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Archive for September, 2016

Verizon and/or Hulu

September 29th, 2016 at 07:22 am

As part of the upcoming move, I've been trying to really break down each of my non-essential bills to see where I can cut back. One of the areas was Verizon. We currently have Triple Play. We don't even own a home phone, but Triple Play was cheaper than just Internet and cable. I was looking over the bill, and $82 for the Triple Play package didn't seem to bad compared to our old place which was 93 for the same package and only one Set-Top box. As I was reviewing the details, I noticed they were charging us for DVR service. I called and sorted that out. There will be a $16 credit to this month's bill and future bills will be $8 cheaper. $74 a month for cable and Internet doesn't seem expensive to me. It is a 2-yr. agreement, but the current triple play package is 29.99. After one year, it'll be either 39.99 or 49.99. I guess I'll have to price out just the Internet and figure out if it makes more sense to switch to that when we move since we'll otherwise be locked into the Triple Play package for 2 yrs. If we end up doing just the Internet, then we'll keep the Hulu package I recently added. They had a limited offer for 5.99/mo. for a year. I added it, and the first month is free, so that gives us some time to decide whether to keep or cancel it.

Medical Insurance, an Injury, and Free Stuff

September 28th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

This month was open enrollment at my office. After looking at my options and DH's military insurance, I've decided to jump onto his insurance. We prepaid the first two month's premiums - about $420. I did keep vision and dental with my company and added DH to those plans.

Shortly after settling all that, I fell in the parking lot of BJ's. I rolled my foot and stubbed my toe. I had to get x-rays done yesterday and am waiting to hear back the results, but I can walk on it. I'm also waiting to hear back from the landowner responsible for parking lot maintenance (it was a rather sizable pothole). I have no interest in suing, but I would appreciate not having to pay out of pocket for an injury occurring on their land. All told, it's $100, but still...

In the free stuff category, we've had a couple of interesting happenings. You all already know about the hot tub and the desk/2 computer chairs we got from a generous gentleman who's moving and Freecycle. The same man also has a 2 month old 2-piece couch that he is giving to us. I haven't see pictures yet, but it is brand new. I also entered a Facebook giveaway for an iFetch. I'd planned to buy one in our new place, saw the giveaway, and entered. Apparently, I was one of the winners!! Unfortunately, it may be too small for our dogs to actually use (the balls are only 1.5 inches and our dogs are both 60+ lbs.). It arrived this morning, so I'm interested to try it out and see how our older dog takes to it. If he seems to like it, I may just invest in the larger version. The lady that notified me was very nice and said that while they couldn't substitute it for the larger version, they could send me a care package with treats and a toy that my bigger dogs could use.

Income and Food

September 26th, 2016 at 10:03 am

I want to thank everyone for their input on my tentative budget. We definitely have some thinking and refining to do over the next few months.

Just to reiterate, those numbers were just our combined budget. We each have our own accounts through which we pay car gas, auto maintenance and taxes, any gift or individual spending, etc.

Combined, our income averages 5-6k/month. I bring home a consistent amount whereas DH's income is variable. Since he doesn't carry nearly as much debt as I do, he tends to contribute more to our combined account, but I anticipate that that will change if he snags one of the new jobs. He'll still contribute about 90% of his income, but I'll be contributing more money to the account simply because my income will be higher.

Out of my own income, I usually have 300-400 extra per paycheck to throw at debt, so while I think we'll have to be mindful, I think we'll weather the adjustment to being homeowners just fine.

To prepare for the move, I have a little over a grand in our savings currently. The plan is to get that to 2000 to cover our move out if we can't fill the place. I think we'll be able to do it with DH's commission check mid-October.

I'm also trying to avoid groceries as much as possible. I do know that we need milk and bread, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on eating down our pantry. Tonight is hamburgers and homemade french fries using the remaining potatoes I have.

Yesterday, I went on a cooking spree and made banana chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (half topped with some almond slices I've had in my pantry for awhile). I also made chocolate chip cookies for something sweet in our lunches and a few hard boiled eggs. I've have one of those big bags of chocolate chips for about a year. They're good until next February, but I'm trying to get rid of it before the move. Once I get bread, we should be good on lunches (pbj or turkey/cheese sandwiches, a babybel, a hard-boiled egg, cookie, and fruit snacks).

Tentative Numbers

September 23rd, 2016 at 07:46 am

Below is our tentative joint budget. For now, I will still keep my debts paid out of my own bank account, but that may change. We'd agree that once we were married, I'd close my individual account and pay everything out of our joint account, and DH would keep only his fun money in his individual bank account. We've both sort of changed thoughts on this. He's leaning towards closing his individual account and doing everything out of the joint account, and I'm leaning towards keeping my own account to still pay my debts out of. We'll have more conversations on this coming to figure out what the best plan is. For now, the below numbers only cover our joint expenses.

Our income is up in the air at the moment. My second October paycheck will be the amount I will make until July of next year. Until then, I can just guess. My last paycheck was 1770, but our 401k loan hadn't started hitting yet ($90/pay period). Between that and our insurance changes taking effect in October (I'm moving medical to DH's military plan, but we're keeping dental and vision with my company), I'm not sure exactly what my paycheck will be, but I'm guessing around 1650. The plan is to put 950 into our joint account for a total of 1900/mo from me. DH's paycheck will make up the rest. Based on my math, he'd need to make at least 34k/yr to cover our bare bones budget. He was contacted for a interview at a different company yesterday, so if he ends up getting either of those new jobs, we'd just have to make sure the numbers are right. It seems salary for those positions run between 35 and 40k, not counting overtime, so we should be good. In his current position, DH's income is variable but ran around 60k last year and should be about the same (if not more) this year. While it makes more financial sense for DH to stay in this job, I'm really concerned for the toll it takes on our relationship and his sanity, so I'm hoping he is able to transition into this other industry. It's less money for now, but he'd be home by 4 pm every weekday, have weekends off, and would only have a 10-15 min. commute as opposed to the hour-plus he'd have if he kept his current job after the move.

Anything missing from the list below that I haven't considered? I know we do want to start a home maintenance fund, but I don't how much we'll be able to allocate to that yet.

Rent (PITI) 2370.79
Gas 100
Electric 150
Verizon 90
Groceries 200
Entertainment 50
Miscellaneous 100
Pets 100
Marriott Card 50
Cap One Card 50
Ring 101
Geico 114.76
Med. Insurance 210.83
Total Expenses 3376.55

Other Happenings/Thoughts

September 22nd, 2016 at 09:18 am

Just some random thoughts jumbling around in my head/recent happenings.

We got our wedding video back yesterday on our 4 month mark. It was incredible. We love it so much! Absolutely, positively worth the money. I've already watched it 4 times and it was just the 10 minute highlight video.

The hot tub looks like it's a go. We got the all clear to take it if we wish, and his dad said it looks like it's in good shape. We just need to ensure that it'll fit into his truck, find 6 people to help move it, and then we'll be good. His parents are going to let us store it at their place until our move. Yay for saving!

I've tentatively laid out plans for improvements for the first year. As I mentioned before, the house is move-in ready. There's some minor fixes like sagging gutters, but DH's dad has agreed to help us with those, and DH can actually do some of it himself. The only big splurges that we're planning for the first year were painting, fencing in the backyard, and the hot tub. The fencing we're going to hold off on until we get our tax returns. In the meantime, I am picking up a freecycled dog stake for our younger dog as I'm afraid she would run off and chase something whereas my oldest dog can run freely and listens. The painting will actually happen while we're in the house, but the plan is to live in the basement (it's finished with a living area, bedroom, and bathroom) while we paint all the upstairs, and then move upstairs and paint the basement rooms.

The sellers will be out October 31st. I spoke with our current landlord last night to give him notice, and explain that we'd be out sooner than late November if he wanted to try and turn it around quickly and get someone in there before the holidays. He offered us a different solution which we will be doing. Our current lease states that we can get out of our lease with a $2000 break-lease payment, and 60 days notice. He said that if we wanted to take on the responsibility of trying to fill the place (putting up the craigslist ad, showing the place, etc.) and we found someone, then he'd draw up a new lease removing the fee. If we couldn't fill it, then we'd just still owe the $2000 and rent up until November 20th-ish. DH and I are going to get the place organized this weekend, and place up a Craigslist ad next week. That's not too early, is it? I'd rather give us plenty of time to try and fill it.

I've also been scouring freecycle. I found several desks, so I sent them to DH to see if he liked any of them for the new office. He did like one, and it's still available, so we're picking that up this weekend.

I've been thinking through our budget. I want to get back into tracking through YNAB, but right now, I'm undecided as to whether to get the paid version or continue with the free version. Any thoughts either way?

I also have some ideas about how to cut our spending. I want to try once-a-month cooking with repeated meals - the goal will be to cut our groceries to $50/week or $200 month. Considering we were having trouble staying under $300, this is a big goal, but I already explained to DH that we'd just be doing a lot of simple repetition. Two other big things we're going to do are give up DH's soccer membership and cable. I'm not entirely sure no cable will be all that much cheaper than just Fios internet, but we'll price it out and then make a decision.

I've been reading my old blog entries, and I was so gung ho and good until that Vegas trip derailed my progress. I'm hoping to renew that intensity and really make some progress over the next year. It may not be debt-free by thir-ty, but I'd really like to knock out everything but the mortgage over the next 2-3 years.

The whole house story...and a potential hot tub

September 21st, 2016 at 11:07 am

Since we've officially closed and are now (temporary) landlords, I feel like I can finally tell the house story. I've been keeping quiet because I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but everything worked out.

Let me preface the story with this fact: a month and a half ago, we had no plans to buy a home. In fact, I discussed here about our plans to spend a year in a place to give us time to save up money and really look for a home we loved. About a week after we moved, one of the lenders we'd spoken with told us that the 2 year employment period of commission-based employees was flexible. It was a military-focused lending institution, and since DH had 1.5 yrs under his belt and was in school the remaining time, they could get a waiver for the 2 yr. requirement. We went ahead and applied for kicks and ended up with a $400k approval in our hands.

For anyone familiar with the DMV area, it's REALLY difficult to find single family homes in a decent location under half a million. So even with the approval, we figured we'd start looking, but likely would have to do some additional mortgage lender shopping once we hit the 2 yr. mark at DH's company.

We started by looking at Zillow and reaching out to DH's family friend who is trusted realtor (she helped us in looking for the place we're currently in). She told us that of the 6 homes we'd wanted to take a look at from Zillow, only 2 were actually available. We went on a Thursday to look at the one we really liked. It was even better in person. For a 30 year old home, the house had only been through 2 owners, and these people had really taken care of it. All appliances were under 5 yrs. old. And there was storage/shelving everywhere. They'd also done some neat quirky things like turning the area under the stairs into a storage closet and installing a laundry chute from the master bedroom to the utility room in the basement. It had a sunroom and a deck and a patio (perfect for a hot tub) and (our only requirement) a HUGE backyard. I loved the house, but was really hesitant to admit it because 1) it was the first house we saw and 2) it was bumping right up against our $400k limit.

After that first house decided to look at a house we'd seen around the corner that was for sale. It had been on our Zillow list, but hadn't made the short list of homes we wanted to see. We were not impressed. The first turnoff was the 4 or 5 huge hornets hovering around the tree in the backyard. From there, it just got worse. The floor plan felt much more stifling, it wasn't kept up as well, and to top it all off, it was more expensive than the first place.

At the end of the day, we couldn't stop thinking about the house, so we decided to ask his parents to look at it. DH's dad is a contractor, so he'd be able to tell us if it was in as good a shape as it seemed. I was also hoping his mom would talk us away from the ledge. She even told us at dinner the evening before they saw it that they'd look at 30-something homes before committing (although they knew instantly that the one was it). The next morning, they made it through the living room and kitchen before they turned around and told us we'd be crazy not to take the house (so much for that...).

I spoke with the realtor to get a quick idea of the numbers. I knew I could pull from my 401k, but even with that, we might be short. DH's parents graciously agreed to help us, and by Monday morning, we were under contract.

Yesterday, we closed. However, the sellers have asked to rent back from us until the end of October. So now, we wait to move in.

The good news is that with the 60-day notice needed to vacate our current contract, we should have little (if any) overlap in rents/mortgages.

DH and I are super excited to get into our home. We already have some basic ideas, but the house is essentially live-in ready. We do know that one of our first big improvements will be to fence in the backyard. This will allow us to let the puppies run freely and give us some privacy once we get the hot tub (can you tell I really, really want a hot tub?).

Speaking of hot tubs...I joked about it at the end of our closing just to keep it fresh in DH's mind. Well, our realtor chimes in and says 'I actually just did a quote for a hot tub removal. In fact, your dad (DH's contractor dad) is doing some work on the place and will probably be the one to remove it. I think it's in good shape if you guys want it.' Uhhh....of course we do!! DH's dad saw it today, and said it definitely looks like it's in good shape, so the plan is to see if it'll fit in his truck and then his parents would keep it at their place until we move in. Score!!!

Obviously this will mean some very different things for our finances, so updates on that coming soon.

Everything but the kitchen sink...

September 20th, 2016 at 07:42 am

Well, actually, it's everything but the whole house. I'm going to save the crazy house story for tomorrow.

Today, I'll fill in everything else that's been happening. DH (still makes me incredibly happy to say!) and I have been experiencing a ton of life changes.

My Work: My job has been giving me increased responsibilities. I was selected to be a part of a team for a proposal challenge which we did last week. It was a whirlwind to prep for, and a blast to be a part of, but I was so exhausted at the end of it. They've also set me as the interviewer for several new testing positions that are available. It's nice to feel recognized for my value to the company.

DH's Work: DH has recently become very jaded with his company. He's started looking at transitioning into a different industry and interviewed last week with a company. He's got a pretty good shot, so I'm hoping he hears some good news in the next week or two. While it would be considerably less money, it'd be stable hours and income, and would make for a much happier home life, so fingers crossed!

Recent Move: We've been in our current place for about 2 months. I still don't feel settled and probably won't given that we're not unpacking anything.

Finances: These have been on a major downslide. We've been great about not eating out or spending on silly things, but just given the circumstances, we've added on some temporary extra debt Frown I'm hoping these will stabilize in a few weeks, and we'll be able to see some progress.

Cooking: I've been on a cooking roll recently. I've never been very comfortable in the kitchen, but I'm certainly improving. I'd like to get into preparing healthier meals, but delicious, home-cooked comfort food is about all I got going right now.

Fitness: I seem to be maintaining which is good. I tend to eat or drink my stress and given everything that's been going on lately, I'm glad that I'm at least not adding weight.

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 08:55 am

I haven't been around much lately because it seems like my world is spinning much faster than I'd like. To quickly summarize, we are dealing with increased responsibilities at my job, a recent move, a potential new job for DH, and my biggest reason for keeping quiet...a house! I'll elaborate later, but for now, here's my list:

1. I turn 30 this year and started this blog with the intent of being fully debt free by that age.
2. Since starting the blog, I've been through 3 moves, a new relationship that turned into a marriage, and this coming Monday will be closing on our first home. Needless to say, that whole debt-free thing is not going to happen.
3. I live in the DMV area and traffic here is an absolute nightmare.
4. I got married this past May and will celebrate 4 incredible months on 9/21.
5. DH and I have 2 dogs and a cat (Bouncer, Riley, and Katniss). I'm so in love with our little family.
6. I coach kids' cheerleading. It is one of the most rewarding, and frustrating, things I've ever done.
7. DH and I really can't wait to expand our family and have children, but with all of our recent life changes, I've recently become super committed to putting that off until our financial situation is more stable.
8. I've never been outside the U.S.
9. I'm an interesting blend of cultures: Filipino, Spanish, French, and German. No one can ever really tell what I am. Our future kids will be that + Navajo and Guatemalan.
10. I've always been afraid of cooking, but I've really blossomed in the past few years. While I still mostly follow recipes, I am getting more comfortable with experimenting and making my own choices/substitutions.
11. About a month ago, I discovered that you can bake hard-boiled eggs, and I will never cook them on the stove top again.
12. I've never met any SA bloggers in person, but I do think it would be fun to do!