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Archive for March, 2010

This is how much my kitchen actually cost me

March 31st, 2010 at 04:03 am

Call it the saga of the kitchen remodel. I laughed when I heard on HGTV that the average mid-range kitchen remodel cost $59,000. Who spends that? Thankfully, I am not that ambitious. However I did think I was budgeting plenty of money when we decided to replace our dying, down-to-one-burner cooktop and heavily damaged 1957 counters.

Budget $5,000 for new quartz counters and a new gas-cooktop.
Actual cost? Gulp : $6,252.82

Cost for countertops, demolition and installation : $4,305.82

Extra magic amount they charged me later after they claimed it was more work than expected, despite my detailed drawings and description (Bear in mind I have taken many architectural drafting classes...):$282

Extra cost because they said they couldn't reuse my current sink: $150, and the extra cost because current faucet didn't fit any other sink : $150

Cooktop : $780

Electrician for pre-demo work on cooktop and outlet for new cooktop : $135

Cost for plumber to run a new gas line: $450

I've never gone over budget like this in my life. I love the counters and the new cooktop, but was it worth that much money? I'm not so sure.

Just for the curious, We chose quartz because it doesn't need sealing and it contains 35 percent recycled glass.

The wait is over

March 26th, 2010 at 05:06 pm

Phew. My 5-figure tax refund and my freelance checks for Jan. and Feb arrived today. I can finally move out of money limbo and move on with my life!

I used all of the tax refund to meet savings goals. I almost feel like I cheated, but hey, whatever fills up the savings account, right?

It will put us much closer to our general savings and our college savings goals for the year.

Now that the freelance checks arrived, I can file my quarterly taxes, then move the remaining money into my IRA and into the tiki bar fund.

Limbo is still on for the kitchen renovation. The electrician is coming Sunday to disconnect the cooktop and install an outlet, the countertops are being installed monday and the plumber will hopefully come Tuesday to install the gas line and then Tah Dah! I hope we love the kitchen.

It will be just in the nick of time, as another burner went out on our cooktop today, so we are down to one.

Are you middle class? interesting article

March 25th, 2010 at 04:51 pm

I ran across this interesting article about how to tell if you are middle class. Here is the link:

Text is and Link is

It's an interesting read and I wonder what you think about it.

Here is the run down:
*Middle class = $50,000 to $123,000 a year for family of four

*Home is worth $231,000, and makes$17,600 in mortgage payments

* Spends $12,400 per year on two medium-sized sedans

*Saves $4,100 for college expenses for two kids

*Saves $2,600 per year for retirement

*Spends $14,200 a year on living expenses

*net worth of about $84,00

I thought this was interesting:
"A median-income family that saved 3.2 percent of its income—roughly equivalent to the national saving rate—would sock away nearly $2,600 per year for retirement. Of course many families don't hit even that modest goal, and stock-market losses over the last several years have further shrunk the national nest egg."

I was flabbergasted at the $2,600 a year figure. That is so low.

I will say that we are squarely in the middle class income area, have two kids and seem like the "typical" demographic they are going for.

So here's how we stack up to average:
Our house is 1443 square feet and cost $154,000 (below average),we have no car payment at the moment (way below average), we put aside about $9,000 for college for our two kids (above average), no annual vacation, and we save about $20,000 a year for retirement in 401ks and IRAs. We both work, although I freelance so we don't have to pay for daycare.

How do you stack up?

Trying to overcome house envy

March 22nd, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I've had house envy ever since my friends moved into a fabulous, and I mean fabulous, 1960 ranch house in our neighborhood.

When we bought this house, we still had a mortgage on a house in a hurricane zone, and were looking for something manageable, that w could work with and that we could afford to pay off within 5 years. There were also almost no houses for sale in this area, as someone basically has to die for a house to go on sale.

My hubby loved this house. I had my reservations but thought I could work with it.

It seemed like tons of space until we had two children and suddenly had no guest rooms.

So,when my friends moved into a house that was all the things we wished our house would have been, it was hard.

We casually looked at a few houses for sale, but deep down i think it's a better idea to just sit tight and learn to love our house again.

We don't really want to go through the hassle of moving, all for a few more square feet.

And, we don't want to start from scratch making improvements inside and out. We've already spent $30,000 on windows, roof, furnace, paint, etc. that we have no hope of recouping in this market.

SO, the plan is to make the most of this house, which is small but paid for, has a bedroom for everyone, even if not a bathroom to go with it, and has a decent fenced yard for the kids.

I think it will help that we are finally starting to get to the "fun" house projects. Things you can enjoy, not just things you have to do to preserve your investment (like a furnace). Our new kitchen will be done next week (counters and cooktop converted to gas).

And,we've decided to extend our concrete patio to the entire length of the house. it will give us a really nice space to spread out for kids and adult fun in the backyard, while still leaving most of the yard trees, grass and flowers.

This is part of my plan to fall in love with this house. I want to create a mini-forest flowering woodland forest-style oasis in the back. A place for us to have fun, and for the kids to explore, and to have friends over to sit in front of the chiminea, grow some berries, and support local wildlife. I think we can pull it off, and for not a lot of money, apart from the patio.

OK, so I will never have my own bathroom, even with two boys in the house. But I will still have a paid-for house.

We also are going to go hard on the green thing. We hope to redo our insulation this fall and to add solar panels in a couple of years. All of this will only be possible if we stay put.

Plus, with this house, we already know what we are dealing with and what the issues are. With a new house, we'd be starting over completely.

So, I am determined to fall in love with this house and stop dreaming of one that's bigger.

waiting and waiting...for money

March 18th, 2010 at 03:31 pm

I'm still waiting for our tax refund. I feel like I've been waiting forever. The IRS web site said it'd be in my account by March 16, but alas no. Maybe I'm extra anxious because it's a large refund (north of $10k) and I have countertops to pay for.

I also feel like everything is on hold, waiting for such a large chunk of money. Once it's here, I can send it into the various accounts where it needs to go and be done with it. I just hate waiting!

On a positive note, I finally got paid for the first two months of my regular freelance gig. Now, I can pay my qtrly taxes (for a decent amount) and move all that money where it needs to go: taxes, IRA, tiki fund, etc.

I just feel like everything is on hold!! I hate it!!

Shameless baby photos

March 17th, 2010 at 04:38 pm

Bean is about to turn 2 and little brother is 4 month old. Next thing you know they will be getting their own apartments!

35: Where have the years gone?

March 13th, 2010 at 02:52 pm

I'm 35 today, and boy I guess time flies. In my head I'm still 28.

In honor of the festive occasion, I'm going in for a haircut and color, which I haven't done since 1999. Yeah,that long. I have wanted to for a while, due to two babies and no time to take care of myself, plus I need a change. This is just giving me an excuse.

Then, mom is coming to babysit tonight so hubby and I can go out.

Kitchen still MORE over budget

March 10th, 2010 at 09:24 pm

I was fuming yesterday. As I posted before, the kitchen is going way over my $5,000 budget, even though it seemed like basic changes-- new cooktop, new counters.

As I mentioned, I was forced to buy a new sink because the contractor said my current 1957 cast iron beauty can't be reused. So, I bought a Kohler stainless steel one for $150. I also had to buy a $150 faucet because my current one only fits my current sink.

THEN, the counter people called back with the final bill based on their measurements, etc. They added another $285 to the bill. Even though the rounded edge of one counter was in my original diagram, they "forgot" to include the special circular edge charge. Get this: $99 for each 1/4 circle, so one half circle costs about $200. Who has 1/4 circles??? I was very livid. They also are making me take the backsplash behind my cooktop out for some reasons about the new counter not adhering to it. I had planned to keep this, so that's more money for ripping out and more money to replace it with something new.

This is not a major construction project, and yet it is more expensive and complicated than I feel it needs to be.

I can't wait until this is finished. If I didn't have two small kids I could save some of this money by doing the demo and stuff myself, but with two little ones, it will be next to impossible.

I'm steamed, but feel I am in too deep to back out.

Argh. Kitchen already over budget

March 3rd, 2010 at 05:53 pm

So yeah. I had budgeted $5000 for a modest kitchen update-- really nice counters and a cooktop that is converted to gas. The budget is already blown, despite my best efforts.

The cooktop cost $777 after tax. That was expected.

What I didn't expect was that the $78/sq. ft. quartz counters including installation don't REALLY include installation.

Every little tiny thing costs extra. They're charging me $500 plus to take out and haul away my old countertops, charging me for the cutouts for my sink and cooktop, etc.... so I'm looking at $4300 for the counters, about $500 more than I had planned.

So, from the get go the budget is blown.

The bad news is, the expenses are already mounting. The counter guys came today to make the template and told me there is no way to reuse my current sink, which is from the 1950s, because of the way it mounts to the counters. Long story short, I need to go buy a new sink.

And, I just realized that I need to pay to have the electric cooktop unhooked and pay to install a three-prong plug. Shame on me for not remembering that even gas cooktops need an outlet. That one is my fault. Luckily, I have a great electrician, but I am probably still looking at $100 to $200.

I have thought of trying to save by doing some demo and stuff myself, but with two babies under 2, that just isn't possible right now. Plus, if I accidentally destroyed the cabinets, I would really be in trouble budget wise. So looks like I am just going to have to take this one on the chin.