Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So excited about refinancing! Is this what adulthood feels like?

So a while back I was doing some research on refinancing because I'd got a bee in my bonnet about trying to reduce our monthly expenses to save for the wedding. When we originally bought the house, we got an FHA loan because we didn't have much to put down, and those come with slightly higher interest rates than the average-bear mortgage. But since rates have gone down since then, and we've paid down the balance of the mortgage, and (I hope) our property has appreciated somewhat now that we have made some improvements, I was hoping that we were up to 10% equity and would have some flexibility in our mortgage options. I even looked into doing a HARP refinance but I'm not sure if we would qualify.

However, sometimes junk mail can be useful. Fiance got a card in the mail from some mortgage company, as he often does as the proud holder of an FHA mortgage, but this one said something about an "FHA streamline refinance". I had not heard of this rare item before, so I Googled, and it turns out that this is a real thing. An FHA streamline refinance basically allows you to do a quick refinance without having to get the house appraised or even provide new proof of income. And some dude from Quicken Loans told me that we could probably get a 4.5% or even 4.25% refinance without paying closing costs - since our current rate is 6.25%, that is pretty darn sweet. That'd lower our mortgage payment by about $150 a month. Not bad at all.

And on top of THAT, I did some shopping for home insurance and found a company that'll insure us for about $400 a year less than our current insurance (which is even nicer, because our current insurance is both going up $300 a year and also dropping coverage on our 100 year old slate roof, since so many of our neighbors evidently have been cashing in on their hail coverage recently.) So between the two, that's about $200 a month right off the top without costing us any money or significant hassle. I'm quite pleased with myself.

Many people use payday loans as a short term stop gap between paychecks when an emergency arises.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Progress! Or, as most of us know it, two steps forward and one step back.

Although I have been very pleased at the rate I'm able to pay down my debt, it really bugs me that between all of these payments I'm making and how much I'm saving for the wedding and etc etc, I'm not saving a whole lot in my emergency fund. I have about $900 in there, and I don't want to deplete it, so when I had to repair the car (for about $1300) and pay my taxes and car insurance and some medical bills and all that.. guess where it went. On a card! I really didn't want to get back into this cycle, and usually I can weather smaller expenses by picking up more work and earning my way out of them within a short time, but dang, I just couldn't earn my way out of a $3800 pile. So back on the card it went.

Luckily, since my credit is no longer the pile of poo that it used to be, I have an Amex (a green card, of course, but an Amex nonetheless) onto which I put the purchases, and then a paid-off Discover card that I could transfer them onto at 0% for a year. So between that and my other 0% card that I transferred some of the Discover balance onto, I'll be out of those in a year if I can pay $500 a month towards it.

But lately it seems as if I have no money to spend - and since I have been terrible about updating my personal Quickbooks (since I always have the business's file open instead) I haven't really been looking at how much money I have after paying bills each paycheck. Turns out: sometimes it is $8. Between paying all the utilities, the debt payments, paying Fiance my part of the mortgage, and putting aside $150 a month for the wedding, I end up with pretty much nothing left. This isn't a regular occurrence and is mostly due to the fact that the majority of my bills' due dates are in the beginning of the month, so I usually avoid it by shifting utility payments around on my bill-paying calendar, but sometimes it just can't be avoided. That's when I really feel like I have to step it up on doing extra work because that's literally the only money I have to spend unless I want to dip into savings. So obviously not a lot of extra money after THAT to put into savings. Most of the money that's been going into my savings account has been directly transferred from Paypal, usually from mystery shopping money, but none of my actual paycheck is going into my emergency savings.

So even though I have all these 0% deals, I can't help but think that my actual life would be easier if I put that $500 a month towards one of my fixed-payment cards - cause then I'd eliminate a fairly large payment and not be on the "did a check come today?" hamster wheel.

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