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Jenn and I drove around yesterday and weeded out the neighborhoods and houses that we didn’t like, and today we went out with our realtor’s partner, Terri, to look at the remaining properties on our “list.” (Gregory, the realtor, is on vacation in Mexico. I’d like to be on vacation, too.)

As it turns out, we had like nine different places on the list to look at, but yesterday we weeded them down to four, and today we found out that two of them are pending sale, so that left two. Which was okay, since we found one house that we were really excited about from looking at the pictures and that one was still available.

We went in that one and I was, to say the least, underwhelmed. I’m not sure if I had built up my expectations too much or if it really just wasn’t the house for us, but we were really disappointed once we got inside.

We didn’t even look in the second house - turns out it’s right next to some train tracks, and I’m so not into dealing with that.

Which means the search continues. I’ve heard that it takes a while, but, man, that one house really had me hoping we could cut this short.

In the meantime, I’ve noticed that limiting my budget (and, thus, my monthly payments) as much as I have has also limited the number of properties that I’ve seen that fit my space requirements. While I at first thought 1500 square feet would be enough, I find that those are barely larger than our current apartment of 1100 square feet, and with the layouts they have, they generally feel smaller. My new goal is closer to the 2000 square foot range, which means I’ve gotta up my spending limit. It may be harder in the first couple of years we’re there, but we’ll manage somehow. If it’s somewhere we can live for several years, I think it’ll be worth it.

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I just finished my taxes a few minutes ago. Now, I realize that financial analysts or whatever say that it’s better to owe at the end of the year because you can make use of the money and earn interest on it yourself rather than letting it sit with the government like a free loan and let them earn interest on it.

My view, though, is that I like getting what appears to be “free money” in the mail at the end of the year. The interest I would have earned on the money never seems to be more than a couple of bucks anyway.

So, like I said, I just finished my taxes, and while I only owe the state like $30 and the feds like $70, I never anticipated the county tax being quite so high.

See, I live in Multnomah County, and last year they had a special vote to put in a “temporary tax” or some shit because the state squandered a bunch of money on stuff it didn’t need to do so they punished the schools and public works departments by stealing money from those. You know, make it hurt the taxpayers so there’s a perceived value in adding more new taxes to support the programs that are actually useful, right? Anyway, they put this new tax to the vote and the voters, stupid as all hell, voted it in. And it wasn’t just a tax starting when the vote hit, it was retroactive for the whole year.

Okay, so this tax passes and we have the option of having money taken from our paychecks for the remaining three months of the year to cover the Multnomah County tax, and then we pay at the end of the year for the remaining nine months’ worth of tax that wasn’t stolen from our paychecks.

I paid $137 via paycheck deduction for the last three months. I didn’t think I’d get hit too hard at the end of the year.

I did my taxes and, even after the $137, I still owe Multnomah County $461.

I mean, why don’t they just send someone to my house to jam a hot poker up my ass while they’re at it? I didn’t vote for additional tax - I don’t have kids, and, frankly, most of the money’s going to the school system that I don’t use or generally agree with. But still, I get raped by the county to fix their screwup. (Here’s a big shout-out to those voters who voted in the tax. Thanks, guys! I fucking appreciate it!)

After all was said and done, my effective tax rate was like 20%. That means between the state, feds, and county, I’m getting like 20% of my gross pay stolen to support lawmakers’ pork barrel projects.

Thank God Jenn and I are moving out of Multnomah-fucking-County. I like the place, but shit, I just can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll still owe ‘em for a partial year’s residency, but maybe I can still get out without having to donate blood plasma.

General Ramblings comments edit

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of my age or distinct lack of energy, but Jenn’s friends at work invited us out to go clubbing tonight and I was all for it until I heard they wanted to meet up at 11:00p. Dude, I’m ready for bed at 11:00p. I’m all about meeting up at 8 and going from there.

My eBay auctioning has been reasonably successful. I’m finding that generally I need to list things for two weeks, but after that they’re sold. The default listing of a single week doesn’t seem to work. It’s like people specifically wait for me to pay the extra $0.35 to relist the item before deciding to bid on it. At least the stuff’s selling.

I’ve got a lot of stuff to do at work, but I’m really just not interested in any of it, so I’m finishing up little nickel-and-dime things that fall through the cracks. The three-day weekend is coming up and I’m not only anxious to get to that, but also kind of excited to go house shopping. One in particular has caught my eye.

In other news, I’ve converted Jenn over to be a Homestar Runner fan. She used to just not understand the whole Strong Bad thing, but I bought the CD and she’s hooked. Now she goes and regularly checks for Strong Bad emails just like the rest of the intelligent universe. Her favorite character is The Cheat. I think she may need a Cheat shirt.

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There are around seven or eight new properties that Jenn and I will be checking out on Sunday. Gregory, my realtor, sent over a few, and I searched around and found a couple, too. There’s one in particular that I’m really liking the look of, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s all of two or three blocks down from some good friends of ours. If it’s as cool as it looks like from the pictures, that’ll be the one. I know that one of the houses we’re going to look at is a nice size for the price, and I’m big on size (heh) but the kitchen looked REALLY small from the pics, which could be a problem… then again, it may have an offer on it, too. I guess I’ll worry about that Sunday.

Of course, Gregory’s going to Mexico for a week so I’ll be dealing with his partner, Terri, on Sunday. Which really doesn’t bother me so much, but it’s just one more thing to stress about.

The thing is, I’m starting to stress over things surrounding this whole house-purchase thing, and it’s generally things that are out of my control. I find it helps to call people and ask questions about the process and what I need to do at certain steps therein since familiarity with how things work and knowing what my part is in all of it is comforting. Sort of “imposing structure on chaos,” if you will.

There’s other stuff, too. For example, my parents are adamant that they see any house I want to make an offer on before the offer goes out. But they can’t make it to this side of town during the daylight on weekdays, so that would mean I’m waiting weeks - weeks where other people are potentially making offers on my house - just to make a first offer. I’m thinking maybe they can just see it after I get things moving, since the timing on things is just not going to work.

And we’ve got a bunch of stuff in storage, some large items of which (a mattress/box spring set, a display case) are going to be listed for sale in the want ads. That’s Jenn’s one job here - figure out, by tomorrow (she’s had a week now) how to list things in the ads. Like, what sort of requirements there are - description length, pictures (if online or whatever)… but she’s made no progress on it and just complains that there are no display cases out there like the one we’re selling so she doesn’t know how to price it. She’s a smart girl and I love her, but sometimes I would love to just be able to trust her to use the intelligence I know she has (she passed the national pharmacy tech certification test, after all) and solve the problem without my intervention and without procrastination. If I was able to do everything by myself, I wouldn’t have asked for help, would I? (Note that I very rarely ask for assistance on stuff from much anyone - I’m very much of the philosophy “God helps those who help themselves.” Plus, if we’ve gotta list these things for more than a week, we need to know how to do it yesterday.)

It occurred to me about 4:45 this morning that I didn’t know how I was going to go about converting my renter’s insurance policy over to homeowner’s. So I got up to pee and got back in bed and laid there thinking about that… and the fact that I’m not sure what Ann’s (my mortgage broker) part in making an offer is… or how I’ll be going about doing that… or even whether Ann’s received my loan paperwork in the mail that I sent her earlier this week…

I got up about 5:30a after laying there stewing on that stuff, took my shower, and went to work early.

Since then, I’ve called State Farm and talked to a nice lady named Jessica who explained how to go about getting the homeowner’s policy, so I’m feeling a little better about that. I’ll need to provide my information to Ann so she can file that away, uh, wherever those things get filed.

I still need to call Ann to find out what I need to do if I need to make an offer on something. I’d like to think the realtor and the mortgage broker get together behind the scenes to deal with the details, but somehow I’m scared to let that stuff out of my control. And when do I lock my loan rate? Before or after I make an offer? Does it matter? Argh, this will be the death of me.