Okay, first the bad news.
On the way to Outback Steakhouse, to celebrate Jessie's birthday, I got rearended by a telephone pole doing thirty miles an hour. No, that's not a typo. It is, however, a bit of an exaggeration. What actually happened is that going around a corner on Route 100 South near the house, the Blazer began hydroplaning, and I succeeded only in changing the direction of spin, not in actually regaining control of the vehicle. I slid backwards off the road, through somebody's lawn and then into a telephone pole, crumpling the back end of the car. I think I bent the frame, but it was really hard to tell. What was obvious was the back bumper touching the passenger-side rear tire, and the shattered window in the crunched gate. What was also obvious was that the bunny should not be allowed to drive in inclement weather in a rear-wheel-drive SUV. She hates rear-wheel-drive vehicles. She hates SUVs, as much as she loves their carrying capacity.
Were I in better financial straits right now, I might say to hell with the Blazer, ask them to total it, and take the money as a down payment on a hybrid station wagon of some sort. I am not in that good an economic position, but it's still really tempting.
Nobody was injured, thankfully. Jessie got an abrasion from rubbing the back of her hand against the door during the spin, and we were really sore over the weekend, but we both seem to have made a full recovery, or will do so. It actually would've been fun, I think, if we'd had proper safety harnesses and it had been a ride at an amusement park. As it was, it was quite harrowing,and it left me very rattled for a few days.
In every time in the past in which I've ever had an accident of any sort involving a motor vehicle, it's always been just me in the car, and anyone else involved has been in somebody else's car under somebody else's control. This is the first time I've ever been in an accident with someone else under my direct influence, and it scared me very badly, thinking how it could have gone... how Jessie could've been hurt. I spent Friday night and part of Saturday suffering from very serious nightmares, all on the order of the Blazer rolling or hitting the pole head-on, and it took a lot to convince myself that I had not casually jeopardized my wife's life. That really shook me.
I suppose what really gets to me most about it, even now, is that the whole event felt like a message of some sort from Coyote, both in the potential severity and in the ultimately minor loss that resulted. Nobody was hurt, nothing is permanently destroyed, the only losses are material, and even those are ultimately temporary. Really, I'm out about five-hundred dollars in towing, rental car and deductible, but it could've been far, far worse. It felt like a warning of sorts, a reminder that I am neither infallible nor immortal. This could just be me and my broken brain reading patterns where they're not warranted, but that doesn't make it seem any less true.
When I was younger, I never thought I'd find religion. Now I wonder if I'll ever lose it.
Now the good news:
The house refinancing is done. This is a Good Thing on many accounts. First, it means I'm no longer banking with Navy Federal in any fashion. After the way they screwed me over at the beginning of the year, during The Bad, I'm pleased to say that after the fifteenth or so, I'll never have to do business with them again. The big downside is that I still haven't found a bank that's done well by me; my financial experiences have all been either with Companies That Screwed Me or Companies That Haven't Screwed Me Yet. I'm really hoping that's not the norm, but the more I research, the more I suspect it's becoming the case. For now, I'm with National Penn Bank for checking and web-banking, and Ameriquest for my mortgage. They've done well by me... so far.
The other thing, though, is that I can roll the worst of my credit card debt into my mortgage and convert it to secured debt. This is a most excellent thing for many reasons:
- The interest I pay on it is tax-deductible.
- The interest rate I pay is a lot lower than it was on the credit card.
- The principal will count against me far less on my credit report.
All of these are nice, and they definitely help, but the real advantage is that the monthly payment on the new mortgage is about two-hundred-fifty a month less than the combined mortgage and credit card payments were prior. That's an instant savings. Plus, I don't have to pay anything until August, which means another good chunk of change our pockets. Finally, and this is the truly frightening thing, I still have equity left over even after the new
loan. This is pretty freaky to me. Check this out:
- I paid USD 81,000 for the house in 2003-12.
- It valued at USD 85,000 at the time of purchase.
- I guessed it was worth USD 92,500 when I applied for the refi.
- The mortgage company guessed USD 120,000 on the initial application.
- The appraisal company estimated it as USD 132,000 last Friday.
That means that in eighteen months, I've turned a fifty percent profit on my "investment," without even trying. Of course, there are a number of reasons why they might think the house was worth that much. The housing market in general is booming. The job market in the area is theoretically improving. The house has all-new carpet, furnace, paint, oil tank, heater and linoleum. It's in good repair in a fairly nice neighborhood.
Of course, this means that the best thing I ever did for my finances was let the pipes in my house freeze.
I did just get done talking about Coyote Luck, didn't I? In other circles, it would be known as "surfing the Luck Plane." Either way, it's perfect wu wei. Now I just have to avoid taking pride in it. It happened. I didn't make it happen. I shall merely be glad that things worked out for the best.
Getting back to the nuts and bolts of the new loan, I've been able to pull out about five thousand dollars in equity to do things like repair the sidewalk in front of the house and finally buy a new laptop to replace my current one which is dying by inches with random lockups and reboots. It's money in the bank to pay bills when they arrive and not when the next paycheck clears. It's financial peace of mind.
I'm sure I don't need to describe just how good that feels.
We're not out of the woods, but I think we've finally found the path.