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Archive for April, 2013

We Bought Fair Goats

April 30th, 2013 at 07:22 am

You may remember a few weeks ago that I blogged about going to an auction to buy fair goats for the girls, and the average price per goat was somewhere around $400. And,we went home goatless.

The local auction was this past weekend. We were more successful there. Each girl got a goat, and each spent $110.

DS1 was at a church retreat, so she entrusted her mother and me to choose and bid on her goat. Actually, DS2 did all the bidding.

I think the high goat went for $180, and the low goat went for $100.

The herd owner is also a feed dealer, and he was selling bags of feed for $10, less than his cost. We usually pay $14 or $15 for a bag, and he was offering two bags of feed for $10 per goat purchased, so we left with 4 bags of feed.

He also offered lunch to bidders. Bratwurst made of goat meat, and regular hot dogs for those who are less adventurous. The brats were good, but a bit dry. Not as much fat on a goat as there is on a hog.

All in all, a successful weekend. DS2 named her goat Rosetta, and DS1 named hers Cleo.

Blatant trolling for an opinion from MM

April 25th, 2013 at 05:31 am

DW and I have filed our taxed jointly for 17 straight years. We have filed schedules A,C,E,F, and SE. We have submitted forms 8812, 8880, 4562, 8283, 8839, and others. We have never hired a professional to prepare our taxes. We have always used Turbo Tax.

This year may be different. I'm not sure yet. This year, we disposed of a rental property. We took a loss on the property. We have claimed depreciation on the property. And, we were forgiven debt on this investment property.

We also claimed an adoption credit in 2012, and have unused credit to claim. My estimation is that the tax liability from the forgiven debt, and the adoption credit will approximately wash each other out.

So, it seems to me that Turbo Tax *should* guide us through this maze adequately. But, I don't know. We might feel more comfortable if we hired a professional to prepare our 2013 return.

Our goal will be to minimize tax liability, and file an accurate return as inexpensively as is reasonable.

What do you think? Of course, all are welcome to weigh in with their opinion.

Reimbursement Received

April 19th, 2013 at 06:22 am

About a month ago DS2 had an EEG and an office visit with his neurologist. You may remember that we didn't have a prior authorization from his doctor for the visit, and thus couldn't get approval from our insurance company for the procedure, so we paid with a credit card.

The reimbursement check arrived yesterday. The original estimate was that we would get the check within the week. And I called two or three additional times, and each time, the person on the other end assured me that the check would be on its way shortly. I called back again this Tuesday, and the person said that they couldn't pay me until after they had received payment from the insurance company. Also, our son is on Medicaid since he was adopted out of foster care. Medicaid acts as his secondary insurance.

I'm pretty sure that what happened is that our insurance company reimbursed relatively quickly, but they didn't cover a $90 deductible on the EEG and a $20 copay on the office visit, and Medicaid was billed for the balance.

I can understand that the neurologist office wouldn't want to reimburse until after they were paid. I can also understand that these things take a while. In fact, I'm kind of surprised that Medicaid reimbursed within a month. What bothers me is that the people at the neurologist clinic kept telling me that the check would be on its way shortly. But, we have the $705 reimbursement check now, and all is well.

On a related note, I had talked about how the EEG was inconclusive, so we were taking DS2 to get an MRI and some blood work. Turns out that the MRI and blood work didn't answer anything either. So, we still don't know what caused the stroke like symptoms, other than it wasn't a stroke, it wasn't a seizure, and his mitochondria work just fine.

It's My Blogoversary

April 18th, 2013 at 06:01 am

I started this blog on April 18, 2011. So, today marks the first entry of my third year. This is also my 205th entry. It really seems as if I make an entry more than once every third day, but I hardly ever post on a weekend, and there have been a handful of "blogging droughts" on my part, and numbers don't lie.

A lot has happened in the past two years. We've eliminated A LOT of high interest, unsecured debt. We had A BIG chunk of secured debt forgiven (house short sale). And, my retirement fund has reached a respectable level (119K). Things are definitely a lot less stressful on the financial end.

So, thanks to you, SA blogging community for the words of encouragement and general cheering on. I'm looking forward to my next 2 years, and 200 posts, and also keeping up on your activities.

Our Other Mortgage

April 17th, 2013 at 06:22 am

I've spent so much time blogging about our formerly "for sale" house, that I've not talked much about our primary residence.

As a reminder, we live in my family's centennial farm house. We completely gutted it, and hired a contractor to finish the inside. We borrowed a total of $70,000 - 30K from my aunt, and 40K from DW's parents.

A year ago January, we began paying them back. We paid a token amount at first - $90 per month to my aunt and $120 per month to my in-laws. Nothing was recorded, nothing was official.

When we started talking with an attorney this past fall about the short sale, he asked about our current housing situation. We explained to him what I just described above. The attorney suggested that we get those mortgages recorded with our county register of deeds. His reasoning was that if our bank did an asset check on us, they would find that (on paper) we owned this house 100%, and they could force us to take out a borrow money against it.

So, we wrote up a couple of mortgages, took them to the register of deeds, paid $20 each, and recorded the mortgages.

The mortgages were amortized over five years, at 2.25% interest. At the time that the mortgages were written (Nov. 2012), 2.25% was about the what the best mortgage rates were, not that we would have qualified for the best mortgage rate. We began making the new payments this past January. So, our (now only) mortgage payments are as follows.

Aunt M. Loan

Original Borrowed - $30,000
Monthly Due - $500
April 1 Balance - $26,164.66

In-Law Loan

Original Borrowed - $40,000
Monthly Due - $650
April 1 Balance - $34,953.06

We plan to have them both paid off Dec. 1, 2017.

For the record, I have no idea if our bank ever did an asset check.

Lawn Mower Shopping

April 15th, 2013 at 04:21 pm

We'll probably buy a lawn mower by the end of the week. With all the rain we had last week, and the apparent heat we'll be getting this week, the grass will start growing.

Our budget is $4,000. Remember that DW and I will be sharing this mower with my folks. There are three new models available at local dealerships that fit the budget. Or ... should we buy a used commercial grade model for the same money? That's the question we're trying to answer. New residential vs. used commercial?

The commercial grade is better built, sturdier, etc. But, it's used, and the previous owner traded it in for some reason. Maybe because always want a "new" mower. Or maybe because it was giving them problems.

We'll probably end up going new residential. That's the direction DW and I are leaning (I think), but if we seem to find the right used model...

The House is Sold

April 12th, 2013 at 08:47 am

It's done. I just got word from our Realtor about a half hour ago. The house is sold!

Big relief. Five long years. We were tempted, and almost walked away several times, but we held on.

Our renter left some trash behind. She left a table that we left, and she left a stove that doesn't fit into her new apartment. But the new owners also got a piano that we left behind, and we know they wanted that piano. They signed the papers and took possession.


In reviewing their HUD paperwork, and the fact that they got USDA Rural Development financing, we've gotten a clue that they can't actually afford the house. Hopefully they hold on. The house is too nice to get trashed.

Thursday Grab Bag

April 11th, 2013 at 05:32 am

I called our Realtor this morning to see if she could find time to drive by the house to see if there was move-out type activity. Turns out she was thinking exactly what I was, and she was a block and a half away when I called. Her report - there is a moving van and a bunch of cars parked there. Great!

I dropped our family mini van off at the mechanic's this morning. There is a laundry list of minor things wrong with it. We trust our mechanic to not charge us for things that don't need to be done.

You may remember that we bought a new washer/dryer set a couple weeks ago. You may also remember that we opted for a large capacity set. I can report that we are keeping up on laundry very well now. The extra spent for the large capacity was well worth it.

It's been raining here nearly non stop since Monday. Our sump pump has been running nearly non stop since Monday. The back porch project that I've been talking about for a while also includes rain gutters. Hopefully those will help alleviate the problem when the project is completed this fall.

House Sale Update

April 10th, 2013 at 05:47 am

Friday is the day. We have assurances that the renter will be moved out by Thursday. I think she will. We'll see.

We got the paperwork (9 pages) for our end of the close. On most of the documents, our electronic signature works. On two of them (title transfer and owners affidavit) our original, notarized signature is required. We'll go to the bank this afternoon to get our signatures notarized.

So, the close is scheduled for 10 AM. We hope to get word from our Realtor when everything is completed. If we don't hear from her by about noon, I'll bug her one last time. Then we do a happy dance.

Our Weekend Adventure

April 9th, 2013 at 05:04 am

Our girls show and sell goats at our county fair. They've always bought their goats from a local breeder. The problem is that that same breeder's children also show goats raised at his farm. He, of course, holds the best goats for his own children.
We've decided that if our children are to ever win grand champion in goats, we'll have to buy from another breeder.

We went to the Michigan State University campus this weekend for "Vet-A-Visit". The students in the College of Veterinary Medicine host a program where they introduce children to some of the basics of veterinary medicine.DD1 is interested in becoming a veterinarian someday. It turns out that another goat breeder was having a sale not too far from the MSU campus on Saturday. We thought we would stop by.

I should preface this part of the story by stating that we pay about $125 - $130 for fair goats.

This guy had about 45 goats for sale. They were clearly a cut above in quality as compared to the local breeder. It turns out the were very much superior. The first goat sold for $500. It's typical that a breeder will sell their best animal first, so I thought - OK the best has been sold, things should level out now. #2, 3, 4 ,5 sold for about the same. Some goats brought as much as $625. Most in the middle sold for $200-$300. The cheapest goat sold for $135. We were so shell shocked that we didn't even put a bid
on it.

The final 4 or 5 goats were the poorest quality. But, and this makes for an interesting study in human behavior, there were enough parents that were hellbent on leaving with a goat, that those (relatively) poor quality goats went for $400 to $500 apiece. The average goat sold for $410.

Needles to say, we went home goatless. The local sale is in two more weeks. So, the girls will again buy a $125 - $130 goat. We may spend $150. We'll see.

Three Year Debt Comparison

April 8th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

April 1, 2011 Total Debt - $202,374
April 1, 2012 Total Debt - $187,077
April 1, 2013 Total Debt - $178, 952

$ Change - 2011 to 2012 = $15,297
$ Change - 2012 to 2013 = $8,125
$ Change - 2011 to 2013 = $23,422

I borrowed money for a pickup purchase in December; that's the major reason total debt didn't go down as much 2012 -2013.

April 1, 2011 CC Debt - $18,980
April 1, 2012 CC Debt - $8,931
April 1, 2013 CC Debt - $914

$ Change - 2011 to 2012 = $10,049
$ Change - 2012 to 2013 = $8,017
$ Change - 2011 to 2013 = $18,066!

This shows that we moved a lot faster when there was a gun to our heads.

In the next year, we're scheduled to pay off:
$914 CC Debt
$11,947 Mortgage Debt
$3,790 Truck Debt
$16,651 Total Projected Debt Payoff

I'll take a look in a year to see how actual compares. We're not planning on any new borrowing this year.
It might not be any different than what’s projected. After CC debt is all taken care of, my big question will be whether we should accelerate truck payoff, or beef up savings. I'll address that later.


April 5th, 2013 at 05:43 am

I got an offer from Discover yesterday.

I picked up a Discover card a year ago January. It's one of the cards I used for a 0.0% balance transfer. I transferred (I think) $2,700, and had it paid off by time the promo period was up. I've also used the card along the way, mainly for gasoline purchases, but also groceries and an occasional dinner out. I've paid each new purchase off every month, and haven't paid any interest on this card. And, it's a rewards card.

So, the offer yesterday was for a "personal loan" of up to 25K at 7.99% APR. They even had a set of nifty tables that detailed my expected monthly payment at varying loan amounts and payoff periods.

There was that fleeting moment when I thought about how we could borrow "just" 4K, and get that porch built this month or next, and my payment would be "just" $125 per month for three years. That sure would be nice. And easy.

Thankfully that thought lasted just a moment, and it passed as quickly as it came. And, I threw the letter away!

Wednesday Update

April 3rd, 2013 at 05:53 am

DS2's MRI is scheduled for tomorrow. We still don't know what time, this hospital is busy enough that they don't schedule until the day before. Since patients aren't supposed to eat before the procedure, they schedule diabetics first, and children second. We've been told to follow up by phone with the neurologist one week after the MRI.

Our renter talked with our Realtor yesterday. She gave her assurance that she would be out by next Thursday. We've begun the eviction process. She's behind on rent - no payment in March, and no payment yet for April, and she was (very) late several times over the past year.

We've opted to do the house closing by mail, rather than make the trip. Part of me wanted to make the trip, just to see the old house again, and to meet the new buyers. But, for practical reasons, we're staying home. No reason to make the three hour (one way) trip.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this close being the real thing. It really sounds as if it's going to happen. The bank hasn't asked us to bring any money to the table (yet), and the buyer's inspector didn't come up with any repairs. And, the buyer/inspector has presumably been in the house recently enough to confirm that the house hasn't been trashed by renters. All that's left is move out on the renter's part. It's possible that a wall could get dinged up during move out, or that a piece of furniture has been masking some damage, or something like that. It's also very possible that the renter could leave without adequately cleaning the house. So, we would either have to make a trip, or hire a professional cleaning service. I guess that if these are now our worst case scenarios, we're probably OK.

Odds and Ends

April 2nd, 2013 at 05:45 am

Our house closing is scheduled for a week from Friday. Buyer's financing is approved, and our bank has approved the sale. All is ready except for one major detail - our renter. She has not yet found a place to move to. Apparently her boyfriend has moved out, and she can't afford the rent by herself, and she knows she has to move out for us and for her. But, she hasn't found a place yet. My gut tells me she'll be out in time, but it's a little hairy right now.

I talked to my folks about going in together on a lawn mower. They are all for it. I looked at some models on Friday. We're at about the 4k price point - a 52-54" zero turn model. Each of the models has a "good" "better" "best" version. We're looking at the "better" style. We'll probably have something picked out and purchased in a couple weeks.

We bought the girls each a bike this weekend. They were actually their Christmas presents, but we waited until Spring to make the purchase. They are Schwinn models, of high enough quality that we expect them to last many years.

We also bought a washer and dryer set this weekend. Our 15 1/2 year old washer gave out. A repair may have been possible. But, we have six people in the household now, where we only had two when the old units were purchased. We needed higher capacity units to keep up on laundry better. Even though the dryer was still working, we switched that out too, to match capacity.

With March (and now April, too) as cold as it was, we will probably need to buy heating oil again before the heating season is over.

So --- with the lawn mower, bikes, washer/dryer, and heating oil purchases, our savings will be wiped out. We'll keep $800 in the EF. They porch project will have to wait. We hope to have enough saved up by September to get that done before the snow flies again.

April CC Debt Update

April 1st, 2013 at 06:10 am

April 1 CC Debt:

CC1 - $457.00
CC2 - $456.59
Total CC Debt - $913.59

March 1 CC Debt:

CC1 - $630
CC2 - $549
Total CC Debt - $1,179

Month to Month Difference = $265.41

We have less than 1K CC debt for the first time in forever.

Debt reduction beyond minimum due = $110.41.

The minimum due on CC1 has plateaued now. It's always been 2% of the balance. Since the balance hit $750, the new minimum due is $15 per month, and will stay there until it's paid off. Not that that matters. I'll continue to pay off well more than the minimum, but it's kind of a neat milestone.

Our progress has slowed. There are a lot of demands for our money right now. I project that in the month of April we'll spend just shy of $7 in interest on credit cards.