Monday, June 30, 2008

Some learning to be done.......

This promises to be a busy and interesting day. We're packed to leave for Delaware this afternoon and will be there for a week. (Yes, I packed my flash drive this time and added food pictures to it. Nothing big is planned for the week so I should have time for a few posts.)

We'd leave earlier, but we have a meeting with our financial planner to flesh out the idea he threw out last week about annuitizing Steve's 401k for retirement income. At first blush it sounds promising--we'll get the details today.

We are having a granite countertop installed in our kitchen while we're away. The formica we have now is showing its age, and besides, according to HGTV, formica is just not the thing to have these days in a well-appointed kitchen, tsk, tsk. With all thoughts on showing the house to its best advantage, we decided to take the plunge. Amazing, the deals you can come up with doing a little research. My niece put us on to a website: http://www.e-counters.com/. It's a one-stop shopping place for all things kitchen counter, guiding you to small, independent companies who will do a job for a good price. Just for curiosity, we asked Sears to do an estimate. What they said would cost us $10,000 is instead being done for $3900, including a new double sink and faucet. And for the $3900 the job will be done in one day, to Sears's 2 weeks. Are people really so brand-loyal that the Sears name is worth that much? I don't understand how they can make any sales otherwise, especially considering that Sears itself doesn't even do the work, but contracts it out. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. I'll report on the results, with b/a pictures. My niece was happy with the work she had done.......

So I'm off. Hope your week is splendid!

14 comments:

Zoey & Me said...

Granite, tile, any hard surface counter top triples in return investment. You are wise to get that done before marketing the property. Kitchens and bathrooms are the best investments; newer AC and roofs are next in line. And keep all your colors neutral. Now you know. . . been doing this in Real Estate for 25 years. Have fun in Rehobeth.

Ralph said...

Z&M, I think we'll be happy with the kitchen. What's sad is the fancy upstairs bathroom, the one Steve's been painting for, it seems, years....what wew have up there is an extension of the existing bathroom that contains a jacuzzi and a glass-block walk-in shower. The shower is wondrful; the jacuzzi is "so 80s" and nobody cares about them anymore. And the tile is ceramic and colored, and it covers major surfaces, including the platform for the tub and teh vanity. We just can't afford to have all that done, so the bathroom, for all its fancy upgrades, is basically a wash. We're juset painting it white and will leave it to the new owners to do what they want with it. A shame...

Mim said...

Thanks for your tip on the granite source... granite is on our list on kitchen redo.Good to hear your professional opinion on the hard surface counters Z & M.

Sorry about your tiles in your MB...we have the same problem here too. It's the labour on tiling that makes the cost so crazy.
Will be anxious to hear how you like the granite. What color granite did you go with?
Mim

Ralph said...

Mim, we have shiny black ceramic backsplashes and a black cooktop, so we're going with a black countertop, with gray streaked through it. I know that sounds extreme for a kitchen, but it works.

As for the bath: we'd like to get rid of the tile and replace it with granite. That's the huge job we aren't going to spring for.

Kat said...

Ralph,
I too comparison shopped and was glad with my choice. I picked out the granite and the sink, they gave me a date, and everything was done in an afternoon.

That redo last year was really fun, and I got so much done. Next I want to tackle the bathrooms as they are the last to need a bit of upgrading.

Money, money money!

Ralph said...

You're right about the moeny part, Kat. it really pays to shop around.

Dennis said...

After fixing up a couple of places to sell them, my wife and I looked at each other and said,"Why don't we do this at the beginning of our time in a home, rather than at the end, so that we are doing it for ourselves, rather than some stranger?" So that's what we did with this house.

Of course, this assumes that the changes we made don't make it look too dated when we sell. I'm sorry to hear that jacuzzis are now out, because we put one in. It sure feels nice after cross country skiing in below zero weather.

Anonymous said...

so what about the annuitizing thing with the 401k?
What does that entail and what is the return when collecting?

Mim said...

Ralph
Actually black is good for kitchens; one of our apartments overseas the owner had just put in a new kitchen! The black granite countertops he installed were really wonderful and looked good too. You will enjoy it.
Glad you can use it some before you move out. That way the $$$ don't hurt as much.
Maybe a picture sometime?
Mim

Ralph said...

Mim, I hope to post a bewfore and after pic when we get back to DC.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ralph,

The re-do seems to be coming along. So many comments already that I would be duplicating - yet, do love the conversation as well as the work in progress.

There is a recent book published on Carole, Joni and Carly. Avail. for now in hardcover and a bit pricey for a "gossipy read". I have skim read it at B&N - some parts are interesting in the retrospective memory - yet, for the most part the book lacks. It is one of a few books that have been published of late - Patti Boyde Harrison Clapton Boyd's book - Suze R's book which is on the NYC folk scene and Dylan.

Way off topic I know.

Enjoy Delaware and hope all went well with the financial planner.

Linda
SE PA

Ralph said...

Dennis, I think there comes a time when you have to ignore the tyranny of HGTV and just do what you want. (Did you know that what we used to call a plain old bath tub is now called a "soaking tub"? As opposed to what? A swimming tub?) That sounds like a perfect use for a jacuzzi and I hope you enjoy it in good health!

Ralph said...

Anon: the annuitization turns out to be a form of income insurance for those whose retirement income is tied entirely to the stock market--I'd say that's most people these days, and it sounds like a good idea to us. The plan we're looking at guarantees either a 6% or 6.5% (depending on what you sign up for) return on your investments, no matter how low the market may fall. And that 6% floor doesn't kick in unless and until the market returns at that level. If you make more, you get that. There is a fee, of course: about 4%, but that doesn't come out of your gravy. (Where it does come from is too technical to get into here.) If you're interested, check it out--there are many plans out there offered by the biggest and most reputable names in iunsurance. I think the bottom line in a decision like this has to do with one's attitude toward the whole gambling proposition called "insurance" itself. I think it's worth it. We've signed no papers yet, but probably will.

Ralph said...

Linda,it's always so good to see your hello. I've hard about a couple of those books--and heard the same things: they don't deliver much of what they promise. But speaking of Eric Clapton (sort of, via one ofhis wives): that's an autobiography I'm anxious to read. There's also "Positively 4th Steet," by David Hajdu, which chronicles the rise of the 60s NYC urban folk movement, including all the Dylan/Baez dirt. That got good reviews and I've been meaning to get it.