Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big News!

I purposely did not post last weekend. We've had some big news, but I wanted to wait until everything was final so I didn't "jinx" things. So....


Yayayayayay! I'm so excited! We've looked at a few, even put in an offer on one that didn't work out. Then I found the listing for this house. It has only been on the market for about a month, so I thought there would have been much more interest in the house. I was envisioning bidding wars and a final sales price well above the listing price. But that isn't the case! We were their first offer! Of course we low balled them just to see what would happen, but they were willing to haggle a bit so we ended up getting a good deal!

The owners bought the house super cheap and "flipped" it, so basically everything in the house is new. It has a huge backyard - almost an acre in town. Basically unheard of! There are also two decks on the back of the house, one on the 2nd level, and a big deck on the front of the house. And there is a treehouse! Trav and I have joked that that's where I'll send him when he's in trouble. Hey, it has electricity - just no heat!

The inspection went well, so we're moving forward full steam. There were a few things that did pop up though. The house has a new 200 amp breaker box in the basement, but there is still a functioning 30 amp fuse box for a couple of plugs upstairs. They have 4 30 amp fuses in there when there is only supposed to be 15 amp fuses. So like the good first time homebuyers that we will be, we took a trip to Lowe's to check out how much fuses are. $6 for a set of two heavy duty 15 amp fuses. That I can handle. There is also a junction box in the basement near the water heater that needs a cover, so that's less than a $1 to fix.

Of course there are other things, just nothing to urgent. We will eventually replace most of the windows in the house. There is a set of 3 floor to ceiling windows in the family room that I'd like to trade out for french doors or a sliding glass door. And we have to buy curtains or shades for every single room. Oh, and appliances. So we spent an hour in Lowe's checking out prices for nearly everything. Eventually it will be the "home of our dreams", but for now it's pretty good too!

Oh, and did I mention that it has 2 bathrooms? Yippy!!! This is so ridiculous, but having 2 bathrooms was a must have for me. I wouldn't even look at homes with only one, or a basement bathroom, or just a half bath. I figure this: we have lots of out of town family. I want to be able to put people up and have them be comfortable. Some people up here think that's crazy, but apparently Northern Minnesota is the only place on earth that hasn't decided that two bathrooms is normal. It's been slim pickings!

That is really all that's been going on in our lives right now. Or at least, it's been the major theme. I will be so grateful to be in town and closer to everything. I can't handle living in the country, not like I thought I could. It's not the worst, but definitely not my preference. And they've started working on Trav's office (hooray!), which should be done at the beginning of April. So talk about saving money on gas!!! I'm still enjoying my part time job. It's just data entry, so it's a little taxing by the end of the day, but I just do my job and no one bugs me and I get paid! It's like a little mental vacation every few days.

So, yea! That's it! Wish us good luck in the next few weeks as we scramble to pack and move!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Well, look at that....

I'm a real, live real estate agent! That's right folks! Here I am with my very first paycheck from my very first sale! Of course I'm dorky and had to have our office manager take a picture of me - whatever. It's been a long time coming!

This closing was probably the easiest one I'll ever have. Both the seller and the buyer live out of town, so it was a "by mail" closing. I literally walked into the title company and was handed a check. They told me that's all they needed from me! I ended up hanging around for a little while to have coffee with the seller's agent and the title agent. Hey - it's good to make friendships in this business! So hooray me!

Saturday I had a wine tasting event in Bemidji. For those of you not familiar with Iron Range geography, Bemidji is about 2 hours away from us. I had originally booked this event back in December when I was desperate for clients and would have driven to the moon if need be. Being the wonderful person that I am, I grudgingly went through with this one and gave up most of my Saturday to go sell some wine. And I made Travis go with me. I'm not driving to some strange city 2 hours away by myself!

Bemidji happens to be quite the large city, and it is very near the beginning of the Mississippi River. It's so small though that I could walk across it, and it freezes up in the winter. Pretty cool! What else is in Bemidji you might ask? Why Babe the Blue Ox of course!

Don't forget about Paul Bunyan!

I'm not too familiar with the Paul Bunyan story, but apparently where there are woods and logging you'll find a giant Bunyan statue with his trusty ox.

After seeing the "sights" of Bemidji we went out for dinner to the Green Mill. You may remember this restaurant from my Grease post. I was hoping for the free bottle of wine again, but alas, they saw me coming and discontinued the special right before I stepped in the door. We still had a nice dinner though (even if I had to pay for my glass of wine!).

I started my new part time job this week on Thursday. It isn't too taxing, although there is a lot of unfamiliar terminology that I have to learn. They company assists people with their disability claims, so there is a lot of medical and legal knowledge floating around. I received my first paycheck on Friday though, so I'm liking this place!

We also got our tax refund on Friday, so we now have a fully funded emergency fund (a la Dave Ramsey's teachings), have paid off our credit cards (hoooooooray!) and paid our heat bill (propane, not like we were months behind on the utilities). Let me tell you - it's been a breath of fresh air. And our resolutions are still going strong!

So Happy Valentine's Day to you all. Take some time to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hey der!

Maybe I'll just start blogging on Monday' seems easier. Although now that football is over, I have my Sundays back.

Speaking of, who did you root for this year? We decided to root for the Saints, Geaux Saints! Gotta love an underdog! Although they beat our Vikings out of the Super Bowl, I could appreciate their story. But let's face it: Super Bowl parties are fun no matter who's playing! I typically get excited about the food more than anything (deep down inside me there is a fat girl screaming to get out).

This year we planned on staying at home, but ended up at the in law's house for a mini party. We had chips, beer, nothing too special. If you know my family though, you know that Super Bowl Sunday = Chili! When I was little I hated this and typically only ate the cheese and a little bit of meat out of my chili bowl. And lots of bread. As I grew older and my taste buds matured though, this became an exciting and essential party of SBS. As per my resolutions, we're trying to eat less meat to save money so I found a recipe for meatless chili. Trust me though - it's good! Everyone really liked it, so I was pleased. The recipe is from Kraft :

Cheater's Chili
(modified a little for my taste)
1 can chili beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 jar salsa
1 can corn
1 tbsp garlic

Drain anything from a can, mix in a big pot. Heat through then simmer for 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Yum! This is tasty, colorful, and easy. The original recipe calls for 1 can chick peas instead of chili beans, and 1 can of mushrooms. But chili just doesn't seem like chili without chili beans, now does it? And I am not a fan of mushrooms at all, so I omit them from any and every recipe that I come across.

Good news on the job front: my first sale is closing! We have set our closing date for this Friday. Everything seems to be going forward smoothly. Although earlier today I wouldn't have said the same thing! I got a call from my buyer because his HUD form said that he was paying closing costs, when in fact the sellers were supposed to pay all of that. So phone calls went out to the bank, the title company, back and forth for most of the morning. We eventually got it all settled and shouldn't be delayed any further. Fingers crossed!

I got the part time job! Yay! It's so flexible, and pays better than when I was even working at the bank. Plus, they asked me if I would ever consider coming on full time. I don't think I would ever go full time there, but it's nice to know that it's a possibility. Hooray for a little extra money!

So things are looking up for our little family. Hopefully the good luck train stays on the track!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ok, lemme have it...

I know, I know, but what are you going to do? People get busy you know! Just don't torture me for too long.

I have some good news regarding my resolutions that I set at the beginning of the year. Hooray for good news!

1. I've lost 6 lbs, confirmed by the scale at my Dr's office just last week. Since then there has only been minimal celebratory cookie eating.
2. We've managed to have several veggie meals including Pasta Fagioli, Veggie Pizza, and Veggie Mac. Well, ok so that one technically doesn't count. Travis mixed in left over taco meat. But we had good intentions!
3. We did our taxes!

If you read back to my resolution posts, one of my goals is to become more financially fit. Extremely difficult right now living off one income, but hey - we're all allowed our little pipe dreams. So doing our taxes was a scary but necessary activity. And it's really paying off! We should be getting back around $2600. Yep, that's right - 4 digits! We're able to claim two home offices since both Trav and I primarily work from home, and we had a bunch of employment related expenses this year.

The good little citizens that we are, we're going to blow it all. Unfortunately not on retail merchandise like our government wants us to, but on our debt. We'll be able to catch up a car loan, pay off our credit card debt and possibly pay off a student loan. That's exciting! Oh, and for those of you giving us the side eye at the car loan - let me explain.

Once upon a time, our loan was with Sovereign Bank. Travis was in between jobs one month and called to see if he could work something out with his payment instead of just not paying it. They allowed him to move the payment to the end of the loan term by paying $50 that month. Which is what we did. Except there is no record of this ever happening. Then Sovereign sold his loan to Santander (i.e. The Devil), they assumed we were a payment late even though we now pay on time or early every month. So we get to rehash this with some "lovely" Devil employee every month, and we pay ~$14 in late fees, every month. Had Travis asked me at the time, I would not have suggested going down this road, but.... ce la vie.

No news on either of my real estate deals, still. We're patiently waiting, still. Fingers crossed for those too!

I do have an interview this Thursday for a "floating" part time position at the company my mother in law works for. It pays decent, and it sounds like the schedule is really flexible. Basically I'd be coming in whenever someone is out, or when they have excess work that needs to be done. That would work extremely well with my schedule! So fingers crossed for that too. Oh heck, I'm just going to cross all crossables and call it good!

FYI: Valentine's Day is coming up. Why not try a new wine to make the evening special? Try the Tanglerose Sonoma County Backyard Red from The Traveling Vineyard

Have a great week!