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Feeling a sigh of relief

October 17th, 2007 at 12:33 pm

Well I Was seriously in the hole last month (new tires and all) and feeling down but then I was looking at November and looks like we will probably have quite a suprplus. For one my income was at around $1k over expenses for this month it appears (we'll see what surprises lay ahead though...). & then I Feel silly for getting all stressed out about it. By next year we should have enough of a cash cushion that stuff like this matters little. But in the meantime when expenses are more than income, I do tend to freak out, even though it is an explainable event and I have plenty of cash.

On the flip side, I got the property tax bill and it was like, "eh." Already have the cash so not sweating it at all. IT's been about a good year I have been saving diligently for bigger expenses and sure makes life easier.

Of course the bill is up around $300 or so over last year. Yeesh. Overall we have it good in Cali. But still. Everyone is talking about challenging the bills and lowering them. Considering we bought at the bottom, not the peak, it doesn't make much difference for us. But the people who bought in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. Yes, indeed.

Our house is appraised a good $150k less than it would sell for today. That is the good, they can only raise it so much. But I am starting to see how "so much" can add up pretty quickly over time. But in the grand scheme of things, property taxes are very fair here. We also pay a lot of bonds that will start to fall off with time. (Much time!). But when the mortgage is paid a lot of those will be gone too. Phew.

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Articles:

Protecting Your Assets in Case You Find Yourself in Court http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119257410938461156.html?mod=...

I was actually researching this a bit ago and was surprised how little asset protection there is in California. (Particularly as housing values are so high). I did see overall retirement is protected up to $1 mil. Which being married means probably $2 mil for us. For now that is great as we try to funnel all our excess to retirement. But for the long term, it means little. Though I guess I hope that figure would rise with inflation. As my retirement target is more like $5 mil, it makes it more scary. Chalk it up as another reason to flee the state I guess.

Anyway, I don't think we are at the point yet we need an umbrella policy (though maybe we are). But probably the next thing we will look into. Seem to have everything else covered. I would imagine if dh got a job it would be the first thing we would do - as I would expect our assets to increase rapidly at that point. For now as we aren't paying extra on the mortgage (one more reason not to really) or building taxable accounts... But it is something I will start researching in the meantime. Don't really know much about umbrella policies. When you hear about skyrocketing health costs and I look at what our auto insurance would cover in an accident, it makes you think twice. More is probably good. This is a pretty litigous state with lots of people. ANother few hundred a year for extra peace of mind sounds like a small price to pay. But I would like to know more.

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CALIFORNIA
The cost of keeping up
California families must earn far more than the minimum wage and in some cases as much or more than the median hourly income just to keep up with the bare-bones expenses of living, a report released Tuesday said.
http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/436684.html

This is just an interesting aside about how expensive it is to live in California. I would keep in mind that this article was posted by Sacramento Bee & since Sac is the cheapest area to live in the whole state, maybe does not ring true - and why some of the comments were so, "what the heck?" On the flip side, $72k wouldn't really cover much of a living at all back where I am from in the Bay Area. So um, yeah. Unfortunately I can't read the images on the side - some graphs comparing Sacto to the rest of the state...

"The wage-earner in a family of four with only one working parent would need to make considerably more, $24.22 an hour (or $50k/year)."

I assume the $72k/year figure includes taxes and daycare and such. As well as costs of 2 people working. I always said it was much cheaper not to have 2 incomes, in a sense, while the kids were small anyway. This study shows a $20k/year difference if only one parent works. Interesting.

Well, just wanted to share as I know many people here, and many friends and relatives in other states think we make gobs of money. Sure, we make gobs but it sure doesn't stretch very far. As for us, we live pretty well on the $72k figure. BUT I know so many people around here who freak about the idea of living on less than $100k annually. So it's all interesting. (OF course the interesting part of that is they usually pay considerably more for taxes and daycare and makes us rather even keel with the amount of disposable income we have, even making a good $25k less).

I say $50k/year would easily cover all of our living expenses and we have a very nice home. But all the same we would be hard pressed to live the same lifestyle in today's dollars - renting or owning - either way. We paid a decent amount for a home 6 years ago and it makes all the difference. If not, we'd be moving out of state. All there is to it. Just not interested in shelling out 10 times our income for a dinky house! OR around here maybe 4 times our income these days. Maybe... But glad we don't have to. We do appreciate being able to stay close to our families. I think we would have much tougher decisions to make if we were a few years younger, just starting out. When you are not sure you can pull it off even in the cheapest area of the state, it is a sad state of how bad it has gotten here.

As such, for the older generations who have been in their homes a while these figures probably don't ring very true. For people just starting out, they will need much more though.

It also just occured to me the other day as we look at different ways to reign in our healthcare costs, that our only solution may just be to move. The interesting thing is I could probably keep my pay and benefits if we moved. But we could probably pay cash for a similar house AND slash our healthcare premiums considerably. We worked so hard to reign in our housing costs over the years, I never imagines our healthcare would rival our housing costs in just a decade or so. But being out here it is far worse than it is in other areas of the country. *sigh*

P.S. I looked closer as they had the actual study and the expenses were about in line with whay we pay BUT they allocated $700/month to food for a family of 4 plus around $60 for household supplies and personal care. I think we have all that summed up under $500/month and have been hitting more like $450/month lately. Gosh, it makes all the difference.

In most of California the current median home price is 6 times the current median household income. Places like LA & SF were more like 10 times. Santa Clara where I grew up - median home $700k. Median income $80k. $700k does not buy much there these days - for sure. I mean $700k is either a nice condo or a tiny house that needs a lot of fixing.












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