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Ashley’s Life Update

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Hi, friends!

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted, huh?

Truth is, it’s only April 1st but 2019 has already been a BEAST of a year for me. I miss the support of this community! Would you indulge me in a little life update?

HEALTH

Unfortunately, I’ve had some major health problems in the past couple months that seemed to come out of nowhere. I’ve always been very healthy and, aside from some pregnancy-related issues when I was pregnant with my twin daughters, have never had any health complications before.

Back in February, I got sick. Like, really really ill. I thought it was the flu. I think it was God’s hand and will forever be grateful that the illness hit on the same exact day my Mom was flying into town for a visit. I was supposed to pick her up from the airport but texted that I couldn’t stop throwing up and there was no way I could leave the house. She took a taxi straight to my house, took one look at me, and told me we needed to go to the ER. It was 6pm. I thought she was crazy. I told her I just needed to rest and if I was still in bad shape the next day we could go in the morning. She practically lifted me out of bed, put me in the car, and drove me to the ER. My ex had the kids that night – it had been pre-planned that way so I could have one night solo with my mom before we had the girls, too. What was supposed to be a fun evening out together ended up with some bad news. I had sepsis. I was very ill. We’d gone to a stand-alone ER and the doctor said I’d need to be transported to the full-service hospital, so an ambulance was called and that’s exactly what happened.

First (and hopefully only) ambulance ride!

The true underlying diagnosis was kidney stones. Remember when I had kidney stones back in October? Well there had been no follow-up and my pain had gone away so I assumed I’d passed them. But nope. Looking at my CT-scan, the urologist said this was likely the same stone from October that had now grown to beast-like proportions. It was nearly 1cm (for reference, you generally can’t pass anything larger than 7mm). It had inflamed my kidney, causing a really bad kidney infection and then the resulting sepsis. 

I’ll skip all the sordid details, but I ended up inpatient in the hospital for 4 days and had to undergo 3 surgical procedures over a 6-week period, lived with chronic pain during that whole duration, and then had to pass a pea-sized stone that felt like peeing razor blades before the whole ordeal was finally over (note: the pea-sized stone is the reduced size stone that remained after they’d done lithotripsy). 

I’m just now barely on the mend. I feel more myself now than I have since early February, but I basically had to stop exercise overnight when all the health stuff flared up and I’m just barely dipping my toes back into the exercise realm, so I’m not “back to normal” quite yet, but I’m on my way.

FAMILY

Remember when I had to cancel my trip with the girls back to Texas in December because my kids got sick? We re-scheduled that trip to fall over my kids’ Spring Break, which was a couple weeks ago. I did have to alter it another time to accommodate one of my surgical procedures. We were going to be there from Monday through Saturday but the doctor needed to see me on Monday so we moved our flights to Tuesday through Saturday and crossed our fingers I’d be able to fly. Luckily everything was routine and I was cleared for travel.

The trip felt quick, but it was SO SO GOOD to get to see family and loved ones. I caught up with my high school best friend, saw my mom, stepdad, dad, brother, sister, two stepbrothers, all my nieces and nephews, etc. etc. etc. As a special bonus, it was my first time to be in Texas for bluebonnet season in over half a decade. One of my “MUST DO’S” was to get some bluebonnet pictures! My sister’s family, my family, and my mom and step dad all drove out to a big bluebonnet patch and took turns taking pictures of each other’s families. The pictures are priceless!

It was good for my soul to see my family – the first time I’ve seen any of them (except my Mom) since I moved out of my shared home last August. My life feels 100% different now than it was then (in a good way) and it felt wonderful to get to share hugs and laughs with some of my favorite people back in Austin.

DIVORCE

There are several reasons I haven’t been blogging frequently in the past few months (e.g., see health update, above), but probably the most prominent reason of all is the ongoing divorce litigation. Without giving any details I can say that things are still “ongoing” and that I cannot really talk about finances in a public forum like this for the time being. It’s tough to blog for a “getting out of debt” blog when you can’t talk about finances, you know? So I’ve been mostly silent.

That being said, I’m quite hopeful that things will be resolved soon. Please pray for me, y’all! Our house is (finally) under contract and we’re right in the middle of the inspection period currently. We’ve been under contract previously and the deal fell through during the inspection period (nothing major needs repair/replacing, but the house is 30-years old so there were a slew of small things and the buyers got cold feet). So this is our second time around and we’re hoping and praying and crossing fingers and toes that it closes on May 1st as was written in our contract. Everything hangs on the inspections. The offer we accepted was a cash deal, so we don’t have to worry about appraisals, etc.

Once the house officially closes, I anticipate things to move quickly with the finalization of the divorce. I anticipate having it finalized sometime this summer (but again, prayers accepted!) 🙂 We’ve been nearly a year in the process at this point as we’d first decided to separate last May, and I feel serious fatigue from the whole ordeal. Psychologically, I’m beyond ready for it to be officially/legally done.

WRAP UP

So there you go. I can’t make any promises about frequency with which I might be able to blog in the future. I do know that my financial picture will look very difference once the house closes and it’s proceeds have been split. Something I’d certainly like to talk about when I’m able. It was a good purchase. We gained a lot of equity in the few short years we owned it.

Thank you for the support of this community. It’s been appreciated more than you know!

~Ashley 

 


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!