Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Yeah, this is a little old now but it’s so catchy.

Actually, I’m just putting it up here so it’s easier to play for my kids — who both know all of the words — and so my mom will know what they’re talking about.

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Okay, so does anyone remember that elephant in the room that occupies my basement?

No?

Well, here’s the photo that accompanied that post 4 years ago.

Pretty awesome, huh? Back then, we’d planned to have it taken care of — as in, removed.

And, well, here’s a photo of what that side of the (still scary) basement looks like today.

Basement Oil Tank

Not much to report.

Clearly.

Yep, we’ve been harboring this “environmental disaster waiting to happen” for nearly a decade now.

There are 200 gallons of heating oil in that rusty thing and there hasn’t been a week gone by that I haven’t feared hearing the sound of the sump pump kicking on to pump out a flood of heating oil.

I’m not certain what would occur if that scenario ever became a reality but I imagine it’d be a lot like the move E.T. where they’d wrap our whole house in plastic and send men in space suits in to “clean it up”.

Either way, it’d likely be financially damning.

But I have some good news to report — the tank (and the oil inside) will be gone in a matter of days.

For real, this time.

Dude, this loooooong overdue $500 project is happening.

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Sharknado at WalmartSo, yesterday, we took a family trip to Walmart.

We don’t go there very often, partially cause of how busy it always seems to be but mostly because of the people that shop and work there.

I’m not one to judge but… Wait, yes, I am one to judge…

Really — you might think websites like “People of Walmart” are a gross exaggeration of reality for comedic sake but, I’ll tell you, there truly is no other demographic like the Walmart shopper.

Stereotypes exist because they are grounded in truth.

Walmart takes it to another level.

So, anyway, while I was digging through the $5 DVD bin with Duncan in search of Sharknado (don’t judge — where else would I find it?) an announcement comes over the loud speaker.

“Attention Walmart shoppers…”

Yes, it really started like that, but not all cool like it would have sounded at K-Mart. Imagine it in the voice of a barely literate 20-something male hillbilly lacking front teeth.

Yeah — somehow Walmart brings out the hillbillies of Connecticut. Really, there was a shopper in there wearing a cowboy hat. In CONNECTICUT!?

The message continued, in the cadence of a first grader reading out loud, “In two minutes, [insert sponsor here] will be giving away one razor sharp paring knife to everyone in the store over the age of 21. Supplies are limited. Please visit the red kiosk at the back of the store near the baby aisle. First come, first serve.”

Seriously?

First of all, a quick visual survey of the people surrounding me made it pretty unsettling that they we’re about to hand out “razor” sharp knives.

There might even be a stampede — the word “FREE” in Walmart is almost like “FIRE” in a movie theatre.

Further — they’re doing it in the baby aisle?

Are you kidding me?

I don’t know about your local Walmart, but in all of them around here, the “baby” section is in the back corner. The “kitchenware” aisle is usually part of that middle section where lots of just random household stuff is. In short — they’re not close to each other.

Why would *ever* you hand out knives to the gutter of society in an aisle full of diapers?

You can’t make this stuff up.

Making things even funnier, err scarier, while we were checking out, there was an announcement asking employees to do a “safety sweep” of their departments…

Hmmmm… must’ve been a report of someone wielding a “razor” sharp knife or something.

Back to Target we go…

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And then the corporate incompetence rears its ugly head.

So, after receiving a letter from TD Bank to fax a couple documents — w-2s from the last two years, two tax returns, and our most recent pay stub — to a fax number that wasn’t listed anywhere, on Friday morning I received an email where they’re now asking for 30 days worth of paystubs.

So, to recap… Earlier this week they asked me for, among other things, my most recent paystub.

Today, they asked me for 30 days worth of paystubs.

Couldn’t they have asked for that in the first place?

I swear, the number of pieces of mail we’ve received since initiating this process is borderline obscene.

This is the list of documents we need.

Oh wait, this too. And this.

Oh, and we forgot to mention this — send us that too.

And to expedite things, fax it to the number we never gave to you.

If it were my company, I’d have a standard letter to send out requesting everything I needed in ONE envelope. Not 15 envelopes over the span of 10 days.

I’d list a fax number too. Just sayin’.

My first impressions of the simplicity of working with TD were wrong.

So, while gathering older paystubs isn’t that big a deal — I have them handy — it’s certainly not convenient. TD’s slogan is, afterall, America’s Most Convenient Bank.

Further, I assume they’ve already confirmed my employment but a simple calculation on the paystub they originally requested would show that my last paycheck was the same as the one I provided to them.

Yep, just divide those Year-To-Date totals on the right by 22 and you’ll see that I get the same amount every two weeks and that it lines up exactly with the number I provided on the original application.

I don’t look at pay stubs all day long like I’m sure someone over there does but even I could figure that out. If it were an hourly wage listed on the stub, well, sure, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. My stub clearly says “SALARY”.

In other news, the email also mentioned that there was a $99 application fee, which I have no qualms with, and that the entire process would take between 30 and 45 days.

Merry Christmas.

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So, even before we’ve got all of our ducks in a row, TD Bank has revised their offer from the original offer.

I know this would happen as even the hard copy printed estimate numbers are just barely more that the teaser offers they openly advertise.

I remember when I leased a VW Jetta back in 1997. I was in the dealership with my dad and I was getting ready to sign the lease when we looked at the bottom line. My payment would be $251 per month.

Confused, we pointed to the poster on the wall — with numbers 3 feet tall — that said that VW Jetta’s were $199/month. I still see car ads that hawk numbers like that… No clue how they get away with it — it’s never true.

Anyway, back then, we met half way between their advertised number and their offered number.

Today, for the home equity loan, they said the appraisal on my house came in lower than what I said it would. I kinda figured that would happen but no harm in aiming high, right?

Now I didn’t go all out and lie about what I think my home is worth. In fact, I used the Zillow zestimate which generously lists my house as the most expensive on my street. And this is BEFORE the garage is built!!!

In reality, as far as I can tell, Zillow is boosting the value of my home (in comparison to the others on the street) based on square footage and lot size.

My house isn’t the biggest — maybe 3rd largest — but it’s on the biggest lot. To them, that’s worth as much as a renovated kitchen — which I don’t have but most of the other homes on the street probably do.

No worries — the garage addition will still not price my home outside the rest of the neighborhood. Sure, my house will take the crown, officially, as the best on the street but it certainly will NOT look grossly out of place compared to the others.

So the amount I’m borrowing ($70k) is the same, the term (15 years) is the same, but they jacked the interest rate by about a half percent.

If I take all 15 years to pay it down, which I won’t, this’ll “cost” me an additional $3k.

No big deal.

It’s still a go.

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Okay, so the ambiguous disclosure (in my eyes, anyway) of the pre-payment penalty for the home equity loan has been cleared up.

No joke, for the past 4 days, we’ve received at least two more envelopes from TD Bank with additional (and often redundant) paperwork. One of the funniest/annoying aspects of the whole thing, besides the fact that they could have just asked for everything all at once, is that all of the forms so far have said to return the “documents” or whatever to the store or fax them to: ________________.

No joke, the fax number isn’t listed out. Just a blank where it’s supposed to be.

Now I understand that the fax machine is going the way of the record player but for this sort of thing — you know, transmitting documents — it’s still kinda effective.

Either that — or email. Really, I’d prefer to not have to print and mail 100+ pages worth of tax returns when a simple PDF attachment in an email would do it. They don’t offer that, apparently, either.

So, anyway, back to the pre-payment penalty.

It’s a $450 penalty if the loan is paid in full with-in 24 months.

That’s not gonna happen anyway so I’ve got nothing to be concerned with.

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823 Credit ScoreSo, we received our package from TD Bank that lists out a few details about the loan and one single page document (regarding an attorney) that we need to sign.

Easy peasy.

One of the pages in the packet, though, indicates that there *is* a pre-payment penalty.

Well, you know me, I’m not gonna take 15 years to pay this off. I’d say it’s a safe bet to be done in less than 10.

Anyway, to that end, what the packet fails to disclose is what, exactly, the pre-payment penalty is.

If we’re talking $500 or something, well, that’s a drop in the bucket. If we’re talking 10% or something, well, that’s a different story.

So we’ll need clarification on that.

I’m not sure, having never done this before, but maybe it’s a standard practice with second mortgages. I just don’t know.

We’ll see.

And, yeah, nothing gets the “I’m gonna pre-pay this thing” juices flowing like having it clearly listed out in black and white that a low 5% interest rate still works out to paying $30k in interest.

Borrow $70k and pay back $100k?

Yeah, I don’t think so… I’m planning on paying maybe $10k in interest before this one is off the books.

In separate envelopes, my wife and I received copies of our credit scores. I don’t recall this being the case with other loans we’ve taken as I flat out asked what my score was when we bought the car a few months back — maybe it’s a new regulation/disclosure type of thing — but I kinda like it.

Anyway, my score came in at 823.

So, while I might feel, and often sound, like my finances are in complete disarray, the banks think otherwise…

Can You Dig It?

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