Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blog Roll Updates

I did a mini blog roll clean up, I deleted some blogs that have not been updated in a long time or those that have gone bye-bye.  Single Ma/Fabulous Financials, I will miss you! I still have to add in a few new ones that I've been promising or meaning to do for a while.  I'm taking my laptop with me this weekend, so I hope to actually work a bit on my blog instead of another project!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New Years Resolution

In general, I find (like so many people) that I often fall short of my New Year's Resolutions. Most years I don't make a specific resolution, I find I do much better with an on going goal list. I seem to do much better with a "goal list" as compared to a "New Year's Resolution list". This year it's going to be a bit different.

If you've been following my blog, you know I live in a very small house that needs a lot of work, work that I am just not capable of doing in a DIY fashion and work that costs big $$$. I've spent the better part of the past month taking a good long look at my house and making up a punch list of work that has to be done, work that should be done and the cosmetic work I'd like to do. The punch list is long and lengthy. So much so that it almost drove me to drink an entire bottle of wine because it depressed me sooo much. When I bought my little house, I honestly did not think I'd still be living in it, now almost 10 years later. I figured I'd sell it and move up, or rent it out and move to a new place. Ah yes, the grand plans one has. I underestimated the work that needed to be done and the cost of the work, and I overestimated my DIY skills.

I really would like for some DIY show to come and rescue me and my home, do the work, I can help, I'm actually a very good assistant and feature me on one of their programs. Hey I'd go public with my real identity if that were the case~can we say lovely small home done over in a "green" renovation. I think it would make a great HGTV show.
So after thinking about this long and hard, and doing some research my goal this year is to see if I can qualify for an FHA refinance/rehab loan. Based on the worksheets from a number of FHA lenders and the FHA itself, even with the Bankruptcy in my past, I may be able to qualify for a loan.

What I have going for me is the following. My house in not underwater based on the current market and where I live (thank goodness). My outstanding debt consists of my car loan and I'm in the home stretch on the last of my student loans (like it should be paid off by December of this year), my credit card does not carry a balance, I only use the card once or twice a month for gas or the odd purchase. I have not been late on any payments since I started the Bankruptcy filing and my mortgage has always been current.  What is not in my favor is the Bankruptcy discharge (now 2 years old!), my reduced income from my "full time job", and the fact it may be hard to find good current house comps on my small home. I will get a 1099 from the weekend job which may help to offset the reduction in income from the weekday job.

You may ask in astonishment, But Betty, why do you want to take on more debt? Simply, I want to be able to move to a house that is a bit bigger and in better shape than this one. In order for me to sell it and not take a massive hit, I do have some repairs that must be done. Even if I decide to stay in this house, it needs work. As I stated above, I don’t have the DIY skills for those necessary repairs. Houses, especially older ones, need repairs and maintenance. I’ll put up a post later about the list of repairs that I’ve come up with.

Part of the bouncing back from Bankruptcy was also to see if I can qualify for credit again without paying astronomical interest rates. I’m not overly thrilled with my car interest rate, but it was the price I had to pay to get a car so soon after the BK was discharged. I will let you know how the process goes. I plan on starting the process in earnest once I do my 2009 taxes, which will be the beginning of February and I’d love to hear your thoughts, good, bad and indifferent.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Starting the New Year On A Good Foot

My trip to IKEA was very productive. I spent a total of $169 ($9 over my limit) for my new bookcase, some kitchen storage containers and items and some unscented candles.  The only purchase not on my list was a small stock pot.  I need one at the weekend job, the kitchen there does not have one, so I purchased a pot of $29.99.  I had been doing a search of Marshalls and TJ Maxx for cooking pots, but the selection has been limited. this pot is a good size for making some soup, stew or just even boiling water for pasta.  I got to IKEA early, whipped through the store to get the items on my list, paid for them, then put them in my car.  I then came back to the store, spent some time looking for design ideas, pricing and testing out new couches.  I did what one is supposed to do when testing out a new couch.  I took off my shoes and flopped on each couch.  I stretched out, I sat up, I did all the body positions I would normally do at home. I got a lot of strange looks from other shoppers as I tested out the various pieces of furniture.  I did not mind one bit. A couch purchase is not on my radar for at least 6 months, but I wanted to get an idea of size, style and price so I can budget/save for a couch. 

I will say that IKEA seems to be making better quality furniture.  I'm really pleased with my bookshelf. It was easy to put together.  I did check out the local unfinished furniture store and they had a similar bookcase for more than twice the price.  My IKEA book case is laquered pine and will work just fine in my abode.  I will spend a couple nights this week organizing the books I want to keep and purging the rest.  I like being able to go to the bookshelf and picking out an old favorite book to re-read.  The bookshelf I was replacing at home was also made by IKEA, but it was one of those particle board ones.  It was showing it's age (13 years) and starting to fall apart.  The updated version at IKEA looked to be of better quality, so it's good to see that IKEA is still making inexpensive furniture that is durable instead of expendable.

The other awesome start was finding two pairs of jeans on sale on new years day.  I have a couple pairs of jeans that I wear every weekend at the barn.  They are the designated barn jeans.  They are at least 3 years old. One pair is so frayed and now  badly split that it was not worth the time for me to sew or iron on patches.  The other pair I was able to patch.  I did go into a store and by chance checked out the women's jean section.  I snagged two pairs of jeans for $25. Both were drastically marked down.  One was a "quality irregular" and try as I migh to find the "irregular" I could not and the other was just at 75% off.  Both pairs are in good shape and fit me well.  That was a nice unexpected surprise and I purchased both pairs. 

I did a clothes inventory of my closet and it revealed that I'm in very good shape for work and play clothes.  I've lucked out the past few shopping trips and have been able to restock my wardrobe with several quality pieces at decent prices.  As far as I can tell, future clothing purchases will be limited to things like socks, underwear, and a couple pairs of shorts for the summer.

Hoping you had a very nice New Years!