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Archive for March, 2021

Mortgage Refinancing

March 31st, 2021 at 04:06 pm

I've written here about my mortgage troubles with the bank I refinanced with last year. It was not a good experience at all and has continued to suck even a year later with their refusal to drop PMI, etc.

Since my taxes for this year are filed and I now have two years of adequate income in self-employment to show, I started the process to refinance my home.  I contacted my sister's mortgage person and right off the bat this person is about a million times better than the previous one. It's with USBank with whom I have been since 2004, and I trust them. And the mortgage officer is incredibly responsive and helpful.

I already have a small amount of savings - the mortgage officer ran my home value through the automated system and it came back at around what the Zillow estimate is, so I do not need to do an appraisal since my loan amount is less than 78% of the home value. That is $575 in savings right there! Not to mention that I will not have to pay PMI, which will be an additional $39.95 saved each month. 

Yet again confirmation that I needed to leave the old awful bank I have the mortgage with. My current mortgage lender refused to run an automated appraisal for me and insisted that I would have to pay for a new appraisal. Furthermore, regardless of the appraised value, they insisted that I would have to continue to pay PMI for the next two years despite my having ~29% equity in my home. Screw them! I can't wait to be done with them.

I'm refinancing for a 15-year loan term. 2.75%

First Vacation Since the Pandemic Began

March 25th, 2021 at 04:38 pm

I just returned from a three week vacation to visit my sister and her family. My parents are abroad during the pandemic, so it will be a while until I get to see them. But, they have received their first doses as well and will get their second doses in two weeks. So, everyone in my immediate family except my brother in law is vaccinated, and this gives me an immeasurable amount of relief.

This was my first vacation since the pandemic began. It felt so good to get out of town and visit my family. Here is a gist of my thoughts on it:

(1) I chose to fly Delta because they seem to be only one of two airlines flying out of my local airport that are committed to blocking middle seats. (Alaska was the other one). United and American are the two other major airlines that fly from here, and neither of them are committed any longer to blocking middle seats. I hate United, and will never fly with them if I can help it, and this convinces me further that they are not a company I want to spend my money on.

(2) There is a marked difference between how people in the west coast (at least in my state) treat the pandemic, and how it's treated in the Midwest (at least in the city my sister lives in). I saw loads of people wear masks underneath their chins in stores, playgrounds absolutely packed with hundreds of parents and kids, people not maintaining 6-ft distance in stores, etc. It was quite astonishing. I was not prepared for that.

(3) I spent way less money. Usually we go out and do things when I visit. This trip, most of what we did was hang out at home, go for long walks, watch movies at home, and cook together. My only expenses this trip were a few times I ordered take-out for us all, and the Uber drive back home from the airport when I returned. It was probably the cheapest 3 week vacation I have been on.

(4) It felt absolutely wonderful to be with family. My sister thought it was funny that I wanted to eat only when she ate. In our family, we only eat dinner together, for the other meals we just eat whenever we are hungry - which means it ends up being at different times. But, eating meals with family is something I have missed this past year, and I ate every single meal with her and my neice. I think I ate more than usual and not always very diabetic-friendly meals. But amazingly, I somehow lost 3 lbs.

(5) Time away from work only made me even more determined to retire as soon as possible even though I love my job. It is not what gives me a sense of worth or meaning. My joy comes from family, travel, nature, gardening, reading, and all my other hobbies. I have my fingers crossed for a 10 year time frame to retire.

Financial things while I was gone:
(a) The new CPA did my taxes, and I am very pleased with him. I am also delighted that I chose to switch this year to a new person rather than wait as I had initially thought to do. He is excellent, and cost me about $150 less than my previous person.

(b) For the most part, I did not really keep track of finances except to keep an eye on GME every so often. In the three weeks that I was gone, the price rose from ~$40 to a high of ~$265, and then back again. It's currently at ~$160 as I write this. The GME subreddit was somewhat funny over the past month while the users were having some fun at the expense of the bots, in the earlier part of the month. But in the last few days at least two of the subreddit mods who post daily DD have reported that they are getting death threats and hate/disparaging messages. It's ludicrous to think that any individual share owners would do this - especially as the price rises, so I believe some form of psychological pressure from Hedge Fund reps to drop the subreddit's morale. It makes me feel even more disgusted with the nefarious ways in which these large financial entities run. I'm still holding my shares. Since I had reconciled myself to losing the lot, anything over zero just feels good.

(c) My garden has exploded in the weeks I was gone. In the green house, my eggplant, peppers, basil and tomatoes have germinated and started to put out true leaves. In the garden, the radishes, spinach, lettuce, and cilantro have sprouted. The fava beans have flowered, the shallots and kale are growing well, the sage and oregano have exploded, the peas are climbing their trellises, almost all my flower seeds have germinated, and the raspeberries and blueberries are filling out with foliage. In the front yard, the daffodils and hyacinth are putting on a good show, the nigella and tulips will flower within a month, the Persian buttercups and the daisies are looking healthy, the plum tree is in blossom, the comfrey has loads of flowers and the bees are loving it.

(d) I set up appointments to get quotes to install ductless heat in my home. Apart from redoing the front yard, this is my other big home expense for this year. I will push painting the outside until next year.


NW: $274,888.12

End of Month Updates

March 2nd, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Got my second dose of the vaccine a few days ago. Contrary to expectations, I didn't have any diffiuclt symptoms following either of the doses. I can now finally go and visit my sister. She also has got both doses, but no one else in her family has, so I wanted to make sure that I was fully vaccinated before I go there.

February started out good as far as investments go, but was brutal in the last few days with a downturn in the market. The returns on my investments were down a bit, but they have rallied in first few days of March. I also purchased my first ever options. I have a way to go before they expire. They're already in the green and it's a company I feel really good about, so I hope to make a good bit on them.

The value of my house seems to be skyrocketing. I live in what used to be one of the nicer but still affordable parts of town, but it is rapidly turning into a nice and somewhat unaffordable place to buy. I am glad I bought my house when I did. In the last month, it appreciated by $14k.

NW: $265,320.45