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Housing Decision

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At the end of March I wrote about what turned out to be me jumping the gun AGAIN and applying for a house loan.  In the weeks since that post, there have been lots of tears and self-reflection.  LOTS!  I honestly have no idea what the future holds in that regards…I know where my heart is, but it really has taken doors being slammed in my face to help me face reality regarding housing.  What can I say, I’m hard headed, which has its blessings and its curses.

I’m not going to go into the psychological warfare that has been going on in my head these past weeks, but suffice to say that I have been through all the emotions, the whole grieving process.  Feeling like a failure for getting us into this situation, grief at the death of a dream (at least for the time being,) anger at others who have contributed to me being in this situation, and more recently resolution.  And facing the harsh reality.

But now I am here and face yet another housing decision.  I am finally leaning in one direction, but nothing will be in stone until the end of July, so I’m looking for your opinions.

Here are the things I am considering as I consider our future housing (our lease in our 2 bedroom, 900 square foot apartment is over at the end of September:)

  1. Sleeping arrangements: Currently the twins share the master bedroom with ensuite and the two littles and I share the other bedroom with a hall bathroom.  Little Gymnast is now of the age and maturity, that he does not need to room with us girls anymore.  So this summer, in the next month, in fact, we are building two lofted beds and going to move him in with the twins.  While their personalities are like oil and vinegar most of the time, my logic is that 1) the twins will be working a lot this summer so it will give him somewhere to go during the day; 2) other than me working in my bedroom, the kids are rarely in their rooms except to sleep and 3) it’s just time.  I did not consult the kids on this decision, but it’s a “mom says” thing, but I have given them some time to process and get used to the idea.  We are going to build the lofts as a family in the next month.  In an ideal world, we would have at least 4 bedrooms, even 3 would be a vast improvement, but in our reality this is what we have to work with.
  2. Working space: It has been REALLY hard to stay focused in our little apartment which has often sent me out to get concentrated work time.  This is fine except I do not have access to all my tools when I’m out and that again has been an issue.  I am hoping that changing the sleeping arrangements will contribute to solving this issue, but for now I am craving a little privacy.  In an ideal world, I would have an office or at least my own bedroom to office out of, but in our reality I office out of a shared bedroom with two children.
  3. A yard: In our current situation, we have no responsibilities as far as yard or exterior maintenance, and I have to say I LOVE it.  We are just a few yards from a fenced in dog park and our patio opens onto a private shaded area for the kids to play.  It’s not as easy as just opening the door for the dogs to go outside, but this is definitely a close second!  In an ideal world, we would be able to open the door and let the dogs go out themselves, but reality is the trade off with having no yard work and easy dog care as we have it…well, I am content with things the way they are.
  4. Maintenance: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being able to call someone when something breaks in my apartment and they fix it…no CHARGE.  Dishwasher on the fritz, fixed.  Toilet/tub clogged, fixed. Drawer rails fall off, fixed.  Oh, it is so nice to not have to worry about that type of maintenance.  They even change my light bulbs and air filters at no charge.  And don’t get me started on snow.  The sidewalks were salted and shoveled, the parking lot scraped regularly and if I had any problems with my heat (which we didn’t) they would be here immediately.  This is the ideal world as far as house maintenance goes!
  5. Location, location, location: If you know anything about real estate, then you know the name of the game is location.  In our current location, we are literally within walking distance to everything we need on a day to day basis….twins’ jobs, grocery store, drugstore, shopping, restuarants, need I say more?  While I would really like some privacy and woods and quiet, we could not be in a better location for our busy lives.  And if we really wanted/needed, we could walk, but better bike to the kids homeschool co op, bank, move theatre, our church…
  6. The Kids: I don’t know if it’s because our place is so tiny or because the kids sense my shame or they maybe have their own shame, but the kids do not even ask to invite people over.  And in our old house, EVERYONE was always at our house…all the time!  You have no idea how terrible I feel about this and how sorry I am.  But more and more I am coming to realize that this is my own pride and shame, and something I am continuing to deal with.

So as I read back through this list, you can probably guess which way I am leaning, but let me tell you what I see as my options at this point.

  • Option 1: Stay where we are.  I am hoping that with the room change and loft beds, the living conditions in general will improve.  Don’t know that for sure, but it’s my goal and hope.  I have checked with the office and while they will not give me an exact number until July, typically rents go up by 3%.
  • Option 2: Get on a waiting list for a 3 bedroom apartment in the same location.  If we moved before our lease was up, there would be a $400 transfer fee and the rent is at least a couple of hundred dollars more per month.  Currently, there is a wait list for 3 bedrooms apartments so not sure when one would be available.  It would essentially be the same floor plan we have now, except one of the rooms is significantly larger and with one more tiny room, big enough for 1 person.  My thought is that if we did this, my daughter would move to the single, I would keep my own room and the three boys would share a larger room.
  • Option 3: Find a rental home with at least 3 bedrooms.  UGH!  I have been looking at rentals via websites for the last couple of weeks, and let’s face it, the rental prices are more than the 3 bedroom apartment and without a bunch of the benefits I mentioned above.  But I think psychologically I would feel better about where we are…a pride thing I’ve come to realize AND the kids would probably feel more comfortable inviting people over.

Options I have eliminated and why:

  1. Buying/building: That door got slammed in my face, and in hindsight it was probably for the best.  So that dream/goal has been placed on an indefinite hold.
  2. Moving elsewhere: We live in a VERY expensive area.  I would love to move somewhere with a lower cost of living.  However, our lives are here.  The twins biological family whom they visit every couple of weeks, a great gym for Little Gymnast, a great homeschool co op which I’ve committed to teaching at next year and so much more.  It’s not the time to move, but perhaps since building and buying did not work out, this might be an option in the future.  Just not something I will consider now.

And lastly, the pros and cons of each option including the money factor for the three options I am considering:

  • Option 1: Staying put….Pros: lowest cost option on a month to month basis, our location is perfect, great maintenance, no moving costs.  Cons: No yard for the dogs, limited space, really tight and sometimes uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, issues with kids having friends over.
  • Option 2: Moving within complex….Pros: limited moving expenses, more bedrooms, great location, good set up for dogs.  Cons: Not sure when one will be available, not sure how it would affect kids having friends over, at least 2-3 hundred dollars more per month.
  • Option 3: Rental house…Pros: Could get more space, a fenced yard, neighborhood for kids to play in and find friends in, would assuage some of my guilt/psychological issues with apartment living.  Cons: at least 3-4 hundred dollars per month, none of the maintenance perks I currently really enjoy, yard work, most likely not as good of a location for walking to day to day things so more driving for me to get twins to work, etc., could run into same issues I have now had with last 3 rental houses.

So I think I’ve put most everything out there with this housing post.  What do you think?  What would you do?  I’m definitely starting to lean one direction.  And I’m definitely still dealing with some of the emotional fall out of the housing debacle, but I am dealing and growing and healing, and I think that’s important.  So please focus your comments on constructive guidance, it would be greatly appreciated!

 

Weekly Debt Update #10- Moving Forward

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Thank you everybody for your thoughts on my emotional post from last week concerning what I felt I was lacking in my life while paying off debt (read it here). After all the comments and some thought, I’ve decided that starting in May, I’m revising my budget to reflect a few items:

1) I want to send my sister a small gift every month to help out their young family- I’m thinking a $25 gift card to Baby’s R Us. I’m going to contribute $25 a month into a 529 plan for my nephew.

2) $50-$100 in misc money to use if and when I want to go have some fun with friends, family and/or GF. Looking for some input on this one- too high/too little?

I’m still fighting an internal battle between paying off my student loans as fast as humanly possible and not alienating everybody in life while I do so, so I’m hoping this is a stepping stone to finding a balance between the 2 options. To be completely honest- it’s a little unnerving to see my my debt reduction schedule slip a couple a months, but it should all be worth it after it’s all said and done. And for some more honestly- I never thought I’d see myself in this position. After years of reading debt blogs, I’ve been determined to do what so many seem to struggle to do (cut theirs expenses) that I swung all the way to the opposite side of the spectrum that I’m hurting myself in much different ways than financial. Like so many said last week- I need to find balance, and this is my (attempt at a) solution to it.

Edit (Because I just thought of this story): This isn’t actually the most determined I’ve been to get out of debt. Back in September, despite already working 50-55 hours a week, I sent out a bunch of resumes for part-time work. I got an interview to deliver pizzas at night and on weekends for a local pizzeria. I was upfront with them and told them I was only looking for a job to help get out of debt while I worked full-time. Thankfully (THANKFULLY!) I never got a call back. I stopped pursuing part-time work after this interview. I couldn’t imagine how out of balance my work/life situation would be had I worked part-time over the winter. Two words come to mind- not. good.

There’s something I want to do that are not budget related- I want to start talking with my friends and family more. I’ve been in rut for some years while paying off debt that I would love to get out of, hopefully completely out of, by time I’m debt free. A lot of you told me to give my time vs. going out and I thought that was a great idea, and that is what I’m going to strive to do, a little bit at a time. There’s quite a few people I haven’t touched base with in years, so it’s going to take some effort and patience as I don’t see this being an overnight deal.

Also on the subject of what I will be starting in May:

I’m going to re-start my contributions into my companies 401K plan!

I have my sights set on 4% of my income which will allow me to get the maximum match (they match .5% for every 1% up to 2%). Even though I’m not currently in the company plan, the company gives 2% in profit sharing to every employee regardless of their contribution status. I don’t feel right about missing out on the 4% I could be saving and the 2% in match now that I’m passed the 50% marker in debt payoff.

In my day-to-day life:

On Monday 3/30, my girlfriend turned the big 2-7!!! So…this meant birthday plans and birthday gifts.

Taking a page from her handbook from my birthday celebration (see here), I made a goody bag of all her favorite things and I baked her a cake! I NEVER bake, and as you can see by the results, the effort was there, but the skill, unfortunately, was not. LOL.

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But I have to say- she loved it! Maybe not the cake, so much, but the time and effort I put in to making it. And she also loved her goody bag, which was filled with things I’ve remembered over the years that she loves: grape tomatoes, Tim Horton’s gift card ($5), a gift card for pop at the corner store ($5), salted popcorn, salsa, various varieties of salt. Overall, it cost me about $70, including the all the ingredients to make the cake (which were also in her bag). I also gave her a bunch of “love” coupons- for back rubs, uninterrupted naps, a night in with a movie of her choice, etc… which was her favorite part of the day! In previous years, I’ve bought flowers, chocolates, spa gift certificates as birthday gifts but this year I got the best response. I’m so glad I was able to make her birthday really special this year.

As for my debt reduction update, here are my current tallies:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,224.78$3,612.46
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,006.27$3,190.75
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,570.60$2,779.58
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$3,192.92
$2,903.11
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$53,994.57$56,593.09

Since my last update 2 weeks ago, I’ve been able to bring my total on Sallie Mae 05 down $1,100.

I hope everyone has a great week!