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No Spend Week Check-In: Days 3 & 4

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Wednesday was Day #3 of our No Spend Week Challenge.

Day #3 (Wednesday) Notes:

I used the last of the bread for toast at breakfast. BUT, a small miracle occurred when I recalled that the local grocer had recently sent out coupons. There were two coupons, in particular, that were totally FREE items – no purchase necessary! One for bread and one for a Dole Salad Kit! Score!

I was going to try to make it all the way until Friday without purchasing anything at all (I still had all $13 in my wallet), but then I was thwarted when, about 1pm, I got a phone call from the kids’ school. Both kiddos had fevers and were being sent home. On my way to pick them up, I swung by the grocery store. I used my free coupons to get bread and a salad kit. In addition, I picked up a couple fresh fruits that were on sale, but I also had to spend some of the money on children’s Tylenol and I got some juice, since I thought the vitamin C wold be good for the kids. I had to be extra cautious (and had to make decisions: putting back a bag of apples in favor of a less expensive fruit option), but I ended up spending $13.08!! I was pretty pumped to have spent exactly what I had left for the week (the 8 pennies came from my wallet).

I don’t know what sickness is ailing the kids, but there’s no puke (*fingers crossed*) and they both slept well all night (thank Jesus!), so I’m hoping I won’t need any additional illness-related items. They’re staying home today (Thursday, Day #4 of the No Spend Week). Fingers crossed they’ll be well enough to go back on Friday and, also, that I manage to get some work done from home today.

Wednesday’s Meals:

Breakfast:  Smoothie (now running low on frozen berries), half a piece of toast (uneaten from one of my kids’ breakfasts)

Lunch:  Chicken and cheese bagel sandwich (chicken was the last of the leftovers, repurposed in a different way; cheese from fridge, half a bagel from a bag I’d had in the freezer); tortilla chips on side.

Dinner:  Chicken tenders with frozen mixed veggies (from freezer) and homemade rolls on side.

 

Day #4 (Thursday) Notes:

Today (Thursday), will be different than originally planned given that now all 3 of us girls are going to be home. It makes work tough, but will likely make our food situation easier because I can utilize the oven/microwave to have food for lunch that would be impractical to make for the kids’ lunches.

Thursday Meals:

Breakfast: Bagel and cream cheese

Lunch (planned): Leftovers from dinner Wednesday night.

Dinner (planned): Orange chicken (Costco package in freezer) with jasmine rice (from bag in pantry) and fresh broccoli (just purchased).

 

Jury is still out on whether additional expenses are necessary for illness-related medication. We literally have no money at this point, which really sucks. We have credit available, but the whole goal of this month was to STOP spending on credit. My tentative plan is a “wait and see” approach with the kids. It’s still early here in Tucson and so far, the kids seem okay. If by about 9-ish they’re not doing well I’ll go ahead and schedule a doctor’s appointment and take them to be seen. I get paid tomorrow (Friday), so if any purchases need to be made I’m planning to pay with my debit card, but to have it run like “credit.”  That way the charge is “pending” for a couple days and by the time it officially goes through I’ll have money in the bank. I know this is a totally sad and ridiculous way to go about life – having to play games to delay payment until pay day. I know. We’ve got a lot of work to do still. But at least we’re making every effort to right the ship we’re on and to stop taking on additional debt!

Wish me luck with both the money situation and the kids’ illness situation. OF COURSE, hubby is scheduled to be out of town the next 4 days (Thurs – Sun) so I’m single-parenting it over here with the sick kids. Normally it’d be no big deal, but I have a HUGE work deadline next week (I have to submit a dossier for my promotion & tenure committee, so it’s kind of a big deal – directly affecting my ability to promote). I’m pretty stressed about potentially NOT being able to work the next 4 days while the kids are sick and hubs is gone. Times like these, I sure wish we had family around that I could call for help/backup!

How are your No Spend Weeks going? Any unexpected expenses come up? How have you handled the situation?


First Paycheck = FAIL!!!

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I received my first full paycheck at my new rate of pay. I was shocked that it was much lower than I had anticipated (even after using a couple online calculator programs to try to accurately predict take-home pay).  My expectation was that I’d earn somewhere between $5-6,000/month take-home.  The reason for the large range is that I have a LOT of money coming out in pre-tax deductions, including:  medical and dental insurance, Flex Spending Savings accounts for health and dependent care, and 7% retirement investment (required and matched by my employer). In total, I have 20% of my check removed pre-tax. Taxes remove another 20% of my paycheck. So when looking at my base weekly salary compared to my take-home pay, I’m only actually bringing home 60% of what I earn (to be fair, I’m saving money by being able to pay a portion of medical and childcare from our FSA with pre-tax dollars, but our FSA has caps that we exceed, so some of those expenses are still paid out of my take-home pay post-tax).

After all deductions, my first full paycheck was for a total of $2269. I get paid bi-weekly, so we’re talking about $4500/month for most months (except for the odd month with 3 pay periods). This was a huge shock, given that we’ve been quite accustomed to budgeting for literally double that income amount.

I’ve never shared exact income numbers before on the blog because it made my husband feel uncomfortable for his business earnings to be shared and analyzed. But now that he’s shut his doors down and it’s all me – I feel fine with sharing my personal income. Guess what, y’all….my salary is $95,423/year. That’s with my big raise. I was originally hired at $55,000 two years ago. I guess there’s some disconnect in my brain or something because I thought $95k sounded like “BIG MONEY.” When I got my raise I was overjoyed – I was expecting a huge, wild difference in my rate of take-home pay. Under $5,000/month was NOT what I was expecting. Call me spoiled or privileged of whatever else you want (and I own that I am some of those things – I’m lucky to have the job I do), but this was a huge shock.

So although it feels like “starting over” (although it’s not!!! We’re still down nearly $80k in debt over the last 3 years), it’s definitely a come-to-Jesus moment. Hubs and I have had to totally start over on our budget with fresh eyes. Thinking about how to continue making progress on our debt reduction journey while simply surviving (here, we thought we’d be “thriving” with this huge raise). Some tough realizations have been made:

  • Hubs must keep earning an income somehow. Hubs has run a successful flooring business for almost a decade, but recently quit to go back to school. Many people have commented that he should keep his business going for some side-income, but it just doesn’t work that way. Unless you’ve owned a business in the construction trade before, you probably don’t realize how expensive it is just to maintain the proper insurances, licenses, etc. Hubs is NOT the type to do business under the table without the appropriate certifications. It’s a big problem in his industry (and where we live, in particular), and he was not about to go that route. But to just keep his insurances and licenses up to date cost several thousand a year. When we looked at what he was bringing in part-time versus the costs to keep the company legal, it just wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile. And, maybe surprisingly, the flooring trade is not as flexible with a school schedule as we need. Hubs’ first semester back was this past Spring and he had many stressful calls from employees (or worse, home-owners) with issues that demanded immediate attention, while he was still stuck in class for many hours to come. All in all, this was a losing proposition for our family. So now we’re trying to think of more flexible and accommodating ways that hubs can earn some side-money while in school. So far brainstorming has included: driving for uber or lyft, doing some type of food delivery, and perhaps trying to become a personal trainer. Remember – hubs has been big into health and fitness the last couple years, so the latter is his preferred method, but it will also take the longest to get started and requires additional research first. Any other ideas?
  • Food consumption has to get under control. A friend recently posted on facebook to inquire about how much her friends’ families pay per month for groceries. The most common number I saw was $250/week. I have to say, for the past couple of years since I’ve been working 2 jobs, our food budget has been way over $1,000/month (including groceries + eating out). I mean, $1,000/month was a GOOD month. But remembering back to when I first started blogging, it hasn’t always been this way! In fact, my original grocery budget was only $400/month!!! And I stuck to it! To be fair, it was never easy. I would spend a TON of time researching sales, carefully planning meals around sale items and food we already had in our pantry or freezer. I would easily have to go to 2-3 stores per week to get the best priced items (Walmart does their ad matching, but our local Walmart doesn’t have great quality produce). I’d also make a ton of items from scratch. Everything from breads and homemade granola bars to fruit leather and yogurt – even baby wipes I made myself for cheaper than could be bought bulk at Costco. Between ad searching, meal planning, grocery shopping, food prepping, and scratch baking, I probably spent a good 10-15 hours/week on my efforts. It paid off big-time in terms of money saved, but I just simply lacked the time when I started working full time (plus kept my part-time job, on the side). When I accepted my big raise I had to sign a non-compete so I had to leave my part-time job. So even though I still work full-time, I have significantly more time in the early morning/evening/weekend hours to try to devote to some of my old grocery-saving ways. I don’t know that it’s reasonable to get back to only $400/month. But I think if I shoot for $550-600/month (again – that’s for all food: groceries + eating out), it would be a huge savings over our current spending. I’m going to give it an honest effort for the month of August and see how I do.
  • The budget, in general, needs to be slashed. It’s scary how easy it’s been for things to creep up over time. When I first started blogging all our gifts were in the $10-15/range. Recently our gift-giving has been closer to $25-35+/gift. Hubs and I have both rejoined a gym. It’s very important to hubs (and he spends legitimately a ton of time there), but maybe I’ll cancel my own membership to try to save some money since I’m perfectly happy to run outdoors for free as my preferred form of exercise. I also had a friend recently mention that some health insurance companies offer discounts for gym memberships? I need to call Blue Cross, Blue Shield to inquire about this. Spending across the board needs to come down.
  • Debt payments??? Probably the hardest thing to accept is that our debt payments are going to drastically decrease. We’d grown accustomed to throwing thousands a month toward debt! I’m talking many months where we were paying $2500-$3000/month toward debt!!! Obviously if I’m only bringing home $4,500, there’s no room for a $3,000 debt payment. It’s just not possible. So we have to adjust expectations, adjust our 2017 financial goals, and just keep plowing forward, making as much progress as possible with what we have to work with.

So, ultimately, we need to cut our expenses AND try to find a way to increase our income. There’s not much wiggle room for me (since I can’t pick up side work in my current industry), but I think we can try to find solutions to get hubs some part-time side gigs. My focus will be best spent on trying to reduce our food expenses, since that tends to be our #1 monthly expense (cumulatively speaking. And yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but it’s true).

So there you go – I’ve laid it all out on the table. Next up will be formulating a solid budget plan and figuring out how to juggle our debt payments. Especially now that we owe $1,000/month to the IRS from our poor planning last year. Ugh! But baby steps here – if I think about everything at once I become overwhelmed so it’s one thing at a time. We now have a solid “income” figure so we know what we’ll be working with in terms of take-home pay. Now it’s time to figure out how to make our outflow match with our inflow and to find additional areas to cut back.

 

How much does your household spend per month on groceries (and how many people are in the household)? How do you save money on your food budget?


The True Cost of a Deck

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Thanks for all the comments on my latest post about motivation. I’ve taken the comments to heart and am really doing some serious pondering and life planning for moving forward. I’m trying to minimize the financial bleeding this summer, and then jump back full-force in August with some renewed energy. I wanted to try to go gung-ho this month, but with my lower pay and some unexpected expenses (see below) I just don’t think I can even reasonably expect to try to create a $3,000/month budget for the month of July. We’re going to take on more debt. Sigh. But in August I’ll have my first full month of new salary and our bills will have hopefully stabilized enough for us to create a new budget. From what I’ve figured, I think my take-home pay will be around $6,000/month when my new raise goes into effect. So far the budgets I’ve been playing with are still around the $7,000ish range, so I’ve got to figure out how to come up with an extra $1,000 month (or, alternatively, how to cut an extra $1,000/month from the budget). I’ll write up a post soliciting advice soon.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my latest unexpected expense in a story I call “The True Cost of a Deck.”

My mom and stepdad still live in the same home that I was raised in from the time I was 10-years-old. The house is in a highly sought-after area in Austin, TX and has appreciated well during the time they’ve owned it. It’s beautiful and I love it, but it no longer serves my mom and stepdad’s needs. It’s too large, taxes are too high, and it’s too-tall (two story, when they’d prefer a single story).

The plan has been to put the house on the market this coming spring. My mom, a real estate broker, has tried to dedicate much of the last year to putting in updates that were needed to bring the house up to modern-day and to maximize the amount they can list it for when it goes on the market. They’ve done updates in the bathrooms, the kitchen, and with the floors. The last remaining big thing has been the deck.

My mom’s house is built on the side of a hill. When you walk in the front door it’s at ground level, but then the ground slopes steeply so when you walk to the back door of the house (still on the first floor), all the sudden you’re an entire story above ground. They’ve had a back deck that you could walk out on with stairs leading down to the backyard grass below.

The deck is entirely made of wood and it has been heavily used and abused across time. At this point, parts of the deck are warped and rotted and it is unsafe to be on. Many of the surrounding homes had similar problems and all have had their decks redone at some point in the past 5-10 years. My mom, the last hold-out on the street, felt the time was finally right to replace their deck as it could raise safety concerns for potential homebuyers.

My stepdad, a very intelligent academic-type who likes to think himself a DIY-er, spent months thinking up plans for the deck. Finally, they decided to shell out the money to have a professional draft the plans and provide a list of materials needed to complete the project. The plan was for my stepdad to do the work himself. Once plans were procured, my stepdad went to work. Literally on Day #1, before anything else had been done, he got up on a ladder to cut down the limbs of an overhanging tree. When the large branch fell, it took out the ladder my stepdad had been standing on. Chainsaw in hand, all 3 (stepdad, ladder, and limb) fell to the ground. What could have ended in serious disaster (I shutter to even consider the possibilities), ended up not too terrible. My stepdad sustained a severe tear of his rotator cuff that would require surgery. After meeting with multiple specialists (he didn’t want to accept the truth), he begrudgingly agreed to hire out the rest of the work, given that he required immediate surgery and a lengthy recovery. Any plans for future deck-building were gone. In fact, he was told, the muscles in his arm/shoulder would likely never be the same again.

My Stepdad’s surgery was this past Friday afternoon. Early Saturday morning, my sister (an RN) went to visit and check on my stepdad’s bandages/dressing. While there, my Mom encouraged everyone to go outside to see the progress being made on the back deck – now being completed by a hired contractor. Outside, everyone admired the deck. It’s costing an arm-and-a-leg ($20k compared to the $5-7k DIY estimate), but it’s going up quickly and looks beautiful!

Everyone started walking back around the big hill toward the front of the house when my mom tripped on a piece of debris from the construction, fell, and landed hard on her arm. My sister said the “pop” was audible and unmistakable. My mom’s arm was bent backward and sideways, an unnatural direction that can not occur with healthy, intact bones. An x-ray at the ER later verified the extent of the break. My mom was in so much pain that she almost passed out a couple of times: during examination and immobilization.

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My mom had surgery today. Now both people (Mom & Stepdad) have an arm immobilized, recovering from very recent surgery. Neither can drive due to high dosage pain medicine, nor can they do much of anything on their own. In the time between my Mom’s break (on Saturday) and her surgery (today), my Mom has been in such excruciating pain that she’ been nearly helpless, even with her good arm. Meanwhile, my stepdad’s surgery went well but he’s been battling nausea and vomiting due to the pain medicine he’s on (even after having the doctor call in a lower dosage pain medicine). It’s just a mess.

My sister, now 7 months pregnant, is the true hero of the story. She took off almost a full week last month to help move my dad to his new facility. And she’s taken off almost a full week this month to help with my Mom and Stepdad. She’s gone over daily to make meals, take out trash, clean dishes, etc. etc. She had taken over a case of waters and literally had to pre-open all of the bottles because neither parent could seem to do it one-handed. I mean, it’d be comical if it weren’t my parents!

So this deck that was only going to cost about $5,000 to replace will now likely end up costing over $30,000. It’s about $20,000 for the deck itself, then the out-of-pocket max will be hit for both parents due to their ER visits and surgeries, not to mention loss of work (for them and for my sister). I booked a flight and will be arriving on Friday afternoon. I don’t have the money to go and I really don’t have the time, either. But I have to be there for my family. I just have to.

I’ll be in Austin from Friday-Monday. I’ll be back in Tucson in the office on Tuesday, and then I immediately leave for a work conference trip from Wednesday through Saturday. Then the plan is to round the family up and hit Disney later that week.

So the month of July is turning out to be totally nuts. And it’s costing an arm and a leg two arms! (groan, har har).

At least we have our health freedom, right?

Stay safe out there, DIY-ers! I’ll catch you from Austin on the flipside!


FTD Awareness

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Hi, friends! Thanks for all of your comments on this post! I have loved reading your success stories. It has been so helpful to read about so many who have successfully navigated a mid-life career change and come out on the other side better for it. I so appreciate your support!

Today I’m re-posting an old blog (originally published here). Partly because I’ve been dealing with some serious FTD-related issues lately. The short story is that my dad has now turned to self-harm when he becomes frustrated (which is always). It’s created several mini-emergencies, as he’s cut himself with a razor, hit his head with a hammer in Walmart, and frequently punches himself in the stomach/gut area. My siblings and I are panicked trying to get these symptoms under control. He has a psychiatrist appointment today so – fingers crossed – we can tweak some meds and help reduce some of his anxiety and frustration. I just cannot even convey how sh*tty this disease is. And it gets virtually NO attention. There’s no funding for medical research whatsoever and, currently, there are NO medications available to help slow the disease’s progression. It’s just heart-wrenching to watch.

So, while I have this platform with a little bit of readership (thanks for reading!) I just want to do my part to try to raise awareness. You may also be interested in seeing this very short clip from the Today show. An expert in the field answered some questions about FTD, discussing key differences between FTD and Alzheimers. Check it out if it interests you.

Have a great day!

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It’s October. We all know what that means. Breast cancer awareness month, right? Pink everywhere!

Which is fantastic! We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer.

But do you know what other “awareness” week is going on right now?

Frontotemporal degeneration awareness.

Fronto-What?

Frontotemporal degeneration. Fronto (as in the frontal lobe), temporal (as in the temporal lobe) degeneration (as in…degenerating).

So, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. This is what my Dad’s got.

It’s a terrible, dehumanizing, crippling disease. It destroys the very essence of the human being.

Right now there is no cure. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, there aren’t even any treatments to slow progression (just meds to help manage side-effects, such as OCD-type qualities or anti-psychotics to help assuage delusions/hallucinations).

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. I’ve read plenty, but we’re still relatively new to the disease as a whole, so I’m not going to spout off a lot of statistics at you. You can read about it for yourself. 

Initially I wasn’t even going to post anything. I’ve never revealed my Dad’s illness. But why suffer in silence? This dementia is the second most diagnosed dementia for people under the age of 60. And there is a serious lack of funding right now for it. Mainly because (I can’t help to think) no one has heard of it! What is it, even!? What does it do?

In short? It wreaks havoc. It causes the person’s thoughts and behaviors to change. It will likely force the diagnosed individual into early retirement (or could precipitate an untimely termination). It robs the person of his or her very essence, changing fundamental personality traits.

Frontotemporal degeneration awareness week spans from October 4-11. As you are inundated with breast cancer awareness messages in social media, maybe take a moment to think about this lesser known disease that is every bit as crippling and debilitating. This disease for which there is no chemotherapy or radiation treatment. For which those diagnosed are rarely seen as heroic; no imagery of warriors “battling” the disease. Instead, most are ostracized. Their odd patterns of behavior cause people to cut social ties, forcing them into an increasingly withdrawn, sad, and lonely world.

Given the closeness to home, you can bet that this is going to become something very near to my heart. As we get out of debt, I’d love to be able to start donating to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration to raise awareness and provide funds for research. With any luck, one day we’ll have medications to help slow the progression of this wretched disease. Seeing the physical and mental anguish it causes is nothing short of heart-breaking. Research is needed. So spread the word.

Hugs to all!

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” (source)


Change of Plans

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Sooooo, THIS happened over the weekend.

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If you ask the girls the story of what happened, here’s what you will hear:

Bailey:  Brooke pushed me off the giraffe!!!

Me: The giraffe????  Do you mean she pushed you off the bed???

Brooke: NO! I pushed her off the giraffe!!!!

 

We do have a stuffed giraffe chair animal thing (if you’re curious for reference, it’s similar to this one, but way cheaper. Ours was like $20 from Walmart 2 years ago). But I still have no idea how being pushed off of a chair that is located on the floor – the seat no more than 6 inches above the ground – could cause an injury. No idea. But somehow, my offspring found a way.

The injury actually occurred on Friday night when they were supposed to be in bed, but were actually up rough-housing (hey – go figure – you do something you’re not supposed to and you end up getting hurt! Tough lesson to learn, kiddo!).  I checked Bailey’s arm and she was able to move everything so I just made her go back to bed.

If you recall from the end of this post, we had a jam-packed schedule last weekend! Saturday morning we got up and met our friends at the local splash pad. It was there I noticed Bailey still was not using her arm – like, at all.  The splash pad is adjacent to a little playground and when the kids decided to go play on the playground it became painfully obvious that Bailey still had a problem. She couldn’t climb the ladder to get up to the top of the playscape. If anything, her arm seemed to be doing worse. She was holding it into her body and not using it at all. I called our playdate quits early and headed home to change out of swimsuits and immediately headed over to urgent care. I was pretty sure nothing was broken, but I thought it was possible she had a fracture or bad sprain or something and decided the injury justified medical attention.

We were at the urgent care for 3 hours (ugh!!!) and in the end, the doctor recommended against an x-ray. His rationale was that we don’t want to expose a young child to unnecessary radiation, and since we were pretty sure nothing was broken, the course of action for most of the remaining possibilities (strain, pulled muscle, bruised bone) would be the same:  a sling!

So he hooked Bailey up with a super-cool kids-sized sling and sent us on our way with instructions to keep a close eye on it and that if things hadn’t resolved within a week, that we should come back (or go to our primary care at that point).

Bailey was an excellent patient and has actually really enjoyed her sling. Within just the past couple days she’s already regained quite a bit of mobility. The arm is still sore and she needs some additional help with certain things (e.g., getting dressed has been hard one-handed), but she’s already on the mend.

Unfortunately, the injury basically blew all of the rest of our weekend plans!! Our preschool did their bi-annual Parent’s Night Out on Saturday evening, but at that point Bailey was still having a tough time even feeding herself and going to the bathroom (pulling down pants, getting toilet paper) and I just didn’t feel good about dropping them off with a ton of other kids and taking off for date night. Probably would’ve been okay if it was a babysitter in our own home, but the fact it would be a bunch of kids, etc. I just didn’t feel good about it.

And on Sunday we were supposed to go to another child’s birthday party, but the party was supposed to be at a local indoor trampoline park. That also seemed like a pretty bad idea for a child with an injured arm. We’ve been once before (for another party), and I knew that falling down was inevitable. No big deal most of the time, but I didn’t want to chance her falling on her arm, or falling and trying to instinctively catch herself with her hurt arm, etc. So that was that.

Our big, fun weekend plans turned into 3 hours at Urgent Care and spending the rest of the weekend taking it easy at the house. I like relaxing and taking it easy with the best of them, but it was a bit disappointing given our excitement over all the fun!

Soooooo, so much for our original plans. Isn’t that just life for ya?  I’m just thankful it wasn’t worse. I’m also thankful for health insurance and our flexible spending account with plenty of money in it to cover this expense. They didn’t charge us anything at the time (said they’d bill insurance), but I know we haven’t quite hit our deductible yet so I’m expecting a bill at some point. That being said, this incident might be enough to tip us over into having our deductible fully paid, which would be nice. So we’ll see what the financial implications are. Either way, I know we’ll be fine. I love that peace of mind!



Under Contract

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We are now officially under contract!!!

Not hubs & I (we still haven’t even started house-hunting, but plan to start in August!! Can’t wait!!!) – my dad’s Utah house!

After receiving a couple competing offers, we accepted one that we felt was more than fair (it’s actually over our listed asking-price). We’ve already completed inspection and all the requested repairs are super minor, so we’re paying a handyman to get it all fixed up.

At this point, the last hurdles are in regard to the buyer’s financing. Our realtor has been in contact with the lender and believes the loan will be funded without a problem. Given that the buying price is above the list price (and above the comparables our realtor pulled), we’re holding our breath and crossing our fingers that the appraisal comes in high enough to cover it. Fortunately, our realtor is a rock star and has made up a whole list of home improvements for the inspector and feels confident that the appraisal shouldn’t be a problem.

If all works out with buyer’s financing, we are set to close on August 15th! Super pumped!

Initially, we were thinking we wouldn’t make too much off the sale of this home. Remember, both my siblings were in favor of renting it instead of selling due to this reason.

But given our higher-than-expected sale price, we should stand to net nearly $100,000!!! Not too shabby!

The next question is what to do with the money.

My dad does have a decent-sized net worth but, to date, we’ve done next-to-nothing with his investments. Everything is still in the original investment accounts he selected and has not been touched. We want to be somewhat conservative because my dad is legally disabled and will never be able to work again (if interested, read more about his condition here). His physicians have said that his illness tends to have a life expectancy of 2-20 years. If he lives another 20 years, he could easily burn through all of his savings. He’s already in assisted living and his care is incredibly expensive. So we really need to be smart and manage his money wisely so that costs of his care don’t end up falling on the shoulders of my siblings and me.

I’m a fan of pretty boring investment strategies. Mutual funds and such. My brother has talked about perhaps investing in real estate back in the Austin area (which makes it less complicated and risky than an out-of-state rental). He’s even thrown out the idea of establishing an LLC for a rental property so my dad’s other assets are protected. Depending on cost, we could possibly pay for a rental with liquid cash without needing to withdraw from current investments (the alternative would be putting a large amount down and taking out a small mortgage).

I’m open to various ideas, but I’m also a fan of EASY. Taking over my dad’s affairs has been incredibly time-consuming and, frankly, none of us has time for it. Meeting with an investment advisor once or twice a year is infinitely easier than dealing with rentals and such. That being said, in the past year that we’ve been in charge of my dad’s finances, his investments really haven’t performed great. He’s averaged about a 4% rate of return. I’d like to see closer to an 8-10% return, if at all possible. At only a 4% rate of return, we’re eventually going to eat into his nest egg. Fortunately, he had enough cash in the bank that we haven’t touched any investments at this point but eventually the liquid money will dry up and we’ll have no other option but to raid his investments in order to pay for his care.

What do you all think? If you were charged with caring for a parent’s estate, what types of investments might you make? What are your thoughts of investing in mutual funds versus investing in real estate?

Another possibility is to still invest in IRAs. My dad technically has an “earned income” because he received a generous severance package from his previous employer before having to leave due to his health issues (it’s paid out monthly for another year still). So would it be better to actually fund a retirement account versus buying mutual funds? Or is it better to keep the money more liquid than in retirement or real estate? Something like mutual funds that are easier to sell and claim the cash?? My dad is 60, by the way. I’d value any and all input you may have!


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