Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Love Free or Almost Free Stuff

Being bankrupt means you have to find creative ways to get the things you need and want. I still can't believe how much money I spent last month (and used up any excess in my checking account).

Trying to remain optimistic I have taken to re-reading my two Freecycle lists and Craig's List under the free section. Freecycle is a Yahoo group where folks offer for free, items that they no longer want or need, or they post for items they might need. I see all kinds of items on the list from old cars good for parts to clothes, books, toys, etc.

I have given away a bunch of miscellaneous kitchen equipment, miscellaneous dog equipment, an old mink coat, my old mountain bike that sat outside for 3 years and needed a major tune up I did not have the time or energy to do, divided up perennials flowers from my garden that originally came from a very upscale local nursery, wire garden fencing and posts (recycled from someone else, I had too many, used what I needed and offered the rest stating they were used from another project), extra lawn chairs, and books that did not sell on Craig's list, E-Bay or

I have gotten a really nice dog house, a really nice bread machine that I use weekly, and a Thule rack with locks for my car (I only needed to order a new set of keys from Thule, cost $8). The search for the Thule rack was done in a moment of desperation, I needed a rack for my car, could not find one for less than $350 that would fit my older model Saturn and I needed it fast. That was my best item received and it has worked out great for me.

I tend to post items offered more than items wanted, but now that my expendable income is almost nill, time to go back to items wanted!

Depending on where you live, freecycle is a great way to get used items you need.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tale of The Tape-October

Even though October is not quite over, here is the Tale of the October Tape

Mortgage: $553
Car: $320.98
Gas: $221.08
Health Insurance: $94.03
Food: $133.19
Eating Out: $16.99
Donations: $91
Car Insurance: $184
Student Loans: $347.86
Dues: $70.76
Car Rental: $385.00
Unaccountable $37.00

Total: $2,485.47

The car rental was reimbursed to me $250, but not noted in the above, I just got the reimbursement for that the other day, I did a double student loan payment and car insurance payment (the new car insurance company I looked at ended up not being a better deal in the end so quickly jumped back to the old company). Gas was high as I had rented the SUV for the trip and it ate a ton of gas. Over half my gas money spent was for gas for the rental vehicles.

Like I posted earlier, I considered September a bad month, October even worse, but both months a learning experience, this budget does not include the latest car repair, that check did not clear my account yet.

By looking at the bank print out, I have $137.00 that I have labeled unaccountable and misc. I know I took money out of my checking account ($100) for cash on hand and the remainder was two Target Shopping's, but without the receipts in hand, I could not tell you what I spend $137 on. I know part of the $37 from Target was for cleaning supplies, but dammed if I know what the rest was on. Quicken here I come.

I badly crumpled my receipt envelope at some point this past month and it got moved out of my purse and so did my "record keeping". I did find a very nice leather receipt wallet I got as a Christmas gift a couple years ago. Out of the drawer it came and into my purse. No excuses now, every receipt gets put in that wallet and as part of my November goal, to document where the money goes.

This is really sad and I'm kinda depressed by it all today.

What would you do?

I had an interesting conversation with my friend James over the weekend. Seems the Trustee does want my inherited jewelry after all! I've gone "over" my exemption listed and he'd like an appraisal and or the jewelery. He even got the court to mandate an order to turn it over (no set date) as it exceeded the exemption and was not "wedding jewelery." James said I just should have lied and not mentioned the jewelery. I responded Why Would I Lie?

The letter from the Trustee spelled out three things :

1) They need a copy of my bank statement as of the day of the filing -which for the record I had a balance of $195.84 in my checking account and $100.16 in my HSA, and about $40 in my wallet. I gave him copies at the hearing, perhaps he mislaid them.

2) They want my 2007 tax refund (are they going to pay if I owe? :) )

3) They want the non personal wedding jewelry, or I can "buy it" from myself and send him the money. I'm double checking on this last point.

James said I should have not even listed the jewelry, but I did not think to not mention it. I did not realize there was an exemption. Would I have not mentioned the jewelry? I really don't know. I don't think it's good practice to lie about stuff, I listed my assets and liabilities. The jewelry was one question on the form and I answered it. As someone else pointed out-They don't come and check your personal possessions do they?

I'm guessing folks do try to "hide" things from the Court Trustees, I listened to one case being reviewed prior to my hearing and it seemed like these folks had tried to hide cash or assets with family members (all being involved in the same family business too!)

I have to stop by the store and pick up the ring and the appraisal this week, I'm curious to see what the appraisal came in at and will take it from there.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Taking A More Rational Look

Like I posted yesterday, the Trustee only had a few questions about my Bankruptcy Petition. You can click here to see that post. While I am disappointed and a bit upset to have my petition date moved back, I should not be, and am not 100% surprised. The Trustee did ask about my taxes and tax return and I did tell him I was not expecting a refund in 2008 like I had in 2007.

Driving up to see friends for dinner last night I talked to myself in the car about this (and yes I am one of those people who talks to oneself while driving :)) and realized it is just one step in the process.

I've never cheated on a tax return, don't plan on doing it in the future, will do my return honestly, and I guess I just have to see what happens.

October Goal Update~November Goals

Since I have an extended lunch, I looked at my October Goals and realized I was about 50/50 on them.

I have a much better expectation of what and how I should budget my money. That in and of itself is a huge milestone. My November budget may be a bit tight (and a little tighter now that I need a new Hoover) but it's totally doable and workable. That is one goal I'm very pleased to achieve.

I got the little gig of photographing properties for a mortgage company and I get about 3 properties a week, most of which are easy to get to (next town over) and don't require excess gas and milage. The money from that is earmarked to my ING account. I'll keep looking for another part time job for the holidays, but not sure how that will go in my neck of the woods, most stores close at 5 or 6, just when I get out of work! I'll keep plugging away at it. I'd say that was a 50% of a goal.

November Goals:

Stick to the Budget.
Find an alternative source of income.
Do a massive decluttering of the house.
Make the Christmas present/card list.
Take on line continuing education course.

My goals might not be as grand as some others, but I am getting better and more disciplined about my budgets, goal settings, and it's all part of my relearning curve.

And For Fun Last Night, I Swept My Carpet

Just to add insult to injury, the other day my vacuum cleaner died. I turned it on to do a much needed vacuuming of the house, it made a funny noise and then died. First the car, now the Hoover. The vacuum is older than the car so all I did was swear a lot and drag theHoover and put it out to go to the dump this weekend. It is just not worth taking it to be repaired, it would be the cost of a new one and this one is old. Seems to be the story of my life, things dying and are too old to really spend the money on to be repaired or can be replaced with the new and improved model for the same price or less. At least I got a good ten years out of that vacuum, so I'm really not complaining, just complaining about the timing of it all.

The carpet needs a good cleaning, but for now, it got swept and at least looks better than it did before I swept it.

Part of what I will be doing this weekend will be a good clean out/clean up of the house. I did not get to do a dump run (the joys of managing your trash in the country), so that is a must do chore. I did clean most of my windows and screens last weekend (inside and out) as well as the window sills and I'll finish that this weekend.

I've had a bunch of books on for a while and since they have not sold and I'm down to the minimum price, I will take them to Goodwill for a donation .

The car repair bill has been paid and I have $10 to spend on myself this weekend. I think I'll earmark that for a new vacuum......

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

All I can say right now is GRRRR.

Got a call from my attorney's office, they got a letter from the Court Trustee. Not only does the Trustee want the jewelry appraisal (just waiting for that to come back, ring and watch has been dropped off), now they want a copy of my 2007 tax return (which is still just a future project) before they will approve the discharge. I think the Trustee wants to see what my tax refund will be. I can pretty much summize that it won't be much. I don't have the expenses this year that I had last year that I can write off, other than mortgage interest, some student loan, some medical, and some work related. It's going to be 1/3 of what I had last year in expenses. I won't even get all my tax documents until mid to late January and this pushes off the discharge until at least February.

Call me superstitious, but I wore that darned ring to work on Friday so I would remember to stop off at the jewelers and Friday is when my transmission blew and when the Trustees letter was dated. Each time I wear that ring something not good happens.

I'm telling ya, if I get to keep that ring, I'll never wear it again.

Oh well, not much I can do at this point until at least mid January 2008.

What I spent my money on..

Just to keep in the Spirit of What I spent my money on, Picture of a car transmission

At least I'm on the road again.......

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Upcoming Budget

Since I already consider October a wasted month (two car repairs). Here is the proposed November Budget based on what I spent August to October and what I forsee as expenses.

Mortgage: $553 (fixed)
Car Insurance: $87 (fixed)
Student Loan: $175 (fixed)
Utilities: $150
Emergency Fund: $200 (fixed until I reach my goal)
ING contribution: $25 (fixed-forced savings)
Health Insurance:$90 (fixed)

Total: $1,545

Wiggle Room on the budget: Food/Alcohol (this also includes eating out), Gas-Auto, Utilities (maybe, I have electric heat), and the Misc (this includes hobby expenses, clothes, gifts,etc).

I've already made two small payments to the ING account for the photo shoots. As soon as a check comes in, I deposit it and then transfer the money over. Small steps! I will be updating my October spending over the weekend. THAT should be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sods Law

Of course, just as I was feeling all smug last week redoing my budget, and seeing improvement towards my goals, my car goes and has a transmission meltdown, yup, literally a meltdown.

It's as if the car knew my bankruptcy petition was going through. I woke up Wednesday AM, went to work and could smell something 'hot' in the car. Popped the hood, did not see or smell anything and did not think about it until Friday evening when I could really smell the hot. Did not see anything, but just as a giggle, I checked all my car fluids (oil, transmission, anti freeze) and low and behold, the tranny was low and took almost 3 quarts of fluid. NOT a good sign.

Mechanic has told me the transmission is leaking, has partially fried itself, needs to be replaced, has lent me a loaner car, can't fix my car until Wednesday and it will cost $1100. We can't find a used transmission or a rebuilt one in the area, I know I also tried calling around today as well. That is my paycheck plus and will really set me back in my financial goals for November. Really sets me back.

Not being credit worthy at this point means repair and diligently saving for a new or new to me vehicle. That $1100 would be better spent on my emergency fund, student loans, etc, but must go to car repair. The quest for a second job has to be kicked up a higher notch. UGGHHH

What I'm Saving For

In the spirit of my previous posts and in recognition of what Gates VP had on his site, here are the things I am saving for

1) A new car-now the primary goal as my car just had a transmission explosion and until I am more credit worthy, must be repaired until it can be replaced. If I'm gonna have to have a car note, at least let it be for a vehicle I really want to have

which at this point is one that runs, has AC and I can fit all my animals in!

2) A new TV, flat screen with a DVD play in it. Not only is my small TV on it's way out, the DVD player is not working well at all either. This particular TV was found on, a site I have used for gift and personal purchases. Since I don't have cable or satellite and my "TV watching season" is almost upon me (December to March), I'd really like to have a new TV.
3) Funding my emergency fund.
Hats off to Saving Diva for also taking the challenge and posting on her site the items she is saving for as part of her personal finance plan!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Enjoying Your Money

Sort of a part two to Friday's blog post. I spent part of the weekend talking to friends about saving money and enjoying money. Sometimes the two seem to be worlds apart. My guess from reading these blogs is most folks are hard workers and are dedicated to improving their quality of life. Those of us who do PF blogs are, almost without exception, trying to save money to get out of debt, save for a home, save for a better life. AND almost without exception, very few PF bloggers do post pictures, or describe with happiness and joy a purchase they made when they hit a particular milestone in savings.

I commend everyone who is diligently saving money and striving for a goal, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it is important to:

1) give yourself a treat for reaching a certain milestone-buy that TV, get that new dress, enjoy the fact you saved and earned this particular item if this is what you were saving for. If you reach another money milestone, take yourself out for a Starbucks (if you have given up the $4 latte habit), buy lunch from your favorite deli instead of brown bagging it. For many of us, this is one reason we have new budgets and saving goals. It does not mean to go out and spend all the available credit on the huge 52 plasma flat screen.


2) It's OK to NOT meet a milestone in a particular month for what ever reason, don't kick yourself when you are down. For what ever reason, we sometimes don't reach our goals, we just have to objectively look at why we did not and see if we can correct that for the next month. Could be an extenuating circumstance, could be we just could not stick to our budget, could be we need to re-evaluate our budget, it could be any number of things.

I guess we just need to appreciate what we have and pat ourselves on the back when we reach our goals. And continue to strive for better personal finance habits!

Friday, October 19, 2007

An Interesting Perspective

I spent my lunch hour today trolling a few blogs. I read Gates on Stuff and am finding it an interesting read.

If you get a chance, go to the blog and read his post of September 28th, which deals with PF blogs. I think the post makes some very valid points. Lots of blogs discuss how we are saving money, what we saved and very few tell us what was bought.

The typical PF blogger makes almost zero posts about the things they do buy, they just keep throwing out money savings tips and net worth updates, but they don't give us pics of the new rental property or the x-mas toys they bought the kids or the new car they bought in cash(!).

Heck, even with the bankruptcy, I still need items and I still want items. I'm totally admitting that part of what I am saving for is a new flat screen TV. Why do I want a TV when I'm climbing out of bankruptcy? I don't have cable, I watch a lot of DVD's, I get Coronation Street on Video from friends in the UK, My current TV is almost 10 years old and small, the picture quality has dimished and to watch DVD's I have to have it hooked up to something called an RF modulator. Between my TV, DVD player, VCR player and the modulator, I need a full power strip-four plugs so I can watch DVD's or old Video tapes.

When I manage to meet my TV goal, I'll happily post a picture of the new TV. I don't know what I'll post when I meet my Emergency Fund goal. A picture of a dollar?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Couple Changes and a Couple Goals

I've made a couple changes to my money progress tab. I opened an ING savings account, and I dumped the other monies I had into one account. I will set up separate accounting for them over the weekend. After the car issue, I had to dip into each account (since I did not have an Emergency Fund) to pay for the overdue and unexpected service.

Part of this process is re-organizing my finances, priorities and my life.

Goals for the next few days

1) Take on line course.
2) Re-evaluate needs and wants and make a list.
3) Set monetary goals for Emergency Fund, Car Fund, etc.
4) Get my hair done.
5) E-mail three people I have been neglecting recently.

So What Kind of Bankruptcy Did You File?

Other than the readers of this blog, the only other person I have told about the Bankruptcy is my friend James. James has got to be one of the most fiscally irresponsible people I know in this world. He has walked away from more debt without any desire to pay any of it more than any person I know. But non the less, he is still Just James and my friend his fiscal irresponsibility aside. I called looking for a little emotional support and got ZIPPO.

James responses to my statement that I just came back from court and was declared Bankrupt was 1) How are you able to keep your house and car 2) and how much money do you now have 3) What Chapter did you file? Yikes, so much for a sympathetic ear from anyone close to me. For now, I'll keep this process a secret from my friends and just post on this blog.

Based on my application, my assets are $141,262 (this includes my house, my 8 year old car, my small retirement account and my personal property-clothes, possessions).

My liabilities are $152,267 (my mortgage, my debts, my student loans, etc). The number boggle me.

There are many types of Bankruptcy, but I'll mention the four most common types

Chapter 7: A trustee is appointed to take over your property. Any property of value will be sold or turned into money to pay your creditors. You may be able to keep some person items and possibly real estate depending on the law of the state you live in.

Chapter 13: You can keep your property, but must earn wages or have some other source of regular income and you must agree to pay part of your income to your creditors. The court must approve your repayment play and your budget. A trustee is appointed and will collect the payments from you, pay your creditors and make sure you live up to the terms of your repayment plan.

Chapter 12: Like Chapter 13, but for family farmers

Chapter 11: This is used mostly by businesses. In Chapter 11, you may continue to operate your business, but your creditors and the Court must approve a plan to repay your debts. There is no Trustee unless the Judge decides one is necessary, if a trustee is appointed, the trustee takes control of your business and property.

On the advice of my attorney, I filed Chapter 7. According to my attorney, some insane amount of people default on Chapter 13 and can't keep up with the payment schedule. Any increase or decrease to your income has to be reported to your Trustee and your repayment schedule modified. I had originally asked about a Chapter 13 and my attorney told me to pursue the Chapter 7. So I did.

Most people file a bankruptcy to get a "discharge". A discharge is a Court order that states that you do not have to pay most of your debts. Some debts can not be discharged. These are

Most taxes
Child Support
Most Student Loans
Court fines and criminal restitution
Personal injury caused by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.

The judge has the final say based on the recommendation from the Trustee to discharge or not discharge. Since the Trustee told me he concluded my hearing, I'm making the rash assumption that I will have my discharge in mid-December and be able to keep my house, my meager retirement account and my few pieces of jewelry. There are limits and exemptions and those limits and exemptions will allow me to keep my house, retirement account and hopefully my inherited jewelry.

I still have $6000 in student load debt to pay and I am current on that (as of this Friday, the payment gets mailed tomorrow). I don't owe any taxes, and I don't pay Alimony or child support.

I thought about the jewelry situation today. I dropped off the items to be appraised and I thought that despite the fact my mother gave me her wedding band, it has been nothing but bad news for me.

My parents were happily married for 27 years and to listen to my mother, you would think she was newly widowed instead of being widowed 25 years ago. She gave me her wedding ring when she thought she was dying, she wanted me to have it. It sat in my jewelry box for a number of years. I started to wear it on and off for special occasions (diamonds ARE a girls best friend). Note, these are not multiple carats of diamonds, or a huge single stone, but a small band of small diamonds and sapphires. I did notice that weird things happened when I wore the ring. It was almost as if the ring had some bad ju ju on it. If I have to sell it, I will.

A Shout Out from Ladies In The Red

From Katie at The Ladies In The Red for this blog. My thanks to Katie for putting me on her friend's page. If you have not read her blog and her story, please click here for the link to the story in the Mail on Sunday and here for a link to her very funny and helpful web site.

I think Katie is very brave to go public with her story and I find her site to be one of the funniest Personal Finance Blogs around. Check it out

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Trustees Meeting

It was a very interesting experience. I arrived to the big bad city where my Trustee hearing was to be held about an hour early. Remember, I have turned into a country bumpkin, cities are not places I go to on a regular basis anymore, concerns about traffic, finding parking, etc made me leave home really early. I live in a town with just as many cows as people. I used to actually live in this city (about 19 years ago for about 13 months) so I was sort of familiar with it. I was nervous; I did not want to be late.

I got a cup of overpriced coffee (the local Dunkin Donuts was nasty looking) from a little coffee shop around the corner from the building I was to have my hearing in. I walked around, sat for a bit on a window ledge in the sun and tried not to imagine the worst. I tried not to break down and cry. I really felt alone.

My mind was racing, what questions would the Trustee ask? Would any of my creditors show up and dispute my petition? Would I lose my house and my retirement account? I had no idea and listening to the cases before mine, I was a bit panicked.

When you file for Bankruptcy, you are called a Petitioner. Several of the Petitioners had creditors show up looking for money, answers, anything. One couple were declaring bankruptcy because their business went under, yet the Trustee had a bunch of questions, what happened to funds when you refinanced your house, why do you have another business that has some income and expenses, why did your brother buy you out, who owns the new company,what exactly did the bank take, what do you really owe? Three creditors (including the bank in question) were there to find out where the money was. The bank attorney was annoyed; he even wanted the old phone system from the now defunct company. He was out for anything he could get. The Trustee had lots of questions, to me it looked like these people were trying to hide assets and I think the Trustee had the same doubts as well. That is a big No No in the Bankruptcy world.

One Petitioner had filed Bankruptcy 10 years ago and was filing again. The Trustee had a lot of questions for this Petitioner about retirement accounts, property owned, businesses and pretty much said to that person, see me in a month with these questions answered. Another Petitioner had her meeting in less than 2 minutes, literally, less than 2 minutes. The Trustee ran down his list of questions and she was out the door.

These meetings are held in a large room at a conference table. Pretty much whatever you say and discuss is open for anyone to hear and people are in and out of the hearing room during each session. It's really public, but then again, Bankruptcy becomes public knowledge and is part of the public record.

I was nervous about what was going to happen and it did not make me feel any better that when the Trustee took a break, he had a file of Petitions on his desk. Some very tall attorney looking person took a stroll up to the table while the Trustee while was out of the room, and took a look at the list read the list and nodded. Was this a creditor of mine, was this someone to contest my case? Actually no, it was none of the above, but my mind and my heart were racing at this point.

My attorney showed up at 10:15 for my 10:30 hearing. We talked briefly, my attorneys only comment was about my jewelry (no one mentioned it to me earlier) and my HSA. He said the Trustee might ask about them (which he did).

As I discussed in my previous post, the Trustee only had three real questions for me about my so called "Assets" . His only other question was about why I was filing for bankruptcy. I honestly told him being underemployed and unemployed for several years all added up. He also asked if I wanted to/intend to keep my house and I told him I really wanted to keep my house. More than anything, I wanted to keep my house. I kinda wonder if he was actually listening to me (despite the fact that the entire session was being tape recorded.)

Once I answered the questions, we were done. I spoke to my attorney after the hearing and said, What's Next? He said, take your on line course, get your jewelry appraisal and that's all she wrote. He was more concerned that he might have a parking ticket as he parked at an hour only parking meter (I splurged on the parking garage, cost me $8 total).

What happens now? I take my jewelry to be appraised this weekend, I take my on line course this weekend and I send documentation of both to my attorney and the court and I wait another 60 days.

I am officially declared Bankrupt until it is discharged and that projected date is December 16, 2007. I can't apply for any credit until my Bankruptcy is discharged, that's ok by me, all I want to do for the next few months is to put my life in financial order, get an emergency fund up and running, work on paying down my student loan, work on saving for a new car. If for any reason I win the lottery or get an inheritance or some other huge lump sum of cash within the 6 months from the date of my filing I am to immediately contact my attorney and the Trustees office. Since I don't have any relatives who are planning on leaving me oodles of money in their wills and the most I've ever won in the lottery was $75 on Powerball, I'm not worried. If I won the big jackpot, I'd be very happy to pay back all my creditors, very happy to pay them. I can them move on with my life with a clearer mind.

I get to keep my house as long as I pay my mortgage on time every month and keep insurance currant on it. I get to keep my house (and for the record, I paid my October mortgage on October 2nd).

For all intents and purposes, the only debts I currently have now are my mortgage ,my student load and my current bills. I don’t have a car note, I don't have credit cards, I made an effort prior to my filing to pay off as many other debts as possible (medical, loans, etc). I will need to find a way to get a new car next year, my current vehicle has 224,000 miles on it and is starting to show it's age. Despite being paid off, it will need to be replaced.

My plans are to open an ING account and use that as my car fund account. I just took on a contract position taking photos of properties for a mortgage company and it looks like I will be photographing two to five properties per week, it's not much, but its anywhere from $45 to $75 a week that I can earmark for my car fund. $180 to $300 per month all for taking photos of houses. I

I don't make that much money and the money I do make will have to be carefully earmarked. I am working on my new household budget. I am working on my list of needs and wants. I am going to take a small break and figure out how to find a second job that will actually pay me something, be close to home and let me take care of my animals.

The only unplanned for post filing splurge is I've booked myself in for a haircut and color in my favorite salon. It may be my last session there, and the streaks of grey have gotten on my nerves. At least I can start my new life with my old hair color back.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Can Now Breathe and Move On

I'm officially Bankrupt pending my final on line credit management course and an appraisal on some jewelry.

I am mentally exhausted and will write more later, but the Trustee only had a few questions for me:

1) Why did I open an HSA during my filing period? (Because my work was not paying 100% of my health insurance premiums and this was reccommended to me to help offset medical costs)

2) Can I get an appraisal on my three pieces of jewelry and send to his office, as I was right at/over the personal exemption on jewelry?

3) Was I expecting a tax refund ? (Not as much as last year)

I have three pieces of jewelery that are what I consider "good pieces". My grandfathers gold pocket watch, my mothers diamond/sapphire wedding band and my grandmothers pearl necklace. I explained to the trustee that I used a very old appraisal I had on file and I was not sure if the pieces would appraise out now to the same price. Truthfully, I lost two of the stones in the wedding band and the watch has not worked in years. He seemed to be sympathetic to me as I told him these items were left to me by my now dead relatives, but if I still needed an appraisal done and sent to his office, I would do so.

Other than that, he asked for my bank balance as of the filing date, he said the meeting was over, gave me a sheet on bankruptcy and moved on to the next case. My attorney told me send in the appraisal,take your last class and good luck.

Good luck, I'll need it, that's for sure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Less Than 24 Hours

My first meeting of my creditors is less than 24 hours away. Part of me feels like I want to throw up. Part of me is aching to get on with my new life. I've had very mixed emotions about this and if I could have this weekend, I would have stayed in bed with the covers over my head.

I have no idea what is going to happen. My mail box has been very empty (which is a good thing, all the creditors have been notified and the hate mail has stopped). I can answer my phone without dread, I'm not totally freaked about every car that comes down my small road.

This past weekend I helped to put on a charity function and my organizational skills were put to good use. We had minimal expenses, more donations of goods and services than I thought we would get and our net gain was quite large. The charity in question was thrilled with the outcome. I wish I could have done that with my fiscal life.

A big part of me feels like a failure, I could not manage my own money and now I'm 18 hours away from being declared legally bankrupt. UGH

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I got a Featured Blog brag!

Oh Last Week I forgot to mention I got a mention in the Hu$tler Money Blog Personal Finance Class of 2007. I got a C as a newly minted blogger and that is OK by me!

Check out the site, it's pretty cool

While Checking Out a Couple Other Blogs-I came across this

Whie checking out a couple other blogs this afternoon on my break ,I came across this test on I paid for this twice site, so I took the test as a part of Blog Action Day-what kind of Blogger are you?

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What Happens to You When You File Bankruptcy

Stealing the Idea from The Ladies in Red

1) You will still be paranoid that every unrecognized phone number is a bill collector, no matter what caller ID says.

2) You will get blotchy skin from the stress. Unfortunately, that's a given. And because you are penny pinching, you won't be able to afford your Molton Brown skin lotions and potions.

3) You will dread going to the mailbox to see what other nasty letter is in there.

4) You will wonder if the pre-filing counseling and the post filing budgeting course will really help you out when your car has that totally unexpected bank account busting repair bill.

5) You wonder if you will ever get credit again.

6) You will glance at every strange car that stops near your house and wonder if it is the State Marshall looking to serve you with papers (and if you are like me, strange cars happen all the time, my neighbor has her house for sale).

7) You will stress eat because carbs taste so good, your waistline will expand and your clothes will shrink.

8) You wonder what you will do with your fresh start- I'm beginning to wonder if a move to someplace totally different might not be in the cards.

9) You wonder what you will say if and when someone you know sees your name in the public notices about bankruptcy in your local paper. My response will be "And your point is........."

10) You do know that you can get a secured credit card (ie- a prepaid one) for those times when you don't want to carry cash. Check out Orchard Bank as one of the many banks that will work with you post Bankruptcy. I found them on line the other day when I was doing some research.

11) You do know that this process will be a painful learning experience and give you a clean slate to start all over.

12) You do know that you have hit bottom and can come right back up. All that extra weight on my butt will help me bounce back up and help me land on my feet.

13) You do know that you are in good company, after all the list of the rich and famous who have bounced back is long and lengthy (Burt Reynolds, Larry King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Francis Ford Coppola).

14) You do know that since you can't afford Molton Brown, you have found a fabu CVS substitute at more than half the price less than what you used to pay and your skin won't look like a bad frozen pizza anymore.

15) You have discovered that you can make the switch to store and generic brands and be OK (except for Hellmans Mayo, Heinz Ketchup, and Tide Laundry Detergent-there are somethings you just don't substitute, no matter how destitute one must be).

16) You have discovered that since you are broke and on a budget, you can't afford new clothes to fit the "expanded" you. You have however, found the three best thrift shops and consignment shops in a 10 mile radius of your home and for $20, have gotten a practically brand new fall wardrobe.

17) You will realize that maybe you don't need so much stuff anymore and sell it on e-bay,, or Craigslist. I just sold three books on

18) You will find that the local beauty academy does a just fine manicure, pedicure and a basic haircut.

19) You can say with a straight face to all those people you really don't want to buy birthday and holiday gifts for "Nope sorry, not this year, you know, my finances won't allow me to".

20) You can use one of those depressive days to really think about your needs and wants and make a list of needs for gifts for those who still really really want to buy you a gift. Use this period to really see what you NEED in your life as compared to what you WANT in your life. I do NEED a new TV this year and I WANT cable, but I'll settle for a new TV. Cable is over rated, even though I miss Queer Eye for The Straight Guy.

21) You will realize that you are tougher than you think, you can lose the weight, you have learned some painful life lessons, and yes you can carry on.

Time to get back to work!

Feeling Ill

I feel like I am coming down with something. It's not quite a cold, it's not allergies, it's probably that queasy feeling in anticipation of the meeting with the court trustee next week and what may or may not happen. And true to me, I'm repressing all my feelings by eating. And eating mainly carbs. I ate a half a toasted baguette with Pate on it (I bought the Pate at Trader Joes and it is yummy). Since I met with the attorney's office and started this procedure, I've gained 10 pounds. Most people lose weight, I gain it. It's the Italian in me, it's ingrained that anything that bothers me can be cured with food. Like I said earlier, I stress grocery shop, then I stress eat. I need to stress work out.

I've been doing some blog research and can't find much on US Bankruptcy. I've found several on UK Bankruptcies and they have been interesting reads. The first one I found was Ladies In The Red, written by the very brave and funny Katie Edwards. She was recently featured in the Mail on Sunday Weekend Magazine chronicling her bankruptcy saga. She gives me hope.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Friday Can't Come Soon Enough

I logged on to my bank account and due to the car repair, the rental car, the bills not yet reimbursed for the trade show, I have a whopping $16.42 in my checking account.

I get paid on Friday and can't wait for my direct deposit to hit.

At least I have gas in my now newly repaired car, I have submitted my bills for reimbursement for the trade show (I'll get back about $250 which should cover most of the unexpected car rental).

Lesson learned, an emergency fund is a good thing. And it's become a priority for the upcoming months.

7 Days and Counting

I got the questionnaire from the attorney's office, filled it out and sent it back to the paralegal with just two questions. I'm waiting to hear back from them.

I took some time off because I had an out of town event. This event wrecked my budget, just wrecked it. Actually, my car being out of service threw a wrench into the plans. I ended up renting a vehicle to cart me, my supplies, et all to this event. It was stinking hot (high 80's and high humidity) and along with my car not 100% and no AC, I rented a vehicle.

I worked a big trade/conference show for someone I used to have a business relationship with. I had agreed ages ago to work this event and felt I needed to honor my obligation. Plus I've been to this trade show before as a customer and it's been educational and fun. I am feeling the need to tie up loose ends all neat and tidy and leave relationships on a positive note.

Part of me had a great time seeing folks and networking. Part of me kept dreading the fact that I agreed to do this. I had to remind myself that 1) I agreed to do this event ages ago 2) You can't go back on your word when others were relying on you and 3) I don't have to do these trade shows anymore, so I might as well make this my last hurrah.

At least the weather has cooled down and it's making me feel better. I think I will feel a lot better after next Tuesday and when I get back to a writing schedule again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

14 Days and Counting

I checked my mail today and the notice was there, Court Date with the Trustee is Set for October 16, 2007 at 10:30 AM

Yikes, it feels so weird. After all I've been dealing with this summer, the date is finally here. From what I understand this is the hearing where creditors can come and try to take what little assets I have. There is not much to take.

The only creditor I am worried about is my mortgage company. I did sign a paper that said I will stay current and make my payments on time so I'm hoping they won't "call in the note". Since my bank is fairly local, I'm guessing they will be more than happy to have me stay current and me to keep my house. Lets think happy thoughts on this one.

All I have to do now is my post filing budget management course, and since I was not very happy with last months budget I am almost looking forward to the on line class.

Now to investigate the on line classes

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tale of the Tape for September

OUCH! There is much room for improvement and this was a painful month as I look back on it. BUT it has been helpful to keep all my receipts and figure out where I spend my money. What I have figured out is I stress spend-especially at the grocery store, then I stress eat. This has been a very good exercise for me and I have to update my side bars, I had to dip into my computer and new car fund to pay for the attorney and the car repair.

Here is the breakdown:

Mortgage: $542.31
Utilities: $167.44
Food: $255.48
Gas: $105.46
Hobby: $50
Attorney: $489 Purchases $9.65
Student Loan: $347.68
Donation: $18.
Misc: $100
Clothes: $184.88

Total: $2,282.19

I have not set a budget for October because I wanted to see how September played out. There is room for improvement

Food: Sept: $255.48 October Goal $175.
This was high for a couple reasons. I forgot I placed a liquor order two months ago with a friend of mine coming for a visit from a state where the liquor is cheap. He showed up at my front door with $65 in assorted bottle of liquor from my I need to restock list. I have enough alcohol at home to pickle a medium sized person. I also bought a bunch of snacky food for my weekend road trips and I included pet food in this category.

Gas: $105.46 October Goal $100
I've been in the last stages of honoring some obligations to folks and was on the road for two of the four weekends (to places far away). I am away this weekend as well, my last long distance road trip until at least the middle of November.

Mortgage: $542.31 October $552.
Due to an increase in property tax, my mortgage will increase a bit.

Utilities: September $167.44 October Goal: $60
My utilities included July and August billing and for parts of late July and parts of August I ran the A/C. Not cleaning off my desk for two months cost me!

Medical: Sept $112.29 October $112.29
I have to pay part of my Health Insurance premium so that is always be constant. I opened a Health Savings Account and will fund it with pre-tax dollars for the premium and any related expenses. I do have two MD appointments scheduled, so I should be paying about the same, if not a bit more, one is covered and one will need a co-pay. I have asked my payroll department to direct deposit a set amount into the HSA each payroll period.

Expenses I WON'T have

Attorney fees-all done and dusted, or so I hope!
Donations: done for the time being
Clothes: No need for any new purchases for October and maybe November

Expenses not noted:
Car insurance, homeowners insurance,mobile phone bills, laundromat, I am currently looking for new policies and plans.

Car repair: Came to a total of $357 including towing, but the checks did not clear my account yet.

As I stated above, I had to dip into my computer and car fund account to pay for my car repair. Not having an emergency fund was not good.

October Goals

Better grip on a budget for November once I compare October and September.
Work on the emergency fund
See if I can find some part time income to supplement what I currently have.-Second job one or two nights a week would be a big help (pay mobile bill, pay gas for the week.)
Decrease the food bill
See where I can cut back on the mad money (IE-cash in hand) expenses or at least track them better.
Only spend on e-bay and what I make selling stuff. A bit of a trade off.

I do have Quicken on my home computer and I have to face up to using it to track my spending and update directly from my checking account to Quicken. No excuses! I have to hold myself accountable for my digressions.

I do envy those folks who are able to stick to their budgets and seem to track it better than I do. I guess it's all part of my re-learning curve.

Onward and upward!