Tuesday, March 19, 2013


So when the A/C guy was here last week, he said the dual element fuses needed to be replaced - 2 of them - and quoted a price of $203 to get the job done. I declined and he shook his head as if I had lost mine.

I spent this morning on my computer trying to figure out two things:
1. What IS a dual element fuse?
2. Is this a DIY job that can be done for less than this guy wants?

I fairly quickly came up with a site and had an email address, so I snapped pictures of the fuses in question and sent an email, asking whether this is an easy replacement. Within minutes, a nice man named Joe called me and told me to NEVER pay $203 for new fuses. I asked a couple questions about how these things are installed - no different than popping batteries in a remote - and whether he had any to sell. He did.

Total cost? $28, with shipping.

Seriously? I know people have to earn a living. But the guy was here anyway and we're talking a job that takes 10 seconds, max. I mean, it's so easy even I can do it!

Next up, replacing the flapper in the toilet. Geez, it's quite the life I lead ...


Friday, March 15, 2013

The tax man taketh his time

I'm big on filing taxes early. Nine years out of 10, we get a refund of some sort. My FIL works for H&R Block and does our taxes for free. I got him all of our info in early February and he got to work immediately. He e-filed Feb. 15.

Unfortunately, this year we required Form 8863 - which should be a good thing because it gets us an education credit. But this year there was a glitch in the system and everyone who filed mid- to late February and had that form has been held up. This week, we got an email saying someone, somewhere, is working on it, but it could be April before we see our refund.

I wonder if Mr. Tax Man would so patiently wait on us if he were the one on the financial receiving end? Somehow, I doubt it.

Oh, well. At least a check will be coming ... eventually.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Poof goes the EF

The Emergency Fund already took a hit yesterday with car maintenance. Today we were having the A/C serviced in advance of warm weather somewhere on the horizon. We had budgeted $100 for the servicing and filter replacement. Turns out the condensation pump under the house had quit working and water was pooling. So a new pump was added to the bill. We ended up paying $361 today. Took it straight from the EF, so no new debt, but the EF is now nearly drained. We are expecting a tax refund that we were earmarking for other purposes, but it looks like it's going straight to the EF. I think we are taking the term Baby Steps to a whole new level....


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Car inspection - fail

I was second in line this morning to have the oil changed and state inspection for the van. Took about 15 minutes before I was called over to "chat." The van didn't pass, I was told, because the wheels ... blah, blah, blah (imagine Charlie Brown's teacher talking). I seriously consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but I feel like an idiot when discussing automotive issues.

Good news, I'm told, is that it is not a huge deal and they can get it done in less than an hour. Do I really have a choice here? I can't get the license plate renewed without a valid inspection. And, I guess there really is something that needs to be fixed.

Thank goodness for the emergency fund. We keep it in our Ing, er, Capital One 360 or whatever it's called now, account, and don't use that debit card for anything else. I was able to cover the $235 charge with the emergency fund - because I decided this was an emergency. So we're $235 poorer, but not more in debt. That's called putting a positive spin on the situation.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Refinance is a go!

I can hardly believe it, but we've been approved for the mortgage refinance - the one that we did not initiate. It seriously was about the easiest thing we've ever done. It entailed a five-minute phone conversation and our commitment to take the closing papers to the bank and have them notarized. That's it. Keep in mind, when we actually did initiate an attempt to refinance a couple of years ago, we were turned down flat because of the amount of our debt.

So, in case this can help anyone, this is being done under HARP - Home Affordable Refinance Program. As I understand it, the program was initially for homeowners who were underwater or very close to it. Recently, though, it has been expanded and equity is no longer the marker of eligibility. There are two main requirements. 1. Your mortgage must be held by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. (Who knew ours has been Freddie Mac since 2003? It's easy to check online.) 2. You can only use the HARP once.

While they do run a credit check, they don't have any debt ratio requirements. I believe the credit check is to confirm that there are no accounts in collection and that there hasn't been a foreclosure. Our refinance is a 3-step HARP through Wells Fargo, our current mortgage holder. There are NO closing costs. I checked that one out thoroughly! The amount listed on our closing documents is what we owe on the mortgage.

As long as we get the papers signed, notarized and returned by March 25, our interest rate drops more than 2 percent.

All I can say is, WOO HOO!!!


Friday, March 1, 2013

It's March?!

Just tallied the numbers. In the first two months of 2013, we've paid off $3,178.71. That keeps us pretty much on track to knock off $20,000 this year. Although I'm secretly hoping for more ...

Hope everyone has a great weekend!