Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life in the new village

Pin It Now! After more than 10 hours of driving, consumption of more calories than I care to admit and a week of very little sleep I think I'm starting to feel a bit more calm and settled.   I did have some, ok a lot, of anxiety about moving to a new town.  Especially since it's not even a town we now live in; it's a village of maybe 100 people.  I think the village is probably a 5 mile radius.  I'll have to confirm.  Though it is tiny, there are several villages within miles of us and other houses too, just more spread out.

I had anxiety about how far things would be and what I would do if there is an emergency.  Which btw I have decided take a CPR class (finally!)  I also was afraid of how people would treat us.  We are the only Americans in this place and not many people speak english.  So far we have gotten lots of curious stares, friendly waves and nothing but warm and sincere friendliness. 

My anxiety wore off after we realized we are actually only 12-15 minutes from a large biomarkt(natural/organic foods store) and all my favorite German stores for that matter.  We get the prettiness of the country, but are within reasonable distance to things without feeling completely isolated.  After unpacking most of our things today, it really and truely feels like home.  My most favorite part of the new house (besides the fact everything inside is all brand new and the big trees and the privacy) are the stunning views.  I have never lived anywhere where I could keep windows open all the time and not worry about who's peeking in.  Here's the view from one of our living room windows: one around.

The biggest con is a temporary con.  Apparently there is no internet out in the boonies until this summer.  We get good coverage on our cells, but there is only so much you can do on a cell phone.  We have wifi sticks too, so hopefully they satisfy my internet addiction. On the plus side hopefully this means I'll be more productive and spend more time learning my german. 

Here are some tidbits about our new area:

When driving into our village there is a hill with what appears to be bunkers from World WarII.  Though I'm no historian, I can only say they look just like the bunkers in Heidelberg. 

Very interesting to imagine what happened here if indeed they are from World War II.

There is a delicious bakery (as there seems to be in every single German city) that makes happy face doughtnuts.  Little Wright likes this bakery:

Jesus is everywhere.  On the corner of just about every street and at nearly every yield and stop sign is a cross with Jesus.  I am pretty certain this means there is a strong Catholic presence.  I honestly haven't had much experience or interaction with the Catholic faith, so it will be interesting to learn more.

I can't wait to learn and explore more.  Though we have lived in Germany going on two years, I never experienced culture shock.  In Heidelberg 90% of the people speak english, listen to American music and there are a lot of American and english speakers everywhere you go.  Heidelberg is also extremely diverse with a mixture of turks, indians, russians, muslims, christians, etc.  It's an international city and a melting pot of cultures. 

Now that we're in the country and in a place where english isn't spoken as often, I see how we will be forced a bit more into the culture.  Today we had our first real conversation in German!  We ordered lunch, the guy understood us, we understood him and not a single english word was spoken.  It's amazing how much we have actually picked up, but since we never really had to converse, we didn't.

Still have a long week ahead of us.  Staying in a hotel in Heidelberg the next 2 nights while Mr. Wright finishes up work here and then officially have our first night in the new house Friday.   Hope to share some new things soon :)



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back in Gazelle Mode!

Pin It Now! For those of you not familiar with Dave Ramsey and his program, I highly suggest you learn more about his Total Money Makeover.  Since learning about it 2 years ago it has changed our life and how we view credit and money.  You can be wealthy or very well off if you plan right.  Dave’s saying is “if you live like no one else, then later you will live like no one else.”  Meaning that if you can avoid getting sucked into keeping up with the Jones’ and having a new car and new toys and credit cards, then later you will be living much better than the people still stuck in debt.

We haven’t followed Dave’s plan to a T.  I do believe it can be customized based on your lifestyle.  If you do follow his plan to a T you will get the best results.  We started 2 years ago and have paid off 25k in debt.  Which honestly isn’t much at all.  We could have paid off much more, but we had a baby and traveled and lived.  I’m not  too upset, but I know we can do better.  We have $14k left to pay off and the goal is to have that paid off by July.  Then we are going to start attacking our mortgage.

This is what got me so excited and motivated this morning.  Mr. Wright really is a smart guy.  I just have to show him WHY my philosophy on finances is right.  He wanted a new car.  A new fancy car, which honestly we can afford, but why?  Why pay that car payment when that money could instead go towards paying our mortgage down?   So when I talked to him about putting more money towards our mortgage and how low our loan will be by the time we leave, he was convinced.  I used an ammoritzation calculator and if we don’t pay extra on our loan, over the course of 30 years we would pay 150k IN INTEREST!!  And that’s with a 4.89% interest rate!  Whereas if we pay extra then we will only pay 30-50k over the course of 30 years or so.  Oy vey!!  Another good calculator to use is an auto loan calculator.  Amazing to see how much interest is paid on a car over 4 years.  Take that interest and car loan and think about it....that could be money in your bank if you didn't have a car payment!

So here is our plan, right back on track with Dave:
-Buy a second used car paying cash or mostly cash and having a low monthly payment instead of a new car
-Continue to  contribute to 401k
-Put away money into savings
-Have buffer/play money
-Everything else goes to the mortgage

Now we live in Europe.  And for the next 3 years we will definitely travel, so we will budget for those trips.  But if we can stick to our goal and pay off as much as we’d like on our mortgage than a few scenarios can pan out:

1)      We pay our mortgage down enough that when we go back to the states in 3 years we can sell and make a profit of 50-70k (maybe more depending on the market)

2)      We pay the mortgage down and refinance to a lower payment, thus keeping it as an investment property and actually making money on it each month

Either way both scenarios are financially smart.  I feel like I’m back in Gazelle Mode! (That's what Dave refers to as being very aggressive about paying off debt and building wealth).

The thing with our country is people feel like credit is a way of life.  Instead credit is what holds people back.  Each month people’s paychecks are going to bills instead of their bank account.  I know there are many different philosophies and practices for financial success.  Different things work for different people.  What I love about Dave Ramsey and his plan is it is doable!  It’s practical and very realistic. He teaches finances from personal experience and he is not corny at all.  His story in a nutshell is he became wealthy fron being in the real estate industry and lived beyond his means.  Eventually he had to file for banktrupcy and hit his low in life.  It is from that experience he learned how to manage money and rebuilt himself...debt free.

 His site also offers a huge support system and so many friends of mine follow his plan, so it’s encouraging.  We haven’t used credit in 2 years.  Everything we buy, we pay cash for and it feels SO GOOD to not owe a bunch of people money each month.

I hope to encourage others to become educated on finances.  I grew up thinking credit was a way of life and thinking a car payment was just a normal bill to have.  Dave Ramsey really helped change my way of thinking on money and to realize we can build wealth at a very young age.  There are many inspiring stories on his website and of people who call into his radio show.  I remember one young couple who said they made a combined household income of $80k per year and paid of their new home mortgage of 160k in 3 years.  For that 3 years they lived VERY tight.  No eating out.  Homemade gifts for everything.  No trips.  Nothing fancy.  No car payments.  They sold things and every ounce of extra money they got, they put towards their mortgage.  They then sold their house for 180k.  So after 3 years this young couple in their mid-twenties had 180k cash.  Such an inspiring and amazing story.  It can be done, but are you willing to sacrifice?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moving sucks!

Pin It Now! Moving to a new place is fun and exciting.  But the process to get to the new place sucks.  I'm pooped already and the movers haven't even come yet. 

We've been running around like crazy people getting new furniture and things for the house.  One place had the entire bedroom set, but no headboard.  So drove to another place and got the entire set, except they didn't have ANY boxsprings.  And then we made a stop at my favorite place in the world (NOT!) ikea.  Mr. Wright hates ikea more than anything.  And though I usually love shopping I actually am probably one of the rare weirdos who also can not stand that place.  I love a lot of their stuff, but shopping there sucks as much as moving.  You can't just go in and get what you want and be done with it.  There is such a long drawn out complicated process every time I go.  Except this last time I think we set an ikea world record.  In and out with a lot of stuff that we had to pull off the shelves ourselves in 1 hour and 20min!!  I was impressed.  My first ikea shopping experience involved 6 hours of agony, so this was amazing.  Anyway our living room is now full of boxes and furniture and the clutter is driving me insane.  Having things everywhere and not in their own place just makes me feel so out of control (not that I'm a crazy control freak or anything*ahem*...I just like things a very certain way).

Thankfully the movers do all the packing for us.  And I'm going to cave and have a cleaning company come because it will just make life easier.  So really and truely the move isn't that bad.  I'm just a whiney baby who would rather sit around and watch the Real Housewives of (insert every city here).

I should be doing useful stuff right now, but there's a new movie on itunes called Life as We Know It with Katherine Heigl whom I love to pieces.  That sounds much more relaxing and fun than doing laundry and stuff.

Until next time,


Friday, February 4, 2011

Little Wright's room inspiration

Pin It Now! I'm really excited to decorate my daughter's room.  Since living in Germany I haven't given much effort to really making her space girly and pretty.  I blame the pregnancy and craziness of last year.  This was her room back home:

I bought the letters to spell "Dream" from Hobbly Lobby and painted them green.  I actually may do that again for her new room.

The room wasn't completed in this pic, but I love the colors.  Green and pink are so perfect for a little girl.  Green is my favorite color and complimented with pink it's girly and fresh.  I haven't quite figured out what color or even if we should paint her new room.  Hubby's contract is for 3 years with a possibility to extend two more years after that.  I don't think we will be here past 3 years, but who knows with us.  It's like 3 years isn't that long, but it is. And the landlord will paint the walls when we move out anyway regardless of if we paint or not. What would you do?

Besides the paint I have some ideas I love for her room. 

[caption id="attachment_1188" align="aligncenter" width="390" caption="Pottery Barn girl's room"][/caption]

I just love how bright and happy this looks.  The storage under the bed is both practical and cute.

I also really like this quilt:

[caption id="attachment_1189" align="aligncenter" width="383" caption="Pottery Barn flower quilt"][/caption]

I will most likely go with this one,  I'm in love.  Annnnnnnnnnnd, it's on sale :) 

Since her room is going to be a little on the smaller side (though actually I kind of think perfect for a kid her age) I have to be really on point with the storage/organization.  The one thing ikea is super good for!!  I really like this idea inspired by PB:

[caption id="attachment_1190" align="aligncenter" width="383" caption="Pottery Barn storage"][/caption]

For artwork I will most likely look to etsy because etsy is the best.

And lastly, what girly girl room is complete without a princess canopy over the bed?

[caption id="attachment_1191" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Pink canopy from amazon"][/caption]

And at only $20 bucks (versus the $120 canopy at PB!) it's a bargain.