Tuesday Reveries

It’s Tuesday and apparently Mother Nature is really mad or something because despite the fact we are mere days away from May, it feels more like late November. Oh yeah, we have had a few teaser days where the sun comes out, you break out the flip flops and start doing the happy dance only to be put back in your place the next day.

Anyhoo, just some drive by thoughts today, no rhyme or reason just shit that has popped into my mind that I thought I would share with you.

First up, why did I wake up this morning to a neighbor’s rather large dog, running loose up and down the street with no master in sight? I make no bones about the fact that I am not a dog person in fact I get down right scared when I see a large dog not on a leash and with no human owner near by. I blame this on the fact that at 8, I was chased fast and furiously by a dog and damn near got bit. Since then, I have had no love for the pooches though having 2 kids who are dog lovers has made me at least tolerate smaller dogs with a couple of breeds such as this one and this one almost winning my heart. Emphasis on almost but by and large me and the pooches are just two things that won’t ever go together.

So thanks to Mr. Pooch running up and down the street he put the kibosh on my plans to walk to the dentist for some much needed exercise. Instead I had the man drop me off and I did a smaller walk afterward, straight to the café for some much needed breakfast.

Speaking of the dentist, it was time for a return visit. Despite my misgivings about returning to the original dentist who referred me to the oral surgeon from hell, I have simply invested too much money in this guy to start the search for another primary dentist. Today’s visit was caused by the tooth that needs a cap deciding to give me some trouble…well after yet another round of x-rays (damn those little photos are costly) we have decided to go the extraction route. Seems that pesky second molar officially needs another root canal which with the cap would mean that one little tooth way way in the back of my mouth would cost damn near $3000 to fix. Even the dentist said if was him he would be hesitant to put that kind of money into a tooth that has already had a root canal. Damn, I am a speshul snowflake, how many folks need to get a root canal on tooth that has already had one? Yep, that’s how I roll.

While we are on the subject of money, why did the office staff at the dentist office seem perturbed that the dentist only charged me for the x-ray and not the exam? Cool ya roll as my Granny used to say, it’s not your cash. Gee, it’s about time this fella starts cutting me a deal; I am going broke just on x-rays and exams.

So while we are talking money, I decided a few nights ago to revisit all my debts to see where I am and the running tally is $224,827.23. Nope you read that right, yeah I am bumming, seems despite my frugality the interest is accruing faster than the debt is getting paid off. Needless to say I am exploring my options and thinking I may be taking the leap from thinking about calling a bankruptcy attorney to actually making that call. Yep, looks like the girl is officially going bankrupt. A friend asked me how I felt about that, I said if it happens it might actually be a relief since when I calculated how long it would take me to get this paid off at the current rate of payment I will be 63, the man will be 68 and we will have no retirement account whatsoever. Seems like a sure fire recipe for senior years spent dining on Fancy Feast. So that’s what’s on my mind today.

PS: Not all that debt is not credit cards, it’s actually student loans, and back taxes medical bills and a very small amount of credit card debt. So it’s not all dis chargeable by bankrupt but if I have done my homework well enough of it is, that it would give me a clean enough start.

It’s just money….you silly goose!

I always swore I would not become one of those people who tells younger folks shit like you don’t understand, you are young, etc…shit is patronizing and frankly always annoyed me when I younger. Lately though I find myself thinking that sometimes there are things you don’t fully grasp because you are young and have not had enough life experiences. I know some may say that is ageist and maybe on some level it is but the reality is as we grow older in many cases we do get greater clarity; we learn that the world is not black and white but often for most of us its multiple shades of gray. I have seen this in my own life, there were some things that went on in my family that 10 years ago frankly left me perplexed but now I fully understand, it’s taken some growing on my part to reach that point.

Anyway lately I have been reading some young and upcoming blogs and frankly last night I stumbled across a new blogger who I just wanted to hit with the infamous Prince face….it was a real are you kidding me moment. Then I took a deep breath and thought about how I was at that age (25 or so) and then I started to relax a bit but still shook my head.

The truth is I know older folks who think the same way this younger blogger thinks about money, that money is simply money, no more, no less….that in fact we waste too much energy being concerned with the pursuit of money. Ya see this young blogger has chosen to not be bogged down by cash or lack thereof. In fact the blogger (nope not gonna link, just not gonna do it) states what we need is a paradigm shift in how we view money to quote “Bad health? Hire a doctor. Bad health? Get physically fit and change your diet” Yep, don’t worry about seeing a doctor for that boob that is red, swollen and looking like an orange going bad, just change your ways and when you are realize you are dying…oh well,. It was your time.

OK, I am having a bit of fun here but the point is I find that the only people who truly don’t worry about money are the young or those who have enough of the green shit to get their needs met. I admit having walked away from a lucrative career to go into a field where I earn less than I did at 23 despite having 2 degrees and a flotilla of debt has me in a real shitty mood. It was tax time this week and drum roll please, this year’s amount owed to the feds and state are $6997 or let’s round that to a nice solid $7000. Nope didn’t have it all to send off so the next few months I will be juggling all the balls in the air to get that total paid since owing the government is worse than owing Vinnie the loan shark. I still owe Uncle Sam tax division over 50G’s plus that fancy $118G’s I owe Uncle Sam’s education division…yeah Uncle Sam owns my Black ass fair and square. Reason I owe all that scratch is I followed my bliss, so did the man in becoming a freelance writer then there was the year I took off to stay home with the kidlet because I couldn’t bare to leave her…all the while the interest clock was going and going and going. Then I went back to work for a year only to get laid off because my department was shut down so there was 18 lovely months of unemployment. Now I work at a job that is rewarding but pays jack shit.

Anyhoo, I wish I could just barter or think good thoughts and all this money shit would go away but the curse of getting old is occasionally gray does become a solid black or white…in this case the only cure for what ails me is money, money, money! Then to add insult to injury this week, my teeth are bugging me again, serving as a reminder I need the rest of that dental work but right now Uncle Sam is the priority. So here is hoping next week I can convince the dentist to extract the tooth that needs the crown and possibly another root canal because that is all my ass can afford. Thankfully it’s a back tooth so at least I won’t be walking around with a gap where everyone can see it. Though I suppose if I stop playing into the man’s plan the tooth might heal itself without need of a dentist.

Going bankrupt

In American culture, the idea of anyone filing bankruptcy is seen as a personal failing. People wonder how could you? Why didn’t you try hard enough? Maybe you are just a deadbeat. Never mind the fact that the rich and powerful often file bankruptcy (hello…Donald Trump) even companies use the legal protections afforded under the bankruptcy chapters to restructure themselves and get back on the right track.

No, it’s the average Joe’s sorta like myself who tend to shun bankruptcy because well it makes you look bad, you feel like you are walking away from your responsibilities and a host of other reasons some valid and some steeped in emotions. So it may come as a surprise that I am about to get real open here but it looks like I will be going bankrupt, filing bankruptcy that is.

The truth is that for the last 2 years we have been playing a financial version of three card Monty, robbing Peter to pay Paul but not only are we not getting ahead, we are on a boat that had a slow leak but now that leak is not so slow anymore  in fact water is rushing in our financial boat and threatening to drown us.

I have spent the last two years reading all the financial experts, Suze, Dave, etc…reading financial blogs and truly getting a financial education. Problem is that no matter how I cut it, what we need to pay out, exceeds what comes in. For a while the Spousal Unit was talking about going back to school to change careers, maybe go into teaching and while that is still a strong possibility the fact is it would take a year of schooling and student teaching to make that switch. Then there is the hunt for a new job and sadly first year teachers in Maine still make less than what he earns right now as an editor/writer.

I think going back to school is a great long term strategy since we have no retirement, hell we don’t even have health insurance (it was one of the early casualties of trying to pay the creditors) but its not going to get Visa, Mastercard and the vast array of creditors off our backs. Before you ask we have tried working with them, in fact last week I had a conversation with a bill collector that was the last straw. The bill in question was for $3300, well I offered $25 a month as that is the best I can do since I have a lot of bills at the moment. Mister Bill Collector told me no, that was not acceptable and hung up on me. Yes, he hung up on me….so a sista called back and was told that I was not being serious about paying off my debt. Considering 6 months ago I could have only offered up $5 a month, I thought I was doing good.

Anyway after 2 years of struggling, we are finally at a place where we can pay all our bills and expenses required for daily living. We have learned to live off less, its been hard but we are doing it but the reality is we are not chipping away at our debt, there simply is no cash leftover to do that. Health insurance is still out of reach and apparently despite the government saying they care about insuring kids through the SCHIP program, sadly we don’t qualify for that either. Its only the third time in two years that I have applied and despite the colossal drop in income, I was told last week that our income is still decent.  Yep, just stuck in that gray area, too poor to move ahead and too rich to get any help.

I imagine you may be reading this and wondering how much debt do you have? Well excluding our house which is paid off thanks to the largess of family members, we are over $200,000 in the hole, now half of that is my student loans which sad to say will be with me forever (another reason I need to get rid of the debt that I can). The other part of debt is back taxes (early years of the Spousal Unit’s self-employment), medical bills that were not covered by the crap health insurance we used to have and credit card debt.

In the early years of life in Maine when the Spousal Unit was getting established as a freelancer, there would be lulls between pay and credit got used. I cannot say that we have ever used credit to furnish anything extravagant as evidenced by the fact most of the stuff in my house is second-hand including clothes. Our car is a piece of shit, a 12 year old rust bucket, I bought used off a friend when our other car died after years of mistreatment.

No, the lack of savings when we moved here and the husbter deciding to become freelance played a large role in the debt that we now have. In case you are wondering why he chose to become a freelancer, its because when we moved to Maine, there were no editorial jobs like the one he held in Chicago available in Maine. I knew it was a risk we took when getting him to agree to move to Maine which he was not happy about…that’s another story though. The move to Maine was not entirely voluntary on our parts since it involved my ex-spouse and son.

  I am glad I know how we got here so I can work on ways to never be here again. Which is why I am more convinced that despite my personal aversion to bankruptcy that its time to make that move, months ago I used to break into a cold sweat thinking about bankruptcy but now I am thinking relief.

I know there are some who may judge me and that’s fine, but part of why I wrote this and decided to share such a personal issue is because we are living in  a time where folks are killing themselves because of money. Folks lose a job and end their lives…well, here I sit getting ready to make this major leap and I am actually at peace with it.

And yes,  I know my credit score will be shit but the truth is its already shit, it will just be shit and now I can answer my home phone instead of keeping the ringer off….ok, I know I am being light about this but its better than crying.

In the end, I know I have tried the best I can to honor my commitments to my creditors but by the same token, when I see that my kid needs dental care and I am putting it off because I am trying to pay Visa and Discover Card who wrote me off a long time ago because what I offered was not enough. Instead sending me to collections where the collectors have even less mercy, then its time to change course. I am reminded of how on airplanes when they give you the safety spiel you are told to put your mask on first and then take care of others…this is one of those situations.

Perhaps years ago we should have chosen high paying professions, a discussion we have a lot but sometimes looking back does nothing but create tension, right now I can only move ahead.