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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
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
Page 23
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 27th Feb 18, 11:13 AM
    • 2,204 Posts
    • 13,037 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    Hello ACE, just popping in to see if you're okay? It's been quiet here for a while... missing you!
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 19th Mar 18, 10:46 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Hello! I decided I was spending too much time on this site to the detriment of my actual billable work and I put it on my list of Things To Access Occasionally (I use a productivity blocker, so it went into the time waster category which gives me v limited time between 8am and 8pm).

    But I'm still here, still fine, still budgeting. Let's see. When we left our heroine, she (um, I) had three goals for first quarter 2018, which we appear to be basically at:

    Get the interest payment under 50% of the total payment (easy, tbh. Fortnightly payment is $647, last interest payment was $674).

    Not as easy as all that! Last month it was , but it was February, so only 28 days. The month before, 31 days, was $691. I reckon this is a bit further away than I thought.

    Shave another 5% off the groceries. I have a whole plan. It's dull to anyone but me. I'd like it consistently under $1000 even on a 5 week month.

    Noooooope. As always, this would be achievable if I were the only one doing the shopping but I am not. March, a 5 Saturday month, is not even going to squeak in under $1100.

    Build the business buffer back up: this last two months I have borrowed back from the business buffer/tax account to cover my contribution. This is mostly due to outstanding invoices, which is why I'm not worried about it, but I'll feel better when it's got savings in. I want a $3K slush fund there in case I've badly miscalculated my tax obligations - they'll be higher this year, and I think student loan payments kick in.

    Now, this I have managed, and I have two more lucrative months lined up before I even have to start worrying. In January I lost two of my best clients and was down to earning half of what I needed to meet expenses. In February I decided I was going to pay for some after-school-hours care for the girls to free up more time to hustle, and that's proven to be a good decision. Whether it was that, or just the time of year picking up, I've had a series of good projects come in and a few more meetings that might turn into equally good stuff, as well as clear business plans for bringing in more inbound work once I find the time to execute them. It's all forward motion.

    And here's a goal that wasn't on the list: I started this diary in February 2017, when my mortgage + credit card debt - savings account was -$228K. Exactly a year later, it was -$198K. I'm rounding slightly, but it's almost exactly $20K paid off.

    Generally, things have turned around a lot. Bonus money now goes straight into savings. I have the emergency buffers/repair funds built up. We may even be planning a proper holiday for next year.
    Last edited by armchairexpert; 19-03-2018 at 10:49 AM.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • wishingthemortgaheaway
    • By wishingthemortgaheaway 19th Mar 18, 11:13 AM
    • 1,770 Posts
    • 9,010 Thanks
    wishingthemortgaheaway
    Sounds like a generally successful year and quarter Ace.

    I like the sound of the productivity blocker. Does it work on a phone/tablet? I need this in my life.
    The 100 payment countdown (each payment = 400) 2018 Starts at 13/100 o/s 34,750.
    Jan 18 14/100 Feb 15/100 March 18/100 April 19/100 May 20/100 June 21/100 Dec: 28/100
    MFW 2019 Challenge Member #59: 0/2860
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 19th Mar 18, 12:21 PM
    • 800 Posts
    • 5,283 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    Should do! The one I use is Freedom. I have it set so that all of the websites I have categorised as Time Wasters have a one hour time limit per day. As in, added all together. Every time I click over to Twitter or whatever, the clock starts ticking. And every time I realise I have discovered a new time waster, I add it to the list. And it's very hard to change it back to more generous settings.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • ToeDipper
    • By ToeDipper 19th Mar 18, 12:32 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    ToeDipper
    I started this diary in February 2017, when my mortgage + credit card debt - savings account was -$228K. Exactly a year later, it was -$198K. I'm rounding slightly, but it's almost exactly $20K paid off.
    Hi ACE I've been a lurker for quite some time - I love reading about people's journeys but haven't plucked up the courage to comment until now. Unlike you I have made a resolution to be more active here!

    I just wanted to say firstly, thank you for coming back with an update, and secondly - $198k down from $228k is a whopping $30k off rather than $20k! Just wanted to make sure you're feeling the full effects of your amazing work
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 19th Mar 18, 1:00 PM
    • 1,158 Posts
    • 3,770 Thanks
    mfmaybe
    So glad to see you back ACE. I like the sound of that blocker. Now, if only my app store would work with my ancient iphone 5. Because buying a new phone doesn't seem to be very MSE!

    And ToeDipper I never spotted that and I'm an accountant, whoops. I blame the $ sign confusing me . But you are absolutely right and that's fantastic, ACE.
    0% card was 1126.91 / Now 1669.11

    AFD June 8/15 NSD June 5/11

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: 17,005
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 20th Mar 18, 12:11 AM
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    armchairexpert
    OMG so it is.

    That's amazing. I've been thinking of it as $20K for WEEKS now.

    I should clearly come back here more often.

    mfmaybe, I only upgraded from a 5C a few months ago and I didn't have any trouble with the app store - is it a recent problem?

    Nothing much to report here but I have decided to come and update more often - yesterday I could feel myself getting back into MSE mode just reading diaries. I'm off to Costco tomorrow for a big shop - was supposed to be today but I have this tedious thing called work getting in the way.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 20th Mar 18, 12:19 AM
    • 2,204 Posts
    • 13,037 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    Welcome back ACE, and very handsome progress, well done!
    MFW #30 Paid off 3,942.07/3000 as of 3/12/18
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 20th Mar 18, 7:42 AM
    • 1,158 Posts
    • 3,770 Thanks
    mfmaybe
    OMG so it is.

    That's amazing. I've been thinking of it as $20K for WEEKS now.

    I should clearly come back here more often.

    mfmaybe, I only upgraded from a 5C a few months ago and I didn't have any trouble with the app store - is it a recent problem?

    Nothing much to report here but I have decided to come and update more often - yesterday I could feel myself getting back into MSE mode just reading diaries. I'm off to Costco tomorrow for a big shop - was supposed to be today but I have this tedious thing called work getting in the way.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    It's like you paid off $10k in a day

    I resolved it by turning the phone off and back on again (it somehow always annoys me when this works ) but I did notice the App store was advertising the new ios11 app store - and I can't put that os on my ancient phone.
    0% card was 1126.91 / Now 1669.11

    AFD June 8/15 NSD June 5/11

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: 17,005
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 20th Mar 18, 9:55 PM
    • 895 Posts
    • 4,921 Thanks
    Tahlullah
    Good to see you back ACE and congratulations on a $30k overpayment in one year. An absolutely fantastic result!
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    2018 MFW #135

    600 of 2000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 27th Mar 18, 1:27 PM
    • 800 Posts
    • 5,283 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    Oh God we've spent so much in March. March was stupid. Most of it totally frivolous spending, too. Partly this was because I got an unusually lucrative two-week contract, and while I won't see that money for a while there was an element of "I'm charging $X per day, I can definitely blow $300 on these concert tickets!".

    Yeah, we spent $300 on concert tickets. And despite packing a picnic (it was an all day outdoor concert/music festival thing) we still ended up also buying food and blinking heck, I haven't done that in a while, it costs SO MUCH. We spent about another $150 just on food, drink, henna tattoos for the girls, a cheap pair of sunglasses for me, the list went on.

    And March is also School Fun Time, it seems: separate excursions for each girl at $40 each, plus the annual school fundraiser which one really has to go to and cost us close to $150 by the time we bought tickets, food, raffle tickets, drinks on the night, one could do it cheaper of course but it's for the school and the program it supports is so wonderful and completely funded by this event.

    While I thought I had built up the pots since this (the school part) happened last year, in fact I massively underestimated how much I needed to have in that particular pot! I'm adding notes into YNAB right now so I don't forget and raid it in November when I'm short on Christmas money.

    Anyway. In April, by contrast, Mr E will be away for two full weeks, one of which he will get an Away From Home Allowance of - some money, can't remember, a few hundred I think. And him being away means the food bill goes down. And I don't think there are any major expenses except my Mum's birthday, for which there is money in the budget.

    My fortieth is coming up in May, and while I originally wanted Expensive Piece Of Furniture, I thought about it more and decided that a decent holiday was what I really wanted. Even if that meant saving up for another year. And then Mr E got anxious, because gift giving is a love language thing for him and he couldn't really conceive that this milestone birthday would go past without A Big Milestone Gift, but I think we've got there with that one now.

    As of today, the savings pot for the holiday is $1500. That's taken...a while. But I was also aggressively paying down the mortgage. Now I'm trying to do both. Realistically, I'm going to need at least $10K, maybe closer to $15, for the holiday I want - which is three weeks in England and Ireland, maybe throw in a weekend in Paris on the Eurostar, stay in airbnbs where possible. Travel from Australia is ridiculous.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 6th Apr 18, 4:17 AM
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    armchairexpert
    The invoices for my Mad March are coming in now, which is making me feel quite pleased - this will probably be my highest earning month to date. I'm not sure if I'll get to my new income goal or not this year ($12K more than the year before, basically), but it'll be close. I'm waiting on a huge job at the moment, the client's gone quiet but if it comes off it's going to be worth several thousand over my usual income. I'm hoping they've gone quiet because they're super busy, and not because my quote made them fall over in shock!

    April spending is fine so far and should continue to be. It's my birthday at the start of May, but I think all the spending for that is basically done. I have highlighted to Mr Expert that I require a cake this year, because I never get a cake and it was starting to hurt my feelings so I said it and underlined it and I am confident he'll come through. But a cake won't blow the budget!

    I'm eking out the grocery budget a bit, because Mr E did the cooking over the Easter weekend and used up about a third of the meat I'd laid in for the month. But he's away for five days next week, and four the week after, so it should even out.

    This is a very boring update! I do better when I check in, though, so, here I am checking in.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • ToeDipper
    • By ToeDipper 6th Apr 18, 2:02 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    ToeDipper
    https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2015/09/14/75-million-cake-sets-price-record.html

    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 9th Apr 18, 7:55 AM
    • 895 Posts
    • 4,921 Thanks
    Tahlullah
    Fantastic! This would so suit ACE! And no doubt it will come in under budget.
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    2018 MFW #135

    600 of 2000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 12th May 18, 6:41 AM
    • 800 Posts
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    armchairexpert
    Has it been a month? Goodness.

    Since I'm sure you're on the edge of your seats, let me start with the most important thing: I did indeed get a birthday cake. And the crowd goes wild! Not a million dollar cake, sadly/luckily. A perfectly respectable lemon syrup and yoghurt cake.

    My MIL decided to fly over for my birthday, so I spent it entertaining a house guest, cleaning a lot and we spent rather too much on entertainment. But it was sweet of her. And Mr E and the girls pulled out all the stops re: presents - they didn't spend a fortune, but it was all thoughtful, which was even more touching because they know I get anxious about money.

    Money: the business continues steadily. A huge job that was supposed to come in in May turned out to be a far smaller job, so I can't quite retire yet, but it's all ticking along. Still trying to find the balance between business-building and doing actual billable work, but I'm working a lot fewer evenings than I was 18 months ago, thanks to higher paying clients. So that's nice.

    Still waiting for the overtime from Mr E's April field trip (just a day's worth, sadly, but it was a Sunday so I think double time) to come in. He has another two week job scheduled which keeps getting pushed back from originally early May to now probably-early-June, which should be more lucrative. The holiday fund is building, but slowly.

    Oh, and we decided to take the plunge and splurge on solar panels - $10,000 worth. Our electricity bill is absolutely bonkers, because we live in a cold part of Australia in a big draughty house with no gas mains. I'm a bit worried that the roof is too shady to get a lot of use out of the panels in winter, but we'll see. If they live up to their promise, we should save 75% of our current power bills, meaning it'll take about 6 years to break even.

    The mortgage will go backwards, therefore. So far we've only paid the deposit of $1K, but it does mean we won't go under $200K by the end of the year, which was my original aim. We'll see!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • Chrystal
    • By Chrystal 12th May 18, 1:20 PM
    • 555 Posts
    • 3,672 Thanks
    Chrystal
    I think the solar panels are an investment well worth making. Are you able to 'sell' any electricity you don't use to the Grid?
    I Believe.....
    That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
    Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 14th May 18, 1:50 AM
    • 800 Posts
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    armchairexpert
    Yes, but not for very much money - it's more lucrative to just buy enough system for your needs, since the price-per-cent of the electricity you don't have to buy is so much more than the price-per-cent of the electricity you sell back.

    The major unknown is that we have such a big draughty house that we need a 6kW system at minimum, but we don't have a big roof space (it's a tall narrow house) and we have a lot of tall trees shading the north side of the block (the north, of course, being the side that gets the most sun, because Southern Hemisphere). To cut those trees down would cost me around $30K, so that's not happening. So we've had to squeeze the panels on, and some of the roof doesn't get a lot of sun any time of the day. With a bigger roof we'd have been able to avoid the shady corners, but no luck. Which means that there's a real chance our huge expensive system won't save us nearly as much as we're hoping. We have spent extra to bump up the power per panel, so I'm hopeful.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 14th May 18, 12:03 PM
    • 1,158 Posts
    • 3,770 Thanks
    mfmaybe
    Why so much to fell the trees? Obviously it's very hard to compare, but we had about 8 felled - very large dying beech trees. In sections, using ropes etc as it was quite a tight area so you couldn't just fell them in a one'r. It cost 400 per day for a 3 man team, took 2 days. They even cut it into log sections for us to burn later. Plus we then had the firewood. Local farmers with all their certifications etc so not cowboys.

    If that's not possible could they have their crowns lifted, or even remove just a few. Double payback if you have a woodburner too!
    0% card was 1126.91 / Now 1669.11

    AFD June 8/15 NSD June 5/11

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: 17,005
    • Chrystal
    • By Chrystal 14th May 18, 12:10 PM
    • 555 Posts
    • 3,672 Thanks
    Chrystal
    Wishing you good luck with it all AE.
    The thing is you know it's going to pay in the end, and for the rest of the time you live in the house you'll be reaping the rewards. You may be able to take the trees down at a later stage (or even one at a time, and use the logs for burning?)

    Sorry MFMaybe ... cross posted
    I Believe.....
    That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
    Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 21st May 18, 3:28 AM
    • 800 Posts
    • 5,283 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    The trees are a thicket of pines. They're probably 25m tall, and there's about - not sure, but 15-20 of them in a smallish area? It's the height that's the problem. They'll need special equipment to fell them, and they can't be crowned because nobody's going to climb 'em. I will get more quotes, but that's what I've been told so far.

    Also I don't have a wood burning fire, much to my sadness - most places around here do but the barbarians who owned this before us pulled out the original fireplace and put a gas heater in. Barbarians.

    In other news, an electrician came out, looked at the trees, looked at the steep pitch of the roof and said he wasn't sure he dared to climb up onto the roof anyway, and there isn't room to get a cherry picker in to the back garden so he can get up there safely. So we're waiting to see if someone else will take the job, and if not I'm tempted to just abandon this whole idea, frankly.

    Also, we've spent a bunch of money this month and I'm depressed about it, because it's going to take our entire holiday-savings for the month to cover. Both Eldest Daughter and I needed dental work done, and the gap after our private health cover was $600. Hopefully won't have to be done again, but still. It feels very frustrating that in so many months, something comes up and kills off the savings. We are getting better at keeping running costs like groceries down, but sometimes it's still a long slog.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
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