One Year In America

Last week marked our one year in America point, that is one whole year of adjusting, of mostly sharing one car, of living with my mother, and one year of painful learning processes.

I dare not speak for my husband, but I often wonder behind his stony Danish facade, what one year has been like for him.  I know he hasn’t enjoyed sharing a house with mother, an experience soon to end, and I know that it hasn’t been all rainbows and cupcakes for him.  From what I can tell, Americans seem to like him for a variety of reasons, but I think it is because we have Scandinavians on some sort of pedestal in our culture – we romanticize the bike riding, the long maternity leaves, the blond hair, the simple design, etc.  

There have been some food adjustments, just like many foreigners, my husband complains about the lack of good bread and more particular to his area of the world, the lack of leverpøstej.

We’ve had some marital reevaluations in terms of me learning that I can’t expect other people to meet unrealistic goals I have for them – my husband is not some sort of perfect god-like man and if he were he certainly wouldn’t go for un-perfect me!  I think that is what will help pull a marriage through, learning to accept the mess in the garage in return for your husband learning to accept that sometimes you leave the laundry go for too long or leave it in the dryer an extra day or two (or heavens forbid three).   

Spring Break: I should be studying…

It is school break for my daughter and I should be studying my Norwegian, which is due today…. but instead I’m doing Rainbow Loom and Origami.  I thought we’d be out planting stuff this week, but we had a hard freeze two nights ago, so definitely not a good idea.

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Apparently no school also means that the little one’s room explodes in mess approximately every 3 hours.

 

The Running Tally of Infertility Costs Continued:

Since I last posted I discovered that the Obamacare plans in Connecticut do cover infertility and right away, so I’m including our insurance costs in this, because otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased it.  You can see the updated costs here:  http://lifewithadane.wordpress.com/about/

The Dane had the bloodwork for his tests and chromosomal analysis done this morning.  He’s got his repeat semen analysis with something called a HA-binding assay that will take a look at the maturity and quality of the sperm and their ability to fertilize an egg.  He has to make a special appointment with the center’s andrology specialist after that.  

I finally got a positive OPK and other fertility signs today, day 26 of my cycle.  *rolls eyes*  So hopefully, I will actually ovulate and then can start the countdown to my bloodwork and HSG.

I so much just want to get the ball rolling on whatever we are doing – IVF, IUI, whatever, plus all these delays are just delays in us moving to our new house.  

Interestingly enough, our new RE didn’t deem it necessary to do the invasive and not loved endometrial biopsy.  New RE also wanted to do a lot more bloodwork on the Dane and a more comprehensive semen analysis and also a ridiculous ton more bloodwork on me.  All in all, I’ve found our experience with the new RE to be so much better.

My blood work will include the following tests:

What they call pre-natal: HIV, Blood Type, Hepatits, Syphilis (RPR), Vitamin D, Chlamydia, Complete Blood count, Chicken Pox (Varicella), Rubella immunity

Normal CD 3 stuff: AMH (this is to test my ovarian reserve), Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Prolactin, Fragile X, FSH, LH, Estradiol, DHEA, testosterone

Then some more specific ones to me being overweight and having multiple miscarriages:

Homocysteine – From reading up on it, this seems to be related to the MTHFR gene and an increased risk for miscarriage

Glucose tolerance testing, metabolic panels, lipid panels, progesterone, insulin response, Chlamydia antibody screen, iron, thyroid peroxidase antibody, B2 glycoproteins

Factor V (leiden) mutation, antithromibin III, protein C, S, etc.  

Then some more: Chromosome analysis, anti-thyroglobulin, prothrombin gene mutation

My husband has some similar tests being run, but obviously less of them.

 

Going Debt Free, Part II

When I had a read a book a while ago about extreme budgeting, one of the key steps was not having any debt.  Debt costs you money.  The loan origination fees and interest cost you well beyond the price of whatever you’ve purchased.

As obvious as it sounds, pay off whatever debt you have that has the highest interest rate first.  This will probably be any credit card debt.  Then, work your way down.  You’ll get there and you will be saving yourself money in the process.

So, we fully acted on this principle last week and now have 2 cars that we’ve purchased for cash, a 2009 Chevy Silverado and a 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek.   We are saving money while doing this and becoming economically more free.  If we are out of work or have a rough patch, we won’t have a mortgage or car payments looming over our heads.

 

Crosstrek

The key to all of this is of course is that as soon as you buy a car for cash, you must begin saving for the next car.  Save whatever you can, let’s say assuming you buy a 30k car and expect your current car to last 10 years, you need to put away about 250 a month.  This money will be earning you interest, however small that might be in the current market.  The other important key is to drive the car until it breaks down.  Every time you buy or sell a piece of property, like a car or a house, you are losing money (unless of course the market price of your house has increased dramatically).

Going Debt Free – Part 1, the House Buying

Inspired by this post about frugal living to pay off student loan debt, I thought we’d talk about our strategy to manage money whilst still enjoying our lives.

In the next month, we are going to be mostly debt free by choice.  There was a lot of pressure from family to buy a much more expensive house in an area where it is hard for either of us to find year round employment with benefits.  We would have been very loaded down with quit a bit of debt and living paycheck to paycheck at best.  It was a no-brainer for us to move to a different state.

Tacky as it might be or as much as I’d like to save face and pretend that we’ve got a more expensive house, we are in contract for a house for about $75,000.  Buying a less expensive house gave us the opportunity to purchase it with cash and make steps towards being debt  free.  As much as people will tell you that having a mortgage is a great idea because it is tax deductible, I also don’t like the idea of someone else owning my home and me paying more for it due to the interest.

The thing to be incredibly conscious of when buying a new home is not only the purchase price, but how much the house is actually going to cost.  Our additional costs for the first year are about as follows (we love overestimating):

Joist repair – $400    Ceiling repair – $1500    Paint – $1200   Washer and Dryer – $2400   Kitchen – $1500

Tiling – $3500  for kitchen, dining room, small hallway, bathroom, and front entrance

New wiring $9000

We’ve budgeted in after doing some shopping and serious Amazon list making another $7500 for new furniture (we need a sofa!) and household items.  A new snow blower and tools is an additional $3000.

Also, I think it is important, especially as a cash buyer, to have at least the first year’s worth of insurance and taxes ready to go.  For us all the car, life, house, and flood insurance plus property taxes comes out to about $3000 a year.

Buying and moving costs come out to another $8000.

The town we are moving to credits our first $600 of utility costs, so our yearly, if we choose not to get fancy cable or a house phone, is looking around $5400 (including cell phones and internet).

So, in our heads, when purchasing a house for about $75,000, we are really budgeting the house price at around $118,400.  Does that house seem like such a bargain now?

For us, still yes, because the $300,000 houses we were looking at here needed way more work than that and would have cost us a lot more per year in taxes and utilities, without any higher income.   Our new house will be costing us about $9000 per year and a house where we are now would be at least $18000-25000 a year depending on the type of heat.

*Obviously our prices are DIY fixes, except the electrical, so keep that in mind.

Hurtle #1 in Buying a House Built Before 1920

Is all the things you didn’t see despite taking a look in every nook and corner the house over.

We discovered that the house we have an offer in on, despite having a new 200 amp breaker box and conduit in the basement, has no modern wiring else than that.  Apparently, we’ve got knob and tube wiring in most of the house and aluminum in the rest.  Joy, right?

According to the local electricians and inspector, the knob and tube is fairly safe despite its 100 year old age, but I just don’t agree.  Someone blew cellulose over it in the attic, which isn’t up to the modern codes and can cause the knob and tube to overheat.  We are attempting to get our sellers to take a little bit off to account for the $7000-10000 it will cost to rewire the house.

Wikipedia: Knob and Tube

I am not particularly happy about this revelation as someone had put new outlets in everywhere with false grounds and had put new conduit in the basement from the new breaker.  It appeared from a layman’s inspection that there was only knob and tube to one not functional lighting fixture.  Whoever put the new Romex or aluminum in didn’t splice it correctly into the old knob and tube either.  But, I feel like we’ve been a little tricked and I don’t particularly like hearing that my house is basically going to cost 10k more than what we had agreed on.

I hope we can come to some sort of deal with us being cash buyers and not requiring them to fix all the things that would be FHA issues.

Still it means that we will have to absorb some of the cost and I basically have to waive goodbye for right now to my all new house over oak floors *bye oak floors with no staining*.  We did however decide to tile the kitchen, dining room, small hallway, and bathroom all the same tile which will save a little bit.  Having had wood floors in a dining room, I can definitely say that with our family, we are going to need tile!

So We’ve *Almost* Bought a New House

We have an accepted offer on a house.  I’m going to call it “Craftsman Lite” style.  It has a lot of the features of a house of that era, but it isn’t to the extent or size that people classically think of it.  I think we’d like to infuse a little bit more of that look in when re-doing the kitchen and some of the other things.

ImageImage

 

We have a list of things that need to be done in priority order:

Reinforce a floor joist

Take down the plaster ceiling in the living room which is heavily sagging due to a roof leak and replace it with dry wall.  (Roof was replace this year so the issue has been fixed)

Paint the inside

Renovate the kitchen – move some appliances, new cabinetry, new flooring, and sand the very textured ceiling a bit

Replace/repair the facia (boards that run along the roof)

Replace living room floors and maybe floors in the rest of the house.  I know they look ok in the picture, but these 100 year old floors have been through at least 3 floods, a roof leak, and last year’s tenant staining them dark without prepping them first.  We want to save them, but having taken a very close look, we don’t think it will be possible.  It isn’t an emergency, but it should be done.  

Spruce up the fireplace

Do a tiny bit of flood proof finishing in the basement in the laundry area (there is a laundry chute!)

Renovate the bathroom which was recently done about 7 years ago, but we’d rather have tile, an actual tile surround in the tub, and a shower curtain versus a glass door.  The upper track for the glass door makes it hard for my husband to get in and out due to his height.