Archive for March, 2008

Time of upheaval

Well I’ve been quiet for a week … so you know there’s been so much upheaval that it isn’t worth doing updates because everything could change at any moment.

However, I can say that we have been trialling new living arrangements while we wait for the house we like to come available. We’re still saving to move, but we are already over the moon with the effort my FIL has made. I don’t think he’s ever been forced to consider other people’s needs before in this way. But he has made a huge effort to give us some privacy (one of the big problems before) and has been stellar in his attempts to reconcile the situation.

However, there are 4 weeks to go till we can sign on to move into the house, so there is plenty of time for the honeymoon period to wear off.

If things stay like this? …. I’d be more than happy to stay.

I’m not getting my hopes up yet though.

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The plan for the move …

OK, so now we have to figure out how this move is going to work. First of all, here’s a scan of our finances:

  • $1012 in our EF
  • $1025 in our bill paying account
  • Able to save $500/week till we move

So then, there’s the new digs. We have put in an application in for either of two houses that are not yet vacant. Both have three bedrooms, airconditioning and polished floors but one is $AUS320 (available next week) and the other is $340/wk (available early May). We prefer the second house – it is nicer and the long lead-in gives us time to save our bond and some of the expenses of moving.

We have had some good luck: just as we are now moving out from here, my mother happens to be downsizing from her home into a much smaller unit in the city. She has collected some beautiful furniture over the years, very little of which is going to fit into her new home, so guess who is going to be the recipient of much of it? Amongst these items is a beautiful Balinese carved wooden day bed, which she has given me as an early graduation present. Needless to say I am thrilled. But we will also be able to benefit from a lovely comfortable couch, a dining table with some old but nice chairs, a desk, an outdoor table setting, some basic storage units and a heap of small decorative items. We’ll also receive a heap of plants to spruce up our back patio (really just a square of paving). We got rid of a lot of our basic items when we moved in here a few years ago, so it is fantastic that we won’t feel the need to go buying `stuff’ to fill our new place (we won’t really have the money to do that anyway!). The only thing we will need is a washing machine, but we may be able to use some funds from our billpaying account for this.

So anyway, it seems like we will have the cash to pay for our bond and our first 2 weeks of rent (needed in advance), plus all costs related to the joint party we are having in May. We shouldn’t need to cut in to our EF – fingers crossed!

Our debt repayment schedule is going back to basics (just over minimum payments on the car loan), but I am hoping the lump sums I had planned to use to boost our emergency fund later in the year can instead be used to wipe out this debt. And just to feel like we are getting somewhere, we will put $20 a week towards the EF once we are settled in.

 It is disappointing to halt our quickie debt repayment system but I am confident we’ll find alternative ways to cut the debt … if a little more slowly than we had planned.

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Ceasefire was short-lived!

Negotiations broke down again a few days ago, so we are definitely leaving. Suddenly now (ie today), my FIL has realised we are REALLY seriously leaving and now he is `distraught’. However, I’ve seen this before and once we settle in again to stay, I suspect things will go back to normal.

I have contacted an agent about a house we like and are waiting to see if we will be accepted as tenants. It’s time to return to the land of the living (though we will also be somewhat less financially free!).

Oh, well. Them’s the breaks!

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Who knows if this will work?

Well, a few days have gone by and the storm has blown over, though our resolve hasn’t. We are still very sure we will be moving out in the near future, though it looks like my hubby and those around us have brokered a short-term deal.

We sat my FIL down and explained the lay of the land. We laid it all out on the table – and I think it was the first time he realised we were serious about what we need … and that we really were planning to leave.

Then my sister-in-law dropped over and took him for a drive. She laid it all out on the table too, about the few options he has if we can’t stay. And I know a few of his friends have gently nudged him to think about what we’re asking for and why we might feel the way we do.

Then finally my husband sat him down again and outlined once again everything we thought, but this time we focused on why we thought the changes could actually be good for him.

It sounds like we may be getting somewhere. However, we’ve been at this point before and – partly becuase we didn’t keep the pressure on – it all fell in a heap.

So in other words, my FIL has agreed to the changes we had sought, but we have not yet agreed that this means we will stay long term. If it all works and he sticks to his end of the bargain, we will seriously consider staying. But if everything just goes back the way it was, well, we know we did everything we could but it’s time to go. We’ll probably give this 4-6 months, and see how it works out. It’ll be a lot less than that if it becomes clear it’s not working.

The other thing is,  we have convinced him to start planning for the future. We may have to move for work in the future and so, he needs to start looking around now at the retirement home options regardless of whether or not we stay for the short term. That way, if things do end up needing to change drastically, he has somewhere to go.

So all this means I will keep up the debt repayment effort but will also need to boost our EF a bit faster in case we need to move. I guess that’s all we can do.

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A bad day turns worse

It’s been a very bad day. To cut a long story short, my husband and I have realised we can not continue to live in this house with my father-in-law, certainly not without a firm exit date and strategy anyway.

In brief, my FIL went back on an agreement we had made about the living arrangements in the house. This is typical of his attitude, which is one of saying this is our home (as a group), but using his actions to show he sees it very much as `his house’.

Of course, it is his house (of course we recognise that), but he is now physically and mentally incapable of living here on his own. So if we go, so will he … most likely to a nursing home. This is not what he wants or what we want, but what can we do?

I know he wants everything to remain the same as it was (he’s lived here for most of his life), but the reality is that it can’t and we can no longer keep our lives on hold to stay here with him, especially when we feel so disrespected by his attitude and actions.

It’s a shame for us too … living here has helped us change our financial situation, and we are moving back into a housing market that is at its peak. Rent and house prices are obscene right now.

But I’d rather rent a `crappy but happy’ home than live in one where my family isn’t comfortable and we don’t have a voice in what goes on.

It’s unfortunate but true. On the upside, we are at least going to see through our debt repayment schedule and ensure we move without borrowing for bond or moving costs. But then we’re out of here. Perhaps it is for the best.

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Am I scared of being debt free?

Well I could be … or I could just be giving in to my usual consumer tendencies. It’s my week off and I’ve been itching to go out and start purchasing the items needed for our room and the office. Thing is, I promised myself I’d pay off our debt before I did any of this. Not only that, but our other priority is saving for our joint birthday party, so furniture should be right down on my wish list.

Sometimes, the way my focus drifts so easily, I start thinking maybe I don’t really want to be out of debt. You know, in the same way they say that some obese people are actually subconsciously terrified of being thin because they fear the attention that comes with being attractive and noticed by the opposite sex? Maybe I don’t want to be debt-free because then I’d really have the chance to plan ahead. Maybe I don’t trust myself. It’s easy being in debt, because you have no choice but to pay off what you owe and you don’t have to think about what else you’d be doing with your money.

I’m trying to think of reasons I might subconsciously want to delay paying off my debt. Well, first and most obviously, it’s a hell of a lot easier to be in debt and get what you want straight away! But what else … I’m wondering what my subsconscious thoughts are about money and debt, and if these have anything to do with my money mood swings. Here’s my initial thoughts:

Money is hard work.

You can’t trust in money. It’s easy to lose.

There’s never enough.

How will I know which house to buy, or how much to pay?

Should I spend money on fun things or start saving once the debt is gone?

How would I know if something was a good investment? What if I lost it all?

Those are just a few things I typed without censoring myself. I’m surprised … I guess I thought I was more confident about my ability to manage my money. I notice there aren’t really any positive comments there. Is this how I really feel or just how I feel today?

Maybe all this has nothing to do with why I have been close to sabotaging myself in the past few days. In any case, I might have to keep myself away from retail opportunities over the next week or so and wait for these consumer desires to wear off!

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An inspiring post from The Butler Project

I am going to add a blog to my Blog Roll called The Butler Project. I have to say there are some amazing posts on this site, including this amazing interview with a millionaire furniture store owner.  This post is so inspiring!

This guy, MR, has just done the hard yards over the years to get where he is today. His strategy has been plain – pay off debt quickly then do as he and his wife did – `save like bandits’.  Don’t invest in stuff you don’t understand. Look for opportunities in everything.

Honestly, go and have a look at this two-part interview transcript. Others might prefer a different approach but you can’t knock what this guy has achieved.

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