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    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 9th Feb 17, 4:00 AM
    • 817Posts
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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
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
Page 25
    • Chrystal
    • By Chrystal 26th Jul 18, 12:47 PM
    • 622 Posts
    • 4,463 Thanks
    Chrystal
    Hope you get a positive response from the vacant lot owners soon.
    Agree it's a pain that it will increase the mortgage, but definitely think it will be worth it in the end, plus the extra garden will give you so much pleasure (and opportunities for growing food!)

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you. X
    I Believe.....
    That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
    Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 10th Aug 18, 2:23 AM
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    armchairexpert
    I've heard nothing from them, which is a pain. I can hassle the real estate agent again, but ultimately if they don't want to contact me, they don't. I can chase them up myself by paying a small fee to the Titles Office and finding out their names, which will be the next step, but since I don't really want to spend $18K on getting the pines removed I'm putting it off.

    Other things are chugging along. Mr E finally dragged himself home after almost three weeks away yesterday, which was nice. I was amused, though: later in the evening I mentioned that I'd put an extra blanket on Little Girl's bed because her duvet is almost useless from having gone through the wash too many times, and within 2 minutes he was on eBay looking for a replacement duvet for her. Lordy but that man likes to shop.

    Groceries have been kept low in his absence, but not as low as I'd intended because about two weeks into solo parenting I was drifting into I Deserve A Treat mode and buying myself snacks. We're at $190/1000 and the freezer is pretty empty and I'm out of bread flour.

    It's a three-pay month for Mr E, plus he should be getting some hefty overtime for the two weekends he just worked (12 hour days!) which will make the numbers look better again. And I have to buckle down and get my tax return sorted, there's money due back there too. I originally had a plan of getting the mortgage under $200K by the end of the year, which is now looking impossible unless I give up on the holiday plan.
    Last edited by armchairexpert; 10-08-2018 at 2:26 AM.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 19th Aug 18, 8:22 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Huge uptick in work enquiries this past week - I've sent out so many estimates and preliminary advices it's crazy. Now if only a couple of them convert into ongoing clients I'll feel a lot more relaxed.
    Mr E's overtime has started trickling in. His company pays several weeks in arrears, and some of it comes in as part of a pay cycle and other parts on different lines of the budget, so I never know what to expect. So far we've been paid enough to pay back all the upfront expenses he pai for these trips, and hopefully there's two more pays in which the same amount will arrive: i.e., we'll end up with 2x what we paid out.

    If I'm right - and I'm wary of being definite about numbers because I've been disappointed before - then the overtime PLUS the extra pay this month (it's a three-pay month and I budget on 2 per month so twice a year we get a 'bonus' pay) takes us up to my holiday goal without dipping into the tax return money.

    I'm still waiting to hear what the potential cost for repairing my Mum's roof is, but if it is less than the tax return, the rest of that can go back into the mortgage and start paying off the solar panels. Depending on how much that is (the tax return will be around $10K, but the roof could literally be anywhere from $500 to the whole lot! I have nooooo idea), I might be able to set a new goal to have the panels paid off by the end of the year.

    Honestly, if we end the year having saved for an international holiday PLUS installed a large solar system that will save us money for 20 years PLUS paid anything at all off the mortgage, I'm going to feel very happy with myself.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 14th Jan 19, 12:36 PM
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    armchairexpert
    Oh hey, look at that, I'm back.

    So we didn't go on holiday, because the oven broke and then the stove top broke and to replace them we needed to replace the bench tops, and long story short we replaced the kitchen instead. $30,000. Whoops.

    So 2018 was not, in fact, the most frugal year we've ever had, between that and the $10,000 solar panels. (Which are kicking in now it's summer! Last bill was down by 50%).

    Anyway. I am simultaneously getting serious about increasing income and redoubling the savings efforts. This year won't be nearly as lucrative for Mr E, because last year's travel was really unusual for him. He's very relieved about this, as he hates travelling. And it's fine: we've had our huge splurge, and the panels will save us money going forward and the kitchen really was a total disaster, so I'm okay about it all.

    Currently trying to eke out the month's grocery budget. Mr E's mum visited for a week earlier this month, so it was all roasts and fancy cheese and nice wine. It's quiche from the backyard chickens and minestrone from now on!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • ChasingSunshine
    • By ChasingSunshine 14th Jan 19, 1:41 PM
    • 170 Posts
    • 1,162 Thanks
    ChasingSunshine
    Welcome back, I used to lurk on your diary and was wondering where you had gone.

    Great that the solar panels are making a difference to your electricity bill. Pity about the kitchen but at least it is sorted now and hopefully you will have no more big expenses for a while. Do you have more repairs upcoming with your mothers house or is that ok at the moment?

    Good luck with controlling the food expenses, its always so hard to get back on track after having people visiting
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 14th Jan 19, 1:43 PM
    • 2,596 Posts
    • 16,169 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    Lovely to have you back! I'm afraid I grinned at you ending up with a new kitchen - we started to repaper the lounge and ended up spending hefty amounts on a log burner, plus work on the chimney, and a cupboard came off the kitchen wall - twice - so there is ongoing work there, too. These things do try to multiply! On the other hand, the solar panels seem to be doing their job and I'm sure you are enjoying your new kitchen.

    Did you find the couple of good new clients you were hoping for in the summer?
    MFW #30 Overpaid by 4,100.58/3000 in 2018 Overpaid by 555.74/2,880.00 in 2019
    Decluttered in 2019: 299/2019 as of 10/3/19
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 15th Jan 19, 1:52 AM
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    armchairexpert
    I did, and in general the calibre of clients I'm winning seems to be getting better. Less people trying to find a bargain basement writer, more people willing to pay for my expertise. What I'm trying to decide is whether it's worth it to pay a VA to do the admin and send out pitches and run the social media or if that's getting above my station, so to speak!

    So, money.

    The mortgage is basically exactly where it was last time I posted, back in August, because I dipped into the redraw for the panels. For the kitchen, I used our holiday savings fund, plus Mr E's huge overtime bucket, plus I had budgeted for bills, etc., for a month or so ahead as recommended by YNAB, and I used that as well. What that means is that as money comes in in January, I'm allocating it to January expenses, whereas before I used Jan income to budget for February and then surplus to savings.

    So my first goal is to get a month buffered again, which means trying to cover all of Jan's expenses in Jan and drip a tiny bit into Feb. But we overspent by quite a lot in December, as Mr E a) lost weight and b) got holes in both of his pairs of shoes and spent $600 on outfitting himself in two months. I can't begrudge the man shoes, I guess!

    I'm trying to use up pantry/fridge contents without buying new this week. I've already lost this game a bit, because by yesterday we'd run out of milk, cream, cheese and butter, and I do not own a cow. Also it's a billion degrees (42!) so all I want to eat is salad and we were out of that too. Frugal minestrone and bean stews and rice pudding does not appeal in this weather.

    Menu plan for the rest of the week is:
    Quiche, using up an elderly sweet potato, some frozen spinach and a bit of bacon
    Fish coconut curry, using up the other half of the spinach, some frozen peas and some frozen basa
    Minestrone (cool change day!) using up the bendy carrots and celery and an onion and the very last of the bacon
    Pizzas, because it's Big Girl's birthday and she has friends over for a sleepover, so I will have to give in and buy toppings but I can at least make the dough.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • Busy Mee1
    • By Busy Mee1 15th Jan 19, 7:20 AM
    • 850 Posts
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    Busy Mee1
    Lovely to see you back. Well done on covering your kitchen costs yourself. And 42 degrees .....that is properly sweltering x
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 15th Jan 19, 10:50 AM
    • 1,171 Posts
    • 3,846 Thanks
    mfmaybe
    Welcome back! Sorry to hear that the holiday got shelved, but arguably a new kitchen gives a better return for the money.
    0% card was 1126.91 / Now 1502.37

    AFD March 2/15 NSD March 2/11

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: 17,005
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 15th Jan 19, 11:31 AM
    • 2,596 Posts
    • 16,169 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    Well done on netting good clients! I don't have the expertise to give you any feedback on hiring in help, but there must be a tipping point where cost effectiveness comes into play? Also how much you can physically and mentally take on without overstretching or running yourself into the ground. (I think you read TreadingonPlayMobile's thread?)
    42 degrees is unimaginable to me. I stopped functioning at 35 when on holiday - just looked for a bit of shade and went to it. Certainly it isn't the time for hearty comfort food! You might be able to give those bendy carrots and celery another lease of life if you put them in water in the fridge though. By the way, now that I've visited Australia, I have to say I was impressed by the quality of fresh fruit and veg you grow. And a beautiful, friendly country. Hoping to go back one day! (In our summer/your winter).
    MFW #30 Overpaid by 4,100.58/3000 in 2018 Overpaid by 555.74/2,880.00 in 2019
    Decluttered in 2019: 299/2019 as of 10/3/19
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 16th Jan 19, 1:47 AM
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    armchairexpert
    We are very lucky with the food here! It's just all salads and a bit of marinated meat on the side this time of year. 42 is just stupid, though, in anyone's currency. Definitely come back at a better time of year!

    It's so tricky working out what my actual working capacity is, because the nature of the job, being creative, is that sometimes I stare at the computer for hours and other times I knock out two days' worth of work before lunch. And then I think I should do the latter all the time, but 'tis not to be.

    Anyway, I'm not as brave as TOPM!

    Did the back-to-school shopping plus Big Girl's party today, so I'm down about $100 (includes some uniform - luckily we can buy the generic sort from our Primark equivalent, no fussy logo requirements), new backpack for Little Girl plus cake ingredients and things). Resisted the cafe stop though, which I tend to give in to a lot in the holidays to use up time. Now to go bake a chocolate cake.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 17th Jan 19, 8:26 PM
    • 927 Posts
    • 4,984 Thanks
    Tahlullah
    Woo hoo!

    Welcome back.
    Still striving to be mortgage free before I get to a point I can't enjoy it.

    15 February 2019

    Mortgage debt - 78,400
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 21st Jan 19, 4:19 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Did a whole bunch of clearing out this weekend, including listing some furniture for sale. The new kitchen is actually a bigger renovation than it sounds. We moved the kitchen to a room which didn't really have a good function before and we're stripping back the old kitchen (ripping up flooring and plastering in the holes in the walls from the old plumbing and wiring - lots of elbow grease!) and turning it into the new dining room. Then the old dining room becomes a guest bedroom so that I no longer have to turf Big Girl out of her room every time grandma comes to stay.

    Unfortunately, in all of this, we have to sell our beautiful dining table and buy a smaller one. We've found the right smaller one in a second hand shop, and Mr Expert will restore it so it looks nice, so now I just have to sell the other one - I should be able to sell it for more than the new one cost, but we'll see. I've also listed a display cabinet, an old rocking chair, a dresser and some chairs, put some more stuff on a local giveaway site and booked a hard rubbish pick up for the things that nobody will take.

    Flipping exhausting, and if nothing sells I'll be pretty down.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • wishingthemortgaheaway
    • By wishingthemortgaheaway 21st Jan 19, 4:56 AM
    • 1,981 Posts
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    wishingthemortgaheaway
    At least, with that sort of new kitchen, you weren't without a kitchen while the work was being done.
    It's one of the reasons our kitchen refurbishment has taken a back seat.
    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
    • jodles16
    • By jodles16 21st Jan 19, 9:20 PM
    • 1,417 Posts
    • 4,275 Thanks
    jodles16
    Hi ACE,

    Have read through the diary and am impressed at how well you balance mortgage vs everything else, even if you don't always feel that way! You have done some great things, your girls seem great and work sounds like it is doing well!

    Jodles
    MFW2017 #29 1200.24/4524
    MFiT #66
    Overall aim 10,124.20/21,743 (156,000)
    2016- Jan-177,472, Apr-173,195.04, July- 171,417.47 Oct- 169,366
    2017- Jan- 167,347.80 Apr- July- Oct-

    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 22nd Jan 19, 6:30 AM
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    • 5,382 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    At least, with that sort of new kitchen, you weren't without a kitchen while the work was being done.
    It's one of the reasons our kitchen refurbishment has taken a back seat.
    Originally posted by wishingthemortgaheaway
    We actually were without an oven and cooktop for about a month, because the new kitchen was going in on the other side of the wall from the old kitchen, so we needed all the old wiring out before we could start. But we did have a working sink the whole time, which helped enormously.

    I've sold an old rocking chair for $60, but no enquiries about any of the bigger or more expensive stuff. The guy who is delivering the new-to-us table will take a look at the old table and cabinet and see if he wants to buy them for his shop, but I'd imagine that would involve taking a far lower price than selling them myself.

    Oh, and the weather forecast is for - are you sitting down? - 45 on Thursday. FORTY FIVE. CELSIUS. Some days I wonder why I ever left England.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • wishingthemortgaheaway
    • By wishingthemortgaheaway 22nd Jan 19, 7:17 PM
    • 1,981 Posts
    • 10,836 Thanks
    wishingthemortgaheaway

    Oh, and the weather forecast is for - are you sitting down? - 45 on Thursday. FORTY FIVE. CELSIUS. Some days I wonder why I ever left England.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    Because it's freezing cold, snowing and miserable. It's not even nice, blue winter day, sunny crisp snow. It's yucky horrible wet, grey, miserable snow... (although 45 is far too hot for me)
    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 23rd Jan 19, 6:47 AM
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    armchairexpert
    I mean you're not wrong, but again: 45. The garden is shrivelling and dying, and I can't go out for more than a couple of hours because I have to keep putting ice cubes in the chickens' drinking water and I can't leave the dog outside for long even in the shade.

    Little Girl said yesterday "not salad AGAIN" and I was like, if you think I am turning on the stove, young lady...

    We're also on the sixth week of the school holidays and my appetite for finding free things to do is severely curtailed by the weather. I had all sorts of plans to picnic in the local forest or do nature trails, and actually it's more like "let's hide out in the library and then buy ice cream" and "sure, I can find the money for yet another trip to the swimming pool" because there are only so many days inside anyone can stand! But hopefully we'll be over the worst of it soon and I can claw back the budget once they're at school again.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • ChasingSunshine
    • By ChasingSunshine 23rd Jan 19, 11:16 AM
    • 170 Posts
    • 1,162 Thanks
    ChasingSunshine
    45C is so so hot. Always forget how miserable it can get when it is just unpleasant and hot like that but thats mainly because I am back in the cold now and would love it to warm up a bit! It is definitely not the kind of weather that lends itself to being outside and makes AC an absolute essential.
    When do the school holidays end? Hopefully you can stretch the budget until then and as you said it should improve once they go back.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 24th Jan 19, 2:06 AM
    • 817 Posts
    • 5,382 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    They go back on Tuesday, but there's a cool change due tomorrow so today is really the worst of it. It's absolutely record breaking heat even for here, and I know I'm whining about it but it creates so much extra work looking after the garden and the animals and whatnot. Plus the bushfire risk: I have a change of clothes for everyone and the paperwork essentials in the car, ready to go.

    I know it's a money diary, but saving money is the last thing on my mind at the moment. Dinner might have to be a ready cooked chicken from the supermarket, honestly. Except that I think the rest of the country will have the same idea...
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
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