Looking for some guidance for friends

Remember the friends of mine sold their house here in southern California, moved to the middle of nowhere Utah and bought a mcMansion (which they paid cash for), with the leftover house-to-house money, chose to buy all new furniture for the mcMansion instead of paying off all the rest of their debt.

So it’s not really a surprise (to me anyway) that a year later, they are in as bad a shape as they were when they were living in California.

Good news: He’s old enough that he is drawing about $2100 in Social Security benefits. Bad news: she’s (50) ill enough on a regular basis that she can’t work (not that there is work to be had in middle of nowhere, Utah.)

She just emailed me asking about DR, and what to do (etc). Her DH wants to take out a HELOC on the paid-for house, “combine” all the debt, which allegedly will reduce their monthly outgo, and everything will be peachy, what do I think?

I asked her to send me her income/expenses (below), total debt (which actually, is not that much.) The problem as I see it is actually not their debt (although the car is a big one) it’s their living expenses, which at best, are not going to get worse.

When she is/was able to work, she ran a screen printing business out of her home.

So far I have advised or asked the following:

1. Work on getting certified as disabled. The reality is that she IS disabled, and getting certified as such will (a) bring $700 income in to the house (b) more importantly, qualify her for medicaid which (c) will cover her medications. Doctor visits and medications are running about $300 a month.

2. I asked what she was willing to sell. (not could sell, WILLING to.) A year ago, (so I don’t know if it’s still true) they had 2 or 3 dirt bikes, a big hauling trailer, the truck (paid for) to haul it all, I think they might have had an ATV too. I can’t remember.

THEN of course, they didn’t want to part with them because their non-contributory kids DESERVED to have fun. Now that the well has run dry, those same kids have all moved on, so there’s no reason to keep the dirt bikes (and ATV) for SURE.

I went over all this with them when they moved and could have paid everything off (they have $17k in car debt, $5k in CC debt). Gave them TMMO (which they have not read.)

DR says money problems are 80% behavior and 20% financial. It’s true.

Anything else I should mention to them? I pretty know they’re going to just take out a HELOC because that’s going to solve all their problems (so they say.)

I have used since it first came out Family Treemaker

in fact we just did the latest upgrade. I like it for it’s simplicity in how you can add your source codes in, put in as little or as much as you want on the notes pages, how it warns you if you are putting in a possible error (like same last name, Mom too young/old etc) and many other things.

I know that it can seem daunting at first to newbies, but it really is a simple program to run (or I couldn’t do it for certain) and the various charts, maps and such you can create with it are great for sharing photos. I send geds to family members often and even large ones take very little time to send (except to one niece who is on a system that the old Juno accounts ran faster than).

The are also various forums you can talk on about the ins and outs.

Not to mention it works in conjunction with ancestry by suggesting files (as shown on the commercials) that might be your family member.

I also like that if I find, say a census of that family member on ancestry (which I’ve never paid for, I take advantage of their free days or go to my library where it’s always free) I can tell it to place it in my file and it will add that census record in my sources with a “photo” of the record.

You can also add such items and other media files from other sources to it. What can I say I’m a big source freak! I want everything documented—Just got a GREAT email on a dead end line that had DNA resorts that took that line from 1850 back to 1625! Those records verified the line I thought it was.

Like I said I just upgraded my FTM and have not worked a lot with it, except to enter that DNA info, but the new functions I have used are wonderful. I believe you can download a free trial of it as well, it’s put out by Broderbund.

Thank you for the reference Mark

I downloaded the free version, and it does look simpler to use than Ancestral Quest, even with all the colors and shading. One of the reasons I liked the Ohana products so much besides their seamless integration was that they kept the “visuals” minimal (colors, shading etc.) I have a hard time reading through a lot of color…Roots Magic has improved quite a bit since I saw it last (ok, it’s been a decade).

Fingers crossed that it will get the job done!! :)

We usually don’t get extended warranties

either but we did on our Kenmore microwave. It is one of those that goes over the stove and has a vent. The veneer on the handle has peeled and crackled 2 times in the last 3 years. The parts and labor to replace this was well over $200 last week when they came out. Fortunately for us, it was covered on our MA. The repairman who came out said “Keep your MA.” Apparently the gas stove, which is a Kenmore and is installed under a Kenmore microwave/vent, gets so hot it will flake, crackle, and peel the veneer off the handle. I am not getting rid of my 3 year old stove top nor of my gas. So we will keep the MA since it pays for itself many times over.

DR is anti extended warranties and where I agree with him on vehicles

we always purchase them on appliances and electronics. So glad we did. Remember that new dishwasher we purchased last month. Guess what died yesterday. I’m up early so I can get a call in on the extended warranty as early as possible.

Jhon is not through with us, even though this last week was a big win for us with the death of our final credit card. I have been doing a lot of “creating” with my Cricut Expression, a die cutting machine, and was in the middle of a big creation (mortgage countdown calendar and Fall decorations) and it too died.

Off to you tube I went, no real luck, on to various forums, tried everything we could find on it and still no luck so I started pricing around for one. $249 plus shipping (except zero shipping on amazon) for new ones and all the used ones made us nervous for one reason or another. I was NOT amused. I am about half way through the cut out process and I wanted my project completed. I’m stupid that way.

On one of the forums someone mentioned their local Menards had them on sale for $99. Of course those are all in the north central US and I’m too far south for them. Then a dim little light bulb came on in my feeble mind. Did they have it available to ship? Sure enough. I told dh the cost (which was $129 + shipping ($13) – a $30 mail in rebate. He’d already priced the local ones himself and said order it While I didn’t want to spend any extra money right now I do have a long list of things that we, as a family, want made that involve the cricut. So now I’m waiting on the unit and the rebate form to arrive. Someone told me the rebate is an in store rebate only, but since they have online stuff and Christmas is coming I think I can handle that too.

Dh and I did a mini staycation on Saturday and went to the Tulsa State Fair all day. Generally we just go for a couple of hours, but we decided to visit it in a different manner this year and take in a lot of the free shows, how to demos etc. The blue grass competition was a little disappointing, but the Sugar Arts judging was fantastic. You would not believe some of those cakes!

Of course the fair food was high so we ate before we went and after we left with only a small treat in the middle of the day. That combined with using the free parking and shuttle and our advanced purchased tickets made our day cost under $50 and we had a great time.

We still have another days worth of advance tickets and will go this coming Saturday to catch more free shows and such. This time I’ll pack my water bottle for certain.

Oh and another bit of good news. Out of the blue we got a small royalty check from one of my mineral rights that we hadn’t been pumping on for nearly five years. Looks like I may start getting a small one from them (no guarantees) about every 3 months. I like that for certain. LOL!

That made me smile

Thank you. As it turns out, you’re one of the ones who really inspired me to “go all in”, knowing that you run your business as a cash operation. That’s been my main reluctance, was dealing with the various vendors who are accustomed to getting either automatic payments or electronic transfers or whatever. I’ll have some big purchases to make in October, just as normal part of operations, and that’ll feel VERY weird. But if other folks have found ways to do it, so can I.

Just dug out the little brown wallet with all the little envelopes still inside from class, and it’s sitting on my desk at the moment awaiting my attentions later today. I’ll go through and ensure I have an envelope for each section of my weekly budget. Feel in some ways like I’m starting over, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Been ridiculously busy around here

for a variety of reasons I won’t get into (most of which are quite boring). But one pretty big deal – I’ve decided that October will be my first earnest experiment with going cash-only. Yes, you read that right. After years of telling myself I didn’t need to and didn’t want to and wouldn’t benefit from it and it wouldn’t work anyway, I’m going to give it a try. We have been working really hard to nail down our budget the last few months, and making major headway on doing so. But I’m still experiencing weeks (more often than not) where I run out of money before I run out of week. That’s a planning failure; there’s no two ways about it. And it’s just too easy to whip out that debit card and hit the ATM and transfer the cash I need from one of our other sinking funds. It’s a habit I simply MUST break if I’m ever going to really truly accomplish the financial progress that we first learned three years ago. Yes, it’s been three years. Making these kinds of mistakes as we’re just starting FPU is understandable. Making them now is proof that I still have work to be done before I’m really the master of my spending. Hence, going cash-only.

So as of this Friday, when our financial October really begins, think of me filling my little envelopes (which I still have from class), and thinking “ok, this has to last me a week……….” Each Friday for October, I’ll be repeating that cycle. I’d be a liar if I claimed I wasn’t a bit intimidated by making this shift. But hey, it’s often good to shake things up and try something new now and then. So, wish me luck.

Which actually does have some relevance to getting out of debt

storing up food, provisions and an emergency fund. In short: do it while the sun shines.

I read an article by the Wall Street Journal the other day about the 5 things you should know about the Occupy Central (Hong Kong) situation. It was laughable how wrong it was. Although they did quote a 70 year old woman who wished the students had taken a few more history lessons. That was salient.

Housing is small in Hong Kong (the country). I think the average apartment is about 800 square feet: some larger, but way more are far far less. It is a culture which lives literally, for the moment: food is bought daily, water (for the day) is boiled daily, and housing and life there doesn’t really lend itself to stockpiling food, water, or provisions to ride out a calamity. A great many people do have money in the bank, but they won’t be able to access it if Beijing shuts it down, nor will they have a way off the island itself, and since they built the “new” airport (located WAY off island on a different island), getting to an airport will be constrained too.

I feel bad because at the end of the day the vast majority of people on Hong Kong island are going to find out quickly that are stuck, with few options. The ones who listened to counsel and prepared (and those will be very very few in number, even among those whose churches teach preparedness), will be slightly better off, but I’d be surprised if they could ride out more than 72 hours.

I’ve never met CJ before

I keep hoping her travels will bring her through Michigan so I can meet her and Gary. From what I remember, CJ didn’t have any disposable income to buy the book, and the waiting list at her library was months long. I had a few extra copies of TMMO (I used to give them to friends/acquaintances), and offered to send her one if she wanted. She accepted, so I sent it. :-)
I wish there was a more exciting story than that, but that’s about it…

I am SOOOO excited for you…..

We have been working it and doing this right along with you….

I remember in 2008 when I left my teaching job (and the income it provided)— the temptation was just to file bankruptcy like all the many I people I knew who had done it multiple times.

But, somehow to me—it just didn’t seem right…….

So—here it is 2015 and we too are just about done with debt besides the mortgage.

(We went mortgage free 2012 when we switched homes—big house on 10 acres to the fixer upper in next town over for those that are newer to the board)….

Yes, is taking awhile to be totally debt free…but the satisfaction and knowledge that I have gained through the journey has been awesome…. I am sure it has been the same for you.

Murphy hit :)

I’ve been flying under the radar lately… last I posted was that I paid off one Sallie Mae and only had one Sallie Mae ($21k) remaining to complete BabyStep2. (We do have some extras on BS6).

Since that time, I have received a few thousand in medical bills that have to get added to BS2. Then last week our 13 year old AC unit went out, and this weekend our 14 year old kitty came home hurt.

So on Monday, I paid $3434 for a new AC unit. It should have been a total of $3604, but I found a $20 coupon that the tech didn’t even realize was out there… and then when we got our estimate, I asked if he’d consider knocking off $150 if we scheduled it for Monday. He agreed and write paper for me, so it’s real custom writing service and it was delivered in few hours!

Also on Monday, I paid $400 to the vet for an x-ray, they knocked him out to clean up his wound (we thought his leg might be broken, but he had a bad wound from an animal fight or something like that and it was abscessed), a shot of antibiotic that lasts the whole 2 weeks, and also bought the flea control while we were there (got 2 months free by doing so).

So $3,834 in one day. I was so bummed. SO bummed! How do you all get over it when you feel so down about being derailed by Murphy?

With the push of a button

Today I called dh while on his lunch break and told him the following:
“5.5 years ago today we started down the Total Money Makeover path together owing roughly $102,000 in credit card and medical debt. Along the way we have had interest added to that, a little extra medical and 18 months of unemployment. I am about to pay off the last of that debt and thought you would want to be part of it.”
Then I included him in all the steps of logging in to Chase bank and making that final payment. With the single push of a button we are now credit card debt free. I am so excited I’m weepy!
Look out Wells Fargo here we come to end the $67,000+ of mortgages we owe you.
The max it should take is 538 days now because today’s payment of an early payoff on Chase took 50 days off our expected mortgage payoff date. We are shooting for 365 days or less, wish us luck!

I forgot to mention I’ve started a winter “garden” in my office

No the floor isn’t so dirty I can plant taters I’ve got a sliding glass door in that room and a Baker’s rack in front f it. I use to just grow houseplants and an aloe vera for burns on it, but this winter I decided to be a little different.

When I did our monthly grocery shopping two weeks ago I picked up a cilantro and a basil plant and repotted them for my garden. I stopped by Wal-Mart again this weekend, after going to Goodwill and purchased rosemary, lavender, sweet mint, and chive plants to add to my little garden. I’m repotting those into organic soil today. Between the two shopping trips I’ve done my “recycled” green onions.

I’ve wrote about this before where you can cut the root ends off of green or regular onions and plant them and they’ll grow again. I’ve been on a green onion kick lately so I’ve been planting the roots of them in a flower pot on the Baker’s rack and already have some great shoots on them I could use in cooking.

I’ve got several herb seeds I’ll plant as time goes along as well as radishes and other small items. I’ve thought about a tomato plant, but then I’m not wild about the smell of a tomato plant in my office, so maybe after we get the sunroom ready for winter I’ll put one out there, or one on my starting station in the basement. LOL!

Went in to my bank today (Comerica) with my babysitting check

DH is travelling and has the ATM card. I am on both my daughter’s and son’s checking accounts also, and all are linked online so I can transfer money around if I need to.

I wanted to see how much of the babysitting check would be immediately available if I deposited it in branch.

Answer: Zero. Oh. And the check funds won’t be available until WEDNESDAY.

But if I deposit it through the ATM into my son’s account, $200 of it will be immediately available, I can transfer that 200 into my checking account immediately and pay off CCs, and the remaining 150 will be available on TUESDAY.

Did I mention that by 1pm they empty out the ATM and process deposits like a regular branch deposit?

So if I come in face to face, it’s 5 days before I have access to funds. If I use an ATM, I get immediate access to 200, and access to the rest in 4 days. And you still have to process it.

401K money hasn’t been taxed yet

Its taken from pretaxed paycheck dollars. But when you go to withdraw it at 59.5 years of age and following it will be taxed at that time, at your tax rate at that age. In theory your tax should be less, the older you are…

Roth IRA money is paid by you, in after tax dollars, and you don’t have to pay taxes on it when you go withdraw it at 59.5 because you’ve already paid tax on it, before contributing it.

As far as match, some companies provide a match of maybe 50% of your contribution up to 5% of your salary. Or they might match 5% of your contributions etc. They define their own percentage and terms on the match, which is free money to you. Its recommended that if your company provides a match in any amount, to take it, but do ONLY whats necessary to get the matching funds. The rest of your retirement contributions should be funneled to a Roth.

Why not it all in one basket? Thats not diversification. Also company plans generally have picked for you what you can invest in. You get greater choice with a Roth. Plus if you’re in a company plan, you’re totally at their mercy if they should decide to change companies, or if they want to put all of their investments in their own stock…

I am happy to report that I paid off another credit card

paid tithing, and am looking forward to paying off another credit card in the next day or so once the dust settles on debits to my account and deposits to my account.

Paying tithing may seem like a frivilous thing to some, but as DR and others have said: it’s a habit which shows you are in control of your money and living within your means (for those who tithe, not saying if you don’t belong to a faith which tithes that there is a problem.)

That is certainly the case with me. Unlike DR’s advice (not to mention the church), I have a very bad habit of tithing last, when or if I have any money left over, vs doing it upfront. So to be able to take care of this says to me: look, your life is back in control. You CAN tell your money where to go, and you CAN exercise faith.

So I’m very excited on all fronts.

Nerd that I am, I worked out a plan for the babysitting job, since the one I have with the nurse looks like it is going to dwindle to twice a month rather than once a week (not complaining.) We’ll still be on track to be original debt free by the end of December, or mid January at the latest.