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Archive for April, 2014

Back from our trip

April 30th, 2014 at 05:11 am

Just returned from a 5 day trip to New York. Spring was blooming and the weather was great. It was a wonderful trip, everyone really enjoyed themselves. The baby got to meet her 87 yr old great grandmother, and also meet lots of other friends and family. Husband also enjoyed it. He was in pain, but mentally stimulated and engaged. It kept his spirits high and he's still in a batter mood because of the trip. Baby took her first airplane ride and she was really well behaved. The whole trip she was really well behaved actually.

We stayed at Great grandmas house. Its the first house she & her husband ever owned and they still have it 60 yrs later. She raised her 2 kids in it. Its in pristine condition, but all around her the houses have been torn down for a McMansion, or added on- the neighborhood is a weird hodgepodge of mismatched houses from different decades. But I went for a few walks with husbands father and he relived a lot of old memories growing up there.

Now we are back home. Our dog has an ear infection so she went to the vet yesterday. $320 later...ouch! But she also got heartworm tested and switched to a new 6 month brand. Still- this vet is uber expensive. We go because it is walking distance of the house and the vet is our age and really nice. She came out to our house and put down our cancer riddled dog so that the dog could go more peacefully. And she did the whole visit free of charge. We don't go to the vet very often- ideally once a year for shots- so we stick with this place.

Other than that we are just looking forward to husband's stem cell procedure in June.

Real Estate Values are Rocketing UP!

April 24th, 2014 at 05:55 am

Lots of stuff going on...

In my last post I whined about not being able to get a horse. I feel a little bad about that. I have a pretty cushy life, I can stop whining about first world problems like not getting a horse.

I did bring up the horse to my boss- and she said she is looking for horses to bring into the barn to use as lesson horses. She is in the process of talking to the owner now to schedule a time to go out and see the horse. I'm not sure he is right for beginner riders...but I'm not sure he is a bad fit- so I'll let the trainer decide. So he might be coming to my barn anyways! Weird turn of events.

I received $2300 as a tax refund. I don't know how much my CPA will charge me to do the preparations. I planned to keep the money in my checking account as a "cushion" for unexpected bills. Well today I had to pay my property taxes. $1700. So there goes my cushion! Glad I got the refund!

Real Estate in my neighborhood has been climbing. I knew it was going up but kind of stayed distant from thinking about it. I'm biased & emotionally attached so its hard to gauge the value of MY property. I've always stuck with a conservative number that gives us tons of equity and been happy with that.

Almost a year ago a townhouse across the street, smaller and builder grade sold for about $100k over what I would have expected. That was a nice surprise that confirmed my value in my mind. This is the townhouse:


Yesterday a few places went up for sale in my neighborhood and the asking prices are so so so high. A SFH same sq footage, same bedrooms, same bathrooms is priced $200k over what I value our place to be! Granted it has upgrades beyond ours, and it is a SFH whereas we have a townhouse. But still- I'm totally shocked! These are the two new construction that are listed for $200k over mine:


A few months ago I called a For Sale on a small fixer in the neighborhood and the asking price was what I value my house at. I laughed and laughed thinking they were out of their mind. I thought that was a fluke crazy listing. Now...that crazy asking price seems to line up with the other crazy prices...

I guess we will see what everything sells for.

In other good news, I'm really getting into the groove at my job. It was really tough to acclimate but now everything goes smooth like clockwork. I'm really enjoying it. And husband has totally stopped complaining.

That's it. Now we are headed to NY for 5 days to visit husband's family. So I'll talk to you guys later!

Free Horse

April 18th, 2014 at 07:24 am

G-dammit. I was just offered a very nice horse. For free. An aquaintance of mine from a previous barn is going tyo have her knee replaced and cant afford to keep her horse because she'll be missing out on months of work. She's also just getting older and the horse is becoming more of a burden than enjoyable.

So she's offered him up for sale. She privately messaged me and said she'll give him to me for free if I was interested. In a year or so she can take him back if I wanted to give him up.

She was hoping I qualified for free or reduced board at the barn I'm working for (I don't).

I like this guy. I haven't ridden him but seen him go several times and he just moves nice, has a pleasant personality, and lots of potential.

But even at a free price, horses are friggen expensive. I would need to purchase all the equipment for him (conservatively guessing about $2k) and then upkeep. My barn charges $800/month.

It's not an option to take him at this time. Sucks.

Odds and ends

April 18th, 2014 at 06:34 am

Hello Everybody,
Just checking in. Things here in Tasha-land are slow and boring.

Husband has completely come around about my job. A friend of ours is a teacher and is regularly having parent conferences on Sundays and often not getting home till 8pm. I told husband that is how the working world is for everyone and maybe he can appreciate that I only get held up at my job 1-2 hrs sometimes? And I have never been called in on my day off? Husband agreed that my job isn't so bad.

We have an expensive summer coming up. Most likely we will be spending more than we bring in this summer.

We have a duplex that might be completely vacant come June. Husband has not called the tenants to see about their plans yet. But their leases will be up. We have a rental savings cushion to pay the mortgage for 2 months before it starts hitting our personal savings.

That property provides about $400/month in spending money for us, so our personal budget will be taking a hit.

And husband has this stem cell experimental procedure coming up in June. It will be 3 procedures total that he'll receive over 9 months time. The total cost is looking to be $6600. We'll take it out of our savings we have planned to use on the next real estate property. Not ideal but that's where we have enough to pay for the procedure.

Husband has fired his disability lawyer and hired another. We spent 2 years and 3 denials with this guy. I think we gave him a fair chance to get it done. Now we wait another 6 months before we can try again.


Offer Not Accepted

April 13th, 2014 at 06:00 am

So the bank took someone else offer over ours. Everyone is bummed but feeling optimistic that another house project will come around.

The house was listed for $37k. We were planning to put $25-40k into it and list it for $150-$170k.

Our highest and best offer was $45,800. Looking back we should have raised that offer but when you are blindly offering...we didn't want to just offer thousands over every other offer when a more conservative offer would do the job as well.

My friend recently went into a highest and best situation and offered $500 over list price and got it. So I thought our offer was strong.

Anyways, I haven't really even had time to be disappointed. I've been sick with a head cold and had to call in sick to work twice. We are gearing up at work for a busy Easter week. And after that we will go to New York to visit husband's family.

Highest & Best

April 9th, 2014 at 05:42 am

We put in an offer on the victorian house Monday. We knew there was already another offer at full price or maybe above. We thought more offers would come in as well. On Tuesday the bank came back and asked for highest & best.

Our first offer was almost 10% above asking.

Yesterday we went 25% above asking.

Before you freak- this house is listed for less than $40k so 25% is not as dramatic as it would seem.

Hoping for an answer today.

I was feeling confident last night. Then when we were reviewing sold comps...the market has been so strong lately I can see someone just putting in an offer to blow everyone else out of the water. Today I'm wishing we had increased our security deposit or shortened our due diligence period to look more attractive.

The contractor came over last night and I feel we had a good conversation.

He still feels we can get the house done for $25k including labor.

He has a plumber & electrician working in his crew that will accept payment when the house sells.

He does not think he can handle central air installation and we'll need to pay retail for that.

He thinks he can sand & save the hardwood upstairs. He thinks the vinyl glued to the hardwood downstairs is too expensive to try and save. He wants to just re-hardwood the downstairs. My husband wants to try a few methods to remove the glued down vinyl first.

Contractor said it will be 2-3 months till the house is done, rather than the 2 months we were hoping.

Contractor plans to work his other jobs while working on this one. So he wont be at the house 40 hrs a week, but he can send a crew member over every day as long as husband stops in regularly to supervise.

The roof is the big unknown right now. It LOOKS good from the ground. So we'll see.

Contractor has given us a few scavenger items to find like window sashes and antique columns we'll need for the project.

Contractor wants a contract in writing outlining the partnership. Since our (mine & husbands) names will be on title, he's at a disadvantage. I'm working on that today.

So overall, progress. Hoping for a positive phone call today. I'll discuss numbers if we get the house. Fingers crossed! In the meantime it is BEAUTIFUL outside and I cant wait to take the dog for a walk. I hope your days are beautiful too!

Real Estate Offering!

April 8th, 2014 at 05:23 am

Ok we have an offer in on the house I recently blogged about. There is already one offer in and our realtor got the hint that it was higher than asking. So we went in almost 10% above asking. I am expecting that more offers will come in as well. The house is a few streets away from me and every time I go by it has someone looking at it.


The house needs a good overhaul inside. Outside is very pretty.

If we get it- we have a few options for it:

Ideally we want to partner with our contractor. He is coming over tonight to discuss things with us. We will pay for the house and holding costs, he will supply materials & labor. We will split the profits 50/50. Our contractor has sheet rock, sinks, ceiling fans, tile, misc. from other jobs in storage. He also will get the labor cheaper because there is no fee to pay him as a middleman for the labor. He said he can "get it done" for $25k. The question becomes- what is his version of "get it done" and what is ours? Since we have not partnered together I'm not sure how far our visions range from one another. But this is the safest option for us right now because we wont have to max out our savings to complete the job.

A second option is to flip the house ourselves. I don't think we can "get it done" for $25k. I would guess it will be about $50k for us because we are paying labor/ retail prices/ and don't have materials in storage. We don't have the full $50k unless we called in some loans that people owe us. And I'm not sure they can pay. So the job might not get done as nicely as we would like/ or we would stretch ourselves more than we feel comfortable.

And a third option is to put in minimal upgrades and rent the house. This is not a bad option at all considering that the market is climbing and the neighborhood is transitioning in a good direction. We could recover our purchase price and fix up investment within a few years because the house is so under priced compared to rent in the area. However- I don't really want to tie up the last of our savings and be responsible for another property right now. I feel like every property needs a substantial "cushion" of savings to be available for repairs- especially a new and unknown house- and we wont have that cushion after we spend money to make the place renter -grade. So for 6-7 months while we build that cushion, things would be tight and stressful. I'd rather just get in and get out at this time.

Ok, so I'll post numbers if we actually get the place. I feel like I am jinxing things to plan too much beforehand.

We should know something in a few days!

My background

April 6th, 2014 at 07:16 am

After reading comments on my last blog posting I realized how disorganized my money reflections are. Especially to the new members that were not privy to the posts I submitted when I was called Gamecock.

So to help everyone, including myself, I'm going to try and outline my financial standing.

I received an inheritance 7 yrs ago that, if treated correctly, could support me for...maybe my lifetime? As inflation rises it will cover less and less expenses. I'm not an economist, or schooled in money management so I'm still treating the money and my future with uncertainty.

It's not enough to draw on directly and live off for the next 30 years. But if it is invested correctly, it could produce interest that will enable me to live- or almost live comfortably.

So I invested about 20% in the stock market for a retirement account. My financial adviser tells me that if I allow it to grow in the stock market I should have enough to retire when it is time to retire.

The rest has kind of gone into real estate. I say "kind of" because I made two big mistakes which I have blogged about. I invested in a great real estate deal but gave the property to a family member for my wholesale costs. Rather than being paid in one lump sum as expected to allow me to re-invest elsewhere, the payments have been pieced together over the last 2 years and the small & large payments that have gotten...spent. On what I'm not sure. I know husband got a truck. And that truck got about $15k in repairs. And then there were other misc purchases...sigh. I hate that everything played out as it did.

The second mistake was taking the remaining liquid money and trying to start a "cant fail business" with a good friend. There were lots of reasons I tried it and the result is it was a BIG HUGE F**ing FAIL.

But luckily it was not all foolishly spent. We got 2 duplex's (1 has a mortgage), and our primary residence without a mortgage. These properties are generating income for our day to day lives. So I am trying to live off the interest of this inheritance. The principal amount is in these properties- but my day to day income comes from the rent generated.

After recovering from the failed business I told husband we need to stick with what we are good at. Real Estate.

So we have some remaining money left and it has been earmarked for 1 last property purchase. I still have money owed to me for the two big financial mistakes made- but you cant invest what you don't have. So I cant use that money right now.

So that's why I blog about my monthly expenses being tight, and my worries about day to day finances.

Along the way of this journey- my husband became disabled and has not worked in almost 3 years. And we added a baby. So the inheritance now needs to cover 3 people.

I have learned that if I have liquid money accessible then I spend it. So I'm trying to get it out of reach. Trying to tie it up in investments. My husband has taken much longer to the mindset of preserving it than I would like. He has a much "risk taker' mindset than me. Both big financial mistakes were his ideas. But our biggest money maker duplex was his idea as well. And he persuaded me to buy what is now our primary residence. So he's at about a 50% success rate right now.

And any financial decision is both of ours to bear the responsibility (even if it was his dumb decision in the first place- it was me who controls the bank accounts.) So we share the results of our finances.

So yeah- thats my situation. And this is my journey. Will I wind up penniless in 10 years? Maybe. Especially if something catastrophic happens to real estate. But right now today we are comfortable. I'm just trying not to have to get a full time job right now. But who knows what will happen in the future.

Real Estate Pondering

April 4th, 2014 at 06:41 am

Checking in. Things here are going fine. Husband and I are back on an even keel. We recently traveled to FL for two days to visit family and friends.

Also I talked to my work about getting some time off to travel to far away family. Since it is the beginning of the "slow season" when several horses leave for cooler climates- she told me to choose the days. I gave her a requested 5 days off. Then she created the schedule and gave me 8 consecutive days off!

Tomorrow morning we are going to look at a SFH that is listed for sale as a foreclosure. The house is identical in architecture to the home run property we gave to FIL. But this one is in much worse condition. It is listed for $60k less than what we paid for the home run property. (I call it a home run property because it was under priced when we bought it- it appreciated about 50k after we fixed it up- and has since appreciated about an ADDITIONAL $75k. I still get mad at myself for letting that go.)

We feel that this property is perfect to flip. Depending on what the finished product looks like- We can make $20-100k on it. We have the money to buy it- but not all the money to fix it. Actually- we DO have almost all the money to fix it- but that would wipe our savings dry. And HUSBAND says it makes him nervous to do that! I'm not sure if it was the recent episode of straining to pay basic bills in CA that taught him, or if he is maturing, or if -maybe I am the over optimistic person regarding this deal.

So we are cautiously excited. A deal this good has not hit the market since we have been looking over the last 7 months.

We might buy it and hold to resell when the market is stronger. We think the property will appreciate in just the condition it is in because it is in an upward transitional neighborhood and it is under priced right now.

We might buy it and fix what we can with it. We have enough to fix over half of it.

Or we might do the deal with our contractor. He has materials (sheet rock/sinks/counter tops)sitting on his property (collected from previous jobs) and can do the labor himself and with his crew. Obviously we just came out of partnering with someone and it went bad. So I'm not at all eager to do it again. This is different because it is one deal a few blocks from my house- rather than setting up an entire business across the country.

We are all going to look at it tomorrow. I've been around the outside, and husband has noticed several groups of people walking around it. (He has driven by it about 10 times since it came on the market 2 days ago).

The outside is MUCH better condition than the inside.

So we might not even get it. To be continued.