Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekend Job Alternatives

I'm hoping to catch up with my weekend job boss like very soon. We need to sit down and discuss a schedule.  As I stated before, I was a replacement for someone who got injured and was unable to work.  As far as I knew, the person I replaced was still unable to work at this type of job.  Taking care of horses and animals means you have to be fairly mobile and healthy. You can't come back to this type of physical labor if your body is not up to the work.  It's my understanding while they were healthy, they were not very mobile.

My weekend boss has said to me on a number of occassions that he is comfortable with me being at the facility when he is out of town, the system seemed to work for both of us. I had asked on a couple of occassions how my predecessor was doing and if there was an ETA to return to work. The last I heard from my weekend boss was no return date was given.  As I stated earlier this week, I was a bit distressed to hear my hours were going to be cut. His temporary solution, work one day a week is not satisfactory.  Lest you think I'm turning down work, I'm not.  The facility is not close to home and requires that I travel almost two hours to get there. I am lucky that I can bring my dogs with me to the weekend job.  I load up dogs, food, laundry, clothes, etc when I leave my house for the facility. I just don't think it will be cost effective or a good use of my time to do this one day a week, the gas and wear and tear on the car would eat up 1/3 of my pay.  My solution, alternate weekends or let me do two days (worth it in time and money to me).  I do have some weekend things I would like to do over the summer and my yard and house need some work. A weekend home would allow me to get things done. I have no idea if this will fly with my weekend boss. 

The facility has one other person who fills in for on site staff if no one else is available,she actually has a horse in training at the facility and will swap out work for board and training fees. Jill called me last week to talk about the facility and also was a bit surprised that my predecessor was coming back. We chatted a bit about the situation and I told her about the one day a week thing. Jill agreed with me about the one day a week thing. She said it before I did. Actually, she said 'WTF was he thinking when he presented that idea to you?"  I told her that I think he was hedging his bets just in case the person I replaced finds out after a couple weeks they can not physically do the work, I'll be available. I also told Jill that I wondered if money was an issue. I think I get a better daily wage than the person I replaced. The old A/P person let that slip to me one day when there was an issue with my payroll.

So, what I am going to do?  Not much right now. I need to talk to the weekend boss, get his feelings on all of this and see what solution we can come up with to make us all happy. It might happen, it might not. There are not a lot of evening and weekend opportunities around where I live, I keep looking.  The old facility I worked for does not currently have any openings on staff. I left word with my old boss and I know he just does not have my old job available. It's doing similar work, but its much closer to home.  With the hours at my "full time" job still at a reduced rate, I have to do something.

Ah well, I can let this ruin the rest of my week and my weekend, or I can just file it away in my brain and deal with it in a rational manner when the two of us can sit down and figure out a schedule. Like Scarlett O'Hara said, Tomorrow Is Another Day and I'll worry about this when I can give myself some head clearing time and not feeling like a picked upon child.

New Purchase and

I am so happy to be heading out of town for the weekend, it was an interesting yesterday here at work and I just want April to be over! My neighbor is going to watch the animals, my car has gas, I'm packed, I need to get some cash from the ATM, and I'm ready to go.

The other good news is I FINALLY purchased a new laptop! With today being pay day and even with my stupid overdrafts this week, I had the funds to pay cash for my new laptop. It has all the bells and whistles I need and then some, and even a web cam I don't need. My almost 8 year old Dell can be permanently retired once I get the new model up and running!
I'm hoping I can do some quality blogging at home instead of dragging and dropping a file to my travel drive, and then uploading my posts to blogger at work.
I had an unexpected "performance review" with my boss yesterday. I had all of 4 hours notice and was dammed sure I was going to either get a further reduction in hours or get the proverbial boot. Thankfully, it was neither. I'm not getting an increase in hours or pay, but at least I still have a job. I'll post about this interesting experience later.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Distractions and Another OverDraft

To say I've been a bit distracted is an understatement. I really need to work on this. I logged into my bank account today and saw that my balance was a bit lower than it should be. I went to the transactions page and saw that I (again) and somehow bounced two checks. My bank covered them and of course charged me an overdraft fee. NOT GOOD.

The fault is entirely mine, I just spaced out earlier this week when I wrote out my bills to be paid on payday. I somehow grabbed the envelopes and mailed them instead of putting them aside until the day they could be mailed out safetly.

This distraction cost me $60 in bank fees. I am not happy about this. Since I'm not a fan of e-bill paying, I have to be more careful when I write out my checks. This has happened twice to me this month. It can't happen in May. It just can't. That's $120 that could be put towards my e-fund, my car loan, or what ever.

Looking and Not Looking Forward To The Weekend

I have this weekend off from my part time job. I am going to go be with a bunch of my friends celebrating a combination of May Day, Cinco De Mayo, The Kentucky Derby and Hey! It's A Weekend!

A bunch of us are sharing two hotel rooms and will pretty much spend the weekend, eating, drinking, talking, shopping, hanging out and doing "stuff". I am looking forward to it. I want a weekend where I can be with people and hang out. I've budgeted about $250 including food, lodging, gas and fun money. I hope to come back home with cash in my pocket. I'm not really planning on shopping, I don't really need or want anything (unless something really catches my eye) and I've even got food at home to bring for most of my snacks. I love shopping for car snacks.

What is making me not look forward to the weekend is one of the party is one of the folks I blogged about here. As I posted there, I've had some eye opening moments this past year and my relationship with one particular friend has changed dramatically. She is coming on this trip. Part of me is not surprised, she has participated in these group events in the past, but in the past she would group e-mail everyone and find out arrival times, arrange a meal out, or what ever. She did group e-mail people, I was not on that list and she knew I was hoping to be able to go, weekend job time off pending. And I'm not really surprised that she would have excluded me given her recent behaviour. As I said, I've guess I've outlived my usefulness as her friend. So be it.

What I have to do is remind myself to be an adult and not a petulant child. I will speak nicely to her and not be a beotch. The on again/off again boyfriend said to confront her about her "behaviour", but honestly, I just don't want to go there as they say. I made the repeated efforts to stay in touch, she chose not to, time to move on and re-evaluate the relationship. I'm sure she will be friendly and polite, she was well raised, but do I expect a change back to our old relationship/BFF status. Nope. And I think finally I am OK with that.

Whoo Hoo-I Made the Top 100 of Best Financial Blogs!

Whoo Hoo For Me! I got a mention at On Line MBA blog  for this blog!

Check out the others here.

Congrats to all who made the list!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Did Not Get The Re-Finance Loan

I called the credit union this morning and they did not approve my loan for the refinance.  It had nothing to do with my credit, or so they said. It was due to the fact that according to their calcualtions and payoff figures, my car is worth less than the loan.  Like way less according to the Credit Union. According to my on line research, it's worth a bit less than what I currently owe, but not as much as the CU said. Since I have an insane interest rate of course I owe "more". They did say that if the loan had originated with them, they do refinance car loans for customers in good standing. My loan did not orginate from the CU. The CU said they mailed me a rejection letter, which I'll probably get in the mail today or tomorrow. I'll read it, make sure it says what they told me on the phone and then shread the letter.

Ah well, I'm not going to argue with them, I gave it a shot, that's all I could do.  I guess I'll just motivated myself to snowflake extra money towards paying off the car.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Weekend Update

So far the weekend has a been a good one. I got busy at work on Friday and forgot to call the credit union. I'll just have to do that on Monday.  I have managed to score to meals out with friends the past two nights.  It's been great.  My friend Dee invited me over to her house for a small get together, about 8 of us in total, good food, good conversation, what more can you say. I also caught up with an old college friend last night, just pizza and beer, but we have not spoken in ages, and it was good to bring each other up to speed.

The best part about last night was getting an open invite to use same friends summer cottage in Maine. Not only is it in Maine and FREE, but it's just yards away from the ocean and a reasonable drive to Freeport, the home of LL Bean.  It's not a fussy place and that is fine by me, I'm very happy to have a place to crash, a shower that works and I'm already planning walks on the beach. 

That makes up for the very realistic change in my weekend work schedule.   Nothing is set in stone, but due to circumstances beyond my control, my hours are getting cut.  I actually took this weekend position as a replacement for someone who had gotten seriously injured.  I got the news that this person is looking to come back to work.  Like in the next couple weeks. In two weeks actually.  I knew this was a possibility  when I agreed to work this position, but in conversations with my weekend boss, the person I replaced pretty much had not given any clear indication as to when they would be able to return, if at all.  The last conversation I had with my weekend boss about hours and scheduling went like this: 

ME: Boss, I really would like to go to the events being held the first weekend in May instead of working at the barn, I also need a half day off on May 16th to do something local, but can work the rest of my schedule.  Other than that, I don't see any other time off needed until maybe late June. I do have a function in July.  I can confirm those dates in a week or two.

Boss: Sounds pretty good to me, let me make sure I can get the schedule covered for May weekend.  Your half day is not a problem.  We will worry about July later.  

Me: OK, just let me know, if you can't get the schedule covered, I'll work. 

So imagine my mixed emotions when I'm told on Friday that yes I can have May weekend off, and oh yeah, covering the schedule that weekend will be the former employee who wants to come back, so we will have to talk about schedules because I don't want to lose you from the staff.

Big sigh on my part.  I knew this was temporary work, but all the recent indications made it out to be a permanent weekend gig given the severity of the persons injury.  My full time job hours have not increased and there is no sign in the foreseeable future that they will either.  

My weekend Boss and I are going to talk schedules this week and see where it goes.  Ah well, I know from past experience when a window closes, a door opens, but right now I'm feeling like a door was slammed on me.  

I'll keep  you updated and in the mean time, I'm going to go out and enjoy the day and the lovely pastoral scene of horses grazing in the fields.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Got Done At Lunch today

Loan Application neatly filled out-Check
Copies of pay stubs-Check
Letter explaining the BK and why I would like to do a refinance-Check
Copy of car note statement-Check

All of the above FINALLY dropped off to the credit union-Check.

I have to call back on Friday to see if I've been approved for my car refinance.  Think happy thoughts and keep your fingers crossed for me.

I Am So Much More Than A Donation To A Cause

As I posted before, part of my recovery from the Bankruptcy was and still is, my relationship with various people in my life. These past few months I did a costly experiment in human relations, costly in cash, but eye opening for me. I should also preface this by saying I know that friendships can be situation or geographic region specific and that they can run their course. Not everyone can be your Best Friend Forever (BFF) or even a Very Very Good Friend (VVGF) and some people gravitate to good aquaintences.
I am the person who belonged to a number of organizations, some social, some hobby, some charitable. To a certain extent part of my self esteem and self worth was tied up in my positions in these various organizations-Board Member, Club Officer, willing event Chairperson, etc. For a while, way too much of my self esteem was tied up in the positions I held in these organizations and not the person I was/am. I was the person you could call on to help rally the troops, give up an evening to make phone calls, etc. I enjoyed being the Go To volunteer. It made me feel good because I was good at my volunteer jobs and I had my fair share of things to do and people to see.

When funds got tight, I slowly stopped attending events, the charity lunches, the silent auctions, the drinks parties, I scaled back on my fiscal donations as well. I had a lot on my plate, I had other personal events going on in my life, I just could not “be there” for all these organizations, I was barely there for myself. I backed out of events, did not volunteer as often while I was in fiscal hell.

I noticed that after awhile, my e-mail inbox got a lot less crowded, my answering machine did not have as many messages, the invitations to events, both related to the organizations and with my “friends” also dried up. Pretty much, if I was not willing and able to donate money, place bids at the silent auction or give up my spare time to organize the spring fund raiser, many of the people I volunteered with and many I considered friends where just not there for me. And to be quite honest, I was not “there” as well. I’m sure some people considered my decreased involvement to mean that I was no longer interested in either the cause, organization and the people.

What really bothered me was that there were some people I really considered real friends, not just a friend from the Junior League or the Rotary Club, or the Garden Club,but a true friend, a VVGF and one a BFF. When they stopped contacting me, I took a lot of it personally for a long time. When things started to get a bit better last summer and fall, I slowly upped my participation in these organizations. Low and behold, slowly the invitations, phone calls, and e-mails started to increase as well.

As an experiment, I “upped” my participation in these events, went to the holiday silent auction, bought two seats at the February charity dinner, made a few phone calls to organize drinks out and shopping, volunteered my very limited time to organize an event, you know, all those things that cost money. I did this for about three months and even now, I still shake my head in amazement that I could be that dense about people. After my vacation, I started to scale back, saying I could not make a few events and would not be able to buy a ticket to support the cause if I could not attend and guess what, some of these supposed friends reverted to their old MO, decreased phone calls, e-mails, etc. I guess I was only enough of a friend if I was in the “organizational loop” and contributing to the cause.

One such person that has really disappointed me was someone I’ve known for about 20 years, I consider her a very close and good friend, a BFF if I needed to label her. We both belong to the same professional organization, we have been guests in each others home so often that I have a room at her house that is “my room”. We’ve traveled together, hung out together, gossiped together, shopped together, my ex and her husband got along really well, etc. I can not tell you the number of times I’d leave a phone message or send a e-mail just to say hi, what’s up, hope all is well, and get no freaking response in the past 18 months. None for days or weeks, not even, I’m sooo busy talk to you later. I pretty much would get a phone call or e-mail when information was wanted. Then I’d hear she had been in communication with another mutual friend. Like two or three times a week, via phone and e-mail. Needless to say, my feelings were hurt, the snub was pretty obvious. Since I was no longer an active participant in a mutual organization we belonged to, I guess I was deemed not worthy of communication. I did say to someone recently, this past year really opened my eyes about the various people I thought were my friends and my relationships with them and how those relationships would be moving forward.

Call me thick, call me slow, call me many things, but don’t call me your friend when the only reason I am your friend is when I can organize the spring charity fund raiser and gossip a bit about someone. BUT and there is always a BUT. This experiment also showed me that I do have friends and acquaintances that don’t see me as a donation to a charity. I do know that sometimes friendships run their course and can be “situation specific”, but I can only say again, I was really disappointed with the actions of a few friends that I thought were real and true friends. It also made me stop and think how I’ve treated a few people as well and I’m big enough to admit, I have some apologizing to do to a few people as well and some fences to mend on my end.

There are some folks I know from these organizations who were genuinely pleased to see me, I ran into one person at my local coffee house when I stopped in for my weekly latte. This person said she missed seeing me at the clubs monthly meetings, hoped I was well, and bought me my morning latte. She even went as far to say that she was starting to come to the coffee house a couple mornings a week to just enjoy her coffee without the husband and kids and maybe we could both meet every once in a while to just watch the news and catch up. I said yes and we meet up about once every two weeks to talk about everything and nothing. Sometimes we just stare at GMA.

I am also grateful for some of my other friends who have been there for me without evening knowing it. My friend Dee who I will see this weekend. She has fed me fabulous food with great wines and has lent me her ear on numerous occasions. She knows I don’t cook as well as she does (she is truly a gourmet cook), nor do I have the budget to buy the pricey wines she does, but we enjoy catching up on life over her good food and drink. I do try to bring good appetizers; I can buy good cheese, crackers and pate. My friend Frank I've known since college, who will call me up and say there is a really tacky B grade movie on TV, come on over and the Mrs. (his wife who hates B-grade movies) has volunteered to make us nachos and chicken wings. Gotta love his Mrs, she makes the most awesome real Buffalo Style Chicken wings complete with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks and is delighted that there is someone over the age of 17 who will watch Flash Gordon with her husband and kids and she can happily watch Desperate Housewives. My friend Jill who will meet me and one of the dogs for a walk in the woods. Jill is probably happier walking in the Mall, but she knows I’m not a shopper, so we meet for dog walks when the weather is nice. My neighbor who will come over and say come on over for a beer or a glass of wine! My friends Peter and Dave who always invite me to their fabulous cocktail parties and always make me feel comfortable and welcome in their home, always.

These are just a few examples. I also know that communication is a two way street and I know with me “dropping out” I probably alienated a few people. As I said above, what really bothered me was the response from people I considered old and true friends that I thought I kept the lines of communication open with. And the response from the newer friends I thought I “clicked” with. Just goes to show what a great judge of character I was and can be. What I did realize is that yes, some of my so called friends just did consider me a donation to a cause and when I ceased to donate to the cause, I ceased to be a friend.

What has this got to do with Personal Finance and Bankruptcy? It’s about not letting your membership to the Tennis Club, Golf Club, Country Club or whatever club define who you are. It's about the fact you as a person are so much more than your credit card that you bring on the shopping expidition, or the number of items you bid on at the auction, or the number of raffle tickets you buy, or cookies you bake for the bake sale, or committees you sign up for. It's many things. One of the greatest lessons I've learned through this is I am so much more than a donation to a cause. It just took me a while to realize it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In The Account~Out of The Account

Weekend Job Pay Check Deposited~ Where it Went

1) $260.23 for electric-Ouch on the forgotten payment.  Hello warmer weather and no  more electric heat (I hope).
2) $79 for 2 months of phone service.
3) $175 for remaining dentist bill.
4) $300 for credit card payment-balance on that ZERO!
5) $60 earmarked for grocery shopping for rest of April and start of May. I'm crockpotting it for tomorrow's dinner and need to pick up a couple items.
6) $172 for May student loan-pay it now baby.

Whats leftover- no a heck of a lot, there is a chunk there, and I will make a transfer to my Credit Union account on Friday. I just want to make sure there are no surprises on my desk of a forgotten payment. Like the overdue electric bill because somehow I forgot or misplaced last months bill.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Part Time Job Payday

I got to work this glorious weekend and my paycheck was sitting here waiting for me. Sweet! I had forgotten it was a payday week. This will get me current on all my utilities (I somehow missed an electric bill and have to pay two months, the March bill was high), pay off the dentist, pay off the last few dollars on my  credit card (I used the card one weekend for a service on the car, gas, grocery shop-I left my debit card at home that weekend), I have an upcoming vet visit for some of the animals, and I need a couple things myself.

I am ashamed to admit I also bounced a check on myself!  I have a checking account that I use as an E-fund. I find that I 'dip' into it for things that are non emergency.  So I decided once every 6 weeks or so the best thing to do would be to move  some funds out of that account and into my credit union account which is much harder to access the cash. I have to go to the CU to get money out and I usually think twice before making a withdraw, unlike the ease of the ATM and the debit card on the other account.  Which I did and I had forgotten that I wrote a check on the other account for the dentist and did not write it in my check register.  My bank covered the check, but it cost me $30 in fees.  Ugh and frustrating!  I really should do something with this account and not have it designated as an E-fund. 

The nice part is I will be current on all my bills and maybe even have enough  left over in the account to prepay my student loan for May.  The nicer part is I now have the extra in my account and it's not "designated" for an upcoming payment and I have no urge to spend it foolishly either.  Cripes I'm finally growing up!

A New Credit Card is NOT an E-fund

But regretfully, my neighbors think it is.  My lovely neighbors have been having issues and some money problems this past year.  I'm getting concerned about the money problems.  So many red flags are being tossed up it's scary!

At a holiday party, one of them won a home theater surround sound system. A very nice one I might add.  They have an older TV and have said that they wanted to replace it.  Two weeks ago they got a delivery of a 40 or 42" Sony Flat Screen Plasma TV.  I was given  their old surround sound system (still not installed, I need a new set of wires to connect to the TV).  I offered to give them some money for it and they said no.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. I stop over to drop off a six pack and some of their mail that ended up in my mail box.  The six pack was a thank you for the surround sound and in my mail was a disconnect notice from the local electric company for either this house or the apartment they are footing the bills for for their oldest daughter.  Our local electric company sends out  envelopes with a large IMPORTANT NOTICE on the front so you won't miss the disconnect notice.

We get to talking since I've not seen them for a few days. Here is the very scary part.  My neighbor tells me that she owes $900 to the IRS and she is paying it by credit card.  And she then tells me it's great timing that they got this new credit card since they have no money set aside to pay the IRS.  She also tells me they put the new Plasma Flat Screen on the credit card as well and she will go to the bank, get a cash advance and pay the overdue electric bill, plus a few others.

Seems my neighbors got a new credit card about a month ago and have been having a grand time using the card. Hence the new TV.  I was caught speechless.  It's pretty hard to leave me speechless, but I was.

A couple things bother me

1) My neighbors husband has been running his own business for a number of years, they don't pay quarterly taxes, so each year at tax time they know they owe money and each year they put it on a credit card.  They do no planning during the year to save for the payments or make any kind of estimated payments each quarter. They asked me what I did about my part time cash jobs I declare and I told them that I set aside a portion of money each quarter and pay estimated taxes so I'm not caught totally out come tax time.

2) Their oldest daughter is going to college and has moved out of the house to her own apartment.  Her parents, my neighbors, not only help pay tuition, but have also picked up a large majority of the apartment expenses BECAUSE oldest child is either unwilling or unable to work more hours or get a cheaper place.  My take is she is unwilling to work more hours or get a better paying job because it is easier for mummy and daddy to pay the bills.  Like most 19 or 20 year olds, she would rather hang out with her unemployed boyfriend and listen to music. I see her at the house a lot eating meals,doing her laundry and oh, yeah, leaving the electric heat on 70F when she's not home.  

3) My neighbors have been thinking about a new TV for a few months. I can attest to the fact that their old TV was starting to die.  It may be time for a new one, but a new 40 or 42 inch plasma bought on credit?

4) They have no savings account and have already maxed out a HELOC and another credit card. They now consider this Credit Card their savings account.

I'm sure there is more I can add to the list.

I know how we all choose to spend our money is our own business, that's what makes personal finance personal. BUT it is distressing to see the above.  Especially since I've had frank discussions about my own finances with my neighbors.  My neighbors wife has asked me on a number of occasions what I'm doing with my money and budgets post Bankruptcy and I've told her that pretty much I live a cash only life and budget/plan for my expenses.  Like my March trip, which was all in cash, save for a limited amount of items I put on my credit card, but them promptly paid off within three weeks of returning home.  My new TV was paid for in cash once I saved up the funds and I set a price limit.  I will have the money by the end of next week to FINALLY purchase a new lap top, again with cash.

The very scary part is even with the best of intentions, I know my neighbor won't stop buying things with the new card.  I've seen them burn through a $20,000 HELOC and for what ever reason, they have a really hard time saying No to their kids and seem to be constantly forking over cash or buying items for both girls.  All I can say is a new credit card is not an E-fund.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to Bounce Back from Bankrupt Street-Facing Your Own Shortcomings

As part of my ongoing series of how I’m bouncing back from bankruptcy, this post partially tags onto my Monday post of my expensive, but very worthwhile, experiment with friends and money.

Once you get your discharge spend a few days, weeks, what ever time it takes, and look back at your experience with money and credit and think about what went wrong to lead you to this place.

Part of recovery from Bankruptcy (or serious debt) is sitting down with yourself and or your spouse/partner and looking at to what really got you to where you are now. I’d love to blame it all on the evil credit card companies and say Boo Hoo, pity me, but that’s not realistic.

Hey folks, I’m an adult, I got credit cards, I used credit cards, as I have posted before, I have to take some responsibility here. I blame the credit card companies for running rampant with the lovely Universal Default clause they oh so nicely tucked into their ever changing terms and conditions and cranking my interest rates through the roof. I blame myself for not fully understanding what the Universal Default clause was/is. I blame my self for making some bad decisions that contributed to my fiscal hell. I blame myself for staying underemployed for far too long without a back up plan or second job.

Part of my bouncing back was to take some blame for my financial situation and to understand how it contributed to my bankruptcy. The Universal Default clause was something I never truly comprehended until it started making my credit card payments shoot through the roof and made it darned near impossible to make any headway in repayments. The other part of my Bankruptcy was just this insane string of bad luck and bad fiscal decisions spun out of my control that followed on the heels of the ever increasing credit card interest rates making my life hell.

Here are a few key items that I discovered about myself:

1) I am not an aggressive saver. After I left a job with a 401K, I stopped contributing to a retirement plan because I was lazy and not disciplined enough to do it on my own. Thus my savings and 401K are almost non existent. When I needed savings, I did not have any savings to draw from.

2) If there is cash in my wallet or account, I somehow manage to spend it and yes I COMPLETELY admit I can justify almost any expense well enough to even fool Suze Orman (almost).

3) I tied up far too much of my own personal identity in my ability to have credit and my ability to spend money with friends on shopping, life experiences, etc. I allowed myself to have too many personal obligations and never sucked up the courage to detach myself from those personal obligations until this past winter. This means learning to say No and No is something I struggle with my personal obligations. That cost me money, time and energy. Mainly money.

4) The only one who can change the above and really help me bounce back is me and me alone. It has astounded me who has unknowingly supported me through this situation. And I am eternally grateful to those people for their support, love and friendship which has and is enabling me to bounce back. They don't know who they are, but they are various people in my life who took this glitch in my life in stride and dealt with the crazed me almost without question.

5) I have to go back to trusting my gut instincts.

Numbers 3, 4 and 5 I will address in another post.

Some of you may be saying Hey, it took you this long to realize these things-OK, at times I am a slow learner I will admin that. Plus having to deal with a Bankruptcy can really devastate ones personal esteem. Mine was at an all time low for a long time for a variety of reasons, the BK was just the icing on the cake. I should bitten the bullet and gone to therapy, but did not.

Part of my struggle with the BK is coming to terms with my own short comings and how to overcome them. I’m not an aggressive saver, so I’ve set up a direct deposit to my E-Fund so at least some money each month goes right to it. I got an account at the credit union that does not have a debit card/ATM access making using the money difficult. I have to drive 20 minutes to the CU to take out money. Non cash deposits I can mail in if I have to. I just don’t carry a lot of cash in my wallet, I don’t. If it is there, I spend it. I try to keep no more than $25 at any given time and I don’t go tripping to the ATM unless I have to. I’m working on the spending justifications in all areas, food, hobby, needs and wants and what really constitutes an emergency and the need to dip into the Efund.

Personal obligations are a little harder. What is a personal obligation? If you read JW’s old blog Need to Be Debt Free, his personal obligation was tithing to his church. Grace at Graceful Retirement funds her granddaughters college expenses. My personal obligations are related to some people very near and dear to me and for some causes I chose to support, a cross between Grace and JW. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but what I can tell you is while I don’t begrudge the personal obligation to my budget, I kick myself for not setting firmer guidelines and boundaries about one of the personal obligations when my money problems, ah, got serious. When push came to shove, I was not willing to “lose face” and forked over cash that should have stayed in my bank account. I have slowly reworked this personal obligation so that I as able to bow out of most of it without losing face and still keeping a decent relationship with the others involved. OK, I chickened out of just saying no and let it drag on about a year longer than I should have because I did not have the balls to say No I can’t do this right now. Remember that low self esteem? I am sooo spineless at times….
We all have our own demons we need to face. Bankruptcy is supposed to give people a fresh start/clean slate. In my opinion, in order to make that happen, you have to acknowledge what contributed to your own personal BK, both what was in your control and what was not so you can then proceed with a clean slate. You then have to see what you can do to not let history repeat itself. In my case, I’m working on a savings plan, I’m working a second job to make up lost income, I’m reworking my spending plan and my priorities in life, I’m being more proactive about worthwhile projects, and I’m shedding the toxic people in my life.

If you did not have an EFund, establish one, if you had a problem with credit cards, learn how to live on a cash budget and not on Master Card. Learn how to have a staycation at home instead of trips Disney World, New York City or Las Vegas, downsize your car and your home, learn to live on cash, eat more meals at home. If a job loss contributed to the BK, hopefully you are re-employed and earning a salary. If it was illness driven, I hope you are getting healthier or doing what you need to do to get healthier. I make sure I pay my bills a week early, I check the fine print, you know, the things many folks already do or take for granted.

The light may come on before you get your discharge, it may come later. For me it came a few months after the discharge as I was sorting out my relationships with people, money and my relationship with myself. My pride was wounded and I was slowly working on the healing. Getting a car loan for the new to me car was a big self esteem booster. It proved I was not a total fiscal failure, just in a fiscal mess and at least I was sorting it out.

In my opinion, once you have "made peace" with what lead you to Bankruptcy, you can move forward. As I said, you can't blame it all on your credit card company, you have to take some responsibility and then move on from there.

My next post- I am so much more than a donation to a cause.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Internet Explorer.

Ah Internet Explorer, how I hate you. As I tried to upload my post for today at home this am, IE kept giving me an error message and shutting down blogger.   Or it could be that I have just an old crap computer at home.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Car Refinancing And Looking at My Budget

This is actually a multi part post, this post has generated my next couple posts that have been swirling around in my brain.

I filled out the application for the car refinance to take to the credit union tomorrow. I also had to take a look at my income and boy did I surprise myself! I work about 7.5 weekend out of every 8. My income should break down like this.

Paycheck 1 from "Full Time Job": Cell phone, land line, 1/4 groceries, 1/2 gas for the month, car insurance, health insurance co-pay and have some extra for misc (savings, utilities).

Paycheck 2 from "Full Time Job": Should cover mortage payment, student loan, 1/4 groceries, 1/2 gas and most remaining utilities with some extra.

Paycheck 1 from Part Time Job: Should cover my car note with room to spare (and in the future it will be snowflaked toward the principal.)

Paycheck 2 from PT Job: Should cover taxes and remaining 1/2 food.My part time job does not deduct taxes, so I need to plan for tax time next year.

Paycheck 3 from PT Job: Should be straight savings/Efund.

Paycheck 4 form PT Job: Fun $$, hobby expense and putting cash towards animal care (food, vet, etc) with some leftover.

The leftovers from Full Time Job should (and have in the past) paid for my car note, but I specifically took my current weekend job with the above plan in mind.

This has not happened. And I'll explain in my post tomorrow. I sort of had this figured out in my head, but did not follow through with it for a couple reasons. I had some unexpected household bills (greater utilities costs due to our frigid January, I kept my heat on higher than I normally would have when I was away each weekend), putting money towards my trip in March, not getting paid while on my trip (I lost 2 weekends of work), replacing parts of my wardrobe that sadly needed to be replaced, routine car maintenance, and my three month experiment of money and friends.

My experiment was expensive, but it was an experiment I needed to conduct and I'll share with you the outcome and some decisions I've made with my life based on this experiment. What I can tell you was it was a large eye opener for me, a large expensive eye opener for me, but I am very glad I did this experiment and grateful for the outcome.

Hope you all had a great Holiday weekend!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taking Advantage of the Day Off

Having yesterday off was a bit of a treat. I know I had wanted to take a 'mental health' day sometime soon, but a true illness made me stay home yesterday. I used the time to catch up on some neglected chores, I filed a pile of papers (and swore to myself that yes I will get my multi sheet scanner soon!), cleaned off my desk, purged and cleaned my bookshelf that sits next to my desk, did a purge of some items to go to Goodwill, packed up all my non smelly trash for a run to the town transfer station, and got a little yard work in as well. My desk looks nice and tidy! I vacuumed the house, wrote a couple thank you cards, inventoried my spice rack, you know, th small crazy things we like to do.

I stayed in my PJ's drinking tea, filing papers,doing chores and listening to the TV until about 2 PM. I pulled on some sweats, pulled out my rake, broom and wheel barrow and did a mini yard clean up. I still had leaves in the corner of my patio from last fall-now that pile is greatly diminished. In fact, it's almost gone!

I also did some cooking. Why I bothered to cook when I really can't taste my food is beyond me. I put in the usual amounts of seasonings and spices and resisted the urge to "put in more" because my sense of taste was and still is off. I've been running low on things for lunches and really hate spending $7-$10 on next to nothing. Food pickings are slim around work and a bit overpriced. At least now I have some left overs that can be re purposed for lunches and dinners. Tonight will be black bean and rice tacos (gotta use up some old taco chips), what ever is left over from the black beans will be made into soup with some leftover stock. I do need to pack some food to take for my weekend job so I won't be tempted with take out or grocery prepared food. Last weekend I got treated to three meals out, all unexpected meals out, but I am grateful for that non the less.

This weekend is not looking so promising. The trainer and his wife that I work for are both away, it's Easter and Passover, I think we have a limited number of staff in (no idea how many animals) and I get the feeling I'll be hopping busy. What I think I'll do is plan to have my Easter dinner when I get home, it may be late, but I can then probably treat myself to a couple glasses of wine, put my feet up and watch a DVD. My cousins keep wondering why I won't drive several hours to their house to eat a lot of food. I keep telling them that I work weekends with animals and the animals don't care if it's Christmas, Easter, Passover, Labor Day... They need to be taken care of, so I must be there.

The other good thing that happened was I was given a surround sound system by my neighbors. One of them won a fancy Sony Home Theater system at a party. They saved up their cash(or at least they said they did) and bought a new 40 inch Sony Flat Screen TV, which arrived yesterday. They both have today off and will be setting up their new TV and Home Theater system. I offered to give them some cash for the system they gave me, but they said no, I'll get them a bottle of wine or some other treats. I'll get to set up the new to me system this evening as well. As much as I love my flat screen TV (which is alas, only 26 inches), it does not have great speakers, this should remedy the sound issues that I have. Now just to figure out where to put the speakers........

This Weeks Book

I just finished reading books 1 and 2.  All I can say is these books are great. I had a great time reading them. Can't wait to find Book 3 on

Random thoughts

I have a miserable spring cold.

It feels like New England will NEVER see spring. I'm cold and I still have the heat on at the house because I'm feeling chilled.

I had snow flurries this AM when I went to walk the dogs.

The local coffee shop had really bad coffee this AM.

Why do ex-employees feel the need to be 12 years old and spread gossip about current employees-Honestly I DON'T CARE

I should be twittering this stuff.

OK-I'll stop now......

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's a Friday and that's not a bad thing....

I'm at my weekend job and it's one of these "lovely" rainy days.  Nothing feels dry in the barn and every time I turn around, there is sawdust everywhere.  I have this obsession with sweeping the isles and getting rid of the sawdust.  Just not happening today.

And what else did not happen was my paycheck. I totally forgot to sign my time sheet  last weekend and did not get paid.  I won't get paid until Mid April (I get paid 2x a month).  I really wanted that money. I have it "split" 1/2 to E-fund, 1/2 to new computer fund.  Ah well.  Patience is a virture or so they say.

I also signed up on Monster. com, step one in the hunt for a new job.  There have been some interesting job postings, some that actually look pretty interesting to me.  I really hate job hunting, I really do.  I have to get over that and get cracking on the job hunt.  I did find my old resume, I've dug it out and now I'm dusting it off.  Since the job market is tight, my resume better be cracking good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Is It Facebook or Facecrack?

I'm soo behind on these social net work sites. I have had for a humber of years, various profiles on things like facebook, myspace, linked, second life-and never really used them.

Until a bunch of my friends all decided to give Facebook ago. I now have a ton of "friends" and I will admit, that on my limited lunch breaks, I've been playing around on the site.  Unlike someothers, my pesonal information is very limited.  Too many strange folks out there.   Oh well, this really is not personal finance related, but just an observation as to how I've been wasting my lunch hours!