• Rebuilding,  The Sprint to FI

    Ten years after bankruptcy

    I was looking at some old files today and found my debt spreadsheet from 2010. It was a stark reminder of just how far we’ve come since our bankruptcy ten years ago, illustrated most clearly by my shocking realization in red font. This was the moment I knew we were in trouble: As embarrassing as this is to admit, at the time I had $35,000 in credit card debt alone. Including the mortgage, student loan, and my car loan brought the total to $433,000. Adding in Tony’s credit card debt and car loan, it totaled close to $500k, a crazy amount given my 5-figure income and Tony’s unemployment at the…

  • The Sprint to FI

    FI is for the Fortunate

    I want to bring up something I haven’t heard much about in the FIRE community: This is a path for the fortunate. Not necessarily for the inherently privileged (or we’d all be financially independent already), but for those of some means. I can already hear the objections. FIRE is for everyone! Anyone can do it! Start small and it will grow! And theoretically, that’s not wrong. The fundamental principles are sound, and simple enough. But simplicity doesn’t equal realistically possible for everyone. The bottom line is, in order to save for retirement, you have to have something to save. Folks who live in HCOL areas may need every bit of…

  • Rebuilding

    We love our new house

    We’ve been here almost two months and everything is nearly 100% great. Sure, there are some quirks and imperfections, but nothing we can’t live with. As my sister said to me a few nights ago: you think when you build new it’ll be perfect, and then you learn that perfection is always having a project! And so it is. My first project was replacing the awful white outlets on the backsplash with brushed nickel ones, which cost about $3 and now match all the stainless appliances. We had our 30-day check-in with the warranty guy, and the only thing we had to show him was the swale in the back…

  • Rebuilding

    Moving in…eighteen days

    Lots going on. We’ve been packing every weekend, which is going to continue right up through the move. We started with 14 boxes of books, and have now cleared the kids’ room including bathroom and closet, my handbag closet, most of the office, and some of the living room. I’ve packed up my yarn stash but the box is still open for a while. We’ve had our furniture cleaned professionally, and our home inspection is scheduled for Tuesday. The house walk-through with the builder is on Feb 6, we close on 2/12, and the movers are booked for Feb 14. I’m a little anxious about a few things. The first…

  • Rebuilding

    We own some dirt…and a sign!

    Yesterday, after a lot of coffee talk about home buying, we went over to our prospective new subdivision and literally walked around in the mud to be sure of which lot we wanted. We still like Lot 125, which is the one we started with. After stomping as much mud off my boots as possible, we walked around the neighborhood and explored a house being built that’s the same floor plan and elevation we’d selected. We still liked it all, and I felt much more comfortable about the whole thing after that. So today, we really did it. We brought Ernest Money with us, handed him over, and started the…

  • Rebuilding

    Mortgage prequalified: that’s us!

    That’s us! Today we got a pre-qualification letter from Wells Fargo for a house in Woodstock. This feels like a huge milestone, and it’s come earlier than we expected. We have multiple spreadsheets showing our savings plan and potential home prices, and we didn’t think we’d reach this point until at least October, when our official 3-years-post-foreclosure wait ends. Backstory: We’ve been randomly looking at houses and neighborhoods for the past year or so, since we moved to Woodstock in December of 2012. We love our rental townhome and neighborhood, but we’ve seen home prices go up about 30% (!!!) since we’ve been here, and it’s just not affordable. So…

  • Rebuilding

    Gooooooooooals

    Well, goals set, at least. Friday night we were talking about saving money, and Tony offered to write down our goals. We decided that we want to have $10k in savings, in addition to whatever we need to buy a house (down payment, closing costs, etc. included). That $10k is a safety net, not to be used except in an emergency. Tony broke the goals down into chunks and added them to the calendar. I worked on it some more yesterday, even created a spreadsheet (of course) to help visualize everything. Within the next month, we will have the $10k saved, so that’s our first mini goal. There’s another mini…

  • Disaster

    Top Ten Independent Foreclosure Review Failures

    In 2012, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ordered 14 US mortgage banks to begin individual file reviews, citing reports of servicing abuses in up to 30% of foreclosures, including illegal foreclosures, modification problems, dual-tracking issues, improper fees and other violations. Almost half a million reviews were requested. Since the scope quickly became much too large for the Fed or the OCC to oversee, the banks hired their buddies at large consulting firms to do the job — at up to $250 an hour. In January 2013, the Independent Foreclosure Review process was abruptly halted, because it was taking an astronomical amount of time…

  • Rebuilding

    Mortgage lenders urged to approve a wider range of borrowers

    Soon, people who have experienced bankruptcy or foreclosure may find it a little easier to get a mortgage. When US Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury for Housing Finance Policy Michael Stegman addressed the 2013 American Securitization Forum in January, he acknowledged that during the recession, “bold and unprecedented actions” were needed to stabilize the housing market crash. He suggested that mortgage lenders essentially overcorrected in locking down their lending criteria, and now that the initial crisis has passed, it’s time to relax some of those restrictions. He mentioned that many financially-responsible people still can’t get approved for a mortgage, and this is effectively stalling the housing market recovery…

  • Uncategorized

    Renters vs. owners: misconceptions

    In our last home, after a rare Southern snowstorm, our teenager and his friends constructed a five-foot snow penis in in the front yard. Late that afternoon, a pair of neighbors knocked on the door, complained loudly and angrily, and then kicked over the snow penis and stomped on it. I would have been happy to take care of the situation myself if they’d asked nicely (it admittedly was inappropriate), but these guys were belligerent and nasty. When we asked them to please leave our yard, one of them asserted that we couldn’t tell him to leave because “you’re just renters.” This is a great example of the widespread misconceptions…