Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twist my ARM - I like it

I'm one of those losers who has an ARM - Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Before you all pelt me with tomatoes and burn me at the stake, let me explain.

After buying two houses, I still have no clue how it's done. When Roy and I bought our first house, I didn't pay much attention to the financing because it was done through Roy's VA loan program. All I had to do was show proof of income, sign the closing documents, and voila we owned a house. After he died, I sold the house and moved into a rental townhouse with the intent of buying another house after a year. Since I was single, I could only apply for a loan with one income (that was probably the only part I understood). That made it harder for me to qualify for a conventional 30 year mortgage, and the bank would only lend me $170,000. Sounds like a lot, but that would only get me a townhouse-type dwelling. No thanks, I wanted a house, not a shared-wall situation. In December 2001, my realtor and I found an empty lot in a really nice neighborhood, and she found a builder with a houseplan I liked. Next thing you know, 6 months later I'm writing out a check for the down payment, signing more closing documents, and voila I have another house. My realtor did tell me I had an ARM, and that in 5 years it would adjust according to the blahblahsomethingorotherfederaldeweycheatemandhowe index. (ok ok, I looked it up, and it's the Index Rate plus 2.25%.) She recommended in 4.5 years I look into refinancing to lock into a 30 year fixed rate. No problem, that was 4.5 years away, and I would worry about it then. I assumed that the ARM loan made it easier for me to qualify, and I did end up having to borrow $175,000. With my 20% down payment, I was in a sweet house in a sweet neighborhood, but without the mondo mortgage and payments.

4.5 years later, in 2007, life had taken a bit of a turn and I couldn't really afford to refinance. I could afford the higher payments if my interest rate adjusted upward, but I didn't have the chunk of money for the refi closing costs. Of course, the interest rate did go up, and my mortgage went from 6% to 8 point something percent. Not the end of the world, but not an ideal situation. I decided to save up for a refi the following year. We planned to be in the house at least another 6-8 years, so the cost would have been worth it.

Then something funny happened. The economy started taking a nosedive.

The index that my interest rate is tied to went down. In April 2008 I got a very nice letter saying my interest rate would be 5.625%, and even after higher taxes, insurance, and escrow shortages, the total payment would only be about $20 more than when I bought the house in 2002. Whoa, what a nice turn of events. I could pull another Scarlett O'Hara act, and think about refinancing another day.

Fast forward another year to last month. I start thinking about heading to the credit union to see what they could do. Life had happened again in a big way, and some of our savings went to Alaska Airlines, Hilton Garden Inn, Hertz Rent A Car, etc. I kinda sorta have enough for closing costs, assuming it's less then $5,000. My rate is set to adjust July 1, so 3-4 months should be adequate. Oh but wait! I forgot that our economy is still in the toilet, and the Feds reduced the index rate a few months ago. Sure enough, when I opened my bank letter yesterday, my new interest rate will be 4.125%, bringing my payment down roughly $133 per month. Folks, there is probably no way on earth I'd qualify for a rate this low. I don't think conventional 30-year loans go this low. I could be wrong, but I don't have to worry about it for another year.

OK, so now I really should get cracking on finding out my FICO score, saving more money, and getting ready for next year when I have to think about this again. I don't think the rate can go any lower, so yea, I will have to deal with this next year. I cringe at all that will be involved in buying my house a second time. It's aggravating, and there are 20 million other things I'd rather be doing. But just to show you all that I CAN get stuff done, I did manage to re-register Cassandra for school :D

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Favorite Things #2


I'm going to say it. I love Milli Vanilli. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to admit it, either. I'll say it loud and proud. I don't care if the songs were lip-synched, I love the songs! I don't care if Rob and Fab had to give back their Grammy, they were victims of the cut-throat record industry. They were young when they were discovered in a club in Berlin. They were given money, clothes, women, and all they had to do was perform on stage.

The first time I heard this album was October 1989. My mom, brother and I went on a road trip to Fairbanks, which is a 6 hour drive give or take. My brother brought his Milli Vanilli cassette tape, and we probably listened to it 3 or 4 times during the trip. There was just something about being in a pickup truck with my mom and brother for over 12 hours listening to "Blame it on the Rain". I fell in love with that album, and we still talk about that trip.

In November 2000, my brother came to visit and borrowed my mom's brand new car. I gave him my much loved Milli Vanilli tape to listen to in the car. While he was out, he called me at work in a panic. I thought he had wrecked my our mom's car. It turns out, when he put my tape in the stereo system, the stereo ATE my cassette. After I counted to ten, I asked him why couldn't he have wrecked her car!!!! The car is insured, but they stopped selling Milli Vanilli tapes ten years ago!! What was I to do? Oh but wait, I had recently discovered EBAY, so we went online and ordered not one but TWO CD's! woohoo! Life was worth living again!

I still have that CD, and I even made one of the songs into a ringtone to alert me when my brother calls me. Twenty years later, that little album has gone from cassette tape, to and EBAY CD, to an MP3 file, to my phone. Now THAT'S a classic!

Sparkly Clean Refrigerator


Bill and I spent last Friday cleaning out the refrigerator because we're just that kind of exciting. I didn't take a "before" photo, so you'll just have to pretend to be thoroughly amazed at the difference. I didn't think it was that bad, but when Bill took out the shelving and took apart the bins, oh goodness it was icky! We didn't have to throw out too much because I've been pretty vigilant about getting rid of old stuff, but the surfaces took a bit of cleaning *blech*

Once we got everything back in it, Bill thought it looked a little empty. He's got to be kidding!! What all do we need? The problem is Bill tends to see an empty refrigerator as some sort of statement about our household income. I see it as a statement on our not wasting food. We had just gone to the liquor store the night before, so it looks like we have a lot of booze. There's only about half of that now, hehe. I think he thinks it looks empty because it's nice and bright in there now. Honestly, I don't know how food that's IN a container gets on the walls. Seriously, does anyone know? It's crazy! This is definitely a semi-annual job *blech*

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Favorite Things #1


I love doing the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I started doing them about 15 years ago, and have yet to finish one. I love to get the Sunday paper, fish out the Arts section and fold the puzzle into a perfect square for my solving pleasure. I fill my big blue mug with coffee and go for it. I do them in pen, so sometimes they have cross-outs and other "oopsies". I'm proud of this particular puzzle. (click for larger view)

I don't think I have any cross-outs, and I almost finished it! I started it Sunday morning as usual, did most of it within three hours, and finally gave up Monday night. One or two answers may not be correct, but I'll find out next Sunday. This wasn't a particulary difficult puzzle, so I need to make note of the author, hehe.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Night Thoughts

Not all babies are cute. In fact, some are downright ugly

I don't like being told what to do. I'm not referring to my employer, I'm talking about anyone else who isn't me.


I think I'm going to get rid of my MySpace account. Those who want to keep in touch with me have several other ways of doing so. If they don't, then obviously they didn't mean much to me to begin with.

I can't stomach Brangelina. Creating photo ops for themselves takes time away from their Adopt-A-Child world tour. Sorry if I offended any BranFans, but Mia Farrow didn't act like that. Or did she? I'm not sure!?!? If anyone has any intel on that, please let me know so I can apologize to the BranFans.

If Clive Owen makes another movie with Julia Roberts, he's coming off my blog. Clive, if you're reading this, enough already.

All of a sudden, Bill is interested in Facebook.

I like watching TMZ on TV. How else am I going to keep up with Tom Brady and Giselle?

I'm very happy that people missed me while I was in Colorado without access to the internet. I've made several friends on all know who you are.

Speaking of IVillage, there's a certain board that has come to an almost complete standstill since M and I left. I'd like to think it's not a coincidence, and I'm meanly glad about that.

For all of Sarah's talk of being really excited that "we" were coming down for a visit, I didn't get a hug or even a goodbye on our last night there. OH, but I did get a "thanks for the dinners and the breast pump" Comment on my Myspace. Yes folks, MySpace. Don't worry, I didn't let the door hit me on the way out of town.

Centra Financial Holdings, Inc of Morganstown, West Virginia, has paid back it's Bailout money of $750,000. What kind of interest did we make on that loan? I'll be expecting my dividend check in the mail next fiscal quarter.

I took a political quiz, and it came back as me being a Moderate Conservative.

The school called to ask if Cassandra was coming back in the fall. It seems the office hasn't received her registration packet. I found the envelope, and it's dated February 20. Oops. I think I just blocked out anything to do with money last month. I'll get it done tomorrow.

Why is it when men take care of their children it's called babysitting, but when women take care of their children it's not called anything?

I need to tell Bill I love him more often.

Photobucket Photobucket
I love the Geico commercial where the two cavemen ride up in their motorcycles to the club, see the two hot women, then see the billboard, and take off again. The song makes me laugh out loud. Too much, actually.

Sarah Palin has completely lost touch with reality. You know you've got a problem when your ex future son-in-law is on Tyra Banks talking smack about you and your family.

Speaking of losing touch...Signature Showcase has gone off the deep end. Blinkie Ballroom? Signature Sunroom? Request-A-Maker Reading Room? Stee-range! I've left a bunch of scuff marks in the Ballroom. They forgot to hire a maintenance crew for some of the BS that gets flung over there.

There, I said it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Husband Loves Me

On day 3 of our little jaunt to Colorado, I was feeling a bit under the weather. OK, I was a bit hungover. I had had quite a bit to drink the night before, and was very irritated that I wasn't at home with my daughter. You name it, I drank it. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, so I drank margaritas. Four to be precise. Then we went to a bar across the street, and I had duck farts. They're made with Kahlua, Bailey's, and Crown Royal. It's shot drink, and they go down soooo nicely. I had three because I'm just that kind of lush-y. I moved on to straight Kahlua and Cream after that. I know I had two, but it could have been three. Folks, it was just that kind of evening, and I needed to forget I could walk upright.

Poor Bill. He got the full brunt of my drunken attitude. I wasn't being mouthy or staggering around, but if he said left, I said right. If he said up, I said "don't tell me what to do!". *groan* I did all but burn up my phone battery because I was texting Cassandra all.night.long. She was two hours behind me, so it's not like she was sleeping. But drunk-texting my 13 year old is not going get me Mother of the Year. I bought her some earrings, so maybe it evened out. I missed her so much, though. I suppose all children need material for their future therapy, so I was happy to oblige.

What does this have to do with Bill loving me? I'll tell you! The next morning, I was feeling a little rough. This would be the aforementioned hangover I wrote about in the first paragraph. Bill and I had breakfast, then he said he wanted to take me to the Outlet Mall at Loveland. Oh boy, I thought. Just what I don't want to do, walk around a bunch of stores to look at things I won't buy because we don't need it, or it won't fit in our suitcase.

So we're driving and driving, going over speedbumps and slamming to a halt at the 473729 stop signs in the parking lot. I thought he was doing it on purpose to get back at me for my binge the night before.

But then, he turned the corner.

And there...there it was.


Where I bought this


My world was put into perspective. Bill understood how I felt, I had a return ticket home, and Cassandra would be able to speak to her therapist with confidence and her head held high. Life made sense again.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jenny and the Mall

Bill and I are doing Jenny Craig, and it's tough! Jenny Craig doesn't have a Center where I live, so we have to do it through the Jenny Direct program. Every week, a Consultant calls us to get our weight stats, talk with us about any concerns or problems we have, and in general be our cheerleader/motivator. Every other week we place another order for 14 days worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. We do have to buy fresh produce and milk at the grocery store. Since Bill and I are doing it together, we're buying our produce and milk at Costco. I hate going to Costco, but it's much cheaper.

Being told what and when to eat isn't a huge deal for me. The problem is, since we live in Alaska, Jenny Craig can't ship any of the frozen foods to us. That means we only get about 50% of the food choices. We're not getting a lot of variety, and that's the tough part. The food is fairly decent, but the same things day in and day out gets a bit old. I've lost about 7 pounds in 4 weeks, but I'm sure it would have been more if I had been strictly following the plan. A couple of nights I was simply craving something different. I had Cassandra make a pizza using Boboli pizza crust, cheese and mushrooms. I knew it was relatively low fat because I limited the cheese. So, instead of my Jenny Craig dinner, I had a piece of homemade pizza. It was either that or order it, and that would have been catastrophic. I still had my salad and iced tea with it, so it's not like I completely binged and gave up. So yea, Jenny and I are having some issues, but we're not complete enemies.

We also started walking at the mall for exercise. It's actually not that bad. One lap around the mall is half a mile. The first three days we only made it twice around, but this morning we did three laps. After going walking after work the first two times, we decided to bite the bullet and get up early to walk before the stores open. It's nice and quiet, and the only people there are other dedicated walkers. This mall even has a Walkers Club. After you register, you just log in your miles and turn them in every 25 miles. The mall gives you prizes based on how many miles you've walked, with the best prize being a $25 gift certificate for any store in the mall. Not a bad deal considering the mall lets you walk for free! I'm pretty motivated to do this, even though I have to get my butt out of bed at o'dark thirty. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

So all in all, in the last month I've lost 7 pounds and walked 90 minutes for a total of 4.5 miles. I think I'll blog about this on a monthly basis. Then I can look back and see my progress (I hope!).

This next month will be tough, because we're going to Colorado for four days and will be eating out. I'm hoping I can make good food choices. Bill said he'd check out the mall near our hotel to see if they're open for walking. I hope they are, because even if I don't eat as well as I should, I can at least exercise a bit.