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Archive for March, 2010

I quit you! I quit something else today!

March 30th, 2010 at 06:36 pm

I erased this entry because if you are quitting the immature beauty contest then you are defeating the purpose when you write a long ass blog about feeling ugly because you are naturally getting older.

Time to save some space for some real problems.

I decided to be an under-achiever

March 29th, 2010 at 05:41 pm

Work is still taking up all my time. I work 40-45 hrs a week...My boss works 50-55 hrs a week...and his boss works well over 60 hours a week.

Why do people aspire to be successful!? I don't get it. Yeah it's impressive to say you are president/vice president/program director/chair of this or that department...but after a person kind of looks at you in a subservient manner when they hear your title...where is the re-affirmation and sense of satisfaction!? When you get home at 9pm and realize you see your spouse sleeping more than awake? When it's the weekend and you are still thinking about work? When you feel guilty for leaving work at 5pm? When you get to enjoy beautiful weather walking from the office to your car in the evening?

I know people used to work hard because they could pass their business/skills onto their kids, and leave a legacy. But in today's corporate world- you cant leave anything to your kids. Once you quit/retire...you are replaced the next day and forgotten about within a year.

I don't know. I work hard because I have some weird need to please. I get a rush from a job well done. I work hard for the OFFER of promotion and bigger pay. I want to be recognized for my skills...but do I want my bosses job? No. I don't want his stress. Do I even want the position I am in line to be offered (hopefully when raise time comes in July)...maybe. I mean I think so. Well yes I can handle that job. That wont eat into my weekends and time off. I hope.

But I hope it doesn't become a slippery slope where I become accustomed to more and more stress and less and less life-living.

I know a sign of true wealth is when you don't have to work. You have either enough money that people are paid to work for you...or you have passive income that comes in while you golf.

So then are these guys who run around making $1-200k a year the real idiots who are trading in their life for a paycheck? Or are they maybe so in love with what they do that work has become their life- and "living" is the "work" to them? Or maybe they think they are on the brink of hitting "true wealth" where they can stop working altogether? Or maybe there is a bell curve- and once you are over the peek...you start making more and more money but can work less and less. I do see a lot of big players out there on yachts and have wondered how they have time to be partying on boats when somewhere a company is in need of being run.

I don't know. I am about as low on the totem pole as you can get. If there is a working bell curve out there, I have many years of sacrifice before I will even get to the peek...I am just not cut out for that. I am quitting now. (I am so Generation X..you would never hear a Baby Boomer saying this.)

I don't want to diminish my own job prospects (because I like being OFFERED), but I just don't see the trade off when you work your life away for a big title or paycheck.

Like someone commented in one of my previous posts, they "don't remember much from their work life, but will always cherish the memories spent with family." (I paraphrased).

Cheating on you

March 28th, 2010 at 03:42 pm

I feel like I cheated on Savingadvice.com. I spent the better part of today scrolling the internet reading other people's money blogs. Savingadvice is my one true love and I will always be a lifelong loyalist. It's just that I wasn't getting what I needed to fix a temporary financial need.

Since the Impulsive Purchase I have been swinging back n forth wondering if it was a "Big Mistake, "mini mistake", "good idea" or "GREAT Idea". Depending on the specific circumstances of my day -I swing rapidly around between "Great idea" and "Bad idea". I am craving thai food but my credit card is at the limit for the month and I just spent $10,000 on a down payment last month- so I have no extra cash to use to satiate my thai craving...this Impulsive Purchase was not a very good idea. An hour later I pass by a very pretty Salmon colored house and think about how the Impulsive Purchase would look in that color...buying it might have been a Fun Idea. And then tonight I am counting down the days till we collect rent from it and I can see how the rent compounds and maybe it was a Good Idea.

So I have still not decided...Impulsive Purchase: Best or Worst idea ever? The key to our future wealth or the turning point to losing it all?

I drive myself batty sometimes.

So I went out in search of other peoples experiences. I needed to know- how did their investment properties pay off- (or not pay off)? This search evolved into a more...How am I doing (relative to other bloggers that I found in my age /lifestyle group)? How are my decisions/knowledge/lifestyle measuring up against others? I have my own long term goal- what are other peoples goals...how have their decision to do this that or the other impacted their goals and financials?

I know all these answers can be found here at this blog site. But since I have been blogging here for almost 2 years- I feel almost too close to all of you to be able to see any of your situations objectively. Each blog here is so unique because I know all the decisions and factors that make your situation what it is today. So it's almost incomparable. I needed to go out and find a random guy blogging somewhere and use him as a reference point.

And boy did I learn some things! First off- there is some aggressive blogging out there. You can almost feel the financial frenzy. There are people blogging their net worth every month. I appreciate their blogs, but I myself couldn't get so caught up in writing that my networth is up .03% from last month (especially because I have learned that those tiny losses and gains are zereoed out after a few months). But sometimes you need to read those blogs. To see what they are doing, planning and achieving.

Also I think that some people are better at maintaining their annynimity than I am and they can let it all hang out like that. They can talk about their focus to earn a million dollars in the next 5 yrs, or 10 yrs or one person made $7 million dollars in 7 years! - but they can do that because their blog's sole focus and goal is to achieve this particular objective. Me- I think my blogging style is to just document my life. My own personal interest happens to be personal finance- how people choose to spend the money they make- how their life turns out as a result of their financial decisions- so I enjoy the blogs here at Savingadvice most of all. No one here is particularly "showy", "flaunty" or agressive. No one is looking for the fast track to a high end lifestyle. Everyone is pretty open minded, receptive to ideas and slow and steady. I like that.

But this weekend I needed the other type of blogs. The more focused blogs that simply revolve around a particular financial theme.

I learned...that no one knows yet. No one knows if buying real estate is a great thing or a bad thing. No one knows if investing $2400 a month into retirement will mean you can retire early (I do not invest this amount into my retirement- but I read about a blogger who does.)

Some people are very confident in their decisions. Some bloggers think their method is the track to their sucess (and they have multiple charts to predict it). Some bloggers were very confident and agressive in 2005-2006...and you can actually see them slam on the brakes and re-evaluate EVERYTHING in 2007-2008. And some take the current financial recession as a sign of the times, a "well so I lost 30% of my net worth, so did everyone else" attitude. Others are fighting tooth and nail to get back lost net worth. Some are desperately hanging onto their old system- convinced that it was (is) a good method- in bad times. Others are defeated and suddenly start talking about how money is not everything.

Reading blogs in other areas of the internet- where I am not emotionally invested in the outcome because I dont "know" them (as I know all of you LOL)- was refreshing.

So I learned that no one knows. No one knows if investment properties are a good idea or a bad idea. No one knows if there is any sure-fire method to retiring early. And that makes me feel better. Time will tell if the Impulsive Purchase was good or bad. Right now- today- it's whatever I make of it.

A few blogs I really liked and might continue to follow:
http://frugalzeitgeist.blogspot.com/

http://www.myopenwallet.net

Job-Baby?

March 26th, 2010 at 05:24 pm

Things are rolling along. Trying to keep an eye on our budget but with all these weddings coming up and the uncertainty of The Impulsive purchase I feel like giving up for a while. I cant get on a smooth routine with the finances and it stresses me out just trying.

Anyways- BB is doing really well with his job. He loves it and the team seems to love him. I think this will be his forever job.

My job is going really well too. I was getting a bit lazy at it and my boss kind of called me to task about 2 weeks ago by telling me to tighten up and then he also heaped a bunch of additional projects on me- the added responsibility and the sudden clearer understanding of what my boss expects of me made me step up in a way even I didn't think I was capable of.

I killed myself to learn how to do long processes in a shorter amount of time, learn how to do things I had never done before, and to finish my work with a polish that made the work appear that my boss did it himself. He was impressed with my sudden "abilities" and so was I! So I have kind of become second in command in the office as my boss has been leaning on me more and more- fine with me- job security.

Sometimes BB brings up the kid conversation. He wants to maybe make a baby this summer. I think I am finally ready to actually go through labor and make the sacrifices to raise a kid- but I feel like my job is finally turning into a career. My boss is being prepped to be a president of his department- and that would put me in a position to also move in a power type of role- and none of the jobs I have my eye on could be done by working part time.

I don't know. I generally get burned out on jobs around the 2 yr mark. I'm coming up on the 1 years mark- I should just wait another year and then I will probably feel ready to give up the working thing for the baby thing.

I need to stop worrying about the big picture and focus on the smaller stuff. Its the day to day finances that feels out of control. I need to get into a rhythm..even with all these weddings coming up.

Messy Finances

March 21st, 2010 at 07:44 am

My finances feel cluttered. I have been feeling this way since we closed on The Impulsive Purchase. I have been able to ignore it till about last night.

Last night I watched Suze Ormon and her show combined with a very expensive St. Patty's celebration week (numerous people came into town- it's the 3rd biggest St. Patty's celebration in the country behind NY & Boston) made me want to get the finances back on track.

I didn't get anywhere other than realizing the next few months will continue to get murky. So bear with me while I try to at least get the facts down:

On April 1st I will owe my first mortgage payment on The Impulsive Purchase. I will also be trying to collect the rent from 3 different sources before the payment is due. That should work out ok. I will still need to cough up $85.00 because the property is not completely cash flowing due to the ridiculous low rents these tenants pay.

We have the upstairs tenants of the 1st property moving out in the end of May. Have not yet decided if I want to pour about $500 into the place to smooth out the plaster walls, paint and replace bedroom carpeting so I can charge more. But then the place wont be rented for about 2 weeks and that is lost rent. I think in the condition it is in now I can raise the rent...$50 a month. With the improvements I might be able to get out another $150 a month. Trying to be conservative in this recession. I prob should do the work- but the upstairs rent pays my whole mortgage and it might be a bit painful to cough up that payment right now- having just bought The Impulsive Purchase.

The California property is going to be $400 short this month. It was $400 short last month. The fridge broke down and the tenant got a new one for $720 plus taxes and haul off fee. She is splitting the bill in half each month so I don't have to deal with the pain of being $800 short in 1 months rent. But no matter how you slice it the shortage is still painful. But the new fridge is a tax write off- next year I will reap the benefits.

I seem to have entered wedding-land. I have 4 out of town weddings this year and 3 are in Mexico! BB will be accompanying me to 3 of the 4 so then the cost doubles. Just weighing on my mind. Especially because I committed and purchased plane tickets for a Vegas trip in May before I knew about 3 of the weddings. So not sure where the money for all this is coming from. Just gotta keep in mind these are short term obstacles. And 5 vacations in 1 year is very excessive but I guess a good problem to have.

So that's whats on my mind. I am going to be entering a few months where I will be borrowing from one account to pay bills for another...I don't like living that way- I like saving money every month- not going into the red- but I think it cant be helped until maybe July or August.

Then once September rolls around we start trying for the HELOC on The Impulsive purchase so we can convert it into a SFH and move into it. OIY. That will be 2 oir 3 months of having The Impulsive Property vacant while work is done but still being responsible for the mortgage and also living in our 1st property so it cannot be rented out to cover the Impulsive Properties mortgage. Messy messy times ahead.

The only positive is that I am back to E-Baying. I made $300 this month and have more items to list. I am going to try and use that money to make up for the shortages.
So the finances are cluttered. Messy. Not even blogging about it has helped.

My lack of Domestication cost me $69.00.

March 18th, 2010 at 05:19 pm

So the upstairs tenant complained that his washer stopped working in the middle of a load. I ran up there real quick and confirmed that yes- the washer is broke.

I called Sears and agreed to pay a $69.00 service charge plus whatever it would cost to fix. 5 days after the washer "broke"- the repairman comes out and starts it right up!

Turns out the washer has an automatic shutdown if the motor gets to hot. The tenant admitted it was his second load when the washer died. If we had known to wait a few hrs and try it again- we would have saved $69! Oh well- live and learn.

I am not too upset because I thought it would be a $2-300 visit- but was really just $69. Though I should be annoyed I spent $69 for someone to walk in and press "start".

Small things here and there

March 16th, 2010 at 09:13 am

Things are going well. Work has been cutting into my days a lot. I have a new office (with a view!) but cannot cruise the internet anymore because of the way my computer monitor is set on the desk to be seen by everyone walking by.

Money has been difficult. When BB got his job it took such a big burden off my shoulders and we suddenly had so much money coming in we didn't quite know what to do with it.

So we bought a second property. We looked at the long term costs and decided we could afford it- but the 2nd property has really put a new burden on us.

Just little things here and there. But the little things remind me how expensive a BIG thing might be one day.

The tenant in the upstairs unit of the 2nd property complained that there are several tiles missing in the shower. After inspecting further the whole wall is rotting and the tiles will continue to fall. I want to do a patch job since we plan to move into it in the Fall and do a lot of demo- but in the meantime it has to be fixed.

The tenant in the downstairs unit is now responsible for paying $200 a month of her $550 a month rent. The apartment is Section 8 housing (subsidized by the government) so she has to go through yearly evaluations to see how much of her rent she can pay and how much the government will pay. The newest evaluation decided she will pay $200 which is a $200 increase from last year. It worries me that this might be the beginning of bounced checks and late payments.

Then the Washing machine on our upstairs tenant in the 1st property broke. Its a 4 year old combo washer/dryer and it smells like the motor burned out on the washer. I think it will be around $260 to have the repairman replace the motor if that is all it needs.

So nothing heavy- no big issues. Just some small stuff cropping up that makes me wish we did not buy that 2nd property. We barely got to enjoy BB's new paycheck before it started getting eaten up by this 2nd property.

But in the long run it will be worth it. I am just looking forward to the renovations to start so that we can start seeing why we got into this property in the first place.

A walk through Savannah

March 7th, 2010 at 10:57 am

SPRING HAS ARRIVED!!! For today at least. It was so beautiful today I could practically feel the joy of the city.

I grabbed the dog, the camera and meandered around town for a few hours.

Now that I am back I thought I might take you on a picture tour of parts of the city. These pictures are not of the commonly seen Savannah houses- the tours and guides take visitors around "The historic district" which consists of about 6 square miles- but Savannah and it's beauty stretch much farther than the Historic Districts boarders.

First picture is a glimpse of my street...


My next door neighbors house:


This next house is 2 blocks from my house. The house was burned in a fire and sold about a year ago at a public auction for $40,000! The owners live in Germany and I heard they would be coming to Savannah this summer to start the restoration work. I am very excited to see the progress.


Below is the Kiah museum. The previous homeowner was named Virginia Jackson Kiah. She was a local African American artist and was very involved in the Civil Rights movement. She turned her own home into a museum and featured art from around the world and also local artists work. Her husband was one of the first African American presidents of..I think it was University of Georgia. When she died she left the house to the local college of Arts but they have not done anything with it and it has obviously fallen into severe disrepair. It's a shame. Ironically the college named a whole building after her too.


A few blocks farther away:


Below is the Gingerbread House.That's it's real name, though I'm not sure why. It is a showstopper of a house. It is located pretty far from the Historic District so only locals and architect buffs know about this house. Apparently it is one of the best representations of this style of architecture in the South East. It recently was for sale for $2.5 million dollars.


Below is one of my favorite houses in Savannah. I don't think anyone really knows it's here. It's on an obscure street and is a bit run down. But it is just so cool looking. King of like a Victorian Castle.


I snapped this house because the colors remind me of Alice in Wonderland:


This is the only house in Savannah that I can find with Heart Handrails. It's another house that no one notices- but I always delight in walking by it and wondering what it is like to live in a house with hearts carved into the architectural details!


Someone was VERY courageous to choose these paint colors:


Some cool houses. I don't know what type of house they are though.


These are some more run down castles houses. One is abandoned and the other looks like it might be close to abandoned. But I think with some TLC these buildings could be show stoppers.


Another run down house that will one day be beautiful.


This is the "Funny Eccentric Wing House". It's located in a not so great area of the city so I always have a ball walking friends by it. Even people living in Savannah have usually never seen it! I cant figure it out other than it's painted wild colors and someone put a lot of effort into it!




These are "BB's Castle Houses" These can be found when you turn onto the street that also has our "Impulsive Purchase". BB has been in love with these 2 houses since we came to Savannah and I think a big reason he wanted to buy The Impulsive Purchase is because it is a block from these 2 beauties. I must admit- I am looking forward to getting to know the owners of these houses and getting a chance to go inside.


A better pic...


And THIS is the reason I wanted The Impulsive Purchase. This purple Victorian sold just as we moved to Savannah and it has always been on my list of favorite houses. It's only 4 doors down from The Impulsive Purchase!


This is a Church that was converted to condos. Construction is just about done and the condos are up for sale now. This church is a block from The Impulsive Purchase in the other direction.


And since The Impulsive Purchase is on the edge of the Historic District, the houses start getting prettier and better kept up...


And once you are in the Historic District, you will be able to relax in one of the 21 historic squares that fill the 6 square miles (though there are also many squares outside of the Historic District). Below is Whitfield Square:


progress

March 6th, 2010 at 05:00 am

BB just had a meeting yesterday to learn about his retirement options. If he contributes 4% to his retirement, his company matches with 8%!! That seems a little odd...I wouldn't be surprised if he misunderstood- but he (and I) are pumped.

I met with both tenants of The Impulsive Purchase and finally everything is cleaned up in a neat and tidy bow. I have collected the deposits from the previous owner, the pro-rated rent, and the March rent.

Taxes were completed and it looks like the refund will put a small chunk back that we deducted to pay closing costs on The Impulsive Purchase.

Finally- things are getting back to where I was hoping they would be.

BB is doing well with his new job

March 1st, 2010 at 02:09 pm

I might have mentioned this before- but BB was able to go back to the FL baseball school he worked at for the last few years and re-negotiated his payment for providing baseball lessons. He still splits the lesson money 50/50 with the school, but now charges $100 an hour rather than $50 (which personally I think is highway robbery- but people pay it!).

BB knew this would decrease the lesson load- but with his full time coaching job he no longer needs or has time for a big client base.

He just called me to tell me that while he was working today the baseball school set him up for 4 1/2hr lessons tonight!

I am very happy for him. He gets paid by the school 1x a month so he has to wait for the paycheck to come in, and then gets taxed on the lessons- but it's still pretty exciting that he is able to earn so much money.

Here in Savannah BB was charging $50 an hour and only got 1 client out of it. (I admit our advertising was lacking.) I knew for the Savannah economy $50 an hour is a premium price to pay- but in FL the baseball culture is much more competitive and extreme. With spring training, and nice weather year round, and pro athletes living nearby- baseball seems to be taken much more seriously by the parents and getting on JV, Varsity teams is very competitive. (And I'm not saying that's a good thing!)

But the 1 Savannah client BB taught this season was very reliable and his father emailed BB this week requesting tickets to a spring training game! The family is going to go down for a long weekend and wants to see a game against the Braves. BB gets tickets for free so he is happy to give them to the family. The child was in his first game of the season last week and did well enough for the father to email BB a happy report. We are hoping to get more Savannah students next off season through word of mouth from his current client.

Anyways- BB also told me he had to throw batting practice to a few very expensive players and the top "brass" (managers/scouts/coaches)were all behind home plate watching the players intently. He said he felt the old rush as if he was the one being evaluated. I asked him if he regrets retiring and he said "No way." His body is too achey to permorm anymore and like the Tobey Kieth song "I'm not as good as I once was- but I'm ALMOST as good ONCE as I ever was." That wouldnt cut it as a player so BB is happy to no longer worry about pains and injuries. He said he's happy to be on the coaching side now.

I'm relieved. It was a long time to get to this point. BB and I went through some rough spots- but he was able to live out his dream and now we can let that dream go to someone else.

Not much to report

March 1st, 2010 at 12:30 pm

A fresh month for me. I came out considerably ahead in February if you dont count the $12,000.00 spent for closing costs/down payment on The Impulsive Purchase.

This month BB is away in FL and I cannot track his spending. So the numbers will be a bit off- just as they are every season. But BB is on a $1,000.00 a month allowance that gets transferred into his account, so I will just deduct the $1k and catagorize it "BB's spending".

Otherwise not too much is happening.
Which is great. I like it that way.