Category Archives: Money

Plumber Buts

Living room or plumbing supply warehouse

Living room or plumbing supply warehouse?

The bathrooms are done! This being our third major plumbing project in less than a year, I have a few things to say about our plumbers. Read my column at Angie’s List to learn why each of my plumbers has a big but.

We still have to add a few accessories, and the final electrical inspection is today, but for the most part, DONE. Now that my living room no longer looks like this, it’s time to start thinking about a cushy couch, maybe a relaxing chair and a coordinating rug and then we start saving for college again.

Of course that last line is a joke. What middle class family can afford college these days? We opened accounts for the boys practically at birth and if we’re lucky, those funds could get them through a year of school.

But I digress. My main point is that I hope we can coast for a while and put our time and energy into planning things other than home improvements. What? Oh, hello two cars in the driveway each with more than 100K miles on them.

The Tax Nightmare is Over (I Hope)

tax timeWe moved in with my parents for a few months–back in 2008. And then we got stuck, until very recently. We’re now in a truly wonderful house, but staying with my parents for so long created a few problems, one of which was organization. Because I’m a hopeless optimist I have a very strong sense of denial, each month we lived with my p’s, I’d tell myself that in just another month or two we’d be back on our own. It was okay that I left this or that unfiled because soon enough I’d have a real office again.

I never got organized. I never put the right systems in place.

So when it was time to do my 2011 taxes, I was really scrambling. Most of my papers were here, but some were still at my parents. I was months behind in my bookkeeping.

But then I caught up.

Aaaaand then my computer crashed.

Needless to say, it was overdue for a backup.

So I had to enter months of financial data all over again.

Now everything is balanced, reconciled, and ready for the accountant.

I hope.

Business taxes are due March 15. You ready?


The One That Got Away

The one that was left behind.

When you’re doing a renovation, especially on a house in which you’re not currently residing, people, usually workers, but occasionally angry neighbors whose trash did not get picked up because your plumber’s truck was blocking their garbage cans, come and go as they please. In fact, the only people who even bothered ringing the door bell during the last few months were the Jehovah’s Witnesses who stopped by to chat.


With all the traffic, all the workers: HVAC guys, plumbers, electricians, drywallers, painters, floor guys, tile guys, trim guys, window guys, roofers and five other categories that I’ve already forgotten, our house has been a busy and hectic place.

And I’m not the type of person who wins awards for her high level of organization in the best of times.

So it’s not surprising that a few items might have gotten misplaced during the course of the Plan A Reno. Some things, though, seem to have walked away. Not that any of the guys would have taken my bottle of Dawn dish soap.

Or maybe they would have.

It’s not that I think we have a kleptomaniac in our midst. More likely, someone accidentally took this or that when it was laid down next to their stuff. But even more puzzling than the missing dishwashing detergent or extension cord is our missing shop-vac.

Because even though our shop-vac went missing, somebody left one in its place. Frankly, I’d be just as happy with a yellow one as our old orange one, but our attachments don’t fit.

We didn’t notice the swap out until about 10 weeks into the reno at which point it was impossible to even know who to call about the potential mix-up. We’ll just have to call our trust old orange friend the one that got away.

Have you had anything walk away, get swapped out or truly stolen during a home repair?

Success in the Kitchen but a Failure in the Living Room?

kitchen without cabinets

One week ago.

Tuesday’s kitchen install went well (at least as far as I can tell). The crew finished up later in the day and I didn’t have enough light to snap good pics because there are only two functioning lights in the house. I stopped by this morning to take some shots and bask in the glow of my new kitchen.

Oh, did I bask.

Take a peek at my smooth ginger cabinets.

updated kitchen view

As seen from the dining room:


kitchen walls down to the studs

One month ago.

Check out that same view now.

rehab kitchen with cabinets installed


I was calmed by the thought of how smoothly the install went, delighted at our good fortune as we move ahead, and eager for the counter top installers to come out and measure taking us to the next phase.

And then.

And then on my way out of the house, passing through the living room, I noticed something, something bad, that did not belong on our freshly painted ceiling. More about that tomorrow.

The giveaway for two passes to Sky High Sports is still running. Have you entered?


I Haven’t Received My Cook County Tax Bill

glittery golden dollar signIf you’re reading this, you’re either a loyal fan of my blog or you’re searching online for information because, like me, you haven’t received a copy of your latest real estate tax bill. Even if your mortgage company automatically pays taxes through escrow, it’s a little nerve-wracking when your friends are complaining about their tax bills and you realize you haven’t even seen yours. You wonder if your mortgage provider has seen and paid them. You fear large tax penalties for late payment.

Click here to go to the Cook County Treasurer’s Office. Have your Property Identification Number (PIN), handy and you can find out all you need to know. You can check payment status, request a duplicate bill and update the mailing information that hasn’t made it to the county office in the 4 or 5 months since you closed on your house. (Wait, is that just me?) Be aware that in order to do anything official like change the name associated with your bill, you’ll need to mail in a form you can print from the site–once it’s been notarized, that is.

Hopefully, the notary public won’t get bent out of shape if your driver’s license still has your old address on it. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Did you get your tax bill and did it go up despite your house falling in value. Interesting formulas they use, huh?



So Much for a Refi: Sunday Shout-out

Crazy that we only just closed on our house in June and are already thinking about refinancing, but interest rates have gone down since then and thanks to that Twisty thing the Fed pulled the other day rates sank even lower. Then again, it’s possible the value of my house did as well. Even though we’ve put in $20,000 worth of plumbing upgrades.

My dad suggested we hold off until our renovation is done. Getting appraised mid-reno could hurt us and of course the value of the house will be up substantially once the work is complete.

But really, it was this post by Kim Tracy Prince, AKA Agoura Hills Mom, that scared me off from getting our house reappraised.

Have you refi’d lately?