Are you as busy as you think you are? I’m not.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a lot going on. Selling a house, buying a house, extra work at my job, and all the usual life stuff.

But although I feel like my schedule is packed, it really isn’t.

I’ve started packing, but so far my packing sessions have been a few hours here and there to get some of the basement dealt with. There are a few things in the upper level I can pack now but I’ll wait until my moving date is closer to pack the rest.

There isn’t much I have to do about the selling. I’m waiting to hear back on what the buyers want me to fix from the inspection, I’m waiting to hear back from my sellers about the failed well test, and I’m putting way too much mental and emotional energy into waiting.

The extra work at my job doesn’t require that I work over time. In fact, between time off for attending inspections, letting the electrician in and stuff like that I’ve worked a little less than 40 hours in the past couple of weeks.

The life stuff is the usual life stuff. I can’t slack on cleaning like I sometimes do, but that typically takes just a few minutes a day to make sure everything’s put away at night. Between soccer and softball I have two evenings occupied during the week but most of my weekends are free now. Unless I have to house hunt again. See, there I go thinking I’m busier than I am because I’m mentally blocking out that time even though it’s not an issue yet and might not become one.

I feel busy mostly because my brain is busy. My buyers jumped on the house hard and fast, will they start to have second thoughts? The well failed a bacteria test, the sellers have agreed to chlorinate the system but won’t take any further action if it still fails. I don’t want to move into a house with failing water so if they don’t fix it I’ll have to start looking for a house again. Seriously, I’m giving them a pass on the non-working fireplace that they were completely dishonest about, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the water be drinkable. I’m also nervous about the inspection of my house, most of the issues are minor but the buyers could be scared by the aluminum wiring.

My solution?

First, I have to recognize the problem. It usually takes me a few days of feeling like I’m running around when I’m not to realize it.

Second, I determine what is it I actually have to do in the immediate future. I have to keep the house in generally clean shape but I don’t have any large projects left. I have softball on Wednesdays and starting tomorrow I’ll have soccer on Fridays. There’s nothing I can do about the buying or selling right now but wait.

Third, create a schedule. I keep a to do list on my phone with the days of the week. Under each day I put what I have schedule for that day and any additional tasks that need to be completed. I keep at least 2 weeks of tasks on there, sometimes a month if I have a long term project active. It really helps me keep perspective on what I need to do and by when.

Most of the time, the schedule shows that actually, I’m not that busy. If I have a free evening I can pencil in something fun, ie video games, just to make sure I take some time to relax.

What’s all this have to do with money? When I’m busy – and I know I’m not the only one – I tend to make “busy” excuses. Don’t have time to cook, I’ll just buy lunch. I’m too busy to deal with this, I’ll just pay the fine. Or maybe I forget to pay a bill on time and have to pay a late fee.

Sometimes I really am that busy, when my schedule is packed full and I have too much to do and too little time to do it. But those times are rare and I need to be able to differentiate between real busy and feeling “busy”.

Poor, neglected blog. Poor, neglected finances.

I’ve been busy. Busy packing, dealing with the sellers of the house I’m buying (technically my agent has been dealing with their agent who then speaks with them directly, but it’s the same thing), worrying that I might have to back out of the deal and start looking again… My buyer lost her cosigner so I had to go back on the market. Fortunately the market is still crazy because I got a new contract in a day.

In the meantime I’m still working, keeping the house up to a high standard of maintenance, hosted a bbq for Father’s Day, and other stuff like that. I swear “house stuff” has taken over my life. I didn’t even update my spreadsheet last pay day, and I think I get paid again this week… Yep, just checked the calendar and it is yet another pay day. How time flies.

Although I’m neglecting the blog and the spreadsheet, I’m trying not to neglect my finances. Which is hard because my brain is busy processing information for two real estate deals, figuring out why the exact same code run on three different environments is behaving three different ways, keeping track of the day of the week so I don’t miss a softball game or drive to work on a Saturday, making sure my dogs get attention and food, figuring out what the move will cost, shopping for insurance, trying not to get too wrapped up in figuring out where to put my stuff and picking paint colors for the white walls since the deal might not go through, making sure the roofers don’t over charge me for the work they did, my boss has asked me to take on a side project that involves writing a plugin for a program I know very little about so I’ll have to do extra research before I even get started… I’ve been trying to save my vacation time for next year when I go to Ireland but it might not be a bad idea to take a day or two after the move. At least I’ll get the 4th of July off before then.

So yeah, that’s why I haven’t been posting lately.

But I will! The attention I pay to this blog reflects the attention I pay to my finances. In the past few weeks I’ve written about half a dozen partial posts but haven’t actually finished anything. Same with my money, I’ve looked enough to make sure the balances are about right but haven’t been going through each transaction to make sure they’re correct, I have some large expenses coming up so I’ve left the extra from my paychecks in the checking account but haven’t figured out how much is actually extra and how much is reserved for my regular expenses, stuff like that.

But I should. Just because I’ve been busy doesn’t mean I can’t take ten minutes a week to go through and do the above. It might even be relaxing, dealing with pure numbers for a bit. Except I have a $5,100 check to write to the roofers, so probably not. But I’ll be more relaxed afterwards when I’ve looked at the upcoming expenses, both regular and house related, and know for certain where the money will come from.

And that goes for you too! Being “busy” is no excuse. In fact, there are very few excuses for not staying on top of your finances. Being in a coma is one. When money’s tight it might be tempting to say “it’s tight, let’s just keep spending to a minimum right now.” But no, you should know just how tight. Maybe it’s better than you thought, maybe it’s worse, but only by knowing the numbers can you deal with the situation properly.

Now back to work and that really annoying “it should work, but it isn’t! What’s going on?” issue.


I’m Under Contract!

A few days ago I posted that my house was on the market and wow, has it been a whirlwind.

As I posted before, Tuesday afternoon was packed full of scheduled showings. Wednesday was even worse, I didn’t get home until almost 9. But Wednesday evening I got my first offer and it was for more than asking! Later that night I got another, and a third came Thursday morning.

The first offer was good and would net me $1,000 more than asking after I gave the buyers help with closing costs. They were late getting my agent the lender’s info and the contract was full of errors, not good signs.

The second offer was for less but asked for less help with closing costs and netted the same as the first. My agent spoke with the lender to make sure the buyer was already approved.

The third offered the same as the second but wanted more at closing, netting $3,000 less. The report from the lender was good, and it was the only offer for a conventional loan.

There were at least two other people interested in making offers, I’m not sure if they changed their mind or decided not to compete with the other three.

I went with the second offer with a counter only to clear up a couple of details and change the closing date. Not only would it get me the most money but the buyer had the best story (a disabled kid meant she needed a ranch and she’d already lost the bidding on several homes) and she lives with her parents now making her very flexible with closing. Which I need because now I need to find a house to buy!

Last week was a total whirlwind. Except for Friday, when I sat at my desk constantly checking my phone for an update from my agent, a call to set up a showing, something. But my phone was silent because 3 days is all it took. Which is further evidence that the real estate market is seriously messed up.

I don’t live in a destination neighborhood. People don’t come to the city and say, “Oh, I want to live there.” The thing that draws most people is a) they already have family living here and b) the prices are lower than average and but it isn’t a rough area. If “affordable” housing is getting this expensive – my house increased from $88,000 to $168,000 in 5 years – then what’s happening to the rest of the city? Fortunately I’m looking outside of civilization where the market isn’t nearly as hot.

I went out with my agent on Sunday and found a few houses that I could make work but just aren’t right for one reason or another. I expanded my search to another county which is further out but still commutable (and some of the properties closer to the highway have shorter drives), has lower property taxes and better bang for the buck. I’m much more hopeful about this next batch. I’m willing to make some compromises, but there’s a limit. Carpet and paint? No problem. Two blocks from the highway so I can’t help but hear road noise on an otherwise ideal lot? Eh… It could become white noise I stop hearing but I’d like to see if I can find another great lot that isn’t as loud. Another house I’m considering has no such noise and truly, truly awesome views but has a long, long, winding drive followed by sharp curves going up an almost washed out dirt road to the top of the mountain. Great house that could be worth the effort, but let’s see what else is out there. I’m still sticking to my original budget and commute time.

Part of me wants to start packing already, except there’ll be at least a few more weeks before closing and I’m going to need my dishes before then. I also need to put my energy more towards the buying first, because without a buy there won’t be a close. Unless I decided to rent an apartment for a bit but I hope it won’t come to that, I only want to move once.

And regarding my last post, my selling nerves are pretty much gone, of course :) My buying nerves are starting to calm a bit as well, although the “gotta make the right decision” anxiety is starting to poke it’s head up. But I know I’m making the right decision, just gotta keep thinking with the right part of my head!