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Archive for August, 2021

Birthday Week

August 29th, 2021 at 01:53 am

My birthday was this past week.  It was a pleasant enough day.  Everyone at my office knew and wished me a happy birthday when I arrived at work.  I have a couple of friends who have promised to take me out for a meal, but since my birthday fell mid-week, I didn't have any plans for the day itself.  Rather than being upset at being alone on my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a dinner at a nice restaurant in town that I've always wanted to try, but one that is more upscale than I would pick for a meal that a friend was treating me to.  The dinner was very nice; I was seated at a window overlooking our local extremely quaint historic district.  (The restaurant was the 1741 Terrace, so that gives you an idea of how old our local history is!)  I used the opportunity to do some reflection over my life to date.  Since I just completed the CFP(r) and have spent a good chunk of the last 20 years focused on changing careers, it was a good opportunity to reflect over what I will want out of the *next* 20 years.

And I still have two meals with friends to look forward to during the next month.  (Hopefully by then, the current wave of COVID cases will have peaked and be on the downswing again....I did read that if our pattern in the US follows what happened in the UK, Labor Day should be the peak of the current outbreak).

Day trip to meet up with Patient Saver

August 6th, 2021 at 10:41 pm

I took the day off work today and headed north into the Poconos about 90 minutes to meet up with fellow SA blogger Patient Saver.  This is about the fifth or so F2F get-together we have had.  We both started on SA around the same time in 2006, and met in person for the first time a decade ago when I was driving to New England for a cousin's wedding and realized that I would be driving by where PS lived.  That first visit was a meet-up and walk as a break on my drive back to PA from New England, but since then I have visited and stayed over at PS's house, and once we booked rooms at the same B&B in the Poconos.  In recent years as we both have older kitties with health problems, we opted to meet for day at a town near where PA, NJ, and NY converge.  

The last time we did this was in 2019, and we took a hike to a nearby water fall, did a walking tour downtown and had lunch at a restaurant in town that had been originally opened by a chef from Delmonico's in NYC. This time, with PS having an injured knee, we rented bicycles and headed out to the trail that runs along the Delaware River.  I will confess that I was VERY nervous about this, as I had not been on a bike in over a decade, and I'm even more out of shape than usual since I've spent so much time in recent months hunkered down studying for the CFP exam.  We didn't get tremendously far (certainly not the 7 or so miles the guy at the bike store estimated we would be able to do before hitting a construction point where the trail is currently blocked), but we did a few miles and I survived and even re-mastered shifting on the bike (which was a 7-speed; my own bike is a 21-speed).  I know that PS was up to go further, and I am grateful that she was gracious about my limitations.  Maybe after getting back on my own bike and getting much more in shape than I am currently, I'll be able to manage the longer ride.  

I'm ridiculously proud of myself for having done this even at the same time as I am embarrassed at my abysmal performance.  If you don't push yourself outside your comfort zone, it will just continue to shrink.  I know my comfort zone shrank during the pandemic when I spent over a year not driving further than 12 miles from home.  So even a 90 minute drive is still more of a challenge than it used to be, when I wouldn't think twice about it.  This time, I took my car to the shop and had my annual safety inspection done beforehand "just in case."

After the bike ride, we ate lunch at a nearby seafood restaurant, blissfully uncrowded and blissfully air-conditioned.  We both treated ourselves to dessert after our exertions.  Then we went and explored some antique stores, which reminded me a lot of my grandparents, both because many of the contents were from the era of the contents in my grandparents' home and because my grandfather owned a stall in an indoor antique-mart for about a decade as a retirement career, and I thus spent a lot of time roaming around antique stores as a child.

It was good to catch up with PS in person and I'm glad that she pushed me outside my comfort zone even if I whined and complained a lot!

Considering a refinance

August 2nd, 2021 at 06:52 pm

I paid my mortgage down to an even $42,000 this morning (it was just about an extra hundred dollars beyond the usual payment to get down to this amount).  That is an amount that feels do-able before retirement (I will turn 61 this month and plan to work at least until my full retirement age per SS of 67).  I now own approximately 3/4s of my home's value.

The rate on my original 30-year mortgage, taken out in 2005, was 5.875%.  I refinanced in 2012 to 4% and a 20-year mortgage.  I've been paying extra on the mortgage monthly for years.  While officially there's 8.3 years remaining on my current mortgage, I'm aiming to pay it off by the end of 2027 at the latest.

My bank sent me a notice offering me a 2.5% rate on a 10-year mortgage.  I think I'm going to take it.  The monthly payment will decrease by about a hundred, which either I can use to pay down principal or which I can use to pay down some of the non-mortgage debt, which never really seems to go down. 

As a home owner now almost 16 years into home ownership, I've hit the point at which repairs, maintenance, and replacements are beginning to take their toll.  So far this year, I've replaced the washing machine, A/C, and hot water tank, and had a couple of costly plumbing repairs.  Yesterday the neighbor approached me about redoing the concrete stairs.  My house is a twin, so it really makes sense to redo my stairs at the same time she does hers.  A neighbor has been patching them yearly for the past several years, but they really do need to be replaced.  They also will probably no longer squeak by city code--they're too steep and we will have to add an additional step  to meet code.  But that will have to be done in any case--and it will be nice to no longer worry whether my older friends can make it up my steps!  There have been times when I have had to let older friends in through the bathroom that has a door out to the back porch, since there are fewer and less steep stairs if you go in that way.  That job will not be cheap, but it's also something that should be done.

I had actually approached the former owner of the twin next door about replacing those stairs a couple of years ago, but he wasn't interested in doing it.  I'm glad the current owner is.  When you live in a twin, cooperation and good neighbor relations are important!