Financial Quicksand

For the last few months I’ve been struggling to pull the purse strings tightly together.  I’m about to have another round of what else can I do without.

In the meantime, I began the desperate process of applying to refinance my home; my property taxes have consistently gone up in the three years that I’ve been living there.  I’m now paying $350 – $400 more than what the previous homeowner paid the year I moved in.  Let’s just say that $1900+ a year is not fun to come up with even when it’s divided up into 12 payments and added to my escrow.  The $172 Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) that the broker told me I’d only be paying for a year — yeah, he saw a naive sucker coming — really bites, and to be honest, I cannot figure out how Chase calculates the escrow.  Even if I were to write a check for $600 at the beginning of the year, it would not reduce my mortgage bills by $50 each month.  Forget trying to discuss the logic of that with them.  Bank people do not live in a world that operates with the same numeric logic that the rest of us do, I have learned over the last year or so.  Bank math logic is mysterious and mystical.  I really thought I understood accounting when I took it in college but apparently they teach all of the magic spells that go with it in the non-Freshman classes.

So, I currently have a 6.5% interest Fixed loan.  I was told that the only way for me to have financial relief was to acquire a 4.75% Fixed interest loan, which I can only get if my home has gone up in value by at least $7,000.  When I plugged the information about my home, including the fact that it has a brand new roof, a brand new furnace, and a brand new fence, into the Quicken Home Value Calculator, it indicated that my home should go up in value about $20K.  Well, clearly Quicken doesn’t know squat.  My home, on which I owe just over $207K, was just this week appraised at $208K; it was compared to three homes that sold last year between July and October; none  of them were more than 30 years old — mine is 50 years old.  Plus, mine was valued higher than those three.  My house has lost $10K in value in 3 years thanks to the economy, despite the fact that I have put $22K into it.

Now I am between that mythical rock and that unfortunate hard place that everyone keeps talking about.  I was smart enough to get a fixed loan and my loan is not with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, so I do not qualify for Obama’s Making Home’s Affordable program.  I sure would like to know when that stimulus package is going to start helping someone like me — the single, barely making it, childless, almost 40 white females who theoretically did all the right things to be successful, independent women and got dragged kicking and screaming into this recession with all of the two-income folks who at least have each other or each other’s incomes.  I’m not poor enough to qualify for property tax exemptions and yet not rich enough to actually afford the increase in the costs of food, gasoline, electricity (which went from $67 per month to $171 per month in the last 3 years), and other necessities.  I have cut out doggy daycare, cut way down on Nexflix (from 6 to 3 per month), have put a stop to online impulse shopping sprees, and have been trying to get every last ounce, morsel, drop out of every container the last few weeks.  I would hate to think that in a month or so I might get to the point where I think I might have to start considering which of my medications I might have to forgo.

Anyway, I am about to attempt to appeal my property taxes, though I was told by the town clerk that the assessor is usually dead on and everyone’s taxes went up because the school’s budget went way up this year.  The thing is that my taxes are pretty high compared to the rest of the houses on my street — I’ve looked.  Mine are closer to the house with the swimming pool and finished basement.  If I’m going to pay that much in taxes, someone better come over and build me a indoor greenhouse in my basement or something to offset the cost.  (I don’t want a pool or some fancy Mother-in-law suite. ;) )

I feel like I’m drowning.  The cost of living has increased and my salary is not increasing with it.  I’m in quicksand; I know I’m not alone, but it sure feels like it.

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