Sunday, August 28, 2016

Adding Curtains

Curtains, man. They make a difference. It's not that I have been curtain opposed in the past, they just weren't a priority for me. 

I have been thinking about curtains in our back room for a while, but never acted on it. With a little spending money from MyPoints (a great point collecting site, similar to Ebates), I told Paul that is what I wanted to spend my money on.

Those rooms are so large and the curtains really work to make it feel more cozy and defined.

Our curtain came from Homegoods and our rod came from Target. As things go at Homegoods, there was only one set of curtain panels. Once we put it up and liked it, I mentioned it would be great to have the same thing on our other set of windows. After lunch the next day, Paul snuck out to the other location in the burbs, found the same panels at the other Homegoods, and installed it all before I came home.

Paul can't keep a secret from me. When he was grinning ear to ear when I came home, I knew something was up. It was a sweet surprise!

Now, I'm thinking curtains in our bedroom might be next. Can you picture it? I'm also on the hunt for the perfect mid century nightstands with a drawer. Not having a drawer now, we leave so much on top of our nightstand.

I also felt the urge to pull out my paints yesterday afternoon. Getting back to it felt so good. I think I've had that heavy acrylic set since high school.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Adventures in Refinancing

It all started a few weeks ago when our mortgage broker reached out to us and asked, "Have you guys given any more thought to refinancing? Numbers are really great right now."

Always open, we said, "Sure, what would it look like for us?"

When we got the numbers back, we were shocked. By refinancing (rolling our costs into the loan, nothing out of pocket), we could reduce from a 30 year term to a 20 year term for $40 more than our current monthly payment. Not bad!

However, we were already automatically paying an extra $50 a month towards our principal, which meant this new payment was actually ten dollars less than our current mortgage payment plus additional payment. How could we say no?

When it comes to refinancing, it all falls on the appraisal. Having only been in our house two years and three months, we were nervous about what the numbers would be. We had done so much, but would it show?

That meant crunch time to touch up the house, which meant a few big projects, including wrapping up painting the exterior of our house.

You may remember, we've been painting since we owned the home. Two years later, we were in somewhat of the final stretch. With our guest bath remodel, we had one exterior side only halfway painted after replacing the window and some of the shingles. Our front had only been partially painted because of a gnarly vine.

So, with a few days until the appraisal to spare, we got it done.

Lots of scraping, especially around windows where paint had bubbled at some point. Luckily, all of the wood underneath was normal.

For days straight I painted scuffed up baseboards, window frames, mullions, and touched up other spots.

Not to mention, we finished the exterior (less two sides that barely get seen). We went from dull and drab (top) to a much nicer finish (bottom).

I still feel like I'm getting back to normal after a weekend and nights spent working to get everything done. But, it was all worth it. We got our appraisal report back last Friday afternoon and we have added $45,000 in value to our house above what we paid for it. To that end, our house value was raised $35,000 above what the value was two years ago.

How much did we spend to get that value? We estimate a ton of sweat equity and about $10,000 in materials/projects. 

Here's a good house progress post from a year and a half ago - I need to do another one with our house now!

Now, having that report back, our bank said we no longer had to pay PMI, because we had raised the value of our house so much and our new loan was less than 80% of our home's value. Yes! That meant knocking another $30 off of our new estimated loan payment. If you're keeping track, that means our new monthly payment is only $10 more than our old monthly payment or rather, $40 less than what we were paying with our additional principal payment. Essentially, we'll be saving $40 a month. Woo!

I decided to do this post to help others and shed some light on the process. It's been very interesting for us as first time homebuyers to have all of these options. Here's to closing on our new loan this Friday!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Adventures, Part II

Where has the summer gone? It was so weird to look up and it was suddenly August. Our new students move in on Friday, so it has really been hitting me the past few weeks!

We've had a few more adventures since my last post!

First, I hosted book club at my house! These are some of my sweet Fondren friends and we try to get together every six weeks with a new book. It shifts houses each time. We read a book that I picked that I do not recommend. However, we are reading Outskirts of Hope this time and I'm excited to start it.

I also heard from my friend Erin about a tiny house roadshow in Birmingham on a Friday afternoon and by that night we had a hotel booked and we were on our way Saturday morning after breakfast with our friends!

Paul was in heaven (in the top of a loft).

There were at least 15 tiny homes to look in. It was a test in patience with so many people and long lines, but we had so much fun.

Did I mention Paul loved it?

Of course, we had to make a Trader Joe's run while we were in town. We actually made two trips so we could pack an ice chest with frozen items right before we headed home.

A few of the items we're loving from them:

Also, their fantastic chicken teriyaki and orange chicken frozen items!

Next post, a big project we just finished, touching up and finishing up our house for house appraisal to refinance. We got great news about our results Friday afternoon. PSA: Consider looking at rates and numbers if you haven't in a while. We are shaving 10 years off our mortgage and only paying $10 more a month than our old monthly payment.


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