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Long time?! DW Promotion and Retro Pay!

March 26th, 2015 at 09:24 am

Apparently it has been a year since my last entry. I've been on frequently, just not blogging I guess, however, commented on a few other blogs.

My blog is usually straight and to the point, so this will be no different!

1. Wells Fargo (WF) Mortgage and Escrow. I FINALLY got them to pay our land taxes in a one-time yearly pay-in-full, now I don't have to hunt them down to get reimbursed for the installment fee.

2. Mortgage is due to be under $160K in June 2015 (with current additional payments), I may make it sooner, but trying to get rid of PMI. The loan documents state 5 years or 20% equity from original appraisal, whichever is longer. The use of DW's new promotion may actually make those criteria happen at the same time this December (read options below). I can't stand WF.

3. Retro pay (retro to Jan 4, 2015), will be close to $7K net. We should see that check in a week or two. That will just sit in the EF, which has been drawn down recently for medical expenses and some updates to the home (fence in 2014).

4. The raise that is doubling her salary,

Option 1. Mentioned above with removing PMI ($75/ mo), no, not really that bad, but 20%+ equity sound nice.

Option 2. Save to purchase land in the boonies, looking at about $70K for a 3.5 acre parcel. Expensive here in NY, and not much nice parcels left in this area. Pricey.

Option 3. Bank it all.

5. Retirement will be increased with any of the above. May be able to max both ROTH's out this year.

6. May need to look at opening some 401K's, the tax deduction may be needed to keep tax liability down and it will probably double from last year.

Problem, I am indecisive, DW trusts me and I include her in all large decisions, but my head spins thinking about the options, as we both want them all.

Some decisions to be made!

Random Updates

March 5th, 2014 at 05:13 am

I'll keep this short, my posts are usually to the point, so this one won't be any different!

1. Our new appliances. We received 3/4 of them, the fridge should be delivered today, if not, I feel sorry for the store that will have to deal with DW! We have been told many conflicting things regarding the fridge delivery and she has had enough!

2. The "NYS Surcharge" that showed up on an in-patient hospital bill late last year, well that reimbursement finally came to fruition. HR initially said it was our responsibility, well that is not what my contract states at work; $0 out-of-pocket for in-patient. I submitted all my evidence to the legal department here at work, and finally the employer was directed to reimburse me. $389 to the new appliances!

3. $100 to mortgage principal for 3/2014 payment! Still above my goal by double each month. $380 extra so far this year.

4. Sold our old fridge for $100 and posting old microwave for $125 on craigslist. Our out-of-pocket expense on these new appliances are low compared to their final price after taxes!

5. Got both NYS and Fed tax refunds.

6. Noticed the price of the new fridge and stove (already was delivered) went even lower on-line, we got the store to honor those new prices. $124 came back!

7. DW has an interview on Thursday that sounds really promising. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but both our ROTH's could be fully funded this year and exceed our EF funding goal. If she does as her income would grow at least twice. Cool to think about.

8. I'm not a big fan of Zillow "Zestimates", I take it with a grain of salt, but I do look at the trend of our "zestimate" and compare it to local actual trends of home values and sales, adjust for bedroom count, baths, lot size, location etc. I estimate we could sell easily for $159K-162K. "Zestimate" shows a value of $154K and has started to level out around that number nicely. We owe $167.2K, still a bummer. $8K under is a lot better than almost $30K we were looking at 2 years ago. I'd rather be in a position we could liquidate if needed and not owe anything at closing, even if we lost money from original purchase price and/or updates.

Ah well, that's it for now!

Expensive Weekend (Partially by Choice)

February 24th, 2014 at 06:37 am

This post isn't the most frugal post, something that I was hoping to put off for a bit longer, but was eventually going to do in the near future.

Our kitchen appliances, I've blogged slightly regarding these aging relics (a couple of them anyway) in the past, are being replaced.

Stove (Electric): Circa 1985, has been giving us issues since we purchased the home in 2010. We put some money in it to keep it going (replaced a few of the exposed burners), but when you are down to 3 out of 4 burners, things can get annoying. When you use the oven and the smoke detector goes off, things get annoying. I did a massive cleaning on it last year, but no avail to mitigate the issues. We are going to have delivery haul away.

Fridge: Circa 1998, has been making a funny loud noise at times for the past 3 years, cools and freezes well, not the most energy efficient, does not maximize and utilize the space well. We are going to attempt to sell on craigslist for around $150. If no go, our electric company will recycle and pay us $50 for it, as well as haul it away.

Dishwaher: Circa 1998, not the quietest model, cleans satisfactory if you rinse most food off dishes before placing them in. Will attempt to sell for $50 on craigslist.

Microwave (Over-the-Range): Circa 2008, not really anything wrong with it, obviously the newest appliance in the kitchen, but we will attempt to sell to family (a couple people interested) for $100.

Well that's the back story, the new story is expensive, and we only got mid-grade items.

Fridge: Samsung, Stainless Steel, we only had two options for the style we wanted for the space requirements. We ended up with a french door, bottom freezer model. Cost: $1,619.00!! Oh my!! Really!? Get this, it was the same cost as the next size up, only in America.

Stove (Electric): Samsung, Stainless Steel, nice 5 burner, flat top, convection. Lets see how the "steam clean" feature actually works, pretty skeptical. Cost: $967. Eh, not bad, but still pricey.

Dishwasher: Samsung, Stainless Steel, 6 cycles, hard food disposer (no filter to clean!), quiet 47dBs, stainless steel tub. Cost: $599.

Microwave: Samsung, typical over-the-range style, controls low on door for easier access, ceramic interior (same inside material as oven). Cost $319.

Total after before discounts and tax: $4,607.84
Total after tax and discounts: $3,857.84
- $220 Chase rewards
- $385 Reimbursement from work
- $300 C.U. Rewards
- $250 NYS Tax Refund
- $532 FED Tax Refund

= out-of-pocket $2,170.84

Not horrible considering, but $329.16 under budget ($2,500 budget) that we wanted to spend on them.

2014 Goals

December 24th, 2013 at 10:01 am

It's that time again; 2014 Goals!

Debt Service:

1. Auto Loan paid off by June 2014. This will actually happen by itself with regular payments, which will be 18 months early on our 48 month loan. Once it gets down below $1,000 I may reevaluate with a lump sum payoff. Right now, it costing us less than $6/ mo. in interest.

2. Mortgage principal only payments. Sending $50/ mo. additional principal only payments for 2014. I have automatic payments set-up from our savings account.

Retirement/ Savings:

1. ROTH IRA (ME), fund $50/ mo. I have automatic contributions set-up from our savings account.

2. ROTH IRA (DW), fund $50/ mo. I have automatic contributions set-up from our savings account.

3. Emergency Fund to $10,000.

Home Improvements:

1. Fence for rear yard. DIY project. $1,500-2,500 depending on materials used.

I made the goals a little more accessible this year. I had hoped to have the auto loan paid off six months ago, but other things came up and DW switched job to a much less stressful one, but at the expense of less wages.

Here's to 2014! Smile

Actual Electric Usage w/ Central Air

July 16th, 2013 at 08:02 am

These are the actual numbers when comparing this year with Central Air vs. Window A/C unit last year.

As requested by a few:

05/08/2012 - 07/06/2012: 1136 kWh = $194.28

05/07/2013 - 07/08/2013: 1272 kWh = $219.77

Even though there are some variables, we paid $25.49 more over the same time period a year ago with the much less capable window a/c. Not bad. I will update again in September 2013 on our next meter read date!

Central Air vs. Window A/C Electric Usage

July 7th, 2013 at 07:39 am

Some have asked that I keep track of Central Air vs. Window A/C electric usage. The central air was installed around the time we would have put in the window unit which was beginning of June. Our utility bills every 2 months so below is the kWh usage for both 2012 and 2013. Keep in mind that I needed to read the meter yesterday and estimated cost based on the cost for electricity in 2012. I will post actual most likely this coming week when I get the ebill.

05/08/2012 - 7/06/2012 = 1136 kWh --- $194.28
05/07/2013 - 7/06/2013 = 1202 kWh --- $205.00

The window a/c would cool and dehumidify only the living room and dining room, leaving the bathroom, two bedrooms, kitchen, and hallway to be desired. The central air cools and dehumidifies the whole house, including the finished laundry room in the basement. The central air is set for holding 75 degrees at this time. I have it programmed to keep 75 degrees when home and 78 degrees at sleep or work, but during the heat wave I placed it on hold.

Just a Wacky Wednesday Update

June 5th, 2013 at 08:43 am

Our central air was installed last Friday and works great. It is nice to have the whole house cool and dehumidified rather than just the immediate room as with a window air conditioner.

Speaking of the window air conditioner, we listed it on Craigslist and sold it last night for $175. I will deposit that tonight and put that toward the principal on the car loan so that it will be below $5K after regular payment hits June 24. I will be sure to blog that milestone separate as well! Haha!

DW bday is June 26, so she asked for a Fitbit One, so they were on sale for $10 off. We purchased at Best Buy and they guy asked if we were using a Best Buy credit card. We said we didn't have one, and asked if we wanted to sign up. I asked if there was any incentive and it was $20 off current purchase if approved. So after we were approved, we walked out spending $75 after tax on a $99 purchase before tax! Plus, we didn't need to use that card to pay for it! Now, just another card with a ridiculous amount of credit for a retail store I need to cancel. Haha!

Speaking of credit cards, the remaining $2,000 balance of the central air was able to be charged to my Chase Freedom card. We will have no problems paying that before it is due by July 12 or so. I will use my existing $65 in rewards as a statement credit so only really $1,935 will really be due!

I need to renew my NYS drivers license by June 14 as it expires this year, which is $80.50. Again, no issue paying that, but those little things like that tick me off sometimes!

Central Air Quote Update

May 24th, 2013 at 03:37 pm

Thanks to all who had commented on my previous post regarding credit card sign-up bonuses!

So we got an updated price on getting central air installed.

2011 Price = $2,430
2013 Price = $2,870

An increase of $440 in 2 years!

Oh well, the quote was for a Lennox Merit 13ACX (13 SEER, 2 Ton system) w/ Condensate Pump installed etc. I wrote out the 30% check yesterday when I met with the sales person. They will be installing it next Friday (May 31, 2013). There isn't really much time to get DW to sign up for a reward CC, so we will use my Chase Freedom card for 1%. Come to think of it, I should have asked if they even accept credit cards.

I am already adding ways to subsidize the cost of it:

$200 from sale of window a/c, $65 in rewards on my Chase Freedom card already I can cash out for a check, and $150 from sale of home entertainment receiver system I have laying around that is well worth that cost! So, hopefully looking at about $2,455 total spent in the end. Not bad, and slightly less if I can charge the remaining $2,000 on my Chase Freedom Card, plus, it won't be due until mid-July and be able to cash flow with-out touching EF!

Any Good Sign-Up Bonus Cash Credit Cards?

May 22nd, 2013 at 07:57 am

We are looking to possibly subsidize our Central Air purchase with a decent sign-up bonus credit card. Anyone know of any decent ones?

I already have Chase Sapphire ($400 back after $3,000 spend in 3 months) and Chase Freedom ($300 back after $500 spend in 3 months [the good offer!]).

My wife has yet to sign up for any, but Chase Freedom changed their bonus to $100 + 0% On balance Transfers for 15 months and 0% on Purchases for 15 months after $500 spend in 3 months.

The central air quotes back on 6/2011 for the install of central air were $2,100 - $2,350 depending on the manufacturer of the unit, so I am hoping they are still around those numbers. I will know when I meet with the company tomorrow on how much prices have changed in 2 years. A Chase Freedom card in DW's name might work for this.

The Chase Freedom card, unless there is another someone can recommend (looking for cash bonus mostly), sounds like it is top choice. Unfortunately, at least $1,000 of the EF would be used for this if we purchased outright and the EF currently sits at $6,000. However, being the Chase Freedom card is offering 0% for 15 months on purchases, we could float a month or two and cash flow the purchase until July 2013 since there would be no interest. Knowing me, I would just pay in full anyway and be done with it, but I do like to see the EF stay consistent.

Any thoughts?

2013 Home Improvement Choices

January 11th, 2013 at 04:51 pm

So the last couple years, in Jan. we have decided to make a list of what home improvements we want to do for the year. We usually get a few quotes for projects if a contractor is required, or I spec, source and do the work.

The newest idea is a PVC fence for the rear yard, so I spec'd out the product and solicited bids.

- Contractor 1: $6,700 installed (high overhead)
- Contractor 2: $5,500 installed (low overhead)
- Contractor 3: $6,200 installed (high overhead)

Being I work for the City Engineering Department, I have worked with Contractor 1 and 2 before on City jobs. In addition, installing a fence is not really that difficult and a great DIY project, so I have been dealing mostly with Contractor 2 on a materials only price.

- DIY $3,350 + Sweat Equity! Sounds good to me!

Basement Windows - $2,500 installed
Electrical Upgrade from 100A to 200A - $1,800 installed, permitted, inspected
Central Air - $2,500 installed
Attic Insulation - Adding another layer of R30 for a total of R60 (max recommended in NY) - $300 - DIY

So we will see...

More windows, more spending, more bonus cash

August 29th, 2012 at 10:08 am

I finally was able to get the window company at the house again so we could order Phase IV of V. This order will be a total of $3,797. This will be the largest bill for the windows being it includes the large picture window in the living room area. I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card being they were offering $400 bonus cash after spending $3,000 in 90 days. I put the required 30% down which was $1,137 on that card. The remaining $2,660 will be placed on there when installed probably around beginning of October. This card has a yearly fee after year 1 and will be closed after we get our $400+ check!

I submitted our defensive driving certificates that we finally received in the mail to the insurance company. The 10%+ reduction should be returned to us in a couple weeks being we pay the premium in full. We won't have to renew that for another 3 years.

This Friday will be our "extra pay check" for August. I will send the $1,850 (Disney/ Universal Tickets) on our Chase Freedom card as well as the $1,137 on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card this Friday.

Windows - Phase 3 of 5

April 17th, 2012 at 06:09 pm

Well today I ordered what I call Phase 3 of window replacements for the house. These windows will be the West side of the house and consists of 3 windows. This phase will cost a total of $2,736, and we put 30% down, as usual, to get them ordered which of that was rounded to $836 for a total of $1,900 remaining after installation.

So far North, and South windows are complete and all phases are being cash flowed which is why they are being purchased in phases. Remaining are East and Basement!

I should be getting $300+ from Phase 2 from spending $500 in 3 months using the Chase Freedom bonus cash promotion.

Now I need to find something similar for Phase 3! Let me know if you come across a good offer!