I Hate Unpacking

If there’s one thing I hate more than packing, it’s unpacking.  Almost three weeks into the new house, and we’re slowing down on the unpacking.  Mostly because the house is functional “enough”, but there are  boxes everywhere still and it’s starting to drive me nuts having them around.

All of the kitchen stuff is unpacked and put in the kitchen, but I just shoved stuff in the pantry, so it needs a bit of organizing.  I gave in and ordered two Elfa door “systems” for the spices.  The pantry was too deep and the spices kept getting lost – and I really missed my spice racks from our old house.

spice racks

Spice racks In our pantry

I still hate that the pantry has the open metal shelving – anything small tends to fall through or over.  We picked up some shelf liner to help, but I haven’t emptied the pantry to put it in yet.  We also made the mistake of putting packing tape on all of our plastic containers, now we’ll be scrubbing them with Goo Gone for the rest of our days :(

There are more pressing things than the pantry, everything fits, and we can (mostly) find things when we need them.

We still have a lot of stuff just hanging out on kitchen counters though because it doesn’t have a new home yet.


Dining Room with blinds

Dining Room with blinds

We added honeycomb blinds to the house.  I *highly* recommend blinds.com – awesome customer service.  I got one blind with a frayed string, called them up the next day and they shipped me a new one, no need to return the old one.  They’re also quite easy to install at least with their “interior mount” option – four pilot holes with the drill, screw in four screws into the window frame, and then the blinds just pop into the mounting brackets.  Also, relatively inexpensive for the honeycomb cordless that you can also pull down from the top: ~$85 for a 36×60 window.

The only room that I feel is really done is our master bath. Since my office is off the master bedroom and it’s not close to being done (I’ve opened exactly 1 box in it), the master is still questionable as well.  We’ve put aside 4 boxes to be donated/sold and continually add to it.  I have one box set aside for Daughter Person’s toys that she has grown out of, and our friends with a 1 year old get first rights of refusal on that box.

This weekend, We’re borrowing my uncle’s truck to go pick up our storm door, some more metal shelving from Costco, another trip to IKEA for a bookcase and a grandfather clock from our friends.  We’ll also be loading our old freezer on it to go to my uncle’s.  We bought a larger one, and they’re taking the older one off our hands – it’s currently in the garage (another “room” we’ve barely touched in the unpacking…).  If I can get my car in the garage by winter, I’ll be a happy person.


April 2015 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,284.68 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $2,729.64 in investment value this month. 


We gained in every account except my IRA this month.  There’s a pretty hefty sum in an REIT mutual fund in that account, and it didn’t do so well this month.  Oh well, that’s how the market works, and I much prefer to have a REIT than actual property!

I may delay setting aside money for the Roths until later in the year so that we can pay off our car faster.  It’s 0% interest rate, but we’d prefer to get rid of the payment.  And I’ll still be able to make my goal of 70k into our accounts by only putting aside about 3 months worth.  That will have to be played by ear – I just want to get enough into Dad’s Roth account to get out of ETFs and into a mutual fund to have it 100% invested.  We put a token $250 in for 2014 to just open the account, but we need 2500 to invest in the mutual fund I want (FSTMX).  My Roth climbed over the 10k balance and the investment was transferred to the advantage class mutual fund earlier this year.

While trying to get the new house set up, we’re feeling the pinch of cash flow right now with a lot of money going towards retirement, but I keep reminding myself that it’s good for us and most of the house stuff can wait as well! (except the window blinds – we have huge windows, and we need our privacy and insulation!)

2015 Totals

In 2015, so far, we’ve contributed $24,805.90 (35.44% of our goal of 70k), and we’ve gained $14216.4 in investment value (59.54% of our planned total).

Detailed Financial Picture – May 2015

April’s Numbers

As of May 5, 2014, we are $304,884 in debt with a mortgage!  We currently have $882,149.80 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $468,778.01. Our Net Worth is $577,265.80, down from $579,430.79 last month (0.37% decrease).

We are home owners again (finally!), so we now have a new asset (the house) and a new liability (the mortgage).  We bought the house for 366,730, but it was appraised at 372k (how they do appraisals before the house is finished, I have no idea).  I’m only counting what we paid for it.

We’ve moved into the house, and the movers were almost 1k over the estimate (I do give them a break since the estimate was in August!).  My goal for the next month or two is to buy the last few things we really want for the house (like blinds!) and then build up our mini-emergency fund to 5k again.  It’s at about 3.5k at the moment.  We also have a full month’s salary “buffer” because we use YNAB and live on last month’s income, so I’m not horribly concerned.  Once that’s built back up, we’re going to start aggressively paying off the car.

We’re rounding up our mortgage payment, and it ends up being about an extra $75/mth towards principal, but at this point in time, I’m not in any rush to pay it off.

We’re maxing out our 403(b)s and HSA plans, and starting in July, we’ll be setting aside $950/mth to go towards our Roth IRAs. The money won’t be put in the account until we do taxes in 2016, but it’ll be there (and be part of our emergency fund as well).


Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $12,000 (-500.00)
  • Mortgage (3.875%): $293,384.00

Total paid off in April:  $500

Home Owners Again

We are now officially home owners again!  Closing was this morning and everything went well.  We even had to bring 1k less to closing than the GFE since they adjusted our initial escrow amount.  I’m still keeping some set aside until we know how interim taxes will affect us and what the property is appraised at for tax purposes.

Tomorrow the deliveries start, and the movers indicated that they would likely be delivering our things out of storage on Monday (we won’t know for sure until Sunday).

We also have a mortgage again, so our updates will reflect that as well.  Now, I can get started on our free trip to Disney.  Brad recommends 18 months, we’ll be trying ~8 months (next January) – we have a relatively high rate of spending, especially with new things to buy for the house, so we should be good.  I just need to get on applying for those cards now that we’ve closed (finally!).

The Costs of Buying and Financing a House

We’ve got our final cash-to-close number for the house – and even after we put the down payment, pre-pay 9 months(!!) of escrow, buy all the new appliances we need, and pay the movers to actually move us in, we’ll still have about 6.5k left over to do with as we please.  We already have a list of things we want to buy for the house to “improve” it – like blinds, a humidifier, and a deck – in that order most likely.

What does it take to buy a house?

We’re putting 20% down, we have a 3.875% rate (no points), and we’re borrowing just over 293k.  Some of these costs are based on the APR and the purchase price, so that’s why I give background :)  I’ve rounded off the numbers using the standard round down if less than 50 cents, round up if more than 50 cents.

Underwriting/Processing fees: $1297

Appraisal, credit report fee, etc: $844

Title Charges (mostly lender’s title insurance): $3119

Taxes/fees to the local governments: $3967

HOA origination fee: $200

Total closing costs (that we’ll never see again): $9427

Then there’s the pre-paid amounts – this includes the first year of homeowner’s insurance ($420/yr through USAA!) 1 day of interest, 3 months of homeowner’s insurance, and 9 months of property taxes (there are three: “Property taxes”, “city property taxes”, and “school taxes”).  If I didn’t escrow, the rate would have been > 4%, and there’s no way I can make that up in interest on what sits there waiting to pay taxes.

$7215 (most of which is school taxes of $4464 <- about a year’s worth of property taxes in NoVA)

For a grand total of: $16,642 in closing costs and fees, about $9500 of which is just “gone” to never be seen again (aka the “cost” of financing/purchasing).

Now, there are likely better rates available, and better closing cost prices, but we’re getting a 35k credit from the builder for going through their lender, which pretty much makes up for any extra costs (and lowers our property taxes over time since they’re based on the purchase price of the house, and the purchase price is where that 35k came off).  That’s hard to compete against.

Closing Date Set!

We now have a closing date set for April 30!  They’d have had to get special permission to do the 1st, so we said OK to the 30th.  We’ll do our final walkthrough on the 24th to give them the list of “little things” to fix prior to closing.  I’ve placed a call out to the moving company to hopefully get them up here on the 1st to move in (or even afternoon of the 30th since closing is at 9am).  I’m still waiting for them to call me back.

We’re ready to do this!

Last week’s pictures (Thursday evening):

The kitchen from the living room.  All of the hardwood is sitting on the left waiting to be installed.

  The tile in the master bath/shower is done.

  This is our “main” kitchen sink and looking into our sunroom, which will be Daughter Person’s playroom (tentatively).

  Some of the granite is already installed.  There’s some hardwood under that butcher paper.

 View from the front door (dining room and living room)

Detailed Financial Picture – April 2015

March’s Numbers

As of April 7, 2014, we are $12,000 in debt without a mortgage (yet).  We currently have $591,430.79 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $461,854.73. Our Net Worth is $579,430.79, up from $566,247.28 last month (2.33% increase).

I hate seeing so much money sitting in the bank collecting a pittance and not paying off the car loan.  We’re still on track to pay it off before the end if the year, but after almost 2 years of aggressive debt paying, this slow just above minimum payment is annoying.  It’s all 0%, so we’re not paying for the privilege of borrowing money, but it’s still annoying, we’d like to get rid of that payment.

This month, we spent a significant chunk of change on odor neutralizers and air fresheners for Dad’s car.  A rodent crawled in and died, and we can’t find the carcass.  We took apart the entire trunk and backseat – luckily, it didn’t die in the air/heat system – we can open windows and run the air.  What’s worked best for us has been this charcoal bamboo sachet that we got from Amazon.  It takes the smell from gagging level to bearable.  I’ve been driving Dad’s car to and from work (45 minutes each way) so that Daughter Person doesn’t have to be in the car.  We even took her car seat out so it doesn’t absorb the funk.  Meanwhile, I’m getting great gas mileage since his car gets better mileage and I’m the one with the longer commute.  We’re seriously considering trading the 15 year old Accord (aka rat-mobile) for a newer Prius V for me to drive.  I have perfect driving conditions for it: stop and go in traffic.

No news on closing on the house, but we have electricity, and the sales guy estimated 3-5 weeks after that happened it would be “completed”, and 2-3 weeks after that for closing.  So, we’re looking at early/mid May for now.  Theoretically, I was supposed to hear from the closing coordinator last week, but I didn’t.  I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt around the holidays and call today instead :)

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $12,000 (-500.00)

Total paid off in March:  $500

March 2015 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $5,096.15 this month to our retirement accounts, and we lost $2,508.27 in investment value this month. 

This was a pretty “normal” month in terms of contributions – no one time contributions, no extras from my Fidelity cash back card (although next month that will really have a lot – and the following month once we buy appliances – on the cash back card of course!).  We’ll have to contribute more to our Roths later this year to make it to 70k for the year, but that’s OK, I plan on setting aside that monthly amount in July, and probably putting it all in Dad’s account next February – once we know we’re under the AGis for the full contribution.

The markets seem to be slowing down in anticipation of the Fed rate increase and not knowing when that is, but I suspect it’ll still be up for the year, just maybe not the 20+% it was last year.

We got a letter in the mail allowing us to change the terms of our HSA to “more accurately reflect our goals”.  We have Optumbank, and our previous option was a minimum of $2000 in the “cash” part of the HSA, and $3/mth investment fee plus a $3/mth account fee (completely covered by Dad’s employer).  We sent the paperwork back to be a “investment” HSA, which requires a minimum of only $500 in the “cash” part, and $2.50/mth investment fee plus a $3/mth account fee, $2 of which will be covered by Dad’s employer, so we pay an extra $0.50 in fees per month, but we have the opportunity to invest $1500 more than we currently do – which in VFINX, I think we’ll make up all of the fees during most months.  The online account information hasn’t changed yet, so I haven’t been able to see this in practice yet.  The account fee can be waived if there’s a minimum of 5k in the “cash” part of the account – which kind of defeats the purpose.  I’ll need to watch that account to see if the investment option continues to make sense (so far, it hasn’t, but it’s only been 3 months).

In house news, which really deserves its own post: we have an electric meter!  I should know by Thursday or Friday when closing will be, and I’ll call and lock in my rate then (as well as finish up any other paperwork the lender might need).  We cannot wait to move in!

One quarter into the year, how are your contributions coming?

2015 Totals

In 2015, so far, we’ve contributed $19,521.22 (27.89% of our goal of 70k), and we’ve gained $11,486.76 in investment value (56.69% of our planned total).

New House Delays

Theoretically, we should have been bale to move into the new house sometime in April – I’m thinking it may be May at this point.  We still don’t have an electric meter, and no clue on when that will be installed.  It has to be installed by the electric company, and my guess is that they’ve been busy doing other things this winter – like keeping the power on for everyone else.  Once the electric meter is installed, we’re looking at at least 3-4 weeks before the house is finished, then 2-3 weeks after that to close and move in. I’m going to put my money on sometime in May.  The worst part is that the builder has no clue when the install will happen, so therefore, we have no clue.

I’d really like to get in as soon as possible, for a few reasons:

  1. interest rates may rise in June, I’d like a rate < 4% thank you very much
  2. We’re all ready to move out of my mom’s house – desperately!

We can of course, walk away at any time and just be out our 8k escrow – and we’ve seriously considered it.  8k is a lot, but not that much in the big scheme of things, especially when we’d really like our own place.  Unfortunately, we’d have to buy a place and remodel the kitchen (at least), and that would take 1.5-2 months anyway, so we’re not really any better off if we go that route.

There’s no recourse available to us yet other than losing our 8k.  *But*, the builder can opt to raise the price 30 days after the estimated completion date, and we can simply choose to walk away at that point (with our 8k).  But that’s only if the builder decides to try to raise the price on us.  The next opportunity to walk away without losing the money is in early September – one year after the original contract.  For now, we’re just going to sit tight and wait.

We’ve put a lot of things “on hold” until we can move – like saving for a trip to Disney next fall using CC points, because we can’t be applying for new cards when we’re waiting to get our mortgage approved.  Dad is considering changing jobs, but we really can’t until the mortgage goes through. We spend a lot of time in the car driving to and from activities for Daughter Person, because we signed her up closer to the new house rather than my mom’s.  We’re also not as aggressively paying down our car loan until we get the final damage from closing costs.

Right now, our life is full of “when we (finally move)” wishes.

Detailed Financial Picture – March 2015

February’s Numbers

As of March 5, 2014, we are $12,500 in debt without a mortgage to speak of (yet).  We currently have $578,747.28 in assets.  Our investment accounts are at $454,222.97. Our Net Worth is $566,247.28, up from $551,947.34 last month (2.59% increase).

Not as much of an increase, but we didn’t have the same contribution assistance from Dad’s company this month.  Just a lot of improvement in the markets.

The outside of our House

The outside of our House

We have siding on the house (mostly), the kitchen cabinets are mostly installed, and most of the outlets, built-in lights, and faceplates were installed as of earlier this week.  Not sure we’ll be moving in by March 26, but they might be finished and we might be on the path to closing by then.  We’re still waiting for the electric company to install the electric meter before we can schedule inspection and closing.

The kitchen cabinets

The kitchen cabinets

We’re all ready to finally move out of my mom’s house! We’ve been able to put $3400 (at least) aside every month towards closing, moving costs and new appliances while living with my mom, but we’re done and ready to be on our own again – with a garage, and our own kitchen!

Debt (in the order we’re paying it down):

  • Car loan (0%): $12,500 (-500.00)

Total paid off in February:  $500