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Almost Moving Day!

April 27th, 2016 at 09:50 am

It's been a long time coming, but moving day is almost here! My closing is on Friday at 10:30 AM and we're hoping to have keys in hand and start moving our possessions by 3 PM. I honestly had no idea that I didn't get the keys as soon as I signed the paperwork. The last home I purchased was a foreclosed home and I was able to get the keys immediately. Not sure if that's because it was a foreclosed home, or I just got lucky, but apparently it's typical to have to wait quite a few hours after closing until the house is "legally" yours since they have to record title paperwork, etc.

My current house is filled with boxes and it's quite annoying to maneuver through. With only 625 sq ft of living space, there isn't a lot of room for piles of boxes :/ my poor Emmett (60 lb pit bull) is going stir crazy in the house with having barely any room to play (did I mention it's been raining for 6 days straight so barely any outside time either??)

It's been awhile since my last house purchase and I had forgotten how spendy appraisals and inspections are. Inspection was $325 and Appraisal was $684. I feel like the housing industry should find a way to blend those two services... they are very similar. The Inspection company originally wanted $425 ($100 for a radon test). Considering the house I bought has a radon mitigation system AND I can go to town to the environmental center and pick up a radon test for $12 - there was no way I was paying an extra $100 for a guy to close some windows and press a button.

A few weeks ago we did have a hiccup in the mortgage underwriting process though! My lender called me saying there was a fraud alert in my name! *YIKES!* I asked if she meant someone was stealing my identity? And she clarified saying that on my application, I stated I only owned one home (my townhouse I sold) yet there was another home in my name, so it looked like I was the one attempting to commit fraud! I had no idea what she was talking about, and then she shared the address in question with me... Ohhhhhhh it's the home my dad owned. When he passed away in December, that house went into my name. I hadn't even thought of that. Not to mention I live in Montana and that home is in Minnesota - so out of sight out of mind and all that. Thank goodness this situation was cleared up easily by just giving my lender the contact information of the attorney who is handling the sale of my dad's house. But it sure was scary for a minute there! The word "fraud" is never something you want associated with your name!

Anyway, I can't wait to move! Well, the moving itself is not fun, but I love unpacking and organizing!

Recent Excel Budget Crunch = Excitement

February 24th, 2016 at 12:48 pm

The closing of the sale of my townhouse was today! Hooray! In honor of such a big event, I decided to create a spreadsheet of all my debits and credits to represent the "Before" (all my monthly expenses and income during the ownership of my townhouse) and "After".

Monthly expenses that I will no longer have to pay after today:

$18.92 - Rental Unit Insurance
$28 - Tenant's Water/Sewer Bill
$175 - Homeowners Association Dues
$822.20 - Mortgage + PMI

With the check I receive from the sale, I will be paying off my vehicle and my student loans! This means after that point I will no longer have to pay:

$181.65 Student Loan payment per month
$271.14 Vehicle Loan payment per month

I'm going to have an extra $1496.91 in my bank account each month. Woo hoo!

I'm currently paying $850 in rent (technically $425 since my boyfriend and I split it) and looking to buy a home (again) instead of wasting money on a house I don't own (or like).

I'm pre-approved for a conventional mortgage loan of $250K and extremely happy that I won't have to pay mortgage insurance anymore.

I never thought that I'd be free of my student loans before the age of 30 and I'm beyond thrilled that that time is fast approaching!

Time to Start Thinking about Buying Property!

February 16th, 2016 at 01:14 pm

It's time to legit start looking at buying new property here in Montana! The sale of my MN home will be complete on February 24th. I can almost grasp moving out of this teeny, tiny concrete house.

I keep going back and forth between two options: 1) buying acreage (.5 to 2 acres) with a house already on it or 2) buying the acreage and then putting a modular home on it.

I was originally leaning toward the modular/acreage but it's been a little difficult finding land that allows modular homes. Even though they are built based on higher standards than manufactured and mobile homes, most land covenants want traditional stick-built homes. Ugh.

The boyfriend and I are going to go look at a home this week - 1550 sq ft, 3 bed/2 bath, new construction with .25 acre yard in a subdivision... the words "in a subdivision" make me cringe a little. I don't want to be in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, but these have decent sized lots so we'll see.

I haven't talked with a mortgage loan officer yet (I've been waiting until the closing of my MN house) but I am a little at a loss on how much I can afford. I'll be purchasing the house since I have excellent credit and while I don't see me and my boyfriend ever breaking up - I never have liked the idea of co-signed loans. He and I will still split all the monthly payments though... I guess he'll essentially just be paying me rent.

I only make about $38,000 annually (same with the bf) but I'll have about $100,000 for a down payment. A real estate agent I was talking to kept sending me houses that were $300,000... that seems quite steep for someone who only has an income of $38,000.

Advice anyone?

Moving to an Online Bank

January 12th, 2016 at 02:48 pm

I recently decided to finally switch banks. I've been postponing this because I know what a time-suck it will be to transfer all my different retail/membership/direct deposit/etc accounts to the new checking account.

I recently opened an interest-yielding checking account through online bank Ally and a savings account through them as well. I've read many good things about them on NerdWallet, BankRate, etc. Any of you have an opinion on Ally?

What finally made me put on my big girl pants and do this was because my dad recently passed away and he had life insurance in which I am a beneficiary. I didn't want that death benefit check sitting in a checking account doing nothing.
I am also in the progress of selling my townhouse in Minnesota and will be getting check for the mortgage/purchase price difference and didn't want that sitting in an account that wouldn't do anything either.

I've never done any investing other than a 401K (and buying a couple Powerball tickets this week for the first time ever) so I figured a high-yield interest savings account was the first logical step.

Digital Antennas (Thumbs up!)

September 10th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

My boyfriend and I moved to Montana because we love the outdoors (especially hiking the mountains!) We have been here since June and had never subscribed to any cable companies. We just don't really watch TV... but now it's football season!

I'm a HUGE Packers fan and he's a Bengals fan, so we needed a way to watch football. I read online that antennas can pick up pretty good HD channels, but living in a town surrounded by mountains I didn't think it would work for us. After researching a few different antenna companies, I decided to buy an external antenna for $29.99. Not only did it not cost much, but the company offered free returns if it didn't work out.

I'm here to say even in a place surrounded by mountains, this little antenna picks up GREAT HD TV! I have CBS, FOX, The CW, NBC, and PBS channels that come in crystal clear! Bring on the NFL kickoff!

So, if anyone else has been hesitant on cutting cable, do it... you can still get football!

Affordable Pet-Friendly Rentals - Impossible

August 28th, 2015 at 07:55 am

So, maybe a little naive, but I figured since everyone and their mom owns a dog out in Montana that we would have no issue finding a nice, affordable home to rent that allows pets. Not so!

My boyfriend and I have been in our 625 sq ft month-to-month rental since June 1st now and I'm getting antsy. I work from home, so I'm in the house all day. It's really starting to cause me to go stir-crazy.

I am on rental websites and Craigslist every day. Not only is it hard to find rentals that allow pets in the first place, but trying finding one that allows at dog that's bigger than 30 lbs. My American Bulldog pitbull mix is 50 lbs. Definitely won't make that cut.

We were approved for a home last week but they ended up wanting $500 PER PET as a damage deposit. I have 2 cats and the dog. That would have been $1500 cash up front not including first month's rent or the security deposit. Needless to say, we didn't sign the lease.

I love my pets and I am so glad to be their mom, but wow it would be SO much easier to find a nice place if they weren't around. But I'm not the type to give up my pets just to move. That's just silly.

Time to Start Trying to Make Friends

June 9th, 2015 at 01:11 pm

So, I like to describe myself as an Introvert who is really good at pretending to be an Extrovert. In all my work roles I've been front and center, the first impression of the company (up until now since I work from home) so I have always forced myself to be an extrovert. This has caused me to immediately want to go home everyday after work and just relax by being alone.

Well... that has to change. I now work from home in a new state and I need friends. I have my boyfriend here with me, but a girl needs other girls to talk to once in awhile too! I am now going to, once again, force myself to be an extrovert to meet people.

Today is Mission Make Friends Day One. I am going to a barre fitness class on Main Street after I'm done working. I'll probably be too sweaty and exhausted to meet anyone, but we'll see. The only issue with this is that if I like the class, I'll be hurting a little in the wallet. The monthly membership is $99 - eeek!! A part of me is hoping I hate it!

Another route I am going to try and meet people is volunteering. I applied to volunteer at the local animal rescue center the other day. I did this back in Minnesota at the humane society and I really enjoyed it and met other like-minded animal activists that were really nice. Some days working at an animal shelter are really hard because it can be sad, but it's rewarding overall because you know you're helping these animals find homes.

Has anyone else ever found themselves (as an adult) in a whole new city needing to find friends?? On a budget?!

Almost Moving Time!

May 22nd, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Well, I have just over a week before I'm off to Montana! My house has tenants, the rental truck is booked, I've got the sedatives from the vet for my cats, and my PTO has been submitted. Not much left to do but move the boxes in the garage to the truck and drive the 1000 miles. Not looking forward to this part in the slightest. (Has anyone else moved long-distance with cats?! Thinking this will be interesting...)

This is my first time having to rent a moving truck. All the other moves I've done have been local so I've been able to get by with the help of friends and family and their vehicles. WOW are moving trucks expensive! It's a whopping $1290 for a 16' truck (and that's WITH a coupon code!)... we then tried to change the reservation to Saturday instead of Sunday and the company wanted $400 more. No spank you!

Once I get there, the moving still isn't done unfortunately. Half of the possessions are going into the house, the other half to a storage unit ($50/month.) The place we're living in at first is just month-to-month to give me time to find a more long-term place. I didn't want to choose something online without looking at anything so we're renting out a house my boyfriend's boss owns. It's only 670 square feet... hence not staying there long-term. With two adults, two households combining, and 2 cats and a pit-bull there is NO way that is enough room for us. It's too bad it's not bigger though because I love the location! Just 10 minutes from "downtown" and the mountains in the backyard! My dog is going to love it - that's for sure. LOTS of room for fetch.

Anyone else have long-distance moving experiences you want to share??

Sometimes Online Coupon Purchases Just Don't Work Out

April 30th, 2015 at 02:42 pm

I've had [mostly] great luck saving money with Groupon, LivingSocial, CrowdCut, Amazon Local, etc... but I have to share a *blah* purchase experience.

A couple months ago I saw a coupon on Amazon Local for professional carpet cleaning and thought "Score! This will be great for just before my new tenants move in!" I bought the coupon which was for 4 rooms (up to 250 sq ft each) and a hallway for $55.20 (really was advertised as $69 but I had a promo code.)

I called the company early April and scheduled an appointment for 4/29 at 4 PM. That was the latest they could come out so I gave in and just decided I'd take off work an hour and a half early. Not too big of a deal.

Well, 4/29 was yesterday. They called and left me a message around 2 PM saying they were running behind and asked that I call them back. I called them back around 3 PM (work and all that delayed me a little) and I got a generic "This caller is not answering at this time" voicemail. I wasn't sure if it was the correct number so I didn't leave a message. They tried calling me back around 3:15 and I didn't answer (again, I'm at work) and they did not leave me a message this time.

3:30 rolled around and I originally planned on leaving at this time to meet them at my rental property at 4. Because they had said earlier that they were running late I left at 3:40 instead. As I am driving to my house, I call them again just to get an ETA since we'd been playing phone tag. The guy answers the phone and says he's JUST arriving at another job site that is located in a city about 30 minutes from me. They were JUST arriving. Keep in mind that they were supposed to be at my house at 4 PM and it's 3:40 and they are JUST arriving at a DIFFERENT job.

Tell me if I am wrong here, but leaving me a voicemail message at 2 PM saying "We're running a little behind" does not equate to not even starting the job before mine until the time my appointment was supposed to occur.

The guy said he'd be at my house around 5 or 5:30. Keep in mind, this is my rental house, not where I currently live so no TV, no Internet, no food, no water, no nothing for me to busy myself with while I wait. I decided to run to Trader Joes to pick up flowers and a card for my new tenants and then sat outside the house for an hour while I waited since it was nice out. I could have been working... but no. I left work early thinking they would only be "running a little behind."

They arrived around 5 PM and proceeded to then complain about how the owner of the company overbooked them, etc... etc... and also told me they had to charge me an extra $80 for "heavily soiled carpeting." BS. I don't wear shoes in the house, I don't have children, and my cats were indoor cats so never brought dirt inside. There was no way my carpets could have been considered "heavily soiled." I told him he should give me a discount since they were an hour late and because I didn't have a hallway for them to clean when my coupon includes that. He then told me $80 was a discount.

Anyway, there is my rant about my most recent online coupon purchase fail. Do you guys have any experiences you'd like to share?

Rental License??

April 8th, 2015 at 02:03 pm

I'm prepping to move to Montana in June and I own a townhouse in Minnesota that I plan on just renting out. As I am knee-deep in working with my property management company, I find out I need to let the city know I plan on renting it out. My association, sure. The city? Fine. I contact the city and find out I need to APPLY for a rental license! Seriously? Apparently I'm completely oblivious to things because I assumed if I owned a home it was mine to do what I wanted (within reason of course.)
Turns out I had to pay $325 to apply for the 3-year rental license ($100) and have a city inspector come "approve" my home ($225). I was shocked and maybe naive to think I had to pay so much just to rent out my own home.
Anyone else rent out their home and come across this? Yikes!

5 Ways to Save Money Each Month

April 1st, 2015 at 11:47 am

HBO announced that they will be offering their online streaming service starting this month (April). Do you hear that? That's the sound of millions of cable subscribers jotting the note "cancel cable" into their 2015 planners. To follow this up, here's a tip: go get an antenna. No, not those contraptions with the bunny ears and tinfoil, but one of the new streamlined antennas that you can hide behind your TV. Unless you're living in an extremely remote area (we'll have to see if this works out in Bozeman, Montana!), you'll be able to pick up local HD channels like FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. for a one-time fee of about $40. This way when you cut the cable cord, you'll still be able to watch the news, sports, and your favorites like Modern Family and The Blacklist. It's a great way to save a few bucks every month.

Another way to save a few bucks is to shop with apps. Target's Cartwheel app and Cub Food's Rewards app are my two favorites to grocery shop with. I basically take a few minutes before heading to the store to look at their featured coupons. I then plan my meals around the deals. (Not to mention the Holiday Station gas savings with Cub rewards points!) I know Costco and Sam's Club are also two places to save money when grocery shopping, but I'm a single woman with no children. I don’t need to bulk grocery shop.

Amazon Prime. Do I need to say more? Okay, I will. Amazon Prime is a great tool to save money. An annual fee of $99 gets you a streaming TV/movie service, free (or discounted) Kindle books, free two-day shipping, and a free music streaming service (with no commercials!). Find a pair of jeans you like at the store, but they are just a little too expensive to justify buying? Look those up on Amazon - 90% of the time they are cheaper. Need a present for little Timmy this weekend, but don't have enough time to go to the store? Boom. Amazon will have it at your front steps in two days. Recently canceled your gym membership to save money and now want to buy a treadmill? Amazon will give you a deal and deliver it for free! Need to buy kitty litter but don't feel like straining your back trying to lift the 40 pounds into the trunk of your car? Amazon. Okay, that may make me sound lazy, but time is money. Also, I look like an idiot trying to lift those massive bags into my trunk. But think of it this way, you now can take the time to go for a walk around the block enjoying the Spring weather instead of going to the store.

Summer is coming. Save some money and buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to your ideal temperature (mine is 71) only the hours you're at home and for when you're at work set it so it's at 78. Your energy bill and wallet will thank you!

The last money-saving tip I'll pontificate on is being a do-it-yourselfer. I'm the daughter of a plumber. He's been preaching to me since I could crawl on the importance of learning to fix things yourself, or at least try before calling a professional. A few weeks ago my vacuum stopped working. I started Googling the prices of vacuums and looked on Amazon at different reviews. I almost bought one, until I thought "You know what, let me first see if I can fix this thing before dropping 100 bucks." I Googled the make and model of my vacuum and watched a YouTube video on how to take it a part. In 20 minutes I had that thing working like it was brand-spankin' new. I immediately called my dad and told him all about it. So, not only did I save about $100, I also felt great about myself. You can find a video on how to fix pretty much anything on YouTube. And you can find a video on how to make pretty much anything on Pinterest. Last month I made a personalized jewelry box for my niece's third birthday. Had I bought it in the store, it probably would have cost over $40. And just let me say, I'm the last person you'd pick to be in a crafting club, so if I can do it anyone can.

Let's quickly review.

Five Easy Ways to Save Money Each Month:

Cancel Cable, Get an Antenna
Use Grocery Apps
Amazon Prime
Programmable Thermostat
Be a Do-It-Yourselfer

Decision to Move

April 1st, 2015 at 08:04 am

I have "officially" been with my boyfriend since December of 2010, but I had known him for years prior. He's always been drawn to the outdoors whether it's to go fishing, snowboarding, biking, camping, kayaking, or just sitting around a bonfire. I am also what you may call an "outdoorsy gal" because I've been boating, fishing, and camping with my dad since I could walk.
Living in Montana has always been a dream of his, while I didn't think I'd ever be brave enough to take such a big risk and move away from everything I've ever known. My family and job were huge safety nets that I didn't want to leave.
A year ago, my bf had plans to visit a relative for a month of fly-fishing in Montana. On a whim, he applied for a landscaping position and got the job immediately because of his years of landscape experience. That month-long vacation turned into a full-time April - November job in which he was quickly promoted to a foreman position.
He had asked me if I would move out there with him and here we are today! Two months from relocating to a city that is 1,000 miles away from the place I've been living for 27 years.
My mom was distraught when I told her a year ago of our plans and she still isn't comfortable with it, but she's trying. My sister and I have always been extremely close to our parents and my mom especially has always been over-protective and wanting us close. My dad just sees this move as a new place for him to vacation LOL.
My boyfriend heads back to Montana to start working again on Easter morning and I'll head out the first week of June - what an adventure I've fallen into!
I was told two weeks ago by my CEO that they are creating a job for me to be able to work from home in Montana and I am so thankful. One less thing to stress about (and that was a BIG stressor!)

Stay tuned as I chronicle moving prep and life out in Big Sky!