Life Update

May 24th, 2008 by tungsai

Time to update the blog.

I got a phone interview from a job I applied for in UIUC. A windows admin position. Keep your fingers crossed. Yes, it keeps me in academia, but I just don’t seem to have the momentum to springboard my house, my baby, AND my job all at the same time. Plus, I must admit, I am sort of procrastinating the job search because I fear change and I’m comfortable. I try to shake off the chains of comfort, but they are very alluring.

But the other aspects of the move aren’t waiting for little ol’ me to find a job! We just finalized a sale agreement on the house, so SALE PENDING!!! All said and done, I’m not making any money on this house. The reasons are:

  1. I re-financed twice, and although the 2nd re-fi was funded by GMAC, the lender, the first initial purchase and the second re-fi had closing costs ranging from $1,000 to $1,200. It kills me when I hear that ppl paid closing costs of upwards close to $2,000 and I wonder why there is such a large disparity.

    I really don’t understand what a title company does. Near as I can tell, they provide financial & risk stability during the transaction of selling a house. I don’t really understand why it should cost so much money to sell your house to somebody.

  2. Second, are Realtor Fees. Yes, that 6% really bites into the profit. In fact, it’s the reason I don’t “Make a profit”. However, we simply did not have the time to do all the things that our Realtor did, and she also helped us stage the house, and gave me advice on the decor which I believe helped speed up the closing date. To wit: New light fixtures and plumbing fixtures. I never would have done that, but I MUST admit, that with the new fixtures, it really looks a LOT nicer. It goes with the new paint job very well.
  3. Oh, and that’s another reason that I won’t be making a profit on the house: the costs it took to prepare the house for sale! Storage for the tons of extra junk we have, hiring a painter, which was worth every penny of the $900 or so I paid her, she painted EVERY room. Plus the cost of the plumbing & light fixtures. Note: DO NOT BUY YOUR PLUMBING FIXTURES AT MENARD’S / LOWE’S / HOME DEPOT / WHATEVER. Buy them ONLINE. I found nearly the exact same style of plumbing fixtures on Amazon.com, and even after shipping, I paid $20 less than I would’ve. Now that just goes for the entry-level fixtures: Never mind the “Name Brand” (some name I’ve never heard of) $350 plumbing fixtures. they can shove that BS right up where it came from. Absolutely ridiculous that people would pay that much money for plumbing fixtures. I don’t see why that particular gap isn’t being closed in by some healthy competition.

Hongmei’s mom heads back to China next Thursday, and poor little Mia is going to miss her, I’ll bet. But I bet that Mia doesn’t miss her half as much as I will!! It has been truly priceless to have her here to help take care of the baby while we work, and play. Yeah, play-time is going to diminish even more.

I randomly decided to start trying to play the lullaby song on the keyboard. I’ve almost got it. when I can play it close to perfect, I may record it. My sister was really impressed by my 70% accurate version. She says she’s jealous of my talent. I suppose I should focus on using it more, but Starcraft is like a drug. I still to this day have no problem wiling away 2-3 hours in front of that old-ass game from 1995. But when the NEW Starcraft II comes out… I will disappear off the face of the earth. I cannot believe how awesome that game looks! The Protoss get a freaking BLACK HOLE as a weapon, for God’s sake….

Many people asked whether Hongmei’s family, or anybody she knows, was affected by the earthquake in China. Nobody immediately, but she does have a couple friends who live there and felt the whole thing. One thing that is not mentioned in the news is that daily aftershocks are still occurring up till today (May 24), and probably will beyond. We hesitate to donate any money, because there is some talk of people taking the money for themselves (Big Surprise!) and even some video evidence of some PR campaign where schoolchildren are videotaped donating money, then the jar is emptied into the pockets of the teacher… Sad. Really sad.

Did you know that in China there are no mortgages? You cannot borrow money for a house. You have to save up the $$ and borrow it from your relatives. In my opinion that really makes for a lot more friction between families than I care to deal with. There is also very little health insurance. Or regular insurance, for that matter.

For the first month, we tried to make a monthly budget. What a disaster. I had no idea of the categories we needed, and spending in the “Entertainment” and “Eating Out” categories are still way out of control. Yes, my fault, too. I just can’t cook like Burger King. haha! Sad.

For my birthday, I went out with some friends last weekend for a dinner, and a few drinks. It was pretty uneventful except that the waiter dropped a tray of food as he was bringing it out. Of course, it was MY food he dropped. We had to wait an hour and a half. Sorry, won’t be going back there again. (We’re moving anyway).

In Champaign, we’ve rented a Condo from a nice Korean lady who owns the Am-Ko Asian Grocery there. She owns the condo, but they allow her to rent it out. The rent is pretty pricey, but anything less than that was unacceptable to my picky desires. Yes, I’m spoiled… But honestly, it wasn’t possible to find anyplace for less than $750 a month to accomodate three adults and a baby, plus be not in a trashy neighborhood, and not smell. (Yeah, a couple of places that we went to, were quite smelly). It’s got 1400 square feet, and a one car garage, it’s less than five minutes WALK to Mia’s future day care. Can’t beat that!

You may wonder why we didn’t just buy a house there. Well, people, I have learned in my 38 years that you must own a house for a LONG TIME before you can make any profit off of it. And any profit you make, is really just cheap rent in a way. The only way you’re going to REALLY “Make Money on your house” is if you buy a foreclosure fixer-upper, and invest $5-15 K in it and resell it. I still dream of doing that, in spite of having a baby. However such real estates are not readily apparent in the Champaign area; not nearly as much as in the Lafayette area. there are MANY foreclosures, including TWO on my very street. In fact, I had to go across the street and mow the grass of the house opposite mine, so that my neighborhood didn’t look ghetto for potential buyers! Ha ha, when I very first mentioned that the grass was growing tall across the street from me, a couple friends remarked “The city should mow it”. That is a perfect example of “If you want something done right, (or right now), you gotta do it yourself. Less trouble for me to just walk over, mow it myself, than file some BS complaint downtown that will never get taken care of– you know it!

I have also been waiting for somebody to pull this one on me.

Me: “I plan to have a million dollars when I retire.”.
Someone Else: “But by then, a million dollars won’t be worth as much!”

That response simply blows my mind. How do you respond?

A: “Oh. well, in that case, forget it. I guess I’ll just retire with nothing, then.”
B: “Yes it will! There is no such thing as inflation!”
C: “Um… all the more reason to retire with a million dollars.”
D: “Well in that case, I’d better make it ten million.”