Do you have money fears?

If so, what are they? @SingleMa posed this question on Twitter the other day and I thought it was a good one.

I still have … concerns.

She and I both worked our way back up from just about rock bottom, so you’d think we’d feel the same way about this, but we don’t and it was interesting digging into why.

I don’t have the sort of nightmare-inducing, heartgripping, horrifying fears that I used to, feeling just half a step away from ruin as the only breadwinner for a family of four, suffering from chronic but undiagnosed health issues.

That, thankfully, has passed with a combination of good financial habits, good salaries (TWO of them!!), and a pretty healthy savings account. I’m looking at building our wealth, not avoiding poverty and ruin, and that’s a huge difference in mindset.

Even so, I’d be lying if I weren’t still looking over my shoulder askance.

What’s the next problem to blindside me?
What’s the next disastrous accident or occurrence or loss?

The wheel never stops turning, Badger.
That only matters to the people on the rim.

After some discussion, it makes sense. My rock bottom situation was nearly entirely due to other people.

It wasn’t my overspending, my overcommitment or rash decisions that led to 100K of debt. I didn’t have piles of designer clothes or expensive cars or .. well, anything to show. Anything at all, as it turns out.

I did choose to stay and help instead of leaving home to make it on my own, but the entire swamp of sucktastic was down to their crap luck, their business decisions taking bad turns, their unfortunate job losses followed by other bad financial decisions while dragging their debt behind them like a lodestone for more bad.

Add to that the severe health problems that plagued mom, my parents’ refusal and inability to rein in my Sibling while he wasted money and refused to grow up, and you basically had the perfect recipe for awful.

And now?

Well, PiC and I are doing really well, in comparison. We can’t do everything but we can support everyone without feeling stretched beyond sanity, and we can do some good for others.

And yet, since Dad won’t stop smoking, I have to wonder when his health is going to fail, and how badly? When and how much is it going to cost me to supplement the lousy state health insurance?

He recently thought he was helping by paying off his traffic violation tickets instead of doing traffic school at higher cost, only that caused the car insurance premiums to double. They’ll stay high for THREE YEARS until those violations fall off his record. *headdesk* What else is he going to “help” with?

Meanwhile, who knows what foolishness Sibling’s going to pull. Until I’m willing to put him out on the street to live or die, he’s our albatross. That day may come but until then, he’s still family and that’s the way it is.

Difficult times may come again, and I’m capable of working our way out of them more than likely, but it’s clear that I’m far more concerned about the choices that other people make that will adversely affect our finances and our wellbeing far more than anything we do.

Is it any wonder, then, I’m such a control freak over anything within my power to affect??

Tell me, do you have money fears? What are they?

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My first foray into the glamorous life of real estate investing

Brace yourself, it’s hot stuff!

In my ~ 4 good days this year, my friend and I put our heads together in a massive information dump. He taught me everything he could about his investing plans which we’d been discussing on and off for a few years. Once I felt on relatively firm footing, he put me in touch with the people he’s done business with and if you ever doubt the value of a great referral, well, don’t. I was well taken care of and due in large part, I’m sure, to the email that said I was his “VERY good friend, so take care of her.”

The strategy was basic:
1. Find a property in a good neighborhood with good amenities at a decent price;
2. Rent only to the best possible tenants [steady income, good references];
3. Maintain the property well, and if the value steadily increases, eventually sell it.
4. Result: Rake in the income. [Hahah... no, not really, as you'll see.]

My loan preapproval only hinted at the paperwork nightmare to come. I’d asked about what sort of documentation would be needed so that I could prepare it ahead of time but irritatingly, the broker didn’t tell me until he needed everything yesterday. Nevertheless, the preapproval was completed really quickly and we were off to the races.

We vetted more than a couple dozen possibilities and I was prepared to take several more weeks in trying to find the right fit but in surprisingly short order, much much more quickly than I expected considering we had to raise my initial ceiling on how much I wanted to spend, we were able to place several bids.

[See what I mean about the value of energy? If I had a few months of that stuff, I'd be flying high!]

The “favorite” of the four, ideally located and best-priced, required a bit of back and forth, but nothing critical. The property wasn’t perfect, what ever is? but it was fine for the purpose: renting it out for income.

I then spent the next week digging out every piece of possible paperwork they could demand going back two, sometimes three, years and discovering that my records weren’t actually as good as I thought they were – it’s both humbling and frustrating to realize how much better my recordkeeping needs to be.

Another humbling realization: Buying outside the hotbed of Bay Area real estate is a huge eye opener. Properties elsewhere look ridiculously affordable in comparison. I had the down payment sitting in my bank account! Now we’re neither rich nor poor, we’re somewhere in the middle. But if I were to try and buy here? I’d need ten or twelve more years of savings, roughly.

To be continued ….

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Just a little (link) love: Half million milestones


SingleMa rides again!! Well, she posted a PF post on achieving a great milestone, at least, but it’s the same thing to me.

This is hugely exciting – she and started out this blogging life around the same time and her blog has always, in whatever form, been inspirational. We haven’t taken anywhere near the same path through life but we’ve shared determination to beat our goals and sow their ashes in a victory dance. Or is that last one just me? Anyway, I’m eyeballing our Net Worth, looking forward to when we can hit that and bigger goals.


J Money of Budgets are Sexy asks: What are you awesome at?

A reader story from My Money Blog looking at early retirement by 40.

Len Penzo on why you shouldn’t pay off the mortgage early.


Alan Tudyk on never playing the same role twice.

Your baby’s wearing a lemur. (hattip Nicole&Maggie)


NYTimes on boomerang kids.

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Net Worth: July 2014


Change from June: 35% 125% increase

Change from January: 118% 262% increase

On Money

I’m still focused on Swagbucks to earn Amazon money for household things we need. Feel free to join using my referral link if you like!

How is our total net worth increasing when I know we just paid big bucks out this month to the tune of $5000+?  I don’t think “gift horses” apply here. I’m half convinced there’s something wrong with my math, but I haven’t found the error yet so we’re going with it. I found the error. And good gravy it’s in our favor again. It’s amazing how just being one cell off in these spreadsheets can make the numbers wonky so I’m both grateful that I’ve caught it and that it went up, not down.

We’re looking at a heck of a lot of expenses coming up too, short term and long term, so I’m doing my best to ensure we maintain growth as long as possible before our finances start taking body blows.

In the meantime, I have our 2013 taxes to face down, 2014 taxes to plan for, and it’s well past time PiC and I got our act together on estate planning. I’m locating a good CPA to help with the taxes because I don’t have the time/energy to devote to winkling out every last detail anymore and an estate planning lawyer to start getting our estate plan in place. It could be done online, sure, but I’ve seen some reports where paperwork done improperly through the online forms didn’t hold up and left the estate in disarray. I’m not comfortable enough to go on my own research and homegrown expertise on this.

On Life

We’re in the middle of needing a lot of things: furniture, rugs to replace the thrashed rugs that mainly serve Doggle’s needs, an entire set of second-dog things, and it’s got me beating the bushes for ways to clear out space (donate, donate, sell on Craigslist, donate, trash) and earn some more cash to pay for these things.

PiC’s in charge of the Craigslisting while I’m in charge of the donations. I’ve found a homeless shelter that will take the household things that aren’t really Goodwill material but are in good shape for use: utensils, toys for kids, etc.  Then again, he’s also in charge of buying from Craigslist by common consent, he loves searching CL and has this whole system going, while I’m much better at other kinds of bargain shopping. So that’s keeping us busy.


No sooner do I make the travel arrangements for one trip, another one creeps up demanding my attention. We have some major travel (in terms of time and money) coming up and it’s got me wishing to take Doggle and absconding to a hotel for the weekend where I don’t do any work, thinking or anything other than eating, walking and sleeping. Now *that’s* a vacation!  (inspired by Lauren’s weekending, actually.)


I had some pretty scary weeks when breathing wasn’t…so possible, I guess that’s an accurate description. It felt like a 30 pound cat sprawled on my ribs so every breath was a struggle and unsatisfactorily oxygenating. It wasn’t so bad that I wasn’t getting air at all but it stank. The nurse made me feel stupid asking why I waited two days to call but I was working! And it didn’t seem like an emergency.  Usually sort of broken, I can’t be dropping everything to run to the doctor when I feel awful, I’d have to move into the hospital! Anyway I was vindicated when the doctor declared it another mystery because I wasn’t actually suffocating. It just felt like it.

These days, I’m grateful for being able to breath fully. The little things are great.


The Roku experiment continues apace. No real complaints other than the occasional hiccup or freezing that may be blamed on the internet.


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