Monday, February 25, 2013

Crossing fingers and toes ...

I have the mortgage company in a tizzy and I'm hoping that works in my favor.

It started when I got my annual escrow statement this weekend. Our homeowner's insurance went up about $100 last year, so I knew there would be a slight adjustment. Taxes are the same, so no other variables. Imagine my reaction when I saw that they wanted me to cover the escrow "shortage" of ... are you ready? ... $712!

Now, math is not my strong suit, but even I know that doesn't add up. So I sat down with the four page statement and all its fine print and tried to learn their math. The only thing I could see is that last year, for the first time EVER, they decided to pay our tax bill in October instead of December, throwing us into a 2-month shortage. Since we also receive a copy of the tax bill, I checked and the due date had not changed, so there was no reason for them to pay early. And so I did what I hate to do. I called them.

I spoke with a very nice woman who was suitably surprised at the amount of the shortage given the slight insurance increase. She ran the numbers herself and couldn't make them work either. I pointed out the early payment and she said, yes, that could be the issue. She then started babbling about they must have gotten a notice from our tax assessor with a new due date. I assured her that the due date had not changed. Off she went to talk to someone in the tax department. When she came back, she said the person told her they were getting a lot of these calls from my area and they couldn't figure it out so they were "checking in to it." Hmmm. So, she says, my case is with them and they will get in touch with me. Meantime, she could spread out the shortage over three years rather than one year, thus making the monthly payment increase not as painful. OK.

As I'm getting ready to hang up, she says "Wait! Your interest rate is quite high. Have you thought about refinancing?" Well, ma'am, yes I have. I even tried to do it with your company some time back but was told I couldn't lower my payment because I had too much debt (love the logic there). I told her we still have a very high debt ratio and I didn't think we qualified. Well, would you let me ask someone about it? Sure. A few minutes later she comes back and tells me she has great news and she is going to transfer me to Benjamin. Benjamin asks a few questions and says he doesn't see why we wouldn't be approved. There is a new no closing cost program, he says, that doesn't look at debt ratio, only that the income is sufficient to make the payments. (Please explain to me why it worries them to make my payment lower when I've been paying them a higher amount for years??) He says I'm to expect a FedEx packet in a few days. If it goes through, the time left on the loan will stay the same, but the monthly payment should drop by quite a bit. Our current rate is 5.85% and the new rate would be 3.375%

I'm trying not to get too excited. ... But how awesome would that be??!!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rebates, new app, this and that

Happy Valentine's Day! We don't do much celebrating around here - read none - as our anniversary is the week before. Come to think about it, we didn't do a lot of celebrating for that, either! I have thought about maybe making a fun dessert for the hubby, but I haven't gotten around to seeing what exactly is in the pantry to make that happen.

I've been plugging along in February. Money is tight. Stress comes in waves. Wake up in the night wondering if we will ever reach the finish line of this wretched race. Same old, same old.

A friend has turned me on to what she calls "beer rebates." Seems that walking the beer and wine aisle at the grocery store can be lucrative. Every so often, rebate forms show up on that aisle. I never would have looked at them had she not told me how it works because I don't ordinarily peruse that section. But these rebates are awesome! The most important thing to know is that you don't have to buy beer or wine to use them. There were a bunch available around Super Bowl time and I mailed off $25 worth. Each one required a purchase of something and the receipt for proof. But most of the purchases were generic and they were never limited to a particular store. For instance, one required me to spend at least $25 in one grocery shopping trip. That's it. Didn't matter where. Didn't matter what. I'll get $5 for that. Another was for a frozen pizza. Any brand. I won't get rich doing this, but it's turned into a bit of a game.

I also discovered a new app called Ibotta. Basically, it loads some product offers on my phone and I check them periodically to see if I've bought something that is on the list. I go through a couple of steps, upload a picture of the receipt and product barcode, and the reward is deposited into my account. When I get to $5, I can transfer it to Pay Pal and pull it out. Free money, as far as I can tell.

Every penny counts, right?

In the good news/bad news department, the only current residual from my bout with Bell's Palsy is that I have lost most of my sense of taste. That's the bad news. The good news is that I've lost 10 pounds without trying because of it. But after a month and a half of this, I want to taste my food again. Diet, be damned!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New glasses - the verdict is in

They're fabulous! For those of you who missed it, the dog ate my glasses and no way was I able to afford a new pricey pair. So I went out on a limb and ordered a pair online at

What a great experience! I got exactly what I expected, the lenses are perfect and the good quality frames don't even require any adjustments. I was even given one of those tiny screwdrivers of my very own as well as a cleaning cloth. Total time from order to delivery was less than six days. Total cost, with coupon code, including shipping: $23.90.

This company has a new customer!