I just skimmed thru a blog posting, written by a blogger making a living by giving out good financial advice, who was doing some self-rationalization on why he is (probably) going to buy a house with no down payment. He made the usual good points about prices going down, interest rates going down, wanting to build equity etc. etc. Followed by 60+ comments warning him of everything from appliance failures to sudden hurricanes, all of which HE, and not a landlord, would now be responsible! True, all true. But my question is this, didn't most of us grow up in a household where our parents were paying a mortgage? Did the fact that they were also responsible for all of the various and sundry, repairs/bills that go along with that escape some of us? I can't imagine how? Our dinner table conversation was liberally peppered with comments about the washer being on the fritz again, and how much did it cost to have it fixed the last time. Patching that bathroom roof one more time, until the money was there to re-roof the whole house. Yikes, the insurance went up again! Didn't we just tweak the policy to get a better price? Helping Uncle Ed fix a couple of windows, and then he was going to help Dad with the porch floor. How has (apparently) an entire generation missed all of this? Now admittedly, the economy is far different than it was 30 or even 20 years ago, but I can't believe that an entire generation has grown up in rental housing, chasing the landlord (or ducking, as the case may be) blithely ignorant of the realities of owning something! If you own a car, you are responsible for repairs, maintainence etc. Why would you not realize that a house is the same principle? I grew up in farming country, I remember the comments about people who moved on because they just "couldn't make it" on the farm. Families lost their homes then, just like now. Now, I will admit (loudly) that being able to find a job and regroup WAS a lot easier in past days, but no one, at any time is guaranteed a perfect life. Sorry, I digress. (often) I just can't imagine how they missed all that!
Viewing the 'Debt' Category
This is the DD#2 out of work, part 2. To catch you up : DD#2 laid off beginning of April, broke arm end of April, no savings, no insurance. She was worried about someone coming after her in court when she can't pay her medical bills. Unlikely. But she does still owe almost $1500 on her 7 year old car. I was thinking that maybe I should just pay it off. The cash out for the loan is around $1200. She has applied for unemployment, which I am sure she will get, but the paperwork is lagging with massive unemployment in our state. (Michigan) Then she can pay me back. She did still have enough in the bank to cover the car payment, insurance, cell phone for April, and I hope to heaven that the state will have gotten thru her paperwork by next months due dates. She has not asked me to do this, I haven't even said anything about it yet, but I'm considering it. My sister also told her to apply for some help from the state, for the medical bills. The worst that can happen is they say NO, she won't be any worse off than she is now. This reminds me so much of our early days, Hubby and me, eternally broke, and one mini disaster after another. Actually, those early days lasted about 20 years, go figure!
These words came out of my DD#2's mouth last night, guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any parent. She has had a rough month. She got laid off from her job, right at the beginning of April. The company has disputed her unemployment claim (and that of all the others laid off at that same time) so that takes time to work thru the system. She borrowed enough money from me to pay her car insurance, she still had enough in the bank for her other bills. Now she came home two nights ago with a broken wrist! She was biking with some friends, and tried to avoid another bike in from of her....you get the idea. She went to the emergency room, had x-rays, had a consult with the specialist on call, and has a splint until next week, when they will put on the cast. She is looking at several thousand dollars worth of debt, at least. She doesn't know what to do. She can't pay anything until the unemployment situation is resolved (I'm sure she'll get it, I think the company is just jerking them all around) but not paying could ruin her credit for years! And to add insult to injury (literally) she got a call for an interview from another company yesterday, and had to tell them that shes out of commission for at least 6 weeks! They probably won't call her again. Not with hundreds of other prospects out there. So I don' know what to tell her. No, I don't think that any health care organization will waste the money to sue her, will it ruin her credit? Maybe? Definitely? I told her to call all of the places, as soon as she gets a bill from them, and explain the situation, she owns nothing but a 7 year old car, that she is still paying on, and currently lives back at home with her parents. They may be willing to wait, but what if they aren't, you can't get blood from a stone. We'll have to wait and see.
Woweeee! Another resolution to cross off my list! I made the last payment on our only store credit card, and it finally cleared the bank! That makes it official. We are finally out of debt. Time to decide where to go from here. Actually, I'm sure that it won't be a tough decision, at least for a while. There are some maintainence issues on the house and barn, that had to wait until we got other things under control. I was so sure 4 years ago, when we were mortgage free, that money could go right into "fixing up" but, as you all know, life is what happens when you're making other plans. Actually, the home improvement issue was another thing on my New Years Resolution list, I'm killing two birds with one stone! I think? It sure feels nice to be making some positive progress! UhOh, now I'm a little torn. Posted on the wall right in front of me is a printout of Dave Ramseys "baby steps". I know we don't have nearly 3 to 6 months of expenses saved. Dang. But if I wait that long to start some of these fix-its, the season will have passed. You can't do some kinds of outdoor work in Winter in Michigan. How much more time will some of these things be able to wait? Oh man, now I'm not in such a good mood. I think too much. Groan.
Well its 2 months into the new year, and I just peeked back at my resolution list for the new year. I am actually doing better than I thought! The big #1 is almost a reality, paying off the medical debt. I will write the last check this morning! Wahoo!!!! And I'm making some progress on at least a couple more. Paying off the workwear debt is under way, and planning the home improvements, list is in my mind, need to get it on paper. The only major bump so far is DD#3 needing her wisdom teeth out, but I do have that figured into the budget for the month. Luckily, when we had to reschedule from October, her dental benefit year restarted ,and I only have to pay about $600 out of pocket, instead of over $1000. Well, once they are out, you never have to worry about them again. And this is a contract year for Hubby's job, and they are already talking about strike/lockout. The last time they negotiated the contract, the company locked them out for 6 weeks too "hurry negotiations", and the health and dental stopped. Lovely! Actually, I'm glad that I thought of the contract. That would be about the time that summer taxes are due! I'd better make a note in my budget folder to be getting that money put away early. Boy, it never ends!
The last seven days have been wild/busy. But not in a bad way. I got several mending jobs in and out, work has been crazy, several new residents at the assisted living, that need a lot of assisting, and talk, talk, talk about wedding plans. They have almost 18 months until the big event, I think that they need to nail down the basics, and relax (and save some money) for a while. This is a no grocery week. There is so much stuff in the chest freezer that I can hardly close it. So, I didn't even open the sale ads this weekend, I don't care how great the price is, we need to empty out the pantry a little. That's a very nice feeling, knowing that I don't have to shop, and we'll have plenty to eat. I do have to refill a couple of prescriptions tho, it's not all good news. The electric bill was about $50 higher this past time. I'm sure its from the cold weather, the furnace ran a lot, and I have a couple of heat lamp bulbs going in the barn to keep the water from freezing. Not much you can do about that. The water heater bill was down though. Our residential electric and water heater are metered separately, and thats handy sometimes. There used to be a radio controlled box on the water heater, so the utility company could shut it down in peak usage times, I'm not sure if they have taken it off, but I haven't seen a shutdown in over ten years, maybe they just don't do that anymore. And, I think that you used to to a cheaper rate too. But the separate meter has come in handy a couple of times, when something was wrong with the water heater, and the first thing that we noticed was the bill being way up or down. I have been doing well paying off the Dr. bill, the check every week is whittling it down, now I just have to get some stamps, so I can mail them. (that WOULD help) I finally have all the furniture put back from the Christmas re-arangement. I really need a new slipcover for the sofa. Everytime I mumble this to myself in front of Hubby, he starts in on how we REALLY need a new sofa, not the slipcover! (rolling my eyes) That would sure be nice, but we can't afford a sofa right now, and he never sits on it anyway, he has his recliner chair, thats the only place he EVER sits in the living room. I made the cover for the sofa anyway, from a couple of twin size bedspreads, so I don't know what difference it makes to him. Actually, I could probably put a different cover on the sofa, and unless it was PINK, he would'nt notice for a month! (ok, enough ranting) Well, it's a dark foggy morning here, I think I'm going to take a nap, I do work tonight. TTFN
Remember those old 60's mags True Confessions, where readers would write in about things that they would never tell the neighbors? Well, I have skimmed thru several blogs lately where intelligent advisors have told people NOT to go thru a credit counseling service, they are not a good bargain. We dealt with a credit counseling service for several years, and they SAVED MY LIFE. Our youngest child spent almost 6 months in the hospital after she was born, and we were almost $100,000 in debt. We actually ended up at the credit counselors thru the hospital mediation service. There was NO WAY that we could make even the most minimum payment on a bill that large, so we went to mediation with the hospital. The final deal that we ended up with was that we would meet with the credit counseling service, they would set up a budget with us, and recommend to the mediator how much we could reasonably afford to pay. The bonus was that they also took charge of all of our other bills at the time, and that helped hugely by stopping any shutoffs or penalties for the first years that I had to stay home with an ill child. We stayed with them for 14 years, but after the first 2 or 3, I took back paying most things, all of our utilities, and the credit counseling service dealt with the hospital and the one credit card we had. I could have handled the credit card, but as long as they did it, the interest rate stayed at 0%. The fee was based on your income, for a long time it was $25 month, then the last few years it was $50 monthly, but I am sure that we saved that many times over. Our income flucuated monthly because of the work that my Hubby was doing, they renegotiated every month if necessary, and I didn't have to do a thing. I never felt that the payments we made were unreasonable. We actually ended up paying less than 1/4 of the total balance, and in the end the hospital was sold to another corporation, and forgave a lot of old outstanding debts,"as a service to the community" Any action that they took that would have showed on our credit report (they closed the cc acct)was done right at first, so by the time the 7 years were up, our credit report was clean and shiny, and those payments just showed up as billing payed on time. So, I can tell you from firsthand knowledge that I would recommend a reputable credit counseling service to anyone, THEY WORK.
I read an article in The Mother Earth News (I think), several years ago about small town living in New England. The gist of it was that folks in that small town all wore several "hats" job wise, in an effort to make a living. I don't remember the specifics but the author delivered newspapers, fixed chainsaws and something else, in addition to his regular job, to make end meet, so he could stay in this lovely rural town. I was reminded of this when I was clicking thru some financial blogs, and noticed that many of them advocate taking on a part time job to pay off debt. I know that Dave Ramsey is big on this. I can comment on this first hand, I once had 4 (count'em 4) part time jobs simultaneously, for about 2 years. I kept hoping that one of them would turn into a full time job, I would have liked any of them, but no luck. I finally thought that I was meeting myself coming and going, and my blood pressure was killing me, and dropped 2 of them. This was a good solution for the short term, but it gets to be very exausting! And, to be truthful, they all were only minimum wage jobs, so even if one of them had been full time, I likely would have been looking for something else anyway. I do still dabble with one, I have a small home based business, I do sewing and alterations. I would love to do this full time, and have several times over the years, but it's just not steady enough income in this area. I like to know that we can pay the bills every week, not just the week when everybody needs a zipper in their jacket. Maybe I should learn to fix chainsaws?
Stop me if you've heard this one before... I did write about this, or maybe It's just that I told so many people. I was just reading about a gal who turned the house over to the bank, rather than wait for a foreclosure. The economy here in Michigan is in the toilet (excuse the language), with lots of foreclosed houses, houses for sale, empty houses, etc. In fact, a plumbing and heating guy we know put on a whole crew that does nothing but rehab forclosed homes that were abandoned, for the banks and realty companies. If you leave a house in the North country here with no heat, the pipes burst, ruins the fixtures, and sometimes the whole heating system, depending on what you have. Anyway, I digress (a lot). The story that came to mind was, my DD#2 had a girlfriend whose Mother passed away. Mom and her boyfriend had been living in a house that Mom owned, well, she and the bank owned. Anyway after she was gone, the children came and took the things that they wanted out of the house, told the boyfriend that he could do whatever he wanted with the rest, and left it. They didn't try to sell, find a renter, or anything,(I do not understand that), just left it for the bank to take back. Well, the boyfriend stayed on, said he wasn't going anywhere until the sheriff came and booted him out (do they actually do that?). He ended up staying 2 1/2 years! The foreclosure notice came out in the paper, the mortgage was owned by a bank in CA by that time. They tried to sell the property on the courthouse steps, no sale. If it was ever listed for sale, it wasn't with any of the local realty companies. So he just stayed there, paid the utilities, which were still in her name (that's a whole other story), and claimed that no one had ever contacted him, or come by the property as far as he knew. They would easily have known that someone was living there, the lawn was mowed, there was a dog in the yard, etc. etc. Finally, he just moved, got a job that was further away and moved to be closer to work. I am still astonished every time I think about it. I wonder if the bank ever knew what condition the house was in, apparently they didn't care. So anyway, when a girlfriend of mine lost their house, she was all in a tizzy wondering where they would go, and I told her not to worry so much, it might take years! They did move because she wanted to be settled before school started this Fall, she has 5 kids in school, and they didn't want to end up switching schools in the middle of the year. I wonder if the house is still empty, maybe one of the neighbors needed a place???
A little alliteration anyone? I'ts the end of the financial quarter, and budget revue time. I kind of like going over the numbers from the past quarter, but Hubby hates to go over the "waste". The totals of what it costs to live, always blow his mind. It actually wasn't all that bad, we didn't get much extra saving done, managed to keep ahead of the payments on everything, even tho he has been on sick pay for almost 6 months now. Now, I need to get the dentist paid off, $450, and the primary Dr., almost $900, and we will be debt free! Oh, almost forgot the car, $150/mo. for about the next year. Shh, say that quietly, Murphy is probably listening. I would really like to be able to revisit retirement issues before the first of 2010, but we probably won't. Right now, all we have is Hubbys 401K from work, and we are only contributing enough to get the matching funds. I want to open a Roth IRA for both of us, and take another look at the 401K plan that my employer offers. I really have been thinking about our retirement (both in late 40's), but with one child still at home, and two others who seem to come and go with the economy, (it's BAD in Michigan)there are just no more pennies to go around. I keep telling the kids to keep a broomcloset open for Mom, I may need it someday. (only half kidding!) I work at an assisted care facility, like a step up froma nursing home, for people who don't need real nursing care, only some help with basic things, or just don't want to shovel a driveway anymore. Anyway, there are a certain number of residents who end up moving on, because they can't afford to stay anymore. They usually go to one of two places, in with a family member/friend, or on to the county nursing home. The county home here must take you if you have no where else to go, whatever you can pay, I think its the same everywhere. But, oh the long faces when they must leave, then their choices are over. Some days that broomcloset doesn't look half bad!
Hubby and I went out to eat tonight, it cost $17.70 for the two of us, plus $2 for the tip. We went to the Chinese buffet. We don't go out very often, because I am a hard to please eater outer. I always moan and groan about how much it costs, and how I could make something just as good, and cheaper, at home. But I do admit that I couldn't cook all of the things on the buffet, and don't really want to. So I just have to make up my mind to enjoy, which I did, and I certainly ate enough to get my moneys worth. I freely admit that I am sometimes a whiner, especially about money. And the more nervous I get about money, the tighter I hang onto it. A knee-jerk reaction to too many years being flat broke, I'm sure. Well, time to toddle off to work. TTFN.
Today I found myself doing something that I don't do very often anymore, writing checks! I pay most all of our bills online, but there are still a few things that you can't pay that way. Life Insurance! Every couple of years I forget this, and end up calling the company, asking why I can't set up online payments, and the secretary very kindly reminds me that we've gone thru this a time or two already. Something about anonymous parties not being able to take out a policy on you without your knowledge, or something... My property taxes! Our rural county isn't set up for this. My appliance repair buddy (dryer is definately fixed!) Local newspaper subscription, maybe they have a website, but I only pay once a year, and just haven't bothered to check and set it up. I have to say, online paying is quick and easy, but I don't get that same rush of satisfaction that I do when I write that check, stick it in the envelope, and mail it. (stamps, OUCH) It's like tangible proof, in a little pile of envelopes, that I am succeeding! I am making my way in the world, and being a contributing member of society! And sadly, my cell phone bill. (heavy sigh) I have finally given up on the beast. I just CANNOT navigate their site without freezing up my computer at least once, and lets not mention the 10 minute waits for the bill to download! And I have a very speedy DSL connection. I don't know what it is about that one site, I have never had that problem with any other. I ended up on the phone to customer service,almost every month for the last six, because I would get part way thru the payment process, and the pages would just not load, or I would get popups about technical difficulties, or only part of the bill could be viewed, etc. etc. So, 2 months ago, I went off the paperless billing, so I could actually READ the bill (I don't pay what I don't read) and then this month, I just wrote a check. It was worth the 44cents to avoid the hassle. And this is a major, national company --&-. Great sevice, crappy website. Well, I'm sure that their website is fine, my computer just won't talk to it, like neighbors who smile and give a little wave, but never have anything to say to each other. My computer is the Gladys Kravitz of the neighborhood, always peeking in the windows, but never really knowing what's going on. (that's a Bewitched ref for U youngsters) So with a twitch of my nose (or mouse)..............
I saw that on an old movie last night, and it's been floating around in my head ever since. I was just clicking thru a few other finance related blogs that I check most every day, and I relaized that I think about money all of the time, and very seldom write about it. I don't come here and list all of my expenses for the day, or how much I still owe to whom, but I think those things are always lurking around in my brain. And, I know for sure that they effect every decision that I make, and most conversations that I have with you all, and myself. I don't know how NOT to think about money. I believe that everyone must think about money all of the time, unless you happen to come from a fabulously wealthy family. And the few wealthy people that I've known, probably thought about money even more than I do. So, whatever my silly topic of the day is, see those dollar signs floating around it. Sure, the cattle will eat old zucchini, but only after I can't face another mouthfull, and everyone at work is tired of seeing me walk in with my pail 4 nights a week, at least it's still benfitting me somehow. I draw the line at massaging the cattle for more tender steaks like they do for the Kobe beef! A girl has to have standards you know! TTFN