Category Archives: home economics

Refinancing Home

Big news: We’ve taken the first steps to refinancing our home! We’ve locked the interest rate at 4.375% for 30 years. The appraisal is scheduled for this Friday. This will mean a great deal more financial security and freedom for us, both in the short and long run.


Quite honestly, when we “bought” (or really financed) our dream house over two years ago, we were stretching our financial limits. We had outgrown our shoebox of a starter house, and we wanted and needed a house where we could truly raise a family. We fell in love with our house, and it met virtually every criteria on our want/need list…not that we don’t have a home wish list though. Buying our house was also stretch because I was pregnant with Girly, and knew that during my unpaid maternity leave we would be paying over 60% of our income to our home. Typically, it’s not advisable to spend so much of your household budget on housing, but in our situation we felt like we needed to make the initial sacrifice. 


So, it turned out that we needed to buy Private Mortgage Insurance, PMI, in order to make the initial house purchase possible. We weren’t too happy about it, but we felt like the initial sacrifice would be worth the gain. Conveniently, we were able to pay it off by the time the interest rates hit rock bottom. 


On top of the new interest rate, the real reason we are excited about refinancing is our lower payment plan. We’ve been paying $2,455 a mortgage (plus PMI!), and soon we’ll be paying $1,712. That equates to a monthly savings of $743, and $8,917 annually! That doesn’t necessarily mean that won’t work to pay off our mortgage earlier, but initially we’ll need to make some decisions about how to save/invest the cash. 


Note that we bought before the market dropped, but also managed to net $70k in less than three years’ investment in our starter house. I’ll be curious about what the appraisal reports, but there’s no doubt that current value is less than the sale price.


Have you refinanced lately?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Fridge Savings

I was quite proud of myself this weekend…I emptied our entire fridge to clean it out, and reconfigured our layout! Hopefully it will help us find and use our food more efficiently. I can’t claim that there wasn’t any wasted food thrown out, but it was less than usual. I am trying to reduce our food waste footprint.


On the energy savings end, I have good news to report too. Since buying our new fridge, our electricity bill is down an average of 2 kwh a day. Compared to last November, we saved 95 kwh for the month! Our November bill was $40.66. It only amounts to an average savings of $7.63 per month so far, but that almost a $100 per year.


In case you’ve been putting off upgrading your appliances, the Energy Star program rebates expire on December 31st. You can save up to $1500, so it’s worth considering.


Has your family saved through the Energy Star program?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

EcoMaids

I enjoyed the ultimate luxury this past Friday: coming home from a long week to a spotless home. Yes, we’ll finally managed to budget a monthly cleaning service.


I’ve been blessed with a Hubby who loves cleaning, but also cursed with a Hubby who craves cleanliness to the point of being borderline obsessive about it. Even though he pulls more than his weight in the cleaning department, I’ve been fantasizing about a cleaning service for a while, especially since getting our Doggy


Initially I kept telling myself that we could manage without and that it was important to raise our kids with chores. Then finally it dawned on me that even if we hired some help, there would still be more than enough dishes, laundry, yardwork and household projects to teach our kids the importance of contributing to our family. 

So when we recently got over the hump to no longer need to pay private mortgage insurance, we both agreed that getting a cleaning service would increase our quality of life more than anything else. Our first deep cleaning made for a much more relaxing weekend, and something to look forward to right before Thanksgiving!


I’ll share more about EcoMaids, the national franchise we chose to clean our home next month, but in case you decide to take the plunge before then, mention my blog and get $100 off your first four services.  There are also other House Cleaning Services that may be available in your area.


Do you have a cleaning service?
Are they eco and budget friendly?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Closet Time

As promised last week, I spent some quality time simplifying a small corner of my life. With the changing season I decided to start with my own closet, since it tends to get done last...I only had two hours to dedicate, but it felt good to tackle it.


The task wasn’t exactly enlightening, but I set the mood by blaring some Brett Dennen. Then I created two bags, one for consignment and one for Goodwill donation. Everything seasonal was consolidated to fit in one big bin. Alas, my closet still doesn’t look like this, but it is significantly better.


On an ongoing basis my best green closet practices is to limit dry cleaning, and I’ve been using these easy tips for washing “dry clean only” items. Washing and ironing at home certainly saves us each month!


Here are some green storage tips I found for preventing moths and mildew. Thankfully we don’t have many moths in the NW, but once my Twin Sis lost half her closet to mildew in a cramped, cool, and dimly lit apartment closet! Now that was a huge waste of money 🙁


How do you create a greener closet?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Second Hand

Before our Big Guy was born I bought almost solely consigned clothes in all the neutral frogs and duckie onesies. But as he grew up I realized how much harder it was to buy matching items in the right season and size. There never seemed to be any boy pants, and now I realize that it’s because they all get holes before they outgrow them!


It simply turned out that setting a budget and buying twice a year was just easiest, and not all that much more expensive with Gymbucks. I always shop sales in advance and buy large, so I seem to save…although I would hate to tally up how much we’ve spent on clothing kids.


Yet, I do worry about the precedent that I’m setting, especially when I let our Big Guy pick out his own clothes online when we was sick a few weeks ago. We call him a fashionista and he cares a lot about what he wears. Not always what I would choose, but he cares!


I grew up with a fair amount of hand-me-downs and everything we had was handed down to family friends. I always expected that this would be how we would operate, but as it turned out we’ve just never managed to develop this type of relationship. In fact, now that we’ve decided to not have a third, I need a strategy for swapping/consigning/handing on a wealth of kids wardrobes. More on that topic to come…



Do you have a hand-me-down connection?
Do you buy consigned clothing? 


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.