[-$24,200] Of Age and Fuses

Of Age and Fuses

Look at this picture. Do you see a young woman or an old woman?

At work this week, I was talking on a conference call with teammates and the banter led to a conversation about people’s ages. They each said the year they were born. (I didn’t volunteer mine.) I found out that the people that I’ve been working with on this project are ALL younger than me! Even the two leads who are 2 levels above me who I thought were years older. My jaw silently hit my desk.    Read More

Renting a New Room and Writing a New Budget

rent-room

(This is not a picture of my new room. My room will not be as nice as this, but it’s somewhat similar.)

As you may know from my past posts, I have been sharing (one roommate) an overpriced apartment for the past year. One of my goals for 2014 was to find a cheaper and cleaner place to live once my lease ended.  Well, the good news is that I have! I found a room on Craigslist a week or so ago that I went to see.

It was not love at first sight.  The picture in the ad left much to be desired, but the rent was affordable so I had to at least check it out. It is  a few towns over from where I live now.  I decided to walk there from the public transit station along the busy main street. It was unusually hot that day and there were a couple of  points where I thought I’d miscalculated the distance on the map and wanted to turn around and go back home, but I didn’t and eventually found the place.

There are three roommates, all women in 40s/50s, pleasant, so that may be a positive change. The room, like the house, was small, old, and a little dark, but neat. At first I didn’t like it at all, but the more I kept thinking about it, the more it made sense to rent the room.

purple-flowers
Image credit: photographymad.com

I went back a few days later to drop off the deposit, sign the lease and see the room again. Talk about a big difference! I took a different route to get there by walking along a green walking and biking path that I’d learned about thanks to Google Maps. It was cool, breezy, and calm. I got there before I knew it, and realized that the house is within a few blocks of a small public library (win!), a popular local natural grocery store (big win!) and a small gym.

One of my long-standing goals is to find a way to get in shape. For the first time in my life I have developed the dreaded muffin top. My skin, which was never clear to begin with, has gone completely to crap, and I have the ironically named ‘laugh lines’ exploding all over my face.  Why? It’s not from laughing, I assure you. I’ve been stressed out to the point of burnout over the past year.

I’m hoping that being near a good grocery store and a running path will make it easier for me to make some much needed health improvements.  I don’t know if I’ll spend money to go to a gym, but if I can at least start running that’s half of the first battle. Anyway, as I said, what a difference a few days made. I’m glad that I didn’t pass this place by because of the Craigslist picture. I’m glad I didn’t turn around on my way to see it that first day. I can make this room work. As long as its  safe, clean, and bug free, I’ll be fine.

stack-of-money
Image credit: stackthatmoney

I’m mostly excited about the rent. Did I say it was affordable? It is only $500 /month INCLUDING all utilities and wi-fi!!

Depending on where you live, $500 per month may not seem special, but where I live now, rent that low is RARE to find. So my housing costs will drop from $1500 /mo. to  $500/ mo. for a $1000 savings each month! I can’t wait to start throwing all of it towards this credit card debt. With this housing shift, I will be back on track to kill this credit card debt entirely this year!

I won’t be living high on the hog, or even low on the hog. You all know I’d MUCH rather have my own place, but by doing this I’ll have less and less debt to stress out over. I hope to be in the room as little as possible and spend more time outside for once, so that’s another goal.

After this credit card debt is gone, I’ll reformulate my basic budget

 MY AUG – DEC. 2014 BASIC BUDGET

Q4 2014 Budget

Yeah, that phone charge is out of control. I felt like I had to go unlimited because I currently work from home 2 days per week and with all the conference call meetings i’m on everyday – I kept running out of minutes and getting slammed with extra charges.  (I don’t get a company phone.) I will be looking into how to reduce this.

I really hope this new room works out for me and I can stay for a while. This may be the best shot that I have for while to cut down this debt.  I’m finally getting back on track to follow my own advice.

Cutting down on housing and transportation expenses are the quickest ways to save the most money. If you’re thinking about taking the leap yourself…

Do it  credit - thetaline dot org
Image Credit: thetaline.org

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Where is my CTRL+ALT+DELETE button? Craigslist season opens again.

ctrl_alt_del_life_by_j0hnnyr0tt0n-d5vm4um
Credit: John Ackerly

I know I’ve been M.I.A for a while. My job is causing me all kinds of stress.  It then takes me all weekend to build the strength to string two thoughts together, let alone write a partially coherent blog post. My new manager is still scary. Every time she requests a meeting with me I panic that I’m going to get reprimanded and put on the short list for a PIP (the pre-firing “performance improvement plan”).

I’ve slowed down my debt pay off. This has been hard for me to do because I’m getting so close to being in four digits of credit card debt instead of five. It will be such a boost to be under $10,000.  Why am I slowing down my credit card murder payoff? I need to move.  My lease will be ending within the next couple of months and I want to find someplace much cheaper to live. I also want to be able to see what kitchen counters look like again (messy packrat roommate). Soooo, I will need to save 2X – 3X rent to move into a new place. I’m sure this housing hunt will earn another post. If you’ve ever competed for housing on Craigslist in a large city with a housing shortage, you’ll understand.

Craigslist roommate listings. You either get:

1. The overly specific poster with a long list of random requirements. It’s easier to join the cast of Big Brother, than get a room in their apartment. O.M.G.!  “Must play french horn with us every Tuesday evening and speak Swahili to our three 10 year old triplet Bengal cats”.  NEXT! Sigh…

The Most Insane Roommate Ad

2. The poster with weird habits that don’t match your weird habits.  A lot of ads have this kind of “kicker” at the bottom of the ad. Everything sounds great until you get to the last paragraph. “Oh, by the way all 5 of the other roommates will have to go through your room to get to the kitchen. The last tenant didn’t mind”. (Really? Well, you should get him/her back.) I’ve started reading the last paragraph first to save time. Sigh…  “NEXT!”

The Most

3. The poster who wants your money, but doesn’t want you.

These posters will do things like spend several sentences bragging about the gourmet grocery stores within walking distance. In the last paragraph they inform you that there are no kitchen privileges. WTH?!  Am I supposed to feed myself by cooking out in the backyard on a hot rock? Oh, wait, I won’t have backyard privileges either…   Sigh… NEXT!

The Most Insane Roommate Ads Ever Posted On Craigslist   Cry For Help   Happy Place

You know what? I’ll confess. If I ever had a room to rent, I’d be likely to write one like #3…  There, I’m guilty.  But that shouldn’t be surprising considering that I REALLY want my own place.

Ha!

Craigslist weirdness, big city weirdness, and hell, even my weirdness (We all have a bit. Yes you too – don’t deny it 😉 ) are making for good times… NOT!  I’ve already told you about what happened to me last year and how I ended up in my current housing situation…  In any event, my goal is to rent a cheap room for a year, kill off any remaining credit card debt and save some money before I even think about getting my own place.

Assuming I find a decent room, what will I do with said anticipated saved money (~$3k – 8k)? I haven’t decided yet. Should I keep it as an emergency fund? I’m not convinced that my job is secure.  Should I put it in my high deductible HSA (health savings account)? My health issues will have to be addressed at some point. Should I use it to fund travel? Should I open a 401k with my employer and send it there? Should I just throw it at the $100k of student loan debt? I need to work through identifying and re-evaluating what my financial goals are.

Another year of renting a room means that next year I’ll be 40 and still homeless. Not literally of course, but for me, not having my own apartment feels like a form of homelessness. Is renting a room one step up from couch-surfing? Sometimes I wish I had a CTRL+ALT+DELETE reboot command for life. I wish life problems could be solved that easily…  Short of having that, it IS within our ability to launch our own personal life ‘task manager’. I can’t start over, but I can decide what I prioritize and spend time / money on going forward.  I can decide what activities/goals I shut down/drop from my life.

Decisions, decisions…

.

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

October 2013 Update

debt-picture

Debt repayment is going slowly.

Good News:
I have paid off one more debt. I had a $1500 student loan that was not in forbearance that I have been paying $40 towards each month.  With my previous paycheck, I paid off the remaining $690 balance. I know that it wasn’t the best move from an interest rate payoff perspective given the loan only had a 5% interest rate, but it was an annoying debt to deal with month after month. I’m glad it is gone. This will free up $40/mo to go towards my credit card payoff.

Other News:
I’m on the verge of shutting down my gym membership. Despite living only 1.5 blocks away, I have been there only once since signing up, and that was for an equipment orientation. There is no excuse for this, except for one thing  — exhaustion.

gym

I don’t know how people do it. My main job is very stressful for me because it is a lot more responsibility than I am used to. I still feel as though I’m thrashing around in the deep end of the pool so to speak. When I come home after a cramped 1 hour rush-hour public transit commute, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is drop my heavy laptop bag and fall face first into bed, but I can’t. I have more work to do. Between my two jobs, there is always more work to do.

I am very grateful for my two jobs, however I have been having a few warning signs of impending health problems.  One such sign is constant fatigue. Exercise would help relieve the stress, but how do I get the energy to exercise?  I know this sounds like a whine-fest.  I’m going to have to make an effort to at least work out at home and see how that goes. I’m going to make a good faith effort to use the gym before shutting down my membership…

Work:

Despite the stress, it is going relatively well. I admit that for the first couple of months, every time my manager asked to speak with me, I became terrified that I was going get fired.

fired suddenly

I have since learned that this is fairly typical among those who were fired from their previous job.  Now, I just get a little nervous, but not panicky like I used to. Ugh. Debt and fear are the worst.

Social/Dating Life:
Zilch. Nada. This is another source of stress, but it is another post (or 10!) entirely…

For now I need to focus on one thing at a time.

#1 Health

fitspiration-and-custard-oats-L-H7hTab.

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

My ‘Working Again’ Debt Payoff Budget September 2013

I-hate-student-debt1

Photo credit: LabMinions.com

Now that I am working again and no longer unemployed, I’m revisiting my old unemployment budget and making updates.

NET Income Per Month (after taxes & required deductions)

Job #1:  $4,935    Omg, taxes are a BEAST!  Grrr.

Job #2:  $540

I am not pursuing any additional side hustles at this time. Between these two jobs, I’m maxed out on hours and stress (60-75 hours per week). Any more than that and my health suffers noticeably.

Total Income:  $5, 475

sad-woman

The Outgo per month

Rent+Utilities:  $1465   (Unfortunately, I’m back in an expensive apartment, this time WITH a roommate.  How this happened.)

Phone:  $70    (Yes, I still have my iPhone. Sigh.)

Student Loan 1: $40    (This one is not bundled with my others, so I pay on it every month.)

Food: $500    (Yes, this is too high. I am not cooking and still eating out a lot.)

Public Transportation: $200  (Yikes! Public transit is waaay more expensive here than I thought it would be. )

Health Insurance: $100  (Yikes again! This is the cheapest High Deductible plan offered.)

Credit Card Debt:  $2,000  (Ouch!  Did I mention how much I HATE debt!? The credit card debt will die first.)

Student Loan 2: $850    (These payments begin next month. This is interest only. Aggghhh! This should be retirement money!)

Gym Membership: $65

Netflix: $15

Fun/Misc/Clothing: $100

Emergency Savings: $70

Outgo Total:  $5,475

 

What Does This Mean?

rough-road-ahead

This will roughly be my budget for the next year. I will not be having fun. This assumes that all goes well with my new job and that I don’t get fired again. This assumes that I don’t have any major health problems. Items in red are targets for cutting. This apartment complex makes it virtually impossible to get out of your lease, so I may be stuck here for a while, but I will consider my options. As soon as I am able to look for cheaper housing I will do so. That will save me hundreds of dollars each month that I can put towards retirement and emergency savings.

What Does This Really Mean?

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)