Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Happenings

Happy Summer! June has been very rainy in New England. So far I haven't regretted our decision not to install air conditioning in the house, as we really haven't had any days where it was necessary. Today it is cloudy and 65 degrees F with showers in the forecast.

Since we moved into our house three years ago, we've steadily replaced the appliances and fixtures one by one as they've broken or worn out. This includes the windows, the furnace, all of the toilets, the plumbing and drain in the shower, the exterior doors, the overhead garage door, the dishwasher, and now the refrigerator. (Our oven/stove is on notice; it is having issues. At least the microwave oven and the hot water heater seem to be working fine.) We've had service people attempt to fix the refrigerator four times now, and desipte replacing the temperature sensors and the main circuit board (the refrigerator "brain"), as well as defrosting the entire system several times, the refrigerator is still not working properly. First, it runs for much longer than it should, to the point where the heat exchanger freezes up, which makes items inside the fridge start to freeze. Then, after it's frozen, it does not cool well at all, so anything not in immediate proximity to the cooling elements is not kept at an adequately low temperature. This has been an ongoing problem since December or January. I've had to arrange to work from home on days when I've made a service appointment ("We'll be there sometime between 8 AM and 5 PM."). We learned how to take apart the refrigerator ourselves and manually defrost it using hair dryers. We even left it unplugged for a week and moved all of our food into my wife's sister's house in an attempt to thoroughly defrost it. In the end, nothing worked. I decided our attempts to fix our existing refrigerator were not worth the hassle, so we finally gave up and bought a new refrigerator this week. It's not as fancy as our old refrigerator, but I am hoping that its simplicity means fewer parts which could potentially break. The new fridge gets delivered next week. I'm looking forward to storing food without constantly worrying whether it is being kept cold enough.

In addition to the new refrigerator, we have been spending more money this year on travel than we did in 2008. I went to a bachelor party with some good friends back in March, and recently visited my grandmother before she died. We were also invited to go to Yellowstone National Park for a week in August with some friends, so we bought airfare and split the cost of car rental reservations and cabin reservations. I am really looking forward to that trip; hopefully my wife and I can find a chance to spend at least one night camping out in the backcountry.

The money spending doesn't stop there. We are putting new tires on our car, as the original tires have finally worn down to almost nothing. I also recently bought new tires and tubes for my bicycle (puncture and thorn-resistant) because I was tired of wasting money on replacing innertubes after getting at least six flat tires since March. At least I know enough to change them myself and didn't have to pay the bicycle shop to do that simple service for me.

On the income side of the equation, my wife picked up even more contract work this summer than she did last summer, which is good news for us. This means more money to help pay for the refrigerator purchase, travel expenses, transportation costs, and (hopefully) mortgage prepayments. We are barely on track to meet our goal in 2009. This is partly self-inflicted, of course. We'll need to carefully manage our spending this fall and winter to have any chance of success.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Reminder

"When are you coming to Texas?" asked Granny. I had called her hospital room several days after she'd been admitted, at the request of my mom ("She's just sitting there with nothing to do", she told me). The initial round of tests and crowds of visitors had passed, so I had her complete attention. She sounded like her usual self, without any hint of trouble in her voice.

"I don't know," I told her. "Hopefully soon." I honestly didn't know when I'd make another trip to Texas. My family and I had been planning on meeting there in the Spring, but had canceled those plans for a number of reasons including finances and work schedules.

"Well," she replied, "I wish you could come visit. You should see people when they're alive. It doesn't matter when they're dead." Granny didn't mean for this remark to sound sinister or threatening. That was just the way she spoke, in a plain, matter-of-fact sort of way. You should eat your vegetables. You should look both ways before crossing the street. You should visit people when they're alive.

I don't know if she said that because of my Grandfather's passing last year (which was sudden and not necessarily expected despite his advanced age), or because she was being realistic about her own age (92), or because she had some indication that the pain and discomfort she had been feeling recently were signs of her own imminent death. Regardless, when my mom called me several weeks later and recommended that I come visit my grandmother soon (because Mom was noticing changes in Granny's behavior), I decided to take Granny's advice and go see her while she was alive.

My workplace has a bereavement policy that allows unscheduled time off for funerals and the like, which fortunately for me includes grandparents. However, my manager cautioned me that if I used the bereavement time while Granny was still alive, I'd have to use my own vacation time to return for a funeral.

I'm so glad I went to visit when I did. Despite her serious illness, Granny was still able to talk and laugh and remember everything. She seemed very happy to see me. I got to spend several good days with her. The weather was not too hot, so one day Mom and I took Granny for a walk in her wheelchair around the nursing home where she spent her final weeks. She got to look out at the surrounding countryside, which she appreciated, since she wanted to know what the outside world looked like (as the nursing home was as new to her as it was to the rest of us). I later learned from Mom that our walk together was the only occasion during her five-week stay in the nursing home that Granny felt well enough to go outside.

Granny died three weeks after my visit. I decided not to use vacation time to go to the funeral, since I already had allocated all of my remaining time off in 2009 for visits and trips with other family members (my parents, my sister's family, and my wife). It would have been a much tougher decision to make if Granny had not reminded me that it's important to see people when they're alive. So that's what I'll do. Granny's final gift to me was the gift of freedom.

I am looking forward to the day when I no longer have an employer to hold me accountable to a certain schedule. Meanwhile, I'll keep working hard now so that in the not-too-distant future I can stop working this way.