Tag Archives: finances

Heartbreak and happiness – the trials and tribulations of house-buying

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Wow, ok, so it’s been awhile since my last post but WOW have I ever had an extremely exciting action-packed month off! “Be careful what you wish for!” the old adage goes — and that is certainly the case here.

As I mentioned in a few previous posts there, now that I have graduated from university and have a “real job” with a “real paycheque” my biggest goal for the New Year (along with losing some pounds, yawn) was to get my financial house in order, not just budgeting but making a real effort to edumacate myself in financial matters…. RRSPs, investing, savings, home buying, mortgages, wha? WELL…. less than two months elapsed, and, we almost bought a house!! I know, ‘almost’ buying a house is nowhere near as exciting as ‘actually’ buying a house, but what an education it’s been.

So, we’ve (my boyfriend of five years and I) have been house-scouting online on a casual level now for over a year…. bombarding my parents with links, asking ‘what do you think of this one??’ etc. I found one gem on MLS a few weeks ago, and even though it was strikingly strange looking (picture to follow) I found it somewhat captivating. So I emailed the agent for more info. Being a good agent, he immediately emailed me back and asked if we wanted to do a walk-through of the house. Whoa! That is a big leap from passively online browsing… but why not right? It’s like trying on those $1500 Armani jeans — you can always pretend you don’t like them. So anyways, we went to see the house. It is a 1984 contemporary diamond in the rough, but both of us have terrific imaginations and were immediately picturing it without the horrid lace curtains and 90’s wallpaper and MDF kitchen cabinets, with slate floors instead of yukky linoleum…. and basically we left the appointment glowing. Behind all that horrible decor, there were high ceilings, hardwood floors, an awesome yard, deck, and view…..  After mulling it over for a few days, we went to see a mortgage broker, and were shocked, amazed, and incredibly excited to find that it would be well within our reasonable house budget — WOW! Armed with this new, empowering knowledge, we jumped off the cliff and made an offer. A verrrrry low offer (the house had been for sale for almost a year already!). Just in case you have never bought a house, as we certainly hadn’t, it is probably the most fun and exciting heartbreaking game of cat and mouse I have ever played. We offered, they countered, we counter-countered, and they counter-counter-countered, but the deal eventually broke down when they made their “final final lowest of low” offers that was still 25G’s above what we felt was a good deal. I was initially devastated — but after all, I got what I wanted — a top-notch education in buying a house. The first part, anyways! And the story is not over, oh no, I think when we get back from sea, we will probably make another offer, only slightly above what our last offer was. Of course, we run the risk of it selling in the meantime, but I have a pretty good feeling that that is NOT going to happen. Not everyone is as ambitious as we are, and willing to take the sledgehammer to the ugly stuff. I still want it — and if you saw it, you’d want it too!

AND – we also discovered (not on our own….. our mortgage guy pointed this out to us) this unbelievable loophole in Canadian taxes. We already had one meeting with the bank, and are going back to finalize it on Monday, where we’re each taking a loan out for RRSP’s. This amount that we put in an RRSP, even though it’s not “our” money, per se, is deducted from our incomes for income tax. So we will get a fat wad of money back from the Tax Man when we file next month. AND — here’s the best part — as long as that money stays in the RRSP for at least 90 days, we can cash it out, tax-free, and use it as a downpayment on a house, since we are both first-time homebuyers. Head spinning? Yeah, mine was too. But believe it or not, it’s totally legal, and will save us a pile of dough and the shame of having to knock on the Parental Bank for a downpayment. Awesome!

So yeah, as of now, we are kind of in limbo. Going back to sea for a month, starting next week, so this freight train has been brought to a grinding, screeching, halt. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to contain myself! As is, I am dreaming of hammering, building, painting, fixing, and decorating…. I have always dreamt of owning my own space, and to be so close, but so far, is exhilarating and agitating!

Here is our "diamond in the rough".... I know it looks a bit horrible right now, but picture it with a splash of new paint (not red!), some new windows.... oh yeah and that stupid wishing well is a goner, just incase anybody wants it...

Where will YOU be in five years?

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One of my big goals for 2012 is to get my @#$% together financially. Not that I am doing terribly, but I would say I am blundering blindly, with good intentions, paying off my credit card monthly, etc, but still being totally oblivious to how much I am really earning, and more importantly, how much I am really SPENDING every month. So, with my new Kobo e-reader, I picked out the Smart Cookies Guide to Making more Dough and Getting out of Debt. This is a gem of a book. I am only halfway through it, but it is packed with sturdy advice without being preachy or jargon-y. It is kind of an informal workbook format, and prompts you with several questions along the way. One of the first exercises is to picture your perfect day, five or so years down the road. Where you are, what you are doing, what your workplace looks like, what you look like, what makes you happy, etc. Detail was emphasized.

I have a rather vivid imagination, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I whipped out a pen (yes, an old-fashioned pen) and the words just started gushing out of me. Seven scrapbook pages later, I stopped scribbling and was really amazed at what I had just spewed forth. I am going to transcribe it here, not because I think it is deserving of accolades or because I think anyone will even be interested in it (or even read it for that matter)– just because, in five years I will likely have lost this notebook but will still remember my WordPress.com password, so I can see how close I got to my vision. Pardon the extreme arrogance of it all — but the idea here is to picture an IDEAL day. And in my ideal day, I will not be fat or driving an old Firefly or working somewhere boring as a cog in a machine. So here it is:

I wake up around 6:30. It’s summer, and sunshine is streaming in through the huge windows looking out on the ocean. I feel great – energetic and excited about the day ahead. I do a few quick yoga moves while the coffee is percolating, the smell intoxicatingly perfect, and I breathe it in relishing the early morning peace.

I am at home, and it is a truly magnificent space – every square inch carefully chosen and selected. Heated slate floors graze my bare feet, a giant soapstone fireplace reaches for the solid wooden rafters on 20′ ceilings. Beautifully hidden lighting creatively illuminates a space that is the perfect blend of quirky nostalgia and modern elegance. Colours, fabrics, wood, stone…everything natural and harmonious. Enormous picture windows look out over a spectacular ocean vista, and a stone patio is freckled by the early morning sun, the patio chairs beckoning me with my morning cup of coffee.

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I grab my favourite cashmere sweater, soft and bulky, and wrap it around me, going out onto the patio on this perfect morning. The smell of happy plants and trees coming alive, covered in mist from the early morning automatic sprinklers, fills my senses. Everything is shimmering with dew, the ocean like glass except the ever present surging of the waves, gently, on the rocks.

Suddenly my daughter comes running out, messy-haired and still in pyjamas. Good morning my beautiful princess, I say, enfolding her lithe, warm, flannel covered body in my arms and hoisting her up, spinning around and laughing with silly exhilaration. It is our own little world, quiet, magic, and perfect. But we are not alone – I suddenly look toward the patio door and smile, seeing my sleepy husband gazing out at us with a happy smile on his face – that of a man who could not possibly ask for more. Our little girl runs to him, leaping into his arms, and I follow, savouring the moment, the patio stones cold and refreshing on my bare feet. Good morning, my love, I say, kissing him deeply.

As I am getting dressed in the morning, I peruse my wardrobe and pluck out my favourite outfit – a gorgeously custom tailored charcoal grey suit that fits me superbly. I toss on a lime green silk blouse underneath to spice it up a bit, and add some killer animal-print heels. I pause, looking in the full-length mirror. I look terrific. A woman in her prime.

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I get to work at eight – my parking space is waiting for me and my saucy black Mercedes. I feel great climbing out of it, like a genuine rock star.

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As I walk through the front doors of the modern, beautiful, light-filled harbourfront building, people smile as they shake my hand and congratulate me on my recent success. People are bustling with excitement here, it is a big day today, a lot of hard work and planning has gone into it, and everyone has really risen to the occasion. Phones are already ringing with media inquiries, and my boss comes up to me and says, Thank you for all your hard work, we couldn’t have done this without your dedication and talent. I smile and acknowledge the compliment gracefully, then proceed to my office, with a terrific floor-to-ceiling view of the harbour. There is a pile of paper on my desk, all reports awaiting my discernment and approval. My inbox is already humming with people wanting my opinion and expertise, or thanking and congratulating me.

Work is done early. I am done when I say I’m done, and I grab the keys to go pick up my little girl, and meet my husband at the park. We play and run in the afternoon sunlight, walk by a beautiful lake, rolling down hills, playing on swings, laughing and savouring every moment. We run into other close friends, and laugh and talk and catch up, while watching our kids play and get dirty. Everyone is radiant with the beauty of the day, the perfect temperature. The light reflecting off the lake gives everything an extra luminous glow.

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It’s evening now, and while my husband and daughter are playing a game close by, I go to the kitchen and start preparing ingredients for our dinner. I open the fridge and it is overflowing with colourful, healthy, organic ingredients – the sky’s the limit! I have tons of space on my beautiful maple counters, and I start merrily chopping and dicing and creating. I am in my element. Great music is playing on the surround sound system, and I dance and sing along while cooking. Blackened salmon, fresh asparagus, a salad overflowing with beautiful, exotic greens and toppings. We take it out on the patio, along with a bottle of Prosecco, and dive in, while watching the sunset – the automatic garden and patio lights gradually coming on as it gets darker, creating a beautiful Midsummer Night’s Dream fantasy. After our girl is in bed, we stay outside, talking and drinking and enjoying the cool evening air, stars, and the sound of the crickets. One of our favourite songs comes on, and we get up and dance, swaying gently in the moonlight.

 

As I crawl into bed, I am exhausted but happy. I feel wonderful knowing how loved, respected, needed, and fulfilled my life is. My little family is a source of unending joy. My work is satisfying, challenging, and interesting. My relationships are harmonious, and I have a support network of family, friends, and coworkers. I am incredibly grateful for everything in my life. The easy wealth and abundance. The wonderful people who colour my life. The gorgeous place that I live. The delicious things that I eat. My healthy, thin, active happy body. My long beautiful hair, my red-hot sex life. My beautiful, perfect house. As I drift off to sleep, I am nothing but excited to see what the next day will bring.

Whew! 1300 words. Where the hell did all that come from? I’ve never even thought about such things. I can definitely see the point of the whole exercise though – looking at the things you really do want in your life, sure makes it seem frivolous to spend another $120 on a pair of boots, or another $80 on a new perfume, when that could go toward some much bigger, much more worthwhile dreams.

So, will I have a black Mercedes and custom tailored suits and my own oceanfront house AND office, and a BABY — all in five year? We’ll see. As they say, “Thoughts are real forces.” I sure hope so, because that all sounded pretty damn good.