Monday, April 30, 2007

Where Alyca pats herself on the back

After massive amounts of research (admittedly, the vast majority was done by Ethan, but since he has no blog I get to be all publicly excited about it), we have decided that we are/will be financially secure.

In 14 years, we will have the mortgage paid off (if we keep this mortgage). If we refinance, we may be able to get that down to 10 or 11 years.

So, if we have kids, and if we do so in the next year or two, we will have no mortgage payments anymore when they are in middle school. Imaging having $3k a month to start putting away at that point towards their college education. We are not worrying about starting a college fund now. Maybe something later, but we will be ok.

The first summer after we pay off the mortgage, we are so totally taking a massive vacation. Take the kids to Europe for a couple weeks, or maybe Australia. Something just a ton of fun, our big reward for living within a budget and paying off the mortgage.

We are so stinking proud of ourselves for being able to do this. Paying a bunch extra to the mortgage each month. EVERY month. Since we got the house. Even when we built up credit card debt (which we JUST paid off). That is priority number one, and we don't ever skip. This is mostly because of Ethan, of course; the world's most responsible person. I personally have stomped and thrown fits because I want to spend money instead of saving it, but he generally wins, because he IS right......(but don't tell him I said so)

Ethan also looks at our retirement info on a weekly basis and logs where we are. We have 10% of our paychecks going into TIAA/CREF and Fidelity mutual funds, etc, and over the last 7 months we are averaging a 12% return/increase. Suze Orman, Ethan's financial guru, says to expect 8%. Even if we average 8% over the next thirty years, based on what we put in each month we will have $1.8million when Ethan turns 60. Plus, we have pensions that will pay us $5500 a month total if we wait until we are 63 to take them. If we take them early, they go down by 3% for every year before that.
So. We are retiring at 58. Not sure if that is when I am 58 or Ethan, but 58. We need to build up enough savings to pay for life for a couple years so we don't need to access our pensions for as long as possible, but that is it.

We are planners. We think ahead. Waaaaaaaaaayy ahead. We discuss things to death before even considering actually *doing* them. We overplanned our relationship before we got married. We talked about buying a house for MONTHS. We have been talking about having kids and how we will raise them and how we will deal with a multitude of situations with them for YEARS now. We plan. We talk. This is a good thing. Maybe things won't work out exactly as we expect, but at least we have put some serious thought into it and considered what is to come.

This is my big exciting post to myself about being financially responsible. There is a payoff in the end, if we (okay, *I*) can be patient enough to wait for it. I always want to spend, I see things I want. This is why I am not getting them. I will look back on this post and remind myself what it is we are doing. This is why we have a budget and live below our means and have no furniture in our extra bedrooms. We will buy things one at a time, over time, and end up with nice things that we really like.

We can do it. It will be so totally cool if we do!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hello everyone!

Yes, I am still here. I have much stress and do not find the time to sit down and relax and blog things as of late, for which I am eternally sorry. I will endeavor to do better.

We are on the verge of excellent news in some fronts, of which I will not speak of until later this week, once things are more certain. I know this makes no sense whatsoever, but I am sure there are a few of you who have an idea of what it is I mean.

Ethan and I are doing quite well. Trying to figure out some kind of vacation for this fall, because I am in NEED of a vacation!! I haven't been on an actual week long fly somewhere just for fun vacation sine last June, and I seriously need a break! We are probably going to Puerto Vallarta in late October (during the Seahawks bye week) to stay in our timeshare, since that is the cheapest way to go, and we are obligated to use our actual timeshare every other year, or to rent it/sell it for that year. Every opposite year we can exchange and go anywhere. I really want to go somewhre for my big "twenty-ten" that is coming up, but it is on a Tuesday and we have home Seahawks game the Sunday before and after my birthday, which we are not willing to miss. We pay around $120 per game and have such a great time, every time--not gonna miss that! Much less constrictive than the Sonics games since there are so few of them.

So, I have told Ethan that I am taking of the day before and the day after my birthday (as well as my birthday itself), actually I have one of those days off anyway, but whatever--there will be three days off in a row. He is to plan something. Anything. We can take the Clipper up to Victoria for a couple nights, we can have a fabulous dinner somewhere here, we can do ANYTHING, but we ARE doing SOMETHING, and he is planning it. Maybe the dinner train to the Columbia Crest winery. Something. I will have to remind him that I was in fact serious about that.

As for the Sonics.

We did not get Season tickets for this upcoming season, nor do we plan to. We had season tickets for I believe 6 years. Something like that. Maybe 5. I will have to think. Anyway--we are done. The new management is moving the team. Now they are bringing up Vegas as an option, along with their original intent of Oklahoma City. This next season will be our last. Ethan and I do not want to support these liars. As much as we love the team/players, we cannot financially contribute to the people who are ripping them away from us. It totally sucks. We have decided that we will bite the bullet and become semi-Blazer fans. We can go down there for a couple Friday or Saturday games each year, and watch games on TV so we are not totally screwed out of the NBA, but that is about it. It totally sucks. At the last home game of this season, we illegally brought in our little camera and took some movies of the inside of the arena (I would post them but I still cannot find the connecting cable). I have a panorama video of the entire inside of the arena from our seats, views of the retired jerseys, shots of Ethan and I in our seats one last time, even a short video of the opening tip-off. It was really sad. We stayed until halftime then left, since we were getting totally blown out and did not want our final memories to be of our team totally sucking. We are going to get some single-game tickets for this next season--we really want to go to the last game of all, but it won't likely be in *our* seats.

We still have one more season of the Storm to go to. It feels different to go to those games, almost like they have a different ownership. There is a petition and some rumbling going around to see if the new ownership would be willing to give them up, use them as a payment to break out of their lease. It will be millions of dollars to break their current lease, and the Storm is only worth about 10 mill or so. Maybe we can keep them. That would feel like a victory of sorts. We totally love going to Storm games. Such a different atmosphere. Very kid friendly--maybe TOO kid friendly, they market it so much. But good, wholesome, hard fought basketball with some of the very best players in the world. It is highly unlikely that they will be able to stay here, but I won't give up hope just yet.

So, sports. Done with that for the moment.

Home improvement. Working on it. I killed of the back lawn and am waiting for it to actually die so I can churn it up and smooth it out and yank out the sagebrush crap back there. I am putting down that fabrid that weeds cannot grow through, then covering the whole lot with bark chips. I am going to get six or seven huge planters and plant things that I want to have growing back there. It is such a wierd space, this is the best we think we can get it, short of bringing in a dump truck with several loads of dirt to fill out the back part of the hill so we can extend the yard. THat would be quite spendy and still we would not barely use it, so we are sticking with the bark chips.
I watched a show on the DIY network called "grow it and mow it", all about lawns. They suggest that for the front yard to be salvaged, I should "Kill it and Till it", rather than trying to kill the weeds and save what grass I already have. So I am going to do that. I will spray it on Wednesday, and Ethan thinks he may have some coworkers with tillers that we can borrow. Once it is tilled, we can fix some of the slope that is there by bringing some of the soil from the street end of the yard back towards the house end. It will still be sloped, but not nearly as much, and it will be a SMOOTH slope, nut the lumpy bumpy crap we have now. After tilling, I will spread the seed (ryegrass is recommended by the show for the Seattle area), cover it with some mulch and water away. Hopefully by mid to late summer I will have a not sucky lawn.

We are still on the lookout for lamps for our living room. There are so many styles out there! I want something fancier for the sofa table, and something simpler for the end table. We at first thought we would get matching lamps, but now I think it would be cool to have something more dramatic on the sofa table, since it is what you see when you first come inside. Still looking.

We also have a wall collage of picture frames of various shapes and sizes. Some are multi-picture frames with space for 3 or 4 5x7s, some are single picture frames. We got them from Ikea and they are all simple black frames with white mats. We played around with then and used math and a calculator and string for measuring to get them placed on the wall the way we want them. Sadly, the empty frames have been on the wall now for 2 months with no pictures inside of them and no hangars attached. Just propped up on thumbtacks. We need to figure out what kinds of pictures we want--pictures of US, pictures of friends and family, nature pictures from my hikes......?? Maybe a combo of all of them? We are working it out. We want to have that done before we have our housewarming party. Which is ridiculous. We have been here FOREVER and are going to have a housewarming pary. Whatever.

So. No party next weekend because there is a wedding shower for Justin and Kim Sunday morning. Not the next weekend because I am supposed to go to Portland on the train for a bachelorette party for Kim at one of the McMenamins places there. Not sure exactly where--I should call her. Maybe the next weekend. We shall see.

Let's see. Boo is puking again. He is due for his annual checkup anyway, so maybe I will take him in Wednesday. Although, Shadow has scratched his inner ears so much lately that he is bleeding a bit, so we need to take him in, too. He gets earwax buildup (Boo doesn't), so I am thinking that is what he is itching. They somehow got ear mites a couple years ago, which was weird since they never go outside. Maybe that is it. Who knows. I am sure they will charge me $75 no matter what the answer is. Poor Boo. I think more and more about putting him on the kitty valium. He is just so frantic. And pukey. I have him on the totally expensive $30 a bag sensitive stomach cat kibble, and he STILL pukes. He is just so skinny. Not sure what my options are at this point. Is there a MORE expensive anti-puke cat food out there I am supposed to try?? Probably. I swear, he does it on purpose just to irritate me. I need to ask Sabrina again what the stain remover she was raving about is called, and where I can get it. He only pukes on the carpet, NEVER upstairs where it would be easy to clean. Then he drags any and everything he can over the top of it in a pile, so I know JUST where to look. He is so odd.

Okay. Hope you all feel quite updated and all that. When my personal stress levels die down a bit I will be blogarific once more.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't everyone freak out

Yes, I am posting pictures of my furniture. I had a lovely video made up of it all, but I still can't find the cable to connect that camera to my computer so I have finally given up and decided to take still pictures and post them.

We are still working on getting the right accessories (lamps, mostly), but getting there.....
Top of the sofa table. All the living room furniture is this same style (Mission style) on the tops. The color is showing up lighter here than it actually is-- these really are a lot darker.
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Table and chairs. The legs are black but sort of aged so that in places the brown of the seats and tabletops shows through. It is a 'butterfly' table because you can pull the ends of the table out to access the leaf that flips out from underneath the table like a bird or a butterfly flapping their wings.
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Bench that matches our table and chairs. When we pull out the leaf in the table, we can put this along one side of it for more seating, otherwise it lives in fromt of the window.
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One of our end tables and Shadow's right leg/ear. We are going to just put framed pictures or something like that on this table, since it is sort of in the middle of the room and it would look a little odd to have a lamp on it.
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The coffee table opens up so you can use it as a sort of dining table and eat while you are on the couch. The only problem is that our couch is too short and we feel like kindergarteners when we do this. There are some compartments underneath the top where we store our remotes, and there are two small drawers in the very bottom facing the couch that we are currently using to store coasters.
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End tables and the coffee table. They are all Mission style, from the same collection as the sofa table.
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Sofa table at the top of the stairs on the small wall separating the kitchen from the living room. We are going to get a nice lamp to put on top of it with some pictures in frames.
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New track lights downstairs. We bought two of them, but one had a glass with an imperfection in it, and after we had it on for about an hour and it got warm the glass broke, so I am taking it back to Home Depot today to get a replacement.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I really want it!!

We are looking at replacing our sliding glass door with this much cooler option. We would do wood rather than white, and is would be AWESOME! The cats could look out the window still, we could open the side windows for some fresh air, and it has actual locks and security so we won't be robbed!