Category Archives: Finances
Eleven more days until payday and miraculously I have more money in the bank than I had at this time last week. It isn’t much more, I got a rebate check in the mail, which helped. Twelve days. Most of the month is behind me. This has been tough, but not nearly as tough as it would have been had I not had the money in the bank when those big bills hit. While, I hated, and will hate, for quite some time the fact that my work money from this summer evaporated in ways that were not of my choosing, I am glad I bit the bullet and paid them in full rather than opting to pay them over a few months. The payment plan deal would certainly have made my financial life easier this month, but would have made it more difficult down the road and for longer. At least, after these next twelve days, I can move on and don’t have extra bills to pay. This is certainly a good thing.
I’ve started another countdown this week. 135 days till I achieve my weight loss goal. I have started this countdown a million times over the last five years, but somehow, I never quite had the determination to carry it through. I’m not sure I have the determination even now.
Here’s what I do know. The Monday after the Full Pitcher Of Beer Day, I reluctantly stepped on the scale, fully expecting it to register an all-time non-pregnancy high. I was stunned to discover that since the Gone Boyfriend left, with no effort and plenty of drinking, I was actually down five pounds. Weird.
After finishing off the last ounce of gin in a very weak cocktail Monday evening, I have had nothing alcoholic to drink since. I started walking the track during my daughter’s volleyball practices, and while I haven’t significantly changed what I eat, I have changed how much of it I eat. I’ve recorded a loss every day. I’ve now lost a total of eleven pounds since mid-August. This put my total weight loss yet to achieve at under 40 pounds, which is psychologically motivating and completely doable.
In the past,I have tried to motivate myself by thinking I’d love to be wearing smaller sizes and wouldn’t it be great to look and feel sexy back in skinny jeans again? Somehow this motivation wasn’t strong enough to keep me at it. This might be because, even at 50 pounds overweight, I still get looks from the opposite sex. I still have people hitting on me in the grocery store and on the bus (leper colonies, but still), and, honestly, I was having too much fun hanging out sipping the calories, enjoying the atmosphere and copping a beer buzz on the sunny Saturday afternoons…and every other afternoon besides. This changes last Monday. For some reason, after that afternoon with the mammoth beer pitcher, something changed.
I haven’t sorted all of it out quite yet. A big part of it, to be sure, is that I have come to dislike myself once I’ve had too much to drink. I also, don’t like how uncomfortable I feel most of the time. Lately, though, I’ve been dealing with the eventual and current reality of aging. When I was in my twenties, the second half of my life seemed so far away. As I moved through my thirties and early forties, it was easy to ignore the fact that I was getting older. I didn’t look older, and other than a few aches and pains I didn’t feel older. Lately, the fact that, I hope to live until well into my 90’s has “weighed heavily” (ha.ha.) on me. Thinking about life then, forces me to consider what I want my life to be like next year, in five years in ten years, etc. watching aging people struggle to get on the bus, or battle with weight to the point that they are relegated to a wheelchair or scooter, is not a lifestyle that seems easy nor enjoyable.
Of course, we can never tell the future, but we can certainly do our best to put the odds in our favor. My body might develop another more serious case of cancer, I could have a stroke, I might have a heart attack, I could die in an automobile accident, my lung could collapse. (This last actually did happen recently to a friend of mine who is nearly a decade younger than I.) on the other hand, my medical history is good. I have been active and involved in some sport most of my life. My body tends to withstand illness and heal quickly. If I get myself back in the best physical condition I can be in for my age, eat right, get plenty of rest (the last one is going to be tough), there is no reason to believe that the last half of my life can’t be better than the first half. Packing the extra weight around, certainly lessens my odds of aging well. In addition, it’s bad enough that my extra weight slows me down when I’m out cycling. It will really be bad when my aging, weakened body has to struggle to cope with the extra weight. This is not the future I want for myself.
Weight loss for women becomes now difficult as we age, so the time is definitely now if I’m going to lose this weight I gained when I got pregnant with my youngest child. That child is now 11. My life is now stable. There’s not the chaos of an abusive, dysfunctional marriage or relationship. There’s financial challenge, and while worrisome and annoying at points, things are not declining and will improve. My kids are older and don’t need me to manage them every minute. Now is the time to focus on me. After all, old age is not for weaklings. I fully hope to make the second half of my life a marathon rather than a sprint to the finish. In order to do that I need to drop the weight and get in shape.
50 more years of quality, healthy, strong living…I hope.
I’m up doing laundry at 2:00 a.m. Yep. This is a first for me. The truth is, I am not really up just because of the laundry. The crazy cats are tearing around the house like mad, keeping me up. Why, in all of the 1800+ square feet they have to roam here, they choose to cavort in my room and on my bed in the middle of the night, I do not know. I figured since I was up, I may as well do laundry. After all, I only have about three or four loads left. Then I can take my wet laundry down to the corner laundromat at 6:00 a.m. to dry it all.
That’s right, to dry it, because the latest greatest thing that happened is my dryer stopped drying. It still tumbles. No heat. I looked on YouTube to see if there was a DIY video for this repair. There was. It seemed pretty straightforward until I tried it. Problem Number One: my one and only flathead screwdriver must have left with The Gone Non-Boyfriend. Problem Number Two: I couldn’t go any further without the flathead screwdriver. I gave up. Read the rest of this entry
Life turns on a dime. One moment, you are sailing along enjoying everything, even though everything might not be perfect. You’re thinking to yourself that, even though things may have been rough, they are now looking up a bit. You worked a little extra, got a little money set aside for Christmas; something that hasn’t happened in years. Then one wonderful day, as you finally, just barely, allow yourself to begin to believe that there might be hope for a brighter financial future for you and your family, you get an email. Read the rest of this entry
“Mom, my graduation from my fellowship is Saturday, August 24th. Can you come? Dad can’t make it, and really would like someone here for me. Plus there are many key political figures I want you meet. Can you please come?”
How does one say no to child who asks, no begs, for you to remain present and involved in their adult lives. This isn’t because the apron strings haven’t been cut. No, this is my firstborn, the independent one who has chosen to do life her way since she was born. She drives herself to achieve impossibilities, she still fights sleep, she’s been tapped to lead a prominent campaign for a candidate of her political party, and she’s intentionally choosing to sit out a term of college to gain this experience. This is not a needy, clingy child who is having a tough time leaving the nest. This is strong, intelligent, independent woman we are dealing with here. So, when she asks, especially when she asks in this particular way, a caring parent pays attention. Even if she is not yet 22 years old. I was very close to having to tell my daughter no this time.
Why would I do such a thing?
The problem is a financial one more than anything.
More than once, this month, I’ve regretted the fact that I allowed the insurance company to pull The Gone BF’s payment out of my account. Sadly, he was attentive enough to our finances to wait until the payments had cleared before he decided to head out. More than once, over the last few weeks, I’ve wondered why I let this relationship go on an why I didn’t do something earlier about it. The fact that he is now gone, brings a different kind of sadness. It is a sadness that comes from realizing the truth when you worked so hard to ignore it. It’s a sadness that comes from realizing you had to work at ignoring the truth, that he just never was that into me, in spite of his helpfulness and wonderful words. He’s gone. I’ve no doubt he is glad to be gone. He hasn’t contacted me in well over a week. I don’t expect to hear or see from him again. I do wish I hadn’t been such a fool, but other than that my life is greatly improved since he left. But I am annoyed with myself for having paid his insurance bill.
I also wish my daughter, for all her competence, had informed me earlier. I would have planned this month so differently. Traditionally, the end of summer, with it’s back school registrations and expenses, is tight. This year is no exception. Even though I am past my bankruptcy, and I am doing all I can to improve my credit, I still don’t like using the credit cards. I have one with a small limit that I use and pay off every month, but it didn’t have enough on it to cover the expenses for this trip. On a whim, exactly a week ago, I applied for a credit card with a $1, 000 limit. Okay, in my past life, that’s a low limit, almost an insult. In my current financial recovery life, it’s an indicator that my life is improving. If you read through the credit repair literature, most suggest that it takes about a year to be approved for a credit card with that kind of limit. I was approved and it has been just over two months since I received my discharge letter. This was great news. Now to hope that I received the card in seven days rather than the ten of the 7-10 business days it takes to receive the card.
Waiting. As time drew near and my mailbox remained empty, I made up a Plan B. The Good Ex is usually great about giving me cash if I write him a post dated check. I hate doing this, but this was an exception and for a good reason. So, the stress was off as far as whether or not I was going, because The Good Ex was very good about it and payday is very near.
I have to say though, that in a situation like this that involves unplanned expenses four days before payday, having a credit card helps. What also helps is that this summer, I worked five extra weeks. What I spend this weekend will be paid off in a week. I will get to see my daughter and support her. But having that credit card would mean I’d have a cushion. It would mean some extra in case something happened. It would NOT mean a spending spree, it would mean I could enjoy the trip without worry.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was firming up our plans, I texted my oldest, “If that card is in the mail today, my life will be superior.”
I am pleased to report that my life is indeed superior.
May 2012 is already shaping up to be a better month than April was. That’s pretty decent considering it isn’t even May yet. I get paid at the end of the month, and have already paid all my bills for May. That’s also pretty decent considering I paid up the ones I had to skip on last month just to survive. I absolutely detest living like this but one of the first things I learned in Divorce 101 is that sometimes you just have to survive. That was April’s mantra. May’s, I hope, will be more about recovering and stabilizing rather than just making it. By July, I actually hope to be moving ahead.
So, I’ve paid the bills, and there is money to eat on for the rest of the month; another reason May is already better than April. In addition, I did this without planning on the rental money, from the old Someday-The-Bank-Will-Decide-To-Foreclose house. I’m going to terminate the contract with the renters whether they pay or not on May 1. We are on a month-to-month and i can terminate the agreement with 30 days notice for no cause. The income is nice, the hassle is not. It is also a good idea for me to just get used to not having that income. After that, I’m probably going to need to begin not planning on the money from The Evil Ex, because I suppose that will go away soon also. I just can’t worry about that now. On the up side, I have a few gigs that opened up over the summer that will hopefully do much to get my savings going.
On another note, my son was sick all last week and he gave me whatever he got. I spent most of the glorious spring weekend indoors, sick with a killer cold. I’m feeling slightly better now, but won’t be heading in to work tomorrow. I’m certain my clients would not appreciate me coughing, sneezing, and hacking phlegm all over them. I’ve already called in my assistant. She can handle most of the important stuff, and reschedule the rest. I will be spending the day in bed sleeping, hoping like anything to speed my recovery. God knows I’ve taken enough sick time this year.
In all, April sucked. Bankruptcy is no fun and things were super tough. On the other hand, I do believe the home we are in right now was divinely appointed. There were not and still are not any homes of the kind and size we have for the amount we are paying. I’m not sure this is necessarily a forever home for us, but I can think of much worse places to land for a few years while we get back on our feet financially. Plus, it is low maintenance and I love this place. Things could be much, much worse.
So, here’s to moving through the roadblocks and challenges in life. After every hill climb, there is a glorious descent. Let’s hope the ride smooths out for the rest of 2012.
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.
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.)
They say money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s been said that money isn’t everything. I would agree. Happiness has to come from within and there are things far more important in life than one’s net worth. In the movie, Becoming Jane Reverend Austen makes a much more accurate statement:
Nothing destroys spirit like poverty.
I have to agree. Money isn’t everything until you don’t have any of it. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’d rather be crying in my mansion with the Lamborghini in the garage as I’m packing for a shopping excursion in Europe.
I’m sick of always scraping by. I’m tired of alternating which bills I pay this month in order to catch up on the bills I didn’t get paid last month. I’m still really unhappy that I had to turn over my tax return. I’m certain my bankruptcy attorney could have communicated and timed things a bit better so that things didn’t go the way they did; costing me even more money than I had and requiring me to forfeit what I had coming in tax returns.
My divorce attorney got back with me about dealing with the child support review. It is going to cost $150 for an hour, which isn’t bad, and my attorney is definitely worth all that. It’s just that I don’t have the money. I’m tired of not having the money.
I scraped together the money, this time without having to dig into the family grocery and gas money. I did what I have done for a while now: when things get tight, I sell something on Craigslist. I was fortunate this time, in that I actually had a few things I could get rid of. So far, it all added up to $170, just a little more than I needed for the attorney. That definitely helps. I’m just weary with having to operate like this. Pretty soon, I’m not going to have anything left to sell on Craigslist. Then what?
Hopefully, by then, I will have this little season of difficulty behind me. The Hesitant Boyfriend is actually working and making some decent money. Even though it is only for a few months and he won’t see any of it until next month, it will help. Things will get better. I hope.
Somewhere I heard that most of what we worry about never comes to pass. Where today’s meeting was concerned, that statement was only partly true. The trustee did, indeed, require me to turn over my tax return. Since it is a size able sum and since turning it over now means I have nothing to pay my state tax bill with, this doesn’t exactly give me the “clean start” everybody who promotes bankruptcy (read those who make money off bankruptcies) says I will have. In addition, the out of pocket medical bills just showed up in the mailbox today. Woo. Hoo. Juggling all these bills with so few resources just becomes a domino effect of holding bills to pay other bills and so on. So, instead of being able to catch up, I will have to keep playing this crazy financial catch up game for a while longer. The Hesitant Boyfriend really needs to get some steady work.
Needless to say, when I left my meeting today, which lasted all of 15 minutes, and wherein no relevant questions germane to my situation were raised, I was angry. After all, every one of my creditors has already made a fortune on my debt and the astronomical interest I paid on that debt over the last 10 years. As for the mortgage company, they already got their bailout. Why can’t I get mine? Yes, I was definitely angry. I feel my attorney should have communicated with me far better than he did. The things that impacted me, which should not have, were amateur oversights and could have been prevented had he been a bit more communicative of the process. After all, I’ve never done this before, so I didn’t know.
Anyway, I’m sufficiently over it. In two months my debt will be discharged. I can begin rebuilding my credit and turning my net worth from a negative number to a positive number. It does feel good to finally be done with that episode of my life even though it didn’t go the way I’d hoped.
I’m now ready to let this go and move on.
Today, when the sun comes up and business resumes, I will be attending my Meeting of Creditors, a requirement before having my debts fully discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Prior to this, I spent nearly 5 years on a debt repayment program, trying to pay off credit card debt that was mostly The Evil Ex Husband’s. Never mind how that unfair trick occurred. I ended up struggling desperately to pay those bills, while trying to support my family, keep our home, and avoid bankruptcy court. A year ago, I met with my bankruptcy attorney and now, today, after an agonizing amount of paperwork, I have my meeting of creditors.
I am going into this meeting fearing the worst. This year, instead of owing more taxes, I am getting a healthy sum of it back. My attorney just informed me late Saturday afternoon, that the Trustee will take that tax return. In addition, my attorney informed me that because there was a few thousand dollars in my account on the day my petition was filed, (I had just gotten paid) I am likely going to be owing another $3,000. This is devastating news for me. I’m not a little angry about this. I’m depressed and I’m furious.
Bankruptcy is intended to discharge debt. Instead, in my case it is creating debt. I have $400 to pay bills and feed my family for the rest of the month. With two teenagers, one pre-teen and a gas bill for an old SUV that reaches hundreds every month, I cannot make it to the end of the month. I also have medical bills now, that I did not have when I filed due to having a small illness called cancer. I cannot discharge those debts. Further, even if all my debt is discharged it will not remove the huge student loan I will probably pay until I die.
I have definitely arrived at my lowest point since leaving The Evil Ex. I’m not sure how I’m going to make it. The fact is, I’m going to have to not pay some bills this month and this will put me even further behind for next month. Instead of providing me with a clean slate, this bankruptcy is adding more to the crushing load I already carry.
I’m praying that there will be some truly Divine Intervention this morning at this meeting. This beleaguered single mom needs a reprieve, not another bill to pay. I don’t have any rich relatives I can call on. Well, at least none who would deign to assist me right now. My only hope is that the God whose resurrection we celebrated yesterday will somehow perform a miracle on my behalf. I could really use it.
Please, God, make it possible, somehow, that I can keep that tax return and not have to owe money. I just can’t take another financial blow.