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Catch Up...and pictures!

February 2nd, 2012 at 07:53 am

So much has happened in the last few weeks! I'm behind in everything.

To start, the CA condo went up for sale 2 weekends ago. I posted before pics in a previous post. BB and his friend went to CA for 10 days and added new floors throughout, repainted every surface except the cabinets, had the heating replaced, changed all fixtures and had the place professionally cleaned.We had a stager come in and finish off the place to get it ready to put on the market.
Here are the after pictures:

We recieved an offer $20k below asking within 3 days and countered at $3k below asking. They did not counter back. Then 3 days ago we recieved an offer $3k OVER our asking price!

There are some issues for concern. The buyers want to use an FHA loan, and this HOA FHA eligibility expired a few months ago. The realtor is concerned about getting an appraisal to support the purchase price. Before this offer, she really pushed me to be happy with a purchase price $10k below asking. I thought our asking price would be a no brainer easy to get, but she had a lot of hesitancy. And now she is worried about the appraisal. Also the buyers are purchasing AS IS, but you never know how the inspection will turn out. But those are out of my control, so I am letting the realtor handle it.

In other news, on my side of the country, BB has been working hard on his new rental property. The downstairs unit has been complewtely repainted, recaulked, new bath vanity, smoke detectors and some window fixings. The roof has been repaired. The place was listed on Craigslist for rent since Sunday and we have 2 showings set up before the weekend.

Here are pictures of the downstairs unit:

So this weekend, BB and I will get the upstairs ready to rent. The upstairs does not need nearly the work the downstairs needed.

And then my work has been exhausting me. My boss is out this week b/c he had twins over the weekend. I unofficially took over his job as best as I could. I simply dont have enough hrs in the day to get everything done. I knew this would be a tough week, but I have put in 40 hrs in 3 days! Thursday and Friday will be pure overtime for me. I was so stressed today, I almost cried. But I didnt. I now have so many people to report too...I leave the office every night in good shape. I have a to do list set up for the next day and it seems managable. Then throughout the day there are so many unexpected phone calls, so many unexpected interruptions, and so many more people emailing me for updates! Asking when X report will be done, when I last did Y, am I going to do W, why hasnt Q been done. OMG I cxould get everything done in the day if I didnt have 5 people breathing down my neck constantly requesting updates. And I dont think the 5 people are very aware of each other...they think they are the only person I am reporting to.

But it is a great opportunity for me. I am being given responsibility to handle things way beyond my authority level, and aside from not getting things done fast enough to please my temporary bosses...there have been no catastrophes. Well, there were an unusual amount of catastrophes last week that I'm still cleaning up this week...Aand that is slowing me down too. But thankfully those issues cant be attributed to me taking over and making mistakes. They were problems that had been building and we couldnt contain them any longer.

Ugh. I wish I had more time to focus on the Real Estate. But right now I really trusting people around me so I can focus on work.

It feels good to vent.

New Financial Normal

January 22nd, 2012 at 11:29 am

A lot going on right now, I'm writing to just organize my life.

On the property side of life...

BB has returned from California. The job remodeling ended up being way bigger than we anticipated. New paint, flooring went down in every room, the heating was replaced, new faucets, light fixtures and then cleaning every surface.

I have not yet organized the receipts to get an idea of the cost of this trip. Including airfare, car rental, food, I am guessing in the $7-9k range.

BB and our friend spent about 8 days working on the condo getting it ready to list. They had 2 full days to play. They enjoyed the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco but really loved the Redwood forest.

So the property went on the market a few days ago. Yesterday there was an open house and I am told 9 couples came out to view it.

I've got a few more papers to sign, send back and then that place will be off my priority list and fully in the Realtors hands.


We close on the Chocolate house Monday. The lawyer found a problem with the title and the bank needed a few days to get that cleared up.

BB has lined up a few contractors to make repairs, updates next week and we are hoping it will be ready to rent by the end of the week.

Renters move into the upstairs unit of my other rental in February. January was a tough month to go without renters, but I have learned to show the units after they are vacant. Showing while the old renters are still occupying the unit hoping for a seamless transition does not work for me. The unit is generally filled with dirt, chaos and does not show very well. So I wait till the old renters move out, clean it up and show it. This means a few weeks of vacancy, but saves me the hassle of giving 24 hr notice to the renter, and then showing it 10+ times. When it's vacant, it rents easily. This time I only had to show it 3x.


When BB returned from CA his back was really in pain. We went to FL to see his back Dr to get injections to reduce swelling. BB is feeling better now. But he still cant do much around the house.

We are waiting on Cobra paperwork to fill out for his health insurance. I think the old insurance ran out in early Jan, and we need Cobra to cover these injections. On Monday, BB will call to see where the paperwork is.

I ran the numbers last night to get a sense of our 2012 income verses 2011 income (when BB was employed). We are short about $2400.00/month even if we count the full $3k of new rental income.

There are a lot of variables that changed besides losing BB salary. He recieved bonuses a lot which averaged to about $1k a month. Our health care was free. His employer matched 10% retirement contributions.

We were collecting rent from the CA property as well. The property that is now up for sale.

But on the flip side...selling the CA property...I plan to pay off my primary house mortgage, HELOC and CC bills, reducing my expenses about $2k a month.

And once those are paid off, I want to refinance our mortgage on our first house from a 5.5% rate to maybe a 4% or whatever I can get. That will reduce the mortgage by maybe $100.

So although we are losing a significant income with BB job loss, we can still pay our fixed monthly expenses. I am anxious to get everything settled so we can get a feel for our new financial normal.

10/31 Tax Deferred Exchange?

November 11th, 2011 at 05:02 pm

I need some help with a tax rule. I talked with a realtor in California today and set up a date to meet with her when I travel to CA this month to make a decision about the CA property (rent or sell).

I like her so far. She is very friendly, knowledgable. She told me about 2 tax items I need to keep in mind:

10/31 Tax Deferred Exchange
I can use the proceeds of selling the property to buy a property in my state and there is a tax break if I choose to do that. She told me to talk to a tax lawyer about it. Is anyone familiar with this? Can someone explain this to me better?

FITB (Foriegn Investment Tax Back)
Any out of state owner selling a CA property has to pay 3.33% tax on proceeds to the state of CA. It's a tax that is unique to the state of CA. Is there any way to get out of that one?

I was able to follow the rest of her conversation well. We talked about the property and renting vs selling. She said she has property managers on her team if I decide to go that route. She is gointg to email me a few listings soon so I can starrt becoming familiar with the market.

Just venting, rambling and organizing my thoughts...

November 9th, 2011 at 05:19 pm

Greetings, this blog posting is going to be a vent just to get all my jumbled thoughts into an organized process.

First I feel like I have had a wave of financial problems hit me all in the same month. Stupid October. And I feel like the problems stem from a bad decision I made by buying the Impulsive Purchase. I wish I could say it was a Stupid decision but it was actually a good decision. Short term pain (right now) for long term gain.

To start with the decision that caused the problems: Husband (BB) and I were living in ˝ of a duplex that we owned, and rented the other half out. Our financials were pretty secure but then BB got a big time job and our finances really improved. We decided (in 2010) that the real estate market was at a great time to buy and we really needed more space, and would like to live in a better part of town. We found a rundown duplex on a great street in an ideal part of town for way below market value. And within a few days we bought it without really, really considering the possible consequences.

At first things were good. We left it rented out for 6 months while we replenished the savings from the 3% down payment and closing costs. During this time we took out a HELOC on the first home to use for renovations of the 2nd home.

Once we began renovations, our budget was completely unprepared for this building. Our contractor found unanticipated structural problems, and we learned along the way that his “vision” of what we wanted and our “vision” was vastly different. So all the things we thought we would be getting suddenly turned into an extra cost. It’s not that we got taken advantage of; the contractor is BB’s best friend. And every time I went to the job site (2-3 times a day) the men were working. No sitting around or wasting materials. But it was a “oh you want crown molding in this room?” and “wait, you want subway tile in the shower not 12 x 12 tiles? The subway costs a lot more to put in because of the labor and additional time it takes to install. And subways are like .50 a piece versus a 12x 12 for $1 a piece.” (To tile 2 showers was $1338.00 in just tile). So it was little things like upgrades that I thought was standard and my contractor didn’t anticipate when we were discussing budgets. And it was things that were needed that the contractor didn’t think of like blinds for the master bedroom. $350.00 for 3 wood blinds! And $160.00 for light dimmers! Then there were big expenses like the original Air Conditioning unit breaking 2 weeks into moving in. That was a $3200 unanticipated expense. And $1729.00 in dumpster charges! I look at the detailed budget I kept and nothing sticks out as “the biggie” charge, just a lot of unanticipated and more expensive than thought charges.

So the budget went from $40k to an end product of $120k. And I know that is mind blowing. I thought it was mind blowing for a long, long time. Luckily the we gained about $50k in equity over the renovations we put in; the building 2 doors down equally renovated just sold for $90k over what we are into for our place. I congratulate myself that we walked away with debt of the $45k HELOC and $15k in credit card bills. The rest we covered out of savings and paychecks. And we did get the card down to $7k but then October came along and things are complicated and overwhelming.

BB lost his job. That’s the real issue at play here. If it was not for this, we could weather any of the rest of the things that came along. BB was on a year to year contract and his job called in Oct to say they are not renewing when the contract runs out in December. That was a totally unanticipated blow that hit us financially and hit BB hard mentally. He loved the job and was crushed. Aside from the depression and despair and disconnect he is now in, I don’t see another job of that caliber coming his way. He is a baseball coach and those jobs are hard to come by. We have sent out his resume to all teams 3 times since he got the news and we have gotten back 90% negative responses. There is one glimmer of hope with a team but they won’t know until mid December. I’m not counting on it.

We also contacted the local universities but there are no openings right now.

If the coaching does not pan out, BB has no other skills to fall back on. He has no degree, no office skills, no experience. He is exploring getting a phlebotomy? License but that will be 6 months of courses and just knowing BB I know he won’t follow through with it. Though right now he thinks he will. So he is counting on a Phlebotomy salary of $12-14 an hour, maybe with benefits, even though he is not signed up for courses, has no idea how to get into the field and has no contacts in the industry. He is kind of useless to long term plan with. I’m on my own in the realistic planning department.

So without his salary, we can get by on my salary and our rental income. We will be able to pay about $500 a month toward the CC and still live somewhat comfortably.

But then my long term renter in CA is moving out in January due to long term unemployment. For 13 yrs she paid $1750 a month and last year it was reduced to $1200 to accommodate her job loss. I recently blogged about whether to continue to rent, renovate or sell the property. I’m still undecided and constantly thinking about it. I’m kind of leaning towards selling to ease the current financial strain of BB’s job loss, the CC bills and the HELOC. Though I worry about missing out on long term benefits of having the property to ease short term problems. (Although BB is not very employable, I do think a baseball job will come along in the next 2-3 years.)

And now one of my renters here in GA announced they are not renewing their lease which runs out in January. I think we can get that rented out within a month, so it is a loss of one month’s income but it’s just an added stress that weighs on my mind. With the loss of that rental income just for the month January combined with the other lost revenue streams, we are going to scrape by that month.

How could this have been avoided?

I used our emergency fund to pay down the CC bills that were charged for the renovation. I had never touched the fund before and figured getting rid of the interest on the CC was a justified reason to deplete the fund.

I used the $18k I had saved for the CA rental property on the renovation. I had saved that money to put towards the time when the renter moved out and I would need to renovate the property and/or cover several months of it not being rented. But during the renovation I justified that “this renter had been there for 13 years, what were the chances she would move out before we could replenish the account?” (BB blames himself for that because he talked me into doing it. I blame him too.)

If either of those funds were still intact I would feel a lot better about the unemployment situation.
So I’m not sure why I am writing. I just don’t have anyone to talk about this with. I don’t have anyone in my life that is better or more experienced with finances than me. That sounds so egotistical, but my dad is the person who managed the family finances and he did very well. And he died before he taught me anything about money. My mother squandered a good portion of the money when it was left to her. And she died too, not that I would ever ask her for financial advice. My friends are young and struggling, or just getting comfortable, but don’t have a track record that makes me want their opinions. Some friends would look at my situation and tell me that I don’t have a problem at all. Other friends would rant on and on about how BB doesn’t carry his weight and he is the source of my problems. But all friends would probably look at me differently if they heard me use actual numbers in reference to my life. And BB’s family has made poor financial decisions as well. I wouldn’t want their advice. So that leaves people like my financial advisor who I feel has a stake in what I decide (He would advise me to sell and give the money to him to manage). Sounds odd, but I go to this forum because you guys are checked into your finances, aware of financial basics and can offer me perspectives that I had not considered.

So I don’t have any questions right now. Just a lot of factors on my mind that I wanted to organize and vent about. Thanks for listening.

Making a comeback

August 8th, 2011 at 03:01 am

I am back checking in after a long hiatus. BB and I were just reviewing our finances for the first time since we moved into the new house in April. I wanted to wait until the bills stabilized and the new house bills died down.

It's looking good. Really good. I'm surprised. The $15000 cc bill we racked up through the construction is down to 8800. I am projecting we can get rid of it by January. I'm really thrilled about that.

In other news on my mind...

The house we moved from that we are now renting out was broken into about 2 weeks ago. Someone busted in the back door while no one was home but luckily the house alarm scared the burglar away and they didn't take anything. The alarm company called me, I went over to the house and called the police and the tenant. The tenant was shaken up and asked to get a dog. I agreed. He got a Pitt bull from the humane society. He has his hands full, she is very high energy but is sweet so far. I am hoping he stays out the year with no more problems.

The tenant in my inherited rental in CA lost her job about 8 months ago. I gave her a significant break in rent for 6 months to keep her from moving out. She just asked for a 2 month extension. I am hoping that rent is restored to normal in October.

I got a 3 percent raise at work! I am happy about the raise but way prouder that I had a sit down and said I need a significant pay raise/ promotion because I have been doing the same thing for 2 years and feel that I am ready to take on more. He agreed and said he'll think about it and to give him a few months. I am going to hang tight and hope for the best. I believe my boss and think that this time next year I will be in a better earning bracket. We'll see how it goes down. I've never negotiated before and feel really proud that I stood up for myself and said what's on my mind.

Well that's a brief recap of what's going on. Hopefully I will be blogging more.

Still here...sort of

March 26th, 2011 at 04:38 pm

hey everyone,
It's been over half a year since I last posted. Wanted everyone to know I'm alive and doing well.

I've been doing extensive renovations on the 2nd property that my husband and I bought last year. the reno has gone way over budget and way over deadline but is nearing a close.

I lost interest in saving money for a long time because we were spending more money per week then we were earning in a month. I didnt feel like posting numbers and getting scolded, I didnt feel like posting numbers and depressing other people who didnt have a hundred dollars to spend, let alone what I was spending.

But its a few weeks from move in. I dont know if I'll return to my love of money blogging or not.

But all of my dogs are alive! And I'm still happily married. BB is in FL for another season of coaching and he loves it. I'm still in Savannah and I still love it. This is my dream city, and now I own a dream home (my original house) and a dream location (renovated house).

I still have my job and aside from extreme stress causing me to be always sick, I'm healthy.

Sorry for the concern and the months of no responces.

Hey FrugalTexan

June 7th, 2010 at 08:07 pm

A librarian position is opening up at my employer in Austin TX. The job starts in January but they will be hiring soon. I don't know how far you are from Austin but I know your in Texas. I am pretty sure you are going to school to be a librarian...right? If you want more info let me know. I don't know how to do private messages.

For Rent, Parking Tickets & Private Parties

April 25th, 2010 at 02:34 pm

I posted an ad on CL for the upstairs apartment last night. The upstairs tenants are moving out May 30th. I still don't see the ad posted though! I know CL has a delay or lag before postings can be seen but this is worrisome. I tried to make a new ad and was flagged for already having a similar posting. grrr...

I went out to a private party last night before going out downtown. A woman a few yrs older than me owns the house we were in and it is directly across the street from a house BB & I looked at when we first moved to this town. The house needed too much work and was overpriced so we passed on it. Huge Victorian that I LOVED in the online listing.

Last night at the party I was thinking about how our life would be if we had bought that house. This woman would have probably become a friend of mine and I would have integrated into her social circle. I was looking around at the guests wondering what life would be like if these people were my friends. I still would have met my current friends (because I was at this party with them) but likely would have been traveling in a separate circle cuz the woman and my friends don't know each other well. I like my current life, I am glad we bought the house we bought and it happened to be next door to a couple our age who are now our good friends. I am glad we integrated into the social circle we are in.

The party last night had a live band jamming in the backyard. The woman's boyfriend is in a band. Kind of fun to be in a small party with a live band rocking out.

After a drink we decided to head downtown and walked back to my car where I found a PARKING TICKET on my car!! $12.00 because it was a street sweeping night. The street was packed and all cars were ticketed. I'm a little annoyed someone would host a party on a night when their guests cant park on one side of the street- but $12.00 is the price of a bar cover charge and 2 I have to look at it as an expense that would have been paid if we had seen the same band downtown. I guess.

...and at the end of the night we ended up at a bar charging $10 cover where a band was having a CD release party- but the cover was waived for us as we knew the owner. So it all evens out in the end. I guess.