Thursday, January 29, 2015

Giddy About Budgeting

This is the new view from my kitchen door. It was all woods when we had the house built 13 years ago, with the understanding the county would someday build a reservoir. After many delays, the construction is done and Rappahannock River water is being pumped in. We pretty much have the only good view of this at our end of the neighborhood we raised our children in.

One kid finished six years of college and left the nest, flying to his destiny in Pennsylvania which includes a railroad job and a beautiful German-Catholic girlfriend. The other has her college degree, a fun job, friends and a hot cop boyfriend. She would like to live with us indefinitely.

My husband is a retired firefighter, now working in his second career in the railroad industry. We can live on his hard-earned pension. But we enjoy the extra income. I set aside my career in the heath insurance industry to be a full time mother. I do have enough years in for a small company pension and Social Security, both deferred until I age-in.

I have two regrets: Not completing my college degree and not having a mortgage paid off by the time he retired from the fire department.  We were serial home buyers during the 80's and 90's, moving up, moving out, and refinancing many times. We had never stayed in one home more than seven years. So three years ago, when our ten year ARM needed to be refinanced, and the home market was bad, instead of getting another 30 year mortgage, we got a great rate on a 15 year note instead. I had wanted a ten year mortgage but the bank didn't offer one for the same no-closing cost deal. The broker talked me into getting the 15 year mortgage, but paying extra principal each month like it was a 10 year deal. So I did. We have seven years left before it's paid off in this manner. I hope anyhow.

I'm 51. My mother passed at 85, father at 91, heart disease both. My beautiful sister passed from lung cancer at 57. She never smoked. My husband is 58. His mother passed at 64 from cirrhosis of the liver. His father at 82, his heart.

I'm a ten year melanoma survivor, very healthy, but 10 pounds overweight which I'm working on. My husband was recently diagnosed with colitis. He is an athlete, a bicyclist. His weight is on the low side of healthy. He got a call yesterday that his potassium level was high, so he needs to retest next week. This kind of made things real for me. What if he dies at his mother's age, and me my sister's? We may only have six years left.

We've always dreamed of moving to a condo in Florida. I love Disney and palm trees. He loves the Florida weather and all the shopping and outdoor activities. He's miserable right now in our Virginia winter.

I had realized last year that if we lived solely on his pension, we could pay this mortgage off several years sooner, possibly be done in three. But we didn't do that. We proceeded to enjoy a few months of spending it all, including his salary and some savings. Now that we pretty much did and bought everything we wanted, there really is no reason not to reign things in and live within our means on the pension.

Now that our son moved out, we have one less mouth to feed, and one less vehicle to insure and maintain. I'm hoping I can talk my husband into an alternative to our $200 cable TV, land-line phone and internet bill with Cox. $102 of that is TV and we don't have any premium channels and only one DVR. They won't give us any deals because we are existing customers, so are not eligible for the new customer rates. I hate the land line phone, it's just telemarketers, surveys and wrong numbers. I'd like to cancel the phone and cable and just keep the internet (not that it's fast). So I'm looking into a satellite TV deal for a whole house DVR with basic TV $20 a month one year, $40 the second. If anyone gets the Amazon Fire TV stick in stock, I really want that since we are Amazon Prime members and have just loved their original series Alpha House. We would love to stream more.

The extra $180 a month the first year and extra $160 a month the second year will go toward paying off the mortgage, as will whatever we end up saving with our son out of the house. I would really like my husband's whole salary to go toward paying off the mortgage too. I think we'd pay it off within 3 years instead of 7. If my understanding and calculations are correct. Then he can retire from the railroad (it's unclear if he'll get any railroad retirement or the Social Security he now has all of his quarters paid up in because he is retired from a government job in which he didn't pay into Social Security and they have double dipping penalties.

Anyhow, I'll keep you updated on my new quest. Hooray, I have something I'm passionate about to blog again!