Thursday, January 21, 2021

2021 Annual Goals

I've always been the gal to outline and set a goals to provide some direction and accountability with my finances. It makes me feel better to have a plan and something to work towards... so while the internet is being flooded with lots of new year resolutions, here's the run down on our annual goals for 2021.

1. Rid ourselves of a car payment.  
This marks the 2nd time in my life I've had a car payment. The first car loan I had was for my second car, the Camry I drove into the ground until we replaced it recently with the Subaru Outback "Suby" recently... the car I drove for 13 plus years.  I had that loan for one year and busted my butt to pay it off... and we are going to do the same thing in 2021 with the car loan we took out for hub's Forester. I just sleep better not owing money. So despite our 0.99% interest rate, we are gonna make that our number 1 priority. 
  • Our loan was for $18,794.20 when we purchased the car in October of 2020.
    • In November, we paid $403.50 ($387.75 Principal / $15.75 Interest) Balance: $18,406.45
    • In December, we paid $403.50 ($383.58 Principal / $19.92 Interest) Balance: $18,022.8
    • In January, we paid $2117.00 ($2106.26 Principal / $10.74 Interest) Balance: $15,916.61
In December I got "an extra paycheck" so we tossed the whole thing at the car payment this month. Our plan to eradicate the car loan is to pay $517 a month, apply all of our "extra checks" we get throughout 2021 to principal reductions... Send our stimulus checks to the debt... and other windfalls like the $1100.00 escrow check we got back from refinancing our mortgage... and monthly extra cash we may get that survives the month. We aren't dumping all of our windfalls at once at the car, but rather this month I sent that extra paycheck... next month, i'll send the escrow check in Feb, and then in March we will toss the stimulus checks at it if we haven't needed the funds for something else because by that time we will have filed our taxes and know if we owe or will have a refund, and we will know what to expect for profit share from Hub's work, which had a record breaking year. 

So without Profit share and possible tax refunds, if all goes according to plan and we send the escrow check, and the stimulus checks over the next few months and with our extra paycheck and $500 a month plan, we should have around $3,000.00 left to pay down at the end of the year... which we hope to eradicate with any tax refund or part of hub's annual profit share check.

2. Pay our refinanced mortgage like its a 20 year loan instead of a 30 year.  
When we refinanced our mortgage to lock in a cheaper rate (2.75% instead of 4%), we did not opt for a 20 year or 15 year mortgage because the rate saving was not significant with our smaller mortgage size and it would increase our payment naturally (We were offered 2.65% for a 20 year). Instead by opting for the 30 year loan, but adding additional principal each month like it was a 20 year loan, we now have the flexibility should pandemic conditions change our jobs significantly, to reduce our expenses in the future if need, while reducing our interest rate over all, to allow us to pay down the balance owed much quicker. 

We refinanced our Mortgage into a 30 year at 2.75%. Our new balance was $152,600.00. Our minimum payment is now $622.98, but we are planning to pay $824 a month instead and treat it like a 20 year mortgage (sending $201.02 extra each month). 
  • In December, we paid $824 (474.29 principal / $349.71 Interest): Balance: 152,125.71 
So our goal for 2021, is to hopefully keep these payments going all year. 

3. 15% deductions for retirement without counting matches and social security
Hubs is already there. We have 15% of his paycheck put into his roth 401a every check, and do the same with his annual profit share check. He gets a 4% match on contributions, also pays into social security on top of that. Since my pension kicks in at 55, we both plan to retire together, so we want to make sure we are putting enough aside to make this a reality. Without matches but counting his social security, hubs put 21% of his income away for retirement. With matches, its 25%.

I on the other hand pay 9.5% of my salary to my pension, and don't pay into social security. I get $150 match on my 457 contributions, by putting in $150 a month. This girl does not leave free money on the table, but this $150 a month is about 2-3% of my salary before the match... so I'm a little short of the 15% marker, and since my pension is taxable income and my 457 is a taxable account, we are going to put $118 a month into my Roth IRA, as that should get us near the 15% marker. (If I could employer pension payments as "matches" they put over 9% of my salary away, and then I have the 2-3% matching 457 contribution, so that will put me around  the 25% marker as well with matches. 

4. Restore "sinking funds"
Usually with our tax return and profit share check, we restore our savings accounts that we spent money out of over the year. We pulled money out of some of our sinking funds accounts with the car and tile projects last year, so a few need to be topped off:
  • Vacation Fund: Restore to $1500 | Currently $502.12
5. Evaluate the Emergency Fund and Checking Account Padding.
Right now, I moved half our emergency fund to our checking account when we were dealing with the car purchase and home improvement issues so I wouldn't have to worry about paycheck timing and other things. By the end of 2021, I want the emergency fund back in its account, and to have at least a 2,000 buffer in our main checking account so I don't have to worry about when bills hit the account as I've grown accustomed to paying bills early with the money that just kind of sits there, but I also know it can be easier to spend money when you see a larger number in your account. 

Assuming we both lost our jobs, our bare bones emergency budget would be $3,329.71 a month.
  • $30 year payment on the mortgage ($622.98); $300 property taxes; 367.50 HOA; $260 gasoline; $50 little dude; $100 non food items; $190 Insurance (car/house/earthquake); $100 utilities (just electric); $65 internet; $400 groceries; $40 cell phones; $834.23 Bronze Kaiser health insurance thru Covered California.
Its a no thrills lifestyle because this assumes No money coming in. We drop Little dude from daycare and go on total lock down as we would be living off our savings completely. Now in the real world, Hubs would qualify for unemployment initially, so we would have that as well. I also have over 500 PTO hours at present that would have to be paid out if I lost my job but this is just the outline we have to earmark how much money we should keep liquid if we needed 6 months of paired down expenses.  With the smaller mortgage payment after the refinance, a $20,000 emergency fund would still be valid for a bare bones budget.

In the real world, if Hubs were to loose his job completely, we can survive on my income if we cut daycare out as I cover the health insurance and we make sure our basic needs (food/Clothing/shelter etc) can be covered on one income cause we are old fashioned folks who don't buy into societies I NEED the latest i-phone mentality. I like to spend my time playing board games and going hiking cause i'm a social homebody at heart. If I lost my job, 

Now if I lost my job, while hubs and I make a similar income, most of his comes from profit share, which is never guaranteed. So if we talk about his base pay and our savings, we would have a year to figure out our next plan.

So by the end of 2021, I'd like 20,000 sitting in our emergency fund and around $3000 in our primary checking account. 

6. If we manage to do all of that, then we would start on any of the following:
  • Buy and build the rest of the living room built ins 
  • Add a metal deck ceiling/roof for the patio and possibly privacy shades
  • Add baseboards back to the house since we don't have those yet
  • Upgrade Little dudes closet to one floor to ceiling Ikea Unit to add more storage since he and his clothes are getting bigger.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Annual Goals Update from 2020

We set some goals for the year, and then we had 2020 -- the year of the unplanned EVERYTHING. Which naturally affected the progress on our annual goals... but before I update you all on what we spent for the year (ya, I tracked it), and set some new goals for 2021 and attempt to update the blog regularly again, lets all laugh back at what we thought would happen in 2020 before the pandemic.  

Put all of our savings accounts we borrowed from back. Emergency Fund: $5,175 & Vacation: $1,500

Well, we managed to get this done by March with extra paychecks and tax returns... and then in October, we had to buy hubs a new to us car... Our amazing mechanic was finally unable to source parts to replace worn out pieces on the car. After a new water pump went in and an oil change in May, we knew that would be our final repair. Our mechanic said "you got between 6 hours and 6-months and it will just die... and when it does, your towing it to a junk yard." So we kept our eyes peeled on SEVERAL different car types and in prices because we didn't have the cash to buy a long term car like we wanted. After test driving several cars, we faced the inevitable. Hubs WANTED a Subaru Forester and I couldn't find a car in our budget range that he actually FIT into that wasn't a Subaru Forester. 

We ended up finding a used 2019 one with 9,000 miles on it -- and we bought it 2 days before we would have had to pay the renewal DMV stickers on the Escort -- which was also the same day the car almost didn't start on his way home from work. The Dealer gave us $100 for the old car on a trade in and we forked over $9,000 in cash and have an AUTO LOAN for the balance.

I know what your thinking... how could you get a car loan, right?
  1. It's Temporary.
  2. We planned the payments.
  3. We CAN pay if off right now if we have to... but this is our 2021 mission.  
First off, this car loan is temporary. We may have a four year loan, but we plan to have this paid off by the end of 2021. It's  $18,794.20 at 0.99% APR for 4 years. Because we bought used and a base model, we got a very low interest rate (and have good credit), but because of Covid, we didn't want to drain our emergency fund to pay cash right away in case we needed cash... and we didn't want to buy another clunker only to have to replace it in 5 years.
  • We plan to remove most of this loan with our tax return, extra paychecks, regular monthly car payments, and our 2021 profit share check from hubs work -- which should be substantial as they haven't had a year THIS good since before the great recession. His boss also just told us last week that he's getting a 5% raise cause it was such a good year and he's been busting his butt!
  • Over the course of the LIFE of the loan, we will pay only $382.33 in interest. This was a fee we were HAPPY to pay, to have our savings stay in our account until the profit share check comes in to knock out most of the loan, if not the whole thing. Its a peace of mind fee that we are chalking up to 2020. (it's less than $20 a month in interest right now and it shrinks over time, no joke). 
Secondly, we controlled the payment. WE TOLD the dealer what the payment would be, and asked how much they needed down to make the payment work. We didn't accept a payment and a 6 year loan or whatever. We have regularly been saving over $400 a month towards a new car for several years (first it was mine, then it was saving $9k towards his) -- so we know we can handle that amount on a monthly basis with flex. To keep the payments at $399 and change a month, they needed $9k -- which was what we had saved up at the end of October with hub's extra paycheck.  

Third, we could take the $20k in our emergency fund and write a check tomorrow --- but that would make me nervous. I wouldn't sleep right at night, and I listen to my gut on those issues, so our 2021 goals will be eliminating the car payment. 

Start saving for hub's next car.... (ya, kind of bought it already) Meet Tess :)

Old Car....

New to US Car

Finish painting the interior Doors - Ya'll, this actually happened!

Just before we did the tile floors, I got everything painted!!!! 

Seal our Concrete - Yup, our floors got sealed. 
I just posted the re-cap update on that one, but we have sealed floors and tile now... no longer walking on concrete is a step up if you will mind my pun. 

Things on hold:
  • Purchase living room built ins -- and then do base boards: These are on hold as we now have a car payment.... and had to pay almost $8,000 for the new floors in our condo.... So we are cash strapped at the moment and don't spend money unless we have it.  

After those goals were supposed to be done, our plan was to Jack up retirement to 15% without counting matches and make our mortgage a 15 year term to pay it down faster...

  • We changed hub's retirement contributions to 15% at some point during 2020, despite still paying $700 a month for daycare cause virtual school half day and weird schedules and no remote options means extended daycare for little dude. But we stopped Roth IRA contributions to my account after 2 months for more flexibility when the car was on the fritz. 
  • We also refinanced our mortgage to take advantage of better interest rates, so a full post on that is coming soon. 

So not too shabby from the year we never thought would never end. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The long awaited flooring update post

Well, if you have been following our flooring adventures  you may recall that our slab wasn't sealed in our condo completely... and it was an issue we had to involve our HOA with.
It took a lot of back and forth with the HOA, and folks coming and going, but eventually the HOA paid for the remainder of our floors to be removed at their expense, and for red guard to be applied directly to the slab throughout the entire unit to act as a moisture barrier.

Basically everything but the kitchen and bathroom wasn't sealed. (When they removed the tile in our living room, they found more moisture underneath it, so both bedrooms and the living room were affected). 



ADDING RED GUARD (which is actually red)

This is where the HOA left the job. In addition to paying to seal our concrete, they installed more drains around the outside of our unit to prevent water from pooling during heavy rains as another stop gap type of fix.

What they didn't cover, was our new floors. The geologist team recommended only professionals install the flooring and only tile be installed in the unit, not carpet, so we had to pay for new floors ourselves. The delay in the whole process came because I'm on the board of directors for our complex, so they had to take several meetings to form a committee to discuss our unit in proper channels without me on the calls, and had to have enough other HOA board members present to make decisions. Eventually the HOA legal team decided that sealing the concrete constituted bare walls, which is the HOA responsibility, so we were not reimbursed for our tile replacement or our hotel displacement for the week it all took place.

Our homeowners insurance would not cover the flooring because it was only damaged by the HOA ripping it up to fix the issue with the foundation, which can't be covered under our Condo homeowners policy. So a homeowner expense.

In the end, we paid for new floors from Home Depot. I love our new tile, but it was a second battle to even get our tile materials due to Covid. The store we purchase from promised they would transfer materials from another store that had ample stock, but then they stopped certain types of store to store transfers due to covid and we got stuck in the middle... after 6 or 7 weeks of calling home depot, going in person for updates, and flat out begging to get my materials, it took me crying in the store 3 days before my removal started in front of a slew of people, telling them I'd drive up to the store and get it myself in their home depot rental truck if they would just release the tile to me since I paid for it, for someone to make it happen. (Even then they said I would have to purchase new tile, and have the old tile eventually refunded to me, requiring more upfront costs....) And at the end of the day that idea only died when they realized we would need two trucks to handle the weight of the tile and there was only one of me, all five feet girl determined).

So in tears, someone called the store and told them to load it and deliver it and by a miracle of God, my tile arrived as they were ripping it out, because I had to use TWO different crews.,.. the HOA crew that did the removal and sealing, and then the home depot install team. 

But in the end, my tile got installed... 

And then we had some issues with leveling the concrete so the tile would lay flat in the master bedroom (so we paid more to have that area leveled.). 

The crew ran out of materials and forced my husband to leave work and go and buy more materials for leveling to keep the job on time. When I questioned this, the install crew said the company would not let them pick up the mortar bags directly from home depot... which led to more apologies from Home Depot because this was counter to their business practices because they had my card on file for anything that might go wrong like needing another bag of 4 bags of mortar.  Unfortunately in the leveling process, we got a bump... all the tiles lines up nicely, no tile to tile shifts, but a little too much leveling material in one spot and our bed rocked really loudly... 

The only solution was to rip out almost the whole room and redo it, but we didn't have enough tile to do that and I worried that might mess up the red guard seal, so they refunded us part of the leveling charges and helped us add some felt tabs to the bed to keep it from rocking.  

It was a miracle our floors got done... but they are pretty and I love them. We still need to do built in cabinets in the living room and base boards (we re-did our closets in the master already), but those are going to wait a bit because we bought hubs a car last year... (Yup, escort finally died).

But for now, we love having floors and this place feels more finished each year. 

Tile Flooring install and materials: $7,323.36

Hotel Stay: $769.02
New Toilet: $206.80 (cause you don't install an old one when you have to pay someone to do it)
New Hot/Cold Valves: $327.31 (Ya, we tried to undo the appliances and the valves were bad.... so we replaced those as well). 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Covid 19 in our little bubble

Well, just as the world shut down in February, so did my blog apparently, again. But alas, I owe a long overdue update to any of you still around on how we have been managing Covid-19. 

Hubs never stopped working. They modified operations at his place of employment and after a brief couple of weeks of rotating three man teams in the building, they switched to a Will Call system and kept things running. Since then, they have let the contractors into the building, but the wear masks, and only the staff can pull things for customers. Surprisingly, his store is set to have the BIGGEST profit year since the great recession. (apparently confining people to their homes makes them yearn for home improvement).  

Little Dude's school shut down. Yup, they shut down like all the other schools and since it was pre-school, there wasn't a ton of "homework" to do remotely, so we lucked out seriously. Little dude started kindergarten remotely from a daycare center and has sense gotten to go back to campus for 1/2 days, with 1/2 his classmates. He's horribly loud on zoom, so in person instruction was a HUGE blessing to get back to. Thankfully, I was recalled to work and didn't have to "zoom" from home.


We found ways to help others. I can't sew very well -- but I can cut a mean fabric square.  In fact, I cut 962 panels for a sewing group to turned them into masks for first responders and members of the community before I went back to work... and we organized food drives, drove meals on wheels, and took care of the community.

We also got creative in our small space. We managed to go "camping" in the living room for hubs birthday, and find creative ways to eat and work that were "fun." 


My center shut down, but opened quickly. The first few weeks being at home and not knowing what was going on was really difficult. Luckily for me, we got creative with necessary work for a few weeks, and the Governor deemed Tennis as a safe activity. Despite closing down March 17 and dealing with a mess in April with part time hours and work justifications, we re-opened our tennis center on May 8, and I was back in the office full time keeping 1 center open by cleaning, disinfecting, and running a Skelton crew where we did it all and got creative to make it work. It was rough closing and then opening the next day and if it weren't for the YMCA daycare centers, I don't know how we would have made it through. I stayed at that location until last month, when we reopened my center for limited services. We are currently taking it a week at a time, addressing demand, and eventually preparing to return more operating hours as we are able.

We Survived home improvement... Yup, a whole flooring post is in the works recapping what happened, as we are still waiting on final decisions with our HOA on who pays for what. 

Emotionally, 2020 has been rough --but not without hope. Along the way, I felt the love of my heavenly father, reassuring us we would be okay. From double rainbows on a rough day, to finding over 20 four leaf clovers in a grass patch by our front door, when I needed those reassuring moments, they came... and I'll be forever grateful for them. 

When our Bishop called to see if we were laid off, could make our mortgage payment, or needed assistance, we got to tell him we would be alright because we did the things we were asked to do when times were more certain. At first he didn't believe us, but by the second check-in call, he realized we would whether this storm. We know we are extremely fortunate to have been able to be as prepared as we were for the unknown.

Society Changed. We waited in line with masks on to enter grocery stores, and banks with lines wrapping around the buildings.... We got close to running out of toilet paper before we found more and hub's boss ordered in bulk for the business, offering rolls to employees if they got in a bind.... We did our best to stay apart from the rest of the world -- including birthdays. Before car drive-bys, lawn signs, and door drops were a "thing" -- we celebrated with the power of three in our home, making the most of what we could.  

Our priorities changed.  Nothing like a pandemic to teach you about what matters most right? Well, weren't immune to that. 

I made some BIG health changes.... I realized I needed to get serious and reached out to a health coach to get to the bottom of why I couldn't loose weight. 5 months later, and I've lost 38 lbs on my five foot self, so I'm about 5 lbs shy of my pre-pregnancy weight without access to a gym... and the best thing is,  I can MOVE again. My migraines are gone... I don't need naps, and I have balanced energy. The downside and upside is that I have had to replace every single piece of clothing in my closet as a result... and if you have every had to buy clothes without access to a dressing room since they are all closed due to a pandemic, it can be pretty darn stressful... especially when you need to do it every 6 weeks after you loose another 10 lbs.... So I'm getting really good at eyeballing sizes, lol.

We also measure time differently. Weekends don't feel long enough, and time off is valued since its more difficult to manage and I know more about what I enjoy working on and what feels more like a chore.

 We spend more time outside as a family, but I also have made a point to carve out time for individual self care, which was practically non-existent before. I've learned to say no more often too. 

We didn't go to church for 8 months... and now, we only go every other week as they split the congregation in half. Masks are mandatory, there is no singing, just instrumental music, we do a shorter service, and ushers seat everyone 6 feet apart in both directions, blocking off pews and rows to ensure social distancing. Heck, we even park every other car in the lot, use one entrance and a separate exit, and they clean the building afterward each group is through with the service.

Towards the end of summer, our immediate family began to gather together for outside stuff because the separation was just too hard and they were ready (we were the riskier ones in the bunch, having to work outside the home with little dude at a daycare). My Sister and Brother in law are working from home, caring for their kids, my mom lives alone and helps them with their kids a couple days a week, but they said it was time, so this has been our concession. Still, we keep it to a minimum. 

Halloween will be an at home event this year. Costumes and a candy scavenger hunt while we do movies and some crafts. We carved pumpkins for the first time too early, but they lasted 2 days or so and looked cool. Thanksgiving will be a trio event as my sister will be hosting more family on her husband's side, and we are staying home. Christmas will be immediate family only at my mom's house (sister, bro in law, her two kids, my mom and us most likely -- and we won't stay all day either).     

California is on Fire. Yup, as I write this half our church boundaries have been ordered to evacuate, and little dudes school and daycare are closed due to the ash in the air. There are road closures too close for comfort by our home, and so we did something we didn't think we would in 2020 after everything else the year gave us ... we pulled important documents and packed go-bags with the basics. It made me really evaluate what I could live without if a fire were to run through and take away everything. Thankfully we remain in our home for the time being, with sleeping bags and a duffle of clothes by the door if we have to go... but fire season in 50 mph winds is no joke. 

We have 65 days left for 2020. I'm not sure what else we can endure, but we will meet it when it shows up because we are resilient... 2020 is the year you put on your pants despite the "zoom attire" and get in the trenches and come out better then before.