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Monthly Progress Report #27

Monthly Progress Report #27

Both March and all the snow on the ground are history!

We made it to April. I feel like I’ve been waiting for spring since the leaves changed last year. And it’s been taking for-freaking-ever.

But I can see my lawn again, I ordered my first batch of materials for the remaining renovation projects (we’re almost there! The finish line is in sight!) and life is good!

I received my first vaccine shot a few weeks ago and will be going back for the second soon. Mike is getting his one shot today (he’s very happy he only has to get one!). 

I’m just so glad we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s hoping it really is light from the end of the tunnel! 

Of course, we didn’t get this far without our first COVID scare! Mike had to quarantine but luckily he made it through without any symptoms. I also made it through mostly unscathed - I’m kidding, of course, but it was a stressful week!

I really feel for anyone going through the quarantine process right now. It’s a scary time. And I won’t lie, it’s also a frustrating time. 

Ok, enough about that. I’m sure you’re as sick of hearing about COVID as we all are.

If you’d like to get all caught up, check out last month’s progress report

Ok, here goes nothing!

As always we start with my debt:

Mortgage: $169,000
Car Loan: $3,100 
Student Loans: $7,600
Credit Cards: $1,700
Grand Total of Debt: $181,400

My student loan balance

Ok, so that’s an $800 reduction over the month. Not bad.

As you can see my student loans look a little different this month. That’s because they were sold. I was expecting that to be a hassle but it was a relatively pain free experience! 

I’m more upset about losing a nice summary page. So since they lump them all in together I figured it’s time to give up on the $50 increments and start rounding them up to the next hundred like the rest of my debt.

Besides that I was given some unfortunate news about my car this past month so in all likelihood it’s time to find a replacement. Which of course means more debt. Just when I thought I was making some progress!

It’s a bummer but there’s been some signs so it wasn’t totally unexpected. Still, adding more debt... ughhhh!!!

The good news there is I still have some money from the latest stimulus check and my tax return. But this time I did spend some - I bought a new treadmill and a mattress! 

My old treadmill somehow didn’t want to move without beeping and since she was a hand me down from my mom it was definitely time to replace her. As for the mattress, it lasted ten years and had seen better days so Mike and I went 50/50 on a new one. 

Can you tell I usually feel guilty about big purchases? I’m always justifying them! But I do have some money to put towards a new car or towards some debt once I have this all figured out.

Ok, moving on to savings:

Savings account: $2,800
P2P Lending account: $100
Investment account: $1,500
Grand Total of Savings: $4,400

That’s only $50 this month and that was due to market fluctuations. But as I said above, treadmill, mattress, car.. at least it didn’t shrink!

I hope everyone is doing well! I know we’re all itching to get back to normal. It doesn’t seem possible we’ve officially hit the one year anniversary since COVID turned the world upside down.

I hope that we can go into summer with a little sense of normalcy but I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. Stay safe out there!

As always -

Remember, we will get through this ❤️
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Broke Dolly

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Monthly Progress Report #26

Monthly Progress Report #26

Well, February has been a pretty crazy month for me.

First, my best friend moved to Florida. I’m so happy for her and excited to go visit her! But also low key jealous of the fact she’s talking about bathing suit shopping and we have three - yes, three! - feet of snow on the ground.

This has been the craziest winter in recent memory. I don’t remember getting this much snow in my adult life. You know, since I became entirely responsible for removing said snow. Truth be told, Mike takes care of all of it but I like to chip in by shoveling off the back decks. Hey, it makes me feel like I’m doing my part.

And what happens when we got the monster storm? Our dang snowblower gave up. Luckily it was an easy fix but in the time it took to get the part we ended up getting at least another foot! She’s all patched up and ready to go now - now that it’s finally warming up and we probably won’t see snow for another nine months. So it goes.

Of course, now that I said that we’ll probably get another 3 feet. Ugh. Upstate New York does have some positive though, right? I mean, we have the best summers ever but dang does winter make it so miserable it’s hard to remember what July is like.

Alright, back to my crazy month. The other day I was surprised with a promotion. I’m sure I’ve said this before but - I absolutely love my job. I kind of stumbled into it and it’s been one of the best things to happen to me.

That’s the good news. The bad news is my class is seriously kicking my butt. It seems like nonstop case studies and long boring legislation. Believe me when I tell you I’m counting the days until May when it’s all said and done. Luckily I’ll get a little break over the summer before the final stretch.

In case you missed it, here’s my last monthly progress report. It seems like I wrote that ages ago!

Ok, on to the main attraction!

First, a look at my debt:

Mortgage: $169,300 
Car Loan: $3,300 
Student Loans: $7,850 
Credit Cards: $1,750 
Grand Total of Debt: $182,200 

My student loan balances

I paid off $1,100 in February. That’s a good month. And my student loan balances are below the $8,000 mark again! I think that’s reason enough to celebrate.

I’m making good progress paying off my most recent loan. I love to see progress!

On to my savings:

Savings account: $2,800
P2P Lending account: $100
Investment account: $1,450
Grand Total of Savings: $4,350

My savings grew $100 this month due to market fluctuations. Since my peer lending account is phasing out, I shifted a little bit of money I had accumulated from payments to my investment account. 

It wasn’t a great month savings wise but at least I’m in the black.

That’s another month in the books! This month I saw some positive progress but maybe not as much as I would like on the savings side of things. All in all, I would say it’s been a successful month. 

How was your February? Do you have as much snow as we do? Am I crazy to think this is the worst winter I can remember? 

As always -

Remember, we will get through this ❤️
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Broke Dolly

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Monthly Progress Report #25

Monthly Progress Report #25

Yay! After two years I think I finally have the numbering of my monthly progress reports right!

I can’t believe we’re already a month into 2021. And what a crazy month it’s been.

So far, 2021 doesn’t seem much different from 2020. I mean, we went from the Tiger King to the Jason Collier drama (seriously, don’t start reading unless you have time to go down that rabbit hole). 

But we do have a female Vice President. And I think that’s amazing. It’s not a Democrat vs. Republican thing, it’s the fact that little girls everywhere see a woman as the Vice President. That’s freakin’ awesome.

Beyond some history being made, I have high hopes for 2021. Maybe even a trip somewhere? Only if it’s safe to do so, of course. But for now, I just want to make it through the winter. 

With the windchill bringing the temperature negative, I’m just daydreaming of summer weather. I honestly just miss enjoying being outside. It doesn’t matter how bundled I may be, the cold isn’t for me.

And the snow! Also not a huge fan. But the good news is we’re only getting a foot or so tonight (ha!). 

At least it’s pretty when it first falls. Not so pretty after the plow guy gets here.

I just started my most recent class (only three more to go!) so hopefully that’ll keep me plenty busy until the weather warms up and the snow melts.

Alright, enough of my whining. Check out 2020 - The Year End Recap if you’re curious how things were shaping up at the end of December.

As always, we’ll start with my debt:

Mortgage: $169,700
Car Loan: $3,600
Student Loans: $8,150
Credit Cards: $1,850
Grand Total of Debt: $183,300

My student loan balances

That’s $1,300 less than December. Let’s be real, that’s a very, very good month for me. Between a bonus I wasn’t certain I would get at work and my stimulus check, I was able to put extra money towards my school loans.

I wish I could write such upbeat updates every month!

Alright, my savings is next:

Savings account: $2,800
P2P Lending account: $150
Investment account: $1,300
Grand Total of Savings: $4,250

My savings increased $750 this month. I actually put $300 into savings and $500 into my investment account but then my investment account dipped a little bit. 

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Overall, January was a kick butt month for me. I was able to pay down debt and put some money away. Which is great because I needed some good news after writing my blah year end recap last month.

Are you getting a monster snow storm tonight too? If you are I hope you enjoy it more than I will. That’s not saying much -  so have fun, build a snowman, go tubing, drink some hot cocoa, do whatever makes you happy.

As always -

Remember, we will get through this ❤️
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Broke Dolly

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Vintage Love: Newburgh Vintage Emporium (in the Times of COVID)

Vintage Love: Newburgh Vintage Emporium (in the Times of COVID)


It’s been a while since I wrote one of these posts. Truth be told that’s because I haven’t been anywhere or done anything in about a year. 

Yeah, lookin’ at you COVID.

But my mom’s birthday was last week and we seem to have made it a tradition to visit Newburgh Vintage Emporium around this time of year. 

So yesterday, off we went!

It's no secret - I’m a big fan of the place (actually, places - they’ve opened a second location!) and I’ve posted multiple times about our visits. You can check out those posts here and here.

Ready to check out what’s happening at the Vintage Emporium in the times of COVID?

Here we go!

Check out this fabulous corner booth complete with bamboo furniture and a tiger. Mostly what drew me in were the beautiful light fixtures.

After a years long search I just pulled the trigger and bought myself a new kitchen light. I absolutely love my new light but I’ve been looking for so long it just feels necessary to check out the could have beens.

This print (or painting?) was tucked in the back of one of the booths and I loved it instantly. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to represent someone or not but I immediately thought of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. But he doesn’t quite look like Joe.

Also in the same booth was this NYC taxi fare painting signed by Mitchell Korman.

Fun fact: I looked up the current rates and that fare will now cost you a $2.50 initial charge and 50 cents per 1/5 mile. Inflation, huh?

Nobody quite loves a faux animal head like this girl. Definitely faux, no real animal heads in my house, but I tend to stick to the traditional deer heads. Although my mom did gift me a little elephant head a few years back. 

But a gorilla head? That’s a statement! One I can get fully behind. This guy was huge too! Not sure how large a real gorilla’s head may be but this seemed about right.

There’s a lot going on in this photo. Like the Bugs Bunny sketch and silver mannequin head but I snapped this photo because of the mod red clock. I think it would look great on a much more modern, admittedly cooler, mantle than I have.

Another stringing piece of artwork! These ladies caught my eye from across the room. Not only do I have an irrational love for the color yellow but their outfits are amazing! Best of all - it couldn’t have been smaller than five feet tall. I’m on the hunt for a big piece for a large blank wall in my living room but I’m just not quite sure what I’m looking for yet. These ladies are absolutely fabulous but not quite it for me.

This not so little guy was displayed in the front of the store and I couldn’t not take his picture. Before I got my Newfoundland (Sadie Donatella), I always imagined I would get a bulldog, they hold a special place in my heart and they’re dang adorable. And look at this guy’s underbite! The black and white make him a pretty sleek looking piece.

My next find was a vintage coffee table with a tile top made by a local artist, Luis Mendez. I love how natural and earthy the table is. And live edges seem to be all the rage these days.

And to round up the photos, I’ll leave you with this drool worthy booth. There’s a lot that I like in here from the midcentury items to the pale pink fabric headboard but I loved the artwork.

I think it would be neat to have this guy pointing the way to my stairs or maybe put him directly above the stairs pointing down. I wouldn’t have thought to have him point down but it’s a neat idea.

We went on to check out their second location but I stopped taking photos and started really browsing. Their second location is as good, dare I say maybe even better, than their first. There’s so much to see and, as always, the customer service is top notch. 

Seriously, if you’re in the area, make sure you go check them out. I have no doubt there’s something for everyone at Newburgh Vintage.

See anything you just have to have in the photos above? How have you been keeping yourself preoccupied through COVID?

Stay safe and healthy.

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Broke Dolly

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New Year, Clean Slate

New Year, Clean Slate

And just like that 2020 is over. A year defined by COVID, murder hornets and Tiger King.

What a strange year it’s been.

I can’t say I’m too sad to see 2020 in the rearview (but am I missing a hindsight joke here somewhere?!)

I hope 2021 is all the things 2020 was not. I hope the world returns to normal, I wish health and happiness for everyone.

Most of all for you, my friends, I hope 2021 is the best year yet.

Seriously 2021, please, please, be kind.

Now that the calendar has officially flipped over, it’s time to see how I did with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2020 and set some new benchmarks for the new year.

And in typical fashion, things didn’t go as planned.

In case you don’t remember, my 2020 goals were:

1) Get renovation related debt below $5,000. Hm. Ok, so kind of? This one is tricky. The problem is my renovation debt kept ballooning on me so I ultimately decided to refinance my mortgage for a lower rate and combine it all. So not really, but maybe I should get some credit here because I was making good progress when I stopped keeping track of this because the number wasn’t realistic anymore? No? Fine, that’s not how it works. First failed goal.

2) Accumulate savings of $3,000. This one I actually followed through on! As of yesterday, I had $3,500 smackaroos saved amongst my savings and investment account. I’ll be honest, I did so well in this category because I bought some stock right when the pandemic first hit and things plummeted. 

3) Pay off that pesky smaller student loan. So technically I did do this. I paid off my smallest student loan and I paid it off a few years early. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I added more student loan debt along the way. The upside here is that I really think I’m done with student loans (I know I’ve said that in the past but this time I really mean it!)

4) Get my total debt balances below $160,000. Ha! My grand total is currently dangerously close to $185,000. Things didn’t work out the way I had imagined here and my renovation overages certainly didn’t help. But I think I should be on the right track now. But still, this one was a massive failure.

Well, that’s depressing. At least I met my savings goal.

But since I know what went wrong this year, I’m hoping I can learn from my mistakes and meet my goals for this upcoming year.

Again I’m trying to find the balance between pushing myself and setting realistic goals. It’s not easy. After two years of failure I really want to see some results.

Now for the unveiling! Here’s my 2021 list:

1) Accumulate savings of $4,500. Adding $1,000 to my savings might be a little lofty. But I did just that in 2020. I don’t think that capital gains will help me as much this year but it’s time I actually start actively saving.

2) Get my most recent student loan under $1,000. The loan I took out for the Fall semester is hovering around $2,300 right now. I’d like to get it to under $1,000 before the end of the year. 

4) Get my total debt balances below $175,000. I’m not happy that my debt balances are north of $180,000. Paying off nearly $10,000 in debt this year will be a challenge but I’m up for it. I’d really like to see some real progress.

That’s a wrap folks. Another year and another blah attempt at meeting my goals. Hopefully next year I’m writing a much happier version of this post.

But that’s the good thing about the New Year, the slate is clean. There’s another chance to make good on promises.

How’d you do with your 2020 goals? Did the pandemic throw a wrench in your plans? Have you set new goals for 2021? Tell me about them!

Happy New Year!!
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Broke Dolly

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2020 - The Year End Recap

2020 - The Year End Recap

It’s the last day of 2020. Hallelujah, amirite?!

2020 has been an awful, sometimes insufferable, year for everyone. The pandemic has effected us all - I think we’re all ready to move on from the fear, the uncertainty, the isolation, everything.

And on top of it all, it’s been wrecking havoc on folks financially. I’ve been lucky for the most part but it hasn’t been a great year for me. 

Despite my inability to consistently blog, I’ve been at it since the end of 2018. I really can’t believe it’s been two years since I wrote my first monthly progress report on 12/31/18.

Sometimes I’m not the best blogger and I get lax. But I’ve continued to write my monthly progress report every month and track my progress - good and bad. 

I’m happy I’ve stuck with it and I plan to continue doing so. It’s been helpful to see my progress in black and white. It’s encouraged me to slog through at points I’ve felt like it was impossible. 

It’s also helped me realize the importance of effort - sometimes the result isn’t what I’ve hoped for but the fact I’ve tried and continue doing so should count for something. 

In the past, I’ve been too hard on myself for not doing something right the first time. Sometimes it takes a time or two (or five).

With that being said, I think it’s time to look back at the progress I made during 2020. 

If you’d like to check out how I was doing last year at this time, here’s the 2019 Year End Recap.

And for the heck of it: Here's November's progress report.

Ok, I think it’s time to get down to business!

Here's where I stand with my debt:

Mortgage: $170,000
Car Loan: $3,800
Student Loans: $8,950
Credit Cards: $1,850
Grand Total of Debt: $184,600

My student loan balances

That’s $15,300 more than November and $9,300 more than last December. But the good news is those numbers are excluding a renovation fund shortage!

That’s right, it’s time to post this:

Renovation fund requirement: $0
New Grand Total of Debt: $184,600

Ok, so what went wrong? How did I end up with more debt?

Well, my renovations, as you well know by now, went over budget. I refinanced my mortgage to include the overages and closing costs. I also added to my school loans. 

But there is some good news in there too - my car loan is going to be fully paid in the early part of 2022, the end is in sight! And my credit card balances are doing much better than they were this time last year.

One thing is for sure - I’m pretty desperate for that number to go below $180,000. Ugh, it’s just a daunting figure.

I told you 2020 wasn’t a great year for me financially. However now I’m hopeful that I can make some real progress on my debt in 2021.

Moving on to savings:

Savings account: $2,500
P2P Lending account: $150
Investment account: $850
Grand Total of Savings: $3,500

Since November my investment account grew by $100 through market fluctuations.

Overall, my savings has increased $950 this year. It’s not great and it’s mostly due to my investment account but I’m happy with the progress. 

Hey, at least it’s going in the right direction!

For the second year in a row I somehow managed to add to my debt while focusing on paying it down. I’m hoping this time next year I’m telling you a much different story.

I just wanted to close out this post and say that although I’m not happy with how my 2020 turned out, I have no right to complain. I know some people are really struggling financially right now. I know people have lost their jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods. My heart goes out to everyone who has been negatively effected ❤️

It’s time to put 2020 in the books.
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Broke Dolly

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Rates are Low.. Is Now a Good Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?

Rates are Low.. Is Now a Good Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?

Something has been on my mind lately - interest rates.

Once upon a time I worked in mortgage lending and every now and then I’m asked by a friend or acquaintance what I think about the current rate environment and if now is a good time to refinance.

It sure seems like it might be. But a lower interest rate isn’t the sole reason to refinance. And even if the rate is lower it may still not make much sense.

But we’re being bombarded with the lower rates message. Every time I open the Apple News app I seem to be told mortgage rates are lower than they’ve ever been.

Mortgage interest rates have fallen to historic lows. Rates for a 30 year fixed rate loan are at 2.67% while a 15 year fixed rate is 2.21%. 

A 30 year loan is under 3%! That’s just crazy to me. I’m not ancient or anything but my first mortgage was 5.125%. And I thought that was a great rate.

With my current rate being a little over 4% I decided to start looking into refinancing in October. A few weeks ago I closed on my brand spanking new mortgage (ugh). 

Admittedly, my motivation was not solely based on the rate environment. I’m in the midst on a large (seemingly never ending) renovation and wanted to take advantage of the low rates and a little equity.

Since rates seem to be plummeting, the pandemic is raging on and economic uncertainty seems to be very likely in the near future, it made me stop and think - when should someone really refinance their home to take advantage of a better interest rate?

First, let’s take a look at the reasons you might want to refinance:

1) To lower your monthly payment - refinancing with a lower interest rate or longer term can reduce your monthly payment and make in more manageable.

Contact a lender to see what your options are. I shopped around for the best rate and was surprised to see not only the differences in rates but also the differences in closing costs.

2) To pay less interest over the life of the loan - refinancing with a lower interest rate can save you money by reducing the total amount of money you’ll pay in interest over time.

3) To shorten your loan term - if you’ve been paying your mortgage for a while or if rates fall low enough, refinancing your 30 year loan down to a shorter term may keep the payment manageable while also taking years off the life of your loan.

Just to drive this point home - a $100,000 30 year mortgage at 3% leaves you with a principal and interest payment of $421.60. If you shorten the term to 15 years (I left the rate at 3% for simplicity but presumably your rate would be lower for a shorter term), your P&I payment $690.58.

So yes, your payment will be about $270 higher but you’ll pay your loan off 15 years earlier. That would be the difference between 61 and 46 to me. 46 sure would be a nice age to be mortgage free by!

4) To tap into equity - if your house has appreciated in value or you’ve been paying down your mortgage for some time, refinancing could give you access to some cash.

Maybe you’re like me and thought a giant renovation while the economy teeters and unemployment is scary high is a good time to spruce up your home? Before you think I’m terribly irresponsible and stop reading, I decided to do said sprucing in 2018! (Yep, I definitely added that last bit to convince myself I’m not totally irresponsible. Sometimes a girl needs a little pep talk.)

Now, let’s take a look at when at when it might be a good idea to refinance:

1) You can save lower your interest rate by 1%. Here’s a good old rule of thumb. I don’t know who determined the 1% benchmark but when I mentioned to my dad I was thinking about refinancing he asked me right away if the rate was at least 1% better. 

I didn’t know this was a hard and fast rule until I did some more research on the topic and kept seeing 1% pop up

2) You’re planning on staying long term. It makes no sense to refinance if you’re planning on putting a for sale sign in the front yard tomorrow. 

You’ll want to make sure you plan to stay in the house long enough that your savings on your payment is sufficient to recoup the cost of refinancing.

3) You’re ready to ditch the adjustable rate. Ok, I’ve worked in lending and I understand why folks get adjustable rate mortgages but I’m a risk adverse chicken. Refinancing to a fixed rate mortgage when rates are low takes away the uncertainty of rate resets.

4) You’ve cleaned up your credit. Listen I get it, ish happens and you fall behind or you simply forget to make a payment or two, then your credit score takes a hit. It happens to the best of us. But things have been going well and your score has been creeping up. Now might be the time to refinance and take advantage of a better rate.

5) You can eliminate PMI. If you’re currently paying private mortgage insurance but you believe your home has appreciated in value you may be able to refinance and kiss PMI goodbye.

Unfortunately, if you’ve only been in your home for a short time this may not be an option. Many loans have a seasoning requirement that makes you wait two years before you can refinance to get rid of PMI.

I’m certainly not an expert and I recommend you talk to someone who is if you’re thinking about refinancing. But I hope that this list helps you decide if refinancing may be a good option for you.

I understand the idea of refinancing can be a bit daunting but remember to weigh the pros and cons. 

Does it really make economic sense? Will the money you save make up for the money you need to lay out for closing costs? How long until you’ll actually realize the savings?

In the end I was able to lower my interest rate and monthly payment while also taking some cash out for my renovations. Which significantly lowered my stress levels. 

Why did no one warn me that renovations can be so dang stressful?! Did they and I just didn’t listen? I’m not sure, but I’m counting down the days until I’m done.

Whether or not you decide refinancing is right for you, I wish you the best of luck.

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Broke Dolly

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