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Archive for August, 2009

I love free money!

August 10th, 2009 at 11:57 am

I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but here I was stressing over how to pay for my college tuition when the answer was there all along. MyCAA gives $6000 worth of funds to military spouses to help them gain skills in the workforce.

Being an accounting major, I need my masters because of the 150 credit hour requirement. I don't want to be a CPA right NOW but if I ever plan on getting my CPA license (which I do), I need 150 credit hours.

This is my last semester but the consultant told me that after I graduate and I want to take a Becker Review course, the program will fund that because I'd still have about $4000 left in available funds.

I'm so excited... less than 12 hours ago I was thinking I'd have to take out loans or put it on a CC, now my tuition is covered.

I'm sooo grateful for this. Something else that brings us closer to getting out of debt! =)

Moving

August 8th, 2009 at 06:22 pm

Well we found out last night that DH has orders and that means moving 1000 miles.

We're optimistic because this gets us closer to Hawaii (my home). But its had me nervous cause then that means renting out both houses.

I'm confident we finally have good tenants in the other one. I've even talked to the neighbors there.

That does mean we have to front some additional money. I'll need to transfer my youngest daughter's occupational therapy, my oldest's orthodontic treatment, etc... but I know its doable.

We do need to finish replacing the windows in this house. As I told DH, I want to make sure we take care of everything structurally so that we don't have to worry about the major stuff.

We have the new windows being installed on the 12th but we only did half of them cause thats all we could manage at the time.

I can save up about $18K between now and February to help pay for the remaining windows that need replaced, the landscaping (we have a tree in our front yard with the roots growing toward the foundation of the house), and fixing DH's car.

Thankfully the Navy gives a dislocation allowance to help defray the first month's rent & utility startup costs, so that is good.

I think we can make it work. It'll be challenging but it can work.

The biggest thing for me to accept was now we'll have to start renting a place again. I didn't really want to because houses are so cheap there & you could have a mortgage for less than a rent payment. However, DH keeps reminding me that we don't want to have to worry about keeping up THREE homes and selling/renting it in three years.

He's got a point and it makes sense. I'll just have to hope we find a good landlord that will let us take our big dog.

If we can't find anything... then there is always Navy housing. That would be the cheapest but I haven't liked the schools in that area. Hence we are more inclined to spend more to rent a place outside just to make sure the kids go to good schools.

Sooo... we have 5 months or so to plan a move and get this house ready to rent out. It'd be at a loss but with the market, I could rent this place out for a loss for 10 years and still come out better than if we sold. Plus, if we ever do come back... I'd want to live here again.

I really do love this house, if we could transplant it and move it with us wherever we go - I would.

Life with cash

August 7th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

So all is continuing to go well with our total money makeover. I've used cash for much of everything that I bought.

Yesterday I had to pay in cash to send the certified letter back to the tenants. After totaling all the estimates for all the damages & breach of their contract, it came to $2568, which is $1043 over their security deposit. So I really was being generous offering to settle all this at $365 ($1889 TOTAL... $365 is after application of the security deposit).

So I sent them back a letter with all the estimates, digital photos on an enclosed CD, copies of their move-in inspection and contracts they signed - and basically said that if we don't settle this at $365 and I have to take them to small claims court, I will pursue the $1043+court costs.

We paid for the babysitter for me to go to class in cash. And yeah, I haven't really had a need to go into my wallet to pull out that debit card much.

We needed lasagne noodles and spaghetti... so again, cash. First 1/2 of the braces on Wednesday, cash again. My only slipup will probably be my tuition and books. But I've sort of planned for that too, it has to go on the CC... just which one.

Citi has an offer for 1.99% interest till July 2010 but it has to be with one of those written checks that they give you for balance transfers. Plus there is a 3% fee.

So I'm leaning towards that. But we'll see I have a few weeks to worry about that.

Its nice to be connected at just the right time

August 5th, 2009 at 09:48 am

With all thats going on, its nice to be taking a negotiation class during all this stuff with the old tenants going on. My professor is a department head for the university & specializes in negotiation/mediation and consults people in a variety of situations. I definitely thought his insight would be valuable given his experience. In fact, when I initially approached him he told me the best way to approach the situation is make the tenant aware that I'm not trying to take advantage of them.

I told him about the situation the first night of class, and updated him last night. Told him that we didn't include estimates for everything we listed in the first letter (cleaning, curtain rods, and damaged 4 y/o laminate flooring) because we knew it would go over the security deposit by a substantial amount & the tenants were fighting us over $365.

My plan was to write a response letter, include a CD with digital images of all the damages, a copy of their move-in inspection that THEY wrote the stove was in good condition, receipts of when I bought the stove to prove it was only 7 months old at the time of move in, a copy of the additional estimates for the flooring, curtain rods, and cleaning (they didn't clean before they left & that is another thing they were supposed to do according to the contract), and another highlighted section of the contract stating that furniture is not allowed to damage flooring. Their lease agreement is 5-6 pages long detailing all of this and they signed.

The total for ALL estimates would total about $1200 above their security deposit. We only provided estimates for the appliances, wood damage, and siding. And of all things they are disputing the stove.

We were only asking $365 above their security deposit. The JAG Lawyer I consulted said they should look at it as a gift given the damage they caused.

But stating in the letter that if they'll accept the $365, we'll call it done. If not & we have to take it to small claims court, we will pursue ALL damage estimates and associated court fees.

He said that obviously I wasn't feeling good just leaving the deposit as is when I knowingly could seek more & I felt I was being reasonable in the first letter.

My hope is that after sending the letter with the damages, they'll come to their senses that $365 to avoid a small claims suit of $1200 makes better sense. It would probably just be better for me to file a suit, but I don't want that.

He did say that aside from all this, in future contracts I may want to write in that in the event of a dispute we will seek arbitration/mediation resources prior to court. I thought that was a pretty good idea.

To sue or not to sue?

August 4th, 2009 at 12:46 am

So we sent a certified letter to the tenants for damages of $1889 for the stove, refrigerator, and wood damage the dog caused.

The tenants received estimates and are disputing the stove because it was at that "magical number" to bring the damages down to the security deposit - so they would give up the security deposit and not pay any more.

They stated it was normal wear & tear and the stove was like that when they moved in. I provided a copy of the receipt when I purchased the stove. It was 7 1/2 months old when the tenants moved in, and they did not note ANY damage or wear to it on their move-in inspection.

However, the new tenants definitely did. As the new tenants wrote "Excessive scratches & two chips in front" for a 2 1/2 year old stove!!! Yet in other rooms, the new tenants would put "Normal wear & tear" - so even the new tenants think the wear is excessive enough to note it on their inspection.

I've consulted with a JAG Lawyer who said I'm 100% on the side of the law considering these tenants removed a city tree, left the gutters up & let it pool at the foundation, caused the HVAC unit to be replaced from putting filters in that were 2 inches too small & causing visible dust accumulation on the air vents & ductwork.

Not to mention we included in the letter the damages to the curtain rods & flooring. We didn't include estimates for those because we weren't pursuing them... I felt the letter asking for just $364.91 over the security deposit was fair.

The flooring in the master bedroom was $2.29 a square foot. It can't be refinished because it is laminate & their computer chair wore a faded circle in it. The room is 12x14 so the flooring alone is $384... not to mention labor.

The curtain rods were $13.96

But we didn't include those estimates because we knew that would bring damages to over $2K.

I told the Property Manager to let the tenants know that if they wish to take this to small claims court I am prepared to gather additional estimates for the damages they agreed to in the letter (basically they agreed to the damages but disputed the stove - I only gave estimates on 4 things, refrigerator, siding, wood, and stove). However, there were more things on the list.

When I spoke to the JAG lawyer prior to sending the letter, he said the tenants should look at it like a gift.

I'm wondering though... $52 to go to small claims court & go through the hassle. JAG said they'd help me prepare my case... its a hassle but so was the three weeks we spent fixing up the place for the new tenants.

I don't think I'm being unfair. But I wonder in the back of my head if I should just take the security deposit and leave it at that.

Still yet, I keep remembering what the damages have done to us financially and in our relationship. I didn't get to spend much of July with my husband because one of us was always at the rental trying to fix things & coordinate repairs. We lost a lot because the tenants wanted to let their kids run rampant & be disrespectful.

We are reading a book in my negotiation class... its called Peace v Justice. Boring read but it delves into the concepts of foregoing justice to have peace.

On the flip side, I'm thinking - the tenants should have just been grateful for a bill of $364 vs something more akin to $800 to include the flooring.

Weekend Assessment

August 2nd, 2009 at 07:29 pm

This weekend we bought:

Groceries for $251.51
40 lbs of Dog food for $35
Gas for the van $39
School supplies for the kids (which included a birthday present for my oldest) $101.41
and dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate DH making Chief - $75
DH's haircut - $17

This upcoming week I have:
Daughter's braces $352 due on Wednesday
Babysitter so I can attend class $60 (2 classes this week)

Who knew life was so expensive?

Although I still feel like we succeeded, we didn't have to use the CC once.

I only plan to use the CC this month to pay for my tuition. Then we'll officially be doing our "plastectomies"

DH has to take leave next month too cause he has "use or lose"... he was planning on taking 2 weeks and using that time to fix up the car.

We'll need to see how much that will be. I think we may be able to spend $1800 for repairs/maintenance on the car. In October he gets a $3K bonus that we can use to refund the EF & pay down our debts more but as long as we can stay away from CCs I will feel like we're still winning.