Is Our Mortgage Payoff Too Aggressive?

Four years ago, we made the decision to refinance our mortgage.  We hit the time when rates were about the lowest they’ve ever been, and decided to get into a 15-year mortgage.  This would increase our payments but lower our total interest.  It would also move forward our mortgage payoff date.

From a financial perspective, the move has been a big win so far.

The Benefits Of Our 15 Year Mortgage

  • Low rate – We got a 3.375% rate, if memory serves, so we are paying very little in interest and more toward principle.
  • Modestly higher payments – Our payments went up a bit from our previous 30-year mortgage
  • Getting in line my payoff date objective – I’ve always said that in an ideal situation, the mortgage would be paid off before our kids started college.  This timing would actually have the payoff occur during senior year of high school for our oldest.  I’d be 52 which is a pretty good target age to be mortgage free, all things considered!

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Cider Costs: What The Apple Is Going On Here?

Fall and apples go hand in hand here in Michigan, as I know is the case in many other parts of the country.

We have always enjoyed many of the activities that fall brings, and those centered around apples have always been favorite, specifically going to the cider mill and also apple picking.  Both of these things have been traditions of our families for the last few years.

But, we noticed this year that things are just out of hand!

Cider Prices

Who doesn’t love cider and donuts?  I know everyone in our family loves these things.  Still, the price of cider these days is through the roof.  A gallon is now around $8 at most local cider mills!  This pricing came about in kind of a sneaky way.

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Declining Net Worth: A Personal Mini-Recession

I think the economy is fine, even though many Wall Street followers will try to lead you to believe otherwise.  But, unfortunately, we’re in a bit of a rut with our personal finances.

I just completed our net worth analysis, and for the fourth month in a row, our net worth has fallen.

Yikes!

Luckily, the amounts every month a pretty small, and even with four months of losses, the overall loss isn’t much.  It could be made back up with one good month, so here’s to hoping.

Still, I thought it would be worth looking at why.

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Disney World Planning. We’re Less Than 2 Months Away

A few months back I wrote about how we had made the decision to take a family trip to Disney World later this year.  Well, most of the year has passed and we’re now less than two months away from taking our trip.  I’ve been bad with updates (a whirlwind summer with mostly great weather has a way of doing that), but wanted to check in with some updates and observations!

So, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up!

We Splurged

The first thing that I have to admit is that we made a change of plans that increased our budget and is a big splurge.

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6 Questions To Ask Before Any Major Purchase

We’ve all made major purchases at one time or another.  Whether it be a new (or new-to-you) car, a home, an education, or some other ‘big’ purchase, dropping a big wad of money on something happens to everybody.

The key, however, is to make sure that your money is well spent.

Here are six questions to ask yourself before making a major purchase:

Why Do I Need This?

This is the first and most important question that you need to ask.  Yes, it’s more important than anything to do with the money related stuff, because if you can’t answer this one, you may not need to answer any other question.  Keep in mind that ‘wanting’ something is a big difference from actually ‘needing’ it, so be very truthful and honest about how you answer this.  Now, if your furnace broke and your alternative is to spend the winter without heat, then the answer is pretty obvious, but if it’s replacing a car that you’ve driven for five years and you want another one, you had better do some thinking!

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If It’s Not One Car Repair, It’s Another

The great thing about having two cars that are fully paid off and have relatively low mileage is that we don’t have a monthly car payment. The bad thing is that they still cost money.  Both of our cars are in such a phase right now. We set aside some of our ‘tax refund’ money for the car repair fund, and it’s definitely in good use.

Still it doesn’t make it any easier!

2007 Buick Rainier – 78,000 miles

This is my wife’s car as well as what we use to tow around our RV trailer.  It has a great engine that’s run fine.  But it’s had two expected things come up and one potential gotcha.

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6 Ways To Save On Wine

My wife has really gotten interested in drinking wine over the past couple of years.  She never really found her ‘drink of choice.  But, once she started sampling various wines, she realized that she really enjoys wine over other types of alcohol.  Over time she’s found wines that she truly enjoys.  She favors dry white wines and certain types of red.  She mb-2015-05-winedoes not care for sweeter wines and while she may, she doesn’t have a deep appreciation for many of the drier reds. Maybe some day!

I enjoy the occasional glass, but my drink of choice is a whiskey and cola, and that’s a good pairing for any meal where my wife chooses wine.

With her new appreciation for wine, it’s been obvious that wine drinking can be a very expensive habit if you let it, but that there are ways to save money and still appreciate the various wines.

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Accountability Can Improve Results

This year, I’ve been posting various updates centered around my fitness activities, mostly centered on running.  It’s not that finance has become less important or more boring, it’s just that running is something that’s relatively new to me, but the posts also offer accountability.

I actually started my running last year, first at my old gym and then moving over to Planet Fitness.  But, for the calendar year of 2014, I didn’t track anything and my results were marginal at best.

Going into 2015, I added a tab to one of the daily tracking sheets that I use for things like finance, weather tracking (yes, I do track the weather temps too), for the purposes of mb-lightbulb201308tracking my running activity.

The main things I started tracking are how often I go, how far I go when I get there, and how long it takes me.  There are some additional things that I enter, and some calculations that also happen as a result, but that’s pretty much it.  Adding a run entry takes fifteen seconds per run, if that, but it gives me a lot.  It gives me the data but it also gives me accountability.

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Why Are Furnaces So Expensive Anyways?

We’ve been having some issues with our furnace lately.  It was a brutally cold month of February and so when the furnace would lock itself out for three hours, we would notice right away, especially when it seemed to happen most often during the morning, when it was warming the house up as we have it set to a lower temperature for the overnight hours.

The Diagnoses

We have an appliance repair plan through the energy company.    I called them to come out. They took a look and found two problems:

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Spending Money You Don’t Have Is A Recipe For Disaster

I received some good news at the end of last year. Our company will be giving a small across the board salary adjustment, an increase of 2%, starting in April of this year.  We’re in the health care industry and the organization, like many, has been going through significant cost reductions over the last year.  We’re a non-profit and have been healthy from a financial standpoint for many years, but there is an expectation that revenues will take a hit with the reduction in Medicare payouts from Obamacare.  As a result, things have been pretty lean, so it was a nice surprise that we’d be getting this adjustment.

I told my wife and she was very happy as well, and instantly wondered out loud, “How much will that work out to be and what will it go toward?”

Read moreSpending Money You Don’t Have Is A Recipe For Disaster