is how I like to feel at the end of the year, not guilty about what we spent. Sure there were things we purchased last year that don't have a place in our home now, but we realized by buying a cheaper item, what we really needed to "get the job done," and then spent funds on that to make things easier. In terms of tracking our finances with more detail we ended up with more un-categorized receipts by the end of the year, but we also spent more money over all. I also added more categories to itemize, and with the year we had, i'm not going to beat myself up about it.

2. Replenishing our savings accounts (vacation, expansion of 6-month EF, new car fund), all of these were initially completed, and then we drained accounts to come up with an extra $10,000 to pay cash for our Subaru, a decision I don't regret one bit. Despite the bigger car, I get better gas mileage then I did in my old camry and we finally all fit in a car without feet kicking us. We were able to put back the money we "borrowed" from our Medical, Pup, and electronic accounts already, while cash flowing through the holidays... but we still need to put cash back into our expanded EF, and the vacation fund. We would have made more progress, but we took things one step further with my last raise and began regularly adding more money to our mortgage payment on a monthly basis, paying it down as if it were a 20 year mortgage, instead of a 30 year mortgage. We have a habit of doing this when we hit year two of a property, even though we aren't done with our renovation. As for 15% going to Retirement,  we kept this going strong and counted employer matches to get us there.

3. We had hoped to finish painting interior doors and trims, remove all of our tile, get our stuff into storage, to put in new flooring, and figure out how to fix the kitchen so that we could get a second pantry and more shelves and match all the doors.... take our stuff out of storage... build the rest of the built ins and install our base boards and paint them... But... since we cash flow repairs and realized the kitchen cabinet expansion would need to go in first before the floors, we got the tile out of the dinning room area, gave the kitchen a face-lift with a second pantry, floating shelves, swapped some cabinets for drawers, and put new doors on everything that are solid construction and easy to clean.  WE LOVE IT.... but that's all we got done this year because in the process of removing our tile, we noticed our bedroom carpet getting wet in the summer where our chair protector plastic mat was placed. After 2 plumbers came out and confirmed no slab leak, we had a few meetings with the HOA, and their lawyers.... and a geologist taking a walk through of our place..... The result is that our concrete might not be properly sealed, and the HOA lawyer has determined that this is their responsibility to fix... which means they may be on the hook to rip out all of our flooring at their expense, and seal the concrete. We would then file a homeowners claim on our insurance to replace our baseboards and flooring.  SO, due to this discovery, we stopped ripping out our own flooring after this was reported in June to our HOA...

So what are we going to do in 2020??? Well, A LOT  

I'm determined to actually finish the first 6 things by summer... and i'm a motivated gal right now, because the finish line is practically here.  So here's hoping for a smooth process.

  1. Put all of our savings accounts we borrowed from back. 
    1. Emergency Fund: $5,175
    2. Vacation: $1500
      1. We sold some of my extra PTO hours back in January, and we have an extra paycheck week in January as well, so we are hoping to do some serious denting on these numbers by the end of the month.
      2. Tax returns are coming around the corner, and I think we are on par for a refund based on my initial numbers, which will help, and hopefully get these back and stocked up before profit share time.
  2. Begin saving money up again to replace Hub's car once initial funds are set up. We hope to do 10,000 a year for 3 years so he can get something he will have for the next 10 years. We won't get 10k this year, but we will start it back up, with the idea that in 4 years, his car is replaced. 
  3. Finish painting the interior doors before new flooring goes in, cause its easier to do now when we know all the flooring is getting ripped up...
  4. Get our concrete floors sealed, and figure out what I have to do to file a homeowners claim for new floors... Which means eventually moving all of our stuff out into storage since we don't have a garage, getting the floors sealed... and then navigating install of new flooring through my homeowners policy... and getting all of our stuff back from storage... and you know... hopefully staying in our condo while all this takes place.
  5. Purchase living room built ins and install them on new flooring, which is our last inside project!
  6. Do baseboards if home policy won't cover their install... and paint them.

After those goals are done, we plan to do the following to set us up well for our futures:
  1. Jack up retirement to 15% without counting matches. 
    1. How are we going to do this? We will be done paying for preschool/daycare in September. Little dude starts Kindergarten at the public school and the city runs a low cost after school program on campus until 4:30 or 4:45, when Hubs will pick him up... which means we only have to manage summer camps now!
  2. Jack up the mortgage repayment to equal a "15 year" loan when we are done paying for Preschool.
    1. This place isn't our forever home, that one will include space to garden and a garage... so we want to pay down our loan for the increased equity. 
    2. That way when we sell, we can roll over the money to help pay for another home. We hope our next purchase will be our last... but depending on where we want to retire, it might not be. But we are hopeful that we will be able to move when we can still enjoy our time in the place and hopefully have around 10 years there to make the buy/sell worth it. SO paying it down now, we give us more flexibility and a 4% return, which is better then we would get parking funds in a savings account.

Friday, January 31, 2020

January 2020 Mortgage Update

Current Mortgage Balance:$150,983.63

Payment: $763.86 + $205.14 additional principal
Total principal paid: $464.86
Interest paid: $504.14

Total interest paid on the new loan to date: $16,147.77
Estimated Value: $337,089*

*Until the improvements are finished, we are keeping the value at our property tax level because no one likes an unfinished project.

Before making this payment, our mortgage payoff date was January 2047... But by paying an extra $205.14 this month, our pay off date moved up to December 2046. That $205.14 we tossed out the mortgage this month just saved us $795.24 in interest payments over the life of our loan.

Getting The Keys

If your just catching up with our house buying and selling story, you'll want to check out the re-cap post on our 1 bedroom condo. Our starting profit from the sale of our condo was $181,691.35. From there, we purchased a 2 bedroom condo in the same complex. Our very extensive down payment came from the profits we rolled over from the sale of our first place.
  • Down payment: $164,000 (100% profit from our first sale)
  • Inspection: $300
  • Admin/Origination charges: $899
  • Processing Fees: $495
  • Appraisal: $410
  • Flood Cert: $11
  • County taxes: $46.78
  • Endorsement Fee: $25
  • Recording Grant Deed: $9
  • Recording Trust Deed: $57
  • Notary Fee: $175
  • Messenger fee" $25
  • Archiving fee: $80
  • E-Document fee: $100
  • Escrow fee: $798
  • Lenders title insurance: $357
  • Sub escrow Fee: $37.50
  • Recording fees: $150
  • Home Owners Insurance: $400
  • Prepaid Interest $140.24
  • HOA Dues (June) $93.33
  • HOA Dues (July) $350
  • HOA Processing Fee: $50
  • Lender Credits +$6.40
  • Seller Credits +$1,200
  • Escrow Refund +$572.85
  • Refund from INS on old place +$159.91
Money spend to move: $167,834.96.... Remaining Profit from original sale: $14,589.16
We got the keys and the same day we moved in, we also started to remodel. (Yup, after the boxes were out of the u-haul, we ripped out our master bedroom closet the same day as it was broken and jenky as all get out!)... Here's what we have spent so far on the remodel.
  • Washer/Dryer, fridge, delivery, install & dryer hoses $2,054.87
  • Stove, microwave, delivery, install, and stove plug + Plug labor $1,055.13
  • Reverse Osmosis System $233.53
  • Tv Mount - Living Room $135.00
  • USPS address change $1.00
  • Bathroom shower rod, curtain, hooks, tub fixtures $234.47
  • Windows / Slider door deposit $690.03
  • Portable wire racks (3) $118.22
  • 3 Ceiling Fans $382.52
  • Laundry Hose Connector $7.52
  • Paint Samples, Keys, Impact Driver Accessories. tile samples $60.48
  • Tools to remove nails from Cement and boards $27.95
  • Electrical Parts $1,213.23
  • Electrical Labor $1,850.00
  • Ikea Bathroom + Toy Chest $1,266.78
  • Paint Prep supplies and ceiling paint $214.28
  • Drywall Costs $1,380.00
  • Heater Repairs $1,146.94
  • Painting Supplies $340.62
  • Home Depot Supplies (Bathroom /shower) supplies $77.98
  • Tub resurface $500.00
  • Paint, Door Measure $124.72
  • Home depot Vents and Spray paint $54.07
  • Window coverings / Curtains/Rods $320.42
  • Windows / Sliders /Final $6,210.27
  • Paver stones, 2 plants, plastic sheeting $130.25
  • *2017 Tax savings (Federal) -$1,125.00
  • *2017 Tax savings (State) -$768.00
  • **2017 "living in our condo savings" 6 months -$4,715.50
  •  Home depot / CED - odds and ends $38.48
  •  Ceiling Paint $24.49
  •  Wardrobe, kitchen table, bed frame (Deliver $59) $1,215.09
  •  Ikea (hinges, end table, storage cubes) $187.41
  •  fix bathroom shower handle / Coat hook $28.45
  •  Front door and interror doors $2,468.17
  •  New shower + install +Fixtures $7,740.00
  •  Water Shut Off $150.00
  •  City Permits - Shower $170.50
  •  Tools for tile removal $181.78
  • **2018 "living in our condo savings" 12 months -$7,227.33
  • *2018 Tax savings - State -$594.60
  • Another 3 Ceiling fans $258.50
  • Grinder tool $34.41
  • Air compressor, air hammer/chizzle / oil / tile removal supplies $339.77
  • Hall curtains and rod $ 50.86 
  • Chizzle, grinding dust shroud, wheel $80.56
  • Living Room cabinets part 1 $543.06
  • Kitchen Cabinets - reborn cabinets $7,655.00
  • Home Depot -- sink faucet $ 218.70 
  • Sink install $253.00 
  • **2019 "Living in our condo Savings" 12 months  -$9,148.35
*When we file our taxes for the year, I always factor in what our return would be BEFORE our mortgage expenses are entered in, if we can itemize. For 2017, we were able to write off over $7,000 and the amounts listed in the chart above are just the amount we got back from our mortgage and property tax deductions, and the sale of our condo which had some deductible fees and what have you. For 2018, we only saved on our state taxes, not having enough deductions to itemize our federal return. 

**We also track how much cheaper it is to be homeowners vs. renters. Our 2 bedroom housing comps tell us that to rent a 2 bedroom for the first 6 months would cost us $13,156 verses $8,440.50 to be homeowners (That's 6 months of Mortgage payments, Prop Tax, HOA, and Earthquake insurance expenses since our Homeowner insurance was purchased in escrow.) So that's how we get our $4,715.50 "living in our condo savings" for 2017. For 2018, we used the same numbers and the difference was $7,227.33. For 2019, we used these factors in 2019 Housing Comps, and saved $9,148.35.

Amount we are currently in the hole for: $3,300.57 and were still making improvements slowly, because we pay cash for improvements and generally do one big thing each year. 2020 is the year of the floors, which will complete our renovation, allowing us to put in the built in cabinets in the living room and finally be done!

We also have $186,105.37 in equity, if we assume the property tax value of our unit is accurate at $337,089. If we were to sell our condo today after 6% commission fees and another $4,000 in closings costs, (plus the amount we are in the hole for) we would walk away with $158,579.46 verses the $181,691.35 profit we had before we bought this place.

So we are $23,111.89 away from truly breaking even on this property and recouping all the funds we have spent on improving our new home. I think within the next 2-3 years, we will fully break even on this investment since the cost of apartment living is so high in comparison, and this should be our last spend-y year on improvements. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 Housing Comps - 2 bedroom

Each year we pick a benchmark property to compare the cost of living difference between owning a condo and renting an apartment in our general area. As I mentioned in my previous posts (2019 Housing Comps, and Housing Comps - 2 bedroom), we have been hypothetically using my old apartment complex that I used to live in as a benchmark property for many years.

Last year, I was finally able to get a quote for rent for a unit in our actual complex. Since I like to talk full disclosure, the rent for these two places, one year ago was $1,700 and $1,875 a month, with the pricier unit closer to our actual living conditions. Both of these units are owned by private individuals, have no AC, are on the top floor, and have a no pets policy. I've also been flat out honest that I would not rent in this association for various reasons:

  • Parking is not ideal. No carports, or garages, or assigned spaces. We get two passes, and while we can always get parking in our complex and have never had to street park, sometimes its far if you get home late.
  • There are no amenities (pool, gym, etc)
  • There is no AC in the units. It's all portable ones or small wall units and rentals just don't bother with them.
  • Rental units also have no upgrades and are stuck with original infrastructure, including backwards windows which are not efficient and do nothing for sounds, so higher utility bills and lots of neighbor noise.  

You might ask why we would OWN a place we wouldn't rent:

Well, quite frankly, it is within our budget and will ultimately makes us enough $$$ to afford a detached home down the line, and we picked an ideal location right next to the tot lot for our kid. He can play while I cook and I can watch, see and hear him play with his neighbor friends while i'm prepping dinner.

Also, as the OWNERS we can modify the floor plan to suit our needs (AKA built ins for more space, tearing out closets, fixing flooring, replacing appliances, etc.)... and we can improve the property with new doors and windows for security, more comfortable temps and less noise from neighbors....

All of that combined makes the short commute to my work (15 minutes, no freeways), proximity to a public park (We have direct access via a residential staircase), etc worth it.

Even more so, when I hated our bathroom shower even after re-surfacing the tub, we replaced it and now Hubs doesn't have to duck to shower at a full 6 foot 5 (find an apartment that will do that), and I can soak in a deeper tub at the end of a long day.

2020 Housing Comps
Being a natural "shopper" I did browse the internet again in search for comparable housing situations, and again landed on the same decision to keep this apartment complex we have been using as our comparable unit. Now, this apartment is not in the city we live in, but it is commutable distance to all of our jobs and I have actually lived there and would rent in this area again, so I think that makes for a valid comparison tool. I also think using the same association as a benchmark for all these years really does sink in how much housing costs have risen.

In 2017 when we "moved" from the 1 bedroom to the 2 bedroom we "rented" for $2,061. In January of 2018, the rent went down to $2,015, and we decided to "lock in" a 2 year lease and kept figures the same for both 2018 and 2019. For 2020, surprise, surprise, rent has risen again. We always pick the smallest 2 bedroom floor plan and the cheapest priced unit despite the fact that these often are on the 3rd floor overlooking major roads.

We don't include electric bills below since we'd have to pay for those at either place and both units had electric stoves, but my HOA fee includes water, gas, and trash so those will be listed in the apartment costs. Security and Pet deposits were already paid in hypothetical 2017 ($400.00 + Pet Deposit $400.00), and these are refundable if you live there for 2 years, so if we ever "move apartments" we get this cash back. We will also assume the Washer and Dryer we "hypothetically bought" in 2012 (7.5 years old), will continue to function, thus eliminating the need for the coin operated laundry rooms at the apartment complex.

I'm keeping the mock utility bills the same as last year, when I upped them to factor in 3 people living there versus just me and pricing from 9 years ago.

Costs Associated with Apartment: Monthly:
  • Trash: $20 a month
  • Water: $100 a month
  • Gas: $50 a month
  • Rent: $2,120 a month
  • Renters Insurance: $15 a month
  • Pet Rent: $35 a month

Total: $2,340.00 x 12 months = $28,080

Costs Associated with our condo: Monthly:
  • Mortgage: $764.00
  • HOA: $367.50
  • Property Taxes: $288.00 
  • Homeowners & Earthquake Insurance: $51

Total: $1,470.50 x 12 months = $17,646.00

Owning my condo is $10,434.00 cheaper than renting, and that's before the $3,000 in equity I gain through just making the minimum payments on our loan.

How is my mortgage so cheap for a high cost of living area? 
Well, I bought a dump of a condo at near the bottom of the market 11 years ago, renovated it, and held onto it for 8 years before I SOLD IT.  We then turned around and dropped $160,000 from the sale of the first place and used it as our down payment to help us buy our new fixer-upper... to keep the costs down. So this has been smart decisions for the past 11 years.

We are living and renovating it bit by bit and doing what we can ourselves while also paying others for their expertise since we have a four year old along for the ride. We have spent a lot more on repairs and remodel since we bought the unit, but I cover those in our periodic mortgage updates as we journey to get out of the hole, and into profit on this purchase.

Friday, January 17, 2020

What we spent in 2019

It never fails, at some point in the year I just stop blogging consistently, try and catch up, and then life comes and gets busy. We had a wonderful 2019 and despite not posting I still tracked out finances.  It was an expensive year large in part to a new to us car... and a mini kitchen remodel.

Below is our 2019 Summary:



Church Tithe/fast offerings/Giving: 
  • We believe in the blessings that come from giving and living on less than you make. As a result, we tithe 10% of our income to our church, and additionally provide a monthly "fast" offering to help provide food and necessities to those who may not be able to put a meal on the table. We don't do this for the tax write off (last year we took the standard deduction), but rather because we have felt the blessings and happiness that come from this decision.
  • I also fund-raise throughout the year for the American Cancer Society, and when we find a need that touches our hearts, we may also contribute to those things as well. 
Groceries: $4,747.99
  • Sometimes this included non-food items like paper towels, other times not. 
  • Average $395.67 a month
Eating Out: 1,500.79
  • Sometimes includes going out and doing things. 
Doing Things I tracked separately: 243.26
  • These I started tracking separately at some point:
  • $34.35Frozen 2 movies
    $11.81concession snacks
    $14.95Discovery Science Center
    $21.49star wars movie
    $21.00Chuck E Cheese
    $84.66OC Fair
    $55.004th of July fair
Automobiles: $7,013.69
  • Gasoline: $2,711.16
    • Escort Gasoline: $1,612.86
    • Camry/Subaru Gasoline: $1,098.30
      • $489.64 was subtracted for my work driving that was reimbursed.
  • Car Washes: $36
  • Toll Toads: $30
  • Smog: $69.75
  • Camry Registration: $136
  • Escort Registration: $125
  • Car Insurance: $1,458.39
  • Repairs/Maintenance: $2,583.39
    • Escort: $980.69
      • Back up switch, Oil change, fuel filter change, fuel injector tune up, AC fix, oil change and flushes, AC repair Again (still not working and not repairing further)
    • Camry: $1,466.70
      • 1 tire, front breaks, new battery, oil change and filters, starter, driver side mirror, leaks and oil change.
"New" Car: $30,212.45
  • We paid cash and replaced our Camry with a 2019 "new to us" Subaru Outback that was rocking less than 8,000 miles. It has an extended warranty. We love it. It gets car washes. 
  • Registration was included in the purchase price above.
Clothes: $1,4651.99
  • Me: $852
  • Hubs: $426.55
  • Little Dude: $373.44 
    • We do a clothing swap with my Sister in Law. We get her boys hand me down things, then return them for her youngest, and then they will likely head up to my other sister in law who's expecting a baby dude. 
    • We usually need to buy a few pants or odds and ends that work better for climates, but its awesome to not build from scratch. 
      • $23.68 flip/flop pool shoes (2 pairs)
      • $17.51 5 pairs of pants (Goodwill-4) (Walmart 1)
      • $17.18 Socks (2 bags)
      • $20.78 underwear
      • $5.36 shirt$42.33 PJ's (4 pairs Summer)
      • $38.00 Ties
      • $52.25 Mittens, Jacket, snow pants, boots for our Snow day!
      • $12.83 ?
      • $105.52 Black Friday shopping for underwear and PJ's next size up
      • $38.00 ?
Gifts: $1,880.54
  • Our Christmas total is here for all our spending on family, friends, and each other. Since our birthdays are about 6 months away from Christmas, we tend to spend a good amount on each other because its usually a list of delayed things we want that we held off until the holiday sales. I got exciting things like kitchen mats and an aero garden i'm loving,.... hubs got some video games, but also practical things like a jerky gun and good sweat pants.  
    • Christmas: $1,583.72.
      • Little Dude: $291.81
      • Me: $436.65 (fantastic things including kitchen mats, and an aero garden)
      • Hubs: $545.91 (Video games, jerky guns, drones, clothes, hiking stuff, etc.)
      • Extended family: $460.65
  • Other gifts: $296.82 
    • There were a lot of $20 here, $20 there work events that aren't recorded here... I'm bad with tracking cash, which is why I try not to use it.
    • I also didn't categorize our internal birthdays here either, they went to general spending, so next year i'll mark them as gifts, so this was just present for friends parties, mother's day, and cousin birthday parties.... 
Little Dude: $1,439.91
Big expense here was our attempt at swim lessons... We got floating down and that was about it. We stopped and will try again at another place when we aren't paying for daycare/preschool.
  • $ 12.49 Birthday Present
  • $ 8.62 Rubble Truck (Goodwill)
  • $ 226.34 pull ups + overnight undies
  • $ 9.69 (2) mini coloring books; String and animals pack 
  • $ 42.74 Friend Presents x 2
  • $ 2.14 valentines for class
  • $ 63.16 Poop Helpers (6)
  • $ 23.99 Back up "hobbes"
  • $ 33.15 Last minute toy, decorations, and desserts for school class party
  • $ 22.57 Hats and party favors
  • $ 57.32 Walmart (Cake, Birthday outfit, wrapping paper)
  • $ 36.61 Balloons
  • $ 3.32 Target
  • $ 2.50 kite and a water blaster
  • $ 14.91 Swim Toy / Glider
  • $ 43.09 Booster Car Seat for hubs car
  • $ 40.92 Goggles for Swim lessons
  • $ 10.00 Water beads
  • $ 17.24 small pool / water deck shoes
  • $ 630.00 Swim lessons
  • $ 5.37 clogs
  • $ 8.60 glow sticks
  • $ 5.39 confetti cannon
  • $ 2.12 pinwheel
  • $ 21.51 poppers pack
  • $ 1.05 balloons
  • $ 60.30 Books at the fair
  • $ 24.78 School pics
  • $ 9.99 Movie on You Tube 

Daycare/Preschool: $10,3025.00
  • ummmm ouch, and welcome to Southern California. We had $5,000 deducted from my work paychecks to go into an account to pay for daycare/childcare, trying to get the best bang for our buck and forked over the rest since there wasn't a better way to do it. 
Doctors/Dentists/Medical: Before I break this down, we have fantastic, EXPENSIVE, insurance through my work. Like, when Little dude was born, it cost less than $400 for an unplanned c-section and extended stay in the hospital, good. It's basically a $15 co-pay for everything.
  • Little Dude: $411.91
    • Lots of ENT appointments over tubes falling out and if we should put them back in. With the Doctor suggesting a delay for swim lesson basics, his body adjusted to life without tubes and now his hearing is fine!
    • Cavities: Little dude had two cavities likely because we didn't use toothpaste with him because he didn't like it. Now, he had graduated from starter toothpaste to fluoride cause he spits and doesn't swallow it, and flosses. The dental bill was $211, half of all his medical costs. 
  • Hubs: $638.11
    • Major one here was the $374.94 we paid for (3) pairs of prescription glasses, and the $60 Costco membership we bought, just to get him glasses. We also spent $145 at the dentist.
  • Me: $311.87
    • This would be my two dental cleanings this year ($80 each), and me fracturing my foot in October and living on crutches and a walking boot for a month, and my Physical Therapy appointments. I've come along way. 
I think in 2021 i'm going to open a heath HSA account through my work since hubs will need glasses, and we know we will have all three dental visits each year. Now that I have tracking data, I can get a good idea on how much we should put in a HSA to start getting some tax benefits, and I learned that we can roll over $500 from year to year if we don't use it up, so even if I just start with $500, that would likely get used.

The pup: $700.00
  • Exciting things like kibble, treats, and grooming visits get her nails cut and her fur washed. 

Internet: $787.88

Propane for our grill: $57.96

Electricity: $752.00

Streaming Services: $101.70 

Audible: $231.92

Cell phones: $306.21
  • We use trac phone and have 2 cell phones. We didn't replace our phones this past year, but mine is getting to the point where the internal storage (only 16 gigs) makes programs not run that are helpful because I can only move so much over to the SD card... so 2020 will likely be the year of replacement phones.
  • We usually just buy phones through Trac Phone, but since they are all limited to only 16 gigs internal memory, and this is the main issue/problem we have been having, we are considering buying phones with more internal support, and then porting over our phone numbers and getting a service chip for them. 
    • Minutes for my phone: $144.87
    • Minutes for hubs phone: $108.34
    • SD card: $53.00
Fun Money: $760.00
  • Usually we get $40 each,  a month, to spend on small things without talking to the other person about it. We halted automatic pocket money when we bought a new car because we had to pull funds out of non-car accounts since we found the car for us a bit earlier then planned and still paid cash, so the math won't add up to $80 a month for the whole year, and we both agreed on this plan since the holidays were coming up and we typically stop buying stuff so we have ideas for presents, lol. 
Vacation: $604.90
  • One trip to Utah to visit family. We would have gone twice, but since we bought the new car, Hub's parents came to see us for thanksgiving!
    • $91 odds and ends
    • $332.30 Food and anniversary dinner
    • $181.60 gas and transportation
Housing: $28,380.34 ($18,946.48 before reno stuff)
  • Property Taxes: $3,450.65
  • Homeowners Insurance / Earthquake Insurance: $643.00
  • HOA Fees: $4,410.00
  • Mortgage:$10,442.83
    • This includes $1,274.83 in additional principal we paid down. 
  • Renovation: $9,433.86
    • $1,235.80 on 3 more ceiling fans, grinder and tile removal supplies, hall curtains and rod to enclose the laundry/storage area, a new kitchen sink faucet and install of said faucet.  
    • $543.06 at Ikea to start some of the living room built in cabinets.... 
    • $7,655.00 from Reborn Cabinets
      • This was to change all the doors on our kitchen cabinets, add a second pantry, changing some cabinets to drawers, adding some weight bearing open shelves by the window, and just over all, add a bit more function to our kitchen. We also removed a cabinet that was just in the way and served no real purpose. (the one we had to take the doors off of just so I could use it). We did the best bang for our buck on the job. It wasn't everything we wanted, but I couldn't justify $2k for a box around the fridge just to extend that cabinet at the top, lol. We went this route because it would allow us to KEEP the current granite counter tops, which was an expense we didn't want to incur on this property, and we knew we couldn't IKEA this with the current counter top placement. 

 Hiking and Tree Hugging: We like the great outdoors. It's our thing... so it gets its own category. We also shop at REI because we love the ability to try out gear in different circumstances and see if it works for us, or it doesn't. We actually returned a lot of gear this past year because I wasn't happy with a lot of stuff... Packs the rubbed bad on longer hikes... sleeping bags that kept my feet cold cause there was too much dead air in the footbox because it was too long for my short self... things like that. So with that being said.... REI, Take my money:

















  • $ 62.30 hiking food (trail mix, dried fruit, jerky, wipes, smart water bottles, snacks, trail head expenses
  • $ 204.56 Micro Spikes (2); bottom base layer for SCG
  • $ 207.50 REI (Shewee, Buff, Socks, Liners, Underwear x2, trowel, dry sacs x2)
  • $ 240.12 Micro USB cables (3 pack); Bluetooth speaker; Womens Merino wool base layer; 2 Tick removing tweezers; pack towel; BRS stove; fixed blade knife with sheath; sawyer filter + screw on coupling; Men's exofficio underwear;
  • $ 99.90 Possum Merino Wool Gloves (2)
  • $ 7.80 Leukotape
  • $ 24.80 hiking wallet, 2 water bottle clips
  • $ 32.08 Gaiters for Hubs
  • $146.29 REI (Women's Exofficio underwear; hotlips; Toaks Pot; 2 inflatable pillows -sea to summit) 
  • $ 155.50 Quilt -- used
  • $ 288.00 Tent -- used
  • $18.27 crocks
  • $ 60.00 Thru Pack hip belt/fanny pack
  • $ 54.54 Hyperlight food bag
  • $ 208.84 cables, go pro-, power bank, hiking underwear x2 hubs,
  • -$54.16 Hiking Hat, small items
  • $ 25.93 Hiking "cookie" bars; OTC Meds
  • $ 17.84 Trail magic
  • $ 982.41 20 degree women's bag; Bottom and top base layers; Smaller hiking briefs; 2 sleeping pads - therm-a-rest Neo Air Xlite; 2 ice axes; Fleece boys hoodie---yup, i fit in the kids jacket better than the women's)
  • $ 156.02 Dry sack (2); New Hat that does fit better; buff; kids water reservoir; piezo igniter
  • $ 53.88 Teva Sandals
  • $ 193.05 Osprey Eja 58 Pack - Women's
  • -$193.05 RETURN OF PACK
  • $64.51 Hip pack for hubs.....
  • $90.25 2 pairs of pants / insect repellent
  • $ 54.95 Cheap River Country back-packing tent (to see if we like a trecking pole set up)
  • $ 44.29 small hiking odds and ends (sunblock, new water bottles, travel sized items, etc)
  • $ (322.16) REI Return - My REI Co-op Joule 21 sleeping bag
  • $ 292.91 REI - New sleeping bag (shorter!); Hat for hubs, snow stake
  • $ (106.54) REI Return - Hub's old day pack REI Coop Train 40
  • 297.28 REI - Kids sleeping bag, bag temp guage, air mattress pump, Osprey Stratoes 36 - Hubs
  • $ (129.25) REI Return - Hubs Ice Axe
  • $ 349.96 different Ice axe, Overnight pack for hubs, axe covers, leashes.
  • $ 66.61 Zpacs (food bag); wallet
  • $ 109.64 Trowel; (2) 4 litr dry Sac; (2) 13 L Dry Sac
  • $ 14.55 (2) Odor proof barrier bags
  • $ 56.56 Merino Wool Top - Me
  • $ 56.56 Merino Wool Top - Hubs
  • $19.39 Sock Liners
  • $ 70.57 Shade tent / and Chair
  • $ 299.52 Family Tent - REI
  • $ 17.21 camping pillow for Eli
  • $ 775.05 the triplex
  • $ 118.08 REI - Car camping items; shorts for hubs, eye glasses cord, (3) hiking undies on clearance
  • $ 77.52 steppers, knife
  • $ 30.48 (1) hiking bra; (1) hubs hiking underwear
  • -215.45 Sleeping Pad return
  • -43.05 Return pad blow up device
  • $ 29.99 All Trails
  • $ 50.14 REI- Yeti Tumbler
  • $69.96 Hub's Tevas
  • $ 67.77 Yeti, lid, stickers
  • $ 150.72 Big Ag Mat / Pump 
      Total: $5,450.44 ($4,698.37 after our credit card rewards)... 

Now you know what birthdays and Mother's Day / Father's Day gifts were all about.... and why this gets its own category...  and it also included a $775 ultra light back packing tent, which was hubs 1 year without Soda Bet Prize... which probably saved us that much money on dental work, no joke. And we got a family tent since little man is camping age, which helps now for vacation and travel land!

Discretionary: This is everything else folks: $5,414.98

  • $281.49   TP, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
  • $419.59   Kitchen and house items, like laundry soap, trash bags, ant spray, sponges, etc.
  • $10.74 New years poppers
  • $160.55 Ikea area rug
  • $ 79.98 Turbo Tax
  • $ 7.45 Postage
  • $ 4.30 vday cards
  • $ 8.42 gorilla tap, velcro dots
  • $136.53 Make up sale (lip colors, gloss, and foundation)
  • $ 59.99 Home depot cacti
  • $ 971.31 Switch, controllers, games, etc
  • $ 74.22 Easter Baskets
  • $ 25.90 Ear buds (2 pack)
  • $ 8.59 Home Depot - utility knife
  • $ 16.74 Card / Car Sun Shade
  • $ 29.46 Clip on sunglasses
  • $ 4.30 Chapstick
  • $ 32.31 Watch band, sink stopper
  • $ 28.00 2nd Alexa
  • $ 58.07 Eco dot holders, (3) pack of arm sleeves for sun coverage; chizzle
  • $ 6.22 Home Depot - AC Padding
  • $ 10.75 steering wheel covers
  • $ 35.27 Cables and a quick charge wall port
  • $ 11.16 Book
  • 37.18 Power surge strip, etc
  • $ 73.97 Cables and HDMI switches for living room 
  • $ 195.00 American Cancer Society Donation
  • $ 52.86 Cactus pots, flowers, etc.
  • $ 100.00 food containers, webcam, splatter guard, CD
  • $ 73.83 kickstarter
  • $ 10.00 tablet holder for road trip
  • $45.9 Harbor Fright
  • $ 43.08 Giant games
  • $ 28.95 Tram Ticket
  • $ 8.00 Tram charge?
  • $ 18.29 Car wipers
  • $ 103.86 Home Depot
  • $ 141.68 Halloween Costumes
  • $ 14.95 Star Dew Valley
  • $ 234.54 Costco (Freezer items, halloween costume couple tops, random stuff)
  • $ 9.67 Silver Hair Spray
  • $ 19.49 Halloween Candy
  • $ 13.81 Can of Air(2)
  • $ 27.74 Bbq replacement part
  • $ 40.00 bread bags, roku mount, hot sauce
  • $ 27.94 CD Case, Squeeze bottles, spatulas
  • $ 379.25 ikea stuff for Little dude's room
  • $ 65.06 Stuff to re-fluff the couch
  • $ 6.45 Bath Hair Remover drain tools
  • $ 88.26 Laundry basket, stocking suffers
  • $ 622.54 TARGET ???????
  • $ 332.66 WALMART ???????????
  • $ 118.68 AMAZON ??????? 





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Friday, September 27, 2019

We bought a new car...

We Kept this one!!!
 It's been a busy summer at our house, and with fall officially here, I found the time to log-in only to realize "its been awhile" since I posted.... and we have had a lot of big money changes happening in September because we decided to buy a car... (yes you read that right).

"Stitch," the blue camry I drove for 13 years (after buying it used) was recently sold for $600 cash, and was replaced with a yet to be named "new to us" 2018 Subaru Outback with 7,200 miles on it with a kick butt warranty.

So why did we buy a new car a year before we planned to?  Because last year we faced over $3,500 in maintenance on the camry, and the car was only worth around $1200 on the private market... but since we are cash for cars kind of people, and wanted more time to save, we paid it vowing it would be the last year we would do major repairs on the car. No exceptions.

So, when I went in for an oil change this month, and paid another $230 to fix a leak and get the oil changed, we were given an estimate of another $1,000 to repair yet another thing on the car that had died. (This year already we paid $450 for a new starter -- it was the original one--- ... and I had to pay $160 for a new driver side mirror cause someone clipped my parked car and drove away-- so "Stitch" had a black mirror on its blue car when we sold it).

Given the fact that the car was safe to drive sans the repair (Mechanic said we could probably put it off 3-6 months before it would NEED fixing for safety), we took a moment to think smartly.
  • The Camry needed an oil change every 3,000 miles because it burned oil like no ones business.
  • The Camry had two ... yes two not valid in California Catalytic Converters... (but it could pass smog/omission levels...)
  • Burned oil every time it turned on out the tail pipe a little...
  • Hard started to make a new noise at times not related to the needed repair above...
  • Had more miles on it than the Escort, (140,000 vs. 120,000)
  • And was the car we primarily drove as a family, so we were in it often... and felt each time little dude would kick one of us with his growing legs.
So we decided, to not pay $1,000 to fix the Camry and would take the less popular decision to instead, keep the 2003 Ford Escort. Our mechanics know parts are hard to find for it, but when I went through the list above with them, and told them we didn't care how Frankenstein his car got if it ran since the Escort just had a check up and was given a clean bill of health, had lower miles, and had no issues with major car components or indicators of issues, we decided to making it strictly a commuter car and bounce the Camry. 

I had a Friday off work, and despite knowing we were fond of a Subaru Outback from a previous test drive, I didn't want to pay above $30,000 for the sticker price on a car.

So I hit 4 dealerships in a single day BY MYSELF.

We had a list of safety features we wanted since we would (baring a car accident or act of god), essentially be picking Eli's first car if we traditionally keep it 13-15 years and it had been a LONG time since I upgraded. Things like back-up cameras are apparently standard now... which is awesome.

I hit Toyota, Honda, and Mazda, in addition to going back to the Subaru dealership to re-test drive an Outback. I wanted all the cars looked at in one day so the preferences were there and I could rank them, and see what was standard, and what trim line I would have to purchase with a combination of features to get what I wanted.

At the end of the day, I sat in the Outback and was sold. Some of the other cars felt "cheap quality" (Mazda), the Honda would force us to by a trim package with a sunroof and extra nav we didn't want (No garage or carport means no sunroof... hubs worked in  a carwash for a long time), and while I was liking the Rav 4... the back seat was at a weird angle and felt too inclined. -- because yes, I sat in every seat in the car, with the engine running, felt the AC, pushed the seats all the way back to get a feel for what it would be with hubs driving, and then made the larger salesmen sit in the seat to see how much room THEY had north of 6 feet. :) 

So we knew we wanted a Subaru Outback... Only problem was they didn't have any used 2018-2019 cars with the features we wanted... or they didn't when we went in to the dealer previously....


That Friday, on their lot was a 2018 with 7,200 miles... and all the safety features we wanted, in a car with cloth seats, no sunroof, and a heavy duty floor mat in the back... It also wasn't a push button start, which was something I wasn't quite ready to get behind yet. So it was perfect.

For those of you who don't know, most Subaru's are still on the road after 10 years, so in order to find a certified used one, you are basically looking at lease returns or rentals and hoping for low mileage. We knew with the new 2020 models hitting the lot (and that you never really want to purchase the first year of new upgrades because there will be kinks that need to be worked out), if we didn't want to buy a NEW car, now was really the time... and this car was going home with us. 

After some sweet negotiating skills, we got it for $26,195, $1200 below their sticker/offer price. The negotiating alone is almost a whole blog post on itself because they had sold this car on paper, but someone else drove off the lot in a different car.... and my interest in this car was the only reason they cause the mistake they made 15 days ago.... (lets say someone got a serious "chew-out" session) and their dealership only made a couple thousand dollars off us as I got a peak at their profit loss screen on the car. 

They not only gave us the remaining time on the original 3 year 36,000 mile warranty.. (so free oil and service for 2 years), since it was certified used, it came with an additional 7 year 100,000 mile warranty. Since cars now have multiple computers on them and i'm a pretty low mileage driver (less than 12k a year), we elected to pay $1500 to extend the 3 year 36,000 mile warranty covered items to match the 7 year, 100,000 coverage. So basically everything on the car besides basic wear and tear is covered for 6 more years.

After taxes, registration, and the added insurance, we wrote a check for just over $30,200.00

We didn't have $30,000 in our car fund, but we moved some money around and depleted some of our additional "non-bill" related savings such as our $1500 vacation fund, $1000 technology/phone fund, $1000 medical/doctor savings, and $1,000 from our Roxy fund... and emptied our slush fund.... and pulled $4500 from our emergency fund...

  • We pulled from the emergency fund because Hubs is unexpectedly getting a $2k company bonus out of no where??? AND we had added 2k to it this year, so it was like reversing that deposit... and we will replace $600 back into it from the sell of the camry. 
We should also be able to replenish the funds soon because we have enacted a very strict spending policy between now and the end of the year (sans Christmas). We are on "gas and groceries" cycle and are avoiding stores, Amazon, and Walmart like its the flu... or cancer...

But we have a new to us car now that runs, and its super fun and exciting to drive it every day! And I have absolutely no guilt over the purchase, which is, in fact AMAZING!




Monday, July 1, 2019

More Tile Removal

Now that it isn't so rainy (it has been such a wet year that we have had to put some home improvement tasks on hold because we didn't really have a place for little dude to chill), we finally set aside a weekend for home improvement.  AND MORE TILE REMOVAL!


In an effort to not make the house a huge dust blob, we put up plastic...



But we learned if hubs ran any type of fan at all, you know, so he wouldn't be in hot box ... the plastic fell down. But we had our hearts set on 4 1/2 rows of tile in the kitchen area.



It pretty much took several hours, convinced us we should buy more tools, and we spent the next week or two getting the thin set chipped up, but behold, less tile.