Thursday, September 13, 2012

To Cecelia...

I woke up to the sound of the 9/11 bells. The actual day that my sister passed away was September 12, to me it will always be September 11th I am not sure why maybe it's because when I woke up September 12th she was already gone. As a laid in my bed dreading what the day would hold I heard the sound of rain against my window. The day my sister passed away as I sat with my nephew Frankie (7) he said "Sophia, can you pray for rain?" Why, I asked. "Well, my mommy is an angel now so she lives in the clouds and when it rains it's because she is dancing." What a beautiful thought. Still, since that day every time it rains it is a reminder that my sister is gone.

 As I got up that dreaded knot entered my stomach- I hate that knot. I forced back tears. "You can do this Sophia"- I told myself, "if you fall everyone does". I managed to get myself out and going, the knot still in my stomach but hey, at least I was functioning.

 I did really well until I got a call from Kiohud. Kiohud was due to be home on Friday. "You are not going to like what I have to say" Those are not the words you want to hear when you answer the phone. "A fire started Monday, by Monday night it was 400 acres, today it was a 3000, it is at 0% contained and they need me. This thing can get really big." The knot in my stomach tightened even more. The rest of my day I managed to get through, going through the motions.

 I laid in my bed grateful this day was over. It was a rough day. As I laid in my bed Cecelia came in happily and said " I have something for you!" She looked totally excited. She turned on the light and handed me a blueberry muffin, my sister's favorite. Next she handed me a letter, it was addressed: Dear Tia Phia (my 2nd mom). Now, I've only cried one other time in front of Cecelia (another long story) but I kind of lost it. I won't tell you what the whole letter said but this was a little part of it: "I'm glad I got stuck with you on this journey. Thank you for taking me in and calling me your own, your strength inspires me to be a better person." I hugged her and cried. I am positive this is the best compliment I have ever received in my life.

You see a year ago I got "stuck" with this hurt, angry teenager. She didn't trust me at all and it was really hard to get used to each other since we had opposite personalities. I was the first to say "I have no clue how to raise a teenager!!!" I begged her to give me a chance. I promised her that I would screw up, yell at her, punish her, but that I would love her with all of my heart. That she would be my daughter, and that together we would make her mom proud.

Today, Cecelia can walk into a room and the whole thing lights up with her smile, she is the happiest, smartest, most incredibly, awesome teenager I have ever met. In one year she has totally transformed and she has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever know.

Cecelia, I just want you to know how incredibly proud of you I am. I know that
A: God has something HUGE in store for you. All that you've been able to overcome, with such an huge amount of grace is amazing to me- you are my inspiration!
B: I know every time your mom looks down on you she smiles. I know she is so proud of you!!! You have one of the BEST, most beautiful angels in heaven!!!

I Love you Cecelia, I am so proud to be able to call you my daughter. <3

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A New Car- gulp...

At over 200,000 miles it no surprise that the life of our 99 Ford Expedition's life is coming to an end. We have actually been in the market for another car for awhile. I however despise car payments and have tried putting this off as long as humanly possible. Also, I always have had the mentality that if the repairs were less than a monthly payment I would keep it. Well, looks like the time has finally come for us to part. Here is what I am looking for- ready? A luxury crossover, with all of the upgrades, that seats 8, and is great on gas, oh- and did I mention I want my payment to be at about $200 per month! Here is what I found...

 The car that I have fallen in love with is the Buick Enclave, it seats 8, leather (a must with children), 25 miles to the gallon, and all of the extras you can imagine. Problem- this car new is 50k! That does NOT fit into my $200/month payment budget (payment even at 0% would be $850/month)! I am in the process of working on a solution. Here is goes:

1. Buy used!: Buying a car even 1 year old drops us around $15k! A few years is about $20k- I have found some amazing options by not limiting myself to a particular year.

2."Get a bigger box"- In the words of Bob Harrison, sometimes you need to look outside of your comfort level. Yes, I could drive down the street and buy a car but I might find an amazing deal in another city- or in the next state. We actually bought our current Expedition in Texas at a fraction of what we would have paid here. We paid a mechanic to go and check it out for us and had it shipped here for $500- we saved thousands of dollars.

3. Watch what is added on to your loan- ok, this I will probably have to write a whole blog on!!! Just know, that your sales person makes extra commission off of every add on- all of the insurances, etc...

4. Be willing to put money down. So, this $200 goal of mine might not be out of reach if I put some money down... You don't have to empty your savings account but put enough down to give yourself a comfortable payment.

5. Sell your current car yourself. At trade in my car is blue booked at $3000 at private sale my care is blue booked at $5500- so I make an extra $2500 just by selling it myself! Money that will go directly into the down payment fund.

6.Shop around for financing BEFORE you go to the dealership! When we bought Kiohud's car they said "Great news! We have you approved for a 4% rate!" I replied- " What is great news is that my credit union already approved me for a 3.5%!" They then of course tried to match or beat it- when banks start competing against each other YOU win!!!

That is all I have for now- if any of you have any tips for me- please let me know! My ac died in the Expedition the other day and I called Kiohud who is in Montana and said I was so frustrated I almost went down and bought a new car!!! He replied: Yay! You bought a new car?! It was this conversation that led to the realization that it was indeed time for me to take the plunge while we can still make a decent sale off of the Expedition. AC has been fixed, so we will take our time in finding our perfect, new car. Wish me luck!!! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

25 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

One of my favorite bloggers posted something like this and I got to wondering if I could possible come up with 25 things- well, here you go!

1. My middle name is Peralta,
2. It used to be Martinez.
3. I was a mariachi when I was younger. No, you will never see a picture.
4. I have more dresses than most people have clothes. No, you haven't seen them all.
5. My favorite designers are Kate Spade, Adrianna Pappel, and Eliza J.
6. I will be a millionaire by the time I'm 40.
7. Yes, I have a plan. :)
8. I'm allergic to almost everything! If I ever go down in front of you there is an
epi-pen in my purse.
9. My pet peeve is lazy people.
10. I almost always have a packet of fruit snacks in my purse.
11. My life is a musical- we sing to wake up, go to sleep, eat, go up the stairs, down
the stairs, clean- you get the picture...
12. I'm extremely girly, but I can still use a hammer.
13. My first car was a Toyota.
14. My greatest ideas come in my sleep- usually at 3 am.
15. I sleep with a pen and paper next to me- for that reason.
16. I like my house clean, but my car is almost always dirty.
17. My favorite color is royal blue, followed by plum.
18. I sew, and garden for relaxation- yes, I realize how boring this makes me.
19. Decisions I make are almost always Bible or financially based.
20. I cut every one's hair in my family- including the dogs- this saves us about
21. I can remember the price of almost anything I have ever bought.
22. I don't remember most of anything else, including what I wore yesterday.
23. I have never had a drink of alcohol, smoked, or done anything questionable much less illegal.
24. I don't think enough people smile so I try to do my part  and smile at or compliment
everyone I meet.  This drives Kiohud nuts because I end up with admirer's...
25. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE polka dots!!!

This was surprisingly easy for me to do. I think this is in part because I am such a hermit and don't usually share much about myself with anyone... If anything, hopefully this amused you for a little part of your day! Feel free to comment and tell me something(s) I dont know about you!  :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Auto Refi

One of biggest complaints when leaving the auto lot is you got a good car, bad loan. Auto dealer finance departments know that you are too excited about that new car or the price to worry about the interest, or term of the loan. Before you know it you have a bad loan, with a huge payment and terrible rate! Good news, you can usually do something about that!

Auto Refinance
Auto refinance is simply a loan that pays off your auto loan. The loan has new terms and is usually done to either lower your payment, lower your interest, or both.  Refinancing your loan for a lower payment will generally extend your term, (more interest) but can make that car a lot more affordable. Lowering your interest will usually lower not only the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of the loan but lower your payment as well.

DetailsAn auto loan is usually one of the easiest loans you can qualify for, the application can be done over the phone and a qualification can be given as quickly as a few minuets.  Auto loan terms are commonly from 36 all the way to 72 months. The lowest amount any company will refinance is generally $7,500 and the most $75,000.

Will there be a fee?
There is generally no fee to refinance your auto IF you are using a reputable company. There may be small fees for example to transfer title but they should be very small in comparison to the amount of money you are saving.

The auto refinance is NOT for everyone! A refinance should never be an impulse buy. I recently walked into my bank and my personal banker went into this whole bit about how much money I could save without ever pulling my credit or knowing the specifics of my current auto loan. The truth is personal bankers and tellers are there to make money for the bank. Don't believe me? I used to hire them! With that said, never leave the bank with something you didn't go intentionally go in for. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Also, only take out the amount you need to pay off your auto loan. Many bankers will try to get you to pay off other debt or give you spending money using the equity you have in your auto. This makes the amount of the loan bigger (more commission for them) but leaves you with a bigger auto loan which equates to more overall interest. I have seen to many people that should have cars paid off in real financial trouble or even lose their cars because of this.

My Views
While the auto refinance may be a great option for some, it is not for everyone. Remember to do your research before you make any financial decisions. Compare rates, terms, and fees to make sure you are getting the best deal out there. I am always an advocate for my local credit union which usually has not only the best rates but a real person I can yell at if I need to!
Good luck my friends! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Harp 2.0- Is it for you?

One of the many things we have been working on is refinancing our home. We bought this home at just about the worst time, and so our loan to value (amount of your loan vs. the amount the home is worth I will now call this LTV) went from being 80% to about 200%- yes, that is REALLY bad! Anyways, since we make enough to cover the loan that we initially took out our mortgage company is not willing to do any kind of modification. We applied for a modification since we could not do a conventional refinance and were immediately shut done because we are current on our payments and we can afford our home. Home modifications usually include lowering payment, interest, term, or balance, you do have to show some kind of hardship or that you can not afford your payment- we can provide neither. I set out in search of another way, mortgage rates are at a low and I would really like to take advantage of that. What did I find? The Harp 2.0- looks like this may be our answer so maybe this will help you!

What is the Harp 2.0?:
Harp  stand for Home Affordable Refinance Program and is a program set up by the government to help people that like us, have no equity in their homes, but would like to refinance.

Do you qualify?:
I found this criteria on HARP's site:
The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.
The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Our process so far:  
First, we had to see if our loan was FreddieMac or Fannie Mae. (links provided) It was, this is important because you can not refinance under this program unless you are one or the other. Next, we called out local federal credit union to apply, you can also contact your mortgage provider to see if they offer the Harp 2.0. Application was really quick over the phone and I was pre-approved in about 5 minutes. My loan officer gave me a list of document to fax in; taxes, w2's, pay stubs, home owner's insurance, and bank statements. I was relived to find out that ours could be done without my business income (always a headache), and because of our high credit score we did not need an appraisal. After, they verify that everything matches up in underwriting our loan will be approved. We are set to sign at the end of the month.

My thoughts:
While not as low as a modification that would be offered for hardships, this really is a great option. For us, our new loan is at the best rate available 3.5 and keeping our same term will reduce our payments $300/month! We also have the ability to keep at the normal payment and pay off about 5 years sooner or for a few hundred more pay off about 10 years sooner! The process has been extremely easy and while we still have quite a balance on our home, this does make me feel that there is an end in site! Most of all, I am pretty excited that we finally qualify for something!!!

So, this is what we have been though so far- I will keep you posted on how it turns out! Hopefully, this information can help you save some money as well! :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Change is upon us!

I finally found time to blog!!!! Ok, ok, not at the hour I planned but we are still adjusting our new schedule. I've been away from blogging for so long it feels like I have way too much to catch up on- so I'll do my best to summarize!

Despite the heat, summer is one of my favorite times of year. The whole family is home and so extra hands plus no commuting makes the work fly by and leaves us with lots of time to play! We got out of town a few times this summer but mostly took advantage of local places for fun, it was really a wonderful break with tons of family bonding!

Back to school:
For some one like myself that hates change- we sure have a lot this school year! To start- this year is the first time that ALL of my children will be in school!!!! Cecelia and Emily were both accepted to ASU Prep. Jacob will be at Faith North at the end of August and Hannah will start at the end of September when she turns 3. This has us on a pretty crazy schedule (keep in mind both schools are downtown about 25 mins away) Everyone goes in at the same time but Jacob and Hannah will get out at noon, Emily at 3:30 and Cecelia 4:10 or 5:45 when she has sports. (See why I love summer!? ) Thank God we have figured out a pretty good  carpool system so I may not have to commute as much as last year!

Financial Changes: Business changes, selling properties, changes in leases, and hopefully buying a much needed new car- we have lots we still would like to do this year!!! Once I find the best way to do them I can share it with you and hopefully save you some hard earned cash!

I think that is all for now my friends. I would like to ask you: Many of you have sent me requests for blogs on specific financial topics, please resend your ideas either by comment on the bottom or you can message me- I have no idea what I did but I some how deleted the folder I had them in!

I'll be back soon friends- this time I promise!!! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vacation! You need it- and you can probably afford it! :)

Well, it's been about a month since the kids have been on summer break and at least that long since I have gotten a break to blog!!! What have we been up to at the Sanderson home? Well, trying to keep 4 kids entertained and from killing each other is no easy feat! I have employed Cecelia and Emily for the summer- in return they get a few outings a week and what  they are looking forward to the most- a summer trip! This has turned into a win-win for everyone. It keeps them from being bored, it helps me stay on top of the business and house, and we all get to go on field trips every week! :)

If you live here in Arizona, it is HOT! We all want to get out of town but I keep hearing the same thing- we can't afford a trip this year! If you actually can't afford that little break I can totally understand and we too have postponed a few family trips in order to "get ahead" but if you have a few dollars to spare here are a few tips for making that trip affordable!

Stay-cation!- We went camping about a month ago and it's amazing what a difference that 2 hours out of town makes! Temperature changes, change of scenery, and I have to say that camping- even though I am not an "out-doorsy" girl was the most inexpensive trip I have ever taken my family on! If you don't want to "rough" it just hit some cooler temps and get an inexpensive hotel.

Hotels, hotels, hotels- For any trip, your biggest expense will probably be your hotel- but it doesn't have to be! Sites like,, (one of my favorites),, and many many others have made staying at that hotel pretty inexpensive! Tips: 1. I had always heard to book well in advance, on our last trip I did the opposite and  waited to the last second and scored amazing deals! Our 2 star rooms ended up at about $30-$40 per night (unless you're on your honey moon, you probably wouldn't be in there much anyways)!  2. Make sure there are no extra fees!  When we stayed in San Fransico and San Diego we had to pay an addition $25/night in parking fees! We now call ahead of time and confirm that there will be no additional fees.

Food- Learn to love the complimentary breakfast! These usually consist of bagels, pastries, cereal, waffles, eggs, and juice, coffee, milk, etc. not all hotels offer this. When you have a family of 7, this saves you about $80/ day for the same food you would be getting at Denny's!  Pack food! Not only will this be better for your waistline, packing sandwiches and other to-go food and snack can save you $$ from eating out all of the time! So with breakfast and lunch out of the way- and a little healthier, you can afford to splurge a little on dinner!

Buy tickets online- for your favorite attractions, buying ahead can usually save you a good amount of cash. Extra tip: you can usually find coupons on for some extra savings! Yes, eBay really does sell pretty much everything! Also, check your current memberships- you may be able to get free or discounted admissions with them. For example: Our science center membership allows us into museums and science centers in every state for free!

Don't forget to fuel up with your gas points rewards, which by the way now has us paying only $40 to fill up BOTH cars! (Kroger's upped their gasoline promotion to $2 per gallon, AWESOME)!

Hope this helps get you out of town and keeps you from going CRAZY with all of the kids at home! Have FUN! :)