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    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 9th Feb 17, 4:00 AM
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    armchairexpert
    The ups, downs, and occasional sideways bits of trying to be mortgage free
    • #1
    • 9th Feb 17, 4:00 AM
    The ups, downs, and occasional sideways bits of trying to be mortgage free 9th Feb 17 at 4:00 AM
    Hello! I used to loiter around here a few years ago and you were all terribly friendly. Then I was made redundant, started my own business, and it's all been a bit uppy and downy since then.

    We've been meandering along for the past three years, since taking on a new mortgage in 2014, paying things as they come up and failing to notice that we're not making a dent in the mortgage at all. It's set up as a line of credit, so the minimum payment on it is only interest - we'd expected to be paying down the principal as well just as a matter of course, but it hasn't quite worked out that way.

    I'm not going to do a SOA because I'm in Australia, and even the most dedicated MFW'er probably can't tell me if I'm paying the right amount for my electricity! But I have buckled down and done a very comprehensive YNAB budget, and it tells me that I should have about $700/month extra without cancelling the children's extra-curricular and the occasional treat. We shall see if this holds true.


    As an aside, I also have a second mortgage on a buy-to-let, but the tenant is my mother, who can't afford to pay us market rent much less cover the running costs, so that costs us about $5,000 a year or so. As a way of clawing back savings, I don't budget any of the tax reductions that brings us, I just treat it as a normal expense, and then anything we get back at the end of the tax year is like an annual bonus.

    What else? Two DDs, the youngest one started school this year which is a GAME CHANGER I tell you what, some lovely silly chickens who very generously make eggs for us, the beginnings of a fairly pathetic vegetable garden which I'm not convinced even pays its own running costs - and long suffering DH, of course, who keeps the lights on.

    Also I am not the most succinct person in the world.
    Last edited by armchairexpert; 09-02-2017 at 4:10 AM.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
Page 5
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 3rd May 17, 10:45 AM
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    Cherryfudge
    I think standing back and recalculating from time to time helps everyone. After all, circumstances change and not always in ways we can easily spot. Costs creep up, unexpected things happen and sometimes we don't need to put as much into one pot as we used to.

    I hope the recalculations are useful... if you post them there may be someone able to spot something helpful.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 4th May 17, 12:39 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Thanks Cherry - the general SOA isn't very helpful for me because I'm in Australia and a) some of the types of expenses are different and b) many of the actual expenses are very different, by which I mean some things are a lot more expensive and some things cheaper. I'm pretty confident that I've got the groceries down to a point where any more cuts would diminish our quality, and I've shopped around for insurances and things. Mobile phones are too high, because I'm waiting for Mr Expert to call and switch us over to a sim-only plan. Both phones are in his name, so it has to be him.

    I've been reading something called The Barefoot Investor, who recommends (in a broad-brush way) a 60:20:20 approach. 60% of your income should be spent on essentials: housing and bills and food: 20% on savings: 20% on frivolous things. Ours is a bit skewed towards the housing costs because we're also partially supporting my mother and therefore we pay two sets of council rates, strata fees on her unit, two water bills... so it's more like 70:15:15 but that's okay.

    I've also been reading this link, which tells me what the average spend per family in Australia on various categories is (divided by age-of-children) and we're spending significantly less on things like clothes and entertainment, but more on housing, so that again is in line with everything else. On the one hand, I can feel alright about my decisions: on the other, it means there's not much left to slash!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 5th May 17, 5:38 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Nothing remotely MSE happening over the past couple of days: dinner out two nights running, which is completely out of character.

    (It was my birthday)

    Mr Expert is being considered for a new position as of July, which would be vastly more responsibility for a ludicrously tiny amount of money (an extra $2K a year! Before tax! That's about $100 a month! For managing a team of people!) BUT it would also mean a lot more travelling. He used to travel for work a lot, but as he's got more senior, he's been a lot more desk-based. Because he works for the public service, travel attracts significant overtime money, and also he likes being more hands-on, so this would be great.

    (Also, if he's away I can eat lentil soup for dinner three nights running because I love it but Mr E doesn't consider it a real meal. Also also, I get the remote control).

    The only thing remaining now is to see if they agree to award it to him internally or advertise externally.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 5th May 17, 8:42 AM
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    Tahlullah
    Happy belated birthday ACE! Everyone is entitled to celebrate in style occasionally and a birthday is a great reason.

    And good luck to Mr ACE with the job promotion. Hope he gets his desire. Looks like more responsibility for less money to me, but as you say, the overtime will cover the extra travel costs!

    Fingers crossed on his behalf!!

    Tx
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 6th May 17, 11:30 PM
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    Cherryfudge
    Looking at the spends in the link, I'm impressed that you can make anything of British figures - wages alone look like another world!

    I suppose it is about knowing yourself and your household and how things divvy up for you.

    I know there was another Australian lassy here not so long ago (she seems to have vanished which is a shame) but wouldn't it be useful if MSE had a board with threads for people from non-UK places? It makes it easier if you have a common frame of reference, though I was well impressed to see your Government has as section for financial education. They have obviously thought along the same lines as Martin.

    I've also been reading this link, which tells me what the average spend per family in Australia on various categories is (divided by age-of-children)
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    Interesting how Tasmania is so different from the mainland!

    Yes, having a higher proportion of your finances tied up in housing will be a constraint I guess... but if it enables you to support your Mum, you are doing the right thing. Only take care you don't run yourself or your finances too low (easier said than done, sorry).

    Well done to Mr Expert - and happy lentil soup days (and belated birthday!) to you!
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 7th May 17, 9:09 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Yeah, if you divide everything by 3 (ignoring exchange rates) it roughly makes sense. Median wage here is about $75K, I think that's about what 25K will buy you in the sense that it's a decent, mediumish wage but you'd have to be careful on it if you were a single income family and it'd be impossible in the SE? I couldn't get my head around your figures at first but I've read enough now to get a feel for what's considered reasonable in various parts of the country and the 1:3 ratio seems to work!

    Tallulah, you're absolutely right and it's a ridiculously small amount of extra money for the responsibility! But he misses the field work and I like the space so it'd be win-win.

    Nice MSE weekend here. Child's birthday party yesterday - lots of standing around in the cold chatting over hot dogs and fairy bread - and a day at home today. The girls helped me make lemon cake balls, cheesy scrolls, rice pudding, peanut butter biscuits and a loaf of bread so that should take care of the next few days!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 8th May 17, 2:10 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Well, they're advertising the job externally so that means he can still apply but it's not looking as hopeful. He's been told his contract will definitely be extended for the next year (he's on rolling 12 month contracts that run 1 July-30 June) so that's good, but bye bye overtime.

    Even more galling, he had an attack of an intermittent heart condition on the weekend. This has been ongoing for a few years, it's a racing heart thing, but every time we get him near an ECG it stops. This time he self-presented at the local hospital and they actually got a reading, which is great because we can finally get a cardiologist appointment and they'll probably put him on medication.

    But it also means that his work is not letting him go on a scheduled two-week field trip later this month. Which I totally understand from a health&safety point of view - the work is remote, and in Australia, remote means remote, like 10 hours drive from the nearest building kind of remote. BUT that was going to net us about $2K in overtime that I was hugely banking on. Obviously health comes first etc etc I would not want him to go somewhere where he was unsafe but I am still allowed to be a bit pouty about this, I feel.

    So generally feeling a bit grumpy this morning!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 8th May 17, 5:56 PM
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    Tahlullah
    Sorry to hear about the job, and the field trip and Mr ACE's health. Perhaps these are part of the - bad news comes in 3's - saying. That's 3 all at once, so maybe you are in for a run of good luck.

    Always a shame when the best laid plans fall apart, but something always comes round. Stay positive, once you have exhausted your entitled grumpiness!

    Hope they find the solution to Mr ACE's intermittent heart condition. Very hard to diagnose when any illness the symptoms come and go.
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 9th May 17, 5:30 AM
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    • 3,830 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    Sorry to hear about the job, and the field trip and Mr ACE's health. Perhaps these are part of the - bad news comes in 3's - saying. That's 3 all at once, so maybe you are in for a run of good luck.
    Originally posted by Tahlullah
    I blinking hope so! My dishwasher's gone bung and the guy who came out to fix it has declared himself baffled so it has to go back to the factory. It's only 10 months old, so still in warranty, but what a pain. And the water service started leaking and I have had a plumber out who confirmed it needed new hot and cold valves, so that's another $300 or so. Nothing major, but it feels like an officially Bad Week!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 12th May 17, 1:55 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Good morning! It's sunny and bright and I think I've pulled myself out of the doldrums. I'm in a rut of feeling like my life is just drudgery, so I'm looking at ways to get a bit of a break from that, maybe a cheap weekend away at a friend's place when I can work out how to fit that in.

    In the meantime, the dishwasher is finally going back to the factory today and I will presumably get a working machine of some description at some point. DD2 is at my Mum's for a sleepover tonight and DD1 has her best friend over here for a sleepover at the same time, so I'm declaring a night off from budgeting and buying them a pizza. Keep on plodding, as Beanielou is so good at saying.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 12th May 17, 1:50 PM
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    Tahlullah
    Look! Sunny bright weather, a nice shiny new dishwasher (Potentially) plus pizza!

    All this positiveness around you! Hope you pull out of the doldrums and embrace your inner happiness.
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 15th May 17, 1:43 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Thanks Tahlullah! The weekend was so sunny that I think the entire city was out on Mother's Day (which was yesterday, Sunday, over here) having picnics. We tried to go to the Botanic Gardens but after seeing cars parked up and down the verges several blocks away gave up and went local. The girls tried to build a dam over a creek and we lazed around a lot. Apart from groceries (bit higher than usual because of the pizza and the picnic) we had an entirely NS weekend. It's so much easier in good weather!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 15th May 17, 11:14 AM
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    Cherryfudge
    Ooh, that sounds like a good weekend! If you get tired of all the sun, maybe you could send it back to us. The weather has broken and I'm missing it already!
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 16th May 17, 4:58 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Dishwasher finally due back tomorrow. I don't mind doing dishes by hand, if I'm honest, but the dishwasher makes my life easier because Mr Expert prefers it and he will unload it before I get up in the mornings.

    Huge looming AGM next week for my mother's unit (that I own) - there's massive subsidence under four of the eight units and we just paid out $500 each for an engineer's report. I suspect we'll be up for several, possibly tens of, thousand dollars worth of work. This is strangely not worrying me as much as it perhaps should, and it's because I don't really think about the investment unit much. We'll borrow back against that mortgage, and we can manage a slight increase in mortgage payments - even if it's an extra $50K it'll be about $200/month I think - and it'll just keep jogging along. At some level I just have to decide to not care about this since I can't do anything about it.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 16th May 17, 11:25 AM
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    Cherryfudge
    That sounds like a big thing but... actually I think you have just the right attitude. Don't fret about stuff you can do nowt about.

    Thinking further though - at some point the units were built and if you were in the UK there would have been a survey and legal searches done. Is it the same in Australia, and if so, is there a possible claim against builders/lawyers for missing the cause of subsidence? Or is it one of these causes that couldn't have been foreseen?
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 17th May 17, 3:50 AM
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    armchairexpert
    It is the same here, but what's happened is a couple of things. One, the units were built in the 70s and the land is subject to subsistence anyway, so it is a bit inevitable - lots of cracking and subsistence in the surrounding suburbs too - and two, some large trees on the property have caused a lot of damage via their roots. Previous owners have been reluctant to spend the money to get the trees removed because it's thousands of dollars, and it has just got to the tipping point now. So no negligence, unfortunately! I used to be a property and insurance lawyer so I would be all over it if there was. It's just a combination of old buildings, and owners who don't/didn't have a lot of money to spare so no preventative work done.

    I'll be fine, tbh. There's no equity at all in that unit, we bought it on a 105% mortgage and the current LTV is still around 95%, but we own two-thirds of our actual house so we can refinance if we need to. It's some of the other owners I feel for: the unit next to my mum's is owned by this lovely woman in her early twenties who clearly doesn't have any money to spare and was concerned about even coming up with the $500 to get the report done.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 17th May 17, 10:05 AM
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    Cherryfudge
    Well, with your background I guess at least you save on expert legal advice! Trees can be a big problem, I know. the most important thing must be the safety of the people living there...

    I had never thought of 1970s houses as being 'older' but I'm showing my age! LOL. I think Australian norms may be different too. There is an estate of 1970s houses near us which is certainly well established. Our house was built in 1936 and the house we're clearing, which belonged to my Mum, is 1870s. Mind you, it needs plenty of work and has been revamped at least twice including having a wall rebuilt because of subsidence.

    I hope it all works out with your mum's unit... and yes, very hard for the neighbour.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 17th May 17, 2:38 PM
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    armchairexpert
    Oh yeah I don't mean older like old (although you're right, Australians think 100 years is ancient. Well, white Australians. Indigenous Australians not so much!) just that they're old enough that any subsidence would probably be "just one of those things that happen" 50 years down the track.

    1870s sounds lovely. Now that sort of age, you really don't get any of around here!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 20th May 17, 2:11 PM
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    Tahlullah
    I guess if you are more at one with the Earth, you are more forgiving and understanding of the way the water ebbs and flows and the land heaves and slips.

    Actually, subsistence is 'just one of those things' when you look at it that way.

    The UK really do have a love of old buildings, and it is completely justified when you look at some of the buildings they throw up nowadays. Clearly showing my age as well!

    THe woman next door. Was a survey not undertaken at the time? Perhaps people bought knowing there was a potential issue, but didn't think of the ramifications. That is sad. As you say ACE, you can afford to fix it if necessary, but what does your neighbour do?

    I would like to think that in the UK, they wouldn't have allowed the properties to be built, but I am being naive. They are continually building on flood plains, so why not land prone to subsidence?

    Hope it gets sorted for you - and the neighbours.
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 22nd May 17, 2:11 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Sorry I don't think I'm clear; the land isn't slipping away, like it's not a flood plain or anything! Some huge tree roots have grown under the buildings and pushed up all the ... doohickeys that keep the buildings up, which is causing the walls in four of the front units to develop huge cracks, not my unit but because the common property (the tree) is what's causing the damage, it's everyone's problem to fix. And also it's a dry sandy soil on a slope, which doesn't help, and is why I'm talking about the land being part of the problem. It's just a standard residential area though. I may be using totally wrong terminology, sorry.

    Got the AGM agenda today and as well as "discussions on the recommendations for the building report" there are quotes to fix the falling-down fencing and moving an electrical box and that's another $2K per unit! I mean you'd have to build maintenance costs into buying anything, but it is all happening at once. I may need a wee chat to my bank.

    And I haven't helped myself by deciding, yesterday, to go do some fun shopping for once. I've been very well behaved all year, and I don't own a single pair of winter-weight trousers so we all went into town and I bought an eye wateringly expensive pair of cords which I had better wear approximately twice a week for the next five years in order to justify. I never do this, but I'm nearly forty and I'm sick of wearing cheap clothes all the time. Anyway. Then Mr Expert decided he needed a bunch of things (he goes through clothes way faster than I do) and between us we spent $500, not counting lunch at a dumpling house for our very patient daughters who weren't getting any new clothes themselves! I have spent the morning juggling money in YNAB and it means we won't put anything towards savings or emergency funds this month, but having had my little binge I'm all set now. One hopes.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
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