Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I am really proud of us all for being very frugal while putting thought and effort into the holidays to make it special. Memories don't cost a thing!
Enjoy your days off from work...and try to give the turkey's a nice day too...maybe not buy a turkey?...save some cash?
Archive for November, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I am really proud of us all for being very frugal while putting thought and effort into the holidays to make it special. Memories don't cost a thing!
eBay has slowed down to a point it's agonizing listing items!! WHAT is going on??
3 days ago I listed items all day and as I was listing I was habitually checking my auctions and NOTHING!! No messages, no bids no watchers! So weird- I'm used to lots of action on my stuff.
And the weirdness has continued...the past two days the activity has been really disappointing. 2 days ago all my ending auctions sold for the opening bid...and today 3 of my 5 auctions DIDN'T SELL AT ALL!
I am guessing that people are holding off shopping till black Friday...and they are not even going on ebay to avoid the temptation...
or it's because I stopped selling gift-y items (I ran out/sold it all) like the swarovski and strongwater stuff...I moved onto pottery and dishware. And dishware isn't exactly something you need to spend money on at the holidays.
But I have started listing the Lenox china this week and it's also not taking off as I hoped it would. C'mon eBayers...don't you need china for all your holiday parties? (Though it recently occurred to me that I should have listed Lenox two weeks ago when people would have been looking to have items shipped in time for their Thanksgiving dinners...sigh. you cant win them all.
Oh well...$4 is better than $0 and the place is getting cleared out in preparation to maybe move soon...3 Tupperware bins are empty in the garage...4 more to go!
I paid off the computer on the 0% Bestbuy card. I have 10 more months of 0% interest, but I have the money now and don't want it on the credit report. So that's done.
Working on bank pre-approval for a mortgage. I initially went on lendingtree a few months ago and was pre-approved within a few hours...but it didn't feel legitimate. We are somewhat risky on paper and they just didn't ask enough questions... I don't want to start a house buying process to have the financing fall through.
So we went to WAMU and have the opposite problem. They are very non-personal and are only looking at a certain set of numbers and not listening to the explanations we provide around the numbers. After waiting almost 2 weeks I get an email asking me to provide an explanation for purchasing a primary residence in GA when BB is contracted to work in TX.They also asked why BB worked for 4 different companies in a span of 6 months...("its not companies! It's teams!") they are not really taking our situation into account. They keep saying BB was "fired" when he was traded...Thats a blow to the self esteem to hear (trading is good! Firing is bad! Dont label me fired!)...Then they also want an explanation for buying a duplex rather than a SFH. BB just got fired up at their emails and then no response attitude.
So we are now working with a woman in GA who so far is friendly, listens and works hard. We just priority mailed off our paperwork to her so hopefully we will have a pre-approval that I feel comfortable with in a week or two.
So that is 3 agencies who have checked our credit in the last 3 weeks...our excellent credit is our most valuable asset at this point and I do get nervous allowing all these people to check the credit but it is what it is.
The woman in GA of course asked all our income and sadly I couldn't talk about ebay without IRS problems-which is too bad because I have been earning a normal middle class salary off of ebay. oh well- I will keep earning and the lender will keep asking where all this money keeps coming from and I will just keep saying I am downsizing to move to the smaller space. Which is true. I'm just downsizing pretty hardcore.
Well, I just added a couple thousand to my house savings fund...and the house we want just lowered their price AGAIN! by $13,000.
Seller is suddenly motivated. $26,000 price drop in 2 months.
Our duplex is now at a very reasonable price and I am panicked someone will snatch it up. I was counting on that "just a tad unreasonable" price to scare away buyers.
We are still going through the pre approval process so we are not in a position to put in an offer yet.
Hopefully the stars will align soon.
Possibly ignorant question...but people always make remarks such as "oh you are only making interest payments at this point" when you say that you made a payment on your mortgage if you are a new homeowner.
Mortgages- why is it that you are paying primarily interest in the beginning of your loan, and more principal as you pay the loan down?
I would think that if you get a mortgage for $100,000 @ 6% for 30yrs...I would think the bank divided $100,000 by 360 months (length of loan) =$277 and then charged 6.0% interest on the $277.00....but the mortgage calculator says the monthly payment is $600.00...why??
So I just called the renter on the property I inherited across the country and left her a voice mail. She and her daughter have been living in the place for the last...5 years? 6 years?...and when I inherited the property the renter had been there many years already and no lease was in place. It's a standard "I take care of you, you take care of me." agreement.
I chose to keep that agreement going so as to not rattle the boat. An excellent renter is an excellent renter. And she has been excellent.
Now with the possibility of buying a house, the darn bank is red taping everything up by asking for a lease.
This leaves me to grapple with some questions I have been delaying to think about:
1. Did the renter ever pay a security deposit when she moved in? I don't know. I have not asked her because well really- what kind of answer am I going to get? "Of course I paid a deposit! First AND last months rent."
2. And then there is the guilt that she has been living in a 1980's property that has never been renovated. When she tells me an appliance has broken she buys the new item and sends me a receipt. Other than that- no changes. Same carpeting, fixtures..everything. I feel like a slumlord- I have never even had the carpets cleaned in it.
So I guess right now I don't want to rock the boat. I am afraid to ask her long term plans because...in this buyers market real estate climate after she has been renting so many years...I am afraid to hear the answer.
I am afraid to ask about the security deposit because I am afraid she will think "I have several thousand dollars coming to me in the form of a security deposit"...and get ideas about moving to a more modern updated place.
And I am afraid she wants to move and I have to take my house down payment money and move across the country for a few weeks to renovate it while debating to sell it in this bad market or pay a management company to find me a new tenant. And from reading the blogs on here- dream tenants are hard to find. If I decide to keep the place then the down payment money I spent on renovations is gone...and no buying a house.
Sigh. I know calling the tenant and clearing the air is the right thing to do. The responsible thing to do. I am just really afraid of the answers.
I have $11.00 in "cash back points" on my Discover card. The card has $0 balance and cash back points can only be deducted in multiples of twenty. I need to figure out a way to purchase an item- build my points up to 20 and then apply those to the card and pay it off. This way I can get the $11 I 'earned'.
But Discover is tricky- giving you double points on certain purchases and so forth.
I would need to be very careful one purchase at a time then going online to see the new points balance before making another purchase.
I don't want to get into a situation where I need to go through this all again because of an extra few dollars in points left on the card.
I cant believe this is one of the more prevalent topics on my mind right now. I need to get a life.
I am listing like a mad woman on eBay. Once I broke through the "Its only worth a few dollars" barrier I realized I have TONS more things to sell on ebay!
DisneySteve's motto "sell anything that is not nailed down" is my mantra.
BB and I are serious about putting in an offer by christmas and I:
1. dont want to PAY to move all this stuff across state lines
2. every dollar helps!
So I have been going through boxes in the garage. The house looks like a tornado right now but I feel so satisfied that I can ALMOST envision the amount of stuff we will be moving!
Before it was so overwhelming thinking we would be moving bins, boxes and cases of stuff with us only to take it from the garage here and move it into the attic there.
Every listing added makes me feel so much 'free-er'.
BTW- wildlife removal man came by and set armadillo traps. I THINK he will not kill the little guy- he said if we trap him, to move it to our back porch and blanket the trap to keep him warm because its getting cold at night and they don't have much body heat. -So I don't think the man would be concerned with the armadillos comfort only to turn around a kill it.
We have an Armadillo living under our house. I think it's hilarious. BB and I are both from New England and these weird looking nocturnal rodents/animals? are such a conversation starter for us. "oh look! An Armadillo!!"
Now we have one that chose to make his home underneath our house. So cute!
Sadly...we have to remove our new neighbor. I have no problem letting him stay but am afraid of him causing foundation issues if he lives there for several years. (After some research I learned they dig a home and live there for their lifetime.) I worry this guy has human-like qualities and will soon think his home is too small and dig a larger and deeper hole. And maybe a family will be born there and they will need a bigger and deeper home still. And then in 5 years half of the house is tilted as it sinks into this hole!
So I called a trapper to come out this weekend. They PROMISE they will humanely trap him and release him into the wild. If their website says they are no kill-then they are no kill-right?
The trapper wants $450 to remove the little guy. So for $450 they better not kill him.
I'm already attached to him. I feel honored that he feels secure enough to make a home underneath me. I feel very guilty for calling the removal service. He didn't do anything to me. Now I'm going to invade his home and cause all this trauma to him.
LUCKILY as a RENTER...this is not $450 coming out of my pocket. Landlord takes care of this bill. Makes me relieved that I don't own a home! I need to hang onto this feeling.
In a continued effort to clean out the house to prepare for an eventual move when we buy a house...I listed a bunch of broken electronics on eBay today.
Several Sony cameras if anyone needs a broken camera. I don't know who would...but they are on ebay if you want em!
Funny how things just accumulate because an item breaks and it gets stored away instead of being thrown away when it is replaced.
I have a bunch of old cell phones I need to rehome now....
I got nothing big to report so I will blog about a small stroke of luck or the trickery I used to double my ebay earnings today. Not sure which way to interpret the events.
Weeks ago I listed a barbie doll MINT in original box for $10...item did not sell. I was not surprised, this barbie was not selling for $5 in most auctions. (I don't know why I listed the doll for $10 in the face of knowing it would not sell)
I relisted the item again for $10 on the off chance that the Christmas season might draw out a bidder.
Well after 6 days of no bidders or watchers I finally got a bidder 1 day before auction ends.
That night the bidder emails me telling me it is her daughter who placed the bid who did not know the mother already purchased the same doll for a Christmas gift. I tell the woman that if she wins the auction I will file a "mutual retraction" so she does not need to pay for the item. I was too lazy to look up how to cancel a bid and decided to just wait for the auction to end and cancel the transaction then.
Well lo and behold- 10 minutes before the auction ends a person bids on the doll. The bids were unsuccessful because the little girl who hijacked the account bid up to $20.00. So this second bidder bid the barbie all the way up to $21.00!!
So that is my story of how I managed to double my ebay earnings by being lazy...or I used trickery to manipulate someone out there in ebayland into paying double the worth of the item.
I am not sure if it is my lucky day or I should feel guilty.
BB's Xbox 360 has been freezing up and eventually froze up so much BB gave up and bought a new one. Is the old one worth anything to anyone?
I appreciate all the input regarding our plans to buy a duplex. Hearing about trashed houses and selling for a loss due to poor upkeep was a little sad to hear! But it's important information for me to know about when pursuing this plan.
We are going to stick with it (our plan to buy a duplex). We wont be able to get a mortgage for a property without the rental income provided from the duplex.
BB and I were going through our tax info today to get the paperwork in order for the mortgage application...BB made $5,000 in 2006. $5,000!! I don't know how we lived. No wonder I was always on his case to quit baseball and get a different job. He made $10,000 last year...he is gloating that he doubled his income-I am gloating that we lived a normal life off that income! Plus we also had my rental income of $14,000 last year.
I'm not sure how we live like we make middle class money when we made $24,000 this year...I REALLY don't know how we lived normally when he was making $5,000 a year.)
If I knew how we stretch the money then I would write a book. Titled "How to live off of $25,000 a year but feel like you make $40,000." But our lifestyle and I guess our income level is so normal to us that I feel like we live a normal life. We only miss out on the Big extravagances in life. I guess all those scrimping and living frugal secrets really add up!
Anyways- I am afraid to show the bank our taxes from the past two years because I think the lender handler will turn pale and start talking about how maybe we are not ready to buy a house right now...LOL. Even I didn't realize we make so little money.
So we'll see what they say. Who knows.
In other news- my stupid camera broke and I had to buy a new one today. I'm in the middle of the eBay crunch before Christmas and cant afford to even go a week without listing items. grrr...so I am $170 poorer.
Well, I got houses on the brain. Yesterday the house we are interested in buying dropped another 10k in price. The owner has dropped the price $24,000 since it went on the market over 6 months ago. Good news- but I think there is still room to negotiate.
I'm sure nobody cares to hear me going on about this house...but here I go anyways. Writing out my thoughts helps me organize my thoughts.
The house is actually a duplex. Baseball boy and I have been looking at duplexes since we discovered that actively rented duplexes are counted as your income when applying for a mortgage. We have always 'talked' of owning real estate and making our income that way...but we always talked of buying a house and renting it out later when we upgraded. Now we have our sights set on first a duplex-later a single family home.
For us it seems to make sense:
The 2nd unit will pay a majority of the mortgage (helpful when I am unemployed, BB is underemployed).
Both units can be easily rented out if we decide to travel, move, whatever.
Repairs, taxes and improvements made to the rental unit is tax deductible!
The income allows us to have an income..but not have to work 9-5 everyday so BB can continue to play ball.
If we mess up the fixing-upping of one unit we can rent it out and move into the other unit and try decorating again!(mess up- as in: choose bad paint colors or ugly tiles).
Duplexes tend to cost just 50% over the cost of a SFH...so you get 2 units for 1.5x the price.
This duplex currently has the bottom floor unit rented for the next 8 months for $995 a month. We are HOPING to get the house for about $210k...leaving us to just cover the remaining taxes, insurance ect by a couple hundred dollars.
This house is one of the uglier houses on the block. There are some uglier ones...but this house is by no means the biggest or most impressive. BB is talking a lot about changing the trim paint colors from brown to white...and claims that will really help the curb appeal. I think maybe some sod will help the curb appeal. Actually, I think re-boxing in the front doors will really help the curb appeal.
The house is in a very desirable area. I'm surprised we can afford this location. It's 5 blocks from the big central park in the city, 2 blocks from a grocery store and 2 blocks to a cute shopping area, and a few blocks from the local big college.
A bit about the house:
The house has an UGLY outdated kitchen and bathroom. This way there will be no guilt from ripping out cabinets just to put in cabinets to fit my taste. And the backyard is way overgrown with weeds and junk. There is a metal garage in the backyard that basically looks like it MIGHT fall down soon. BB wants to immediately redo our kitchen and bath...but I actually explained that if we buy this place then my first priority is landscaping the backyard and securing/fixing the garage up. I want to do these things FIRST because if you dont do them when you first move in...you just never end up doing it. Until it's time to sell and you realize "Gee! That garage out back would be a real selling feature for the house if only it was not overgrown with weeds!" But I figure the kitchen and bath will eventually get redone because every time we walk into the room we will have a replaying fantasy about hardwood floors and updated fixtures. BB actually understands my thinking and agrees with me.
BB gave me hope for buying the fixer upper yesterday. I have mentioned in my blogs that though he SAYS he can sheet rock, electric, lay tile and grout...I have never actually seen him DO anything handy. Well yesterday- we went to Home Depot, rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned our rented house carpets ourselves. Maybe that's no big deal for you experienced homeowners...but for the past 3 yrs that I have lived here, I have paid a company to come in once a year and clean our carpets. This year- we are saving for a house. We don't have $120 to pay for carpet cleaning. So we decided to do it ourselves. And we did it! It was only $40 and took 2 hours! I'm so impressed with us. Yesterday gave me hope that we CAN do household handy stuff!
And now when we move out of this house...hopefully we will be leaving it in the same condition we moved into it. And I can feel good about being a good renter. Since I will maybe soon have renters myself...I am improving my renter karma this way.
In other news-the other duplex we looked at that I LOVE!! dropped $7,000 off its list price yesterday as well. This house is larger, all upgraded, has STAINED GLASS WINDOWS, and WOODEN BEAMS in the ceiling..and a RENOVATED attic featuring a half bath!! All for 10k LESS than the other duplex...but its not in a good area. The surrounding streets are crime filled and the city projects are only a few blocks away...so sadly this house is not an option for us. I am so sad about that house. The block is lovely- all updated and big houses...but it's just 2 blocks of a GREAT neighborhood surrounded by crime...so we figured that for appreciation values- it would not be a good investment. I'm still sad about that house though.
You can see which house I like huh? Crime area house- I LOVE. This nice area house- eh. I like the area. And I like the unfinished attic potential (though a finished attic would be nicer)...and I like the potential for the backyard, the garage, the kitchen, bathroom...but that's a lot of work. And $$.
But I think this puts me in a better position for the negotiating..because I don't love the property. If I was negotiating for the crime area house- I would get really emotional about it. This place- I am more objective and it keeps me a little smarter. I hope.
And I have to keep telling myself that we are NOT BUYING A HOUSE right now!! I keep thinking about it and planning for it. But I need my patience right now. I want to see if this government first time home buyer package changes before we start making offers.