Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Ride In A Chevrolet

After several years of patiently waiting in the garage, Andy's 1952 Chevrolet recently received the gift of seatbelt installation, qualifying it to transport our precious cargo. The kids LOVE it, and we've had a lot of fun driving it around this summer. Since the weather is so mild in Tennessee, we're looking forward to using it through the fall, too.







Monday, July 20, 2009

Conversations

Sophie: Where does the rain come from?

Mom: From the clouds.

Sophie: Is there a hose up there where the rain comes from?




Mom: Sophie, do you know who Jesus is?

Sophie: Um... I think he is our friend. He is our friend and he helps you when you fall down or you are hurt...

Mom: OK.

Sophie: ... and he will get you a band-aid.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grocery Theory

A few months ago, I heard about a website you can subscribe to that tracks grocery prices, sales and coupons, in order to help you maximize your grocery dollar. It piqued my interest, but I really didn't look into it until a few days ago.

I'm definitely a bargain hunter, but I've been reluctant to cut coupons. When I tried it, it took a long time, I'd end up cutting a bunch I never used, and they were difficult to organize. I also worried I would end up buying stuff I ordinarily wouldn't, just because I had a coupon.

After checking out the subscription site, I found this free website that offers a similar service. It's http://www.southernsavers.com/. I've only used it once and it seems very helpful. You can decide how far to take your savings based on how much time you want to spend. For my purposes, I think I will take this approach:

1) Make my weekly Publix grocery list based on their sales circular. (I sometimes do the same for Kroger but not too regularly.)

2) Check the items on my list against the website for printable coupons (offered via link from the site).

3) Supplement with any readily-available coupons available in the store or flyers I have on hand (also listed on the Southern Savers website).

This way, hopefully, it will not take more than a few minutes and I won't end up with additional items.

If anyone uses the site, or checks it out as a result of this post, let me know your thoughts. I'd also love to hear your experiences with coupons and saving money on groceries in general.

(P.S. Andy is sure to make relentless fun of the dorkiness of this post, so feel free to join in!)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Real Estate Update: Tuition

I figured with all the changes around here, it was time for a real estate update:

1) Oak Hill manor is complete and rented. We were able to rent it out within a week of posting, we have really good tenants, and all of our leases have started.

2) We've learned some important lessons about duplexes, and will be very hesitant to deal with them in the future. Here's why:

a. Duplexes are a lot more work. Two of everything complicates things more than you'd think.

b. Although we are used to paying a slightly higher origination fee on investment property mortgages, we discovered this time that our lender charges an extra point on duplexes, above and beyond the usual investment property fees. Not a huge deal, but not cool either.

c. Here's a biggie - when it came time for the appraisal, we found out that the appraisers will not consider what single-family homes are selling for in the area. They will not consider what townhomes are selling for in the area. They will ONLY LOOK AT OTHER DUPLEXES. There are not many duplexes in the area, and duplexes tend to be a bit shoddier than OHM. Similarly, they will not consider cap rate, which is used on larger investment properties like apartment complexes. (The use of cap rate would've resulted in a much higher appraisal.) These factors, coupled with the appraisers' conservatism due to the current market, resulted in a very low appraisal. (Actually, two very low appraisals, since we paid hundred of dollars for a second opinion.) In fact, OHM appraised for about the same as the townhouses behind it, which are comparable to 1/2 of it. It was a very discouraging experience. And because it is investment property, we were only able to borrow 70% of the appraisal (before exorbitant closing costs). The end result is that WE ARE OUT OF POCKET A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF CASH (i.e., tuition for this educational experience).

Obviously, this is unfortunate, with Andy accelerating our real estate efforts. But here are the "positives": 1) important lessons learned, 2) great cash flow, since our payment is lower than we'd anticipated and 3) a great interest rate (we locked in just before rates went up about 1/2 point).

3) We have a contract on a new project. We should close around 7/15. We'll post more details once we've closed.

4) We have a tentative deal on another project, which would close around 7/31. While I'm a little nervous about doing two deals at once, I think it help Andy fully utilize his time. He is excited because doing two projects at once may potentially allow us to keep one as a rental.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Highly Charged Question

Sophie: Are these batteries from church? Because they have crosses on them!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Compilations

In America, we have music compilations called things like "Totally Hits" or "Wow" or "Now That's What I Call Music". We are so boring.

Other countries have compilations with titles like this:

1. Australia: Songs For My Ute. Not sure if means "Songs For My Native American" or "Songs for My Gas-Guzzling SUV".

2. Australia: Housework Songs II - Spring Clean Edition

3. Germany: Flugzeuge Im Bau (translates "Airplanes in the building")

4. Germany: Wahnsinns Villa (tranlates to "Insanity Mansion" - I'm guessing "Crazy House" is more the intent here)

5. Germany: Black And Beautiful

6. South Africa: Hillbilly Opskop (does anyone know what Opskop means? I've googled it and can't find a definition, although it seems to be either "party" or "concert".)

7. UK: O Sister Where Art Thou

8. UK: Handbags

9. UK: Ultimate Smoochy Album

10. UK: Murder On The Dancefloor

And my personal favorite...

11. UK: Best Dance Album In The World Ever (Vol. 13)

(Incidentally, my employer has licensed tracks for use in each of these stellar releases.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We're Holding Out On Him

Will is tired of being denied many of his constant requests and desires.

Will: Why don't we have very much money?

Mom: Honey, it's not really so much that we don't have money. It's just that we're trying to be extra careful with our money right now, while Dad is starting his full-time business.

Will: But Mom! You have *THAT WHOLE JAR* of quarters in your closet!

(A discussion of the banking system, mortgages, and the dangers of credit card debt insued. No, really, it did. Just ask Will.)