The Last Mortgage Payment

Last month (January):
Years left: 0.166666667
P =$1,214.40, I =$10.74, Escrow =$812.79

This month (February):
Years left: 0
P =$1,214.40, I =$5.98, Escrow=$0, Recording fee: $30
Amount of interest saved in this month’s prepayment: $1.20

So, I know that this is ending a month early.  But what happened is my regular mortgage payment is $2027.19, and there was only $1510.75 left on the mortgage (technically $1510.79 because Wells Fargo steals micropennies from us), so it seemed silly to write a bigger check this month and then another check for ~$1100 in March, only to have them send back ~$1600 from the escrow for those two months (along with the ~$500 that’s still in there after they paid our property taxes).  Cashflow and interest argue that in this specific instance, it is better to pay off the loan than to let them have two months of escrow.

[Update:  After we paid off the mortgage in full, we got the bill for the next month’s mortgage.  Then a few days later we got a note saying that we were not allowed to pay the bill (that we had just gotten), instead we would have to pay the mortgage in full because the mortgage balance was less than a payment.  And the in-full payment was due three weeks before the regular mortgage bill!  For a mortgage that had already been paid. Wells Fargo’s departments really need to talk to each other.]

So we got a final payment slip and sent off a final payment check.  Now we wait for our final paperwork to return to us.

So what does this all mean?

Well, the house cost $265,000.  We have paid down that $265,000 including the $53K downpayment in principal in ~10.5 years.  In total, we have paid $364,161.71 on the house, or about 100K in interest more than the house cost initially (but only $20,761 of that since we refinanced 76 months ago– those big interest costs really do come at the beginning of the loan). We paid $114,873.36 extra in pre-payments since our last refinance.  We’ve saved $18,783.83 in interest (not accounting for inflation at all) by prepaying since we refinanced, but I don’t know how much we’ve saved overall since I wasn’t tracking before the refinance.

As we’ve said many times, we will not ever really own the house free and clear.  This year we’re paying about $8K/year in property tax and $2K/year in insurance.  Those numbers will only go up.  We could rent a 2br apartment in town for about that amount and not have to worry about repair bills.  But we won’t.

How does this change our lives?  Well, we now have about $14,573 extra cash flow each year that we had been sending to our mortgage as principal or interest payments.   And I no longer have to write out a mortgage check every month which should save ~12 checks a year meaning we should have to buy new checks less frequently (daycare still takes checks out of the credit union account– I have lessons and incidentals coming out of the Wells Fargo account right now).

It also means that we will need to keep a high enough balance in both Wells Fargo savings and checking to not get charged monthly fees on those two accounts.  Right now we are already doing that because that’s where we’ve been depositing DH’s reimbursement checks and any side payments or gifts that we get.  But I’ll have to be careful going forward.

Also… I guess I won’t be writing these monthly posts anymore, because I have nothing left to track!  It’s the end of an era!  For nostalgia’s sake, here’s the first one from November 2010.  (And here’s an earlier post about refinancing before I started tracking monthly.  And here’s a popular post on why we did some prepayment of the mortgage but didn’t focus everything on prepaying.)  Here’s the mortgage tab if you want to read them all.

Given that I don’t think #2 wants to be pressured into saving up for a down-payment, any thoughts on what should go in this space?  Anything?  Nothing?

Link Love

OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR THE ACA ENDS ON TUESDAY.  ENROLL NOW!!!  It will last the entire year no matter what happens with the government (absent nuclear war, anyway).

If you are/were a Republican, here’s Evan McMullin’s group that is fighting for bringing decency back to your party and to government.  Mad props to him.  I would really like to get back to arguing about where on the frontier we should be based on our beliefs about redistribution and less with the worrying about destroying the world.

Trump has a conflict of interest with controversial pipelines.  Also he’s tripling his hotel locations.

Rogue government twitter accounts.  Death Valley tweeting about internment camps.

If you are a federal employee, here’s some advice for how to deal with inappropriate orders from above.  Hint:  DOCUMENT everything.

What we can learn from Canada’s battle with an anti-science government.

There’s gonna be a scientists’ march on washington.

One thing you can do to support science.

Last time there was a voting fraud inquiry.  (Hint:  Fascism!)

More fascism . Did we mention fascism?

White house secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds because he’s a fascist.

80s Nazis

Responsibilities of privilege.

I am fighting now when it only takes my time and money and nudging people so I don’t have to find out if I’m the kind of person who would risk my life and my family’s safety to save the persecuted.  More on the Seventh Cross book mentioned in the tweet stream.

Holocaust victims turned away from the US.  A story of many who were rescued.  The contrast highlights the duality discussed above with the two links in the previous bit.  I hope I never ever have to find out if I’m the kind of person who would keep my head down while people are taken or a hero.  Mainly because that would mean horrible things are happening, but also a small part because I’m afraid of the answer.  #neveragain

How to stay outraged without losing your mind.  We’ll have a post later this week or next that talks about why we think it’s ok (and still sane) to go broad instead of deep, but the rest of the advice is good.

I signed up for Swingleft.  Though I bet (HOPE) in 2 years it’s going to be more than just those districts that are going to be vulnerable.

Federal Anti-Abortion bill.

It should not be surprising that Trump’s government looks like a badly run business.  Of course, badly run businesses can also look like fascism, so…

Sales of 1984 surge.

Trump brings his own applause track wherever he goes.

Politicians are refusing to talk to constituents and having them escorted out by police, then closing up shop and not answering the phones

Advice for how to meet with members of congress.  If you can get an appointment.

Difficult things

A black female astrophysicist explains why Hidden Figures isn’t just about history.

College scholarships are good for outcomes.

Clinical trials

What she gained from giving up 50% of her income to debt payment.

Effects of maternity leave on employment.

This is a cute model

More math is good!

Adventures in leadership

An online guide to afternoon tea.  (We got some after the womens’ march!)

pink kittens


Ask the grumpies: How to decide to leave/stay in a tenured position?

Should I stay or should I go #? asks:

I’m considering leaving a tenured academic position for a soft money position at a private foundation. I’m very excited about the vision of the new program and the resources and time it potentially affords. I’m worried about the pressure of needing to get grants and walking away from tenure. What would you consider (or negotiate for) if you were making a move like this? What would make you decide to stay put? Financially, what would you consider necessary to be prepared for a move of this nature?

#1, as always, starts:

Save a lot, in case your funding runs out. If I were on soft money I’d be stressed; hard money is one of the good things about my current job.

I was lucky that I couldn’t stay put in my tenured position because it was so bad. (Although lots more money would have kept me there for a while; but if they had lots of money for me I wouldn’t have been considering leaving in the first place.)

I mean, you gotta do a mental balance sheet. Leaving is bad: loss of tenure, possible loss of ability to do your own research, loss of stability, have to move. OTOH, never teach again; no more grading; possibly more money; could be a better work situation.

Academia is an extremely flexible and independent schedule; are you willing to potentially give up some or most of that flexibility?

If you pass on this opportunity now, will you be able to find employment later if you should need to leave your current tenured position? Balance that with, if you go for this opportunity and it doesn’t work out, will you be able to find employment later?

What would it take to definitely make you leave? What would it take to definitely make you stay? Which one is more likely?

If things stay exactly as they are for 5 more years, would you be ok with that? 10 years?

#2 chimes in:

One of the things that made it easier for my DH to leave academia was that we had savings and I had a stable position. That meant we weren’t dependent on his income and he was better able to deal with the loss of job security that an academic position affords.

If you haven’t yet, read Your Money or Your Life. Here’s our post with more info on the book.

Finally, what $ amount in the new place would make this decision obvious?  What would your current location need to do to make it obvious in the other direction?  Don’t forget to include the value of benefits (health insurance, retirement matches, etc.) in your decision as well.

Update:  Shannon in the comments adds:

Many institutions have a leave of absence policy for tenured faculty so rather than resigning right off the bat, you can take a 1 (or more) year leave of absence and have the right to come back if things don’t work out. This might give you some reassurances if you make that leap – if you really don’t like it, you can go back to what you have now. It’s definitely worth exploring, and even if there’s not an official policy, it’s worth asking. Given that you have tenure, they can’t let you go for being disloyal or anything, and the worst they can say is no.

She is absolutely correct.  In fact, my DH took a one-year unpaid leave pre-tenure to work on a start-up.

Here’s some related posts:
What would make you quit mid-semester?
What to do after tenure denial?
Bad Work Situation
Here’s one from Inside Higher Ed about Stepping off the tenure track. It also references a website that SIS may find useful.
When #1 quit
When #2’s husband resigned

Books for #2’s DC1

After this post, I searched through my library history and my memory to see if I could come up with anything appropriate for #2’s kid, who I know a little bit…

Has zie read Tom’s Midnight Garden? I think it’s YA but it’s older, from maybe like 20 years ago.  (Answer:  Yes.)

We decided that Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is too grown-up for hir so far.  Ze’s not really into romance (yet?) and that lets out a lot of books like Jane Eyre.  Ze’s also not that into animals; didn’t like the Redwall books, probably won’t like the James Herriot books (but I do!).

I wonder if zie’s old enough for Nine Princes in Amber (The Chronicles of Amber Book 1)?

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley is a perennial recommendation, which ze has already read.  I remember liking Interstellar Pig, so ze’ll probably try that.  Ze read and liked Hoot by Carl Hiassen.  Sherlock Holmes stories are classics.

I suggested the series that starts with Peter and the Starcatchers, but #2 vetoed it because she hates Peter Pan.  However, #2 wonders if maybe ze’s old enough for The Three Musketeers.

I recommend the Amulet series of graphic novels (the first one is The Stonekeeper), but fair warning:  the dad dies immediately.  I think I’m on book #5 right now.

The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix is on #2’s to-read pile, but she might move it to DC1’s pile instead.  I like those.

To both #2 and DC1 I recommend The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier, which is fantasy adventure with no romance.  I recently enjoyed it a lot.

More suggestions from me…

You could try out The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey (which is not the weird kind of Lackey you don’t like).  Too young for Flavia de Luce?  If ze liked Harry Potter, you can try Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  I don’t remember enough about Huntress by Malinda Lo. You could try The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery by Phillip Pullman. (Has zie read the His Dark Materials series?)  The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison might be a bit dense for zir, but #2 might like it if you haven’t read it yet.  It’s good; was nominated for many awards.

You could try Saving Kabul Corner by N. H. Senzai.  I don’t know if The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter is too old for zir or not.  But #2 should read it!  The third book in the series is out now.

Come Fall by, I think, A. C. E. Bauer?

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang?  That seems to exhaust my library history… at least as far as DC1-appropriate books.  Some of the books I read are definitely NOT for kids!

What’s good, Grumpeteers?

College Savings are hard to plan

If DH and I remain employed at our current jobs for the next ~6 years (something that is not incredibly likely given DH’s job situation), then we will not qualify for financial aid at most schools.  (IIRC, we’ll be in the phase-out range for Harvard and Princeton and may be able to move money around to get some aid there.)  If one of us loses a job, then DC1 will qualify for about ~10K/year in aid at many private schools, which isn’t that much given sticker prices (although on just one income, hiding moving money around will have a larger effect).

We currently (barring weird changes in the stock market between the writing of this post and its posting) have around 98K in DC1’s college account.  That’s $500/mo for the last 10 years invested in Vanguard.  That’s enough to go to our local flagship schools for 4-5 years if we stop saving now.

And that really sounds like a lot.  But in the world of private schools it isn’t.

It’s hard to tell what DC1 will want to do in 6-10 years, but current indications are that computer science or some form of electrical engineering will be involved.  Zie might want to go to MIT or Harvey Mudd or Stanford (and zie might get in– it is hard to say).  These schools are not cheap, and at >55K/year in total costs (and rising), there’s not enough in the 529s to pay for even two years of school. We have another $170K in taxable stocks (that’s from the 50K we had in 2005 and the leftover money from leave we just put into the market) that presumably we would use for the remainder.  However, we will be taxed on that remainder, so it might make sense to start saving *more* in the 529 vehicle while we still have six years for earnings to accrue.

Indeed, the simple saving for college calculator suggests that we would need to more than double our monthly contribution for MIT and almost triple it for Harvey Mudd.

If I drop DH’s income, then the college calculator suggests we should start putting away $638/mo, which is still more than the $500 that is currently going towards college.

Both Harvey Mudd and MIT have 5-year BS/MS programs that are a good deal.  DC1 is so young– maybe we should be open to funding some graduate school.   It is also true that we have two children, and by the time DC2 is ready for college, we should know how much DC1’s experience ended up costing, so we’d be able to move some money over.  As of this typing, DC2 has $33K in hir 529 plan.  We’re on an oversaving path for hir for state school (the calculator recommends cutting back to ~300/mo), but would need to put away more for the average private school– for my alma mater, for example, zie would need more than double what we’re putting away (same for engineering schools, though it’s harder to tell if engineering is likely with a preschooler compared to a 6th grader).

Looking over all my old 529 posts, I usually contemplate putting less money into the 529s.  This is the first time I’ve addressed putting more money there.  I’ve been assuming we wouldn’t pay for any graduate school and have been worried about the risk of over-saving.  But with only 6 years left before college, I think it is unlikely I’ll end up moving to work for a university that pays even part of school tuition.  And college costs have been increasing, as has our net worth.  Maybe it makes sense to get more tax advantage, especially given that in 6 years taxes may have to go way up (or inflation may be sky rocketing).  It’s hard to say.  Not to mention that $500/month isn’t worth what it was 10 years ago.

And we’re no longer paying $1200/mo in principal and interest on a mortgage.  If DH doesn’t lose his job, that money has to go somewhere.

Under what circumstances would we regret putting more money in the 529s?  1.  If we move to the bay area for DH’s job and want to buy a house.  That scenario suggests needing loans for private school and DC1 being on hir own for graduate school.  2.  If for whatever reason neither DC1 nor DC2 end up using the money (ex. tragedy, one or both of the DCs becoming successful entrepreneurs, both DCs deciding they prefer much cheaper college options).  3.  The world goes to heck and we have to leave the country (in which case money in the 529s will be very low on our list of regrets).

Ugh, I keep going back and forth on this.  I could increase our monthly contribution to be more in line with what the simple calculator thinks we should be contributing, and then we could cut if off if DH loses his job.  We could put in a lump sum (though dollar-cost averaging seems much less risky given the current uncertain political environment).  I could split the difference and put in, say $750/month per child instead of either $500 or $1000 (which is about what we would need if I kept my job and DH stopped bringing money in entirely).  Or we could just keep doing what we’re doing, which is usually the easiest thing to do.

*note for newer readers:  We are already maxing out our easy retirement options (required contribution, one 401K, one 403b, one 457) and will pay off our house very soon.  So don’t worry about our retirement savings or debt loads!

What are you doing in terms of college savings?  How do you decide to change what you’re doing?

Link Love goes marching on

We’re at various women’s marches today.  Around the world!  If you see James O’Keefe at yours, ignore him.

All of the depressing links are from #2, who you may have noticed is back on the blog after an absence.  She also notes:  Anyone can text their zip code to: (520) 200 2223 and it will instantly shoot back your Federal and State Senators’ and Representatives’ names and phone numbers.

If you do one action this week, a good choice is to call your senators to ask them to vote No on Jeff Sessions because he’s a bigot.  Do this whether your senators are democrat or republican.  Let them know it is not ok to appoint a bigot as attorney general.  The Sessions vote is this Tuesday, so call monday or before.  You can also call the committee.  Here’s more info and a script from Nick Decaro.

Staggering list of cuts.

Bethh has a new newsletter.  This week is on how to cope.

Resistance manual

The beginning of the Trump year(s).  My dept chair told me today that he suspects that in a couple of years Trump will do a Palin and declare he’s made America great again and quit.  He already doesn’t leave the house.

Republicans are lying about the ACA.  Republicans are lying about the ACA.  Republicans are lying about the ACA.  Ugh I am SO mad about this.  (And one more link explaining the ACA)

An important theoretical insight is that gerrymandering becomes fragile over time– the very thing that makes districts just a little bit more red also makes them vulnerable when the opposition gets determined

The other John Lewis.

CNN sticking up against fascism

Full Fascism ahoy

Barack Obama’s academic cv, updated

Mike Pence Inauguration invite comment section

Was there a huge crowd?  (How about when you subtract the police?)

Bruce Springstein cover band wasn’t there.

Worst Twilight Zone episode ever.


twinkies palmer candy recall

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“two useless but true theorems are proved

kid scientist logic

debt is a funny thing

password protection

best selfie

Ask the grumpies: Post-retirement activities?

chrisinny asks:

Contemplating retirement in 12 months. It is recommended to have a plan for your life when work no longer fills so much time. Well, work (and raising a child) pretty much filled most/all of my spare time, with a little left over for reading and quilting (neither of which can I really use to fill a day). So any recommendations for new interests to take up? I may try some volunteering (which had done at the library in the past) but need to find where I can make a contribution (but have no interest in being in charge, of anything). Live in a rural area with access to a tertiary city- so apps like “meetup” are ok for occasional, but not daily activities. I do have a spouse but he has been retired for years so he already has his own routine(s).

Have you considered political activism?  If you live in the US, there’s a lot of work that needs to get done.  Click up on our activism tab for ways to get involved.  I know it’s not the most fun thing in the world, but it’s so important right now.  Living in a rural area means that your voice is especially important because you’re likely to have representatives who are not 100% blue and can be swayed with some effort on your part.  Being in charge can really suck, but you might be able to nudge those who are in charge into being a little bit more active.  This is especially true with state and local politics.

Your library is a great place to go not just for volunteering directly (or for reading books)– they can also connect you.  For example doing people’s taxes for free at the library is a popular volunteer activity and one that can be done in rural areas.  Ask your local librarian about that and about other groups in your area– the library is a place that many groups meet, particularly in small towns.  Your parks and recreation center may also be able to help you but they might think the request is odd whereas librarians will totally think it’s normal.

#1 recommends anime.  :)  #2 recommends your local animal shelter.  Other popular retirement activities include taking continuing education classes, doing exercise classes with parks and recreation or the YMCA, gardening, cooking, hunting, hiking, etc.  And, of course, travel… or working part-time.

Good luck with the next stage!

What recommendations does the Grumpy Nation have?