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Archive for October, 2007

question: Insulating the basement

October 14th, 2007 at 02:38 pm

I'm a relatively new homeowner, and I'm completely clueless about home repair, home maintenance, etc. This will be my third winter in this house. The house is reasonably well insulated--I had it inspected before buying and there's good insulation in the attic. I was wondering though, about insulating the ceiling of the basement. I spend a lot of time sitting on my floor, and now that the weather's finally turned colder, I'm noticing how cool the living room floor is . I was wondering about putting some insulation in the ceiling so that the first floor floor stays warmer (and to perhaps reduce the heating gas bill--I pay about $1800 a year). Last year I put down rugs, but the dog ended peeing on them repeatedly, so I was thinking of trying to make the floor itself warmer. What kind of insulating material would I use and is this something that people do or is this an off-the-wall idea?

Considering Credit Card Options

October 13th, 2007 at 08:32 pm

Back around the beginning of the year, I got my first "rewards" credit card from Chase--their amazon.com credit card. It gives me 1% back on most purchases and 3% back on purchases made through amazon.com (I've spent $742 there so far this year). I put all my non-bill expenses on the card--about $1500 per month. After every $2500 put on the card, you get mailed a $25 gift certificate to use at amazon.com. I've earned 6 ($150) so far this year.

I saw some ads for the Chase Freedom card, and began to wonder if that would be a better deal--3% back on the top three places you spend each month--which for me would be grocery and pet expenses (about $800/month) and the third category would vary depending on whether there were car repairs or doctors bills, etc. I figure that if I'd been using the Freedom Card, I'd have earned $225 in gift certificates so far. The freedom card has a bit higher rate than the amazon.com card, but since I pay in full every month, that doesn't matter. I started the application process and have a form to complete and send back to them, but then I found yet another alternative deal.

The third alternative is through my mortgage company, which is offering a 1% rebate back that goes towards paying down the mortgage. Since it's 1% on everything, that's less on rewards--but nice to have it go directly towards paying down the mortgage.

I suppose the most advantageous thing to do would be to continue the application for the Chase card to get the 3% back, then take the rewards in cash, and send the cash reward to my mortgage company as an extra principal payment when it arrives. At the rate of $225 extra every 9 months, each payment knocks about 2 months off my $550 mortgage over the course of time. Keeping it up would knock off over 3 years off the mortgage and eventually saves over $12,000 in interest payments.

(I just learned how to calculate amortization schedules, so I've been having fun calculating alternative scenarios.)

Third Quarter Net Worth

October 4th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

I'm up 20% for the year so far--partly due to increases in my retirement accounts and partly due to the fact that my home is still appreciating (I'm lucky to live in an area where the housing bust hasn't hit quite as hard.)

To celebrate, I made an extra $300 payment towards my mortgage, bringing it under $90,000 for the first time.

Nice to see progress Smile