Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April 2010 Update

Anyone who also reads veronica's day in the life knows that I'm trying to buy a condo. Well, that's not entirely correct: I have put in an offer on a condo and it was accepted. But I still have to go through the appraisal process (which is making me anxious) and then go to closing. I mention this because my savings is totally up in the air these days. So I'm not updating those numbers. I am, however, updating the debt:

The Debt: $4,095.56

Yeah, yeah ... I know that I had proclaimed that my debt was officially under $4,000. It was. But since then, I have donated some money to a worthy charity. To get the rewards, I used the credit card but haven't paid it off yet. But I will, and soon.

The savings picture will be undergoing changes over the next couple months while I go through this home buying process, so I doubt I update the balances for that anytime soon. Once things stabilize, I'll be back on track.

Also, with the mortgage and condo fee, I'm going to be paying more for living expenses sooner than October 2010, the deadline I'd given myself to pay off the debt. While it will take a bit longer, it will get paid off. Not only will the mortgage and condo fee affect the incoming cash flow, but so will the loan repayment to my 401(k), which will decrease my paycheck. The good thing about borrowing from my retirement is that when I pay it back, I'm actually paying myself back. If necessary -- and if I have enough money leftover -- I may use that to pay off the debt. The interest rate is better and I'm paying myself, not the bank.

By the way, I know I'm a day early with the update, but it's 11:28 p.m. and that balance isn't going to change in the next 32 minutes. ;-)

So ... that's that. Stay tuned. And wish me luck on the appraisal!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Did You Learn From This -- Part II

In 2008, I posted my original "What Did You Learn From This" post. Back then I'd loaned a friend money. But now I'm doing something bigger and more life-altering than helping someone with a couple hundred bucks. I'm buying a home.

When I started thinking about buying a place, it was all just theory. I kept thinking about how without my debt to worry about, I could do anything! When my agent started sending me some listings recently, I got all dewy eyed over some of the options. All I have to do, I thought, is to put all that I'd put toward the debt toward what I currently pay in rent to meet my mortgage. I could make it work!

Uh ... no. That's not how to do this. And that's when it dawned on me: What have I learned from the last couple of years?

Don't live beyond your means.

Sure, I'm going to have to pay more than I'm paying now, but since I was planning to find another apartment this year, I was going to have to do that anyway. But that doesn't mean I should be using all of what's currently going toward my debt. After all, I still want to be able to travel, buy new clothes. Oh -- and eat.

I got into financial trouble trying to effect a lifestyle I thought I should be living and to live like my friends. But that's like putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone: It just does not work.

So I'm dialing back my expectations. What I find may not be the place of my dreams. But it will be my place.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh, It Be

I just scheduled my next credit card payment. Once it's credited, I will owe less than $4,000.


It's not like I wasn't expecting it. Still, when I did the math and actually saw the numbers, for a second I thought I'd made a mistake. Could it possibly be? As Elaine Benes once said on Seinfeld: "Oh, it be."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Riding the Wave

A few bits of good news to share. The first is that I may have found my mortgage person. I've made a few calls to banks requesting information regarding fees and rates. Everyone has been pleasant and has given me the requested information. All calls and e-mails have ended with things like, "Don't hesitate to call us if you have any other questions."

The problem, though, is that I don't know what other questions to ask.

But then I went to my primary bank (ST) on Saturday. The teller noted the checks from my parents and asked, "Did you just have a birthday?" I told her yes and that they had surprised me by giving me some extra cash to help me with my condo search. She asked if I'd checked with ST yet regarding loans. I told her no and that I was still shopping around but that ST was on the list. She offered to take my information and pass it on to one of their mortgage people. She asked her manager for the correct name so I'd know who to expect to get in touch. He e-mailed me that afternoon.

I finally got around to calling him yesterday morning. And rather than simply answer my questions, he asked me questions. Important questions. He was working like a person who had already been hired. And he was never pushy. Just very pleasant.

He asked if he could pull my credit score so that he'd be able to talk more with me about my options. He said too many first-time buyers go in without full knowledge of what they're going to be paying, and he wanted to give me accurate information regarding my options.

Today he called me with my score. And that brings me to the second bit of good news: My score is excellent. Yay! It wasn't that I was concerned about my score; when I had it checked last year it was quite high. Still, it was great news, and reassuring.

The last bit of good news is that I was expecting some money and it turns out that I'm getting more back than I thought. Awesome!