Monthly Archives: July 2010

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    The renovation continued this weekend as the electricians moved in to start removing all of our knob-and-tube wiring.

    It’s pretty neat, now with all of the walls down, knowing for sure, that when this house was originally built, there wasn’t electricity. No plumbing, either. It’s hard to even imagine.

    Anyway, during the week, the demolition guys uncovered this photo under the stairs…

    November 1962

    On the back, it’s dated November 1962. Check out that wallpaper that looks like some cheap linoleum tile or carpet from a casino!

    I’ve no idea who she is — a looker for sure — but I’m assuming that she’s one of the daugthers of the previous owner.

    Pretty cool, you know, the stuff you find hidden in old houses…

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    Over the past week, our major renovation has gotten underway.

    The original “before” post is here with all kinds of commentary but for today’s post, well, I’ll hold the commentary.

    It’s just gonna photos…

    You know, repeats from the original post followed by what it looks like now…

    Living Room:


    Dining Room:



    Sorry they’re not all from the same vantage point but, I assure you, they’re the same rooms…

    Besides, this way you’ll get a better “feel” for my house and how I live and, really, that’s why you’re really looking at these photos anyway…

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    Well, you can throw consistency out the window…

    Since the refinance went through, I’ve had money to burn. Seriously, when you manage to cut your mortgage bill by 60%, well, suddenly it’s as if there aren’t any big bills anymore. It’s a strange feeling.

    But with the renovation still not paid for, well, I’ve chosen not to spend like crazy so as not to dig myself into a huge deep well of debt.

    Either way, my spending pattern can hardly be called a pattern any more…

    • $786.51 : Hockey Jerseys
    • $414.56 : Clothing
    • $245.01 : Business Expenses
    • $168.95 : PODS Storage Unit
    • $116.15 : Cable/Internet
    • $101.65 : Gas
    • $88.68 : Electricity
    • $80.00 : Cash
    • $57.22 : Baby Gates
    • $57.06 : Natural Gas
    • $25.00 : Mortgage
    • $21.20 : Cell Phone
    • $10.00 : Zombie Keychain
    • $9.53 : Home Depot
    • $8.00 : Car Wash

    All together, that’s $2189.52.

    One year ago, I spent more than that on the mortgage alone. Crazy.

    At the top of the list are the hockey jerseys. It’s a hobby that’s tough to explain — and I won’t try to explain it.

    I added two jerseys to my collection this month — both pretty difficult to come by and both that I consider worthwhile purchases.

    One was a white New York Rangers Liberty jersey which was a style that they only wore for one season. Stuff like that adds to the collectability — kinda like limited edition beanie babies or whatever.

    The other was a Swiss National Team jersey worn in the 2010 IIHF World Championships that I purchased direct from the Swiss Ice Hockey Association — an experience on its own.

    First off — I’ve dealt with monetary transactions from Switzerland a few times but it’s always been money coming in. Sending money to Switzerland, on the other hand, is a royal hassle.

    In short, Switzerland doesn’t do the whole euro thing — they want their payments in Swiss Francs. Not a problem, conversion is simple, but they also don’t accept checks.

    You’ve gotta wire the money into their account which, obviously, is a Swiss bank account which, in turn, makes you look like you’re financing some sort of Al-Quaida operative when you’re trying to wire money from an American bank.

    Would you like a DNA sample with that? Sheesh…

    Yeah, the bank on this end of the bargain made it feel criminal. To say the least, it was a learning experience. And I’m probably on some sort of watch list as a result.

    Up next, and somewhat out of the ordinary, is the clothing expenditure. I’d worn myself down to one pair of shorts last month. I *had* three pairs at the start but some poorly situated holes developed and put me in a position where, well, I needed a new line-up of shorts. I threw in a few shirts too.

    I also found myself sucked into watching the World Cup in June and ended up purchasing a few soccer jerseys for me and my son. Sadly our team, Germany, didn’t make the finals but we’ll still wear our cool new jerseys regularly.

    Business expenses were high this month as I finally jumped on the wireless bandwagon. We purchased one of those NetBooks last month (my wife bought it so it’s purchase not accounted for here) so it was time to make our home network wireless too.

    The hardware wasn’t really that expensive but it did bump me over the $200 mark with all of the regular expenses thrown in too. The worst part about it was that I had to venture into Best Buy… Ugh.

    The Baby Gates purchase was for a couple of those gates that you put in doorways to keep toddlers from, well, escaping. Duncan is walking around now so we kinda need to keep him outta the construction zones — not that they’re any more dangerous than the house was a couple of weeks ago, but still…

    A ten dollar Zombie key chain? What is wrong with you? Actually, a friend has been getting into the whole arts and crafts thing and I was feeling generous. Besides, it’s awesome.

    And the last non-regular purchase was that $9.53 purchase at Home Depot. It was for a HUGE screwdriver (that I’ll probably never see use again — much like that mandrill back in 2007) that helped me take apart (or destroy) the piano so we could get it out of the dining room. I’m just glad the stupid thing didn’t cost more.

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    Okay, so I’ve been living in shambles for quite some time. I’m not proud of it. It’s embarrassing.

    It was way back in October of 2008 that I offered a glimpse of the inside of my house.

    That’s how bad it was nearly two years ago.

    Crazily, it had already looked like that for at least a year.


    A month later, I “touched” it up with a new carpet in some sort of sad attempt to hide something that could not be hidden.

    …and so I “pretended” that it didn’t exist.

    From there, I invited everyone in to see my son’s bedroom a few weeks before he was born. I think it made my house look pretty top notch.

    Did anyone even remember “that” scary room downstairs?

    I was hoping not.

    And then last summer, I took it outside and ran some interference by making that cool timelapse video of the trees coming down.

    I should have been working on the room, though.

    Bringing it up to the present — we’ve signed off on a $33k renovation. The work, err, demolition started this week so we’re off and running. Woo-hoo!

    “That” room won’t look like that for much longer so now I’m going to invite everyone in to see what the 600+ square feet we’re having completely re-done looked like, well, just a couple of weeks ago.

    Okay, we’ll start with “the” room. This is the first thing you see when you walk in my house. Sure, the arcade game in the corner is cool (it works too!) but Jim Henson covering a wide open heating duct, a creepy painting my father painted 40 years ago, a photo backdrop clamped to the, um, ceiling joists, and, well, a complete lack of walls or ceiling, yeah, that’s not cool at all.

    To the room’s credit — this is actually an improvement over the wood paneling and “earthy” shag carpet it sported when I purchased the house in 2002.

    Up next is the parlor that we’ve used as a living room. When I bought the house, it had the most awful wallpaper. We tried in vain to remove it and then just ended up painting over it.

    The yellow actually looks pretty good in person. Outside of the Cozy Coupe, the miniature chair, and the cool smiley face volleyball — we threw out everything in this room.

    The couches were salvageable but were just a tiny bit too big for the room. The big shelf on the left came from IKEA. It was nice too but we couldn’t get it out of the room — it wouldn’t fit through the doorway — so I took a circular saw to it.

    You can’t see the television either but we brought that upstairs to the bedroom. When it’s all said and done, we’ll buy new furniture and a new flatscreen tv too. It’s time to start over.

    The next room is the dining room. We threw out the table a couple of years ago — we never used it since we have an eat-in kitchen — so the entire room sorta turned into a very disfunctional storage room.

    Diapers were stacked in here. We parked the stroller in here. My awesome vacuum cleaner lived in here. My hockey equipment used to reside here. Our recycle bin was in here too. Yeah, it wasn’t very nice.

    The piano came with the house and, like the couches, it’s just too big for the room. While I like having a piano, none of us know how to play it. It’s gone now. (We kept the bench, though!)

    See that horrible-horrible-horrible carpet? Yeah, I didn’t pick it. I just couldn’t get it out of there so I just dealt with it. Seriously, though, who would have chosen that carpet? Ugh…

    And those corner cabinets that don’t match anything? Well, those came from my parents. We didn’t throw them out — they’re actually kinda nice — but I have a feeling that their new home will be in the garage once we take them out of the POD.

    The last area is the stairway. It’s an old house where the stairs are steep and narrow. Structurally, there isn’t much we can do about that but at least here you can see the remaining paneling and shag carpet since I know you’re interested.

    Wow — that was embarrassing.

    I hope you enjoyed it though! I mean, it’s always kinda neat to see how other people live — especially when it’s this, um, rough.

    Later this week I’ll start posting updated photos…

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    July 2010 Net WorthWell, I knew it was going to be one of those weird transition months. I didn’t expect to be down this much, though…

    Anyway, while the numbers obviously indicate otherwise, my finances are actually in pretty good shape.

    Yep, I tiptoed around it — Numbers do lie.

    Here we go:

    Par for the course, really. I seem to be stuck in that $1000 to $2000 balance region.

    Plugging along here at a great pace. Most of this will end up paying for the renovation but I’m also putting much of my mortgage savings in here now too.

    Gov’t Bonds:
    No additions this month, just pure interest.

    It was a rough week to close out the month. It’s starting to feel like I’m spinning my wheels here — especially knowing that there isn’t an employer match anymore…and hasn’t been one for over a year.

    The minor fluctuation here is due the recent appraisal we had done. It came in a bit lower than I would have liked but high enough for the refi to go through.

    Auto 1 & Auto 2:

    Credit Cards:
    Yikes! It’s like the good old days! This is actually the balance on my wife’s credit card that we’re using to finance the renovation project. We still have all of the money in hand as of right now but I’m still treating it like a liability.

    Auto Loans and Other Loans:
    Zilch. Zero. Nada.

    I’m not real happy about this… Sure, my new mortgage payment is less than half of what it was but my balance jumped $5600 worth… It’s as if I haven’t put a single dent in it since the start of the year… Lousy stinkin’ closing costs…

    Can You Dig It?