Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feeling a little more confident

It took a little while to recover from the emotional blow of Rush losing his job, but I'm starting to.
More importantly, so is he.

We are trying to see it as a blessing, and looking at having Rush and my godfather The Biker build the house. The Biker has done basically every stage of home-building in the past, and no one is more motivated to make sure everything goes perfectly.
The trick will be the financing, but I have a plan for that.

I'm slowly regaining some confidence, as the Universe keeps proving that It plans to take care of us.
We talked about buying acreage and building soon.
I found this piece of property- 17 acres for $33,000.
We priced out building, and realized it's impractical unless we do the building ourselves.
Rush lost his job, making it possible for him to do building work full-time.
I did the numbers, and the realized we would have to buy a truck.
Fifteen minutes later, Rush receives an offer to trade his Civic for a truck... that has a crew cab that would fit Bonkers' car seat.

I've never been good at subtlety from the Universe... It usually has to beat me over the head before I realize what It wants.
This, however, is starting to feel reassuringly bruising....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sometimes Life Kicks You In The Teeth

I wish I came to this post with better news and a better frame of mind, but I;'m feeling really discouraged right now.

Rush lost his job yesterday. It was partially his fault and partially someone else's, but the main thing is that half of our income just went down the tubes.
I'm trying to stay positive about it, but I'll freely admit that I'm pretty scared.

I make $30,000 a year, which really isn't half-bad, especially since we eliminated a lot of our bills, but our utilities are still ridiculously high and we have a good little chunk of debt that needs to be dealt with.
I'm almost guaranteed a promotion next month, but I don't actually know if it comes with a pay bump. We will see, I guess.

Here's the current plan:

  • Filed Rush for unemployment today
  • File for medicaid for the Bonker-butt
  • File for food stamps (Fuck you if you're complaining about welfare. I pay into the system and I'll use it when I need it. With any luck, this will be short-term and we'll be able to go back to both paying into it again.)

I already applied at my job for him, and I applied a few other places yesterday. I'll do more today.

Thankfully, we just got a roommate, which cuts down a lot on bills, and while Rush is at home he can watch Bonk and save us $120 a week.... that's a 1.5 days of work before taxes at his job, so that really helps.
My job allows me to work basically all the overtime I want (we are constantly slightly short-staffed), so I can get as many extra hours as I'd like, and that's about $16/hr after taxes.

Rush being home will mean more time for chores we have been rushing through and projects that would otherwise cost us money.

My biggest fears about this aren't financial, though, to be honest. They're emotional.
For most of his life, Rush has not viewed himself as a 'grown-up', or trusted his ability to be an equal partner, husband, and provider. This is partially due to some bad choices earlier in life and mostly due to the fact that his family has never let him forget it, and consequently he can never forget it.
He's finally begun to see himself as the man I have seen in him from the beginning, but I am afraid that losing his position as a provider (however temporarily) will cause damage to that fragile, new, and finally positive self-image.
Meanwhile, I am struggling with being a family provider for the first time, and the yoke that places on my neck. I've never been a sole provider for a family, and I'll freely admit that it's terrifying. What if something happens? What if I fail? What if I get fired? The fact that my bosses love me and I'm en route to a promotion is irrelevant to the fears circling in my head like sharks.

I am trying really, really hard to see this terrifying setback as the Universe's message that it was past time for him to move on and away from that soul-sucking job.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Financial Realities

I priced the Building Cost for the house I want today.
$160,000 for contractors to do it from start-to-finish.
Cue pounding headache.

So I started looking at ways to cut some of those costs, and had lunch with my godfather and discussed it with him while messaging back and forth with Rush about it.
Here's the cost breakdown from, using Tumbleweed's instructions (and modifying for a basement and an air conditioner, since we live in Georgia and I'll be damned if I'm going to live without it):

Depressing, isn't it? I feel better after talking to my godfather, though. 
The reality is that it was never all that practical to have it built start-to-finish by contractors, and my godfather pointed out that as long as we can house and feed him, he can happily finish out basically everything in the house: wiring and plumbing once they're roughed in, interior trim, drywall, painting, etc. 
Basically drop over $20,000 off of that estimate, which of course also assumes we are buying everything brand-new instead of using scavenged, found, and reused materials. With my godfather's help, we could probably drop $35,000 off of this estimate- which leaves it still higher than I'm happy about but much more doable. 

This of course doesn't factor in the land price, but there are a few places I'm looking at that are bank-owned in the areas we want to be that are in the $20-$35,000 range for 5-15 acres. 
One in particular has me drooling... I just have to remember that I have to fix my credit first
The current plan for that (I pulled our credit reports today) is to take out a small personal loan, pay off everything negative on our credit (<$4,000), and then pay back the loan shortly. I already paid off and closed one of my credit cards, and the personal loan (which is probably a lower interest rate than my credit card's exorbitant one).
But that will get both Rush and I back onto solid credit footing, although it almost certainly means not replacing the Civic of D00M this coming year. Sigh. 
My godfather also had some suggestions about quieting it down, though, which should make it pretty bearable to drive for a while longer. 

So that's where we are for the moment.... now I just have to convince my credit union to give me that personal loan. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Homestead Dream

Ideally, what I want is this:

Tiny house, with a bedroom for Bonkers, a master bedroom, a good kitchen, shower, pull-out couch for guests, and a comfortable place to feed people for dinner. Oh, and a space for laundry. All the damned laundry LOL
Picture this, sunken so that all of the brickwork is underground
We want a basement as well, giving a little more usable space without adding to the house footprint- plus giving storage space for canning, craft tools, rambunctious teenagers, and possibly extra guests.
However, just because I'm greedy and lazy and want everything as close to me as possible and as cheap as possible, I want to have the basement expanded to another 1/2 again the width of the house, and a sunken greenhouse attached. Basically, the basement would have a loadbearing wall, through which is a sunken greenhouse.

Small barn, probably lean-to style. I want a lot of livestock, and many of them can't be housed together. 2-3 horses, 1-2 pigs, a half dozen or so chickens (I think the minimum for these social little ladies is 3-4?), and a goat. My thought is to have one side enclosed with tack room & wash rack and 2 stalls- the 2nd being used for milking and for the sow to farrow in assuming I breed the pigs. I'd prefer to keep the chickens int he barn at night as it will make laying easier and keep them safe from predators.
This is a little bit too big, but the overall style works. I don't need large stalls, just big enough to isolate an injured animal, plus a milking/farrowing stall.

This is the $6000 version

We will also need a shed, ideally with sail-cloth walls for Rush's woodworking and other projects, and for my kiln. I want to get started back in ceramics, and learn to work with glass as well. They make combinations kilns like the picture that can work in both. I am completely in love with this idea, although to be honest I'm more likely to be able to make usable ceramic than usable glassware, so I may just stick with a ceramic kiln and upgrade when/if I can. I want the shed to have sail-cloth walls, but for some reason I can't find any images of them, which is weird since I have lived near the water for most of my life and seen these.

Basically, you install twist-lock fasteners on each corner of the 4x4" corner posts, get your sail-cloth/canvas cut properly and grommeted (ideally would be being able to make this yourself, especially since it's a reinforced square sheet, and when you need walls (think cold/wet weather), you use the twist-locks to attach the walls. In weather when you want a breeze (think MOST of the time here in Georgia)
you just take it down and roll it up.
This gives you flexible, waterproof walls that can easily be removed to turn your workshed into a breezy lean-to. Of course, at least one wall will have to be something reinforced (brick/concrete block. heavy wood) to give protection to the kiln and any of Rush's woodworking tools that require electrical outlets.

I also want a well, either with a solar-panel pump or a windmill pump.
These fine folks over at Live Ready Now have exactly what I want on their off-grid homestead.

Lastly, the big indulgences that I want are a bathhouse and an outdoor kitchen/living room:
Yes, please. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lots of Changes & Lots of Dreams

Gods, it's been years since I wrote here. Literally! My last post was in January of 2011!

Here's where I am now:
Married to my beloved Rush, still in East Point, GA, but now with the addition of our baby Bonkers. Not so much a baby anymore, though- he's 19mos old and too damned smart and agile for my own good! We still live in the same small house I did when I first started posting here, but other than that, life has changed a lot.

I graduated with my BA in Psychology, and I work helpdesk now for law firms. It can be.... interesting.... LOL
Rush works as a driver for an apartment building/renovation company, but we're trying to get him into where I work, regardless of how useful his job would be for home construction soon.
Despite being a "Christian company" his boss has been extremely unsupportive of the fact that Bonk has been sick a lot lately and Rush has had to stay home with him. Family values FTW...

We are steadily planning for and working toward buying acreage and building a tiny house, but first we have to take care of some smaller and closer to home things. We're tightening up our budget pretty severely, finally got a new roommate (which helps immeasurably!) and are down to one car and the two bikes. Mine's currently out of commission until I find time to replace the bolt that secures the gas tank, and clean up the repaired gas tank.

Once that happens, we'll be down to no car payment (this will change in February to a very modest car payment as our Civic is on its last legs), no bike payments (both bikes were bought cash), rent helped by roommate, and some attempts made at reducing our (astronomical) utility bills.
Our goal is to start rebuilding our credit and by next year, be able to start seriously saving to buy acreage.

I have some money set aside that I can't access right now, the specific use of which is to buy property, and Rush and I want a tiny house.

Our goal is this:
To live mostly self-sustainably on our own property.

Sounds simple, but it won't be to get there.

Things we'll need:
This is the Tiny House I want
Our house (Tiny House!) with an independent source of water & power
Storage (we're planning to put our house on a basement, which should help)
Livestock cover/safety (I'm thinking a half barn/half lean-to so that chickens and other vulnerable livestock are safer)

This is the one Rush wants

I'm estimating that we're looking at a mortgage for about $100,000. Ouch!
And that is assuming:
*We get the acreage in foreclosure
*The cost-to-build on the tiny houses is reasonably accurate (taking into account the additional cost of putting it on a basement and not on a slab)
*I am able to put down approximately $75,000 from my trust fund.

Things we will probably do all at once for simplicity's sake:
*Have builders lay barn slab at the same time as house
*Have builders also lay slab for small Japanese style bathhouse
*Buy an old but working truck for hauling or material
*Build outbuildings and raised gardens from scraps of house-building as much as possible
*See if builders can help put in well & pumphouse