Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Strategy for increasing retirement savings

Anyone else want to try this with me? Take a purchase pause

We are spending a lot of money right now - just finished vacation, this weekend's entertaining of visitors, home improvements ...

I think I need to decide what else is truly necessary and what is optional. I like her idea about writing down each thing you think of purchasing and the cost and then not buying it for a set period of time. I am going to try for 90 days!!! Yes, the whole summer.

On a different topic, I found new homes for the book shelves and chair that need to leave our house. A neighbor is delighted to upgrade her book shelves and the chair is going either to someone moving to town without furniture or a guest house for families of those in town for treatment of brain injuries. I am very happy.

I also am tickled that the interior designer I hired really gets both what we want to achieve in remodeling a bathroom for sale appeal and the need to save money doing it! I think it will be beautiful and fit the era and style of the house while being modern. I'll take before and after photos to share.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why we are spending money and effort on preparing house for sale

We last sold a house 19 years ago. It was a down market, but we were moving for a job so we followed our realtor's advice on repainting the exterior and doing a bit of staging. It was a charming house in a desirable location and sold before the sign went up for more than we hoped to get.

Wish we had kept it as a rental because it is now worth at least 3 times as much being in the hot Los Angeles market that we are moving back to and I would love to be able to just move back into it! But we didn't.

We do however have our current house to put up for sale on April 1st. The general location is desirable but the house is old and buyers here generally prefer brand new ones. Right now it is a seller's market for this neighborhood, but still some older homes languish on the market and who knows what next Spring's market will be.

We own this house so it is one of our major assets and we want to get as much for it as we can to help finance post-retirement living in a much more expensive housing market for our hopefully long lives.

Since we know we are moving upon my husband's retirement we have the luxury of time to prepare the house and not make try to do everything in the month before the sign goes up. That also lets us make unhurried decisions about what we will move across the country (the list is shrinking LOL).

Like many people, we put effort into making this house our home. That means the colors, furnishings and amount of stuff works for us. It doesn't necessarily work for potential buyers.

My SIL who lives in the NE told me earlier this week about a friend of hers who is agonizing over whether or not to buy a particular house and being that they live in a tight housing market there aren't a lot of choices. The sticking point seemed to be the amount of repainting that would have to be done to neutralize the all the colorful rooms - rose red, shades of green, etc.

So back to taking our realtor's advice along with much of the stager's advice. Buyers in our market want neutral colors so they can visualize their furniture fitting into the house. They want move in ready homes even if they end up changing the house before they move in LOL. They want space and light, but our house is a 1941 style of smaller rooms and not an open floor plan. They have trouble visualizing their stuff and lifestyle in a house filled with another person's stuff and lifestyle.

We picked our realtor because the people in our area who follow her advice sell their houses fairly quickly for a decent price regardless of market conditions. We will be paying a lot of commission for her advice, experience and effort so we are listening to her. I am also taking the reasoning behind the stager's advice and customizing it to what we own and how we need to live in the next 10 months before the For Sale sign goes up and while the house is on the market.

I am hoping that by preparing about a room a month that when the For Sale sign goes up we can put our energy into finding a rental in our new location and the logistics of the actual move!

So time, effort and money are being spent now decluttering, depersonalizing, making sure the paint is a neutral color, and trying not to buy much to freshen the house decor that we don't want to take with us. The house won't feel like us or reflect our personalities much by the time we are done, but hopefully it will sell quickly for a good price.

In the meantime my husband goes to work, we do all the routine yard and home maintenance, go on vacation/visit family, entertain, go out, have house guests, play with the dog, read, volunteer, exercise, and generally live our lives.

Although I am writing about the process of downsizing and moving in your mid-sixties it is not consuming our daily life and I hope to keep it that way except for the actual move and getting settled at the other end of this journey!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Downsizing & Moving update - #4

I've been busy since we got back from vacation. I've also been trying to keep in mind the wisdom in my DIL's statement: "I don't understand why you are so stressed out over something that is a year away." She is right so I am focusing on small tasks.

This represents about 8 hours of work as my husband helped too by moving furniture around.

1. I agreed to a contract with a designer for the main floor bathroom. I will have an initial meeting with her on this Tuesday.

2. Arranged a delivery date and target installation date for the 2 replacement windows for the sun porch.

3. Settled on how to clean painted walls, trim & doors so as to minimize repainting. Magic eraser for scuff and other marks. One cup white vinegar in a bucket of water with a microfiber cloth to wash walls and old hand towel to dry them.

4. The hallway walls are washed and they just need a tiny touch up. The ceiling needs a drywall tape crack fixed in one place. Let's not talk about all the nicks in the baseboard and the lower edges of the doors.

5. We moved the bookshelves & excess chair out of the guest room and into the study. I will advertised them as available.

6. Washed the 3 neutral walls in the guest room - no need to repaint! The feature wall will have to be painted.

7. Washed the guest room curtains and rehung covering as little of the windows as possible. Moved the extra dresser that was in the study into the guest room as suggested by the stager.

Next I need to decide what kind of bedding to get if any, what to hang on the wall over the dresser and whether or not to include a small rattan chair in the guest room. I also have to wash and paint the feature wall the same color as the rest of the walls. The windows and closet also need attention. My goal is to be done with this room before the end of June.

But first, I need to get ready for house guests over Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Downsizing & Moving Update - #3

We are back from a fun and stressful vacation in California. The fun parts are shown in these photos - Derby Day at Santa Anita racetrack with our older son and DIL and bocce ball in Jack London Square in Oakland with the younger ones. Always fun and joyful to be with them.

We had some nice visits with my FIL and a great tour of Camarillo, CA by a cousin who is renting in Leisure Village there. We shocked ourselves by considering doing the same.

The stressful part is the difficulty of deciding where to try to live and the new knowledge of how competitive the rental market is in both ends of the state. Our cousin was one of 14 applicants for the unit he is renting and got it because he doesn't have a dog and everyone else did - we do have a dog!

I am looking at our house with fresh eyes after being gone for 11 days and I know we really need to update the bathroom. A discussion for tonight.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Downsizing & Moving Update - #2

Well it turns out that we are only moving a handful of books so all 3 bookshelves need to find new homes! In addition to the books that left the house a lot more decorative items/gifted items left to find new homes too. We only kept about 20 books including cookbooks and a dictionary.

We also curbside donated the old white plastic patio furniture. Space is appearing in our home quickly. This is good as you want your home to look as spacious and light as possible to potential buyers.

We did decide to redo the main floor bathroom so that is on the to do list for sure.

I found a table cloth we don't use that will make an attractive crate cover. Much better than a striped beach towel!

While on vacation next week we will be driving by houses that are currently for rent in one of our targeted areas. We are slowly narrowing down where to look for housing in the huge Southern California area. I think it will help if we decide our new "jobs" are frequently spending time with and helping my FIL while our sons and DILs will be who we drive to see. After all the 4 of them work all week!

I am being sure to get receipts for all of our donated items and logging them into
as this will be our highest income year for a while and maximizing our deductions just makes so much sense.

We have let parts of the yard get away from us the last couple of years which is easy to do with the crazy growing season we have here in the South. My husband started major pruning on Sunday. With a year to fill back in we can cut bushes quite a bit and know they will look great next Spring.

And of course there is ongoing maintenance as well as an upcoming vacation and then a family visit to keep us occupied.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May!

When I was quite a little girl my Mom and I used to make May baskets like these out of construction paper. I would then carefully pick violets and put them in the "basket", hang them on a neighbor's door, ring the doorbell and run away. I'm so sure they had no idea who left it LOL.

No May baskets today but recognition that this will be a busy and fun month. Once it ends we start the 12 month countdown to my husband's retirement from the job that brought us to Atlanta 19 years ago.

This is going to be a family oriented month. A 10 day trip to CA with time with both sons and DILs as well as my FIL. A nice drive up the coast as we have family at both ends of the state. Our dog will get a vacation too as she boards with her second family who fostered her when she was rescued. She gets so happy to go to their home and loves their dogs and cat too.

Memorial Day weekend will bring my brother and SIL down from the NE for a 3 day visit and that will be fun too.

When there is no vacation or family visit going on I have the rest of my OLLI class sessions, ongoing projects in the house, book club and exercise sessions. I have decided to stop my private (expensive) Pilates sessions and rejoin a wellness center to have lap swimming, exercise classes and equipment available for an eighth of the monthly cost. A further drive but I will simply schedule it as a non-negotiable time.

I'm really looking forward to this month and hope you are too.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Downsizing & Moving Update - #1

We will get this done!

1. Went to an open house down the street to see what is on the market right now.

2. Two bags of items donated to thrift store.

3. Maximum number of partial cans of paint plus other items to semi-annual toxic waste collection event. Glad we will be moving somewhere that has these weekly not just twice a year.

4. Agreement reached as to next steps:
     - Ruthlessly declutter 2 bookshelves in guest room and 1 in study
     - Pick one bookshelf to move to California and move into study
     - Move dresser in study into guest room
     - Donate 2 extra bookshelves, a lamp and a recliner
     - Paint dark feature walls in 3 rooms in lighter neutral color of other walls
     - Talk to realtor further about need remodel bathroom vs selling price
     That should keep us out of trouble for a while.

5. Found enough appropriate color leftover paint to prime one of the feature walls - yeah savings!

Spent so far on preparing the house for sale
$ 90.89 - patio and sun porch furniture that we will take with us to CA

We are headed to California for vacation at the end of this week so getting a start on most of this will wait until we get back in mid-May but before we have family visiting over Memorial Day weekend.