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Archive for August, 2011

....Estranged Couples are All Estranged in Their Own Ways

August 23rd, 2011 at 01:33 pm

.... to paraphrase Tolstoy.

My wife and I have been separated but living in the same place for a long time. We did it for the kids, as so many people say, but as our kids become adults (they are 17, 19 and 23, with the 17-year old in many ways being the most mature) I wonder if what we did was the best for them.

When we were in our 30s and 40s we had a lot of friends with kids our age who divorced, starting a many year process of kids shuffling from place to place. But I see those kids and ex-couples now and they have for the most part entered into a new normal with a good level of contenment that my wife and I can't get to as long as we are together.

We have been homeowners, i.e., mortgage payers, for almost 20 years. Most of that time, we have kept separate checking and savings accounts. For the first 10 years or so I paid the mortgage out of my income and we bascially split the property taxes. For the last five to seven years, we flipped and my wife has paid the mortage and half to more of the property taxes.

During this last period, I paid for most of the kids' expenses -- school costs (for a time private school but in the last five years only public high school costs), braces, summer activities, music lessons, etc.

I posted a summary of my budget a couple of posts ago because at some point -- next month, next year, in five years -- my wife will move on. Or, if the kids are all out of the house then -- I will move on. so I needed a realistic view of what I could afford---which isn't much.

In the short term, my wife is around, contributing to the groceries and the property taxes. but that will and should change and I need to be prepared.

A Crisis Comes At the Most Inconvenient Time

August 23rd, 2011 at 12:59 pm

The event that sparked me to look for this blog and start bogging again involves dentistry. I have coverage for me and my family through work. Over the years it has covered regular check ups for everyone, braces for two of three kids, wisdom teeth surgery for a couple of us, and a couple of root canals.

Now my wife and I are in the middle of (her) and facing (me) extensive dental work. The annual benefit is "only" $1500 -- I put that in quotes because I recognize that some people have no coverage.

Yesterday, she realized that she had maxed out on this year's coverage, and owed about $1,000, and still had more work to do.

I'm scheduled to go in for a root canal tomorrow and will need some sort of bridge or something when I'm all done -- again, something that will cost more than the annual benefit.

Needless to say, and based on my previous post, none of this is in the budget. I'm still on the fence about cancelling tomorrow's appointment because I'm facing about a $300 to $400 co-pay that I will have to come up with tomorrow.

Five Years Later

August 23rd, 2011 at 12:32 pm

You would think that a person could improve himself financialy over five years, but no. I had forgotten that I had started this blog so long ago and it was a little pathetic to see that nothing has changed in five years.

Well, age has happened . . . five years ago I don;t think i posted much about what it felt to be in my late 40s and I could now post a lot about what it feels like to be in my early 50s.

Desperation brought me back here, and the surprise that I had tried a few times to post about my money situation in the hope of . . . well, I'm not sure what I was hoping for.

Perhaps I can make a difference this time around.

The situation at this point -- my wife and I are still estranged, but still living together. She has her own business -- I work at the same place (thankfully, doing new things every year) that I have worked at for 25 years.

My wife still follows the the Laws of Attraction, though I really can't say it has helped her at all -- any success she has had in her business has come about through her hard work, not through a mystical alignment of forces.

Recently, she has been trying to buy a piece of property, as both a place of business and as a placeto move to. It is, of course, a buyer's market, but she does not have anywhere near enough money to afford a piece of property. Since this is a place of business, she is trying to get investors involved.

In an attempt to make a movement toward owning our current home, we recently re-financed. She had been the only person on the note, because when we re-financed last about 7 years ago, my credit score made it difficult for us to qualify.

This time around, I assumed the mortgage, so she would not have it on her credit history (other than her years of perfect payments). I start payments in a week.

Taking over the mortgage is within my means -- the killer around here is the property taxes. The combined monthly mortgage and property taxes is about $2500 -- the property taxes themselves are $900.

I recently put together a budget based on current income and current fixed expenses. Starting with my gross pay -- taxes, 401(k) contributions and loan paybacks, and insurance premiums amount to 39 percent of my gross biweekly paycheck.

Of the remaining monthly net, mortgage and property taxes account for 52 percent.

Then I added up the other fixed costs, you know, the things that will generate a phone call or a repossession or a cutting off of service if they aren't paid --

When I subtracted all of that, I was left with $568 on a monthly basis for food, gas money, etc.

I haven't mentioned the kids. Two college age, the last entering college next year. I will save that situation for another post.
We have saved nothing for college. WE paid for one year of the eldest