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Where did our money go?

A year and a half ago, I was determined to build a new garage by the fall of 2012. And I was determined to save enough money so we could pay for its construction with our savings without going further into debt. Rebuilding our addition would come a few years later.

Last year, we learned that, because of the limitations of our property, we would have to build the addition and garage at the same time. I figured it would take about five years to save the majority of the cash needed, with the realization that we would most likely be refinancing our mortgage to make up any difference.

By last fall, we were about 15% towards our goal. Well, we had 15% of the cash. Unfortunately, while we were building up our savings, our debt was also increasing. But I had a plan to eliminate our debt in three years while increasing our savings at the same time. And in a perfect world, everything would have gone according to plan. But anyone with a family knows the world is not perfect.

Kids cost money.

Three words:  uninsured medical expenses. Nothing too serious. It was a totally elective quality of life thing. But it was something that cost us a significant chunk of change out of pocket. And that was in addition to the variety of activities you expect a ten-year-old girl to participate in.

Pets cost money.

Our beloved lab had a bit of a medical issue of her own last summer. She needed surgery and fortunately she made a full recovery. But veterinary care ain’t free.

Cars cost money.

Faced with another large repair bill for our aging minivan, we decided that our money would be better spent towards a new vehicle. That decision made no difference to our existing savings, but now we have a weekly car payment, an obligation that will hamper our ability to build our savings at the rate we hoped.

Debt costs money.

We could have stuck with Plan A:  build savings while paying down debt at the same time. But I was beginning to grow comfortable carrying debt– something I swore I would never allow to happen again. Plus, with the surprise expenses added to our low rate credit card, our minimum monthly payments were on the verge of becoming unsustainable. Or at least our three year plan to eliminate our debt was in serious jeopardy.

Repairs cost money.

Some repairs simply cannot wait. Our back dormer was leaking around the window. Our architect suggested extending the roof which would not only add protection for the window, but also allow us to solve ventilation issues. Although I intended to add this repair to the addition and garage project (sort of a “while you are at it” deal), waiting a few years to fix a water issue is a recipe for disaster. So we had this work done in January.

Good-bye savings.

The dormer repair wiped out what was left of our savings. The rest of our savings had gone towards getting our ballooning debt back down to a manageable level. So we return to Plan A:  build up our savings while paying down our debt. But I am looking seriously at refinancing our mortgage in a couple of years to accelerate the construction of the addition and garage. I don’t want to wait another four or five years.

Tired of being “that house”

I admit it. Our house is the neighborhood eyesore. Frankly it’s embarrassing. The sooner we rebuild the addition and build a garage, the sooner we improve our curb appeal and start building some goodwill with the neighbors. It’s hard to put a price on that. If it means postponing my retirement for a few years to pay off a larger mortgage so we can do it sooner, then so be it.


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