Ok, it’s official. Well, almost. I have 14 cigarettes left, and after they’re gone, I’m done. That should happen sometime tomorrow afternoon.
The withdrawl-induced freakout should commence roughly 24 hours after I smoke my last one. The longest I’ve been able to go before I start scouring every conceivable crevice for loose change is 48 hours.
So yeah… we’ll see how it goes this time.
I apologize in advance for the bitchy. But I’ve been smoking for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days… it’s kind of poetic that I’ll be able to say that when anyone asks how long I smoked. I just don’t want to do it anymore, ya know?
Haha, nice. I had to type that last sentence twice to get “don’t” in there.
I can think of lots of reasons why I shouldn’t smoke- money, health, social pariah, etc.- but the bottom line is, idontwantit. I don’t want to worry about getting a pack when we’re running low on cash, I don’t want to always be the one who’s sneaking off to have a few puffs, and it would be nice if this yellow spot on the side of my right middle finger would go away.
Sooooo… the rest of this week should be interesting.
Are you tired of hearing about the poor state of the economy yet?
I know you’re feeling the squeeze too. Maybe you’re out of work, or maybe you’re paying too much interest on credit cards or your mortgage. Maybe you’re behind on the bills, and finding gas money to get to work is getting harder and harder.
It’s time to stop waiting for the economy to fix itself. Stop waiting for the money to fall into your hands, or for that amazing job to come along. It’s time to do what you can now to start fixing YOUR economy.
I know it feels like there’s no way out. Like there’s no way to stop the collection calls, to stop the bills from filling your mailbox every single day. It seems as though this mountain is just too steep to climb.
But is it really a mountain, or is it just an anthill?
It’s time to get angry. Get angry at the banks for making bad loans in order to make money. Get angry at the government for bailing out these banks but not ordinary citizens for getting in over their heads. Most of all, get angry at yourself.
Every single person who has debt, who has gotten behind on bills, who can’t come up with money for an emergency, should be angry at themselves. You should be angry because you didn’t save up money when you should have. Don’t make excuses for yourself. So what if you lost your job– it’s happened to millions of people, and they’ve all survived one way or another. Maybe you have medical bills– yes, that sucks, and many times those circumstances are out of your control. Still, if you had started planning before, when things were good, maybe those bills wouldn’t be breaking you now. Be angry at yourself for getting into this situation, for charging things that you couldn’t pay for instead of saving up money and paying for it in cash.
The economy didn’t crash solely because of the banks’ bad decisions. They were making the decisions that were supposed to make them money. The economy crashed because people applied for credit, and it was given to them. They couldn’t afford what they charged, and then the banks started losing money. Now, we’re stuck in a vicious cycle. Everyone is broke, and the banks can no longer lend because they aren’t making money either.
Having less access to credit is a good thing. Really. I say that as someone who has no credit, no savings, and lives 1000 miles from family. If something goes wrong back home and I need to get there in a hurry, I can’t right now. I don’t have a few hundred dollars to pay for a plane ticket if I get a phone call. I hate knowing that, but at the same time I’m glad I can’t go out and get a credit card and say “this is just for emergencies.” If I did that, eventually an emergency would become running out of cigarettes or seeing a great sale and deciding that I absolutely have to have new clothes.
This is the kind of thinking that got many of us in trouble.
So where do we begin? How do we fix this?
It starts with one. You. Me. Our families.
For me? That means getting a job. I was hoping to start going to school this fall– I’d rather take a year or two to work and get my finances back on track. This is the perfect time to do it. I don’t have kids yet, and I’m able to work full-time.
For you? That might mean getting a second job. It means cutting corners wherever you can. Don’t go out to eat as often, don’t spend money on things that you don’t absolutely need. It means saying no to yourself, your spouse, and your children.
It also means opening a savings account. Start with whatever you have– $50, $100, whatever it happens to be. Build that savings account up to $1000 as quickly as you can. This is your emergency fund. This is what you use when your child breaks their glasses, or when you get that phone call and need to get on a plane in a hurry.
Once you have that $1000 in place, it’s time to start eliminating your debt. Start with the smallest one– an old credit card, or an old utility bill that was charged off. Pay it off. Cross it off your list, and congratulate yourself for taking care of one of your debts.
Then start saving up for the next one. Pay that one off as soon as you can.
See that mountain getting smaller?
Once all your debts are paid, it’s time to start saving. You should have at least 3 months of cash for living expenses in your savings account. If you’re the only breadwinner in your family, you should have at least 6 months worth of savings. That way, when the rainy day comes, you’ll be prepared. If you lose your job, that money will make it possible for you to support yourself and your family until you find another one.
It’s so easy to say that you’ll make the changes you need to in order to become financially independent. It’s much harder to actually make those changes.
You have to focus on the result. Think of how much happier you’ll be when you don’t look at every paycheck and think about what bill each and every cent will go to. Instead, you’ll be able to save some of your money, and buy the things you want.
We’ve become slaves to credit. It’s time to break the chains.
Start today. Sit down and write out your budget. Make a plan for every penny you earn. Think of ways you can earn more money– whether it’s another job, selling things you don’t need, whatever– just keep in mind that whatever extra money you earn will make your debt go away even faster. Write down your goals as well. What are you going to do when you’re out of debt? What are you saving up for?
We are the middle class. This economic crisis has made many of us poor, and it’s time to turn things around.
Start now. Start today.
We’ll do this together.
**I got a lot of information from Dave Ramsey. I also got much of it from the documentary “Maxed Out.” I recommend both. Also, I’m willing to pass on my Dave Ramsey book to anyone who needs it. The only catch is that you pass it on to someone else after you read it. Just comment below if you’re interested.**
I tend to shy away from politics. I love my rights, I love freedom, and I love government funded rest stops on long trips. What I don’t love is the generally jackassery that abounds in political situations and conversations.
However, so much has been going on this week that even I can no longer avoid it. And you know what? I’m mad.
Let’s go back to a vote not so long ago… Bush’s tax cuts for the rich were set to expire, and those who make more than $250,000 a year were terrified that they were going to have to start paying taxes on all that money. A consensus couldn’t be reached, because so many politicians pockets have been lined with some of this tax-free money. The cuts were extended even though all the extra tax revenue could have made a huge difference in the national budget.
The middle class? We still have to pay in the same amount of taxes on every dime we make. And if we get lucky and win the lottery or something like that? We have to give a huge chunk of our winnings to the government.
The poor stay poor, and the rich stay rich.
What about the idea of trickle-down economics? I see one huge problem with this utopian ideal… Rich people aren’t rich because they pay their employees incredible wages or spend their money frivolously, buying a new car every 6 months to keep the factories in Detroit running strong. They’re rich because they hold onto their money. This isn’t a bad thing– not at all. As long as these business owners are paying their employees fair wages, I don’t care what they do with their profits. The problem is that the rich have been given breaks because their money will “trickle down” to the lower classes.
Who ever thought that made sense?
Money isn’t what I came here to rant about, though. Oh no. There are much more important issues at hand.
Let’s talk about what Republicans are trying to do to women.
All caught up?
The item on that list that bothers me the most is the very real threat of all federal funding being cut from Planned Parenthood. I’ll let you know up front that I am against abortion… I would never have one, and even in a situation where I might die if the pregnancy wasn’t terminated, doctors and my husband would have to force me into letting them take my unborn child. However, I believe that abortion is a necessary evil.
Here’s the thing, though. Planned Parenthood isn’t just a place for a quick end to a mistake that could make a childless couple happy.
Let me reiterate: THIS ISN’T ABOUT ABORTION.
They provide health services to low-income women and children. I’d rather see my tax dollars pay for a woman to get birth control instead of welfare because she had a child she couldn’t afford. They also offer STD testing and free condoms. They offer mammograms, pelvic exams, and a wide variety of other services that keep women healthy.
They also offer vasectomies. There ya go, boys– if you can’t afford to help raise a child or just don’t want the responsibilities of being a father, you have a place where you can get a vasectomy for little or no money.
I wonder if all the politicians who are pushing this funding cut for Planned Parenthood have even considered the long-term ramifications of their decision. Think of all the low-income women who will no longer be able to get birth control because they can’t afford it, and who will inevitably have children they can’t afford. Welfare and food stamps will be provided to them for an astronomical sum of money for years. All they needed was the birth control that Planned Parenthood could provide when they had federal funding to keep from having a child they can’t afford. How much is that every year? $500? $1000? What about a tubal ligation? Now think about how much these women will get on average every month through federal assistance programs.
These women can’t afford to get cancer, either. With the early detection that a screening at Planned Parenthood could have provided, a cancerous lump could have been removed before it did any damage. But no, because this woman couldn’t afford the expensive test she needed, she waited until she could no longer ignore her symptoms and now the cancer has spread and it will take multiple rounds of chemo, surgeries, and a host of expensive drugs to save her life. Hopefully her benefit at the local bar goes well…
And guys? What about you? You know that girls lie, and that one of the easiest ways to get trapped in a relationship with someone you don’t really care about is for her to get knocked up. Maybe you already fell for that once or twice, and you’re already giving half your paycheck to your ex to pay for your kids. You don’t want any more babies, but you don’t exactly have the extra money to do anything about it. You could have gone to Planned Parenthood for a vasectomy… but nooooo, without federal funding, they have to charge you almost as much as you would pay at any other doctor’s office. Let’s hope the condom doesn’t break…
Talk of a government shutdown is in the air. I don’t think it will go that far… I hope some of these politicians will get their heads out of their asses and look past ONE ISSUE that has no bearing on the real issue whatsoever. Every person in America should have access to basic health care, whether it’s through federally-funded clinics or government-run healthcare. Life or death shouldn’t be a matter of rich or poor… Everyone has the right to live a healthy life.
This is Darwinism at its very worst. It’s no longer survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the richest. And that’s sickening.
If you’re as pissed off about all this as I am, click here to sign a petition demanding that Republicans stop the war on women.
*I’m sorry if my facts are skewed at all… I learned them from various articles I’ve read throughout the week, and I don’t have the sources handy. I’m just really angry that the government is trying to take away something that is so essential to women’s health…
If you’ve read my blogs before this post, you know that money and I aren’t exactly friends at the moment. I still like money, and I think money still likes me, but we just can’t seem to agree on anything. Somehow, I end up chasing all my money away every month. But this month, I learned something. You know those moments where you’ve learned something that is so fundamentally sensible but you just had to find out for yourself firsthand?
I had that moment when my car got repossessed earlier this month.
Sure, we knew it was gonna happen. That’s what happens when you don’t make the payment for a few months. For the last 2 months I had the car, I was afraid to put gas in it. I was sure that as soon as I filled the tank, they’d come to take it away and I’d be out $40 that I desperately needed.
Fortunately, I was sitting at a quarter of a tank the day they took it.
I knew that car was a stupid purchase. I knew it, and I did it anyway. I had a Blazer that was fully paid for, and all it really needed was a set of tires and an oil change. But noooooo, I wanted a new car. Something sporty, something hot, something fast.
Actually, I wanted a Stratus. We just couldn’t find one in the right color. Besides, with the money my husband and I were bringing in at the time, we could easily make double payments every month and save money on the astronomical interest rate we were being charged.
There were so many things that went wrong when we were buying the car. So many clues that I was doing the wrong thing. But I had already sold the Blazer, and I just realllllllllllllllly wanted a new car. I didn’t want a car with 432960543 miles that would inevitably have issues.
Now, I should point out that I had owned 3 Chevys up until that point, and none of them had given me *major* issues… unless you count the time that my intake gasket broke and my dad took 3 weeks to fix it. Really, for the kind of miles both my Berettas and my Blazer had, they ran great. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d probably still be driving my Beretta Z26 if I had been able to afford the upkeep on it.
Ooops, got sidetracked. Berettas will do that to me.
Anyway. We started out looking for 2 cars. I wanted an Eclipse, Brad wanted an Equinox. A local dealership had one of each and were willing to give us both for $23000. However, we couldn’t get financing from them. So, we searched for places that finance people with bad credit, knowing that we were making enough money to be able to afford the kind of payment that would come with my new car.
I decided I wanted an orange Eclipse. It was put on hold for us, but they ended up selling it before we got to see it.
Then I thought a black one would be alright. I’ll admit it, that was a sweet ride.
As we were going through all the paperwork, I knew a 6 year loan for that car was a bad idea. I had just gotten married a month earlier, and I figured within a year or two, I’d have my first baby. That car had almost no backseat.
We ended up having to go up to the dealership twice. It was over an hour away.
Not being able to drive it off the lot the first night?
Oh, I didn’t even mention that we passed an accident on the way to the dealership the first time. One of the cars involved was a black Eclipse.
Sure, I made a double payment the first month. It was great. Before the second payment was due, we found out that we were moving to North Carolina.
Big move + no job for me + Brad making less money= We got behind on the payments.
Did I mention the 24.99% interest rate?
Once we got behind, catching up was impossible. I called the loan company a few times– the first time was before I had even missed a payment. They wouldn’t work with me at all. There was no point in throwing whatever little bit of extra money we had towards that payment… it was going to get taken anyway.
So now, it’s gone. However, it’s still living on my credit report.
My insurance rates are more expensive.
I have to have a deposit for EVERYTHING.
I can’t get a contract cell phone.
Any job I try to get in the future will probably look at my credit report and count me out.
We can’t get a credit card for emergencies, although that’s probably a good thing. Obviously I can’t handle credit.
This week, I began talking to takechargeamerica.org. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re a non-profit credit counseling agency designed to help consumers get out of debt and have financial freedom.
I’m ready to change. Now is the perfect time to do it… it’s better if we get our finances on track now, before we have kids. We need to have a rainy day fund in place, and we need to start planning for the future. Currently, I have no health insurance, we have no retirement savings, and there’s pretty much no way in hell we could buy a house.
My goal is to be able to buy a house within 2 years. I’m so sick of renting. More specifically, I’m sick of having to hide my cats.
So, what did I learn from this whole car experience?
1. If you can’t pay the full amount up front, you can’t afford it. Period. As if the period I typed wasn’t obvious enough.
2. Even though I plan on getting and staying debt free, my credit rating is extremely important. Everything is based on credit these days.
3. Just because you have the extra money each month for an insanely high payment doesn’t mean that you should commit to it, even if you could still pay all your bills on one salary. Shit happens, and you have to be prepared for it.
4. Save up for everything. Not only will you never have to worry about monthly payments, but you won’t have to feel as guilty for making the purchase. There’s nothing like buyer’s remorse every month for years at a time.
5. I fucking hate car payments. HATE them.
From now on, whenever I think I want to make a stupid purchase, I’ll just look at my car key that’s still hanging by the door. That key will be there to remind me of the stupidest purchase I ever made. We’ll have a budget in place soon… every time I want to use the debit card when I know I shouldn’t, I’ll just look at that key.
I’m ready to get out of this hole. I’m ready to be able to say “I don’t need this and I’m not going to buy it.” I’m ready to save up for the just-in-case times.