Skip navigation

Yet another uplifting post about all the things I am doing to get my life and myself back into shape was planned for the other day. I’ve paid off the No Good Horrible Very Bad Unexpected Debt in full and my credit was not affected. I resisted the urge for fast food crap more than I gave in last week. And I restarted my auto debit into my savings account, effective this coming week’s paycheck.

And then, enter…the ex.

The ex and I – well, the split was a surprise to him. Things were bad our last few months in our first home, then were touch and go when I moved with him to the second (hey, he had all the money and I had no way to move elsewhere on my own – don’t judge). Then when I announced I’d be leaving when the lease was up, things got bad again, and have been touch and go since. Lately, they’ve been ok.

He thinks in terms of business most of the time, which was a bone of contention between us because I really do not.

Now – when we split, I was hit with a surprise. The credit card and debt owed to his folks for moving expenses to the second home that I thought were paid off? Yeah – totally not. And now I owed him to the tune of $2800. I was floored and upset. I thought this had been handled.

Lesson learned – NEVER turn your finances completely over to someone else. It’s all fine and good if 1 person is predominantly in control of scheduling when things get paid, but always always always at least talk about where the money goes as it heads out the door. Have an inkling of how much you owe, to whom it is owed, and how it is being paid off. That way if anything happens to disrupt the schedule, you’re not paralyzed with shock and fear when you’re left holding the bag for half (or gods forbid all) the debt.

Now – his credit was way better than mine when we got married, so when we bought my car, it was put in his name to get the better rate on the loan. We had no trade in, no down payment, and we got what I thought was a good deal on a 72 month term loan.

Obviously when we split, I took over payments. I am now 6 months away from the car being paid off. We had an agreement that when that happened, he would transfer the title to me (because after a year of trying, we couldn’t get the loan transferred into my name) and I would pay taxes on the “sale” and the title transfer fee.

I assumed I would be paying at most $1500 for my car that I have been driving exclusively for the last 5 years.

The text comes through the other day on research into the whole process of getting the car transferred to my name. I know he will be “selling” me my car. He was researching blue book value and turns out that in perfect condition, my car is worth $10,000 given the year, model, make and mileage. In fair condition, she’s worth $7800 and for trade in value, $6500.

After some more research which turned up a legal way for me to only pay the title transfer fee and no taxes (thank you, Google search), that left the matter of the sale.

Figuring he knows my situation, I told him to name his price.

He figures that because he handled the payments for the first 4 years, he should have a return on his investment – he wants trade in price.

Nevermind that payments were made from a joint account or anything. Nevermind that my paychecks were going into that joint account.

This car, which is my life thanks to the area in which I live, was nothing more than a bad investment that he should have a return on.

My immediate thought afterward, which I did NOT share, was “Just like the marriage. Just like me.”

Fantastic feeling, that – knowing you’re nothing but a bad investment.

Given my state of shock, I didn’t fight, I once again agreed. Because I’m an idiot. So now instead of owing him just south of $2100 (yeah, hasn’t been top priority…esp with student loans breathing down my neck), I now him just north of $8500. The chain representing this debt, which I always envisioned as pinning my upper arms, just got a whole lot heavier.

It also grew teeth, because that means I have another 2 years in the hole rather than less than a year.

So rather than shedding the car payment as I had hoped and PLANNED FOR in January, I get to continue it directly to the ex until the full debt is paid off.

And thus, we begin YET A-FUCKING-GAIN. I am examining things to sell and have a potential buyer for some art supplies if I can ever find the time to actually take pictures and write descriptions for her. I picked up some work transcribing interviews for a friend for his thesis, just out of sheer dumb luck. I was contracted to make a baby blanket for a family member but that money never made it into savings – it paid the utilities for the month on my last apartment.

Some days I feel like I will forever be crushed by this burden. All I want is my freedom. And I don’t see it happening any time soon.

But I will continue to work till I drop, pick up extra work, and scrounge and fight for every penny I can get my hot little hands on because I refuse to let this beat me. The Debt will not win.

I WILL own my home. I WILL follow my dreams. I WILL dig myself out. I just didn’t realize I had further to sink before I could see any real progress being made.

SIGH.

Advertisements

I’ve mentioned the debt that is currently attempting to squeeze the life out of me…the debt that I am determined to kick squarely in the nuts and send home crying to mommy.

4 weeks ago, I got a call from my mother telling me of a call from a collections agency at the land line at her house.

‘Odd,’ I thought, ‘I am behind on my one student loan, but I’m not far enough behind to inspire a collections call. Better call them back and make sure this is something legit, and kick them in the nuts if it’s not.’

So I called.  It wasn’t for my student loan. It was actually legit – and something I had completely forgotten about.

My life in the last 10 years hs been…let’s be nice and call it tumultuous. I’ve switched jobs, moved a lot, and forgotten more things about myself than my parents will ever know, easily. It’s this forgetting that seems to have gotten me into trouble.

While I was married, I worked the job from hell. Said job did not offer health insurance, then they did its level best to drive me insane. Stress from said job drove me to the ER twice thinking I was having a heart attack. That was…expensive, especially without health insurance.

We set up a payment plan as an auto debit, which I switched to my account when we split, then I promptly forgot about when switching over to my current bank. I went to close the account, then realized that the auto debit hit and put me into overdraft. Oops.

I didn’t have the money to correct it that day, so I said I’d do it next check. And then I forgot. Got a few phone calls (ignored – I don’t answer unknown numbers) then forgot again. Fast forward…collections.

Tomorrow is my last payment on this debt. On the one hand I am relieved, if for nothing else than that because it’s a checking account it will not reflect on my credit report.  On the other hand, I am REALLY freaking irritated that it came to this – the $176 I sent to the collections agency is $176 that could have gone into necessary repairs to my car, or to said overdue student loans.

The good news in all this is that 1) the overdraft payment was the last payment on the hospital debt and 2) tomorrow is the last payment to the overdraft debt.

And thus will close the unexpected debt, and will allow me to return to my regularly scheduled debt stress.  Who has more fun than the indebted?

I was going to write a big extended piece about my debt and the steps I am initiating to kick its ass, but I’ve been dodging starting to write for literally a week, I figured something else should be written instead.

So something nicer, lighter then. I have been learning how to cook for the better part of the last 2 years, and things are going well. I’ve been saying for years that cooking is art and baking is science. I am one hell of a scientist, though not as good as my sister in law, and I hope someday to be able to call myself an artist.

I knew the food budget would be non-existent this week, so I pulled a bunch of things together out of my pantry and my fridge and whipped up a lovely little sautee tossed with rice. I have never written a recipe for, but worth a shot!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large Spanish onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can sliced cremini mushrooms, drained (I used Shoprite brand)

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained (I used Cento)

1 can of black olives, drained & halved (Shoprite brand again)

1 container of grape tomatoes

1 large zucchini, peeled & diced

Half a large container of baby spinach

2C brown rice

4 1/2C water

splash of olive oil

salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings to taste

 

now – 1) Pour some olive oil into pan over medium heat – I didn’t measure, but make sure you can swirl it around the pan so the onions don’t stick. Let the oil heat up, then add onion, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick. Let them start to soften, then add garlic. Keep the stuff moving so it doesn’t scorch, particularly the garlic.Maybe next time I will time it. Crud.

2) So while the onions are cooking – bring the water to a oil in a separate pan, then add the rice. Stir, cover and drop to simmer. This will take maybe 20 min for all water to absorb? Keep an eye on it. I prefer my rice drier, but go to your taste.

3) Add in the zucchini and tomatoes and stir. Do not squish tomatoes. They will go on their own. Salt, pepper and season to taste, stirring.

4) Add the mushrooms and artichoke hearts and stir. Cover and allow to sit, occasionally lifting lid and stirring.

5) Add in the olives and spinach when the zucchini is nearly completely tender. stir in and cover.

6) By now the rice is probably done, so dump rice into a big bowl. When the zucchini is compeltely tender, toss the veggies over the rice and mix well. Serve warm!

 

No I have no times, but hot damn this was good. This is the first thing I’ve cooked without a recipe, mucking about with what I had in the kitchen. And it worked!!!

Let me know if you take a crack at it – and whatever you do to tweak it, because it’s totally tweakable!

Dear New York –

We’ve had a rough go of it. You are not an easy city to love – I’ve watched you chip away and break down people far tougher than me in the past. You beat the hell out of me. 3 layoffs in 3 years. One hellacious year in your school system. Numerous personal relationships that attempted to destroy my faith in humanity.

But I love you. I breathe easier once I cross your borders, whether it’s popping up in Penn Station from the tunnels on my way to a hockey game or crossing into Rockland county en route to the Tappan Zee. I think of you all the time. I dream of you. I miss you terribly.

I know I left you 7 years ago – I was attempting to mend a broken heart and heal from my failed career change. As you can see the way things have turned out, it’s obvious that it was another bad choice in a long line of bad choices. I’m sorry. Sorrier than I can explain.

Tomorrow I start looking for a new job. I’ll be searching the city, the suburbs, anything that is available that I am remotely qualified for. Because I miss you terribly. I want to come home, for reals and for sure.

So what do you say New York – help a prodigal out. I can take anything you throw at me, just please, forgive me. Let me come home.

The search starts tomorrow. I think this could be something great. Hopefully you feel the same.

I’ll be around on Wednesday and Thursday – so excited to see you again.

Love & hugs –

DB

We all know it. We talk about it frequently – with friends, with coworkers, with loved ones, with the person in the mirror…

OK maybe only I do that.

It’s inescapable – it seems like there is a new report in each edition of the news about what it is, how much it sucks and strategies on how to manage and/or eradicate it. And each new opinion is diametrically opposed to the one announced before. Any guesses on what it is?

DEBT. With a capital D.

We are drowning in it both collectively as a nation and personally as individuals.  Reasons vary – We aren’t making enough money to compensate for rising costs of living. We pay too much in taxes. We live beyond our means. We live entirely on credit. We can’t find jobs to help cover the costs of the hideously expensive higher education system. We had a medical issue that insurance wouldn’t cover/we don’t have insurance.  Or one of a thousand other reasons.

For me it was a combination of things – living beyond my means at one point, but also a combination of going to a college I couldn’t afford to get an education I’m not using, dropping out of a Masters program that I couldn’t afford in a failed career change attempt, pay cuts to switch jobs, a divorce, moving 4 times in 3 years, and plain old fashioned stupidity.

One of my long term goals as I think I mentioned in a previous post is to own home.  While I will have some help in this regard in respect to saving & paying for said home, the reality is that I will never qualify for a mortgage, jointly or on my own, unless I cut down the debt substantially and kick my credit score’s ass back into shape. It’s a major part of getting my shit together and it’s going to be a long, drawn out process involving multiple prongs of attack and multiple lists of mini goals.

I’m proud to say that thanks to a columnist I read fairly regularly, Liz Weston (columnist on MSN Money), I managed to tackle the first of my major debts.

I don’t have the column link anymore, but in that particular one she used the term “Snowballing” – arranging your debts from smallest to largest, paying the minimums on all, but concentrating your extra effort on the smallest first.

That strategy helped me unload my first debt a few months ago – a $630 personal debt to an ex boyfriend.  No it’s not the kind of thing that is affecting my credit report, but hot damn was that awesome.

I tend to see my debt as shackles that must be shed. That $630 was a metal wrist shackle – it was small yes, but it dug into the bones hard and kept me tethered to a situation I no longer wanted to be a part of.

Following that strategy, the next in line should be another personal debt of $800 to a friend who helped me tremendously during a stint of unemployment from one of my many layoffs. However as of this moment, due to some decision I’ve made to get a little relief, the snowball approach isn’t the right way to handle things.

So as with the rest of my life, it’s time to rethink, refocus and come up with a new strategy. I’ve got some ideas but am always happy to take feedback…if anyone is actually reading when I post up the mess, which I can’t bring myself to do at the moment.

Because I will own my home. And I want it to be sooner than later.

Ring the bell. It’s on.

Did a little of both this weekend –

Play involved a movie (Prometheus – highly recommended), lots of tasty (but not very good for me) food and UFC fights. Work involved helping Someone sort through & re-org a storage unit in preparation for moving to a new cheaper & more convenient unit, pick up things from the old apartment to put into said storage unit, planning, and driving. LOTS of driving – a decent amount in a place I’ve never driven through before that really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it being. Slightly confusing, but with a native playing navigator? An absolute breeze.

So now that I have had my fun weekend that I had planned (because really even with the insane amounts of car time, even the work is fun with the right company), it’s time to implement Operation: Get DB’s Shit Together.

This will be a long multi-year process, as much of it it involves paying off debt, kicking my credit score’s ass back into shape, and saving every penny I can get my hot little hands on.

Hey, you gotta have goals!

In order to get things started, though, I figure that breaking it all down into steps with deadlines will be the easiest way to do it. My first phase is going to be complete by summer’s end, involving the following steps for certain (not necessarily in this order):

1) Switch my checking account to a new bank.

2) Restart PayPal, register for Ebay and Etsy, and start selling, baby!

3) Make my own storage unit not look like an episode of Hoarders – will call in Someone’s help if necessary/able.

4) Move non-hoarder storage unit to a cheaper & more convenient (climate controlled!) unit, shared with Someone.

5) Collect my bed from my old apartment to move to cheaper & convenient (climate controlled!) storage unit.

6) Sell desk.

I plan on using September 1 as my end date for the above goal so I can get started with the next phase, which I haven’t quite worked out yet. But I know for sure it will be in list form because, well – I like lists. They make me think better.

Overall goals? Get a job in NY, go home by summer’s end, my own apartment by year’s end and within 2-3 yrs fix my credit enough and save enough to buy a condo/co-op.  This is all optimistic thinking – as everything hinges on finding a job back home, I won’t stress on this timeline too hard.

But you never know, right? Fingers crossed.

My divorce became final a few months ago.  All in all, I had one of the most civil divorces I ever heard of – given distance & time I think we got on better at the courthouse than we did for a good portion of the marriage.

It’s back to choices. I chose to leave. I don’t regret that choice.

And yet.

This afternoon I hit the mall as part of my campaign to get my life together – I returned 2 candles to ensure that there is $4.26 I will not be responsible for paying back to my credit card company. While I was there, I brought my wedding band to the “cash for gold” stand to get a price on it.

But seeing my ring on the scale, being told that the dude would “give [you] $100 for it”….it made my heart lurch in my chest.  I told the nice gentleman that I would ponder it and took my ring back. It is currently sitting in my wallet.

This marriage is over. I have the paper and the time to prove it – I have no idea why this affected me so much.

Of course this prompted a discussion (via txt) with Someone, because I know I can always count on him for truth and an honest take on a situation, and between the 2 of us, I think we figured it out.

Yes, the marriage is over. No I wouldn’t want to go back. But still – once upon a time that was my life, my plan, and my future. I made a promise, then I rescinded on that promise. It was my choice. But it doesn’t change that I still hang onto the good times that happened when that ring was on my finger – the late night rides to Sonic for milkshakes and tater tots. Days spent playing skee ball and air hockey at an arcade on the beach. The road trips. The early morning movies.

Selling my ring, as he said, will make it final. I am ok with that – in theory.

Wedding bands are given as symbols of a never ending commitment, of never ending love. Take away that commitment, take away the love, all you have is a metal circle. Right now, I need the money to put toward debts more than I need that metal circle.

Selling the ring won’t take the good memories away. They are written on my heart, plus I have pics to prove they happened. It’s going to happen sooner than later.

Just maybe not tonight.

Yep – how many years removed from high school and I am still a Caesar fangirl.

The title is appropriate though – I made my choice & made my move, literally and figuratively. I am once again starting a new life. I’m far from the area I called home for 7 years and that is taking some adjusting. Happily I am near friends – living with one actually – and closer to Home (because I still think of where I grew up as Home with a capital H).

And casting this die has helped me realize a few things, the biggest of which is that I want to go Home. For reals and for good. Something – and in the interest of honesty, Someone – is calling me back.

I told mom this weekend that I’m taking the summer to breathe, to get my affairs in order, to get my head and my heart healed and back right side up and right side out. I have dreams I have backburnered for so long because of different situations, but it’s time to start working toward them again, even if that means I need to live with the family for a little while in order to achieve them.

There will be lots of work and sacrifice involved in the next few months, but really, is there anything that is truly worth it that doesn’t take work and sacrifice?

This weekend is for fun. I’m going to be social (as cheaply as possible of course), I’m going to laugh & have fun, I’m going to be wild & outrageous. And next week, it’s time to get serious, sober and responsible.

Because I’m going to go HOME. With luck by fall, sooner if I can, later if I have to.

The die is cast – I’m banking on a good roll for a change.

I’m on the cusp of making a decision that will alter the course of my life. About to take the plunge, remove the training wheels, fly without a net, the whole shebang.

But I have faith, I have hope and I truly believe that my choice is the right one.

I know that all decisions have consequences.  I’ve thought out all the scenarios and possibilities, and have prepared for them, and know that there will be that something that I hadn’t thought of that will come along and jam up the works.

All I know for certain? Come hell or high water, next year in June, I will be in Scotland, wearing a pretty dress, carrying a bouquet of something (or maybe a stuffed penguin with a butterfly barrette clipped onto its little tuft of feather fuzz?) watching my best friend marry the man of her dreams.

Because even in flux, it’s good to have something to look forward to.

The adventure continues…

I started writing this as a way to keep track of goals – goals I had set firmly in my head and believed were exactly what I wanted.

Life has been turned upside down, back to front & inside out a few times since I started, and other things became more important.

I need a change. I am making changes. I must focus. I need to document as I do. I feel like it will keep me honest.

Biggest goal is my debt. Given the state of things now that will be the hardest part but it needs to be done. I was repairing my credit, then I screwed it all up again. No more.

Time to take control. Well past time, at 33 years of age, staring down the barrel of 34.

It’s time to find peace. Real peace.

It’s time to move on, and move forward.

First debt is clear – $630 paid off. Step one.

On to step 2 – $2800. Down to just over $2100 so far.

I’m tired. I’m done. It’s time to deal. Let’s freaking do this.