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Buying Better Than Renting

July 24, 2010

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Well, this makes me feel better.

Courtesy of New York Times

Sometimes I could kick myself for buying a 155 year old home. Especially when I have to try and install square sheets of drywall on VERY unsquare ceilings and walls. NOT fun.

The New York Times has a cost calculator at nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html, comparing rental pros and cons with ownership pros and cons. Looks like buying a home gets you ahead in the finances than renting.

But not by much. :-p

Part of the reason for the less than stellar return rate, I think, is the severe drop in housing values and the severe rise in property taxes. I purchased my home for $62,5 over 13 years ago. It is now valued at $87,0 for taxation purposes, but I could never get that amount should I sell it right now. The market is bad, and no one wants a fixer upper. I do renovate it with the expectation that the market will improve, but I renovate mostly because the house needs the improvements, and we want to live comfortably and efficiently. Still, even though I have no intention of selling, it would be nice to know that my home is increasing in value as I improve it….

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Why I Need a New Kitchen

March 22, 2010

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Click the image to enlarge, if you need to.

PrincessPerchKitchen

I’m getting nervous.

I’m in the process of making a materials list and getting a cost estimate for the new kitchen. Oh dear. It’s adding up! And adding and adding and adding! The flooring alone is going to cost me over $600… and that’s *just* for the kitchen. I was hoping to possibly renovate the dining room, too, but I am getting pretty squeamish by these numbers. The flooring and the drywall prices have me a little nervous. Thank God the dining room has all new windows (we had them installed when we moved in, because they were broken), but the kitchen needs two window replacements…

So to prevent me from crawling back into the procrastination cave, I’m reiterating to myself WHY we MUST renovate this kitchen THIS YEAR. We MUST. Our insurance policy is due for a renew this summer, and it will never get approved if they see this kitchen, never. The dining room still has no electricity, but at least the plaster isn’t falling on our heads in there.

And my darling princess, Livvy, needs a neat and clean place to perch so she can stare down at us while we cook, lol. I can’t have her breathing in all that plaster dust! But oh dear what an expensive cat perch this will be… and I haven’t even figured in for the cabinets and countertops yet…

*grit teeth, deep sigh*

I love renovating, I do…. except that paying for the blasted process is sooo painful. 🙁

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Have a Great Garage Sale

May 12, 2009

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Did you realize that hosting a great garage sale is an art? Yes, indeed! Some people make a LOT of money from their garage sales, enough for them to consider it a part-time job! The buying and selling of used stuff can be a very lucrative business– IF you know how to market it and present it right. Nobody likes shopping at a shoddy garage sale site. And nobody can shop at your garage sale if they don’t know that you are HAVING a garage sale.

Here’s a little tip for your next garage or yard sale: GarageSaleTracker.com. It’s a website dedicated to the garage and yard sale, for buyers and sellers. It’s loaded with tips and advice, like how to barter a good price, how to run a successful garage sale, and how to advertise your sale on the Internet. Actually, you can list your garage or yard sale at GarageSaleTracker.com free right now, for a limited time!

Listing your garage sale on the Internet is a good idea. For one, it’s less expensive than having the local newspaper print out your ad; two, it reaches more people, especially those people who don’t get the newspaper; three, it’s more interactive than the paper– for example, at GarageSaleTracker.com, you can embed driving directions to your sale! And GarageSaleTracker.com allows unlimited word count– so you can list all the gory details of Aunt Bertha’s old flat iron or list every title to all the books you’re trying to sell. Nice! GarageSaleTracker.com also has a search engine where you can search for sales near you. Check out the website- this is DEFINITELY a site to bookmark.

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Watch This Stuff

February 24, 2009

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In August, I wrote a post about “planned obsolescence” and a great video called “The Story of Stuff.” In a nutshell, the video tells us that our economy relies on the constant activity of the shopper (that is, shopping) to keep the economy rolling. That’s why so few save, debt is so high, and it’s why the stuff we buy does not last. I was once again reminded of this when I wrote my post about my 6-month-old vacuum cleaner breaking down (and it never really worked right, anyway). This planned obsolescence and shopping craze is a system, a purposeful plan by governments to cash in on our slave labor and on more power and trading.

This video, “The Story of Stuff,” spells out the entire system and how it works. It’s a GREAT video and I think it’s very timely. Here is a trailer of the entire video.

See? Why else do we have to replace, on a CONSTANT basis, everything from toasters to vacuums to bathroom vanities to cars? That’s why!

This kind of an economy is not sustainable. There is an END to its cycle, and it isn’t a happy ending. Governments (who have grown fat off our backs with this kind of economy) are doing everything they can to prevent the end, but by prolonging the agony, we will experience the economy’s long, agonizing death. The only ones who will walk away with money in their pockets will be the international bankers (in the U.S., this includes the Federal Reserve) and the politicians (who are paid by the international bankers). Looking to the government for “change” will further enslave us into their system, as we are seeing right before our eyes.

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Housing Market Bottoming Out?

February 18, 2009

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We can only wish. Then we’d have nowhere to go but up.

According to Bloomberg, this may be the year the housing market bottoms out. Hmm. I am skeptical; we’ll see. I haven’t seen any moves by anyone to tighten the belt or hit a diet supplements routine. Instead, I still see an awful lot of gorging!

U.S. home prices will reach bottom by the end of the year, concluding a slide that will have cut values 36 percent, Moody’s Economy.com said today.

“Notwithstanding the intensifying economic gloom, the bottom of the housing downturn is within sight,” chief economist Mark Zandi said in a statement today. “Presuming we see strong action by policymakers to help support the economy and the housing market, prices will begin to recover by the end of this year.”

Demand for new and existing homes began to fall in 2005, marking the end of a five-year U.S. housing boom fueled in part by easy credit for subprime borrowers. Existing home prices tumbled from an average high of $230,200 in July 2006 to $175,400 in December, according to data from the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors.

U.S. home prices will fall another 11 percent on average before stabilizing, according to Moody’s Economy.com. The Case- Shiller home price index will fall 36 percent from its 2006 peak to the bottom this year, Zandi’s study said.

About 62 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed will record double-digit declines in home prices by the end of the slump, according to today’s report. Prices will fall more than 50 percent in former boom areas such as southeast Florida and parts of California, including Riverside.

The rest of the nation is experiencing what we in New York State have been seeing for the past 15-20 years. So here, the housing market decline is not as unbearable… to every cloud there’s a silver lining, I guess… *laughs manically*.

You know, when the American people were clamoring to the government, demanding that the government “create jobs,” I think Americans forgot to tell the leaders– “Uh, we meant create more jobs for AMERICANS.” Because that’s a lot of the problem, here– the outsourcing of everything, everything except retail industry jobs. You just cannot base an economy on “Paper or plastic?” and “Do you want fries with that?” DUH!!!

Anyway, it’s really up to us to make this economy work. Shopping our way out a recession is not going to work– getting out of debt, building savings, and living frugally is what will do it.

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Sigggghhhhh

January 23, 2009

2 Comments

More Gubment Jobs

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On a sidenote, at the beginning of a new presidential term, I always wonder how cartoonists will characterize the new presidents. I thought GW Bush’s characterizations were extremely funny when they came out. Obama’s look is a bit too bland, me thinks. I couldn’t tell who this was until I saw the purple lips and tilted up head.

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Terrible Figures

January 12, 2009

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I was reading headlines yesterday and saw a few news stories reporting 2.6 million American workers lost their jobs in 2008. This is just stunning, and I even thought the numbers low. I did a quick search on how many New Yorkers lost jobs in 2008, and couldn’t find an exact number (just percentages, which are meaningless, IMO). And those figures represent unemployment, not employees who have suffered reduced hours or wages. New York has been hemorraging jobs AND residents for decades. It’s shocking; and still the government acts like nothing is really wrong, judging by their actions. Even Governor Paterson, who claims that New Yorkers need to tighten the belt, isn’t making any big spending cuts– and especially no cuts for wealthy government employee salaries, jobs, or pensions.

I found this table at the NYS Labor Department website. YIKES!

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Do you see what I see? Taxpayer-funded jobs (education, government, services) are growing at a phenomenal rate, compared to the massive losses of private sector jobs (jobs that PAY into taxes– the everyday people’s jobs). There is NO WAY this kind of economy is sustainable, NO WAY. It’s simple, simple arithmetic. What is it with idiot politicians? How can they be missing this?! Things do not bode well for the future, if things continue at this present rate. Unless, of course, things are completely turned around and it is government/education/service jobs that pay taxes to us in the private sector jobs…

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Yugo No More

November 21, 2008

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With hats in hands, we bid a sad farewell to the Yugo tomorrow (I’m such a sentimental schmuck, I know). The Yugo, mass produced in the 80s, was a simple car designed to be small and economical, compared to the futuristic, complex, gas guzzling SUVs with their flashy gadgets and flash memory microchip in the engines. The Yugo was also notoriously unreliable.

KRAGUJEVAC, Serbia, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Serbian auto maker Zastava, producer of the iconic Yugo, will make its last vehicle on Friday before closing its doors to revamp operations in a joint venture with Italy’s Fiat. The Yugo car dates back to 1978, and, since mass production started in 1980, nearly 800,000 Yugo vehicles have rolled out of the Zastava plant, 142,000 exported to the United States.

Socialist Yugoslavia created the Zastava car plant in 1953 to service its domestic market of about 20 million people.

Thus ends another chapter in the closing of what could loosely be called an automobile. It was imported into the U.S. by businessman Malcolm Bricklin, who:

…wouldn’t be satisfied until he had forced every American to walk to work. To that end, in 1985, he began importing the Yugo GV, which turned out to be the Mona Lisa of bad cars. Built in Soviet-bloc Yugoslavia, the Yugo had the distinct feeling of something assembled at gunpoint. Interestingly, in a car where “carpet” was listed as a standard feature, the Yugo had a rear-window defroster — reportedly to keep your hands warm while you pushed it. The engines went ka-blooey, the electrical system — such as it was — would sizzle, and things would just fall off. Yugo. Or not. (TIME magazine, The 50 Worst Cars of All Time, 2007).

The Yugo became something of an icon, a symbol of everything that was wrong and inefficient about the Soviets, socialism, and later, wacko-liberalism. The Yugo was the brunt of many jokes over the years.

Yu*go (yoo-go) n. (1) A small, economical, Yugoslavian-built automobile. (2) a 4×4 hood ornament.
adj. 1) What doesn’t happen when you press the accelerator.

A man walks into an auto parts store and says,
“I’ll take a gas cap for a Yugo.”
“Sounds like a fair trade,” says the salesman.

How do you double the value of a Yugo?
Fill the tank!

What is found on the last two pages of every Yugo owner’s manual?
The bus schedule.

What do you call a Yugo with a flat tire?
Totalled.

Why do Yugos have a heater for the back window?
To keep your hands warm when pushing.

How do you make a Yugo go faster?
A towtruck.

Yuk yuk yuk! Goodbye, Yugo. If nothing else, you made us laugh.

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Woman’s Home Threatened Over 1 Cent Water Bill

November 20, 2008

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UNBELIEVABLE!!! First, the story:

A 74-year-old blind woman was shocked when her daughter found a letter from the city saying a lien would be placed on her home unless she paid an overdue water bill.

The amount? 1 cent.

…The letter warned of a lien and a $48 penalty if the overdue bill is not paid by December 10. The charge was from the previous fiscal year, which ran from July 2007 to July 2008.

I’ve read this story at several news sites: CNN, Fox, Yahoo, etc. NOT ONCE was the point made that this woman was threatened with her home being taken away from her because she didn’t pay the full amount on her UTILITY BILL.

SINCE WHEN can a person’s home be taken from them because of an unpaid utility bill??? I don’t care if the amount is 1 cent or $1million dollars. This is outrageous, and I can’t believe this isn’t being screamed from the rooftops. A defaulted utility payment is warrant for the government to put a lien on a woman’s home?!?!? The woman has lived in her home since 1959. They were just itching to take her property away. Unconscionable!

And then the Attleboro government has the nerve to say that this issue was “blown out of proportion.” What happened to your guts, Massachusetts? It wasn’t even 300 years ago that you stood up to show the rest of the world what you thought of tyrants who want to take your property and liberty away.

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Safe and Secure With All Alarms

November 19, 2008

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There have been a rash of robberies in my area lately. I remember, years ago, when we could easily leave our doors unlocked while we went out. Not so anymore. As a matter of fact, I admit that I sometimes don’t sleep very well because I’m concerned of a break-in. There’s just SO much night time activity around here these days and it seems to have worsened along with the economy; it’s unnerving.

I always thought security systems were something for “the rich people’s homes.” I always saw that blue octagonal “ADT” decals on doors of houses I visited. I have recently checked into the ADT home security system, and I must say: I am impressed. It’s very affordable! I don’t see how any home can be without it.

There are many various options and plans you can choose from with the ADT security system. You can mix and match an alarm system with video surveillance, 24-hour burglary monitoring, or get their new TouchPad system (it disarms the alarm with a wave of a special remote keychain device). Installation cost is as low as $99 (there’s a special going on right now, see here) and monthly monitoring costs are right around $35– that’s the cost of a pizza dinner for 6, people. I had no idea ADT was so affordable! And now I know why so many New York State homes have ADT– there’s a monitoring station here in the state, and ADT is the largest and most reliable security system in the country. ADT can monitor for burglary, fire, flooding (oh THAT would be wonderful for my property!), medical emergencies and more. The ADT Safewatch QuickConnect plan has gotten good reviews, too.

adt

I’m looking into the ADT security system for my home. I recommend you do so, too. ADT offers a free home security evaluation- see here. You can fill in the form and an ADT representative will contact you for an appointment. If nothing else, check the website for home security tips and information about how to make your property more secure. Don’t leave things to chance!

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