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I paid off my truck

October 2nd, 2015 at 06:34 am

I paid off my truck with my October 1 payment. The final payment was due Jan. 1, so I'm three months early - a 36 mo. loan paid back in 33 mos.

I'm happy to have my truck paid off. I really am. But, I've discovered, or maybe re-discovered something about myself.

When the payment went through, I thought to myself about how it will be another almost 2 1/2 years before my wife's mini van is paid off. And that my truck will need to last AT LEAST that long before we can replace it. And what if it doesn't. What if it breaks down tomorrow. We're screwed.

OK, maybe all of those thoughts didn't come into my head that rapidly. But still, that's the basic flavor of what was running through my head. Instead of being completely happy about having my truck paid off, I was worrying about having this van paid off in time that we wouldn't have two $300+ payments at the same time.

I need to be worrying about something at all times. My grandma P.'s contribution to my psyche, I guess.

Truly, I am happy about having the truck paid off, and no, I'm not really all that worried about my truck taking a crap.

But, that thought was still there, and that says something about my approach to life.

Truck Payoff and Barn

July 9th, 2015 at 07:55 am

I blogged yesterday about how my fuel oil budget plan bill was cut from $220 per month to $95 per month. First of all - snafu - we use #2 fuel oil, which is diesel fuel without the red dye that (at least in Michigan) means that its taxed. That is, our fuel oil is not dyed, and not taxed. Road diesel is dyed, and taxed, but otherwise it's the same stuff. Yes, #2 heating oil is expensive, but that was the furnace that was in our house when we moved into it. The cap price used to calculate my budget payment was $299/gal.

Anyway, that reduction in payment adds another $125 to my monthly cash flow. I'm going to use that money to pay off my truck early. To make a long story short, when we bought our van last December, rather than make a big down payment on the van, we made a substantial payment on my truck. The way my credit union does it, when you make a big payment, they extend the due date. So, when we bought the van, I owed something like $4,000 on the truck. We paid about $3,000 toward the truck (and some down on the van, too). So, the next month rather than having a payment due in January, the CU extended my due date to I think this next November.

I've been paying about $50 each month on the truck since then. My current balance on the truck is right around $250. Using the extra cash flow from the reduction in heating bill, I will pay the truck off in September, four months early. After that, I'll make bigger payments on the van, at least until the end of this heating fuel cycle.

Now, back to the barn. I've been talking about renovating the old hog barn. There is another barn on the property. That barn is where the cows were kept. The cow barn is in a great deal of disrepair, and has basically been abandoned. doingitallwrong left a link to a buyer of old barn wood in a comment on my blog a couple days ago. I checked the site out. The buyer is about 90 miles from my place. He requests an estimate of board feet, and sizes of boards, etc. plus my bid on price.

So, what I'm thinking is cannibalize the abandoned barn, and use those funds to improve the smaller barn.

One problem is that we don't own either barn. My dad does. When we took ownership of the property, we got the house plus one acre. Neither barn sits on that acre. I'm sure that my dad would be OK with us selling the barn wood, and using the funds to improve the other one, especially if I do all the leg work to sell the lumber. But, it is a decision that we will have to talk to him about.

Fuel Oil Budget Plan

July 8th, 2015 at 07:55 am

I looked back into my archived blog posts, and I see that I blogged about this same topic one year ago yesterday. Except this year, it's the exact opposite issue.

Two years ago we went on to our heating fuel oil company's budget plan. A year ago ended our first cycle. June is the settle up month, and the specifics of the new year's plan are set up in July.

Our initial year (July 2103 - May 2014) plan was $220 per month. We ended that year with a $400 credit, but they wanted to increase our monthly payment to $250. I called, and complained, and they set our payment back to $220.

We got our new plan letter in the mail yesterday. This past year we finished with a $857 credit, and our new calculated payment is $95 per month. Doing the math, it should work out to be about even, it just seems like a big drop. It also seems to be very different than last year's calculation.

I understand that there is an El NiƱo developing, and this winter may be warmer than usual. Which is OK by me for a bunch of reasons. So, we could end up with another credit, even with the lower payment.

But, I'll pay attention to our monthly statements, and if we need to adjust our payments up near the end of the cycle, I'll do that. Because the last thing I want is a big settle up next June.

February net worth update, tax income and braces.

February 16th, 2015 at 08:53 am

I know it's mid month. Actually a bit past mid month, but I just figured my February net worth - it's $229,440, a $2,366 increase over last month.

We filed our taxes this weekend, and I can't remember our refund amounts, but it's around $3,000 federal, and $1,000 state. We still have that federal adoption credit working in our favor, but I'll plan on adjusting withholdings.

DW is still working on that freelance project. She hopes to have it finished by the end of the month. Once she's finished, she can bill for another $5,600.

It looks as if DD1 needs braces. That would be a $5,000 bill. If she gets them, we would probably time it so that she got them right after DW has received her freelance income.

Our dentist has fairly strongly recommended that she get braces. It's his opinion that teeth will touch each other, and cause future cavities. We took her to see an orthodontists, and oddly, he wasn't as strong in his recommendation for braces. He seems to think it would be more for cosmetic reasons. So, I'm not sure what we'll do.

We can easily wait for the freelance income, but there are lots of places for that money to go. We can get on a no interest 18 month payment plan. If we pay up front, we'll receive about a $200 discount.

DW had braces as a child, I did not, but my sister did. My teeth are a little crooked, and I could have had some cosmetic benefit from braces (I think). And it's clear to even me that DD2 will need braces after more of her permanent teeth have come in.

So, again, I'm not sure what we'll do, but we probably won't make any decisions until April or May.

Does anyone have kids who were on the borderline of needing braces? What did you decide?

Another (minor) Problem with Fuel Oil Budget Plan

July 25th, 2014 at 10:31 am

I blogged earlier this month about how our fuel oil supplier increased our monthly budget payment amount, even though we finished the year with a credit. A quick call fixed the problem, and our budget payment was reduced.

Today I was looking through our checking account withdrawals, and saw that $220 was debited from our account on July 21. That's our normal fuel oil budget payment date, and our normal payment amount. The problem is that we weren't supposed to have the withdrawal made this month, and the amount withdrawn in August was supposed to be reduced, so that our Sept. 1 credit would be $0. That was according to a conversation I had with a rep from the company in May.

I made another quick call this morning, and the $220 charge will be reversed, and a reduced amount will be withdrawn in August. Problem fixed.

But, I've had two billing issues related to our budget plan this month! I'm left wondering if:

1) they were two honest mistakes
2) the billing person is incompetent
3) there is something more menacing going on, and they are trying to milk as much money out of the customers as they can, and if a customer catches on, and makes a call, they will only then fix the problem

Please convince me that option #1 happened.

Fuel Oil Budget Plan

April 7th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Last summer I began a budget plan with out fuel oil provider. We've been paying $220 each month since July, and each month we receive a statement detailing how much we've paid vs. how much we've used.

Each month, our account balance has been negative - that is, we've paid in more money than the value of the fuel oil we've used - until this month (March statement).

Our March delivery brought our balance up to a positive $42.

Of course we'll still be making payments in April and May. June is the settle-up month.

Our usage (home heating) is about to decrease greatly, so we'll end the cycle with a negative balance.

I'm thinking it would be better to apply that balance to next year's monthly payment, rather than receive a lump sum in June.

Our monthly payment has been $220. I'm thinking that a monthly payment of $20 or $25 less each month would be better than a $250 (or whatever is is) payment in June. Unless we really need that money for some reason.



March 27th, 2014 at 08:59 am

Long story short, DW is borrowing her parent's 2013 Chrysler Town & Country minivan for a couple of days. She will be hauling several pre-teens to Lansing tomorrow, and their van is roomier (and nicer) than ours is.

I drove our girls to an event in it last evening, and I'm telling you - this thing is loaded - leather heated seats, digital everything, touch screen radio, DVD - front and back, back-up camera, automatic opening side and rear doors, it rides like a dream, etc. All are luxuries you can get used to. All are temptations.

Before you ask, yes, they paid for it in cash. And they will drive it until it nearly dies.

Sometimes I wish I didn't even know those luxuries existed.

I'm guessing we'll have our van for about another year and a half. Then, we'll be in the market. And, we'll remain true to all of the guidelines I've learned here on SA - finance for no more than three years, with monthly payments not to exceed 10% of take home pay. Actually, I will shoot for monthly payments of more around 6-8% of monthly take home pay. But, yes the purchase will most certainly be financed for three years.

If anything, experiencing these more high-end features will strengthen my resolve to save more for a down payment, so we can actually afford some of them.

Gift Allocation

September 5th, 2013 at 05:25 am

It's been about a month since we received the gift of money from my in-laws. I thought I would make an attempt at an accounting of where the money has gone thus far. So far, we have spent/saved/paid down debt amounting to about $25,200 in the following broad categories:

Savings $9,200.00 36.4%
Home Improvement $8,322.05 32.9%
Debt Repayment $6,361.72 25.2%
Home School $745.60 3.0%
Vehicle Maintenance $636.00 2.5%

A coupe of caveats:
1. Not all of the money has been spent/saved in each of those categories yet, although it is our intent to do so. All but $2,000 of the "Savings" category is sitting in checking yet, for example. Some more to debt payoff and some more to home improvement.

2. We would have spent that, or nearly all of that on Home School curricula with or without the gift. Maybe not in one payment.

3. Same goes for vehicle maintenance (tires) my tire would have blown with or without the gift. Maybe I would have bought the used tire, or only one new tire instead of all four. Who knows. The gift did make the decision to buy four new tires easier.

There is one big ticket item that we have not purchased, but I have included it above. That is a generator and hard wiring for generator. I'm estimating that at $1,200. I think I already blogged about that, or I intended to blog about it. It goes back to the whole living in a rural area, we have the electric service of a third world country, yada yada thing.

We haven't taken action on a Roth for DW. That is big on my to do list.

So, when Savings plus Debt Repayment lines are combined, we get a total of 61.6% of what has been spent/allocated/intended so far. Yes, about a third the total has been spent on "Home Improvement" and yes, most but not all of that is the porch project. It did balloon beyond our original intent a bit.

We still have a pinch less than $5,000 to allocate yet. You certainly can't say that we're blowing it all in one place!

Our Septic System

August 16th, 2013 at 06:02 am

No, our septic system didn't fail. But, it hasn't been updated in quite some time, and will need to be replaced. Just, not yet.

But, we want to be prepared, and have the money available for replacement, when the time comes. So, I called an installer yesterday, to get an idea of replacement cost.

His first questions were: which county do you live in, and how many bedrooms are in your house? I told him which county I live in, and that we have three bedrooms in our house. My county requires a 2,500 gallon tank for a three bedroom house.

Next, he asked me if our house was on sand or clay soil. I told him that our soil was loamy, or in-between. The required length of the tiles in the drain field are dictated how fast your soil percolates water. Sandy soil percs faster than clay soil. So, a septic system on sandy ground costs less than a septic system on clay ground (less excavation, less fill sand, less drain tile).

He estimated the cost at about $6,000, but said that the estimate would be much tighter after the county environmental health department came out to do an actual perc test.

So, we'll set aside $6,000 in the EF. The system may need to be replaced next year, or it may be 10 or more years. Either way, we'd like to be prepared.

Spending More Money

August 9th, 2013 at 08:54 am

We're getting a load of gravel today (actually, it's probably already delivered). We used two loads of gravel six years ago when we made our driveway. We've had lots of rain this spring/summer, and the potholes have become very evident. The delivery fee is $75, plus $6.50 per ton for the gravel. The dump truck holds 19 tons. So, I ordered 19 tons, and the total comes to $198.50.

It's fortunate that the porch contractor has a skidsteer on site. The gravel driver will spread the gravel as best he can from the dump truck. The porch contractor will help spread it evenly with the skid steer. Will save me from moving it around. We're going to extend the driveway a bit back from the road, too. We would have done that six years ago, but there is an electrical line in the way. The addition of the skidsteer will help that.

I also contacted a professional carpet cleaner. He will be at the house on Monday. He'll charge us about $100-$150. Yes, we could have rented a steam cleaner (and bought cleaner) for about half that cost. It can be a challenge to coordinate that, especially with two kids with special needs. The boys are in school Monday, and DW and the girls are busy, and will be out of the house.

We've got a couple minor, but out of our area of expertise plumbing problems. I've contacted a plumber to take care of them. Not sure on the cost yet.

The gravel and the plumbing have been on the to do list for a while. We just needed to wait until we had the extra cash. Plus, doing the gravel while the porch contractor is there will make the finished product much better, and easier.

Other home improvement projects for the future:

Generator with transfer switch installed. We live in a very rural part of Michigan, and have been without power two times recently. One of the times was for about 20 hours.

Couches and easy chair. We haven't bought a single couch at all ever. The two that we are using are hand-me-downs from my in-laws. The easy chair is about 11 years old. It was a gift from my brother-in-law (purchased new) when our first daughter was born.

New dressers for the kids. Again, all kids dressers are hand-me-downs, and they don't work very well.

Refrigerator. Our refrigerator was left in our old house when we bought it. We moved it with us. Not sure how old it is. It still refrigerates and freezes things. The ice machine does not work. We can do with this for a while, but it needs to be in the replacement plan.

These items are on the wish list. We need to see how the dusts settles out on other priorities.

The very generous gift

August 7th, 2013 at 06:21 am

This past weekend, my in-laws gifted my wife $30,000. For more background on the gift see my most recent post in the forums.

Steps that have been taken so far:

The checks were deposited into our account on Monday.

The credit card was completely paid off this morning.

We scheduled the builder to begin work on our back porch today. It is raining.

We scheduled an appointment with an attorney to set up special needs trusts for our boys. We'll be meeting with the attorney this Friday afternoon.

Our emergency fund is housed at DW's home-town bank, and that transfer has not been made yet.

Our girls already have 529's set up, but we have not allocated any new funds toward them.

I received some good advice from my forum post. We may pay off the truck (10K) and set up an automatic monthly payment for a Roth IRA for DW for the amount that had been going to the truck payment.

Still not sure exactly how everything will be spent and allocated. It will not be spent on a luxury car or a Caribbean cruise.

$30,000 represents a bit more than half of my annual salary. Heck, 10 years ago, I wasn't even making 30K in one year. I (we) are overwhelmed by the generosity of this gift. It gives us the flexibility to attend to some savings goals that have been sorely neglected, as well as make some needed improvements around the homestead.

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.

Birthday and Porch

February 22nd, 2013 at 08:49 am

Today is DD2's birthday. Tomorrow is her party. The dress is finished. The decorations and food are bought. The house is mostly clean. We are as ready as we will be. If the weather is nasty, the kids will ride the horse in the neighbor's shed.

We do have a swim meet before the party, but it's a home meet, so we don't have to drive far. But, it will be a busy day.

We got an estimate from our builder yesterday about the new back porch. His estimate is $3,800. That doesn't include siding, though. We still need to pick our siding out. He did include the labor for siding the porch, just not the material. He said that could range anywhere from $80 - $350, depending on what we choose. We also want him to place a boot scraper in the concrete. We'll but the boot scraper, and he'll place it. $25? not sure. The bid also included rain gutters for the whole house. That will help keep water out of the basement, so I guess we'll do it.

I'm using a $4,000 figure in the back of my mind. That fits surprisingly well with our state/fed refund figure. So, we will schedule him as for as soon as the weather breaks. Hopefully the project is done before the end of April.

Taxes are filed

February 19th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

We filed our taxes yesterday. I did some looking, and determined that IRS was ready for returns that claimed depreciation. Apparently they've been ready for the better part of a week.

We got notification that IRS accepted our return. Now we just wait for the refunds. I didn't write down exact values, but our federal refund is around $3,400 and our state refund is around $500.

When we receive our refunds, we'll submit an amended return that includes our adoption credit. Our adoption credit is about $1,200. The reason we're filing an amended form is that it will take longer to get our adoption credit.

Lots of places for the money to go. No problem there. We're still waiting for a bid on our porch improvement, and I would like some of it to go to CC debt. And, of course, we would like to have some reserves if needed to cover costs associated with selling our house.

Heating Oil Budget Program

January 31st, 2013 at 09:04 am

The heating fuel tank was filled yesterday. We've been paying in full after it gets filled, but that can cause a cash flow crunch in the cold months.

Our fuel company does have a budget program. We've explored it before, but never took advantage. We are leaning very heavily toward enrolling in the program.

The way it works with our company is, starting in July, they will take our average monthly fuel use, and multiply it by a "cap" price. We'll make 11 equal monthly payments, and settle up in June. The June payment could be more or less depending on actual usage, and actual price. Also, our budgeted amount could go up or down if our actual use, or the price is drastically different than what was figured at the beginning.

So, basically, we'll be pre paying July - October.

I know, I know, interest free loan from us to them, etc. etc.

But, once we get into the program, it will be nice to have a constant monthly payment, and not have to scramble to pay only when we're heating the house.

Are any of you on a budget plan for seasonal expenses? Do you cringe at the very idea?

A minor delay

January 28th, 2013 at 06:21 am

I had set up a very aggressive CC debt payoff plan that would have had us out of CC debt by April. I'm afraid it will have to remain just that - a plan.

As most of you know we have a house we are desperately trying to sell. We came to the realization that we might need to have significant cash reserves to actually get the house sold.

I had mentioned that the current buyer has made an offer backed by a USDA Rural Development loan. USDA RD loans have some hoops to jump through that can require the owners to make improvements before the house is sold - things like replacing worn carpeting, sufficient rain gutters, energy efficiencies, etc. Also, it's not unrealistic to expect that we may have to cover some closing costs for the buyer, or the bank may require that we bring some cash to the close.

So, we've set a goal of $4,000 in cash reserves to finally get this monkey off our back. Where will this cash come from? We'll have to slow down CC repayment. For now, anyway.

So, I've set up a new CC repayment projection that has CCs paid off by next October. It will cost a grand total of $35 in additional interest, over having the CCs paid off in April.

Of course we'll be probably be getting income tax refunds that will help build this reserve, but we're also saving for that porch improvement.

So, until we know how much our tax refund is, when we will actually close on the house, and how much our porch improvements will cost, we'll be going with this October CC debt payoff plan.


January 10th, 2013 at 10:55 am

I know that it's recommended to have 3-6 months spending put away in an EF. We have about $1,000 in our EF, and that can fluctuate a bit each month.

I hope to have credit cards retired in May. And, I think we will. I'm thinking that after that phase of our financial life is over, our next conquest should be to beef up the EF.

I've had a figure of $10,000 bouncing around in my head for a while. I decided to take a more serious look at that number.

One month of spending in my family is about $4,680. So, a three month EF would be about $14,000. I was only off by 40%.

If I allocate the $750 that we've been sending toward credit cards lately, it will take about a year and a half to get it built up. OK, that assumes no withdrawals. Better make it two years.

So, here it is, a new goal! My goal is to have $14,000 saved up in an EF by June 2015.

I'm Back

January 4th, 2013 at 07:04 am

I've been gone for a few months, but with a new year, I thought I'd get started back up again.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah), and a Happy New Year!

Despite holiday spending, we've managed to pay down quite a bit of credit card debt. Our current total is $1,963. Down from $4,587 in October. My goal remains total payoff next May.

We've also decided on our 2013 house project. We need something done with our back porch. My MIL is disabled, and has a great deal of difficulty entering our house the way it is. Also, it just plain looks very bad. We'll hopefully be getting a bid next week for a spring/summer project, but for now we're planning on saving $800 per month.

Just yesterday, I also began contributing an additional 1% of my salary per month to my retirement plan. I'll increase that again once the CCs are paid off. For those of you who may have been following my thread on the forums, I decided to stick with my employer, rather than the Roth. There were no transaction fees.

Time for a new, make that different, vehicle?

September 19th, 2012 at 09:59 am

I thinking about a new pickup. Something compact, like a Dakota, S-10, or Ranger. I'm not particular to makes.

This purchase wouldn't be until after December, when that one credit card that will shoot up to 23% APR is paid off. Then we'll be in the midst of winter heating, and post-Christmas financial trauma, so maybe not til next spring. We'll see.

I bought my current car from my aunt and uncle for a dollar last May. It runs OK. It's a 1997 Mazda 626. It has about 200K miles, so I can't ask for much from it. Of course we also have the family mini van that we recently paid off with adoption subsidy money. That's seven years old, and had 110K miles. It should last another 3-5 or more years, but we'll see.

So I started with the rule that I learned in the SA forums - monthly payment of no more than 10% of your monthly pay, financed for no more than 3 years. I cut the monthly payment in half, because it is possible that we would need to replace the mini van in that time frame. What I came up with is between 9 and 10K for a pick up.

A really quick look at KBB told me that I could buy a 2007 or so model with somewhere north of 120K miles. Not great, but a step up. And, having a pickup, especially in the country is nice.

So, I'm at least four months away from the purchase. Gives me time to possibly save some money, which will either get me a better pickup, or reduce my monthly payment. I can also spend that time becoming familiar with what's out there in my price range.

Yes, this does mean more debt. But, using the 10%, three year rule, I'm at least entering it with some reasonable restraints.

My Dad's Retirement Party

September 17th, 2012 at 06:00 am

At the age of 65, and after 32 years of service to his company, my my dad retired last month.

About two week, or so, before he retired, I had talked with one of his co-workers, Duane. Duane asked me if I had been planning to throw him a retirement party. Honestly, the thought had not crossed my mind. Duane assured me that my dad's company would throw in some money. He encouraged me to look into it.

Shortly after dad did retire, I called his company. The man I talked with said that the company would allocate $250 toward the party. That was an amount we could work with.

Dad worked in the dairy industry, and my DW is from a dairy farm, so we decided to go with an ice cream social. We ordered 3 - 3 gallon containers of ice cream ($90). Two were French vanilla, and the other was pumpkin. We reserved a pavilion at a local park ($65). The rest of the money was spent on toppings (strawberries, chocolate syrup, bananas, sprinkles, etc.), decorations, milk, ice, and tableware. We ended up spending about $290, and were happy to cover the $40 overage.

The party was yesterday. We figure about 75 people attended. We had beautiful weather in September for an outside venue. Most importantly, my dad really enjoyed himself. And, $3.87 per participant isn't bad. Let's also say that my family will have enough chocolate syrup to last us a few months!


August 6th, 2012 at 06:45 am

We cancelled our TV satellite service about two years ago. We cancelled it because we could no longer afford to pay a monthly TV bill and reduce debt.

We're in a much better financial state than we were two years ago. We can now afford to pay a monthly TV bill, and continue to make substantial steps toward reducing debt. The question is - should we?

We have found life without TV to be not only acceptable, but in many ways preferable. The kids no longer fight about what's on the TV. The TV is not constantly on, rotting our brains. We have an extra $60 per month to allocate somewhere else. Most of what's on TV is crap anyway.

We are missing the Olympics. And I miss the Big 10 network and NCAA tournament coverage most of all (Go MSU!). And sometimes, if used properly, it can give you a parenting break. (The same old DVDs get tiring after a while).

So, we're considering whether or not we should re-up with our satellite TV service. And, getting the cheapest, most basic service is not appealing to me Like I said, the Big 10 network is part of the deal.

What do you all think?

Another Need to Spend Some Money

June 28th, 2012 at 11:13 am

Remember how in the early spring I blogged about building a fence in the front yard for a play area for our boys? Well we've been using that fenced area. A lot. The fence connects to the our front door porch. The porch is about 80 years old. The constant use of the porch/fenced area has led to rapid deterioration of the porch. It is no longer safe. It needs to be replaced.

The bid for replacement is $4,500. I had $4K in my mind before we got the bid back, so it's close. We trust the contractor, so we're going with his bid.

He figures he can do the work the week after next, and it will take about 4 days. Until then, no fence for us.

Monthly Spending

June 25th, 2012 at 06:24 am

I went through monthly spending and categorized the totals. I came up with the following:

Amount spent on:

Housing - 22%
Other Needs - 35%
Wants - 12%
Savings - 10%
Debt Repayment (or largely past wants) - 20%

According to Disney Steve in the forums the benchmark is 50% Needs, 30% Wants, and 20% Savings. In those terms my breakdown would be:

57% Needs
32% Wants
10% Savings

Adoption Date Set

April 4th, 2012 at 05:40 am

April 18.

You may remember that we adopted DS1 in December. We have not yet adopted DS2, despite that fact that we've had him for two years now.

Juvenile court is held on Wednesdays. We opted for the last time slot of the day - 3:30. We hope to fill the court room with family and well-wishers. It's a small court room.

The judge and his staff came into court from their Christmas vacation to complete the paperwork for the adoption of DS1. So, we have asked the court if we could have a ceremonial adoption for DS1 on the 18th as well.

We'll have a cake, ice cream and hors d'oeuvre celebration at our church following the ceremony. Our church is about a block and a half from the court house. We're shooting for a $200 budget for the celebration.

It's been a very long road full of red tape and other assorted BS. As foster parents DW and I have constantly reminded ourselves and each other that it's FOR THE KIDS. No one in their right mind would do it otherwise.

Revised debt repayment goal

April 3rd, 2012 at 06:16 am

Yesterday when I updated my monthly debt progress, I upped my monthly debt retirement goal from $1,000 to $1,050.

I was thinking about how that $1,050 number was pretty much pulled out of thin air. I didn't base it on anything other than my gut feeling that it was an amount I thought I could handle without stretching myself too much. I thought I should base that figure on something real. Like, my average monthly debt retirement over the past year. I've already confessed to over-analyzing things.

So, I went through my monthly debt retirement figures over the past year. I omitted the month where I got my tax refund, and I averaged the remaining months. And it turns out I came up with $1,052. Darn close to what my gut feeling was yesterday.

Is it really a good goal to match last years debt retirement? Probably not. So, I will set a new goal. My new goal is to pay off debt at a rate of 5% more than last year's average - or $1,105 per month principal payment.

April Debt Update

April 2nd, 2012 at 05:35 am

What a month was March! It seemed as if money was flowing in and out at an abnormal pace. Here are my new updated debt figures. Slowly chipping away.

April 2012 Debt
Mort 1 $103,172
Mort 2 $69,370
CC1 $3,220
CC2 $2,058
CC3 $1,151
CC4 $2,502
Van Loan $5,604

Total principal paid as compared to last month: $1,123. CC 3 is scheduled to be history in October. It's nice to see it melting down. We're also sending $190 worth of principal toward the van now.

I've decided to up my monthly payoff goal. For a year, my goal has been $1,000 per month. I've hit that most (not all) months. I'll up that 5% to $1,050 per month. I think that doable without stretching too much.

The fence guys are here

March 31st, 2012 at 08:22 am

I guess the title says it all.

He ended up renting the auger. Just as well, because he's running into tree roots. The posts should be set today, let the concrete set for a couple of days, and erect the panels on Monday.

Pretty good for just deciding on the project a week ago.

Somitimes things have a way of working out

March 30th, 2012 at 05:28 am

I stopped by mom and dad's house last night. They live less than a mile away. They gave me a $550 check. It was a payment for labor at the maple woods. That was on top of a $2,100 check they gave me last summer. They said that the two checks added together was 1/2 of profit from 2011 syrup sales. They really didn't have to do that. When I protested, mom said that was how Grandpa and Grandma used to do it.

So, that $550 is very extremely close to the cost of materials for the fence that will be going up this weekend. Wow.

Fence Continued

March 28th, 2012 at 08:32 am

So the fence we picked out was a special order. We would receive it three weeks after order. We initially went with it, but changed our minds to one that is in stock. It's a good fence too, but maybe not quite as attractive. Our contractor will pick it up today, and start on it either Thursday, or early next week. He has another job lined up that he may or may not start this week, depending on his client's needs.

The fence that we went with is cedar. We'll need to get on a schedule to stain it. I would guess every two or three years. We might not need it beyond three years, or we might need it for the next eight. We'll see.

The fence is $760. The contractor is charging $500 to construct. So that's on the outer limits of our budget. Too bad. But, as I've already discussed, it is a need. So far we've met my goals - attractive as is possible, and it doesn't appear that it will break the bank. Only time will tell if it's sturdy enough to withstand the strength and persistence of our boys.

Fence Progress

March 27th, 2012 at 05:43 am

The fence guy stopped by yesterday. He's actually the same guy who put in our basement windows. We picked out the style of fence we wanted. We'll order from Menard's. It's nearly impossible to discern the cost of the fence, because they publish the cost of the sections, but you need to figure in posts, hardware, gates, etc. And the cost for those items are not as easy to find. We're figuring it will be $1,200 for an 18X24 fence (those dimensions will be expanded a bit by the posts). Our front porch will act as one of the fence "sides".

I'll probably dig the holes for the posts myself. We'll rent a gas powered auger. Hope to have it completed in a couple of weeks. We have real March weather again, so a couple of weeks is OK.

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