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Archive for March, 2015

Upping the food budget

March 29th, 2015 at 11:52 am

Moving means upping the food budget. Why? Because right now we are in mode of eating what we have but at the same time not stockpiling sales. Instead we are trying to create meals with stuff both in the freezer and pantry that need to be used up since it's not worth moving. Plus since we are moving at the end of June, the idea of buying in bulk meat or making food and freezing food seems wasteful.

I think I freaked out my DH a lot because this week we finished off a bunch of food in the freezer and it's starting to look empty. I can definitely say that we have one shelf clear. Our fridge we are eating the permanent residents and not replacing them, ie hoison, bbq sauce, etc.

Usually I buy meat and portion out the meals and freeze them. I also usually cook in bulk and we eat half and freeze for lunches the leftovers like curries, stew, chili, etc. But I've decided to stop doing it though we have three months and instead focus on cooking stuff we have and keeping the freezer lean. Before I might have bought 2 bags of fish, 2-3 meats, but now I'll keep only 1 bag of fish and 1 bag of fish.

No more stockpiling toilet paper or paper towels. I'm done with cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Before I usually buy a backup when i'm on the last of something but now I'm running everything out and not looking for sales.

You can see the difference in the amount of stuff in the house. And while I haven't seen the difference yet in my grocery or shopping bills I bet it'll increase the amount I'm spending. Plus just eating out more for convenience of painting and packing.

Picking our realtor

March 28th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

So we interviewed three realtors. One DH just didn't like and rubbed him the wrong way. We became stuck on the other two. One of them E sold us our house and we felt she was very professional and smart. The second realtor S, came highly referred by two different people and seemed again very professional.

After interviewing, seeing their Comparative market analysis, and marketing plans we were stuck. All three came in with the same number $699k to list our property to generate a bidding war. All three had slightly different methodologies with coming up with the number.

I was very torn. I felt loyal since E sold us the house and had kept in contact updating us on the market. She also I felt was the least pushy and nicest realtor. E analysis was more basic but from her 20+ years of experience and gut she told us what she'd list for. She also didn't give us any ideas for staging our house to sell. She did ask about the HOA and capital improvements.

But S I felt had a much more comprehensive analysis of our competitors and our comparisons for our list price. She went back and teased out true comps of townhouses without garages and their sales prices over 12 months. She also specifically suggested renting a dinner table because our is too small for the space and turning the bed, and making office back into bedroom. She took pictures and noticed all of the small details of labeling the power box.

But the real difference was their marketing plans. E was going to list on Wednesday, broker open house on Thursdays, then no showing to build excitement for the open houses on Saturday and Sunday. Then all offers Monday. Her explanation was no showings would generate buzz and excitement and pressure people into seeing how many others were interested. Also her experience showed that people who came to see in Thursday, Friday had a hard time waiting to present an offer on Monday. They would be annoyed and off put to know that their offers wouldn't responded too until later so what is the point of early showings. Also people could come Monday on for private showings.

S said she would list on Tuesday since the market was getting flooded (36 new listings this week!), showings Tuesday-Friday, Broker open house Thursdays, and open house on Sunday. And then wait to respond to offers till Tuesday. She felt that the savvy, most serious buyers would come during the week by themselves or with a broker. They'd seen everything else in their budget and wanted to see new stuff early. Then they'd come back with their moms, sisters, boyfriends, contrators, etc to the open house. That people want a chance to see property alone and by allowing them time to come see it multiple times with different people, we'd have a buyer who didn't have buyer's remorse or one who'd waive all contingencies.

My DH of course said both ladies were fine. He didn't think we could go wrong. As hard as it was, I decided I preferred S because of her marketing strategy. I felt terrible last night writing the email saying we chose someone else, but truth is this is business and thousands of dollars are at stake. I didn't want to be in "Bed" with a realtor whose philosophy on home sales didn't align with mine.

I believed in S marketing strategy. I think that open houses might generate more offers but people also make offers they don't mean impulsively. I believe serious buyers have been going out every weekend and know what's on the market and they are only looking at "fresh/new" stuff and have a firm grasp of the comparison. I think that giving people more opportunities to come back with friends and family means they are less likely to back out than after the offer and coming back with mom/dad who say they don't like it.

Yes I could have told E "show it", she said I could. But I felt that then if it didn't work out she could say it's because I didn't follow her marketing plan. Whereas with S, I agreed to her marketing plan, but it's still her plan and if our place doesn't sell then it's firmly on her shoulders.

Do you think I was wrong it picking money over a previous relationship? I do feel guilty but at the same time it's a lot of money at stake.

decluttering step 1

March 24th, 2015 at 02:30 am

Seriously my DH and I are hoarders. We have a lot of trouble getting rid of stuff mostly because we are lazy. Not because we don't want to, but because we just push it to a corner in the house and say we'll take it to sell or goodwill later. We actually can let go of stuff and have boxes of stuff to get rid of but never actually take the effort to do it. No more.

This move is motivating me in an unreal fashion. I have in less than 5 days done 3 trips to good will and donated over half dozen bags of stuff. I sold at consignment stores $60 worth of stuff which is about 4 bins. I donated to my kid's preschool toys and books about 8 bins since goodwill doesn't take it and it's not valued high enough to sell.

I've also given away an infant bucket and pack and play that were super old. And I've possibly sold my infant swing and double stroller.

Oh and I've listed a ton of other items like train set, high chair, rocking chair, and other furniture. Neither DH nor I can believe how much stuff we purged in a week.

I've also packed up all the kids books and started on purging their clothes. That's next up and the storage unit should be starting to be filled this weekend.

Where did all this crazy motivation come from? LOL.

The Open Road

March 22nd, 2015 at 11:52 am

Right now life is moving faster than I ever thought possible. My DH is unhappy at work and dying to get off the hamster wheel. What can I say? The sadistic VP says things like "those people laid off are lucky...at my previous company we'd fire one person a month and not pay sevenrance. That'd keep people in line. I mean they really deserve to be fired given a gift." Yes telling people commentary like that when it was called a layoff of "realignment of company values" is lovely. This guy is a real "gem". But it's okay since he'll have his comeuppance when he's fired in 5 years, since VP get that long to prove themselves. The previous VP didn't get fired he "resigned" after being called back during a vacation and the board "talked" to him and he decided to spend more time with his family. Not true he was fired, but given a very nice golden parachute. So assholes abound.

If it matters the department culture has shifted a lot and I've known since last May when this VP started my DH has been getting more unhappy. And a lot of negative things have been going on. So this was just the push he needed.

Anyway since we are becoming more serious about moving in July after we sell our house (cross fingers and knock on wood). He mentions he wants to rent an RV and drive cross country. He says it's his dream and something he'll probably never be able to do again. I'm wondering should we do this? He's salivating at the idea of me, the kids, the dog in the RV.

We've researched it because previously we discussed vacationing for a week in an RV to Eastern Canada (hello prince edward island). It's not cheap like $250/day plus gas and incidentals. I'm guessing the trip for 10 days cross country at least $5k.

But at the same time it's an opportunity of a lifetime. I RV one summer for 2 weeks with my best friend's family to Yellowstone and it was so amazing and cool and fun. We did so many great things and my memories are phenomenal. It was an opportunity I am so glad I got to experience. Granted I spent a month in Las Vegas total with her mom and her. I can't believe looking back how much my mom trusted her parents and sent me away for a month! I was 14 though and she was already my best friend for 9 years and we lived at each others houses.

I'm wondering what about driving in our subaru cross country and towing a uhaul hitch? We'd have to have a hitch put on our subaru for $1k, and rent a trailer for $600, then hotels. I wonder would that be cheaper? We could camp or stay at hotels?

What are people's thoughts? I'm willing to listen about the experience of RV.

Crunch, Crunch, Crunch

March 21st, 2015 at 03:01 am

It's crunch time...We are on a timeline and I think I'm going crazy. I met with 3 painters and 2 tilers today. My thoughts are we start painting March 30 or 31st. That will give us a little over a week to get cleared out a bunch of stuff. I found a storage place yesterday but we haven't started putting things in it yet.

I am struggling because my DH isn't ready to put stuff away. He thinks we should instead focus on donating and organizing. My thoughts are we put into storage the low hanging fruit of things we know we are keeping but don't need, ie my kids books. We borrow enough from the library they can live without their books. We go more than 1x/week.

This will free up tons of shelf space and tons of space period. Then we can cull through what toys to keep and what to sell or donate. That in turn will clear up space for us to work on organizing and donating.

Today I already did my first goodwill run and donated 2 bags. I lined up someone to take away for free an old pack and play and infant car seat. I also listed my maclaren double stroller and a few other items. And I donated 2 boxes of stuff to the YMCA.

I'm seriously crunching on cleaning, but I feel like my DH is dawdling on trying to "organize" rather than just accept that the more we get out the easier it'll be. It'll give us more space to work with and analyze what we can keep or not.

I've been told we should use a professional stager. Already we are paying for painters since we don't have time or energy to paint. For what I'd pay a sitter to watch my kids while I paint makes it not worth it at $30/hr then I'd still have to paint!

Do you think a professional stager worth it?

Selling the house

March 19th, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Okay so I've meet with 2 realtors and 3rd tomorrow afternoon. I've also met with one painter and am calling 2 more painters today and tile guy. We decided we are going to aim to list our house April 29th. It's time.

Are we moving? Yes. Where? I have no idea. We are going to move cross country without a job. Unsure where exactly but that will likely become more clear in the next few months.

Financially one realtor, the one who sold us the house, said she'd list it at $699k and see what bidding war happens. A direct comp (townhouse on our street) sold in fall 2012 for $695k and the market is even stronger now, so getting $699k is very conservatively likely. This market is late this year because of the weather so we aren't missing the spring market though we're listing so late. There is nothing on the market now and if we were ready to sell next Wednesday we'd likely have a bidding frenzy. But due to the nature of getting ready we just can't.

Houses are selling like hot cakes in my market without mortgage contingencies or home inspections contingencies. This is a seller's market and we need to take advantage of what might be another bubble. We owe I believe $385k so if we sell for $700k after our realtor fees we'll walk away with $280k. In many areas of the country it's enough to buy a house. Where we want to move to, probably not. But it's a substantial down payment on whatever we want to buy. Of course when we move we aren't buying for at least a year.

odds and ends

March 17th, 2015 at 02:02 pm

So we had two late/overdraft fees last month. Because February is 28 days my DH set up auto deposit into our checking for the 28th of the month and it didn't hit until the 3rd. So some of bills I auto pay on the 1st would have cleared if the cash got deposited on time. We were over by $65 anyway and BofA protected us by transferring some from our savings float. Still they charged us $10 and I was annoyed with my DH for not setting up deposits on the 1st of the month.

But I called and they waived the fees since we don't do it very often. They were actually very nice about it. I wonder if we should deposit more into the checking instead of cutting it so close. Usually there is a $500 buffer but the deposit being late ate that up.

We are exploring our options right now and I have a call out to the realtor who sold us our house. We really liked and trusted her and she's very experienced and lived in our neighborhood. She did us a big favor helping us get our place and guiding us what neighborhoods.

So now do we just hire her back and go with her recommendations? Or do we contact other realtors say 2 others and get an idea what our place is worth? Have them do comps and show us what they can offer?

Last time we also with the realtor who sold us our place. But she was my friend's mom and we knew she had our best interest at heart. At the same time, when we were selling she told us to call 2 other realtors and ask for comps and we did and she came in "dead on" with the other two estimates and we sold for $1k above what she priced at in the 1st weekend in a bidding war. So I believe she was good and secure in knowing we trusted her.

This realtor we know was suggested by the relocation company. But she seems like our old realtor someone whose been in the business over 20 years, lives where she sell, etc. She didn't get in during the boom and has lasted.

But should we talk to others? What's the etiquette?

Further I contacted from craigslist some apartments to discuss potential month to month rentals and how to handle that. There are a few places both cheaper and more expensive than what we are spending that based on location we could be happy with.

This week my goal today is to try and list a few items for sale and donate at least 1 box. I am determined if we are selling I am going to minimize the amount we are going to move. We can't hold onto baby stuff anymore. Perhaps we'll have a third child, that is not off the table, but shelved until after we move. I am a little sad because I feel my kids are getting older and so am I, but at the same time I know that a move isn't easy with 2 and we certainly couldn't take this risk with 3 kids. So perhaps it'll still happen.

Racial or Class warfare?

March 16th, 2015 at 05:14 pm

With the greater publicity about white cops shooting african american people, a friend of mine commented that the US doesn't appear to making progress in the race wars. I said I think actually there has been a lot of progress racially but in the us class wars are rising. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I live in a very blue part of the US and I don't think people judge others by the color of their skin. But I think that a lot of people are judging others based on where they live, their education, their jobs.

I mean it seems pretty obvious just talking to people, so many are very much into "sending their kids to the right schools." After all it'll affect where they go to college and a state school isn't good enough. Or sending their kid now to private versus public school. You can sort of see a divide between blue and white collar jobs.

My friend lives in also a blue state but not as affluent. She said she'd have to look closer to see if there were class wars where we she versus her perceived race wars. She felt like where she lived there wasn't such a pronounced difference between those who were "upper middle class and above" and those below.

Do you think the US faces bigger racial or class warfare? Do we even have a problem?

No clue about finances?

March 13th, 2015 at 02:40 pm

I find it stunning that so many women have no clue about their family finances. I mean literally no clue. Now you'd think okay maybe because they are stay at home moms? Nope. Turns out that many of them are also working moms. It doesn't appear to matter. I find it incredible that so many women in a marriage have no idea what they have saved, make, or spend in a month. I'll tell you a few different stories recently which left me wondering WTF?

Dr H is a primary care doctor with three kids and her husband works as well. They are super busy and never have time to manage their money. They are pretty frugal and don't overspend and save a lot. BUT they could be saving more. Unfortunately neither Dr H and DH haven't a clue what they spend. They went to their financial advisor and said we were thinking about buying Amazon Prime to save on shipping. The FA said "you've been paying for 5 years for Amazon prime and had no idea you've been paying it?" DH said "I just pay our bills in full, we've never looked." Dr H tells me and a friend this story and says the FA told them they should probably try to see what they are spending their money on. Thankfully they make enough to not care, but it could be detrimental.

Friend Mrs. C is a full time school teacher. She has no idea what she makes or what they save. She says her husband takes care of everything and he tells her what she can spend on groceries. She says that she's sure he's taking care of their retirement but has no idea if she even has a Roth IRA or college accounts for the kids.

As you all are aware Mrs A is the financial train wreck of a stay at home mom. Has no idea what they make or spend and figures if they made more they'd be fine. Her husband is having his wages garnished by the IRS because he hasn't paid taxes in 7 years and filed in as many. They are being audited.

Another friend Mrs K also works part-time is being audited because her husband handles all the money and she too has no idea what it's being spent on.

I have many, many more friends both working full and part-time, and non working moms, NONE of which have any clue how they are spending their money. They have no idea what their mortgage is, but they know what daycare costs. They have no idea if they have a retirement account or how much they are saving.

I found it incredible that all these well educated women have completely handed over control of the finances to their partners/spouses. They have no clue if these people are being at all responsible. They have no idea what they have saved for retirement if anything. They just assume whatever financial decisions are being made are the right ones.

Granted the two under audit have realized that something is not right, but still. Does it take getting audited for someone to get concerned? And when I said perhaps they should take over the finances the response was "it's too much work and it was a mistake."

Really? I know that people of both genders here on SA are more concerned and aware of finances than the general population. But I can't wrap my head around women just having no idea about their finances period. And literally they aren't even worried or concerned that they could be eating cat food when they get older or are in debt, or not paying taxes.

My DH and I are both aware of our finances. He's not as detail oriented, but he knows the gist and well aware of our spending habits and our savings plan. He knows roughly what we spend and doesn't care for those details. We make joint decisions and I'm well aware of ALL accounts and track them. I know it's a bit obsessive, but why don't more people care?

A Crazy Day

March 12th, 2015 at 07:27 pm

I knew my DH had to be more lazy and obnoxious. Today there were layoffs at his company. 40% of his department. Many of his friends are saying good bye, but not him. DAMN IT! If he'd have gotten laid off we'd be moving yet again. It's like all these signs are saying stay. But let's reflect on the possibilities. They may still fire him next year when they let go of the rest of the department. But can we afford to wait? And will everyone else in his department start jumping ship?

Honestly this layoff was perfect. We would have moved this summer and put the house on next month and moved in June. My DH could have started a 12 week internship with 100% placement June 1st and been set with a job in the fall. He talked with them and is definitely qualified to make this job switch. NO I am not pressuring him. Actually he is taking online courses to learn python (programming) and R. This is to help with his transition and has been doing so since January. Long term he wants to transition to this career field.

Now it would have been perfect. Our DK1 is starting kindergarten in the fall so that would work out timing wise as well. Yes we would have rented and who knows what we would have gotten for our house, but it still would have been the best possibility for us.

Now what do we do? As I write this I have to wait another couple hours for my DH to get home and talk more. I am not sure whether we should just sell the house and prepare to move in September. I think that it's possible in September or October he'll do the 12 week intensive internship and leave his job in which case it would be in San Francisco or Seattle. This would mean that selling with the spring market would be the best situation for us.

Am I worried about not having a job? Absolutely and why the severance and unemployement would have been ideal for us. Besides the fact I think that we were hoping for unlike many of my DH's friends who don't want to move or get laid off. I wish he could have taken on of their spots. They wouldn't be worried about what happens after the severance and unemployment runs out. What if they can't find a job in the field and have to change careers?

This is a weird day. I don't know what the future holds but I think that we just have to keep on moving forward no matter what. If we move to SF it'll be hard, the money we have saved I'm not sure how long it will last. We've got over $100k in cash now, and if I can land a job then we'd likely be able to stretch indefinitely. My DH refuses to touch our home equity, that's to be rolled over into our next house. Seattle I know we can more likely live at least a year or more without jobs but a job again would help our cash cushion.

But now what? For those of you following my crazy posts thanks a lot. I know it seems bipolar but it really is this emotional and hard to keep it all inside.