Category Archives: Dealing With Stress

Early Retirement

keep-calm-early-retirement-beckonsI started writing this blog, because I figured if I was awake maybe putting some of my worries and rants down in print might help me dish off some anxiety.  I hoped maybe it would allow me to work through some of the stress and tension I experienced on a daily basis. I certainly wasn’t having any success tossing and turning at night.  I usually ended up exhausted from the ordeal of attempting to force sleep.  So, I started writing down what bothered me, or stressed me out, or sometimes what interested me. When I first started this blog, I was living with a man that was a sorry mess.  As I look back on my life, there are a few episodes I wish I could completely erase.  This man was one of them.

As the relationship unwound, I found myself filled with anxiety and I brought that anxiety here. I also found myself awake at night worried about my career and supporting my family.  In those days, I was struggling financially, after a divorce where I ended up with ALL the marital debt.  That was my reward for marrying a man who never paid his bills. I worried about everything. It kept me up.  I ranted through it all here.  My life is in a very different place than when I began this blog almost four years ago. Read the rest of this entry

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On Again…Off Again

This morning, right in the middle of my first client meeting I get this text from the finance guy at my dealership:

Good Morning. You need to call Your New Lender today to do a three-way call with Your Old Lender. You have to call today or they will decline your loan and potentially return the car.

He left me a number to call.

“Really???” I thought to myself. “I thought this was settled long ago.”

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Stressful Vacations

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. They are supposed to provide a way of escaping the day-to-day dilemmas and disasters. They are supposed to provide us with an opportunity to slow things down, to get done those things we want to do but which we often don’t have the time to do, they are supposed to provide us time to relax, to recreate, to even escape our realities in some way, if need be. At least, this is true in theory.

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Shiny New Thing

I was supposed to hear from the car dealership on Friday about when I could expect my new car to be delivered. I heard nothing, so I figured I’d have to get up and be ready. I knew the local rental agency opened at 9:00 a.m., and I certainly hoped I wouldn’t be spending another day waiting around. Waiting around, especially the kind of waiting around that preempts everything and anything else one might want to do, is not the kind of thing I do well.

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Trust The Struggle

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Limbo is the best word to describe this last week. I don’t deal with life very well when I’m in limbo. I know from much experience that bad times don’t last, but that realization doesn’t necessarily make the struggles easier or less painful. It might make it easier to simply just endure.

This week of limbo was tough. I have a couple of weeks of vacation (unpaid) coming up. This was the first of those two weeks. I spent the entire week, wondering what the verdict would be on my vehicle. Were they going to opt to repair it, or would they total it. When the estimated cost to repair the vehicle (and it was never certain that it could really be repaired) reached $18,000+, they called me and said, “It’s a goner.”

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Uncle

Ever had one of those weeks when you were a day ahead of yourself?  You thought it was, say, Thursday, but it was really only Wednesday.  All day long, you’re excited as anything that tomorrow’s Friday, then somewhere, oh, around 4:00 pm, you realize that you were off by a day.  Welcome to my world.  I don’t know what I was thinking in my last post.  Eleven days left till payday?  Ha!  I don’t even know how I arrived at that number, except that I must have been so exhausted when I wrote that post.  It registered today, when someone mentioned that it was only 14 more days until Halloween.  I then remembered my 11 day thinking and got myself all in a wad trying to figure out how I even came up with the whole 11 days until payday thing anyway.  Early onset Alzheimer’s?  Clearly, this was more than just a minor soon-to-be-senior moment.  Even so, the disappointment was not nearly as great as it might have been, had I been a day ahead of myself.  I’m in the same place I was when I wrote Countdown.  Nothing much has changed, except, I’m adding another thing that I’m counting down to.

A few days ago, my daughter arrived home late from an activity.  She was in tears.  She’d just rear-ended someone.  It seems that her little sister had texted her, the phone vibrated, startling my daughter.  She glanced down to see where the noise was coming from (the car had been totally silent) and when she did, she hit the car in front of her, who apparently had either slowed or stopped.  I don’t know many more details than this.  The accident happened so recently.  My daughter is 18, so she will be dealing with the insurance company, the DMV, and whatever entities she must in order to resolve this, as much as possible, on her own.  Fortunately, she is fine.  Our vehicle, however, is not. Welcome to another completely unexpected financial disaster.  This time?  The $500 deductible.  The best part?  This is the third time this vehicle has been in an accident like this, this calendar year. (Each incident involved a different driver.)  In fact, I just had the same repair done on this car in January.

This year has been, for me, the absolute worst on record.  The year my dad died, 1984, was pretty bad, but only that part of the year.  The rest of the year had some pretty wonderful aspects to it.  All of the years between 2000-2005, when I was married to The Evil Ex, were completely disastrous. This year, however, I just can’t catch a break. There has been one disaster after another each month, all year long.  Just when I hope life might let up just a little and grant me a reprieve from the deluge of bad luck, another crisis occurs. I’m finally calling “Uncle.”  I really can’t take another disaster.  I’m going to be glad to be done with this year.

I’m counting down the days to January 1, 2013.

2 months and 13 days left.

Unless the world ends in December.

Hardship

He wanted to meet up this weekend. It sounded like a good idea over the phone. The problem is it was a meet up. The problem is he lives 150 miles away. The problem is, while the designated meet up point was lovely, it required 40 minutes of drive time and gas expense for me. With three and a half weeks left in this month and, now, $200 left to feed my family of four, I just can’t spend money on that kind of thing.

And how does one explain this without coming off as some sort of destitute woman looking to find someone to financially bail her out, or worse some sort of trailer trash? No offense intended to those who are destitute and live in trailers. I’ve been there. I really have. What I’m talking about is an attitude that oozes “needy” or “rescue me” or “life’s unfair” or even worse, “why bother?”

So, I zipped an email to him stating a partial truth. Due to my daughter’s stage production in a nearby town, she would be needing the car. I would not be able to make it. I said all the right things about how I still wanted to meet up, and I left everything in his court.

Silence.

Not like this is any big surprise. People go silent all the time. After all, he doesn’t know me. I’m merely a few profile pictures, some well-chosen words and a voice over the phone to him. That’s easily forgettable.

Not like I care. I really don’t.

I’m far more worried about how I’m going to feed my kids this month. There isn’t a food kitchen in town that will accept me due to my income, which is pretty decent for the area I live in…if I weren’t dealing with the financial fallout from a horrible marriage and the resulting bankruptcy and car repairs.

I have friends, though, and these friends know how to cook on a pittance. They are helping me with recipes that cost virtually nothing, but which will sustain us. I can hardly wait until this month is over and I can celebrate the fact that we survived. I’m looking forward to being able to post about how we made it through what seemed like impossible odds without over drawing the bank accounts.

You watch. You wait. I’ll win.

After all, everyone experiences hardship, right? So, the real issue is how we deal with it. Do we cave under pressure or do we conquer?

I fully intend to conquer. Caving, while tempting, is just no fun. Kicking a challenge? That pretty much rocks. Living to tell about it? Even better.

Stay tuned.

The Evil Ex Saga Continues

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Never, ever ask yourself the question, “How much worse can things get?” If you do, you are tempting fate, and you are likely to discover the answer to your query. I must have asked this question. This year has been nothing, if not a direct answer to that very inquiry. I’m ready to be done with all this (insert expletive here).

I mentioned last month that The Evil Ex, had requested a review of the child support he barely pays. The Hesitant Boyfriend, picked up the ticket for the certified letter from the District Attorney’s office yesterday and failed to mention it to me. He texted me this morning and mentioned it. I was mildly annoyed that he’d done this, knowing as he did, how the whole situation has created such angst for me. I had him take a picture of it and message it to me, I then emailed the picture to myself and printed it off. I spent my lunch time dashing to the post office, praying for good news the entire way, only to find that I was losing over $200 each month in child support. Welcome to the genius of our current child support system which seems to somehow punish the decent people who pay into the tax system while rewarding those who do not. Never mind that I am a single mother with four children I am still responsible for, while he has a second and third income–I make more money than he does. Never mind that I am now responsible 100% for ALL the medical expenses and I don’t even have an order anymore requiring him to pay half of all the uncovered medical expenses. Yeah, it pretty much bites.

I could request a hearing, but I think the income he stated is accurate. I don’t think the DA will consider other issues. Like the changes in our out of pocket medical expenses. The stress and likely cost of getting an attorney involved will be more expensive than just adjusting my lifestyle and moving on. The less I have to do with this man, the better it is for me.

On a good note, I feel completely free to be vindictive and inflexible when it comes to planning the summer schedule. My answer will be no, plain and simple, unless it works for me.

Sigh. Words cannot express how much I detest this man and all he says he stands for. I have to move through that, but I am just not there right now.

On a better note, I do have three weeks of work lined up this summer that will help me get caught up on bills and, hopefully, stack some aside in a savings. On an even better note, The Hesitant Boyfriend, has been getting anywhere from two to four days of work a week subbing for the school district. This means a couple of things. First, half of that will go to his Evil Ex. That’s a good thing. He has been unemployed and unable to pay anything for so long that quite a bill has accumulated. So, please, State, take your half and leave him alone. The second good thing is that he can now begin paying some of his own bills and pay me back for some of what I’ve had to put out to support him this year. That should make next month do-able even though I’ll lose the child support.

If he HESITATES with any of that, I’m kicking straight to the proverbial curb. And then I go get a second job. And a housekeeper.

What I really need is a sugar daddy; good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, and willing to share the wealth. Right now, I have everything but the wealth. I’m really not looking to trade in The Hesitant Boyfriend, but money matters. It especially matters when you don’t have enough of it. The lack of it can create real strain in a home. I just don’t want that.

Now that I’ve said all that, let me finish by saying after being really disappointed and unhappy about this financial turn of events, I’ve already begun thinking of things I can do to cut costs and increase income without a whole lot of upheaval. It’s going to be okay…isn’t it?

Surviving Difficulty in 20 Not-So-Easy Steps

Yes, I’ve bemoaned my pitiful luck this month here on several occasions.

No, this is not going to be another down-in-the-mouth, woe-is-me bitch session.

I’m actually going to be positive for a change and since I have only small change, I guess that’s a good thing.

I’ve bemoaned my financial fate of late and poured out my misery as to how deplorable and desperate I really am…economically…right now.

I’d like to make the following observations of the data of my financial life this month:

1. I began the month by ending last month in the negative numbers…oh…about $300. (This is NOT normal for me…at least not since those first few months after leaving The Evil Ex.)

2.  At the end of last month, in addition to the negative bank balance, I had to post-date two checks to my mechanic one for last month and one for May for the water pump that broke.

3. I am still trying to pay off utility bills for the rental unit (aka, my old house that I am walking away from).

4. I started my month with about $200 to pay over a thousand dollars worth of bills.  (That was after I paid some of the other bills first.  I don’t just have a $1,000 overhead.)

5. I was looking forward to a $3300 tax return, the first in 5 years, which would have been a nice windfall, allowing me to get caught up and all and I was required to turn this over to the bankruptcy court trustee.  Thanks to Ms. Trustee, I was allowed to keep the money I received from my partial rent payment I recieved.

6. I put everything possible up for sale on Craigslist.

7. I did have to write one post-dated check to The Good Ex for a hundred bucks to get through this week after the cat started oozing mysterious pus last Friday night. (Please, do not tell me I should have let the poor cat die.)

8. I sold nearly everything I put up on sale, except the stupid juicer, and paid all but two bills, small ones, which I will double pay tomorrow because it is payday in exactly 10 minutes.  At midnight that paycheck will dump in and I can start over for another month. The bills were the water and garbage and I’m writing the checks now for double the amounts.

9. I just checked my bank balances.  I have exactly $7.49. 83 cents of that is my savings.

10.  I have no credit cards.

11.  I have 83 cents in savings.

12. I am NOT overdrawn, in spite of this nightmare of a month.

13. Someone just called about a coffee table I had advertised on Craigslist.  20 minutes after answering that call, I now have $27.49 to my name.

14. I still have a $200 post-dated check that my mechanic will cash on the first and a $100 check that The Good Ex will cash tomorrow coming out of tomorrow’s paycheck, but…

15. I’m not overdrawn!!!!!!!!

This, in and of itself, is a huge step forward for me financially. It is small, but very definite, progress.

16.  I have not had an unexpected car repair this month…and I won’t because the car is parked and I’m not going anywhere tonight.  If it breaks down tomorrow that will come out of next month’s pay.  Let’s hope it does not break down.

17.  I had to pay $150 to an attorney last week on top of having to pay bills, put gas in two large gas-sucking vehicles, and feed a family of five, two of whom are teenagers.

18.  I got all my paper work in to the District Attorney’s office in response to The Evil Ex’s request to review the child support order. I feel better now.

19. I made a decision about what to do about the tenants in my house. I’m terminating the agreement, because I can.  The money and the stress are not worth it.  I feel even better now.

20.  I paid my bills, didn’t go into the red again, and I survived this month.

April 2012 was, by far, the most financially stressful month I’ve had in four years and I made it.

I can, for the first time all month, breathe deep, relax…and feel very, very good about being very, very strong.  Lesser people would’ve slit their wrists or swung from rafters if they faced my difficulties. (They do this because they have life insurance.  I do not have life insurance because I cannot afford it…yet.)

April 24, 2012 and NaBloPoMo

It is now officially April 25, but for me it is really still the 24th. I mean, if this is a blog that is supposed to be written when I should be sleeping, that doesn’t give me much time. After all, what single mom do you know gets to bed a minute before ten? Most nights, like tonight, I’m up doing laundry for some kid that told me they suddenly needed something for tomorrow. Never mind that we have laundry baskets in every room and the procedure is to bring your laundry to the laundry room, which is maybe five steps away. If I’m doing laundry, I’m matching socks, or putting away this or that which got left here or there. All that Momwork, leaves me two hours for writing. Tapping a post out on an iPhone takes a heck of a lot more than two hours.

So tonight’s post is my April 24, post in order to fulfill my requirements for NaPoBloMo challenge to write a post a day for the entire month of April and by, golly gosheroo, I’m going to do it.

It’s going to be quick, because instead of staying up late due to insomnia, I’m actually up late making sure I check off the last two of three very important and time consuming stress creators on my To Do list. I’m pleased to announce that this is one of those rare days in any life where one accomplishes all of the very most important tasks. Here is my To Do List for today, April 24:

1. Pay medical bills with FSA account. When The FSA account runs out, set up payment arrangements. Check.

2. Complete the child support inquiry forms my Evil Ex initiated. Gather and copy all documents. Write cover letter. This took most of the afternoon. It is ready to go in the mail. Check!

3. Write the ole “pay your rent or get out letter. This took less time than the other but. Check.

4. Go to radiation treatment. Check.

5. And now it is time for sleep. I’m going enjoy it! A few minutes after posting this, I’ll be working/nodding off.

Stress gone, for the win.

Check.

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