Archive for the ‘finances’ Category

My family thinks me evil, but I just feel done.  Zipcar is fun, and it’s useful, and it’s served us very well.  But yesterday, I had to set my alarm for 8 a.m. and call a cab to take me to the car that zipcar switched my reservation to.  It cost $10 to get there, and then tonight, at 9:15 p.m., another $10 to get me back home from the new reservation spot.  It is a reimbursable $20, but it takes time for me to 1) take a cab, 2) wait for cabs, and 3) submit receipts for reimbursement.  I don’t like it.  I am glad that the car I reserved wasn’t allowed to stay on the road with bad brakes, but I don’t know why they couldn’t move a working car into the spot I had made arrangements for – a spot that is 2 blocks from my house.

Also, the new house has 2 parking spots included in the rent.  At our current building, we would have to pay $170/mo for one parking spot.  It was so easy to smile at the fact that we didn’t need to pay extra for a spot.

Also (oh, my list is long), the new house is .4 miles from our current house – but it’s .4 miles further from the center of town, further from Trader Joe’s, further from Whole Foods, even further from Stop & Shop (ick).  The only useful businesses it is not further from is a) a CVS (pharmacy) that sucks and never has anything and that has employees that are so slow and so non-responsive so as to make every visit an exercise in patience, and b) an awesome liquor store that I likely shouldn’t live so close to.

Also, the girls want to play more and more sports.  Next year, both of them will be on soccer fields far away from home.  It’s nice that we have a great social network that allows for carpooling and ride sharing, but I think the older they get, the more they’re going to want to do, and I am not that comfortable with just relying on others to transport my kids – I have always pitched in, but people always feel weird about it when they know that I’m “renting a car” in order to drive.

Therefore, I’ve made the proclamation:  In 2009, I’m buying a car.

I know I can’t get away with (nor do I want) anything but a Hybrid.  But while I love the Prius, Beloved does not.  He doesn’t like the mirrors – or something.  I looked at the Hondas, but they both (accord and civic) had negatives that outweighed the positives.  The Car & Driver reviews spent the whole thing talking about why the Hondas weren’t as good as the Prius.

So Beloved said, “check out the Volt!  Let’s wait for the Volt!”

So I checked it out.



I think it may want to eat me.  I decided that considering that you can drive up to 40 miles a day without even touching a drip of gas, and considering that it’s really freaking cool and the beginning steps at non-gas driven vehicles, I could deal with the scary look of it, and be proud of my electric car.

But then my research showed that it isn’t expected to be for sale until 2010, and right now is looking like it could come out at around $45,000.  The more digging around I do, the more I see that we will certainly be dealing with a “waiting list” situation, and that it likely won’t be widely available for at least a year after that.

Hey!  I didn’t want to pay $45,000, and I didn’t want to wait until mid 2011.  Hell, I don’t want to wait until January of 2009 – I want a car NOW – but I’m not willing to screw up our finances while we’re looking forward to our move in July and hopefully a week in Maine in August and and and.

This is our new deal:  I get my Prius in 2009.


If Beloved really hates it that much, he’s welcome to keep using zipcar.  Then, in 2011 when the Volt comes out, he can have that.  Perhaps (she says after hearing the girls yell in disgust at the idea that we would have two cars), we will lease the Prius for 2 years, and then return it and buy a Volt in 2011.

The girls are pouting, Beloved is slightly scowling over the fact that I essentially made this decision on my own, but I am looking forward to being able to grab my own keys and walk 2 feet from my own door to hop in a car to run to Target or to the Apple store, rather than make arrangements a week ahead of time.  Heck, I could even decide last minute to go and visit my nephew!!

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still working on the housing quest.

The news from the mortgage broker was 1/2 good and 1/2 bad.  I have cleared up my credit mess sufficiently so that I can borrow pretty much as much money as I want ($4800/mo payments, she said), and qualify for the best interest rates.

That, I must say, took a lot of work.  I am proud of my diligent efforts to clean up the mess created by divorce and single motherhood in one of the most expensive parts of the country.  I am not proud that I had the mess, but I know that many, many women go through similar things when they make the transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced single mother of small children.  So rather than dwelling on the mess, I will dwell on the cleaning of the mess.  And I will be proud.

The problem that remains:  I chose yet another “most expensive parts of the country” and it is difficult to get even a 2 bedroom condo for less than $417,000, let alone a 3 or 4 bedroom house.  Or condo.

Who cares, you may ask?  Since I stated above that I could, in fact, get approval for a $650,000 mortgage?  What’s up with the $417,000?

Jumbo mortgage, baby.

Can’t get one of those puppies with less than 20% down.

On the house I want, that 20% = $150,000.

Which I do not have.

I could likely find a lender, says the broker, who would take 10%.

Nope.  Don’t have that, either.

But due to the current mess-o-rama, nothing less will do.

Which is really okay, and likely the more responsible thing to do.  You know, wait until I have a down-payment before I buy a house.  Have some real equity in the place from day one, rather than bills that keep me stuck to my job, regardless of whether things go south on that front (which there is no sign of happening thus far).

My biggest worry is that we’re going to miss out on this current dip in home prices. That by the time we accumulate $70,000+, the homes we want will end up being over a million again, instead of the 3/4ths that they’re currently at.

I read this article today, though, that made me feel more optimistic that our timing is fine, and perhaps even fortuitous. If things bottom out in the middle of next year, then perhaps by then – considering what we save and the lower still prices – we’ll be ready to buy before the uphill climb begins again.


In the meantime, we need to move.  That means a bigger rental.

After visiting condos for sale, visiting apartments is ridiculously depressing.

painted 2×4’s subbing as kitchen shelves; moldy bathtubs; fucking coin-op laundry machines …. they’re just horrible.  Horrible.

rental agents are assholes, and I hate them all.

I also resent the fact that my quest to own a place is going to be set back by quite a few thousand dollars because of first/last/security and potentially (although I’m doing all in my power to avoid it) a broker’s fee, which equals a month’s rent.

Now, the financial aspect was cleaned up a bit today with the news that my tax refund is pretty freaking big (for me).  I feared that I owed.

But I still have to figure out how to find a good deal, and how to rid myself of the gnatty presence of the rental agents and their stupid fees.

I may have an inside beat on a very good apartment – one with real cabinets, one with laundry in the unit (no fucking quarters needed), one with a deck, and one with a ton of space.  But it is far from a sure thing (current occupants have to move out, and not just have everyone in the neighborhood talk about how they’re going to).

But I think that’s what I need.  An inside connection.  A way to just sidle up to an owner and neatly close their gap in rents collected without the headache of advertising for and vetting prospective renters.

And we may – just may – be moving within the next few (yeah, that’s 3) months.

Phew.  I can’t wait to stretch.

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I spoke with a mortgage broker today. I did not look forward to this. I had to worry about all my negatives:

  • I have school debt
  • I was divorced ….
  • which led to problems:
  • Excessive debt;
  • Consolidation of credit cards;
  • Low(ish) credit score;
  • low credit limits on the credit cards I have

This is balanced out by good things:

  • I paid off all my consumer debt with a modest inheritance;
  • I have paid every single bill on time for the past “verylongtime” (in zuska-language);
  • I have very little debt right now [only school loans – no car; no credit card debt]
  • I have been monitoring my credit score like a jilted, obsessed lover for 2 solid calendar years – I have disputed entries, I have done all I can.
  • Oh yeah [editing to add] – I have a more-than-decent income {guffaw}

My score, as investigated by the mortgage broker, is higher than when I look it up myself. I’m talking 40 points higher.

Which is potentially higher enough for me to make a semi-decent offer on my condo. Potentially. Not definitely. I will know tomorrow (deep breaths, Z; deep breaths.) Pessimism reigns.

Figuring things out with my mom: We need 1650 square feet. That’s how much it takes for us to have enough space.

Yet 3 bedrooms are 1500; and 4 (or 5) bedrooms are 2000.

There’s rarely anything in the middle.


I am 100% obsessed.

It is now official.

I am obsessed with the local real estate market.

I am obsessed with owning a home.

[and with E having her own room]

Wish me luck, as the spring selling/buying season rolls along.

I need it.

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