Money Monday: Embarrassment

Well, my bank balances embarrass me this bright Monday morning.

I didn’t go totally crazy buying a ton of stuff I didn’t need, but I did make a few impulse purchases. Today, I need to buy oil for the truck, milk, and cereal. That should be all I need to spend for the next few days. I get paid tomorrow night, so it will be better by Wednesday.

Hmm, I’m experiencing a great deal of resistance at the idea of posting this. But I should, in the interest of honesty.

The Positives:
Bank Savings:                                          $25.01
Bank Checking:                                       $25.00
Credit Union Checking:                            $49.43
Credit Union Savings:                                $0.72
Black Belt* Savings:                               $601.27
Summer (7/2011) Buffer Club Savings:          $5.00
Summer (6/2011) Buffer Club Savings:        $10.00

The summer buffer for July was deposited into my acct a few days ago, and, yes, I needed it, a little too much. I was initially hoping to roll at least half of it over to next year, but I needed it. There were a couple of bills that I almost forgot to pay, which is embarrassing.

Am I not an adult? Can I not handle things like this? I need to improve my memory systems. And clamp down on my spending.

One mistake I made was doing the bulk of my grocery shopping this week at SaveMart instead of Food Source. When I do that, I spend about $20-30 more, and I know it. I should be able to make sure I do that.

Family & relationships

Family at its best can be supportive, encouraging, and wonderful.

Unfortunately, many of us have family members that do not meet that ideal.

I had a fight with my sister through facebook the other day. I had intended to write a blog post that day, but the fight had me so upset, I was afraid to write.

I don’t want to write a ton of bad stuff about my family, because, after all, they made me who I am.

My sister means well, and I know it.

Thing is, she remembers things very differently from how I remember them. I don’t think either one of our recollections is more valid than the other, they are just different. But it’s hard for me to reconcile her visions with my memory.

She also seems to have an overly-optimistic view of Family in general, and ours in particular.

But, the bottom line for me is that I have to make decisions about what is best for my daughter. I don’t really want to explain this here further, but, I’ve made a decision that my family is not going to be happy about. And I have to learn to stand my ground.

I’m such a people-pleaser. I want everyone to like me and to understand my decisions. My friends on another forum have been trying to make me realize that it is not possible to do.

Some people who only know me casually think that I’m really strong. My family thinks that I’m a selfish bitch. Neither is really true, from my own point of view.

I’ve done things I’ve had to do to resurrect my life after screwing it up completely. That doesn’t seem particularly strong to me.

I feel that I’ve had to distance myself from my family in order to maintain some sense of self, some personal sovereignty. I don’t think that makes me a bitch.

What I am is someone trying to navigate my way through life, while raising my daughter to not be as frightened of others as I am. I suppose that means I have moments of strength, and moments of bitchiness to balance out my moments of losing myself and allowing myself to be bullied.

Being stuck and fear

At Get Rich Slowly today, April Dykman wrote about doing nothing.

She was talking about being stuck. And barriers.

People throwing up barriers of their own fear and projecting it on you.

It’s so easy to come up with reasons to NOT do something.

I’m a master at this.

I have a million reasons why I can’t do anything.

  • I can’t exercise until I find the headphones for my ipod. Then I have to have the right clothes, the right socks, new shoes.
  • I can’t start a real business until I get out from under my debts and have a huge amount in savings.
  • I can’t be a real teacher until I finish this schooling.
  • I can’t be a writer because I don’t have original ideas or an interesting life to talk about. I can’t start a blog because I’m not an expert in anything.
  • I can’t help out with my kid’s school because I don’t have time, and I’m too introverted.

See, millions of them.

When I’m depressed, these thoughts take hold, and I can’t get past them. For years, I was stuck, unable to do anything, even simple things like the laundry, much less the complicated stuff.

When I was in that space, people telling me to “Just Do It” didn’t help. In fact, it was infuriating. I simply couldn’t.

My friend N has commented several times lately that she’s amazed at how much I’m doing lately. I know this is because she remembers when I just couldn’t do anything.

But I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special. In fact, I’m not even doing all the things other people do (witness how messy my house is).

I’m not sure how I started turning things around, but I’m really glad I did.

I know that part of what helped me was taking steps to start tutoring in January, 2007. I just put up an ad on craigslist.

It was scary to meet my first couple of students, and I was unprepared for some things. But people gave me money. And asked my advice. And looked at me as an expert.

It was a kind of ‘high’. That gave me enough energy to start making other changes.

And I don’t even remember what upset me enough where I actually made that first craigslist ad.

April’s un-stuck moment came after she did an informational interview with someone. I’m not sure that’s something that I could do. When I’m stuck, contacting other people is very hard.

What kind of things get you unstuck?

Money Monday

In the interest of accountability for my finances, I’m going to write about finances on Mondays.

Mondays are often when I feel a spending hangover and panic from the weekend spending.

I’ll talk about my budget and such on other occasions. Today, I’m just going to start off simple, with bank balances and savings goals.

I use YNAB (You Need A Budget) to track my balances and spending.

First, some background: I have some debt that is in collections from my bottom point. It’s been almost 4 years, and I have not made any payments on it. I will not track that here. I may eventually declare bankruptcy for that debt. It’s around $10,000, most of which is interest and late fees at this point. This means my credit is trash already, but I’m trying to be diligent about my current debt (mostly student loans).

I recently set up accounts at another institution from my primary credit union. The credit union is my primary account, the bank is my new savings and business checking.

The Positives:
Bank Savings:                                          $25.01
Bank Checking:                                       $25.00
Credit Union Checking:                          $326.18
Credit Union Savings:                                 $0.72
Black Belt* Savings:                               $601.27
Summer (2010) Buffer Club Savings:       $205.43
Summer (2011) Buffer Club Savings:         $10.00

The Negatives:
Checking OverDraft/Personal Loan:       $382.53
Student Loan Company A:                 $2,160.71
Direct Loans:                                   $21,692.90
Perkins Loan:                                    $5,760.00

*My credit union offers what they call “Club” accounts that one can name the terms of when they mature. It has to be a minimum of 3 months, to a maximum of 5 years. You can add to it any time, and start with a small balance. It’s modeled on the old idea of Christmas Clubs, where people used to save money for Christmas spending. With the customization, the small amounts needed to start, and the slightly higher than the savings account interest rate, I think it’s a great tool for me to use to save for specific things.

So, this is where I am now. Next Monday: My Ideal Budget.

Series: Small Steps (this weekend’s to do list)

This weekend, my to do list was:

Personal laundry

household laundry
Dishes
Make black beans
research dinner dish
Make iced tea
take trash out
litter box
15 mins in living room
find headphones
exercise
What I accomplished:

Dishes
Completed 2 loads of laundry
Got a third load washed & dried, but not folded and put away
cleaned off the couch
took out trash
Opened this blog and made 2 (now 3) posts
So, not everything, not nearly everything, but something. 

An hour after I wrote this, I found my headphones!

Realizing my fatal flaw

Since my step-father’s death, I started tutoring to bring some kind of cash in. I got an entry-level job in a new field. And I finally finished school.

My daughter and I rented rooms in other people’s homes for about 15 months, then moved into a one bedroom apartment where we still are.

But, my life still isn’t where I want it.

I’m fat. My apartment looks like a cross between an episode of Clean House and Hoarders. I need a better job. I need to grow my business. I need to save more money. My daughter is learning horrible food and chore habits because of my inability to be consistent.

Over the last year, I’ve realized that all of these problems could be solved with one, simple attribute: self-discipline.

This is the one issue that Bill and I butted heads over for many years.

He tried to teach me that it was important, and I resisted every lesson.

I’m only realizing at 40 years old how this has cut off my nose to spite my face.

Can I fix it at this late date? Can I change?

Can I ever be the person that:

keeps track of what I eat
pays attention to what I spend
exercises 3x a week
has a clean, organized, nice place to live?

The Low Point

Call me Ishtar.

My step-father’s name was Bill. He and my mother were married just before I turned 4, and divorced when I was 20.

For most of my childhood, I resented him, fought with him, was completely angry at him.

Eventually, we reached a place as adults where we got along and I grew to respect him. I’m glad that when he and mom split, he stayed in my life. And he was in my daughter’s life. And his third wife is an amazing woman that is still in our lives.

He died rather suddenly in October 2006.

At the time that he died, my then-10-year-old daughter and I were part of the Hidden Homeless. I’d had a serious of failures over several years, and I’d almost completely withdrawn from interacting with the real world.

My best friend, N, lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with two cats. My daughter I moved in and slept on the floor.

This was not where I had pictured my life ending up at the age of 35.

Four years earlier, I’d had a dream job as an electronic engineering technician at Intel. Two years earlier, I’d been going to school to switch careers, and was debt free.

Now, in 2006, I’d failed in school, failed to find a new job, lost my own apartment and my daughter’s sense of security, and now, the man to whom I *needed* to prove myself a success was dead. And he’d never see me succeed.

All good beginnings start at the bottom.