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Checking In, Taking a Breath, Touching Base....

January 26th, 2018 at 03:18 pm

So...if I tried to share with you how crazy my travel and work schedule has been over the past month or three, this blog entry would go on for day. Suffice it to say, I am alive, blessed, healthy and praying for strength!

I have been engaged with the Money Saving Bingo Chart. I have to admit, I have skipped ahead and deposited through 8 weeks thus far. It's fun and I really can't wait to reap the benefits of the efforts.

I have really taken a greater focus on my health. My caloric intake has been reduced, high end vitamin mixes, zero candy, drinks outside of water and a much reduced intake of carbs. I am down 10 solid pounds which is inspiring. I started at 195 and feel great at 185.

I hope you are all well, have a great day and awesome weekend!

Friendly Reminder...Keep Your Chin DOWN

November 24th, 2017 at 09:27 pm

So...I had today off! I do not claim to work harder or longer than any one or group of individuals, however, man, I needed these last two days!

I got up at 5:30 a.m. (that old biological clock won't stay asleep) and headed to the gym. Today was an upper body day and cardio. Felt great! My local gym versus an "exercise room" off the lobby of a Hampton Inn...no comparison..lololol.

Anyway, after returning home at around 8:00 a.m., I would normally hit the shower...not today! Today, I brewed some coffee, sat, alone in my home office, read the news on line and watched a great Netflix Documentary about Jim Carrey and his role as Andy Kaufman back in ~1995 (Man on the Moon).

After giving myself a nice hair cut, I showered, dressed and headed out to run some errands. I had a check to deposit into my "Loose Change Fund", a document that needed to be faxed (yes, you read that correctly), a birthday card and other gift cards to pick up for Christmas and a quick stop at my Chinese Restaurant to order 10 quarts of their amazing Chicken and Rice soup for the football games on Sunday. That's when it happened...

While walking from the car to the restaurant, I noticed a bright, shiny dime! It was beautiful. I stooped and picked it up. Looking around to make sure someone hand't dropped it, I slid it into my pocket.

Now, to some, 10 cents doesn't seem like much, however, it inspired me. I started thinking about "luck" and sometimes, it's okay to wish upon it. After ordering the soup, I looked at my paper change and saw four crinkled one dollar bills.

I took those four one dollar bills and bought four one dollar scratch off tickets (I can't remember the last time I paid for a scratch off ticket) but said what the heck.

After getting home, I took care of some papers, etc., and scratched the four tickets. All together, a gross earning of $5.00, net $1.00. Rest assured, they will all end up in the Loose Change Fund.

The moral to my story, keep your chin down when walking around! You never know when you might stumble upon some Loose Change of your own!

Touching Base

November 9th, 2017 at 12:33 am

So...it feels like forever since I have been able to focus on my blog and unfortunately, tonight will be no different. Spending an evening with the kids and then another turn around tomorrow a.m.

Hope everyone is well and able to focus on your goals!

It's Been A While

October 14th, 2017 at 12:28 am

So...it's been a while since I've posted. While I am finally home (until Monday), I thought I'd take care of some personal administrative tasks and settle in and catch up with my SA "family".

So many wonderful posts, conversations, supportive comments and updates, it's been a pleasure reading. I have made a couple minor changes to my blog. One being I no longer have a "New Car Fund". Rather, I have a "Loose Change Fund". Psychologically, not have the stress of "saving for a new car" versus "saving my loose change" seems to be a better fit for me. A play on words? Maybe. However, again, it works for me.

On 7/31/17, my very first mortgage pre-payment hit my account. As of 10/10/17, my principal balance has been reduced $1,473.97 (supported also by the principal reduction via my monthly payment which increases $3.00 per month). Not too bad! It's almost like another retirement fund. Every dollar I apply towards the principal balance is another dollar in equity earned. For me, equity equals retirement. It's also a lot of fun chipping away at the balance. Someday, God willing, I'll make my final payment or sell my house and wipe out the mortgage. What a thrill that day will be.

New Car Fund Update & The "Yard Sale"

September 5th, 2017 at 10:44 pm

So...$5.59 in deposits to the New Car Fund. Believe it or not, part of that deposit was the "take" from this past Saturday's "Yard Sale".

No, you DID read that correctly. Our total "take", $2.00. The gentleman even paid with two one dollar coins...lolololol!

You see, I got a bit behind on the marketing of said "Yard Sale". I.e., no signage, no social media announcements, no nothing! I rolled the dice and stayed the course on setting up and watching at least 500 cars drive by. Two cars stopped, one person bought a $2.00 gas can.

I will say, however, the weather was beautiful, the time spent with family sitting around the table talking, reading, laughing and sharing was worth all the money in the world.

No complaints at all. Next time, however, I will spread the word much better!

Yard Sale Plans and New Car Fund Deposit

August 24th, 2017 at 12:30 am

So...plans for the yard sale are taking shape. Saturday, 9/2/17 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The items for sale will be tagged and priced. Between myself, my better half and kids, each one of us will add our initials to our item(s) to ensure the money is paid out accurately.

I, for one will be adding my proceeds to the New Car Fund, which was funded a few times this past week so progress continues.

I am pretty excited about the "sale". Again, I have never coordinated one but really enjoy going to them. This time, I am going to try to market it for a full scale "blue lite special". Let's hope for good weather and spendy visitors.

New Car Fund Update and the Sale of the Century

August 20th, 2017 at 01:24 am

So...I redeemed credit card cash rewards for a total of $5.80. This is going directly into the New Car Fund of course.

I think a month or so ago I may have blogged about gathering some items for a yard sale. The initial though was that my parents would house the sale and I'd simply contribute some goods to it. Well, it sounds as if my mother is going to put off having it until next summer. That doesn't work for me.

You see, I am the type of person that once I get something in my head, planned or unplanned, I tend to move forward with great tenacity and focus. At times, this has backfired and put me in a "line of fire" that looking back, was foolish and careless, heroism aside. Other times, it has proven tactful and necessary with positive results.

Consequently, when my mother announced the sale of the century, I went through my entire house and although not a pack rat or the type to hoard anything, I couldn't believe how many items I found I really didn't need, would ever use or otherwise wanted anymore. Useless to me.....treasures for others.

All this leads me to a decision...next Sunday, I think I am going to have a yard sale. Nothing fancy...a sign at each end of my road. Maybe have a friend post something on Facebook (I do not do social media) and setup a table or two with my "goods". My thought is, worse case scenario, I can enjoy a pot of coffee in the morning and some tasty water in the afternoon, read a good book and share some laughs with anyone who wishes to visit.

Good night all!

Snowflake

August 3rd, 2017 at 10:56 pm

What is the true definition, as applicable to this site, of a "Snowflake".

Thanks a ton!

Auto Loan

July 27th, 2017 at 11:39 pm

So...as you know, on July 14, 2017, I mailed the payment in full for my car.....$13,000.00. Today being about two weeks later, I called the bank to see if there was anything else I needed to provide in order to obtain the lien release.

After waiting for a few minutes, the girl stated the loan department was not answering her call but she would gather the information for me and call me back.

As I feared, as soon as I got "hot and heavy" into a work related task, she called. I motioned to my partner to take the call and of course, he did. A few minutes later I asked him what she said and he informed me that my lien release would be mailed on August 2, 2017. He also stated I needed to call the girl back asap for additional information.

I called her back. It seems I overpaid by ~$61.00!! She said this check would be included in the same mailing as my lien release to do with what I pleased.

A few thoughts...first, I really appreciated the privacy she maintained while speaking with my partner. Of course, I hide nothing from him, but he is not me! Next, I was extremely pleased with her sense of customer service. Finally, I am going to throw that ~$61.00 right into my new car fund.

Sort of ironic, the old car contributing towards the savings of its replacement.

BIG Addition to the New Car Fund and an Ode to Fred Sanford!

July 23rd, 2017 at 09:34 pm

So...every month I receive a very small Veterans Benefit of $134.00. Over the years, I have saved it, transferred it into my Operations Account, spent it on "fun stuff" or any number of other activities that required some cash.

One of the updates to my savings plan, now that my car is paid off, is to stash any/all extra monies in preparation for my new car purchase in about 22-24 months. CC cash rewards, loose change, rounding up my other accounts, transferring those small amounts of odd balances and now, my monthly VA Benefit! That alone will net me ~$3,200.00 in two years. That really excites me!

So..my Ode to Fred Sanford. My mother called me the other day and invited my sister (from an earlier call) and I to join her in a September Family Yard Sale. "It'll be fun! I already have a box for you and your sister to go through before the sale to see if you want anything from them!" Her excitement was masking her real request...

"I want to have a yard sale and I need you two to move all your father and my junk that you have moved at least fifteen times over the past twenty years in the hopes that any money earned will support our Bingo trips and continued perusing of yard sales and flea markets whereby we will refill all of the empty spaces that housed the previous stuff that is now being moved, again, by you and your sister to support this September Family Yard Sale!" Get the picture?!

Well, this time I thought I'd turn the table on her and accept with glee, simultaneously letting her know that I'll see if I have anything to contribute as well and whatever doesn't sell, we will have the Salvation Army or Goodwill Center be the recipient of a large donation (I am also tempted to have her sign a contract stating I nor my sister will be asked to move anything, ever again..lolololol).

This afternoon, I started thinking about what I would contribute to the "sale". Since my divorce and subsequent remodel of my house, I am finally able to live the lifestyle I have always wanted! CLUTTER FREE. Everything has a place, every place necessary has a thing! I do not collect anything that takes up loads of space or collects dust. I no longer have tons and tons of clothes to find homes for nor do I have piles of magazines, Tupperware, decorations or other area eating "things". All of my art is on the wall or bookshelves. All of my decorations are in totes, labeled and stacked neatly in the shed. My plates, pots, pans, Tupperware and any other form of cooking utensil or container has a home. My buddies swear I am the male version of Martha Stewart!

Anyway, I thought, maybe if I start in the farthest corner of the house, walk slowly and look around at my belongings, I might find some things that can be sold and as such, support my New Car Account. I made a deal with myself that anything chosen for the sale would not be missed and has no real meaning, purpose or call to remain in the house. After a quick mental one over, I thought may, if I had ten items, that would be a lot.

Well...I am not kidding when I say, I neatly filled a 10'x10' area of my shed with salable items! Let's see:

HUGE Normal Rockwell book showcasing every picture he ever painted (coffee table book). This had about an inch of dust on it;

2016 Guinness Book of World Records Book;

March of the Penguins book;

Three bottles I thought at the time were cool looking, but somehow got stashed behind the bar;

About three, unopened "fashion design" kits from when the girls were little;

A dozen coloring books;

A three hold punch tool;

Fake nail kit;

Four exterior motion lights that I never installed after finding ones I liked better;

A Kurig machine I never use;

An old coffee pot I never use;

Some filing tools, extra pliers, dimmer switches, outlet covers and recessed lighting trim rings. All from the remodel that were either excess or not used;

A desk lamp;

Three skill saw blades never opened;

One of two skill saws (I think one of the contractors left it here and never came to get it after numerous calls);

A brand new, never opened, never used New Wave Oven (as seen on TV);

Some doll accessories like one of those cars;

A jewelry hanging thing that looks like a ladies body but instead of a torso and head, these arm like things that you hang necklaces on;

A small wicker basket;

A whole zip lock bag of hair ties;

Etc., etc., etc.,

I could NOT believe how much stuff I actually had to sell. And, once I went to the other shed that houses the bikes, golf clubs, etc., I found two of those little scooters, a 5 gallon gas can, some empty outdoor planters and a watering can.

If I can get $100.00 for everything and an additional $50.00 for the New Wave Oven, I will be ecstatic. If not, the donation write off from Goodwill will suit me just fine.


So Hard to Say No Sometimes

July 22nd, 2017 at 06:52 pm

So...my potential future brother and sister in law along with their son and daughter joined us at the cottage this weekend. They came in from Chicago and it's always so great seeing them. He and I exchange war stories, he helps me with a lake project (this year we redesigned a new ladder off the deck) and she is such an amazing friend. She is a doctor of child psych so her approach to everything is like water off a ducks back in comparison to the horror she sees/hears daily.

Anyway, this morning, none of us felt like cooking breakfast after the massive "lake drink" taste test we participated in last night. Very, very rare for me but the evening was perfect. A variety of dark beers, local wine, bloody mary mixtures and a family margeritta recipe.

So...considering he insisted on paying for the ladder supplies, I sprung for breakfast. $84.00 later, I must admit.....money well spent and zero cleanup. Currently sitting on the deck, reading Salems Lot, listening to Gordon Lightfoot and looking forward to the evenings chicken bbq. Peace all.

Rental Refinance Update

July 20th, 2017 at 11:39 pm

So...I received a call from the appraiser this afternoon, scheduling the rental appraisal for Tuesday, 7/25/17 at noon.

I can't tell how excited I am to get this refinance done. I have run the numbers a variety of ways and have decided upon a few things related and unrelated:

1. Without the "beautification" project, the rent is going up $75.00/mo. With the "beautification" project, the rent is going up $100.00/month;

2. With or without the refinance, all passive income is going towards the pre-payment on the rental mortgage;

3. The monthly "car" payment that no longer exists is going towards the pre-payment on the primary residence mortgage. I found a great mortgage calculator on the Forum Section and will shave about 10 years off my term with just that added principal only payment!!!

Exciting times.....thank you all for the comments, feedback, suggestions and support. You are all very inspirational and motivational.

I have made my decision

July 19th, 2017 at 03:17 am

So...over the past month I have started my "Loose Change Fund". Currently, I have about $57.00 in it. Mostly from tiny CC cash rewards and a jar of change I finally got around to taking to Coin Star.

This evening while filing some paperwork specific to the payoff of my car (I wrote the check and mailed it last Friday), I realized that in two years, my youngest daughter will be ready to take on her first vehicle. Over the past five years, I have been able to payoff my vehicles as they fall out of reimbursement due to depreciation and put them in storage for each of my previous two kids. My middle child just put her's on the road this past February. As I said, my youngest turns 15 in November, 2017, will turn 16 in November 2018 and at that point, will get her learners permit. After driving for six months, she can take her road test which will qualify her for her Jr. License.

All said, in 22 months, I'll be looking to gift her my car, as I have her two siblings, and purchase a new vehicle. My thought is, I have 22 months to get creative in my "Loose Change Account" deposits of which, I can put towards paying cash for my next car. I hope to never finance one again and I think if I focus, I can most likely surprise myself with the amount I can sock away without adversely affecting my other investments.

We shall see, but I thought it a good idea nonetheless. It certainly gives me something to shoot for.

A couple updates

July 18th, 2017 at 04:43 pm

So...I am 95 percent done with my rental refinance pre-closing tasks. You know, uploading documents, etc. This refinance will save me $184.00 per month right out of the gate. Once some beautification tasks are completed, i'll raise the rent $200.00 per month..new tenants so no legal issues, and thus, improve my positive cash flow to $384.00 per month. This will be turned back into a mortgage prepayment cycle.

My spending since last Friday, 7/14/17 has been high. $500.00 deposit on the refinance loan, groceries for the lake house, lunch yesterday and a few cups of coffee from the road. Uuuuugh. However, I will be getting $500.00 cash back from the refinance due to a work related credit, scored an additional $750.00 closing cost credit and am due $218.00 cash out due to the loan amount. All of which will be an initial prepayment to yhe new mortgage.

All in all I am very happy with this past months fiscal housekeeping. And blogging about it is icing on the cake.

Saturday Update

July 16th, 2017 at 03:03 am

So...this weeks accomplishments with a final Saturday update:

1. Took $13K from cash reserves and paid off the auto loan. Monthly payment of $250.00 will go toward Primary Residence mortgage (I know I initially earmarked this to the rental mortgage, however, keep reading);

2. Rebalanced $50K for my ex as per the decree. Put it in the American Balanced Fund. Safe, secure and doing pretty well over the past 10 years;

3. Rebalanced $17K to a Target 2040 Retirement Date Fund;

4. Rebalanced Roth IRA to a Target 2040 Retirement Date Fund;

5. Obtained a refinance loan quote. Would add $8K to my $81K balance and take me back to 30 years, however, my interested rate goes from 7.9% to 4.9%. My payment goes from $705.00/mo to $455.00/month.

Once done, I will provide 30 days notice to my tenant. Although I really hate to do it, my plan very simply is to completely update the entire rental with drywall repairs, new hardwood laminate in laundry room, bath room and kitchen, new light fixtures, paint, refinish hardwood floors and new landscaping. Once done (I am going to give my contractor 30 days. He will be paid via cash reserves), I'll have relisted it with a monthly rental increase of $200.00/mo.

With the $250.00 mortgage payment savings and the additional rent of $200.00/mo, I'll take the $450.00 and apply it towards the principal balance each month.

Yes, it's late...how does my thinking regarding the duplex strike you? Thoughts?

Big Spend Day (BSD) versus No Spend Day (NSD)

July 14th, 2017 at 07:24 pm

So...today was a BSD. I had to purchase fruit, vegetables, water and some other snacks for our weekend at the lake cottage.

Between DG and Grocery Store...$~$80.00

My personal car was literally on fumes so that called for a ~$35.00 fill up

I sprang for lunch today which was ~$23.00.

All up/all in..~$138.00

I have never been so sensitive to spending money! Don't get me wrong, it's good to be sensitive, however, I never, ever took the time to really focus on my spending. I find it frustrating to see expenditures that are not revenue/income generating,but can't help but think how blessed I am, truly, to be able to maintain a health financial lifestyle for not only me and my future, but for my children as well.

Have a great weekend everyone! Blessings.

Meetings are Over....Here is the Scoop

July 13th, 2017 at 09:44 pm

So...I met with my financial adviser today. It really wasn't that bad. The pain fit in somewhere between the dentist and rubbing Aunt Edna's bunion.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I am happy to report that after returning to my office, I immediately transferred $13K from my Capital One 360 MM account and paid of my car loan. That free's up about $250.00/month which will go toward the rental mortgage.

Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to keep my meeting with the banker to discuss the refinance of said rental mortgage, however, it's next on the list.

I was also able to re-balance a couple of old investment accounts and review my existing retirement funds. All in all it was a great day. I feel good about paying off the car while still maintaining ~$37K in liquidity. Although still too high for an emergency fund, once I accept a refinance program for the rental, I'm sure additional funds will be reallocated.