Blog Archives

Alone vs. Lonely

lonely-womanThe insomnia has returned.  I cannot for the life of me sleep past 4.5 hours.  I’m usually awake from anywhere between 2 am to 4 am.  I don’t feel particularly anxious, but I can become so when I begin thinking about my financial future…which is uncertain…at this time.  I can become even more anxious when I think of the possible financial outcomes of the divorce. Of course, anytime there is an interaction regarding the divorce (a hearing or prepping for a hearing,  or a response from the opposing attorney because there is no communicating with my husband at all) my body goes into full on fight or flight mode. My hands start shaking. My heart races. I begin feeling anxious…very anxious. Read the rest of this entry

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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

Same Song, Second Verse Same As The First…Other Side

I must confess. I have not been up late at night…much…lately. I’ve been sleeping very well and feeling good when I wake up the next day. Never mind that I was sick for two weeks with food poisoning. My bills are paid. There is food in my cupboards. And there’s a wee little bit to offset the unexpected thing that might come up. It is amazing how having a little extra cash in the bank and a car that is reliable changes one’s outlook on life. It’s also pretty incredible how that makes it easier to sleep. It’s been a good month. Or rather, a good couple of weeks. I can’t complain. And I won’t start now, even though, life has turned on the proverbial dime for me, once again. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

Pain

Tonight, I lie awake.  The moon, this late in August is almost full, the second full moon we will have this month; a blue moon, they say.  The light floods the deck outside my bedroom, illuminating everything in a beautiful blue glow that can only be seen and appreciated in the wee hours, on nights like these, but only if you are one of the fortunate ones who cannot sleep.  I have my own beautiful, exquisite dreamland right outside the slider leading to my deck.  As the moonlight streams down onto my personal paradise, as I gaze from my bed out onto the deck, I think, “If I felt better, I would go out there and enjoy that beauty.”  Instead, I remain in bed and I wince with each movement.  Tonight, my back is killing me.  I can’t get comfortable.  I’m in pain.

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If there isn’t emotional pain going on, then someone, somewhere is hurting physically.  It is the way of this life.  While it is true that we learn and grow and deepen during our times of suffering (if we are paying attention), I’m not sure that I like this particular aspect of suffering that I am enduring. When I was younger, I could do anything or nearly anything with no consequences.  I mean, really, almost anything.  Today, I attempted the “almost anything.”  I moved a tree from the tree store into the back of my vehicle. I then moved the tree from the back of my vehicle to the driveway of my place.  I then attempted to move this tree, with only a little help from one of my children, from the driveway clear around the house to the back deck.  The tree?  A Japanese Maple, as tall as I am and a little bit wider. This did a number on my back. Years ago, I could have done all this activity with no consequences, but these days, I pay for every bit of effort I expend.  My currency is pain and sleeplessness.

This year has been filled with pain for me.  Six days into it, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  I have four children, three of them at home, the oldest is not yet fully launched.  What horrible timing.  Pain. I have had more financial struggles this year than I’ve had in a good, long while.  Another car blew an engine.  That’s a deductible I couldn’t afford to spend the family grocery money on. And in the professional work realm, I encountered a year that I would put up there with my top three worst years in the world of work ever.  Add to this, uncovered medical expenses which I am still paying off, and a boyfriend who suddenly decides to take off without giving me notice. I mean, I thought we were working on forever, and it turns out that he was only working on him and his kids and I was the stepping stone. Pain. Pain. Pain.

And with it, regret.

But tonight…I’m in a different kind of pain and it isn’t emotional.

Physically, my body is killing me.  It is punishing me for the work I expended today to create some additional beauty in my world.  Beauty that was worth the pain I am experiencing now, because if I’d known I was going to feel this way afterward, I would have still moved that tree single-handedly onto my back deck.  It is so worth it to me.  And, as I lie here in physical pain, pain that Vicodin was created for, I think this:  My body hurts, but my psyche does not.  While my body screams in agony and I cannot get comfortable, if I am honest I have to say, that, in spite of my recent experience of being abandoned faster than most people cash in on a lottery winning, I am doing okay.

And okay is okay.

I’m not happy about the fact that my love life is nonexistent, and likely to be so for a very long time.  (Actually, if I can’t have the Gone Boyfriend, I’m okay with this.  I just don’t want to go to the effort.) I’m not happy about the fact that I’m likely to attend all of my children’s monumental events in life…alone…while their other parents attend these very same events happily married with a second or third spouse.  Yeah, what kind of loser must I be?  Pain.

In spite of all of this, here is what I know: I am okay with me.  I haven’t settled.  I haven’t compromised.  I am the one I have to wake up to each  morning, and, for the most part, I am content with who I am and what choices I’ve made.  Sure, I’d love to rewind life several decades and make some different choices, but those different choices would eliminate certain people from my life that I simply find I cannot do without.  So, I’m okay with the choices that I would re-do, under other conditions.  I’m okay with where I am right now.  I don’t like a lot of my current reality, but I’m okay with most of it.

I’m good with the the fact that I’m able to provide for my children, that we are surviving and thriving in an economy where many are struggling.

I’m so grateful for all the people in my life who’ve given me hugs, emotionally and otherwise in my most painful moments and who, in spite of my drama, still care to call themselves my friend.

I’m grateful for a career, that while stressful and imperfect, enables me to provide for my family without having to depend on someone else…and to do so…reasonably well…and which allows me to make a difference in the lives of very important people who will someday make decisions that affect us all.

I’m grateful for a Japanese Maple…or two…on my back deck that will provide me with some beauty and a peaceful respite for some years to come. If I can just enjoy the beauty of a tree and a moonlit night, I think I just might always be content.

I’m in pain, but I’m content with my lot.  I’m good with this.

Home should be a refuge from the pain.  I, thankfully, have this refuge in my life.

I can’t complain…but…you know I will…just because….it makes a great story!

Wide Awake and Nothing To Do

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Tonight I’m exhausted. I should be able to sleep; I’m certainly tired enough. I even took a sleeping pill. I’m so tired that just writing this takes effort. And my legs and feet hurt today. Every day it seems it’s something new. Aging sucks. The pain keeps me awake when I should be sleeping.

But here I am.

Wide awake and nothing to do.

Tucson Summer in the Pacific Northwest

Well, you know how this goes, don’t you? We complain because the weather isn’t warm enough. It’s June, by God, and still raining! Many in the Pacific Northwest are ready to pack up and move elsewhere where they might be guaranteed more than three days of sun this summer. I am not one of those people, though, I do live in the Pacific Northwest…but…just barely.

I, on the other hand, complain (well, I hope not too much and not in a negative way) about staying up late at night because of the rain. I don’t mind the rain, really. I don’t even mind staying up late at night, really, except that I know that it is not really the best thing to go without sleep. Especially for one, such as I am, who is attempting to recover from a brief (yes, six months was brief, I have friends who have lived to tell of battles lasting 13 years) skirmish with cancer. Please ladies, don’t skip the mammo’s. Anyway, they tell me that sleep is important when you are healing, so I suppose, it frustrates me when I cannot sleep for that reason.

But otherwise, being awake late at night is really the best time to blog.

I have no interruptions. I have no guilt about which people in my life I am neglecting as the result of my writing. It just kind of works.

But, the rain is gone, and now I have yet another reason to be awake. You probably saw this coming. Yep.

It’s heating up here in the Pacific Northwest and in my particular area, the air conditioning kicked on at 8:00 this morning. My bedroom, being upstairs with fully half of the entire wall (or more) glass and being the only room on the south-facing end of our home, gets a tad bit warm.

I couldn’t sleep because I was hungry. I have no idea why I was so hungry. I just was. I’m not prone to midnight snacking at all so the fact that I actually got up out of bed to get a bowl of Life cereal and eat it was pretty unusual. After eating as quietly as I could (the entire upstairs opens up to our living/dining/kitchen area in the form of a balcony and I didn’t want to wake anyone), I drug myself up the stairs. The house was deliciously cool and I was tempted to grab my black velour blanket from my bed and curl up on the couch downstairs. I walked into my room and it was like I’d entered Tucson in the middle of the summer. Wow! Outside my door, deliciously cool. Inside my bedroom door, Tucson summer. Something is wrong here.

Then I remembered about the glass windows which I usually don’t pull the shade down on, and the sun which beats in my bedroom all day long, and the fact that I’m upstairs and heat rises. I should have seen this coming.

I can fix all that for tomorrow night…but for now? Well, for now, I can just add one more thing to the list of things that keep me up all night.

Tucson summers right here in the Pacific Northwest.

P.S. I actually spent a summer in Tucson. That’s it, just a summer. From April to September the year my oldest daughter was four and a half months old. She’s turning 22 this year, so that was a while ago, and, yes, I am old…but not infirm by any means. Back then, we lived in an apartment complex and our 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment rented for $250 a month. It was the only time during my then married life that I didn’t work and I stayed home with my child. Our complex was built around a swimming pool. It was the perfect arrangement. The worst part of the deal was packing the not-yet-walking child down the stairs with the laundry and the detergent to the laundry room to do the laundry. That was truly awkward. Since then, if/when I ever rented, I insisted on space for a washer/dryer in the unit. Other than that one little laundry thing, I truly loved Tucson in the summer.

Summer Rains and Insomnia

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Interesting weather we’re having here, isn’t it? While most of the country is burning up, my little corner of the world is experiencing a deluge that might become record-breaking. The water is pouring from the sky in monsoon-like torrents. The thing is, I live in a region not known to ever experience monsoons. We don’t have tornadoes either, so I’m hoping that’s not next on the weird weather agenda these days.

The rain is definitely good for us. Though my area is known to be a bit rainy at this time of the year, rains of this magnitude usually occur in January and are accompanied by colder weather and snow in the mountains. It’s raining like it is January, but it is 64 degrees out. And it’s the middle of the night.

I love summer rains. I love them even if they keep me up at night. I’m tempted to go brew a cup of coffee and sit out on my upper deck. Sitting in the rain soaked air with a cuppa joe at night, just listening to the rhythmic cadence of raindrops on roof, and on cedars sounds like a heavenly idea. Maybe if I took a blanket, I could fall asleep out there.

I won’t do it though. I’m certain to wake someone up. I don’t mind that I’m up at night. In fact, I’m becoming more and more accustomed to these late night rendezvous with my tiny iPhone screen, and the WordPress app. This does not mean others in my home would view wakefulness at this hour with the same charitable nature. So, out of consideration for them, and to save the neighbors from hearing the rest of the family yelling at me in the middle of the night, I’ll save the coffee-in-the-rain idea for a night when I am all alone.

The rain does sound so very nice…and far away…so does the rumbling thunder accompanying it.

Hope

Hope.  It’s a great term.  It has all sorts of positive connotations.  We hope for something better, always.  When things are rough, we hope they will improve.  Certainly, without the hope of a better tomorrow, one’s spirits lag and motivation declines.  I wonder sometimes, is hope a good thing…or does it just serve to delay the inevitable?  I mean, if we knew things weren’t going to get better, at least for a long time, would it change our behavior?  Or would we still cling to our hopes?  I do not know.

We hope for an improvement in our circumstances, but the reality is for many the world over, that things will not improve…ever.

We hope to have that wonderful experience of a deep and meaningful relationship with a significant other, but for many, myself possibly included in this, it might never happen. Soul mates seem to miss more than they connect it seems.

And that brings me to another question.  What is a Soul Mate anyway?

That question brings me to yet another question.  How do you recognize a Soul Mate if/when you meet him or her.

Personally, I just don’t get it.

Maybe it is because I’ve never really experienced a decent relationship with the opposite sex.  Maybe, I’ve not yet met my “soul mate”.  Quite honestly, if there is such a thing as a soul mate, which I doubt, how would I recognize him if he came along?

But hope would keep me thinking that there is always the possibility of such an experience happening, no matter how old I am.

I just don’t buy it.

I mean, relationship with another of the opposite sex is fun…at first.  Everything seems to roll along smoothly.  You connect.  Things are easy.

But let’s face it.  No one, these days, has a perfect life.  The other person has issues, right?  They either have too many children from the Evil Ex, or maybe Evil Ex is plural.  They probably have debt.  They certainly have child support payments. This alone means you are going to be a very broke woman for a long time to come.  So…with all that noise…in life after divorce…how do you recognize your soul mate?

Most people I talk to mention hopeful statements like, “When you meet him, you will know.”

Really?  I thought I had met him…2.5 times before.  It’s been a bust on all counts.  I’m now living with a guy that I kinda sorta think likes me…maybe?  Yeah, he’s the .5 part of the 2.5, because he’s certainly willing to live with me…and off of me…without making any legal commitment that says, “We’re in this together and it’s going to cost a boatload of money and angst to make it change.”  Yeah.  I feel great about that.

But I hope things will change.

But I hope there is still a relational future for me.

But I hope I’m wrong on some things.

The reality is this…I think…(note the hesitance there)…

Who really can say what real love and commitment is?  A decent relationship looks different from every vantage point.  There is no set formula.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There’s a definite pattern when it comes to relationships that don’t work.  More about that later…maybe. But lasting relationships seem to be very different.  What works for you, might repulse me.

I also don’t think relationships are necessarily easy.

People disagree.  They get annoyed.  They certainly think their own kids are better than their partner’s kids.  And, there’s always the money to stress about if the rest of the relationship seems okay.

I don’t know.

I used to hope that there was a possibility for me of “real love”.

These days, I simply wonder what that means, and whether or not I would even recognize it.

 

Endurance and Healing

Most nights, lately, I’ve been sleeping. I’ve been sleeping far more than usual. Now that my radiation treatments are done, I’m feeling the full effects of my body’s efforts to heal. I find I can do one thing a day, and that’s about it, before my energy dissipates. A full night of sleep, beginning at around 8:00 in the evening, and a mid-afternoon nap are the norm these days.

Tonight is not the norm.

I stayed up and watched a movie, Limitless, which was disturbing to me. Loads of violence. Of course, the movie also deals with addiction to a substance, in this case a mysterious pill that provides powers of mental clarity far beyond the average individual’s ability to think and reason. The drug, in the movie, was unknown, illegal, and highly sought after. The problem? It was instantaneously addicting and, once addicted, to stop taking the drug resulted in certain death. This created an insane demand for the remaining limited supply of pills. Thus the violence. Thus the disturbia.

I’ve tossed and turned all night. I’ve slept only fitfully and my sleep has been fraught with images from the movie. I know that just as dawn creeps up over the horizon, just as my neighbor with the fake boobs and hair weave gets up to let her noisy, yippy, little dogs out for a bathroom break while she lights up her morning smoke, just as this small little rural berg begins to hum with the activity of a new day and my youngest is waking from her slumber, my body will finally give in to some much needed shut-eye. I’m glad I have no appointments and no work obligations.

On the upside, this is the first sleepless night in forever that I haven’t been up worrying about finances. In the month since I last struggled to sleep through the night, some really wonderful things happened. I record them here, as a statement of personal gratitude and celebration and because it is something to do besides the ineffective tossing and turning, trying to block the violent images of that movie from my psyche. Also, if there happened to be a worried, frightened soul out there wondering how they are possibly going to make it, maybe this post will provide some encouragement to just keep on plugging, because, as they say, “This too shall pass.”

Most recently, I’ve been whining about the way my tenants left my old house. Thanks to a very helpful and kind group of friends, we were able to get rid of most of the salvageable stuff, to bag up the garbage and contain the bags to the garage until the time I could actually afford to rent a dumpster to dump it all into. While I was over there on one of my many trips to clean up or monitor the place, I dug out some plants from the yard. The place is completely overgrown with plants, and I figure, since I put thousands into that yard, I should take a few of my favorites with me. I have no yard in my new digs, but I do have loads of decking and driveway space that begs to be adorned with tastefully arranged containers of plants. I don’t believe the plants I dug up and carted over, using The Hesitant Boyfriend’s truck, will even be missed. Further, they really brightened up the new place. I think only two plants didn’t make it. The rest seem to be doing fine. As long as I can have a bit of nature and beauty around me, I can find the strength to keep on pushing forward.

In the last month, my bankruptcy discharge letter arrived, thus freeing me from a mountain of debt that I struggled for the last five years to pay on, all the while cutting back on groceries and other much needed things for the kids. I can now begin to rebuild my credit and hack away at the student loan debt (not discharged) and the medical bills which were incurred after I filed.

The Evil Ex and I will have a hearing in a couple of weeks to address the child support he doesn’t want to pay to help with our daughter’s medical expenses. I seriously do not think I will have any luck there, but requesting a hearing, delayed the reduction of child support (a loss of $200 of income each month). While this reduction may be retroactive, I think I’ll be okay, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I’ve diligently worked to eliminate any unnecessary expenses from our budget. I’ve easily shaved more than the two hundred I will be losing and that’s a great thing. At the same time, The Hesitant Boyfriend got some steady work. Though it was frighteningly tight for a while there when I had to help him with his bills before he got paid, he is getting paid these days and the extra he is bringing in really helps.

We aren’t out of the woods entirely financially, yet. I have a further reduction in child support coming because The Good Ex gets to begin paying our daughter directly instead of paying me. Let’s hope he actually does this, because insurance to keep her driving is astronomical. She needs to drive in order to work, so I can’t exactly drop her from the insurance policy. Further, my student loan payments start back up again next month; another expense.

A few months ago, I was also whining about the fact that my rather large tax return was taken by the BK court. To make this money up for myself, I was able to land some part time summer work which will allow me to start up a small emergency savings, which, in spite of everything I hope to be able to add to each month. This is a much different place than I was in even six weeks ago. Nothing destroys the spirit quite like ongoing financial struggle. Now that things are more hopeful for me in this area, I am sleeping better and my spirits are improving as a result.

Bankruptcy can be embarrassing and stressful. Many people don’t talk openly about it, but the folks who shared their stories have given me hope. Every single one of them told me things will get better. Things are already getting better.

On a whim, I decided to go car shopping. I drive an older SUV and I definitely need to look at getting something more fuel efficient. I haven’t been car shopping in almost a decade and I didn’t do a great job of it then, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t seriously expecting to find a car and actually purchase it, but going through the process would give me a bit of a starting point. After all, I wanted to know exactly what I’d be up against in terms of interest rates, expected down payment, and monthly payments.

A cute little 2001 VW New Beetle with 50,000 miles caught my eye, so I arranged for a test drive. It’s definitely a fun car to drive and it had a moonroof. I fell in love right away. I’m a horrible negotiator and I knew I probably wasn’t going to buy this car, or even be approved for the financing, so I didn’t really haggle much on price. We got into the process right away. I told them what I wanted my monthly payment to be and so on. If you’ve ever purchased a car from a dealer, you know how this goes. You look. You drive. You talk. You fill out paperwork, then you wait. When they finally came out to me to tell me “what they could do” they gave me an offer that included cash out of pocket that was impossible, a monthly payment that was twice the amount I told them I was comfortable with, and an interest rate of 29%. I laughed when they handed it to me. Then they offered me another deal on a 2010 Ford Focus that was $5,000 more than the Beetle I wanted to buy. Now, this is where I do not understand car sales. They were able to offer me a better out of pocket, much lower monthly payment, and a lower interest rate on the Focus. How can they do that on the more expensive car where their risk is greater? I don’t get it. In the end, the interest rate was still 17.5%, and the car was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever driven next to an old Ford Taurus I once had. I haven’t made a car payment in almost four years, and while I’d consider payments to rebuild my credit, I’m certainly not going to do this for an interest rate of 17% on a car I don’t even like. Obviously, I shook hands, thanked them for their time, and consideration and went on my way. I got the information I needed anyway.

I went home, did a quick Internet search on repairing credit after bankruptcy and on buying a used car after bankruptcy. It turns out that while purchasing a used car is a common way to rebuild one’s credit, the interests rates on the deal will be really high. One source suggested finding a car you like with a payment you can handle. Accept the rotten interest rate and make every payment on time for a year. After a year, refinance the vehicle for a lower interest rate. That sounds like a possible plan, eventually, though I’m in no hurry to rush right out and begin making payments. I want to get through these next few months first, get some money socked away in savings, and then see.

Another source suggested this plan for rebuilding credit after filing Chapter 7. Obtain a credit card with a limit of $300. Use it to buy stuff like gas or things you need anyway. Take the money you would normally spend on those items and use it to pay off the credit card in full every month. Do this for six months, then get a credit card or two with higher limits of about $1,000. Spend very little on these cards and pay them all off every month. This source emphasized staying within budget and not carrying a balance on any of the cards. After a year, your credit will have improved enough to be able to negotiate a better interest rate on a car.

This second plan sounded much safer to me. I’ve spent the last five years living on a cash only basis with no credit cards. I’m loathe to go out and rack up debt, except for the very express purpose of paying it off monthly, so I can rebuild my credit scores. It just so happened that a credit card offer came in the mail. No annual fees and no interest rate until next year. I applied and was approved. I just made the first payment to pay the entire balance, and it’s two weeks before the due date. It just feels good to be able to do that and not worry.

The first part of this year was horrible for me and many people I know. In tough times, I’ve always been fairly resilient and I try to stay hopeful. The last several months, however, have been some of the most difficult I’ve faced. We all know that nothing is permanent, even bad times. I was beginning to wonder. If you are beginning to worry and wondering if things will ever get better let me encourage you to just keep plodding. Survive today. Before you know it, a month or two has passed and things might look much better. It might be a long time before things improve, you might have to make some sacrifices and do things differently. You might just have to endure. Just don’t give up.

There are better days ahead.

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