Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Craigslist Finds Part II

  • Item: Regular Old Coffee Table™
  • Era: 1950's
  • Favorite part about it: Just you wait...
  • Price: $40

Just a nice looking little coffee table.


Booyah! Tricked you. This blog is just chock full of surprisy goodness. I had you all going thinking I was just going to post a regular old coffee table and I bust out with a freaking record player!!!

Item for real.. sorry guys-- I won't lie again: General Electric RC 4851 A.

Can't find out any information about this model anywhere

Unfortunately, this thing start buzzing or humming VERY loudly soon after powering it up. Maybe somebody knows what I need to replace (I've heard some stuff about electrolytic capacitor replacement but I don't know enough about electronics to even begin to venture down that road). The seller told us they had a guy who knows how to fix them or what to get to fix it so we've been trying to get that information.

Anyway, this thing is really cool because every time we have a guest I can go, "hey, check out our regular old coffee table" and BAM I make a fool of them and spin out the turntable and start jumping around and flowing to the beat about how I tricked them. It's not going to be as lame as it sounds.

Okay... it will.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Porcelain Towel Rack Bars

Sometimes it's scary buying something online without a good picture and description. I decided to take a $21 plunge and purchased 3 replacement towel rack bars.

So let's start with the good picture.


Now onto the helpful description:

  • 24" replacement towel bar (Good to know. That will fit!)
  • 24" (Thanks again!!!)
  • Bar only (A comment on the product page said this is a lie, so I didn't order the extra spring endcaps. I guess technology wasn't available to have detachable towel racks back then, so they just slapped some glue on the tile and stuck 'em on there, never to be adjusted.)
  • Available in white and clear (BUT WHAT COLOR IS THIS ONE!?!?)
  • White (Oh, phew...)
Our previous wooden bars were moldy, thanks to our previous owner's weird homemade tile shelf contraption hanging over the towel rack (should have taken picture). We (well, I-- Natalie didn't know what was going on until the smashing started) decided to smash them out with a hammer. In hindsight, I probably should have used a hacksaw. I'm only now starting to realize how hard it is to find replacement ANYTHING in a house more than 10 years old, and I was definitely not being careful enough around our beautiful 1960 light brown 4" bath tiles.



Hint: There is no such thing as a tool too big or advanced for any job:

The finished product:

I never realized how handy having a towel rack is, and I've never realized how incredibly off center our towel rack is until I looked at this picture. WOW.

Things to learn from my experience:
  • Amazon is great to buy just about anything (you should read about their logo here)
  • If you're in need of a replacement towel rack, this is the way to go.
  • If you own a house, you need at least 1 saw. I will leave you with the awesome function, which is linear as shown by the chart below.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Estate Sale Finds Part II (a.k.a. my battle with the toothbrush industry)

As you all may know, I have a slight obsession with finding the perfect toothbrush for our 1960 oringal ceramic toothbrush holder. I've explained before: modern toothbrush designers have been on crack since about 1992. I think it started with Mr. Reach in the early 90's with his cute commercials talking about how awesome a toothbrush with a bent handle was. Was it really that innovative? Couldn't we just, you know, tilt out wrists (provided that our wrists hadn't yet fattened up like toothbrush handles had)?

Well, I could go on for a while about this, but I will spare you because I have bad news, but also GREAT NEWS! If you read my post about how I thought I had found the perfect toothbrushes, readily available for order on ToothbrushExpress.com, and you were really cheering for me on my quest (because, really, who isn't cheering me on about this?), then you'll be sorely disappointed to find out that the whole deal was a bust.

We got the toothbrushes fine and I received my toothbrushes in a very timely manner... the Toothbrush Express Train did a GREAT job! But the $&(%*@#$ toothbrush handles were still as fat as a... I don't know... butter milkshake.

So I had kind of lost hope.

But come Wednesday evening, I found my saving grace: an estate sale in Oak Cliff. Oak Cliff estate sales have turned out to be the best in all of the Dallas area because the neighborhood's hayday was in the 50's and 60's, so we've been able to see a lot of neat stuff in that area (and also buy some, but mostly see because we're also learning that people are VULTURES when it comes to this stuff... they smell death and start lining up at the door before these people are even pronounced).

I can tell I have you hanging on to my every word. This story has everything-- the dashing hero, the hero's dilemma, the toothbrushes, the dashing hero's dashing wife who's not particularly interested in his quest... so here it is!

Heck yeah! That's right! Your eyes don't deceive you! That's an unopened Pepsodent Twin Pack, Safeway Deluxe Gentle Toothbrush AND a G•U•M #111 Junior Toothbrush!! They're probably from the mid 80's since they have barcodes, so maybe it's not "vintage" enough for some people, but I think all of your qualms will be brushed aside when you see THIS!!!

Wait, wait, wait, no no no no no, this is going all wrong. Who decided this rubberized chocolate chip was a good idea to put at the end of a toothbrush? (Apparently nobody. The side of the toothbrush box says "CONSULT YOUR DENTIST ABOUT PROPER USE OF RUBBER TIP. REMOVE TIP IF NOT RECOMMENDED." I suppose they wanted to be able to say "Should've talked to your dentist, suckahhh!" if somebody stabbed themselves.)

In the name of safety, I ripped off  the dangerous protrusion ANDNOWLOOKATTHISSSS!!!

Oh my goodness! How great is that!?!? It fits! I've spent the last few hours dancing and singing at the sink. Notice that Natalie refused my offer to use one of my new toothbrushes, and she's been saying something about me getting cavities or somesuch. I don't know where her priorities lie anymore... just unbelievable. She sure does look silly with her lanky toothbrush all awkwardly hanging out in the back of the photo.

Anyway, to stay loyal to the format of previous posts:

Item(s): Toothbrushes
Era: 1980's
Favorite part about them: They FIT!!!
Price: $2

And to wrap things up... at this same estate sale, I bought a circular saw.

Item: Skilsaw Model 537
Era: 1960's (so says Popular Mechanics... can't find any other mention of it elsewhere)
Favorite part about it: Will be used for stud cutting in the bedroom #3 remodeling project.
Price: $25

Nothing too fancy about it, but just a hint for anybody looking to build a collection of tools: Buy used! I can't believe how much money you can save by buying tools that somebody probably only used a few times anyway.

And if you happen to know where I could buy more toothbrushes, know that I will be looking again in about 9 months when my supply runs dry... I guess I shouldn't be that excited-- I hadn't thought of running out until just now.

But let me have my moment. ... There.

Thank you.

Erica with Credit Card Services Part I

Just about every day, I get a call from 228-209-9560 (also seen from 310-485-8993, 402-982-0745 and 702-705-5039) offering to lower my interest rates on my credit cards. It starts like this: "Hi, this is Erica with credit card services. Don't be alarmed, there's nothing wrong with your account..." and so on. At the end of the recording she says press 2 to be removed from the list (which just disconnects the line and you continue to receive the calls) or press 1 to talk to a representative.

Since they won't stop calling, I decided to start having some fun. It's not very interesting yet, but I have plans.

Today's call:

Me: "Could you remove me from your calling list?"
Guy: "What size screen is it? Yeah. [I don't think he heard me at this point?] How much do you owe on credit cards?"
Me: "One hundred thousand dollars."
Guy: "A hundred thousand? Do you know the interest rate on these?"
Me: "Yeah, I think it's 32%." [which puts the minimum payment somewhere around $3500]
Guy: "And are you keeping up with these payments?"
Me: "Oh, yeah, no problem. Could you remove me from your calling list?"
Guy: "Nope. Not when you're being a wise-ass!"

Then he hung up. My phone number is on the FCC's Do Not Call Registry, so these guys are obviously crooks who don't really care to remove me from their list.

So what's my plan? If they insist on wasting my time, I'm at least going to make an investment in it. I will start making up some fake information to use on every call I get and waste as much of their time as I can.

I'll be the extremely enthusiastic guy who might have a little crush on every operator that calls him...those little cuties.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What an amazing feeling!

I just logged in to my bank's website to check our finances and noticed our second mortgage is GONE GONE GONE! Yeehaw!

 So, just how much money did we save by paying off this second mortgage in 4 months instead of 15 years?
  • Without paying extra, we would have paid $9,963.29 in interest alone!
  • With extra payments, we paid only $236.99 in interest.
  • All said and done, we saved $9726.30! That's a couple of cars!

I am all for paying off mortgages as fast as responsibly possible. Here's why:
  • Peace. I've already said in my financial philosophy that my ultimate goal is to not have to think about money, and with no mortgage, you remove a lot of risk.
  • Freedom. If you decide to keep a mortgage for full term, you lock yourself into a house. A couple of friends of ours wanted to move out to the east coast and go to seminary. Since the housing market isn't in tip top shape, they weren't able to sell their house and they are still in Texas for another year. I'm not saying that I'm unhappy that they're still here, but just making an example. :) With no mortgage, you can afford to leave the house on the market, maintain taxes and insurance and go follow some dream of yours. Heck, you could even rent it out to friends and have them cover the expenses. Beats a mortgage, right?
  • It's fun! Maybe Natalie doesn't agree with me on this one but I really get a kick out of seeing the balance shrink. It's almost like a game.
 With our remaining mortgage, if we stay close to our original pace, we stand to save $93,573.87 in the next 30 years. I like that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Estate Sale Finds Part I

Although we've already highlighted a few of our purchases from estate sales, I'll go ahead now and make it an official feature so I don't have to think of a title every time we find something cool.
This week we stopped by an estate sale in north Mesquite. I try not to visit estate sales until the last day when everything is at least half off. Today was half off then another 20% off (making it 60% off the original price). Woohoo!

Item: Toastmaster 1B14
Era: 1947-1961
Favorite part: One of the most famous toasters of all time--  it was the featured item in a very popular screensaver in the early 1990's.
Price: $4.40 (original price for the new toaster in 1947 was $23.50-- adjusted for inflation to today would be $227.45!)

Item: Sears Kenmore Desk Fan Model 537.80800
Era: Unknown-- patent was pending at time of release. 1940-50 seems likely as there's no plastic and the thing weighs about 10 pounds.
Favorite part: This thing is SOLID.
Price: $15.60

I'd be interested to find out some more about this fan but it doesn't seem likely to be able to find out anything else.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Craigslist Finds Part I

  • Item: Chrome and laminate Diner table (cracked ice pattern) with 4 vinyl (crushed velvet pattern?) and chrome chairs , with leaf in near perfect condition
  • Era: 1940's or 50's
  • Favorite part about it: Not one rip in the vinyl... amazing. The story is good, too. We bought it off of Craigslist from a couple who had just purchased the property where it was left. Previously a 90 year old Norwegian couple owned it and kept it in a cabin for 50 years, hardly ever using it.
  • Price: $200 (not a steal but a deal).
  • Please disregard the yellow walls in the kitchen... they'll be gone soon.

And here's a bonus picture. Dogs had fun while we were being boring to them...

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Financial Philosophy

I just put a letter in the mail related to bills for what I hope is the last time in my life.

Our standard monthly expenses are:
  • Gas - $10-20 - Atmos - Automatic withdrawal
  • Internet - $25 - AT&T DSL - Automatic withdrawal
  • Electricity - $80-150 - Champion Energy Services (whom I recommend highly-- we went from $0.16/kWh to $0.09/kWh. I have highlighted kWhs in the past.) - Automatic withdrawal
  • Water/Sewer - $25-35 - City of Farmers Branch - Automatic withdrawal
  • Mortgage principle, interest, taxes and insurance - $828.58 - Automatic withdrawal
  • Car insurance - $119.33 - Travelers Insurance - Automatic withdrawal
 I never have to think about any of my bills. How great is that? Now that those are out of the way, here are my goals for our finances:
  1. Keep $1000-$2000 minimum in checking at all times, so we're not blindsided by any payments coming out. (check!)
  2. Keep 6 months expenses in savings (we are at about 5 months since we were paying off the second mortgage)
  3. Invest ~15% of income automatically, probably into index funds Roth IRAs.
  4. Have a bit of fun with money. We'll be putting a few thousand into home improvement in the next year or so.
  5. Put remainder of income into the mortgage until payoff (approximately 4 years)
  6. After mortgage payoff, bump up investments to 20% or so
  7. Begin automatic college savings, probably around 10% of income
  8. Replenish emergency fund as needed
  9. Give money away. Never think about money ever again. Move on to better things.
 What's your plan?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh yes!

Our monthly budget just took a $138 deduction and our house payment now stands at $828.58. I just made the transfer to pay off our second mortgage!

Now we can get started on some of the projects we've been putting off since we bought the house, so keep an eye out here for all of the before and after pictures.

I will start turning focus to our first (and only) mortgage. The balance is $118,748.31 right now, and if we can continue at the pace we set with the second mortgage, we may be able to reach payoff within 3 years. I think that may be possible because we are still waiting on our first time homebuyer tax credit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quick update...

Things are a bit cleaned up-- I've enlisted my brother's help to get a better looking banner up top.

I added a progress meter to the sidebar and will be adding links so you can keep track of how our house is doing. I'll try to add some instructions on how to do what we're doing, so maybe, as I actually start to earn some authority in telling people how to fix their houses, we'll start leaning toward a how-to/informational blog.


Chadwell Chronicles!!!!

Natalie and I just bought a domain name. http://www.chadwellchronicles.com

Feel free to update your bookmarks and blogrolls, although the old address will continue to work. Things will look a little different as I have time to fix stuff up. In the meantime, enjoy some of our recent estate sale finds!

1. Item: Markwell "RU60" Tack-Master
Era: Mid 1940's.
Favorite part about it: The tagline (may be hard to see in the picture): "It's Trigger Fast"
Price: $1

This thing is going to be at my estate sale.
2. Item: Bird... jars?
Era: 1960s-70s.
Favorite part about it: Awww, those cute little birds!
Price: $5 for the set.
Item: Owl figurines.
Era: Unknown.
Favorite part about it: The loving nickname we've given them: The Turd Birds.
Price: $1 for the set
Item: Corningware Spice O' Life set
Era: 1972 - 1987
Favorite part about it: Uh, hello? Most useful dish set ever created.
Price: $30 for the set.
Item: Owl Figurines. (Again!?!? Come on Natalie!)
Era: Midcentury... what can I say? They loved owls back then...
Favorite part about it: They are just so cute I want to pick them up, poke their eyes and pull their wings off!!!!! Lil guys...
Price: $5 for the set.

Ohhhh Ahhhhh

I love give aways on other blogs. Check this one out. =)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

House Update

Natalie's totally getting into mid-century furniture. I drilled a few holes in this buffet and it makes a lovely TV stand.

We still haven't paid off the second mortgage so we're still just doing the free-inexpensive work. Enjoy:

The hallway had two closets right now to one another. We decided we didn't like that.

I've definitely felt like we're in over our heads a dozen times so far, but I just keep pushing on. I guess I'm just courageous like that.

See? We got protection from all of the dust and just braved right through it all. I'll post some after pictures as we get closer. I've got all of my equipment to rewire the light switch, outlet, etc.

P.S. Natalie cut 11" of her poor hair off and it looks really good.

So, feeling a little overwhelmed with the study/closet adventure, we decided to solve some other house problems. Here is our beautiful master bathtub...

Nice, right? So I spent the next 45 minutes trying to get comfortable in the tub chipping away the moldy grout/caulking.

Natalie helped a LOT. Thanks, Natalie.

Tah-dah! Beeeeeeeeeeautiful.

After we (er, I) scraped all the crud out, we taped it up and got ready to recaulk.

And there you go. It's not quite done and we need to touch up some areas since we ran out of caulk mid-recaulking.

There you have it. I should also get some pictures of the backyard and side of the house-- we've spent many hours out there cleaning it up and it's looking a lot better nowadays.

P.S. Shout-out to Young House Love for the inspirstructions.