Friday, May 30, 2008

End of the Month Reflections

So it is nearly the end of the month. I admit I feel a little bit discouraged. I know I am working towards all sorts of good things - but I want that number in the right hand column to move NOW. I have tons of irons in the fire right (most of which I am waiting to write about until they happen.) I am drastically changing my spending habits, and I know I have only been at this a little over a week. Still - I want that instant gratification.

Then I read this post in My Journey to Eliminate Debt and a thought occurred to me - while fear is a great motivator, it doesn't have much staying power. What I need to concentrate on is not just the fear of foreclosure, bad credit ratings and worse, but also find something out of all this to look forward to. In their post the blogger talks about moving to Western Australia once they have eliminated their debt - I need something like that.

So, I've been thinking about that. Here are some thoughts:

  1. I am out of a bad marriage and taking control of my life again.
  2. I am moving out of a 400 square foot apartment, which while charming, really was too small for me.
  3. I will be living in my favorite neighborhood in this city. I love the location - and it just keeps getting better and better.
  4. The house was bought under value. It is still a very good investment. Though I am feeling the pinch now, I am actually investing in my future.
  5. I've been missing a garden. I will have that again.
  6. The housing market disaster will not last forever, and my area is a growing end of town. Currently I feel that if I can make this work for about three years, I will have a very viable piece of property.
  7. Then I will sell it.
  8. Then I will buy a more "Dawn-sized" home. Something that I will fall in love with - and that is far more suited to a single woman like myself.
  9. I will make a profit. (I have declared it - it will be so.)
  10. My new dream house will be less than the cost of this current place. I am going to take the profit I make and use that towards going back to school and getting my masters degree. So now I am investing in myself twice.
That's a really good list and makes me feel hopeful. Whenever I get the "the money isn't coming in fast enough!!" blues, I need to look at it again and remember what this is really about. It isn't about fear, it isn't about being backed into a corner, it is about making decisions that are right for me - and standing on my own two feet.

Read more

Gift Giving

So, I've been thinking a lot about gifts. My sister's birthday is next week and I asked for a list of suggestions. Here's one of the (many) things I love about my sister: she gave me a list that had items on it from a variety of price points. There were some things that were a little rich for my blood - like the $80 lotion she wanted. (Of course without too much trouble I found it for $62 online, but still...) There were other items, however, that were completely open to interpretation - like "fun" wine glasses or jewelry. I could spend pretty much any amount on these types of items - from the hundreds to just a few dollars, the point isn't about the money, it is about finding something she will enjoy. I like her list because it gives me options but at the same time I don't feel like she is pandering to me, as in "Oh, poor Dawn is broke... I'll tell her I don't need anything this year." Bah!

One thing I am trying is ebates. Have you tried this? Using their website you can get cash refunds on your purchases as well as coupons. I found a great set of "fun wine glasses" for Megs at and I purchased them through ebates to see how they do. I have heard some good success stories. I'll make sure and let you know how it works out. If I like it, they certainly have a lot of online stores I can choose from - so that is cool.

I am also trying to buy ahead. One of the things I find that happens to me is that I get down to the wire on shopping for gifts - which means that I pay more than I should. It can be really frustrating. But my brother-in-law has a birthday in July and I already have his gift and got a very good price for it, so that is one more thing taken care of.

One of my goals is going to be to try to avoid buying wrapping paper and ribbon. I have tons of it, and I also have some great things I can recycle - like the way I wrapped Shelly's gift the other night. Doing more of that is both good for the pocket book as well as the environment!

Read more

Well, I Didn't Fall!

I took the bike out for a spin last night. I didn't fall - though I was a bit wobbly here and there. I had all the "classical" bike things happen to me though - I got chased by a dog (fortunately little Dexter was on a leash), I swallowed a bug, and a couple of nine year old boys in dirt bikes stared at me like I was a Martian. Though come to think of it - they were nine year old boys, they might have just started anyway. I wanted to say to them, "Yes son, this is what bikes looked like before you were born - back in the grand old 80's when hair was big and and everyone wore eyeliner - including your father."

I rode for about 30 minutes before I had to call it a night. I was very quickly reminded that these were muscles I hadn't used in over 18 years. Not to mention other tender places that hadn't sat on one of those great 10 speed seats in many a year. (Ahem.) Still, I think it will be good. I'm going to try to ride every day I can, just so I can get back into shape. I also have to try to remember what all those gears are for... as I say, it has been a long time.

In other fantastic money saving news - it rained today!! This is good because I park directly under trees at my apartment. The combined yellow dusty pollen and bird doo (I swear they aim for the big black thing underneath them) has left my car looking like a cast iron skillet full of scrambled eggs. Eeeeewww. The rain has washed it all away. Since I am not getting car washes anymore I was rather pleased to see the rainclouds this morning!

Other good things on the horizon - my gardener pal Kate offered me some free plants. Yay! I am going to try to grab them this weekend and take them up north with me. Free plants are awesome, and hopefully will help me make the cottage look a little more landscaped.

Read more

Thursday, May 29, 2008

They Say You Never Forget How To Ride a Bike

...but they don't say how long it takes you to remember!

I bought my bike at the flea market for $7. Cost of repairs was $60. So, my total for my retro-recycled bike was under $70, but it is all wasted if I don't use it. Incidentally, I haven't been on a bike in 18 years.

I picked up my bike yesterday. It looks good. I don't think he washed it, but it looks like it has less grime - maybe some of the cobwebs came off on his shirt. It will do me absolutely no good to have had it fixed however if it just sits there gathering up dust again. To make this a wise investment, I have to get back in the saddle.

I thought about riding down to meet the girls for cocktails last night, then decided that was foolish. Instead I brought clothes to change into to work, and after I get out of the office I am going to throw on my jeans and a t shirt and try this out! I work in a nice quiet office complex - the perfect place for a wobbly biker.

I'll be sure and write how it turns out!

Read more

The Shame of Being Frugal

I've had a number of thoughts rolling around in my head lately. Let me see if I can put them into order:

It started last night when I was going to meet Catie and Shelly for a cocktail to celebrate Shelly's birthday. The location was just a hop, skip and a jump from my apartment - the weather was beautiful - and I am trying to save money, so I decided to walk. But as I went to leave my house, I hesitated. I was still dressed up from work and in high heels, I was carrying Catie's big cookbook (which I had borrowed eons ago) and I had Shelly's gaudily wrapped present* sticking up like some weird sea creature out of my purse. I felt "weird" walking like that. It wouldn't have bothered me if I had been in tennis shoes and jeans, carrying everything in a reusable tote, but as it was I felt awkward. I ignored it and walked on. I couldn't help thinking about it though. Before all this my gut instinct would have been to drive to save myself possible embarrassment.

Then I read an article called Why Do We Get Into Debt. It talks about going into debt as a part of the American culture. It made me think. Americans not only have a drive for instant gratification, but also we have a real sense of shame in not being able to spend money foolishly. It isn't a recent thing either. I've read books by American authors living in Paris in the 20's and being proud of living hand to mouth - or worse. There is something "cool" about being broke and still extravagantly going down to the bar and buying a round. My friend Tommy was telling me that when he was living in Germany he found himself thinking about all the ethnic stereotypes and what they meant. He asked himself, "So what are Americans? What are we good at?" The answer he came up with: Americans are good at being consumers.

But what I wonder about is, are we good at being consumers solely because we like to have things? Or is there a level of shame in being thrifty, in being frugal? Are we afraid of looking less like Henry Miller and more like Grandma Mildred? How often do we make purchases just to look good?

It is something I am going to have to put some serious consideration on. There is a big difference in saving for something you truly want and will get use out of - and doing something because you are ashamed of what people will think if you don't.

*Catie and I went in on Shelly's gift - a gift certificate. I wanted it to look nicer than just some sheet of paper I printed off on my printer so I spent some time wrapping it. I rolled it up and put it in a glass test tube that had held vanilla beans, then wrapped it with blue cellophane and silver ribbon, and as a topper stuck a sage green metallic fake branch on it. It actually came out kind of cool and I was happy with it. I did it all with things I had around the house - recycling the tube and the paper, and the branch was from a display I made awhile back. Total cost of wrapping $0.

Read more

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

One of the bad habits I have is using my savings account like some kind of financial Three Card Monte. What happens is this: each week I have $25 deposited into my savings from my checking. It is there for emergencies, like those scary months when the checks don't all clear, or a little extra cash when I am running low. I try to be diligent about putting money back in after I have taken it out... but I'm not. The net result is that the savings account should have $1,200 in it a year. How much does it actually have? $18.73.

Now, I know I have to have three kinds of savings: short, mid and long as well as a checking account to pay the bills. My long term savings is doing nicely. I have a 401K through work and am getting my employer match. My mid term savings is also doing fairly well. I have it in a online savings account with a decent interest rate and contribute to it regularly. I would like it to be larger, of course, but I am happy with its progress. It's the short term savings I have a problem with. The idea behind my short term savings is supposed to be that it is easily available cash I get my hands on in an emergency.

The problem is that I am way too loose with what constitutes an "emergency." If my checking account is starting to get low, say down near the day or two before payday, I feel obligated to take some money out and make sure I am covered. Then somehow, I manage to spend it. I always plan on putting it back in savings but somehow, even when I do automatic transfers, it just doesn't work. It is one of those ideas that is great on paper but doesn't work in reality.

Recently I got my "stimulus package" check. I could just put the $600 in my savings and say that I am that much closer to my goal. But for many reasons that doesn't work for me, most importantly because that won't solve my problem for July. What I want to do is create systems that will work each month that will help me make my goal and keep me out of debt - not hope for windfalls.

What seems more logical to me is to take $250 of it and put it in short term savings - and leave it there. The only time I will use it is a real emergency - say if a friend needs me to fly down to Guam and bust them out of prision.* I will have a hard and fast goal that there is always $250 in that account. No more moving things from one bucket to another... spilling half of it on the way. My budget calls for $100 of checking to go into savings. By funding savings with the windfall, the extra $100 can stay in checking and contribute to my goal!

I'll write more about how I am going to use the other part of the package in another post.

*You know who you are!

Read more

Passive, and Semi-Passive, Income

I had dinner with my mother last night. Sometimes moms are awesome. A long, long time ago my mother was an antiques dealer. She stopped doing it years ago, but she still has a few boxes of things in her basement. She has offered them all to me to sell on eBay - and I can keep any money I get from them. How cool is that?!? I've never sold anything on eBay before, so I took four things to practice on and we'll see how it goes.

Speaking of which, I also set up an account on Amazon and am working on listing books I no longer need.

Thanks to great article on Passive Family Income, I have started looking into Prosper. One of the many things I am really enjoying about reading other blogs of people with similar interests is finding ideas I had never thought of. Thanks!

EDIT: You can now read about all my online book selling experiences at The Online Bookseller.

Read more

Bicycle Love

Last year as gas prices were starting to soar into the $3 range I bought a bike. (Funny I never thought I would miss the days of $3 gas, did you?)

Now, this is not much of a bike - I got it for $7 at a flea market... and it looks it. It is an old Boss men's 10 speed with two flat tires. The seller threw in the cobwebs and grime for free. The bike has been sitting, sadly waiting for me to give it love, but somehow I have never found the time nor money.

However, now that I am on my new mission to stay out of foreclosure and debt, I figure one way is by riding more and driving less. I found a "bike guy" on Craigslist who will fix it up for $30 plus parts. Sounds like a bargain to me! I dropped it off this morning and my new friend Matt said he'd have it done by tonight. Yay!

Read more

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have to Say "Yes"

So awhile ago, before all this came about, I set up a meeting for this afternoon with Jenna. Jenna is going to be working on a project starting in a couple weeks that it just so happens I know a bit about. She asked if we could get together and have coffee so she could pick my brain. As I was driving downtown to meet her (cursing the cost of gas) I thought wryly about the fact I had just decided to avoid expensive coffee shops - and here I was, driving down to one. Then I had an epiphany - in the "good old days" when I spent money pretty freely, I would have invited her lunch, not coffee. Lunch would probably cost me $8 - maybe more, as I know she is a starving college student and I would have offered to pick up her tab too. It also occurred to me that I didn't need to get a $4 latte - I could look at the menu and see if there is something more reasonable. Frankly, a hot tea sounded really good. It struck me that meeting in a coffee shop was actually a good idea if I managed it well - far cheaper than meeting for lunch or even for cocktails! (That Jenna's a smart cookie!)

So, I got downtown and had another small brainstorm. Instead of driving all over, trying to find a perfect spot, I just took the first decent parking spot I saw. It saved me time, gasoline (ugh), and I got a little exercise and fresh air on a beautiful afternoon. After writing the $1.25 I put in the parking meter carefully in my little notebook, I headed off to meet Jenna.

In the coffee shop I checked out the menu. Coffees were all pretty much $3 - $4. A large hot tea was only $1.85. Sold! Then Jenna stepped up to pay the tab. For moment I argued - my $2 firmly in hand... and then I relented. It suddenly hit me - I was taking an hour out of my work day, paying for gas downtown (gulp) and spent $1.25 in parking... to give her a one on one class. If she wanted to buy my tea, I should stop being so pigheaded and be ok with that. After all what do I feel my time is worth? Besides, now she feels that she has done something for me and won't feel obligated, so it really works on several levels. (And I'm not just being a cheapskate!)

Another thing came up recently which is a lot more than a $2 honey and ginger green tea. Every year my friends go to Cedar Point. This year I got the email to see who was all going - and I had to email back that I just couldn't do it this time. Then Maureen emailed me back and asked me to be her guest. Naturally everything in me wanted to say no. I am pretty stubborn and not good at taking charity. But then I read this: Maybe in 20 years I’ll need you to lend me a hand….i know it would be there for me. So please, plan on the trip and know that you are a big part of our life. The woman knows how to hit me where it hurts!! How could I say no to that?

...besides, if I am stubborn, she is twice as much so - and more experienced and better at it than I am. I am pretty sure if I said no she would just have my friends knock me out and throw me in the back of the car and not let me wake up until we were deep in Ohio!

Read more

Duh! More Follow Through Funds

Suddenly it hit me - in February I bought a new t-mobile phone. I was supposed to get a rebate check for it. They have a website where you can look up the status of the your check. Mine showed it was processed on 3/18/08... only I never got it.

I remember in late March mentioning it to the friend who suggested t-mobile. He said that I had to wait the full 8 weeks for the rebates to be mailed. I thought this meant 8 weeks after 3/18/08. Well it has been that and then some - so I called. I found out that the check was actually sent on 3/18/08 - but they didn't have my apartment number on file. They are putting a stop payment on it and reissuing it in 7-10 days!

I won't add the money until it hits my mailbox, but here is another bit of income with just a phone call.

EDIT: It was this post by Debt Diet that reminded me that I too had a rebate coming!! Thanks so much!!

Read more

From Pennies Dollars are Made

One of the things I am going to start doing is tracking every penny spent. I know a lot of people have been doing it and using it as a great tool to track spending. I find it also serves as a "guilt-o-meter." Do I really want to write down that $.85 I spent on a candy bar? The shame alone will keep me reaching in my wallet and pulling out those 3 quarters and a dime on my way to Snickers induced happiness.

So far today I have spent $.50 on a much needed vacuum for the car. I foolishly and somewhat hilariously left the windows open in my car overnight... near blooming cottonwood trees. In the morning my seats were literally covered with little pollen plant caterpillars! Since I seem to be slightly allergic to it, I figured this rated a medical necessity. I am not going to document every penny I spend here, of course, but I will be looking for trends and ways I can cut. In this case I didn't have a choice since I don't have electrical hook-up outside of my apartment, so it was off to the car wash.

While at the car wash I started contemplating how I am going to track my success rate. I've decided to add a counter to the side of the blog to help me track how I am doing each month. The way I see it there are 3 categories of money that are going to help me reach my goal: 1) Making more income. This is obvious: coming up with ways to make more money that adds to my $900 a month. 2) Cutting expenses. This includes measurable amounts of money that I can stop spending. 3) Spending less. This is different than cutting expenses in a way - it is part of it but more nebulous. For example, I wanted to get my car washed today but didn't. By the end of June I will be in a house where there is a hose and place I can wash my car myself. Until then I am not going to spend money on washing my car. Yet, I don't feel quite right about including those types of savings in my monthly goal tracking. I might usually get my car washed twice a month - let's say that would run me $20.00. But I don't feel quite right about counting that money because it isn't really measurable, it wasn't in my old budget. Here's a better example - I love Starbucks Vente Vanilla Lattes with Soy. Usually runs me about $4. Yesterday as I drove by Starbucks I breifly considered getting a coffee, but then chose to go home and make my own fresh ground French press pot with vanilla soy instead. It probably cost me about $.30. But I don't feel like I can count the fact I didn't buy the latte towards my goal - otherwise the math gets weird. For example, if I thought about getting a coffee every day for two months, but didn't - that would give me an additional $240. Yet, I never got a coffee every day, so the $240 isn't real money.

Instead I am only going to count clearcut measurable monetary amounts. I will, however, still blog about my tips and techniques and goals for saving spending dollars.

Read more

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My How to Save and Earn More Money List

So far there are about 40 ideas on my list. Then I went through them and gave each one a 1-5 rating scale, 1 being a "no-brainer" something I can easily accomplish, and 5 being a "last ditch effort." It's a good list, but it is far from complete. I have a feeling I will be adding to it over the next few months as well as taking things off from it as they are completed. I admit though, in a way it is a little bit frustrating - I want to work on these projects now. I want to jump in and see the differences I can make. I'm all fired up to work - let me go to it! One of the items on the list is checking my insurance rates and making sure I am getting the best deal. I have a brother-in-law who is an insurance agent, so I called him and asked him to give me some new quotes. He's working on it, but I probably won't hear from him until the middle of next week. Oh, to have a crystal ball....

Read more

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It's all in the Details - or Saving $80 with a Phone Call

Sometimes saving money is simply a matter of follow through. Last March I received my escrow statement for the mortgage on the cottage. The good news was that my payments were actually going down! (I had a temporary weed-spraying tax on my property for the lake. It looks like they took that off.) In addition, there was an escrow shortage of $212.00. If I were to pay that it would also lower my payment. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I paid it. What this meant was that my cottage payment would go from $665.00 to $585.00. Citibank had said in the statement that they would send me confirmation once the calculations were done showing my new payment. ....I never got it.

So, I made a simple phone call. Statement in hand, I checked what my next payment would be. BINGO! Confirmation it is $585.00. I changed my online billing and now have $80 more a month.

Just $820 to go.... that's not all bad!!

Although it would help me if gas wouldn't skyrocket to $4.20! C'mon people give a girl a break!

Read more

Friday, May 23, 2008

Number Crunching

To tell you a little bit about some of the methods I am going use to get my $900 a month, I need to give you a little more background about me and my financial situation.

When the ex and I got married we each had a house. His was a 3 unit - a home that had been converted into 3 apartments. Mine was a little cabin in the woods on a lake. When we first moved in together we lived in one of his apartments, but in time we needed more space. That's when we bought "the marital home." The house had everything we wanted - it was in the neighborhood I loved, it had the three stall garage he wanted, it was in the right price range, it was a two unit, there was a great space for a garden, it would be perfect for entertaining... and so on. I have to admit though, that despite the fact that it was everything we wanted it still felt really cold to me. Maybe it was the big rooms or the dark paint colors, maybe it was the foreshadowing of a doomed marriage. I don't know. I will say though that it just never felt like home to me.

As mentioned before, when he and I split we came to an agreement that each of us would keep our own properties and then the house would go to him. So, now that the house is reverting to me - I will have two properties. I've been debating about what to do with my cottage. I love it there. I love it the way that some people love their children. It is where I am the happiest. But, if I were to sell it, I'd have another $700 in the bank - and this blog would be about coming up with an $200 not $900 a month. Selling the cottage is on the big list of ways to save and make more money, but it isn't high on the list for a couple of reasons. The first, and most true reason, is simply because I don't want to. Being there brings me peace and joy like very little else in my life. The second reason is that the cottage would need some remodeling to make it show well. The changes are mostly cosmetic, but would really impact my selling price. It's the kind of thing where $2,000 invested in it might net $10,000. Before it goes on the market, if it does, it would be worth fixing it up a bit more. The third is that it isn't as though putting it on the market would bring me instant cash - I really don't know if it would sell right away. The place next door was for sale for months.

That doesn't mean, however, that the cottage can't be leveraged to provide income. I am thinking very seriously of trying to rent it out for a couple of weeks in July, August and September. It's on a fishing lake, not a good swimming lake, and as I say - it needs a little work. But I remember the cottages my family I rented during the summer when I was a kid. They were always clean, but outdated and in need of remodeling. If I could rent it for $400 - $500 a week for two weeks out of the summer months, it would provide me the money I need - and the cottage then is essentially paying for itself. I am also thinking about renting out long weekends in the fall or winter. Doesn't a romantic weekend up north in a tiny cabin in the woods with the leaves falling down and a big fire in the wood stove sound nice? Or maybe I could rent it to friends who are writers and artists for a little weekend of solitude in the winter. I really think it has possibilities.

But first - there is work to be done! This weekend I am heading up with a big notebook in hand to start making a list of what needs to be worked on. Then I am going to set up a weekend and invite all my friends to come up in June and help me get it rental-ready. After that will be advertising. I have already looked online at Craigslist and other local rental sites to get an idea of what will be involved. I am really excited about the possibilities.

So here you have it, step number one in getting my $900 a month and fighting foreclosure!

Read more

So Let's Talk About Roommates

So the obvious solution to the $900 a month problem is to get a couple of roommates, right? Get two roommates at $450 a piece, (a rent not entirely unheard of in my area,) and BOOM! you are done. You have the $900 and you can write a blog about the miseries of having roommates instead of your fear of being foreclosed upon. Done and done.

That's what I thought too. I have known that this June move-in date was looming on the calendar for about six months. I hoped, prayed and did naked dances around bonfires wanting the house to just sell. If it had sold all of these problems would have gone away. I was so upset about the whole thing, as well as having the emotional roller coaster of going through the divorce process, that I just stopped thinking about it. I shut down. I mean hey - June was a long ways away and who knows? The house might sell, right? Sure, its a rotten housing market and you hear every day about the lackluster home sales, but it could happen. If I did allow myself to think of it at all I would say to myself "Well, I will get two roommates and that will be that."

Except, there is a problem: I don't want roommates. No, that is vastly understating it - let me put it this way: I am recently divorced, I need time and space to myself. I have to have it. Over the last two weeks, as June loomed larger and larger, I began to panic - really panic. I had crying fit after crying fit. I thought it was all about the house and dealing with the enormity of the payments and financial burdens. But talking to my therapist* helped me realize that my huge fears were really centered around the fact I was going to have to get roommates. She asked me a simple question, "If the money wasn't such a problem, would you be this upset about moving back into the house alone?" The answer was no. Okay, I don't want to live in this house. It is after all the "marital home" and there are a lot of memories there. For another thing it is too big, too old (built in 1875) and requires a lot of maintenance. It's a beast of a house. But... I can deal with all of that. It was the thought of having to live with people and all that goes with it: making sure they paid their rent on time, that everyone gets along, finding someone new if someone leaves, eviction, privacy issues, having people be around me all the time, so on and so on - that was what was putting me in a panic.

So what my therapist said was very simple. If the idea of having roommates was what was making me miserable, then don't do it. Instead of concentrating all my energy into fear and panic - instead put the energy to use in finding a solution I did want.

Figure out a way to come up with an extra $900 a month.

At first I looked at her like she had grown a third head. How on earth was I going to come up with that kind of money??? I mean seriously!! A second job was not going to bring in that kind of coin. But as I sat there wiping the mascara from my eyes, I started thinking about it. Was it really impossible? Could I find a way? My ex is paying for June, I have enough scratch to pay for July. That gives me two months. Two months to make a run at this. To figure out ways to make this happen.

As I left the therapy office ideas were already starting to pop into my head. I got a legal pad and just started putting down all the ideas I could - the good, the bad and the in between. Maybe, just maybe, I could do this. I could make this happen. The idea built in me like a white light - a huge glow inside me. As much as I am not fond of the word, it really was empowering. I am taking my happiness out of the hands of other people and putting it back in my own. It doesn't mean that I have taken the roommates idea off the table completely - it is still on the legal pad. I would rather do that than go under, but now it is way at the bottom of my choices, right down there with borrowing money from mom.

I can do this. I can figure this out. It may not be easy, I may go broke, but I will make this happen. Watch and see!

*Someone might say "Hey, I have an idea. Stop going to therapy - that will save you money." Well actually, it won't. At the end of last year I set my Flex Plan at work to cover the cost of therapy. The money is already deducted, pretax, from my paycheck and the account is set for the year. The money is already in a pool and it is use it or lose it. So, technically I could probably change my deductions because I have a "qualifying event" (the divorce) and stop
the deductions and the therapy the financial gain would not exceed the emotional loss. Remember, my goal here is NOT to go crazy.

Read more

Help! I don't want to go bankrupt!

So a little background information -

I am a single woman living in the midwest who has found herself with a mortgage she can't pay. It isn't what you might think - I am not a victim of the credit disaster that has happened to many of my fellow Americans. Although, frankly, I could have been. I had an ARM loan. (Adjustable Rate Mortgage = A Bad Idea.) I also had a NINA loan. (No Income No Asset Loan aka a "Liars Loan." Also = A Bad Idea.*) But my problem doesn't result from either of these. My problem stems from a much older problem... divorce.

When my ex and I split, the verbal agreement between us was that he would take the "marital home." (That's what the lawyer calls it and somehow the name has stuck in my head.) Unfortunately for me, this was at the dying end of the "we give mortgages to anyone!" boom and because of his credit score and the size of the mortgage, he was unable to get a loan to get the home refinanced. When the dust settled and the lawyer was done, we agreed to put the home up for sale. Not too terribly surprisingly, it has not been purchased. What happens now is that my ex makes the June payment. He will be in the home until June 15th or so, at which point I take over.

Now all this is just backstory and I am going to work really hard not to cast stones at my ex or drag him through the mud. That is not what this blog is about. This blog is about me moving back into the marital home and finding a way to pay for it that doesn't involve illegal activities, starvation or working two forty hour jobs and going insane. My goal is to find ways through increasing my income, decreasing my expenses and using the assets I have to make each monthly payment.

So how much more do I need each month?


This blog is going to be my journal into making it happen. I keep reading articles out there about "lowering your expenses by $500 a month" and they all say the exact same things - many of which don't apply to me. What I want to do is put this down so I can track my successes and my failures. Maybe along the way someone else might read this and get some ideas for themselves. Maybe they will be warned about things that don't work. Yesterday I sat down with a legal pad and made a huge list of things I can work on to get $900 a month. Some are small like fixing my bike so I can save on gas, some are things I really, really don't want to do, like borrowing from mom.

So, let's see how I do, shall we? Coming up with $900 more a month can't be too hard, can it?


*Surprisingly though, the NINA actually worked out for me, more or less. I have a pretty low interest rate on a 30 year fixed.

Read more