Wednesday, June 28, 2017

More of the Waiting Game

The rollercoaster ride continues. I don't like writing about things when they haven't been resolved so, forgive me for not writing about making an offer on the house. We did make an offer and then waited, and then the bank counter-offered, and then my mother counter-counter-offered, and we finally heard back on Saturday that they had accepted. Since this house is a foreclosure, there is extra paperwork and extra time for every step. The bank wanted to close on it this Friday, which was really fast, but our realtor told them we needed more time for the inspection so they were willing to stretch it out until July 7. Still really fast. The inspection will be on Friday and I will take the day off for the inspection and another half day for closing.

This is all so weird. I hate moving and change and this is going to take a lot of work at the hottest time of year. But at least the new house has air conditioning, unlike my current house with only evaporative cooling and the small A/C unit that I fit in the sliding door. 


It works great for getting to sleep before midnight but I have to dismantle it if my big dog needs to go out at 2am.

So, that's what's been going on. Just waiting on other people to make decisions. I still get a 4 day weekend for the fourth of July so I am looking forward to that. All of my weekends after that will involve moving or handymen or remodeling my house to put it up for sale. I just want to wave a magic wand and it will all be done.

Friday, June 16, 2017

House Hunting Again

Things have slowed down and sped up at the same time. The day to day things like high school stuff, grocery shopping, making dinner, doctors appointments, college prep, etc... have slowed drastically, which is a relief. My nephew has his class schedule for next semester but he needs to change one class because they signed him up for Survey of Math and he has already taken Calculus I in high school. He is waiting to find out his score on the AP Calculus test (not until July 9) so he will know which math class to add or if he doesn't need anymore math, maybe he can get a natural science core out of the way. 

The big goals have sped up. The porch cover was finished on my barn-shed. Gutters and water collection tank will be attached some time in the future. There isn't a desperate need for it since my water tanks are pretty much full right now and it is so hot that I don't want to go out there to do it. 

My mother and I went to look at houses for sale in the neighborhood close to where she lives. We weren't expecting to find any that would work for us but a couple of them did. We are going to put an offer in on one on Monday. The yard is not as large as I would like but there is a large Arizona room where I can make an "indoor dog park". It connects to the master bedroom and bathroom and then there is a walk-in closet and then the closet has another closet! I think I will have enough storage space. My mother will have the other half of the house including 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and a big living room with a fireplace.  
 Big enough for my indoor dog park. Just needs a dog door.


The walk-in closet has it's own closet. I think that would be enough room.


The kitchen needs some style help but it is big enough.

I'm still looking for new listings though because one of those houses with the extra large lots is going to come up for sale one of these days! I just know it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Luxury of Time

Nephew update:  He has a job at Mc Donald's.  I shipped 3 boxes and his golf clubs for arrival on Friday (Note to self, never ship golf clubs again.  Too expensive.)  There are 6-8 more boxes but I am going to wait to ship them until he asks for them since some things should be shipped straight to college in August.  His grandfather is trying to convince him to buy a laptop instead of a gaming computer.  I'm staying out of it.  That's about all I know.  He doesn't communicate much so I'm going to assume that no news is good news.    

This was mid-sorting.
Now that I'm not worrying about my nephew's whereabouts, meals, homework, screen-time, etc... my brain has so much time to think about all of the things I've been putting off.  I threw out all of the trash in nephew's room and put 85% of the stuff in boxes on the bed which I have left open so that I can find things.  I cleaned out any food that I bought for nephew and that I don't want to eat like Kraft Mac and Cheese and Hamburger Helper.  I'm going to drop it off at my tenant's house along with a big bag of dog food donated from the dog rescue and a table top bbq with leftover charcoal.  I'm really not the bbq type.

Today I took a half day off to wait for the water delivery truck to deliver 3,500 gallons of water to my new tank at the mobile home/barn-shed property.  The guy filled my 3,000 gallon tank, then put around 300 gallons in another tank.  Then I thought we could empty the truck into the 300 gallon tank but when it was filling, suddenly water started pouring out.  There was a 2 foot crack starting halfway around the tank.  Dismayed, I tried to think of how to save my water and ended up stuffing a plastic grocery bag inside so that it poked through the crack and slowed the leak to a trickle.  I wasn't planning on having to transfer water today but it was clear that it would leak out if I left it so I set up the pump and hose.  I suspect it got cracked when the neighbors helped my tenant get water when he was living here.  They took the tank in the back of their pickup and it looks like it was shoved out too many times.  The tank was very old and brittle so I'm not surprised.  I'm going to try to repair it and still use it for rainwater collection like I had planned.

Crack in tank with temporary plastic bag fix.
 While I was waiting for the water to transfer to the other tank, I dropped off 3 bags of clothes and 1 box of toys with a friend.  She'll find a new home for everything.  I stopped at Dairy Queen for a hot dog and drink and drove back to finish up the water transfer.  As soon as I pulled up I realized there was something wrong with the car and, sure enough, the passenger side tire had a side-wall gash.  Not wanting to use the cheap car jack on gravel, I called AAA.  I figured they would arrive by the time I finished transferring the water.  Unfortunately, they got lost and I ran out of drinkable water (I wasn't expecting to be there that long).  Next time I go out to there I must remember to bring reserves.  It was 105F out there.  Too hot!  I miss not having a refrigerator there since I moved it to the rental house but I will bring the fridge from my house as soon as I find a nicer replacement.  At least I had a window A/C which I stood in front of whenever I wasn't moving stuff around outside.

AAA arrived and changed the tire and I drove slowly to the tire shop.  A coworker picked me up so that I could spend 2 hours going through my email.  I'm going to have a lot to do tomorrow to catch up.  My coworker dropped my off at the tire store on the way home and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tire was under warranty and they only charged me $10 for labor. That was a relief. I'm glad I am safely at home now and I have crossed a few more chores off of my list.

Here's a layout of my property so that you know what I am talking about.  This is not where I am currently living, it's just used for storage at this point, but it is where I hope to retire someday soon.  I put the water tank on the hill to use gravity to my advantage and for ease of filling.  Eventually, I would like to have all rainwater catchment but I don't have enough roof area yet.

1- Shed. 2- Mobile home. 3- Barn-shed (someday tiny house) 4- New water tank.
This is the memorial tree for my father that my coworkers gave me almost two years ago.  It has more than doubled in size.

Just a reminder that the rattlesnakes are nearby in case I forget. This was under the water tank when we tipped it up along with a fat packrat.

Next Items on the List:
-Bring food and bbq to tenant.
-Dog adoption event.
-Pick a day to go look at houses with Mom.

It's nice to be making progress.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We're All Graduated!

The week I have been both looking forward to and dreading is finally over. It has been the end goal ever since my nephew came back to live with me two years ago. GRADUATION WEEK! and all that went with it. It began with my birthday, then Mother's Day, the Choir concert, Honor's night, Choir Awards Banquet, Choir Lock-In, Graduation, my sister visiting, and celebratory dinner with nephew, sister and mother. Whew, done. 


My sister went home today after taking my nephew shopping for college clothes. We went to a final doctor's appointment for a booster shot and enough asthma and allergy medicine to hold my nephew over until he goes to Minnesota on Saturday where he will be magically cured of all that ails him. Well, at least, it seems that he doesn't have as many allergic reactions back there which is funny because "the desert" used to be the place for less allergies. But, his grandfather doesn't have pets except for the next door dog which visits and there is less dust although there is more mold. 

For the remaining days until he leaves, we will shovel through his room and make the appropriate piles for immediate use, college use, and storage. Then I will ship his things off to Minnesota including the golf clubs which were shipped here from Minnesota but never used because he lost interest. His grandfather golfs so hopefully they will get some use again.

It's an exciting time of change and possibilities for us. My nephew is excited because he has enough money to buy his own gaming computer now with no parental controls or screen time limits (I keep warning him that he still has to do his homework or reap the consequences). And I am excited to get on with the cleaning out of this house and selling of it so that the mortgage and home equity line of credit can be paid off before my mother and I buy a house together. The weather has moved in to the 100's this week so that puts a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm but at least I will have less to do on the weekends and less grocery shopping. It's time for super-saver frugal mode while I eat all of the leftovers in the house and get organized once again.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

That Day Again

Last Saturday morning was gloriously calm and slow. I was cooking up some late-morning pancakes when the phone rang. Now, I knew there was a possibility of me getting a dog returned but I had hoped that it wouldn't be for a few more weeks since they had to take her to the shot clinic first to get the shots up to date. So, I answer the phone and it's the people with the dog asking when it is a good time to meet. Ok, might as well get it over with. I told them to call me after the shots since that can take hours at the cheap clinic and then we would meet at the dog park. I brought my dog, Toto, because he enjoys car rides and we picked up Sadie, the puppy I adopted out 5 years ago. I also got the rest of the story. The guy had been married when he adopted her but since got divorced and remarried, has a 1 yr old and his wife is pregnant again. Sadie, being a high energy dog, wasn't tolerated well by the new wife. I can empathize but there are things one can do to keep an energetic dog occupied. They just take time and patience. 


So, now I get to do those things to keep an energetic dog occupied until we can find her a new family. Trainers say to tire out a dog, they need physical and mental activity. First off, I don't run. I also like to sleep in. This dog likes to run and likes to get up early. I've been getting up at 6am and taking her and Toto for a walk. It's only 15 minutes or so but it's a huge accomplishment for me and the dogs like it. Then we practice her sit, down, shake. I go off to work and hope she behaves. She isn't a big chewer and hasn't destroyed anything, much to my relief. When I come home, I take the 3 slow dogs for a short walk and then exchange them for Toto and Sadie and we go on a longer walk. I throw the ball around the back yard and then put her in her crate at 8pm with something to chew on like a bully stick or Kong toy filled with kibble and peanut butter. It's worked so far and she has even been staying quiet in her crate until I go get her at 6:30am although I need to get up earlier than that to not be late to work.

I would really like to be able to hitch her to a cart and have her pull me around but carts are too expensive and I don't have the time to design my own. So, I borrowed a bike from a friend and bought a leash attachment bar for $15 on Ebay to keep her away from the wheels. The attachment will be delivered on Saturday and I hope it works. 


I would love to be able to get enough speed on the bike for her to run.

Ok, enough about the dog, even though that's been my main focus all week. Today is my birthday. 45 years old and I am not retired yet or semi-retired. I am still at my same job that is "meh", but gives me adequate money. My new retirement goal is still 2-3 years away although I really like the security that comes with knowing that I could survive if I quit my job today. I want to do more than merely survive though so I will keep working towards that goal. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

More Presents for Me

I like the idea of having a whole birthday month.  I have to work on my birthday anyway, so might as well spread out the fun throughout the whole month of May.  Last weekend, I arranged to have my barn-shed painted.  My handyman has a sprayer and it was just easier to pay him to do it than rent a sprayer from Home Depot 40 minutes away.  It took him and his helper around 6 hours to do it but it is finished and finally completely protected from the weather, even that top back panel I couldn't reach last year.



It still needs the trim painted white but I can do that later myself.



While they were painting, I was inside the mobile home cleaning up after the tenant who didn't exactly leave the place spotless.  Ok, so it wasn't exactly spotless when he moved in last July either.  There was dust on everything and I only got 2/3 of if clean.  I'll go out again next month after I get my water tank, get water delivered, and after my nephew leaves.  


Earlier that morning, at 3am to be exact, I had looked at Facebook after letting my dog out to pee.  I had been checking the garage sale sites daily for a washer and dryer but hadn't seen one.  Now, at 3am, I saw a set within my price range.  There was a phone number to call but, of course, I didn't call at that time.  I left a comment and then waited to call in the morning.  Then I got the cash out of the bank and brought my hand truck, just in case.  Around 10am, The seller replied to my comment that the washer/dryer set were pending sale.  Oh well, I assumed I had lost them.  About 45 minutes later, he posted again that they were still available.  I called immediately but he said another couple was coming to see them so I agreed to wait.  I was sure they were sold for the second time.  He called me back in an hour and said they didn't buy them.  I was thrilled and arranged to switch vehicles with my nephew because he had the truck and begged my handyman to take a break from painting to help me load them.  As you can see, happy birthday to me.  I got them!


I don't have a hook up for an electric dryer yet but my coworker said he would help me install an outlet when I am ready for it.



The washer is temporarily in the living room.  Later, I'll move it to the storage room in the back and hook up water and a grey-water drain that will go to my mesquite tree.


I was so excited to have a washing machine at the mobile home again.  I carried 15 gallons of water by jug and washed the curtains, then hauled the water to the mesquite tree.  I don't have much water out there now so I will wait until I have my new 3000 gallon water tank filled with water and then hook up an inlet hose.  The tank was delivered to the store on the other side of town and I am waiting for my handyman to be available to haul it to my property with his flat-bed trailer.

In other news, I got a new dog.  I know, mother, I'm trying to get less dogs, not more.  Hopefully, I will find a new home for her before I move.  If not, the rescue group will find her a new foster home.  She was one of a mom and pups that I fostered 5 years ago.  It was actually around the same time that my parents and nephew came to live with me.  She got adopted by a family but the people got divorced and remarried and now have small children and she is a very energetic dog.  I think the new wife just didn't like her.  She needs a family that will play with her and take her jogging.


As the only female in a house full of 4 male dogs, she tired of the unwanted attention.  She jumped on the chair with my nephew and booped Jimmy-dog on the head as if to say, "Leave me alone."


This was her when she was a puppy in my backyard.


And this was her mother.  I would call mom a chow chow-cattle dog mix.  Daddy was probably a lab-pit bull mix.


So, I will be trying hard to find her a family.  She doesn't have any medical issues, gets along with large and small dogs and cats, and knows sit, down, shake, and is house trained and kennel trained.  All I need is to find a jogger who wants a partner, bonus points if he/she works from home.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Master List

Let's check the progress on my never-ending to-do list:

Laundry - Fixed!  The handyman found the leak in the wall in the drain pipe behind the sink.  Someone had over-tightened the cap and cracked the pipe which eventually grew to be a big leak.  It's a good thing we hadn't used the toilet in that bathroom because, Eew, it uses the same drain.  The laundry water was leaking under the kitchen cabinets and now I know what was causing the moldy smell.


All fixed now.  I sprayed the inside of the wall down with bleach, and the handyman will come back later to repair the drywall.  It is so nice to be able to do laundry without the added hassle of draining it into a trashcan and then emptying it by bucket in to the sink.

Dog - Adopted!  A family came to meet Sassy at the big adoption event but they needed to wait a week since the wife was out of town.

Last Sunday, I took Sassy over to their house to meet their other dog and cats.  Things went really well and they love her and want to keep her.  It is exactly the kind of family I wanted for her because she is affectionate and loves attention and there are many people in their household to give her attention, plus the parents really like her too.  With my nephew leaving and me moving in with my mother, Sassy would get even less attention from me.  And, she gets 3 walks a day!

Visitors - My sister stopped by on her way through the state.  We had dinner and then floated around her hotel pool and caught up on news.  Then Aidan's grandfather stayed with us Monday and Tuesday nights.  He was in very good spirits and it was a pleasant visit for all.

Glasses - My nephew and I spend 2 hours at the eye doctor getting a new prescription and picking out a new pair of glasses for him.  He will be off of my insurance when he turns 18 this summer so we need to get these things done now.

Truck - The check engine light went on in the truck that my nephew drives.  I switched vehicles with him and took it into the shop.  $400 for a new fuel injector, system flush and oil change.  Hopefully, it will pass emissions testing this week.

Barn-shed- I didn't take stuff out to the barn-shed because I decided to stuff it into the extra bathroom instead.  It worked.  My living room actually looks like a functioning living room now.
 I wanted it to look good when visitors came but they never went in that room.  They didn't know how bad it looked before anyway.  Oh well, it looks better to me.  I plan to take stuff out to my barn-shed and mobile home (once I clean it) on Saturday and Monday (I'm taking the day off work).

Pre-birthday Present - I was tired of spending money on necessities and decided to splurge on a 3,000 gallon water tank for the property.  I would have done this 2 years ago instead of buying the above ground pool as a temporary water tank but I didn't have the money then.  It cost $1,537 with tax and will cost me a little more to have my handyman deliver it with his flat bed trailer in a few weeks.  Then, I will spend $150 to have it filled with water.  That should be enough water to last until I get some rainwater collection systems hooked up.  It will soon be too hot to work on any big projects outside so this is my safety net if/when I sell my house and need to move out to my property before my mother and I find a house to buy together. 

Tiny House People - The tiny house people are staying another month.  I told them that I was planning to sell the house this summer.  I wish I could get their tiny house out to my property but I think the road might be too uneven and narrow.  We are planning to go out there this weekend to evaluate it. 

New Rental house - The new rental house is doing well.  The tenant is paying his own utilities so I am looking forward to a lower electric bill.  The washer is working well and the tenant loves having unlimited water.  I know the feeling.  Hauling one's own water is a tedious and difficult chore. 

May is looming on the horizon.  Only 2 weeks of high school left, then one week of finals and graduation.  The airline tickets were cheapest on Wednesday and Saturday of the following week, so I let my nephew pick.  He chose Saturday so he will have a week to relax after graduation before he moves to Minnesota and gets a job.  I'm trying to enjoy these last days with my nephew but everything is so busy and time keeps marching on. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Moving Things Around

Whew, I took an extra day off to make it a 4 day weekend but there was still so much running around.  One of these days I'm going to get to stay home.  On Thursday, I took Sassy to her vet appointment and dropped my other foster dog at the groomer for a trim.

Got home around 11 and made some breakfast/lunch.  Watched some TV and procrastinated because I was supposed to be doing my taxes.  Worked on my taxes enough to realize that since my nephew turned 17 last year, I couldn't claim the EIC credit for him.  Sadness.  I ended up owing $1200!  That was a shock.  I will have to adjust my withholding again.  And this year is the last year I will get to be Head of Household.  I go back to being just plain Single with the high taxes that go with it.  Plus, I'll have rental income from the second rental.  Taxes galore!  I need to retire soon and reduce my income.

Later in the day, someone wanted to meet my foster dog and that went well.  Then, my nephew had a Fine Arts demonstration at his high school where he sang two songs with his choir.  I was late but made it for the last song.

On Friday, my nephew and I had planned to move the love seat, dresser, dog pool and bike for my tenant, but first, my mother misplaced her keys so we drove over to help her out and she bought us lunch.  Then we went out to the property and loaded up the truck.  We had some trouble keeping the plastic pool inside the truck bed even with a cargo net so I had to stop and stuff in behind our seats.  The stuff made it safely to its destination and the nice neighbors helped us unload.  On the way home we got blocked by a stopped train so we went home the long way but that was ok because we went by the good car wash (the one that costs $5 and actually uses soap) and got the truck washed.  We made it home by 6.

Saturday was the big adoption event at the Tucson Expo Center.  One person came in to meet Sassy and they reserved her pending a visit to their house and their 10 cats. (yes, TEN!)  We shall see how that goes later this week.

 Sunday was Easter and we spent it with my mother and also celebrated her birthday which was the weekend before but she was out of town.  Got home at 5 and took a short nap to try to get rid of my headache.  Then, time to finish my taxes and file them. (Goodbye $1200).  I did get $450 back from the state from prepaying my taxes to public and private schools so I guess that's not so bad.

I don't think I mentioned how the move went last weekend.  It took longer than planned and was a really windy day but we didn't lose anything on the road and my nephew got a lot of experience driving the truck with a full load (the bed, refrigerator, and other belongings) 50 minutes across town.  I am so glad that is over and my tenant is settled in.  He is paying for his own utilities now too so I expect my electric bill to decrease dramatically (and even more so when the tiny house people leave next month).  I do love paying tenants but, oh my gosh, I need to simplify and consolidate some things.

Next steps: 
Take Sassy to meet her potential adopters sometime this week.
Take my other foster to meet the lady's husband and dog (if they are still interested).
Take some stuff from the house and put it in the barn-shed for storage so that I can organize my house.
Clean the mobile home and haul the trash away. 
Get handyman to fix the drip edge on my roof and grease the evaporative cooler because it is embarrassingly LOUD and I am trying not to run it even though it is in the mid-90's here.
Get handyman to rearrange the laundry area so that I don't have to drain the washer into a trashcan and empty it with a bucket anymore.  That is getting old.

Plus, one of my sisters is visiting and Aidan's grandfather is visiting next week.  Only 5 weeks until high school graduation!  We can make it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adventures in WiFi

Qwest/Centurylink has always been my nemesis.  I spent so much time listening to that annoying automated voice that I cringe every time I hear it.  At least now they give me the option to push a button instead of telling that voice what I want.  I've been paying for the internet service out at my mobile home.  Initially, I kept it connected because I planned to go out there and sort through my stuff.  But then, the tenant moved in and I said, that's ok, I'll keep it on since this will be a temporary thing.  8 months later at $57 a month, I was looking forward to cancelling it as soon as he moved.  He will be responsible for all of his own utilities at the new house. 

Last month, my tenant sent me a text and asked if I had shut off the internet.  No, I wouldn't do that without telling him.  I called Centurylink and they got me to the right department which always takes extra time because Arizona seems to be still under the "Qwest" brand name and a different division of the company.  We went through the usual troubleshooting and they agree to sent a technician out.  3 days later, I get a phone call from the tech who can't find my property, which is normal, and I give him the "third cactus from the right" sort of directions.  He made it, went back and forth to the main box on the street a couple of times and determined that my modem was about to die and a rodent had chewed the wires at the street.  The rodent part was good news to me because I always like it to be their issue.  My tenant sent me a text and said the tech gave him a free modem and everything was fine now.  I didn't believe the "free" part so I called the tech and he said, yes, they give out free modems now if the modem is dying.  Wow, I'm impressed.  I bet Centurylink has a lot of extra modems from their leased returns.  What a good PR stunt.  And, he told me that he noticed that my account was not on a promotion so he added one.  It reduced my bill by $20! 

Now that my bill was reduced, I thought that if I got a promotion for my other service at the house, then I wouldn't need to cancel and I could afford to keep it on until I am in a position to move out to the property again.  I finally called and was surprised to hear "add a promotion" as one of the calling options.  No threats to cancel necessary, the agent happily added a 1 year promotion and reduced my bill by $25.  Great!  Now I can carry on with my plan to get the house ready to sell and move out to my property while simultaneously looking for a house to buy with my mother.  And I will still have wifi available at each location which is really handy for my phone with no data plan, just wifi.

Monday, April 3, 2017

April Already

I never thought April would get here, and yet, it seems to be here too soon.  Spring break is over and I am glad because for previous breaks my nephew would go to visit his aunt in California, but this last time, he wanted to stay home.  That was fine with me except I didn't get a break from grocery shopping and thinking about how he is spending too much time on the computer and resenting, just a little, his care-free life.  But I know he will be off to college in a few short months and his life will soon be as complicated as the rest of our lives.  Is that a good thing?  My life could be a lot simpler if I wasn't trying to retire early or arrange semi-passive income from rental property, or develop my desert property with a tiny house and rainwater catchment system, or sell my house and live with my mother for as long as she needs me.  Bored, I am not.

Last Saturday, the plan was to pick up my mother, show her the rental house, go with my nephew to get my tenant and move his stuff since he doesn't have a car, and enjoy my care-free Sunday along with the usual grocery shopping.  It started out ok.  I picked up my mother and took her to the rental house.  The workmen were still finishing the inside and cutting and putting up the blinds.  The inside was still a mess.  I wiped down the new tile in the bedroom so that we would have a place to put stuff.  It's funny how a tile color called "sand" would seem like it would go with almost anything but in reality it clashes with the red tile in the living room and the orangish color on the walls.  


Oh well, that's what I get for not bringing color samples with me.  Did I really expect to get everything done in one week?  Hahaha.  I'm so na├»ve.  I did find this awesome little vanity sink and cabinet for $89 at the used building supply store.  


Plus a pre-hung front door for $109 and a metal security door for $39 (the existing front door was very small), and a gas stove for $75.  I wasn't planning on replacing the door and also rearranging the windows but since the outside is going to get new stucco, I thought this would be a good time to do it.  One of the double pane living room windows got removed and put in the front of the house to replace a single pane window.  The single pane window went to the back bedroom to replace a broken window.  And I bought one new double pane window for the dining area.  If I had more money I would have replaced the other 3 windows but they are on the north side so they aren't as important.

By the time we got home it was 1, I was tired and hungry so I told my tenant I would come out at 3:30.  At 3 I jumped in the car and noticed raindrops and the wind picking up.  The plan ran off the tracks and I postponed it until Sunday.  By Saturday evening I had a headache that wouldn't go away.  Sunday it was worse.  I cancelled the plan. 

My mother had spent the night and luckily, my nephew was able to take her home.  He was very proud of himself for not getting lost.  I was very proud of him too.  Not one complaint.  I started feeling better around 4 in the afternoon.  The workmen will have another week to work on the outside stucco, paint and fencing.  I am still on the hunt for a washing machine and hope to have one by next Saturday, which is the new move-in date.  It will be good to get "phase one" completed so that I can move on to fixing up my own house, if I have any money left.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Equity Shuffle

It's been a very busy month and I haven't made the time to sit down and sort out my thoughts until now. 

Old Plan:
Nephew goes off to college in May.
Mother moves in to my Tucson house after I turn my carport in to an apartment for her.

But the more we thought about that, the more we decided that it wasn't ideal since my mother would be bored and dependent on me for things that she can do herself now like go to church, see her friends, go to doctor appointments, etc...  The only thing that made sense was for me to move to her retirement town which is 45 minutes away.  Safer streets, less traffic, familiar routines. 

New Plan:
Nephew goes off to college in May.
Fix up Tucson house to sell and mother sells her house.
Move to my property temporarily.
Buy a house with mother near mother's current location.

I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to move to her town because it is mostly 55 and older housing.  But, only one person in the household needs to be 55 and older so, yes, we can live there together.  Then, I needed to figure out if there were regulations for pets.  I have heard of homeowner's associations limiting pets to only 2 and I currently have 3 dogs and 2 foster dogs.  I narrowed down the area that would work for both of us and the HOA does not have a pet limit so I'm good there as long as their barking doesn't annoy the neighbors.  Now I am watching homes for sale.  I have identified around 40 that have a large yard, as in more than .2 of an acre lot.  They aren't for sale but maybe one of them will be by the time we are ready to buy.

And, to kick off this plan, I bought another house.  This one is an investment.  Since the house that I live in now would only get around $850/m for rent, I decided to buy a small house and rent it out to my tenant who is at my property in my mobile home for $600/m.  He wants running water and accessibility to public transportation, and I want my mobile home back because I plan to move there temporarily and store more of my stuff there after I make it pest-proof. 

Here's a little more explanation:  I am emotionally invested in my Tucson house.  I have toiled in the yard, fostered loads of dogs and puppies in it, housed my parents and nephew, visited with other family and friends.  I don't want to rent it out and see other people change it.  I want to sell it and never go back.  Plus, the house is worth around $160K and I don't want to keep a mortgage on it so having that much money tied up in it does not work for my plan.

So, I took out a home equity line of credit for $70K and looked around for something small.  Something that I would never live in and not get attached to it.  But I have to back up again because I didn't start with the HELOC idea.  I started just looking for some place for my tenant to move to.  It was hard to find a place because he has two dogs and it is difficult to find someone else a place to live.  Then I had the bright idea to look for something to buy.  It would be win-win.  I would keep a paying tenant and he would have a better place to live than my mobile home.  The houses that I found in the areas that weren't either crime-ridden or way far out from civilization were all fixer-uppers and not able to be financed traditionally.  Thus, the HELOC.

It took a month to apply for the HELOC and get the money.  I was watching two houses but on the day my funds were available, both houses had multiple offers.  I scoured the listings again, asked my tenant about areas that he wanted to avoid, and checked trulia.com for their crime rating.  I found this little two bedroom, one bath house close to downtown and a block from the bus stop.  I went out to look at it asap.  My realtor said that the house was probably still available because it had a tenant.  We couldn't see inside but I wanted to put in an offer anyway.  The realtor wrote the offer up contingent on seeing the inside and there being no major issues.  Then we waited for the tenant to leave, and waited, and waited.  Finally he moved out and the inside was dirty with a few water hose leaks, cockroaches and some termites.  My realtor made a list of things to be fixed and we waited some more.  The closing day was getting close so I offered to take the house as-is for $1,000 off the price.  The seller agreed and we proceeded with the sale for $64K.  It's been a week now and my handyman has been painting and repairing.  It's been treated for cockroaches and termites and all the junk is gone.  We are focusing on the inside first so that my tenant can move in the first of the month.   

Needs some stucco repair.

Dirty but functional.

Water leaks and clogged drains.

I don't want to know what was living in the couch.
Now you are caught up with my plans and rental house adventure.  When I sell my Tucson house I will pay off the rest of the mortgage and the HELOC and have some leftover to put down on the house with my mother.  I will also have 2 paid-off rentals giving me income.  That's pretty awesome.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ever-Changing Plan

So much has been going on, and yet, so little actual change.  Most of the changes are just in my future plans.  For instance, my mother and I were talking about her moving in to my house and I was going to enclose my carport so that she would have her own space on the opposite side of the house furthest from my dogs.  It seemed like the most cost-effective move.  But, the more we talked about it, we realized that my mother would be bored at my house, far away from her friends, church activities, and transportation.  She lives in a 55 and older town 45 minutes away from me and I didn't think that I would be allowed in.  After doing some research, I found that anyone over 18 can live in the town as long as one resident is 55 or older.  Also, if the 55 and older resident dies, the other resident can remain living there it they are 45 or older (although I probably would not want to). 

The next hurdle was finding an area that we both agree upon.  I took a half day off last week and we drove around looking at neighborhoods.  I liked the houses on one acre lots but Mom needs sidewalks to walk on and would prefer a house with a front porch to wave at people as they walk by.  I would also like a large backyard so that she and I can both have our areas to do with as we please.  We found a neighborhood close to where she lives now.  It has a homeowner's association and I was worried that they would limit the number of pets per household.  I looked up the rules online and was pleasantly surprise to find that they do not but I will still have to make sure that my dogs don't bark and annoy the neighbors.

Bark? Not me!
Ok, if we actually did this moving in together thing, Mom would need to sell her house and I would need to sell my house.  So, now I am back to the plan of downsizing and then fixing up the house to sell.  This is after my nephew graduates and goes to live with his grandfather in May.  This plan seems like it might actually work if we find the right house so that we can maintain our own privacy yet be there for each other when we need to be.

What will this plan do to my early retirement plan?  Probably delay it because my house money will be tied up in another house and I might even get another mortgage, but if that is what I need to do to keep Mom out of a nursing home then I should do it.  I'll just keep paying down the mortgage and saving more money and someday I will be in a very good position to retire, hopefully, still early.