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Archive for October, 2019

Plant Based Diet?

October 22nd, 2019 at 10:01 am

Anyone here on a plant based diet? Frugal Texan is I believe, any others?

Looking for some information resources and will happily take your suggestions.

Thanks!

Another Power Outage

October 21st, 2019 at 07:16 pm

We were informed today that PG&E will be turning off our power this Wednesday at 2 pm. The plan is to turn it back on Thursday at noon. However, turning it back on is a process which takes 24-48 hours.

So it looks like I will have some more non-working paid hours this week.

I don't mind being paid for hanging out with SB and Bella at home, but it is a frustrating interruption to keeping up with my work.

There are 15 counties affected by this planned power outage.

Budget and spending are going well for the month. Nothing else to report.

5th Wheel Loan Payment #6

October 18th, 2019 at 05:54 am

or #1 since the refinance.

This month I managed to scrape an additional $224.01 to principal. This brings my remaining payments to 142, or 11 years and 10 months, with one of those being less than a full payment.

If amortization tables interest you, you may notice that I have Frankensteined the old and new loan amortization together. (Amortization table available for viewing under "My Pages"). It just made sense to me to do it that way.

I did receive a refund of $480.88 from my original lender. I am hanging on to $400 of it (in checking) as I have a dental appointment coming up and I expect to owe about that to the dentist. The remaining $80.88 is part of the $224.01. (I have a Health Care Reimbursement Account for medical expenses, but I have just had more of them than usual this year between some dental work and my first ever pair of prescription glasses. The money is nearly depleted for this year).

November is a 3 paycheck month so I expect to pay an additional $800ish next time. That's going to be FUN, I'm looking forward to it.

Power Is Out

October 10th, 2019 at 10:38 am

My area is experiencing a planned power outage. The power went out early Wednesday morning between midnight and 4am. The utility company, PG&E, said to plan on no power for up to 7 days.

As you know, I work for the county in a clerical position. While some county buildings are equipped with generators, mine is not.

My office was told to report for work Wednesday morning as usual and await further instructions. So I did, sat in the dark twiddling my thumbs for 40 minutes along with my co-workers, at which time we were instructed to leave and report back this morning at 8am.

I drove the 23 miles home and enjoyed a pleasant day with SB and Bella. (We have a small generator, fresh water in the tank, propane, and battery backup. Not everything works when there is no power, and of course we have to conserve since what we have has to last, but we manage fine).

This morning I got ready for work, drove 23 miles to get there, and by 8:05 was told to go home and come back tomorrow at 8am. So, now I am home again. I am pleasantly surprised to have a bar on my phone, so this entry is what you get.

Some people around here are very angry about this power shut-off. But I feel it is to be expected. If PG&E is going to be held financially responsible for fires starting from downed power lines during windy weather conditions, what choice do they have? Of course they are going to turn off power when high winds are expected. And if that's safer, then I am all for it. A little inconvenience is nothing compared to the loss of life and property suffered by people in the town of Paradise.

I am being paid for these days without using any of my accrued vacation or comp time.

Tomorrow, SB will take the little travel trailer down to my mom's house in the central valley, where power is not currently disrupted. We will spend the weekend there.

Glad to be Back! / A Savvy Friend

October 6th, 2019 at 08:34 pm

Well, thanks to CeeJay, I was able to recover quite a few entries. Some I found were not cached so I could not recover them, and I don't doubt some I just did not find. Oh well, it isn't as if the world has lost anything or even noticed.

Yesterday I went over to a friend's to help her with her QuickBooks. This is the same friend I mentioned a few months ago who was living in a 5th wheel while building a new house. The house is still not done, but it is done enough that they have moved in. The house is absolutely gorgeous, they chose to do it in Tuscan villa style. It is VERY upscale, but they didn't spend nearly what you might think at first sight.

When they got a quote for the cabinets (kitchen, baths, linen, storage), it came in at 121k. (A big part of that is she wanted high cabinets with arches.) Well, that was far more than she wanted to pay, so she got on eBay. She found someone on the east coast who was selling beautiful high end custom cabinets and granite. It was all 8 years old and the person was redecorating. My friend spent 12k including shipping last year, then stored it (on her own property). When the house was ready for the cabinets and granite, her second-hand stuff went in. It looks fabulous.

She got most of her light fixtures, ceiling fans, and french doors the same way. Someone who had a Tuscan style home in Folsom was redecorating and sold it to her cheap.

If you did not know, you would never guess.

The house sits on a ridge, and you look out towards Folsom lake in the distance. Their house is all glass to the west, opens on to a patio with outdoor kitchen and fireplace. I took this pic with my phone. The picture quality is not great, but I think it gives you an idea of their view.



How awful, right? Oh, and I had to take a pic of their dog, Gracie. She is such a sweetie. Plus, you get a look at the main tile they chose. (In their entryway, there is a wood and tile pattern).

Cross-Stitch Project

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:40 pm

Originally Published 09/21/19

I have been meaning to share this. I did this project for my little great-niece, born earlier this year. At one time, I did a lot of cross-stitch. It had been years, but I wanted to make something for the long-awaited sweet baby girl of my grand-niece and her husband. I enjoyed doing it, and have already begun another project.

ReFi Loan is Done!

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:36 pm

Originally Published 9/20/19

I signed the docs for my re-fi today. The new terms are as follows:

Principal 45k
Rate 4.58%
Term 12 years
Payment $407.58, to be automatically withdrawn from my checking account monthly beginning 11/03/19.

They waived the $399 fee, charging me only $15 to add their name as lienholder. My current lender gave a payoff number before I made my most recent payment, so they had the payoff as $44,985.00. I should receive a refund from my current lender for $500ish once all the dust settles.

Yay, it feels good. Smile

Applied for ReFi Loan

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:33 pm

Originally Published 09/10/19

Yesterday's trip to the DMV was a success. So, with registration in hand, I submitted an application with Essex Credit to refinance my 5th wheel loan.

I expect that I may need to pay down the principal some. I bought the 5th wheel new and we all know what happens to the value as soon as it is used instead of new. I don't know the current value and I am not certain if they do 100% LTV or if it is less. Will just have to wait and see. What I do know is that I would much rather be paying 4.69% than 6.74%, so I will cough up whatever principal is needed to make it happen.

Next Step: Refinance

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:31 pm

Originally Published 8/28/19

The next thing I want to focus on in my quest to pay off the 5th wheel is to get the loan refinanced to a lower rate. My current rate of 6.74% is not horrible for an RV loan, but I feel I can do better. Reducing the interest just gets me there that much faster.

I found a lender (Essex credit, a division of Bank of the West) who will refinance at 4.69%, but I need to submit my DMV paperwork along with my loan application. Uh-oh, obstacle.

The home mail delivery is very unreliable in our neighborhood. Mail shows up late, or your neighbor drops it by because it was delivered to their house, or the most common is that it never arrives at all. Complaints have been lodged with the local Postmaster for years and years, but nothing changes. So, most people just have a PO box. We do too, and the DMV has this information, but they continue to use my home address for my mail.

I have never received my license plates, registration, or other paperwork for my 5th wheel.

My car registration expired last February, and I still do not have my new tags. They mailed me a second set in June (requested via telephone), which also never arrived. I know the first set was mailed to my physical address because they told me so on the phone. I suspect (but have not confirmed) that they did the same with the second set.

So I need to go to the DMV in person to take care of both items. I made an appointment and it is a couple of weeks away.

5th Wheel Loan Payment #4

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:28 pm

Originally Published 8/24/19

Everything is paid for August, so it was time to make an extra principal payment. It is my habit to keep 1k in checking, then "sweep" all else towards whatever goal I am working towards. This month I was able to sweep $566.96, of which $147 was from a refund for DMV fees, and the remaining $419.96 was from regular income.

So that was a good month, and I hope to manage paying a similar amount every month, until it is done.

Updated snips of the amortization table are on my "5th Wheel Amortization" page, link in my sidebar.

5th Wheel Loan Schemes

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:26 pm

Originally Published 8/12/19

Now that I have decided to make paying off my 5th wheel loan a priority, I have been thinking about different strategies to get the job done.

One strategy I intend to pursue is to get a 0% no balance transfer fee credit card loan if I can. I have Googled a bit, and have found a couple of offers for 0% for 15 months, no balance transfer fee. If I were to borrow $4,200, that's a repayment of $300 per month for 14 months (I always plan to pay in full the month before the offer ends). It adds a bit more hassle to juggle both debts, but I would save an additional $334 in interest by paying a lump sum of $4,200 up front vs. paying $300 per month over 14 months.

So I will apply and see if I am approved or not.

A second item is that I have raided my Roth sinking fund. I had been depositing 5% of my gross pay to it each payday, with the intent to contribute the money in 2020 (I had already contributed the max for 2019). I am using part of the money for medical expenses (more on that later), and the remaining balance of $1,130.81 as an additional principal payment. I will schedule the payment as soon as the money hits my checking account.

Catching Up

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:22 pm

Originally Published 8/11/19

So early this year, we lost our beloved Nala to laryngeal paralysis. This is a condition in which the nerve controlling the laryngeal flaps stops working, and so the flaps stop moving between the esophagus and the trachea. This was hard on everyone.

After grieving for a few months, SB and I adopted a female 2 year old English bulldog/pit mix. She was being fostered but was the property of the Bradshaw animial shelter in Sacramento. She has quite a personality and has successfully taken charge of SB and I, as we are both besotted with her. Her name was already Bella, and she knows it, so Bella it is.





We have had so much going on, and so much more is on the horizon. My brother and sister in law will be here in two weeks for an overnight visit. My birth mom is coming in late August/early September and will stay for a bit. And then my daughter and son-in-law will be here in late September for a visit.

This September also marks our 10th anniversary. We are planning to take a short trip, possibly to Lake Tahoe.

In financial matters, I have decided to make paying off the 5th wheel a priority. I have re-arranged my budget some and will begin paying the loan aggressively with my next payment. I have cut back my personal allowance, trimmed my travel budget, and will not contribute to my Roth. Instead, all of that money will go to the 5th wheel loan, along with every other dollar I can scrape up.

I will add a Page to my sidebar with the loan amortization to track my progress. I have already made a small amount of progress by making the first 3 payments before the due date (interest accrues daily). If you are interested, take a peak.

My Sinking Funds

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:16 pm

Originally Published 05/21/19

I try to prepare for future expenses by saving a bit each payday in various sinking funds. With the recent purchase of a new 5th wheel, they needed some tweaking. I update the balances regularly, which you can view any time you please by clicking on the "Sinking Funds" page link in my sidebar. This is what I am currently doing:

Car Ins & Reg - This is now for both my CR-V and 5th wheel. I am budgeting $2,700 per year for insurance and registration for both. This breaks down to $103.84 per pay period.

Car R & M - This is now for both the CR-V and 5th wheel too. I am budgeting $1,500 per year, which breaks down to $57.69 per paycheck.

Car Replacement - To replace my CR-V when the time comes. I am budgeting $1,500 per year plus my "round out", which breaks down to $64.24 per paycheck. ("Round out") is the amount needed to give my sinking funds transfer a nice rounded number).

Clothing - Current budget is $600 per year. This will change once I am no longer dressing for work. This breaks down to $23.07 per paycheck.

Electronic Gadgets - To replace my phone, laptop, what have you. The budget is $300 per year which breaks down to $11.55 per paycheck.

Emergency Fund - Not a true sinking fund, but here it is. Currently no money is being regularly added.

Gifts/Xmas - The budget here is $1,000 per year, which breaks down to $38.46 per paycheck.

Planners & Goodies - For my fancypants planners and supplies. The budget is $100 per year, which breaks down to $3.85 per paycheck.

Roth - Saving up for next year's contribution as I've already contributed 7k for 2019. The amount is 5% of my gross pay, which works out to $103.15 per paycheck.

Travel/Vacation - I am budgeting $2,500 per year, which breaks down to $96.15 per paycheck.

All together, $500 per paycheck is automatically transferred into these funds a few days after each payday. This method works very well for me. Once set up, it is so very simple and requires no effort on my part.

I'm In Debt Again!

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:14 pm

Originally Published 5/15/19

It would have been more practical to buy the 5th wheel our friends were selling, or some other used 5th wheel. But, I decided that I wanted the beautiful new 5th wheel with extended warranty.

So, I bought it. The same one in the pics I shared in my post "Tow Vehicle Purchased". We have not yet taken delivery. The dealer is installing a tankless hot water heater and slide out "toppers" (covers to protect the roof from leaves and dirt while the slide is out). Plus, we need to have a 5th wheel hitch installed in the truck bed. (Which of course can't happen until we get the truck back from the dealer. Grr!).

I am very pleased and looking forward to living in my new home. We will keep our current travel trailer as a "guest room" so that family & friends can come up and visit us.

My loan payments are $417 for 15 years; the interest rate is 6.74%. I have already found that a lender called Essex Credit, which is funded through Bank of the West, will refi me at 5.15%, dropping my monthly payments to $375. However, I will have to wait as they require copies of both a loan statement and DMV registration; I have not yet received either one. I had checked with Wells Fargo before taking the financing the dealer offered; WF's best rate on an RV loan is 11.59%, and goes up from there. I could not believe it. I think they must be wanting to get out of RV financing altogether.

I think I am just going to pay the loan one payment at a time and direct extra dollars into savings.

Serendipity

October 3rd, 2019 at 08:11 pm

Originally Published 05/04/19

I enjoy serendipity so much. Some friends of ours who are close to finishing their new build home have been living in a 5th wheel. They just offered it to us for 5k.

We went to see it. It is not as pretty as the one in the pics I recently shared, but it would be quite an increase in space for us. It is 27 ft with 1 slide and is very clean. It is a 2002 model with worn green carpet which would have to go. It does not have an on-demand hot water heater which is a MUST; those run $1,600 installed. There is more counter space, more living space, and more fridge space. The bathroom is smaller than our bathroom now, but with more storage space. I said I would let them know one way or the other by Tuesday. I am leaning towards "yes".

In other news, SB found a 2006 Toyota Corolla LE with 42k on the odometer, asking price $5,400. He bought it and sold his Acura MDX. It is in excellent condition and gets great mileage. It is now his daily driver in good weather.

On 4-30-19, my Wells Fargo savings account with $10 in it earned a cent of interest. This prompted me to look at the interest rate. It has shot up to 1.22%. This is the highest rate I have seen paid on a regular savings account by a brick-and-mortar bank in a long, long time.

Retire Now Update

October 3rd, 2019 at 07:58 pm

Originally Published 5/1/19

I have continued to refine and update my "if I retire right now" spreadsheet.

I have extended the final line to the month I turn 100. I will tweak my monthly withdrawal to maintain steady income from date of retirement to the month I turn 100. The next month, I will be flat broke.

Extending the time out several more years reduced my beginning monthly withdrawal amount. Good portfolio growth the past two months has increased it.

In addition to my nest egg, I am including the cash value of my pension plan. Because I am not yet vested, if I were to retire now, I would not receive a monthly pension payment. However, I would be entitled to a refund of all I have paid in (but not the amount my employer has paid in on my behalf). I would roll the money into my 457 plan and so it would become part of my little nest egg. Once I vest, I will forfeit the cash value so will no longer include it in this calculation. However, I will receive a monthly pension which will certainly factor in.

My new monthly beginning withdrawal amount is...$1,406.00. (I am sticking with whole dollars).

Nope, not yet. Better keep working.

Tow Vehicle Purchased

October 3rd, 2019 at 07:33 pm

Originally Published 04/30/19

I am so excited to share that this past Sunday, SB and I purchased our tow vehicle. It is a 2018 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 with a Cummins Turbo Diesel engine. This baby is made for towing. Here she is:



She is a pricey girl. But after much discussion, we decided that we wanted a reliable workhorse. I admit I am a bit intimidated to drive her. I plan to take some RV driving lessons. You know, how to back up, hitch your trailer, make wide turns, etc.

SB and I have really been feeling the strain of living in such a tiny space. We have been irritable and short with each other. After a couple of argumentative weeks, we have decided to move ahead with purchasing our travel vehicle now. Even though we are not ready to hit the road, we will have more living space now.

We purchased the lowest trim level with no extra options. Even so, the truck is nicely equipped with back up camera, trailer brakes, a jake brake, a nice sound system, power seats doors and locks, tow mirrors, etc. We chose to purchase an extended bumper to bumper warranty which will take us to 8 years or 75k miles. We believe we will hit the 8 years before the 75k miles. The sticker price of the truck was 55k+. With tax, license (expensive on this sort of truck) and the extended warranty, we paid $53,551.85. We split the cost, and the truck is paid for.

It is some major sticker shock. We feel the odds are good that this truck will serve us well for many years to come. Frankly, I fervently hope it is the ONLY tow vehicle I will ever buy.

So now my next decision is which 5th wheel to buy. I could stick with used and pay cash. I believe I could find something which would do. However, I am leaning heavily towards financing a new 5th wheel. I have seen some BEAUTIFUL ones, but I am keeping in mind that I wish to keep the length to no more than 30 ft, and I wish to go with an "ultra lite". This will make towing easier, parking easier, gas cost a bit less, and many parks limit the length of your rig if you want to camp in the park. There are a few models which fit those specs and yet still offer a bit of elbow room.

For example, I LOVE this one: