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Why I Decided Not to Buy My House

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This is the 2nd in what I believe will be a 4 part story today. You can read the first part here.

As I have discussed several times here on the BAD blog, one of my motivating factors for making smart decisions on paying off my debt was to get myself into the position that I could buy my house from my dad.  We will have been here 4 years this fall and I am and always will be grateful for his generosity and help in getting somewhere stable for my children.  There are a couple of reasons for the urgency in this matter:

1. My dad is now retired and I’m sure he could use the cash he put into helping me get this house, not to mention the additional monies I borrowed when I lost a good portion of my income last fall.

2. With the financing the way it is, it will need to be refinanced next year to maintain a lower interest rate.

Over the last couple of years, I have really struggled with our permanence in this home for a couple of reasons:

Bedrooms

Adopting my twins was not my plan when we got a 3 bedroom home.  I struggled with the decision to adopt when it became available and I am at peace with the decision to keep the boys.  They are an integral and loved part of our family.  Please don’t make that decision the issue, it’s not.  It left us without enough appropriate bedrooms for the kids based on their sex and ages.

As a result of the bedroom issue, I explored every possible alternative for adding on to the home.  We have plenty of space to build out, but after receiving 1/2 quotes that had such wide and expensive variances I knew it was not something I could consider.

We then decided to close in the front room in the house (formal dining room or what was my office.)  It solved the immediate problem, but the walls have really begun to close in on me.  I realize how spoiled I sound, and believe me if this was the only issue, it wouldn’t be an issue.

Money

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before but as a reminder we live in a relatively expensive tourist city where the cost of living is high.  As I start to think about the costs of having older teenagers and my desire to help them out as much as I can, I think about where I can cut back to not only pay my debt back faster but also to put myself in a position to help them out…driving, college, life experiences, etc.

My home takes up a good portion of my income, and if I lived somewhere else not only could I get something substantially bigger but also less expensive. My housing expense would most likely go up significant too were I to purchase this home as I would have to pay closing costs again, inspection fees and more than likely PMI since some money would have to come out of the value of the home to repay my dad.

Conclusion

Our home has been fantastic to and for us.  My dad facilitated that. But based on my reasoning above and a couple of other misc reasoning going on in my head, I have decided NOT to purchase this home. I could not have asked for a better location, better neighbors, better floor plan, better yard, you get the picture.  I love this house, BUT I have to make the best possible financial decision for mine and the kids futures, and I am confident this is the right decision.

My reasoning was not new to my dad.  He had heard much of this last May, but not a final decision.  In fact, I know he agrees wholeheartedly on the cost of living where we live since he lived here himself until just a year ago.  In the next installment of today’s series, I will let you know how our conversation ended that day when he disagreed with my plan.

 


Planning a Two Week Hiatus

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Tomorrow we leave for Texas to visit my family…3 brothers, 1 nephew, parents and several doggy niece and nephews. We will be traveling for a little over two weeks.  While I am not taking any time off work, I do want to take as much pressure off myself as possible so I can enjoy this final ‘Hurrah’ of the summer.

With that being said, I am giving myself permission to take a hiatus the next two weeks.  Didn’t want you to worry or wonder why I wasn’t here.  I will  return with lots to write about I’m sure and may pop in if the time permits, but wanted to just give myself that permission to take a break.

I appreciate your understanding.


A Cluttered Life

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hopeless - heI have really been struggling with my motivation lately especially in regards to my money making jobs.  I recognize what one of the main problems is, at least I think, but I am really hoping for some nuggets of wisdom from the BAD community.

I recognize that I have been so blessed with the work I get to do.  In addition, I am blessed that work seems to show up when I need it most through little or no effort on my part (as far as marketing goes that is.)  I do not take this for granted at all, but lately I’ve found myself shooting myself in the foot with these opportunities rather than grabbing them and running with them.  Ugh, that sounds horrible and I hate to say it, but I’ve got to turn around and I need to be honest.

I think the issue is that my To Do list is just so long that I feel overwhelmed and instead of picking things up and getting them done so I can mark them off the list, I just roll over and do something else completely that has no value at all (read watch TV episodes on my iPad rather than work.)  This is not normal for me. I thrive on being busy, but lately it’s just overwhelming to me.

It’s gotten so bad lately that even my To Do lists aren’t getting made.

So this last week I recognized just how over-scheduled I was.  In a seven day period, I had exactly one solid work day and even then I was supposed to spend half of it at my part time job. This is definitely not normal but I think it was a wake up call to myself that something has to give.  So here are the questions I’m running through my head as I try to tackle this:

  1. How do I get myself motivated to tackle my To Do list of work items without feeling overwhelmed especially when I combine my home and work lists together?
  2. How do I deal with the guilt I feel when my kids ask “what are going to do or can we watch a family movie?” and my respond almost 90% of the time is “I have to work?”
  3. How do I balance everything?  For some reason, this summer for the first time, I just am so overwhelmed with everything going on.  And again, I thrive on busyness so this is a really new feeling.

I am hoping that by putting this out there I can clear this blockage that has really been negatively affecting my money making jobs, my home life and my attitude in general.  I’m sorry if this is rambling, but I hope you get my point.
 

 

 


Paying for the Experience

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We’ve just returned from a long weekend road trip that was really a combination of picking up History Buff from his Judicial camp and dropping off Sea Cadet at his Boot Camp and Princess at her Basketball camp. It was three days of 4-7 hours of driving each. At the last minute I decided to turn it into a little mini vacation and try to do some fun things along the way instead of just drive and drop as originally planned.

So I reached into the monies saved for our second big road trip of the summer (coming up end of July) and we did a couple of unique things that we cannot do near our house.

First, after picking up History Buff I determined that the Virginia Safari was on a different route but really only added about 15 minutes of drive time (and we didn’t have to be at our next destination til the following afternoon.) I chose this adventure for two reasons….you have to understand that the first time my 15 year olds had been to a zoo was last year.  Can you imagine that?  I cannot.  So I do my best to squeeze in as much life into our time together as possible as they are nearing independence and I want them to have had these life experiences.  And two, how cool is it to see exotic animals, tough exotic animals AND feed exotic animals.

It cost just under $80 for our admission and 4 buckets of food, but the experience PRICELESS!  The kids literally took hundreds of pictures as they traded off sitting in the front seat, so here are a couple of my favorites.

History Buff taking a selfie with ???

History Buff taking a selfie with ???

Little Gymnast feeding a ???

Little Gymnast feeding a ???

Sea Cadet holding a bird

Sea Cadet holding a bird

After leaving there, and knowing this was our last day as a family for at least two weeks, I discovered that Hershey, PA was just 20 minutes from our drop off point for Sea Cadet and a very short detour from our route. So, of course, we stopped there we visited Chocolate World!  Tell me the name doesn’t make you want to check it out!

The little ones and I had been there years ago, but the older ones hadn’t so while we were in the area I decided that we had to do it.  Entry was free, parking was free and the only money we spent was on the Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction $75 for the 5 of us.)  We did some of the free things and walked around a bit too.

Here we are at Chocolate World getting ready to make our chocolate!

Here we are at Chocolate World getting ready to make our chocolate!

So in all, I borrowed about $155 from our big road trip fund, but I think the experiences and memories will last a lifetime. Now to figure out where that money is going to be repaid from in such a short amount of time…


One Last No-Spend Update

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Today marks the last day of June and I’ve got some positive results to report! I’ve managed to do really well (surprisingly well) with our no-spend week and a half! I say “surprisingly well” because it actually wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be! I attribute this to having a freezer full of food to eat (including some already prepared meals in addition to many frozen meats). Using “rollover meals” (where you cook the meat once, then repurpose leftovers into different meals) helped keep us from being bored with leftovers, too.

We did have to run to the grocery store for some milk (which I, personally, could have gone without but the toddlers’ need as part of their daily diet), but aside from that, no money was spent at the grocery store.

The much more difficult task, for me, was in finding things to do with the girls to keep us occupied. When we stay home for more than a day or two the girls start getting restless and acting out. But I think we did a good job of finding fun free things to do in that regard, too! In addition to the things I mentioned in my last no spend post, we also went to the book store (our used book store sent us a free $10 coupon for the girls’ birthday, so we used our credit and didn’t pay anything out-of-pocket), and also met a friend at a free splash pad. I almost spent money on that because there is a nicer, newer splash pad close to our house. It’s free for children under 3, but it costs $7 for adults. But then I remembered about the free splash pad and decided it was worth the drive. It’s about 30 minutes from my house (as opposed to 15), so I suppose there’s a gasoline and time-investment, but I had a full tank and time available so I decided it was worth the trek to save myself the entry fee. I’d still like to check out the new one by my house (we’ve never been, but I’ve heard great things), but that can wait for a new month.

Why did I institute a no-spend week??? Well….because I was over budget across several categories. Sigh.

I was going to try to get the budget update post up today, but time has gotten away from me so it won’t be up until Friday.

Hope to see you then!


Kid Free

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Not debt related, but had to share anyways as I am so excited…

Last night I dropped off my younger two at the local Christian camp for the week, and my eldest twin at a friend’s house a city away for the week.  Last Sunday, I dropped off the other twin at another TeenPact event at a local college campus for the week. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I am totally and completely kid free from last night (Tuesday) until Friday afternoon…KID FREE!

Do you know when that happens as a single, homeschooling, working from home mom…ABSOLUTELY NEVER!

I don’t know what all I am going to do with my time…but I know I will fill it.  And there’s not anything debt related I can say with this, but I will put this out there…

If you know a single mom (or dad,) a passing acquaintance even, it would really nice to offer her a break.  In my, granted biased opinion, being parent is one of the hardest jobs ever and while it is super rewarding in so many ways…I think every mom deserves a break every now and again, and us single mom’s, well we don’t get them.  So if you can…reach out to one, I promise you that it will make a world of difference to her spirit.

I will now step off my single mom soapbox and resume my debt payoff journey.


Expenses = Income???

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One of my academic mentors, upon receiving tenure (and an associated raise) made the comment, “Expenses rise to meet income.”

This has certainly been something I’ve seen in my own life. Every time you make a little more, your expenses experience an equal boost, right? All the sudden you “need” new stuff. A new position might mean you need a new wardrobe. Or longer hours at work might mean you need to hire yard people since you no longer have time, or you start taking your car for paid car washes instead of doing it yourself, etc etc etc. If you get a really big bump in salary then maybe you decide to move to a newer house in a nicer area of town, or you treat yourself to a new car. All of this stuff comes with recurring payments attached. Am I right?

So with our recent bump in income I’ve been trying really hard to still see ourselves the same way….not to think about our larger income and to continue living the same way, funneling the extra money toward debt.

But I have succumbed and taken on a new monthly expense.

I joined a gym.

Hear me out….

I haven’t had a (paid) gym membership in YEARS. As a graduate student I had free access to the gym on campus, and since running is my primary exercise passion, I have always been able to do that outside for free (only costs associated are shoes and appropriate exercise clothes…maybe a song here and there from itunes). But things have been very challenging lately.

First, I no longer have access to a gym for free (remember I graduated in August 2013). Second, the girls will only sit in a jogging stroller for about 30 minutes, max. And finally (the final straw), it has reached near-death-heat here in Tucson. I’m talking over 100* every day with heat advisory warnings just about every third or fourth day. It is literally not even safe to be outside.

At first I tried to counteract this by jogging extremely early in the morning. I tried waking up at 5am to go run (so the girls are still sleeping and my husband is home, plus its only about 75* instead of 105*). It hasn’t worked well. I have a tough time waking up that early on my own, and my daughters are light sleepers (plus our house isn’t huge), so they have woken up when my alarm goes off. Then it’s a total disaster because my husband is trying to get ready for work (he usually leaves between 6 and 6:30am), so I have to go for a really short run so I can get home in time to allow my husband time to get ready. At that point, it doesn’t even feel “worth it.” I have tried other forms of exercise (like DVDs or free videos on youtube), but I get bored. Videos are not for me.

In the past, my health and fitness had always been a big priority for me. I would consider myself an “athlete,” as I have competed in a handful of races (triathlons, half-marathons, and other various running races), and enjoy physical activities and competitions. When I found out I was pregnant with twins (20 weeks into pregnancy) I was deemed “high risk” and had to stop many physical activities. Once the girls were born, my fitness was the LAST thing on my mind. I had twin infants to care for, virtually by myself (husband helped a TON, but he worked during the day and we have no family nearby for support), in addition to working (at the time I was teaching in-person college courses) and finishing my dissertation.

Here we are, almost 2 years later (the girls will be 2 at the end of this month! Eeek!) and I finally have a chance to refocus a bit on my health. Things do NOT look pretty. My weight is still WAY higher than my pre-pregnancy weight and I just don’t feel good. It’s so weird because I still “see” myself as an athlete…..but I am totally unhealthy right now (that’s not just me exaggerating…that’s according to BMI). I need to make exercise more of a priority in my life. I tried other free options and they really didn’t work. So I turned to a gym.

On the bright side, the gym is fantastic. It’s only about a mile from our house and has everything we could ever want: a pool, exercise classes, tons of equipment, volleyball, racquetball, basketball, etc etc etc. There were cheaper options nearby, but no one else offered childcare. Childcare is an absolute necessity if I’m going to be able to actually use the gym. So this was the only real option in our area.

I also feel that its pretty reasonably priced. I had to pay $100 as an initiation fee, and they make you pay first and last month up front, but there’s no contract so we can quit at anytime. They also worked a deal where they gave me a family plan (so Chris can go, too) for the same price as the “individual” plan. The cost is $50/month. To get childcare I had to pay an extra $10 per child, but it’s for unlimited use of childcare. I think this is a pretty good deal. When the girls were 6 months they went to daycare at the Jewish Community Center (we aren’t Jewish, but it is a FABULOUS facility and EXCELLENT childcare providers! Very $$$$$, but very high quality!). The JCC requires that you join the facility when you use their childcare, so I’m comparing these prices to that experience. The community center fees (which includes gym access) cost $80/month for the family, and gym childcare was an additional $6/hour.

In all, our current gym will cost $70/month ($50 base + $20 for unlimited childcare). I think that’s reasonable considering everything that’s included. Keep in mind that our first month is substantially more expensive since we pay first and last month in addition to the initiation fee. So my first payment was actually $240 ($100 initiation, plus $140 for the first and last months’ payments). I am allowed to drop the childcare, too (if, for example, I decide to work out on days they’re in daycare. Right now I want to avoid that because those are my only days to really focus on work, but it’s a possibility for the future).

To be totally honest with myself and you, I fully believe I would NOT have considered joining the gym if it weren’t for our extra income. Chris was pushing hard around January to join a gym and I totally put my foot down. I did not want to spend the money and did not think we could afford it. But I’ve really started focusing more on my health and my (lack of) fitness has become alarming. I think this is a worthwhile investment in my long-term health.

So there you have it. I’m sure people have opinions both ways (for and against spending money on gyms), but everyone is different, every situation is unique, and I think that this is the best option right now for my family. It still hurts a little to spend this extra money, but I do think its money well spent.

 

Do you spend money on a gym membership? What are free/cheap ways that you stay in shape?