jianantonic: (Seahorse)
It's been a hellish few weeks. I've had bright spots and good times mixed in, but things have been really hard lately. My birthday last week was really great -- a lot of good friends came out to celebrate and we had a lovely time doing escape rooms and drinking fancy whiskey at the Multnomah Whiskey Library. Then Saturday was DASH, which was also a blast. We finished well but did not repeat as world champions this time around. Next year.

On Friday night, my computer died. It held on just long enough for me to see the end of the Blazers game six vs the Clippers where they won and secured their advance to the second round of the playoffs. I could hear several of my neighbors cheering when that game ended. It was awesome. But shortly after the game ended, my computer informed me that it was done with life, and swiftly crossed to the other side. I was thinking of getting a new computer soon, but the timing was not ideal as I was starting to build some momentum with work, and also was still in a big debt problem. So I ended up replacing it with the cheapest ChromeBook I could find, instead of a full laptop. So far I'm loving it, actually. I haven't missed having a "real" laptop at all. But if it turns out that I will need one, Toby has an old Macbook that I can have.

I had made a promise to my therapist to take my first Uber drive -- I've been licensed to drive for them for several weeks now, but just hadn't ever done it. So yesterday morning, I watched a few training videos, then logged in and gave it a shot. I picked up two riders in the span of about 15 minutes, and made $17 in a half hour of driving around Beaverton in the middle of the day. I feel really good about my prospects if I can do that in a really not-at-all-peak time. But it was getting really hot and I realized my A/C wasn't working, so instead of continuing to drive, I took the car in to my shop to have them check out the A/C. Turns out it's not a simple fix. The compressor is blown, and because it's a hybrid, the quote to fix it was $4000. So much for the $17 I made. I called around for a bunch of second opinions, and everyone quoted me even more. My car only cost me $7000 and it's going to need a new battery pretty soon, too, which is another $5000, and no. I can't do that. So after a lot of crying about money and freaking out over what to do, I took it to a few dealerships to get quotes for trade-in value. Toby came with me so I wouldn't get the single woman treatment, and I found some cars that are pretty good options. All the dealers were willing to give me pretty decent trade-in value, and I found a used Prius that would be a really ideal trade. But there's still the matter of coming up with the money to pay the difference. And I'm NOT applying for a loan because I have this ridiculous credit card debt (a result of depression-fueled carelessness over the course of 2015).

I called my parents and explained the whole situation to them -- how I'm feeling healthier now and I'm doing the best I can, but I'm in this hole and I need help. My dad wouldn't let me through without some stern lecturing about responsibility, but my mom reminded him that his own depression has led to some bad choices, too. In the end they were both incredibly sympathetic, and agreed to loan me the money I need to both get the new car and pay off my credit card debt. They are tacking it onto the mortgage I have with them already, but not raising the payment, just making it a longer loan. I am so incredibly relieved. It's a huge weight off...but I also hate that I'm 33 and have to get my parents to bail me out. I hate that I can't trust myself to control my life. I'm doing better now and of course there's a lesson learned, but all the lessons and good judgment in the world are shit up against mental illness. I just can't guarantee myself or anyone else that I won't be back in that state some day. I was crying about this with Toby last night -- both before and after my parents agreed to come to my rescue. And he held me and told me he would always be there for me. When I said I was afraid I'd get sick again and lose control and fail at life, he just squeezed me and said "No you won't. I'm looking out for you." And I just sobbed big ugly sobs when he said that. It's one thing for my friends to say they're always there for me (and I know they are! and I'm grateful!), but the problem with depression and its effects is that it's easy to disguise. My friends can watch out for me and I trust that they'll speak up if they're concerned, but only someone who is in my life every day can really catch it. And it's a lot to ask someone to commit to a partnership so potentially volatile. I've warned Toby a million ways about how I've been in the past and what I'm afraid the future could hold. And he's here. He's not going anywhere. I feel really secure in his commitment to me. I feel really secure in my commitment to him, too. As a young person with two divorces under my belt, I just can't let myself completely believe in forever, or even plan for it -- it's important to me to take care of my own debt rather than turn to Toby and his tech salary to help me. He would if I asked him but I'm not asking him.

I guess I can't really put in writing just how he made me feel when he held me last night, but I just know that he meant everything he said. I just know he's got me. And I hope the ways I'm able to be there for him are as meaningful to him...but he is a lot more stable than I am. He says I make him very happy, though, and even through deep, dark clouds of depression, he makes me very happy, too. I never thought I'd find a better match for myself than McKenzie. But Toby and I share so much more than I ever did with Z...and he's KIND to me all the time. I will always love and miss McKenzie, but this relationship that I'm in now? It's so much better. I didn't think that could exist. 

WeFinance

Jun. 9th, 2014 12:13 pm
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Hey y'all. My friend Eric launched a startup called WeFinance recently. It went live today, and I have one of the first listings on the site. It's a simple premise: you can loan money (to your friends, or anyone with a listing on the site), and you get paid back with interest. But it's lower interest than a person will get on a conventional loan, and it's higher interest than an investor will get from a savings account or CD. The repayments are automated so no one has to hunt me down for money if you loan to me. I've got a listing up that will cover the credit card debt I took on to get started in real estate. Here's my listing. Feel free to make a loan or tell your friends -- you'd be helping me out, as well as my friend who founded the endeavor. And you make money. Go team.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
McKenzie and I are making a real effort to track our budget these days. We make enough money, but somehow we don't have enough money. So I'm attacking that problem Weight-Watchers-style and tracking everything. To that end, I'm trying to be realistic about travel. In years past, cheap tickets for long flights were always appealing because all those miles lead to status and status is awesome. But United (and all the other airlines) have changed their status requirements to be dollars-based, so grabbing a cheap long-haul flight isn't worth what it used to be. I was doing some research today to see if I have any hope of making status for next year (I'm gold now and Z is platinum -- we'll both make silver no problem, but the benefits are a lot nicer with gold status). I had thought the system had shifted to strictly dollar-based, but it turns out there are some loopholes. It's actually now total miles + dollars spent on flights. Total miles, I'll probably get to gold (50,000). But you have to spend $5000 on those flights, too. I don't think I'll come close to that -- right now I have 7100 miles in the bank on $400 spent. I mean I guess I could get there. But I'm not looking for ways to spend more money.

Enter the loophole!

If you have the credit card (and I do), and you charge $25,000 or more in the calendar year, then the flight dollar requirement is waived. I don't have $25,000 to spend on myself this year, BUT I think I can get there by charging things for other people in exchange for cash or checks. I did that with my friends' flights to New Zealand last year. So if you have any big purchases you'd like to make, let me know. I'd love to put it on my credit card -- provided that, you know, I trust you to actually pay me.

I will have flown 25,000 miles by the end of June without booking any more travel than I already have, but I will definitely be booking at least 5000 more miles' worth, so I'm well on pace to hit 50K by year's end, except I don't have any international travel scheduled (yet?) besides Italy in April, which I'm already counting. My family is taking another international cruise, but I'm only flying as far as the port for that, so it doesn't count for mileage purposes.

I actually really like number crunching and figuring all this shit out, but gosh life would be so much easier if I didn't have to make so many adjustments to fit my travel into my schedule and budget. I know I travel way more than most people and I'm lucky to have a job that's pretty chill about it, but I'd still like it to be easier.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
4 pages done. 5 more due tonight. 10 more due before I disconnect on Monday morning. Doable, but bleh. I'm really making it hard on myself by not just charging straight through it all, but I don't feel like it. I had a talk with McKenzie last night about how freelancing does this to me. How it's good that I took a more regular job, where I can clock out and stop caring. Shit, I'm on the clock right now, and I barely have to care. I'll do the work as it comes in but there's hardly ever anything on my plate here that I dread doing or even have trouble with. I love that. I am not someone who craves a challenge in my work. I do crave challenges, but I like that I don't have to rest my career on them, you know? I can fuck up in bridge or board games and oh well, I lose a game. Fucking up when you're getting paid not to is another story. I think I'm putting that in my next cover letter, if I ever have to look for another job. :)

Z and I were discussing how I am one of those people who would choose not to work if I could. It's not that I would spend my time doing nothing productive, I just wouldn't have things like deadlines and mandatory meetings and whatnot. I'd use my time to travel and exercise and craft and learn and rest...I understand how some people really identify with their work and value it and would do it even if they didn't have to...but I'm not one of those people. Actually, I kind of am. I am that way as a writer. It stresses me out and it's not vital income for me, but it's important for me to BE a writer, so I take the work even though I don't really have to. But if I really had enough money that I needed no extra income, I wouldn't take assignments. I would just write my own stuff on my own time and that would be that.

Even if Z got a raise so huge that it covered the money I make now, I would keep my job, and we'd just have more money. I'm not looking to quit working as soon as it's financially feasible, because that would cost even more tradeoffs. Less travel. Less stuff. I'll probably be here for a while. But it's still in my long-term plan to eventually own enough property that I can make my living as a landlord and not have to be anywhere at any given time. Hand over the management to a company, pay my 10%, and cash the checks each month. That's the dream. We'll see.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I woke up this morning feeling fine. Then I got to work and my left eye was suddenly all blurry. It didn't go away and there was nothing in it, so I posted to Facebook, and everyone was like "that could be serious, get it checked out." I called a vision clinic near my office, described the condition, and the woman scheduled me an immediate appointment, saying "we do NOT take this kind of thing lightly." So I was freaked out and glad I made an appointment.
Turns out it's no big deal. I likely have an ocular migraine, which will go away on its own and may or may not be the precursor to a migraine headache (let's hope not). But no detached retina, no neurological bullshit, "just" a migraine. So that's good.
And then I go to pay for my 20 minute appointment...the doctor looked at me for about 5 minutes total, and they did use some fancy equipment to photograph the inside of my eye, but other than the wipe they used on the camera stand thingy where I rested my chin, my visit didn't cost them any one-time-use supplies or anything like that. I'd guess my actual cost to the office was somewhere in the neighborhood of a dollar, and then whatever five minutes of the doctor's time costs. My bill was $200, which was a discounted rate because I don't have insurance and paid out of pocket.
Then I posted this on Facebook, to follow up to my earlier post:
Just paid $200 (that's the DISCOUNTED rate for people who don't have insurance, sigh) to be told "it's nothing serious, but you may get a migraine headache." That bill is giving me a migraine  Can we please have socialized health care now?


Like · · Promote ·

  • Danny Sprung likes this.

  • Michael Lane Who do you want to pay for your appointment?

  • Meg Massie Myers I want it to work the same way many other public services and institutions are socialized. We all pay our share for everyone to have use -- I pay taxes that go toward plenty of things I don't use, or don't use my "share" of. However, health care seems as fundamentally important to me as things like education, roads, law enforcement. It's despicable that I CAN'T get coverage, even in the current system. I would pay for insurance if I could get it, but no one will approve me because of my depression, or maybe it's that time I broke my foot. I want public health care. I would settle for ANY.

  • Leanne Inge Last month I had to have a whole slew of labs run---the bill totaled $800. I about had a heart attack until I realized that the lab had run it through an old insurance company. When I got the new bill the total was $45. I haven't even come close to meeting my deductible for the year so my insurance company didn't pay a penny to cover the difference--it was all in the insurance companies negotiated price. Perhaps Meg is suggesting that we need our collected group leverage to make up this HUGE difference in health care expenses.
    9 minutes ago · Like


    Mike Lane is a former bridge partner from Charlottesville, and a card carrying Republican, so yeah, okay, he's anti-public health care. He can also afford whatever the fuck he wants because he's a gazillionaire and will never have to worry about where the money will be in an emergency. The girl who "liked" his comment is some girl I know from high school, who never posts political things and I know nothing of her politics, except that apparently she thinks, like Mike, that public healthcare is some sort of welfare request.

    This attitude is so frustrating and upsetting to me. No one should have to choose between staying healthy and staying housed. People in countries with socialized health care are overwhelmingly happy with it. I haven't heard any stories of people who are destitute as a result of the taxes they pay toward health care programs, whereas here, people die ALL THE TIME from treatable maladies because the treatment is too expensive for them. Hospitals turn people away when they can't pay for their treatment. The fear of paying taxes is KILLING people. And my guess is that for a lot of people, the tax won't even be as much as their current premiums.

    Now let's just pretend that public health care is never going to happen and we'll always have the private insurance system that we've got. Fine. I'd fucking pay for it if I could. It's not a matter of affordability in my case -- I cannot fucking get coverage. I have applied to every program I can, and I have been flat-out rejected for coverage. Not, you can have coverage if you pay us $5000/month (which, no, I can't afford), but just straight up "we're not going to cover you. Tough titties." I'm fucking willing to pay for the coverage, be it through taxes or private insurance. But I can't get it at all in our current system and that is not OK.


jianantonic: (Seahorse)
McKenzie and I had a little talk about money this afternoon. I wrote before (in a locked entry) that our finances are fine, but we'd like to be saving more, and also neither of us can realistically expect to ever make significantly more in our jobs. The cold, hard truth is that the most realistic way for us to make an impact right now is for me to stop fucking shopping. Sigh. I love shopping. I love buying new shit. I know I have too much shit and the hippie in me hates this about myself, but god dammit, it's so fun.

I'd stop short of calling myself a shopaholic, because I don't spend beyond my means, and I don't buy anything just for the sake of buying something -- but I definitely buy WAY more than I need. Usually clothes. I have enough clothes. I know this. I just love adding to the collection. Not having or planning for kids makes it easier to spend selfishly, that's for sure. But it's still not ideal. So...how to cut back...

In weight loss, the best way to change your habits is to write down everything you eat. So maybe I'll go back to writing down everything I buy for starters. I have done this in the past, when finances were tighter and it was more of a necessity. I'm kicking an idea around in my head of trying to go for a whole month without buying anything at all beyond essentials. Groceries that I use in the short term, transportation costs, utilities and other bills...and no more. No etsy, no modcloth, no Saturday Market...a month. Can I do this for a month? Maybe start off with a week? Heh. I really do want to try this. The question is, when do I start? Certainly not next week, because Falcon Ridge. Shopping the vendors at Falcon Ridge is always a highlight for me. And then after that, we have our cruise...and they'll have a casino, and I'll want to play craps. Maybe that won't cost money...but it likely will. And then after that, I'm going to Hong Kong in a month...and possibly Turkey...see, this discipline shit is HARD.

I will start by writing everything down. I'm sure there's a simple app I can use. That way I can do something productive toward this goal even with Falcon Ridge and a bunch of other travel thrown into the mix. Then, as I take my baby steps, I'll see how close I can get to zero non-essential spending, and how long I can sustain it. My hope is that just being slightly more conscientious will make a difference, but it may well be that cold turkey is the best way to go...I'm just not quite there yet. So. Let the great experiment begin!
jianantonic: (Seahorse)

Now that I've been with my office for over a year, I'm eligible for the 401K, so our investment rep dude was here yesterday to set me up. He doesn't know I have a background in stock market analysis, so the first few minutes consisted of him giving me a remedial lesson on mutual funds. Then he just plowed straight into filling out my forms, and explained that since I'm young, I shouldn't be concerned with bonds, and here's the fund I think you'll want, so I'm just going to write this in here and you just sign right there and you're all set.

Wait a minute, dude. I see that this is your most popular fund and it's performed very well and all that, but what stocks are in it? He can't tell me off the top of his head so we look it up. It's like 10% oil stocks and 10% big pharma, among other things. Um, dude. No thanks. So I had him sign me up instead for a fund that's mostly tech and innovation-related. He was like "I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to speak up about that." Mmhmm, why didn't you ask me in the first place before you just wrote everything down without me opening my mouth?

I then asked if we could set it up as a Roth IRA, and his eyes bugged out a little bit, probably at the mere notion that I had a clue. He hemmed and hawed a bit and then said basically that I wouldn't want to do a Roth because certainly my husband's income puts us in too high a tax bracket for this to be smart for me. What? Dude, seriously, what? He didn't even ask what my husband's job was. All he knew was that I have a husband.

I was just flabbergasted by the whole experience. I mean I can understand that it's a reasonable assumption that your average 30-year-old part-time hourly employee doesn't know a lot about mutual funds and investing, but the combination of all the different ways he spoke down to me just left a horribly foul taste in my mouth. I so wanted to name drop Warren Buffett on his ass. "The last time I was playing bridge against Warren..." But it didn't come up.

jianantonic: (Seahorse)
So it turns out the guy I hit is a lying jurkface.  Not only is he claiming $1000 in damages (I didn't even scratch his car one little bit!  NO dents! Even if the paint was scratched, a bumper paintjob is only $500 -- I know this, I'm in the biz, y'know), but he's claiming injuries now.  So I went ahead and turned it over to my insurance.  They'll cover the costs, so it's nothing out of pocket right now, but it is possible our rates will increase come renewal.  Luckily we don't renew for another 11 months...  I've talked to three different adjusters now, and all are sympathetic, that it's really unlikely dude is actually injured and they are also dubious about the damages.  I sent them pictures of my car, which shows that the paint isn't even scratched and there's no evidence of a collision, beyond the fact that I admitted to it.  I just can't believe that mofo is claiming injuries.  I've hit cars harder while parallel parking.  Ugh.  I hope my insurance will deny his injury claim.  Our adjusters would.  Seriously.  Less than bumper car impact.  What a fiasco.  I can't wait 'til bike weather is back.  I would like to quit driving please.  Maybe I just need to suck it up and start biking in the cold rain now.  Maybe next week...

My fitness has been faltering a bit.  As expected, I have been totally slacking on my half marathon training.  It's just not breathing down my neck yet, but it's not like it's the kind of test you can cram for.  I know I need to work on building up to it.  It's just so hard and unpleasant!  Suck it up, Massie.  You got this.  Maybe.  I also managed to gain 7 pounds in November, before Thanksgiving, even.  So I've been working on undoing that, and I think I mostly have, but it was kind of a wakeup call, like, hello, you are getting too lazy again...

I still work out every day, but having a gym at work means I use it on my lunch break the three days that I'm there, and that means a much less thorough workout than I'd get at the real gym, because there's less time and less equipment.  So I'm looking for ways to mix it up a little better and amp up the stuff I do on non-work days.  Perfect days for adding mileage, really, except that I always schedule my free time to the supermax.  I need to just put more gym time into the schedule.  And get out and run more and just fucking do it, because I know I can.  I just don't WANT to.  But the more I do, the easier it'll be, and the less miserable...at least I'm trying to tell myself that.  I'm also looking for a yoga studio.  My gym has yoga, but it's not my favorite style, and yoga studios around here are pretty cheap (and also more common than Starbucks).  Katy is coming to stay with me this weekend, and I think we'll try out a yoga place together.  We're also gonna do some motherfucking baking.  

Blazers game tomorrow with Rob.  Rip City!
jianantonic: (Default)
A few days ago, I got the details on my friend Geoff's death.  He had been in the hospital with diabetes complications.  He had been in the ICU and needed to stay there...but he didn't have health insurance, and so he was discharged.  He died as soon as he got home.  Geoff had a good job and good income, but his diabetes precluded him from health coverage, and his lack of coverage kept him from getting the care that could have saved his life.  

I also can't get health insurance.  It's just plain not available to me.  Because I have been diagnosed with depression, no policy will cover me.  They won't even take me on with the exception that my depression is a pre-existing and therefore not covered condition.  The Affordable Health Care Act doesn't fully take effect until 2014, assuming the righties in government don't get their way and overturn it before then.  These changes cannot come soon enough.  I can afford my depression meds and the occasional therapy visit.  I would not be able to afford something else -- a broken bone or other injury, some kind of illness that requires a doctor's visit and expensive prescriptions, or FSM forbid something even more serious.  For now, I am lucky that I am able to afford the healthcare I need.  But I don't have the security of knowing I'll be okay if I ever need more, and I have the gut wrenching agony of knowing my friend is gone because of the greed in the American healthcare system.  You don't have to be a socialist to see that there's a huge problem with health insurance as big business.  Treatable illnesses are death sentences to too many people in this country, all because insurance is too hard to get, and hospitals are run for profit.  My depression went untreated for as long as it did because I knew as soon as I mentioned it to a doctor, that would be the end of my insurance eligibility, and it was.  First my premiums shot through the roof and then I just plain couldn't get coverage.  This system literally kills people.

If this were the only issue I agreed with Obama on, it would be enough to get me to vote for him.  But I also believe that women should make equal pay for equal work.  I believe consenting adults should be allowed to marry and have families with the partners of their choosing, and those families should have the same legal protections as every XX + XY household has.  I think all people deserve education, and that government should never, ever try to stifle science (climate change, evolution, stem cell research, sex education...).  

I think that no matter which way the electoral votes add up, it is depressing that around half the voting population disagrees with me on the above issues.  I can sort of understand if you are in the miniscule sliver of the population that gets rich off of the right-wing policies (AND you have very little conscience or empathy for others), but I really and truly do not see the benefit, personally or society-wide, to supporting the right's agenda.  To stifling human rights, access to education and health care, and to promoting war...it just doesn't make sense to me, and it makes me sad that it makes sense to anyone.
jianantonic: (Default)
I don't even know where I left off in the story.  I'm too tired to reread and relive it, so I'll just summarize.  Late last night, we heard that we wouldn't be able to get a traditional loan.  That was AFTER we were told we had 24 hours to get our final offer together for the house.  Another offer came in at the same time, and rather than have counteroffers and a bidding war, the seller wanted to just look over both offers and pick the best one.  So, while scrambling to figure out how we'd come up with the money, I was also working on personal stuff -- the realtor suggested we write a personal story to share with the owner, along with a picture, so that she'd like us and want to sell to us.  I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to biography.  I spend more time deciding what I'll put in my one-sentence by-line on freelance contributions than I do on entire articles.  So I worked hard on that, while also pleading my case to my parents.  I wrote a very detailed email to them spelling out why we think it's the right place for us, a good deal, our budget, our plans, everything even remotely relevant to the situation.  I knew my dad would get home at 3:30 eastern, so from 12:30 on, I was anxious as hell.  I could barely stand it.  At 2:30, I couldn't wait anymore.  I called home.  Mom answered.  She had just returned from bridge to find Dad asleep on the couch.  No, he hadn't looked at my email.  Sigh.  She printed it off and woke him up to talk it over.  He called me a few minutes later.

One thing that's been particularly difficult about all of this is that I feel like there's been a lot of jerking of emotions.  At first, I didn't think we could afford a house now, so I wasn't even serious about looking.  Then Z convinced me that we should look now.  Great!  Excitement!  We talked to a lender, and he called us a sure thing.  Great!  Then the first zillion houses we saw were huge letdowns.  The few that we loved turned out to have horrible flaws...constant flooding, 17 other offers, $600 monthly HOA fees...yeah.  And I was ready to give up again.  And then one more look, and we found what we wanted!  And we put an offer in!  And it had been on the market for so long, we were sure it'd be ours...but no, there's another offer...and wait, you can't get a loan!  And then my mom was so encouraging over the last 24 hours that I really felt like my parents would come on board with the whole thing.  They did finance whole loans for each of my brothers.  So I was not prepared for the anger on the other end of the line when my dad called me.

He wasn't mad at me, but when he's mad, rage takes over, and it's really draining, even when you know he's on your side.  (I used to be like this.  Being on the other end of that, now medicated and healthy, is horrifying.  I'm sorry to everyone ever.)  Anyway, I kept repeating that I agreed with him that it's bullshit that lenders won't give us a loan even when we're putting enough down that it's absolutely no risk to them (when we put 30% down, even if we defaulted, the bank would have no trouble recovering the principal, even if the house sits on the market for months or years).  But the fact is, the mortgage crisis tightened the rules.  My dad wouldn't hear it.  To him, there's a logical argument in our favor, and anyone who won't hear it is an idiot not worth dealing with.  Okay, yeah, I kind of agree...but unfortunately these are the rules across the board.  It's just the way it is now.  So I told him that I think the only way we'll be able to buy anything now is if they finance my entire loan.  He said no.  That would tie up all of his cash, and he's not going to do that.  I understand.  I was disappointed, but I ended the conversation with a thank you and maintained my cool until I hung up, at which point tears burst through and didn't stop flowing for hours.  I was at work at the time, too.  Awesome.  

After I got off the phone with Dad, I called the lender we'd been working with and just asked him to explain the situation.  Will HE not approve us, or will NO ONE?  I mean, he called us a sure thing!  But the issue is that banks are (rightfully) so much more gunshy than they were last time I bought a home.  Stated income loans don't exist anymore.  You have to prove you have the income to cover payments (not just assets -- for some reason, banks require INCOME), and having been self-employed for the last 5 years (me) and 16 years (Z), we had so many writeoffs and deductions that our tax returns indicate basically zero income.  And now that we're in new jobs, we're not established enough for lenders to take us seriously.  Never mind that my credit is perfect and I already own one property and we have no bad debt...basically the lender told us that there's no way we're getting approved for a loan.  I'll need to become salaried rather than hourly in order for my income to be considered, and even then, the best he could do for us with our current income would be about a $70K loan.  I guess we're just way better with our money than most people at our income level, because our budget has room for a loan four times that amount.  Not that we're going that high...but we COULD afford it.  But banks don't believe that.  And I understand.  They've been burned.  The lender said they really don't make exceptions for people who make huge down payments, either.  So few people do, and banks just won't take the time to have a different set of qualifications.  It's all hard and fast based on income and you either qualify or you don't.  He said "I'm sorry, but you're not going to qualify anywhere."  

I called my mom and explained this to her.  I explained that I understand Dad isn't mad at me, but that talking to him was so draining, I was just over it.  I didn't have the energy to work on it anymore.  I gave up.  I was crying, but trying not to play it up for sympathy.  I could tell my mom felt terrible.  She WAS on board and wanted to make it work for us.  She made some calls of her own to bankers.  They told her the same thing.  She relayed it to Dad.  I talked to Z and told him I guess we give up for now.  We just need to save up enough that we can pay cash if we're going to buy a place.  Give it a few years.  I was defeated, deflated, and done.  Out of energy to devote to this.  He was too.

Then I got an email from Mom.  She had talked to Dad about what the bankers and I had told her, and she said he got it.  She said "He thought they were just shysters [sic, lol] but now he realizes that's how it is."  She said they really wanted to help us make this happen.  I said, well, you were willing to give me $50K.  I have $90K in stocks, of which I owe Dad $56K (he paid cash for my first house down payment and for my old car, with the understanding that I'd pay him out of this stock.  He just never took that money out.)  After that 56K, we have 34K, so we could use our own 34K for a down payment, the other 56K + 50K you're willing to lend in cash and essentially take a 106K loan from you, while only taking 50K of your cash reserves.

She ran that idea by my dad while I was on the phone, and he displayed a kind of remarkable amount of enthusiasm for the notion.  

So, it's a go.

The deadline for our offer was 5pm, and I got all the loose ends tied up with my realtor at 4:45.  

The selling agent presented our offer at 7pm.  Our realtor says that we should know by tomorrow morning at the latest, but hopefully tonight.  She'll let us know as soon as she hears anything.

As it stands right now, our offer looks like this:
They are asking $134,900 for the house (down from 170K, other condos in the complex with the same plan are currently listed at 155K and 200K).  Our original offer was full price minus closing costs up to 7K.  We improved our offer to 137,900 minus closing costs, but since my parents won't charge us closing costs, there will only be about 2K of costs.  We're cashing out 90K in stocks, and parents are giving us 50K in cash, so we have 140K.  So we're making a cash offer.  Pretty attractive, right?  I'll be shocked if this doesn't get accepted, but at this point, I'm completely over optimism.  Heh.  We'll have a 106K mortgage with my parents.  The closing date we proposed is August 13.  They also have a lovely essay about us and two super cute photographs.  Fingers crossed...
jianantonic: (Default)
We looked at houses today with a realtor for the first time.  The experience was a mixed bag.  I do like this realtor but I'm still not impressed with her communication via email, so I may or may not hire someone else if we keep looking.  But we may not keep looking for right now.  Even though it is a buyer's market and it would be a great time to buy if we had the money to do so, crunching the numbers a little more tonight made it look like it may not be wise for us to do this now after all.  The plan was kind of to take a short-term loan from my parents to cover the down payment, and then a mortgage from the bank.  This is doable.  We *can* afford this in the price range we're looking.  But we started looking because we thought it would actually cut our monthly costs...and this plan won't.  At least not until we're done paying back my parents, which could be a few years of really tight budgeting.  Doable...but far from ideal.

The other option is to cash out some stock holdings.  But of course a down economy isn't really the best time to do that if I don't have to.  We're going to talk to my folks and look at more numbers and think...

And option three, I guess, is do nothing.  Keep renting for now, stash away what we can toward a more comfortable homeownership plan down the road, and try to let the excitement of the recent househunt subside.  Meh.

I want to write about the houses we looked at, but I'm crazy tired right now, so I'll save that for tomorrow I guess.  

I'm in a discouraged sort of mood, but I am maintaining perspective...in an economy with high unemployment and foreclosure rates, we are employed and thinking of buying another property (we still own the condo in Charlottesville).  We're doing quite well.  Just...meh.  I want to be doing wellER.  I wonder if I'm capable of being satisfied in this regard.  I suspect it takes more maturity than I've got.
jianantonic: (Default)
So, McKenzie and I have decided to buy a house.  We've come a long way in our plans recently.  At first, it was, "we'll probably never be able to afford a place in Portland, oh well."  Then it became a long-distance kind of plan...maybe one day we'll somehow have the kind of money to buy a nice place here...but even then, I wanted city and Z wanted rural, so it was a very hazy idea.  Now that we've been living in the 'burbs for a year, I'm really, really in love with this particular neighborhood, and I've been totally jonesing for a house on the street next to our apartment complex.  There's a little neighborhood there with mostly older, smallish houses.  Some of them are kind of in disrepair, but some of them are so super cute, and the perfect size, and it's just exactly where I want to be.  Only trouble is none of these is for sale -- not that we were looking at buying anything soon anyway, but it's hard to fantasize about a house that may never be available.

Still, whenever we'd walk through the neighborhood, I'd point out houses to Z that I love and we'd have another conversation about Oregon homeownership.  My feeling has always been "I know it's not possible now, but as soon as possible would be nice."  When I got my new jobs, it started to look like a year or so would be a realistic time frame to save up a down payment that would be enough to bring our monthly housing costs down when switching from renting to paying a mortgage on the size house we want.  The more we talked about it, the more Z moved closer to my timeline...and then he leapfrogged me.  We both agree that we love Beaverton and would love to buy in this particular neighborhood.  We agree on the size place we want and the price range.  But now Z thinks he wants to buy right away.  No, we don't have money for a down payment right now, but we do have good incomes, and with the prices and rates so low, it does make really good sense to try to get in on something before the market turns again.  So the plan is to borrow money for a down payment from my parents, to be paid back over 2-3 yearsish, and then borrow the rest of the mortgage from the bank.  My parents are on board with this idea, so basically it's totally doable...we just need to find a house we want.

The problem with that is there's not much on the market at all.  In any price range.  Right now, most houses are getting lots of offers, and there's a lot of competition among buyers -- at least if the house is any good.  There are several that have been sitting on the market for over a year...but no one wants them.  This whole competition aspect is very stressful for me.  I don't mind paying a competitive price for a house I want (within my range), but I just don't want to be in a hostile, time-pressured situation with other buyers.  And I wish there were more options, though I do like some of the ones out there.  Hopefully some more will come on the market soon.

Z has the car in Canada all week, so Wed-Fri I'll have to bike to work.  I've mapped it out and more or less know the way, but I definitely want to do a test ride tomorrow before I have to do it for real on Wednesday.  Today would be a perfect day for it except that I have a training session at 3.  Probably not a good idea to ride 21 miles before the session, and definitely won't have the energy to do it after...so tomorrow it is.  
jianantonic: (Default)
Z and I are going to Billings, MT for the weekend.  He has a sectional there, and I am holding onto a thin strand of hope that I'll get a chance to play, but it seems unlikely at this point.  I don't know any players in that area and shockingly, no one wants to make the trip.  So I figure I'll romp around Montana while McKenzie works and it'll be all fine and dandy.  I just looked at the Billings forecast -- today and tomorrow are 80 and sunny, but Friday through Sunday they're calling for 40s and rain.  Figures.

I've spent some time today applying for jobs.  I'm pretty proud of the cover letters I wrote -- I'll be disappointed if I don't get any bites.  It may not matter, though.  I have another interview with WW tomorrow afternoon on the phone.  That job is basically at the top of the list for me, so if I get that, I won't worry about the others.  Why am I looking for a job again?  Sigh.  Freelancing is a world of empty promises, and my creditors don't take hypothetical checks.  I made a lot of plans for spring and summer based on certain expectations, and while the expectations proved wrong, the money is still spent or committed, so I need to come up with some way to pay for it all.  

Z went to the bank this morning to get small bills for change for the sectional, and the teller goofed and gave him an extra $400.  He didn't notice until he got home, and we had a long chat about it.  "We could really use this money right now...but we are good people, right?  That means we have to take it back...sigh."  When it's someone else, it's easy to say "you should take it back, of course."  But when it's you, and you really do need that money...doing the right thing is fucking hard.  But we did.  Because we're good people.

I got the good news that my tenant renewed her lease for another year, so the condo is basically still paying for itself.  If she hadn't renewed, I would have to really rethink my job situation and how casually I'm taking the hunt this time around.  

I turn 29 in two days, y'all.  I wonder if I'll stop getting excited about my birthday when I'm 30.  Probably not :)
jianantonic: (Default)

I'm really frustrated with the property management at our apartment complex.  They're not horrible, but they're far from good, and they're never available when I need to deal with them.

Yesterday, April 2nd, I received a bill for water usage.  $57.  Due April 1.  Our water is included in our rent...they charge all residents a flat fee, which we're against, since we use way less than most people, but we pay this with our rent every month.  And now we're getting a $57 bill (that's already late upon its arrival, apparently).  This is just bullshit.  

When the new management company took over, we were told our rent would not be going up.  And it didn't.  What did go up were all the mandatory fees we have to pay (like water) on top of rent.  We went from paying something like $33/month for water and sewer to $60/month.  That is SOME BULLSHIT.  When I owned a 2400 square foot house with six people living in it, our water bill rarely exceeded $30, and that was during a drought when water costs went up in Virginia.  Come the fuck on, rental people.  

So now in addition to the ricockulous amount we already pay for water we're not using, we allegedly owe even more.  And when I went to ask them about this in the office today, they were out to lunch.  I got there well before 1, and the sign said "back at 2pm."  That's a mighty fine lunch break.  They never return phone calls, either.  They're just lazy and not helpful and I miss the old managers so much.  There should be a clause in all leases that if the property changes ownership or management, you should be able to get out of your lease without penalty.  Of course, we wouldn't have moved, because moving is a pain in the ass, and even though the cost went up and the service went down, it's still a nice place to live.  There are just unnecessary stresses that drive me nuts.

It's things like this that make me miss owning my home.  There are pros and cons, and of course we can't afford to buy a place out here now anyway, so it's all just daydreaming, but for a while, Z had me convinced that renting was better than owning anyway.  I'm not so sure anymore.  

Renting pros:
Maintenance is not my responsibility.  I don't have to pay for replacements or repairs.  
I'm not tied down to a place, except by the limited terms of the lease and how much of a pain in the ass it is to move.
Don't have to pay taxes.

Owning pros:  
Don't have to deal with property management.
Monthly mortgage won't go up
Only pay for utilities I use.
It's a fairly sound investment.

Renting cons:
Have to work around the management's schedule, often limited availability
Rent and other fees can go up unexpectedly
Parking is a bitch -- either rent a parking space or fight it out for the few available nonreserved spots (seems to be true everywhere in Portland)
Limited rights to make changes to the inside or outside of the property.

Owning cons:
Repairs are my problem, as are their costs
Taxes and HOA fees can go up, though usually fairly predictably and not as sharply as rent tends to do
Committed to one location/monthly payment...

I'm probably leaving some things out in each category, especially since right now I am very annoyed with the whole rental thing.  I hope the girl that rents my condo is more satisfied than I have been in my rental experiences.  I have not ever rented a home anywhere that I didn't have some gripes with the managers, except for when we were here under the previous managers.  But I guess my gripe with them is that they sold it when it was working well, and that kind of screwed over the residents.  Sigh.

jianantonic: (Default)
I don't really do resolutions, but every year for the past (I'm not saying because it's an embarrassingly high number) years, I have told myself "this will be the year I go back to the dentist."  Well, I finally did that in 2011.  I suppose I could resolve to keep going to the dentist now that I've gotten back on track in that regard...but where's the fun in that?

My goals for 2012, the final full year of my 20's (I haven't figured out if I'm freaked out by this or not), are something like this:
Run a 5K (or longer race) at least once per month.
Play at all the NABCs.  
Keep not drinking soda.
Rebuild the savings account.
Stick with WW, get back to goal, stay there. 
See new places.

These are basically all resolutions to keep up all the things I'm already doing and enjoying in my life.  I ran a 5K in November and December.  I didn't play any NABCs this year, but my hiatus is coming to an end and I'm excited to get back to bridge.  I haven't had soda since before the Edhead cruise.  I only ever drank 0 calorie sodas anyway, so it's not like they were way bad for me, but I do have a feeling they were slowing down my metabolism and also costing more money than water.  I'm not necessarily cutting myself off from Diet Dr. Pepper FOREVER, but I think I'd like it to be once-in-a-great-while kind of thing instead of a five-cans-a-day kind of thing. My/our spending habits are fine, it's just that buying the car pretty much drained our savings, and I'd like to have a five-digit figure in there, not including what comes after the decimal point.  If all goes well for me professionally (a corollary of this goal), then the account should be back to our comfort zone by the end of the year, if not much sooner.  As for WW, I've been consistently losing weight ever since I went back.  I'm down 9 pounds in my first four weeks, and I have 11 pounds to go to get back to my goal weight.  I gave myself a target date of mid-March to get there, but barring crazy shenanigans in South Africa, I'll reach it much sooner.  It's always a goal to travel and see things, and South Africa is a huge deal to me.  I also have a 12-hour layover in Frankfurt, so if at all possible, I'll get out of the airport and spend enough time in the city to actually say I've been there.  I have a few states left before I reach 50-state bingo:
Alaska
New Mexico
North Dakota
Nebraska
Oklahoma
Arkansas (been to the Little Rock airport, doesn't count)
Alabama
Mississippi

I'd love to get to all of them, but Alaska and New Mexico are way ahead of the others in terms of priority.  As for regions of the globe, I've now been to:
North America, Central America, The Caribbean, Micronesia, and Australia
I will soon add Africa and sort of Europe.  I'd love to get continent bingo one day, too, but that's not a before-I-turn-30 goal.  
jianantonic: (Default)
Background:  my brothers and I jointly inherited a farm in central Virginia when we were all minors.  My dad has always been in charge of all the decision-making, but usually there's not much.  Our second cousins are the ones who actually live there and work the land -- our portion of the farm is just 126 acres out of a several thousand acre estate that's divided up among our family, but basically operates as one.  Most of what we own isn't really farmed.  There's no house on our land, and it's a combo of open fields and woods, mostly, but there are some orchards and vineyards and cows that graze.  I don't know many details about income from the farm -- my understanding is that there's some, but it may only be enough to cover the taxes, or my dad is investing it on our behalf or something.  But once when I was little, my dad agreed to sell all of a certain type of tree (cherry, maybe?) to a logger, and my brothers and I all got HUGE checks for the sale.  I think it was about $40,000 apiece.  Mine went into my college fund and eventually paid for my first house.  My brothers probably squandered their shares at Mardi Gras, as they were barely legal adults at the time.

At Thanksgiving, my dad informed me that another logger has approached us and wants all the walnut from the farm.  There's a lot, but not nearly as much as there was cherry the last time we did this.  If I recall correctly, the estimated payment for these trees would be a few thousand dollars for each of my brothers and me.  Not a ton of money, but definitely a well-timed windfall for me, as our new car basically drained our savings account and I'm not getting overtime anymore at my job.  There's basically nothing to it on my part, and aesthetically, the farm won't change much.  The section that was logged years ago has already grown back into a thriving woods, and we're not talking about razing whole areas -- just one type of tree among many.

But my brothers have reservations.  They have said they are ambivalent and will do whatever I want, but the fact that they haven't just jumped on it gives me reservations.  I mean, living in Oregon, where logging is like the main industry, I don't give much thought to the downside.  The trees they cut here, though, are conifers that regenerate very quickly.  I don't know the biology of walnut trees.  Am I a bad hippie if I let them cut down our trees?  

I can live without the money, but it would be really nice to have it...

Seriously, advise me.  What would you do?
jianantonic: (Default)
I feel like I get better workouts when I regularly blog about them. Today I ran a mile for warmup, did some random weightlifting, though all my muscles were screaming, and then did 30 minutes on the elliptical. I'm hoping that if my legs are feeling more sturdy tomorrow, I can run another 5k. We'll see.

The big milestone today was that when I did some weight stuff where I supported myself on my hands, I just tested my wrist a little...and no pain! I still feel twinges when I bend it certain ways, and I'm nowhere near ready to trust all my weight on it, but the fact that I could do a downward dog with my weight actually on my wrists (I've been bastardizing the posture by supporting myself on my fingers for the last year), without pain, was phenomenal to me.

I'm also reading a really interesting book called The Zombie Economy, written by two of my favorite radio personalities (one is a comedian, the other an economist).  It doesn't really have much advice that I didn't already know, but it's put in such entertaining terms (the zombie apocalypse as an analogy for the recession).  And it's making me think about some things.  Maybe I DO want to stick with the company I'm working with...it's some good food for thought.  I recommend it, even if your economic situation is totally healthy.

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Meg

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